Thoughts On Being 2011 Trainer of the Year

The year 2011 started with a tremendous rush of Nia excitement for me. The Next Generation Trainer (NGT) Program was being launched, and a great expansion of Nia was beginning. I was there, part of it, on many, many levels. This expansion also meant advancement for me, as I prepared to begin teaching Green Belt and Blue Belt Trainings. Alongside the next generation of Nia trainers, I was studying and preparing to step forward and up.

My studio in Santa Fe was also expanding. Classes were full, teachers were developing their craft, and relationships were being cultivated. It was, and still is, a rich Nia environment. I had a vision of my life evolving in Santa Fe as the studio got more and more successful. It was all there, waiting for me to step into it more completely.

Soon after the NGT launch, I had a White Belt in Albuquerque. I got an opportunity to apply some of the new knowledge I had gained from being with the NGTs. I followed up with my first Green Belt in March. The confidence I gained as a teacher from the intimate study and practice of this training sent my teaching into yet another spiral of greatness. I was so relaxed and in my body, using Nia to craft these fabulous movement experiences that I love so much.

The next White Belt for me was Colorado, where I led the first NGT Practicum with Loretta Milo, Jill Factor, and Kelle Oien. Each one of these trainers was responsible for parts of the training. My job was to sustain the connectivity between us and the trainees, as well as to mentor and evaluate each of these new trainers. This was training at a different level, and I felt honored to participate in it.

In May, I co-presented the White Belt in Portland with Debbie Rosas. We had a delicious time diving into the material and examining all the elements that make it so magical. This training was also a practicum for Rachael Resch and Rolf Erickson. The week was wonderful on many levels. Professionally, it marked a new beginning for me. To stand side by side with Debbie, sharing this work, was a dream come true. The training was phenomenal and I felt closer to Nia than ever before.

I arrived home from my week in Portland ready to relax and regenerate with my husband in Santa Fe. It was Memorial Day and Mike had Monday off. At the end of that Monday I got the call from my brother letting me know my son, Daniel, had had a terrible accident and he was in the trauma center at Brakenridge Hospital in Austin. It was about 10:00 pm.

I’ve never had a stronger rush of adrenaline in my life. Trembling and afraid, I boarded a plane to Austin at 6:00 am the following morning. Daniel went into surgery at 11:15. I arrived at 11:00 as they were taking him out of his room into the surgical ward. A neurosurgeon was waiting for him.  Daniel had broken his neck at C6. It was moments later that I made my first call to Debbie.

I wish I could remember the words we exchanged, but I can’t. It is painful reviewing that time so I don’t do it often. I know we talked of holding the light, healing through touch, visualizing the best outcome, not taking it personally, and most importantly, living the feelings. Debbie and I talked frequently during Daniel’s time in the ICU. She gave me tips on how to touch him, how to channel all the good into him I could. Time with Daniel was hands-on, as I moved his limbs, stroked his hands and feet, and touched his head. He could feel pressure. He had sensation in most of his body. This was a good, good sign. It gave us hope for a fuller recovery.

After nine days in the ICU unit at Brakenridge Hospital, Daniel moved to TIRR, the rehabilitation center in Houston. I followed behind the ambulance that took him from Austin to Houston with a fierce mother’s energy. I could hardly bear to have him out of my sight. He spent four weeks starting his journey of recovery there. He launched into his physical and occupational therapy with a determined heart. I remember him finally being allowed in the therapy pool. He found a peace in the water he couldn’t find anywhere else.

It’s been eight months since then. Daniel is now at his house in Austin, doing outpatient rehab at the Seton Brain and Spine Center. He has excellent care and he’s very engaged in his recovery. I spend time there regularly taking care of business and sharing this experience with him. We’ve all learned a lot since then about this condition, mostly through our mistakes. I have witnessed many courageous people recovering from spinal cord injuries, Daniel the most closely.

In the time following his injury, I completed another Green Belt Training and a White Belt Practicum with Megan MacArthur and Jackie Diner. I also co-hosted a Nia Five Stages Training with Debbie in Santa Fe. Spending time back at home, deep in Nia, helped me hold my shape. It kept me home in my body, so I could gather strength and continue on my path supporting Daniel. Each of these trainings was emotionally rich for me, and I felt great support from all the attendees. However, I was struggling with the change Daniel’s accident had brought into my life. I was feeling the tug of motherhood very strongly, as I do now. It became clear I should cancel the rest of my trainings for the year so I could put my attention on Daniel and our family, myself included.

In the midst of all this, my husband, Mike, was offered a job at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. As a notable scientist, Mike had been envisioning this for himself for many years. He had a dream of stepping out of the National Lab environment into the academic world. The new position, Director of The Nebraska Center for Energy Science Research, promised exciting research, dynamic projects, and an opportunity to teach and collaborate. It was an offer that could not be refused. After a couple of visits to Lincoln, we made our final move on December 12th. Our new home was waiting for us, and life was beginning all over again.

With all these challenges and changes, it’s not surprising I have been in and out of my body. My practice has been interrupted repeatedly. I’ve had to let go of my training business for now. My study has fallen away as I occupy my mind with Daniel’s recovery and beginning our new life in Lincoln. Fortunately, I have the blessing to be able to start slowly, and to allow natural time to guide me. I taught my first official class in Lincoln on January 25th. I’m excited to begin sharing this magical work with new people. I thrive on the discovery they experience with Nia. Without the additional work and travel needed to be a Nia trainer, I am free to focus on establishing classes and building a community. It also frees me to spend time with my sons, Daniel and Tony, and my husband, Mike.

Receiving the 2011 Trainer of the Year Award was a surprise for me. There are so many incredible trainers giving their time and energy to Nia, and all of them deserve equal recognition. I accept this award in recognition of the path I travel, developing Nia communities and supporting teachers. I also receive this award in recognition of the life experience I’ve had this year that is so directly related to movement. The neural network that moves us through space is a remarkable gift and paralysis is catastrophic. I profoundly appreciate every small action these days. Each step is sacred. The steps Daniel is beginning to take, with the help of his therapists, are even more special to me through the lens of Nia.

My deep gratitude goes out to everyone who has supported me and my family through this event. Fund-raising, prayers, and intimate conversations have been fuel for the healing that is happening in all of us. Nia continues to support me from the inside out. It is still my way, my path, and definitely part of my recovery.