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Healing with Veterans

Last summer, I was asked to lead a Nia® class that ran for 18 weeks under the Women Veterans Healthcare Program at the VA Hospital in New Jersey. This residential program offers care for women in the military who suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Prior to teaching this class I was unaware of MST. Veterans who experience MST and combat exposure are prone to depression, suicide and substance use and abuse.

Imagine someone you love and care about, sexually pressured and/or assaulted in the line of duty.  (MST affects women and men, and you can read more in the link at the bottom.)

Women who were suffering with MST and PTSD came to Nia class. Some had experience with yoga and dance-type classes, others were into sports and some had injuries which made it difficult to move on their feet.

Everybody was new to Nia.

Each class was a learning experience and moods varied week-to-week. I had the highest respect for each of them yet I could not know what they were experiencing inside. I chose to share my personal experience of feeling disconnected from my body through illness for years and how Nia helped me reconnect with myself. Sharing my story seemed to help.

There were times when someone became "triggered" and left the room. The program psychologist and staff where present to assist and dance with us. I believe their presence helped put the women at ease and let them know they weren't alone.

Movement was simple and there was a sense of accomplishment as steps became familiar. We laughed a lot while dancing our "moves” in the circle (these ladies could move and I learned!). The music invited expression and healing. One of our favorite songs was Lay Your Sorrows Down from the Nia routine Joy.

One woman who left the room during the first and second classes returned. I let her know how courageous she was to come back. She didn't have to take the class, yet she had returned for herself. She came to every class until she was discharged. Witnessing her connect more with her body was remarkable.

Women left for home and there were tears, along with hope and confidence as these brave souls moved on with their lives.

Here are some words I heard as they said goodbye:

I felt I could "hang up the armor” before walking into class.
At first I felt awkward, but I got the moves over time.
I felt safe.
I could move my way.
I am more in touch with my body.
I felt at peace by the end of class.
I will look for a class when I get home.
This is wonderful work. Thank you for coming.

They thanked me. Yet it is each of these women that I have to thank from my heart for their courage, persistence, and service to our country.

They taught me what it means to be brave.

This is the power of therapy, compassion, and movement.

I am honored, humbled, and most grateful this experience was made possible through a government contract between Benessere, The Center for Wellness, in Summit, New Jersey, and the Veterans Health Administration. Their hope is to acquire further funding to continue this type of program in the future.

Read more about MST.

Teresa D'Angelo is a Nia 1st Degree Black Belt and Healing Movement Coach, specializing in classes and programs for people with chronic pain. She teaches classes at Benessere and other locations in Northern NJ.  Visit here for more info.

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Cleanse Week #2 - Feelin' Good

Here is the promised week two journal of my Standard Process Purification Program.

This is the story. I've been doing this cleanse once a year since 2013 under the guidance of a nutritionist and my chiropractor who recommended it. She thought it would help relieve the pain and fatigue of Rheumatoid Arthritis. To my amazement, it did.

I'm going to be honest. During the past 6 months I have been slacking. The thing about habits is they tend to develop in tiny ways. I started to eat more late night snacks, drink a little more wine and coffee than what felt good for me. The cravings for sugar kept growing. Being in the business of listening to my body, and watching the scale go up, I knew I needed a reset button. My body was talking very loudly.  Yet I had to be ready mentally and emotionally to do it, so I waited until I felt it was time.

My intent for this journal is to share what I'm experiencing in the hope of inspiring you in some way. One size fits some, and this particular program might not be for you. That's fine. There are wonderful programs and professionals out there, and my suggestion is to ask around to find someone or something that fits your style. I can recommend some wonderful people who have helped me along the way.

With love and light,

Teresa

(I promise, I am not selling this product nor receiving any perks for this entry!)

 

 

 

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Time for a Change!

It's election day and time for a change.

The truth is, I have not been feeling well. My energy level dropped way down, I've been tired more than usual. Maybe part of it was the election this year? In any case, I could feel my body saying, HELP ME!

I own my part. I have reverted to consuming more sugar. It crept in innocently. . . a nibble here, a drink there, another nibble here, and so on.

I don't feel guilty. It's what happened. The good news is, my body has spoken, and I'm listening.

I have decided to do another 21-Day Standard Process cleanse under the guidance of my wonderful chiropractor who got me started. If you're interested to hear about it and how it's going, take a peek at my Day #2 video.

You might know my story with Rheumatoid Arthritis and, if not, you can read more here.  I understand severe chronic pain. The SP cleanse was one of the puzzle pieces that showed me the inflammatory effects of sugar-- and how those effects could be lessened by eating whole foods and eliminating foods that were wreaking havoc. My goal was to feel better in my joints, yet I also let go of 30 pounds over two years.

I have received a lot of questions over the years about this program and the most valuable one is that it kick-started me to shift my eating habits long after the cleanse ended.

When I stick to eating better most of the time, I feel energized and my joints feel better.

I started the 21-day Standard Process cleanse again on November 7 and will be vlogging once a week so you can witness any changes that happen. I'll give you the good, the bad and the ugly!

By the way, I have never worked for Standard Process nor do I receive perks for writing about their company. This cleanse helps me feel better and I wanted you to know about it.

There are many wonderful whole food programs, doctors, coaches and nutritionists who can guide you. The SP cleanse is intended to be done under the supervision of a professional and I would be happy to make suggestions.

So, here it goes. Day #2 Diary of the 21-Day Purification program! 

Sign up to receive this weekly Vlog update direct in your mailbox!

Disclaimer! I do not work for Standard Process Whole Food Supplements nor do I receive a discount or anything from their company. I'm simply writing because their 21-day Purification has worked for me more than once.

Disclaimer! I do not work for Standard Process Whole Food Supplements nor do I receive a discount or anything from their company. I'm simply writing because their 21-day Purification has worked for me more than once.

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To learn more about whole foods, there is a free online Whole Food Summit happening this week! My friend, Alyce Osborne, is one of the speakers.

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The Power of Community

Do you have a community of people that you enjoy being around? Maybe it’s your family, friends, or a group with a common purpose.

I don’t know that I would have the same relationship with my body today had it not been for the practice of Nia and our NJ community.

The power in our community is Heart.

I had a profound experience this past weekend. One of our Nia instructors and dear friend, Kim Lane, is moving to Nashville as I write this. We knew for almost a year this day would come and we held a farewell “Nia Jam” (an extended class with several instructors leading). The theme was appropriately named “Memory Lane" and the entire Nia NJ community was invited.

It was . . .

Heart warming   Smiling and crying, moving to many of Kim’s favorite songs and feeling the emotion and power of connection in the room.

Heart wrenching   Feeling heavy because of the impact she made on my life and our community. We are feeling a big space, which shows how much we love her.

Kim Lane and Teresa D'Angelo

Kim Lane and Teresa D'Angelo

The power in our community has been life changing.

Community requires a vision and people who keep the vision going. Thanks to my other dear friend and retreat co-creator, Lori Lynn, who started Nia NJ in her living room about 10 years ago with 3 of us and a simple idea. Soon afterward our group began to expand and we have since grown into a vibrant community.

It is a community of heart. We laugh together, support each other, and cry together when people we love move on.

The power of community is lasting

This morning, I was thinking about close friends in my life. Some friends I’ve known for 40 years, some for 10, and some for less. As I get older, I realize how important communities / tribes are for me, to grow friendships and to help each other.

Nia NJ is a group of people who found each other through common interest in a state-of-the-art movement practice. I found Kim through this community. Her friendship inspired me to discover another part of myself – a playful part that I adore.

While Nia isn’t for everybody, it is for me and I am grateful. Ever since my first class, my vision has been to help people in pain feel better. I did not realize how much I would receive in return.

Some of our Nia NJ Beauties

Some of our Nia NJ Beauties

Thank you, Kim.

Thank you, Lori Lynn.

Thank you, Nia NJ.

Thank you, Nia. www.nianow.com

If you are searching for a community of people who love moving without judgment,  join Teresa for weekly classes. See nianow.com/Teresa for current schedule. She also holds special movement programs for people with chronic illness.

For a weekend of community, movement and self-discovery, join Teresa D’Angelo and Lori Lynn Meader for the 5th annual Dwell In Possibilities Retreat for Women, August 26-28, Lifebridge Sanctuary in Rosendale, NY. www.live-love-move.com/retreats.

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Do you express your true self?

I was on the quiet side most of my life, though I'm not shy. I've always enjoyed talking to people, teaching and performing. Hell, I was a radio DJ and weather anchor at one time! However, I didn't know how to speak up fully for myself, let people know what I believed, and let my truth be known. It was very scary for me to put myself out there.

I learned I could express myself fully through my body. Through shapes and movements, I could say what was going on inside of me -- the authentic version. As I danced more, my life began to change. I started to speak up more often.

I expressed through my body what had been bottled inside me for many years -- my voice.

I can tell you first-hand what healing movement and Nia, in particular, have done for me. The pain of not being able to move -- believing my body betrayed me – feeling physical pain and mental anguish, anger, frustration and isolation, all helped me to seek and find the gift of my voice through dance. This "conscious dance" helped me to become aware of my body as my partner in life, not a tool to be used.

Conscious movement comes in different forms. . . tai chi, chi gong, dance meditation, gardening, and many more. It's when we move with awareness, paying attention to how we are moving with the world around us.

Choose the practice that helps you to express yourself fully, and keeps you coming back for more. Your life will change.

With Joy,

Teresa

Please inquire for movement designed to help with chronic pain.

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Choose Love.

When I was growing up I was told that giving to others was the greatest sign of Love. I was told it was good to sacrifice my comfort to help others. If I was to do something good for me first, that was considered selfish.

I suppose the airlines had not yet talked about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first to help the person next to you!

I am still learning to make choices of love for myself.

 

How do I know when the choice is coming from love?

  • my chest expands
  • I breathe easily
  • I smile
  • my spine lengthens

There is lightness in my being, I feel confident, and have a sense, "this is for me." In plain speak, I feel good!

Choices might be as simple as taking time for a hot bath, choosing a snack in the fridge or sitting down to read a book. More complex choices to stay or not stay in a relationship, change careers or move across the world may not be as easy to discern. These choices might be more clear by "tuning into" your body over a period of time.

Another sign of a love choice is that the process goes smoothly. That workshop might have one more spot available, a gift of money appears, or there are flight miles to spare. There are few or no obstacles on the path.

I am thankful for my study and practice of Nia and Polarity Therapy for teaching me how to listen to my body, and how to connect both my mind and body in making choices out of love for myself. When I do it this way, other people tend to benefit.

You can make a love choice right now. Think of a decision you need to make today. It could be as simple as what to do for dinner. Think about each choice then pause, close your eyes, and notice . . . your breathing (shallow or full),  notice your forehead, jaw and face, neck, shoulders and back as you consider each choice. Do you feel tense, tight and heavy, or light, relaxed and expansive? Are you at ease?

Make at least one love choice for yourself today and share your experience below!

If you are in pain, consider a love choice through the upcoming Transforming Chronic Pain Program at a special introductory rate.

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A Thanksgiving Miracle

Love this button from grinchmania.com

Love this button from grinchmania.com

With the tragedy of so many hurting, I need to share this little story of light, gratitude and hope.

My ex-husband and his wife invited my husband and my father to Thanksgiving dinner this year. I was deeply touched to the core. Our son is now 22 years old and he witnessed a beautiful reunion with all of his remaining family present, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. I love each of them so much. Our breakup was long and sad and bitter at times, and I would have never, ever, imagined this moment years ago.

As I wrote in one of my Facebook group posts, my heart felt like the Grinch’s that grew bigger and bigger.  I feel I know more of what true Gratitude feels like.

Wishing you peace and hope, and the miracle of hearts opening. I am grateful for each precious moment.

If you are in Northern New Jersey, please join us for a Winter Soul-stice Moving Meditation on Friday, December 18, from 7-8:30 pm. Please register by Wednesday, December 16 at Benessere online or call 908-277-4080.

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Moving with the Seasons

The Autumnal Equinox is a time of celebrating what we have sown. All comes into balance with equal day and night as we begin to transition with nature. The sun shines brightly as the air starts to cool. Since it is nearly time for much of our plant life to end its cycle of growth, the leaves put on a beautiful show of their magnificent colors before they fall from the trees. The longer, chilly nights sometimes make us start to crave warm spices and foods.

Personally, I enjoy warm weather and could live at the beach all year. I go into autumn with a little bit of trepidation because I know the cold weather is coming. However, my son was born on September 21, so the change of seasons is also very special to me. When he arrived my life changed forever.  I connect his birth with my own transformation each autumn. As he continues to grow and change in college, my own life grows and changes as well.

Nia Class

 

How can we help ourselves embrace the change of seasons?  By moving body, mind and spirit, of course!

  • First and foremost, BREATHE in fresh air. Imagine it going all the way down into your hips to fill your lungs. Even on your busiest days, step outside your home or office door and take a few deep, cleansing breaths of the crisp air.
  • Take a walk outside. Pets who need exercise can help us with this one. You can also step out on your lunch break for a few minutes and stroll around your office building, parking lot, or neighborhood. The movement will help clear your head and make you fresher for the afternoon.
  • Park farther away from your office door and enjoy the scenic walk -- unless you’re in a parking garage, then you’ll need to imagine the scenery. :)
  • Take some time to play! If you have leaves to rake, jump in the pile when you’re finished raking! Instead of buying your apples from the store, go out and pick your own. And who ever said that only kids can carve silly faces into pumpkins? Choose a pumpkin and let your creative juices flow.
  • Try that new movement class you’ve been thinking about . . . how about a Nia class? Nia is a practice that will condition your body, bringing balance to your mind, emotions and spirit.
  • Go camping or take a retreat in nature. Search for the types of retreats you enjoy, like hiking, yoga and spiritual studies. You might even choose the one I'm co-hosting for women in October in New York. Dwell in Possibilities will give you the opportunity to ignite your fire and awaken your passions.
  • Finally, for warming you on the inside, add cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric and other spices to your drinks and food. One of my favorites is butternut squash soup!

However you choose to celebrate the beautiful season of autumn, keep conscious movement a part of your life. If you are in the New York/New Jersey area, you can find a list of upcoming classes and workshops here.

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Dancing with the Pacific

Simplicity is a wise teacher.

My practice of conscious dance continues wherever I go. I had a beautiful surprise when I was on Maui this summer. I picked up a copy of Maui Visions in a cafe and saw an ad for "Beach Dance." Music, nature, community AND dance. . . how could I possibly pass this up?! The stars were aligned because there was a dance on the beach the next evening.

 

Lila Danielle, the founder, met us at one of the beautiful beaches near where we were staying (btw, I don't believe there are any ugly beaches on Maui).  She led us on a short walk to a quiet area of the beach. It was late afternoon and it was perfect. Each of us received a waterproof iPod shuffle and headset to use with a one-hour playlist. We began with an introduction and intention and then started our shuffles at the same time.

The dance began. Sometimes on the sand, sometimes in the water,  connecting to someone else, nature, the music, and self.

The video above shows a special moment with a few other dancers. For this post I included the music Love Potion by Terra Nine, one of the artists on the playlist. As an observer on the beach, you would hear nothing but the waves. When I returned on Saturday morning for a second dance there were about 25 people. I floated, I moved through the water and under the waves. I had a blast. (Btw, I had no idea shuffles were THAT waterproof!)

It was a most beautiful, peaceful experience. It was SIMPLE.

If you visit Maui, look up Lila Danielle and Beach Dance. She is a lovely soul, helping people find their way through dance. We are kindred spirits.

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When Pain Becomes a Gift

Before you read on, please take a look at this video.

Magic happens when we move our bodies.

The pain of not being able to move -- believing my body betrayed me – feeling physical pain and mental anguish, anger, frustration and isolation -- helped me to seek and find the gift of “conscious movement.”

Ten years ago I was in a job that required me to sit at my laptop most of the day and I couldn't move much. I recall my friend inviting me to use her yoga studio at off hours "just to move." I turned on my favorite music and danced like no one was watching (and no one was!). Moving this way connected me to emotion that I was holding inside, and it did something more. It connected me to my Divine Spirit. I felt lighter. The pain was still there, but I felt peaceful and connected to myself within.

My life and my outlook began to change as I discovered different healing movement forms. 5Rhythms found me first and led to my 10-year practice and teaching of Nia. Other favorites are Soul Motion, workshops with Banafsheh and, most recently, Beachdance (more to come on this one). These practices, along with healing work in masage and Polarity Therapy have brought me to a new place and influenced my own offering of Moving Meditation.

I invite you to experience conscious movement in your own way. If you are in the NY/NJ area, here are upcoming classes and workshops.  If you are looking for some time away from home, come experience conscious movement and community at the 4th Annual Dwell In Possibilities Weekend Retreat for Women, October 23-25 in Rosendale, NY.  It is a sacred playground for inner discovery.

DIP Retreat 2014

DWELL IN POSSIBILITIES RETREAT 2014, NY

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A Bottle of Inspiration

mauifootprints.jpg

It's easy to be inspired in a new and comfortable environment. Everything seems shiny and there is fun in discovering. Vacation is a way to shift routine and perspective -- to experience something different -- or to experience the familiar in a different way.

Wouldn't it be nice to bottle inspiration and spray it on when we return to work and daily living routines? I think the answer is, we can, by experiencing inspiration in the simple things.

I am inspired with a deep peace I feel each time I visit Maui. This is home for my soul and I feel the spirit of Aloha -- which I translate as connection and respect for life force, nature and people.

The truth is, inspiration is always around us, if we seek it. When I'm back in New Jersey, my "bottled inspiration" is a walk outside with our dogs, having lunch with a dear friend, appreciating the flowers in my garden, dancing, music, and smiling. Inhaling the breath of life each day is the real vacation.

What is inspiring you today?

Try a movement class for inspiration and upcoming Dwell in Possibilities Retreat for Women!

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I wanted to be a dancer. I failed.

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I wanted to be a dancer. I failed.

Giving up a dream isn't easy. But sometimes, it's for the best. I wanted to be a dancer, and failed. Thankfully.

Aspiring to become a prima ballerina was my deepest desire between the ages of 8-15. Each week my friends and I would attend several ballet classes together. The run-down studio was on the second floor in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA, and I imagined it was something like a NYC ballet studio. It was magical to me. Our friend ritual on Saturdays was especially fun: take the public bus to class, slice of pizza, pinball, shop, and back home.

Ballet was both an exciting and scary part of my life in the 70s. Our teacher was a strict Polish woman in her 30s who had been a professional ballerina. Miss J wore black leotards, black skirt, black eyeliner that rivaled rock stars, and smoked a cigarette throughout class. Miss J yelled -- a lot. If she yelled at you, it was a sign she took interest. I don't recall getting yelled at a lot. I was usually one of the corps de ballet in The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, not a soloist.

Tragedy came when I didn't pass auditions for the new ballet company. Every one of my friends did. I was humiliated and broken-hearted, but I picked myself up and vowed to "make it next year."

No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.
— Maeve Grayson

Next year arrived and I failed again. One of the judges from NYC told my mom that I "might not be cut out to be a dancer." I was devastated and hated her for saying that at the time. Was I really that bad? I didn't know, so I kept dancing, getting a few lead roles in the children's ballet performances. However, the previous audition failures and more pass-overs to come were too much for me as a freshman in high school. I gave up my dream at age 15 and didn't watch a ballet performance for several years.

Fast-forward to 2005 when I was diagnosed with excruciating pain that turned out to be Rheumatoid Arthritis. I panicked as I felt I was once again losing my "ability to move." However, a gift came with the illness.

I discovered an amazing healing dance practice called Nia. I found my dream again to dance in my own way, no matter my body shape or dance ability. A breakthrough! I immediately took training on how to teach Nia so I could help others in pain or those who felt they couldn't dance.

I am so thankful for the experience of what I thought was losing my dream. I might not have reconnected to dance that provides me immense Joy and Healing. Now I get to guide and teach people how to condition their bodies and express their spirits through dance. I have witnessed and heard many stories about life changing experiences from the practice of Nia and other conscious dances. It works. I personally transformed through movement and now it's my turn to share it with you in a bigger way.

What dreams have you given up?  Can you reconnect with them in a different way?

I'm Teresa D'Angelo, and I invite you to Live, Love, and Move your life through a program of classes, workshops and coaching that is fun and expressive. This clip tells the story of why I love what I do . . . with a huge thank you to everyone involved in shooting this video, and the amazing people who continue to dance our journeys together.

The Nia Technique re-ignited my passion for movement and I'm forever grateful. Be inspired through your own dance and learn to condition, heal and express yourself!




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