Nia Training

Nia is a cardiovascular sensory based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. Nia empowers people of all ages by connecting the body, mind and spirit to increase flexibility, agility, mobility, stability and strength. 

This week I am participating in the Nia White Belt Intensive Training!

My classmates, Pam, Dawn & Irene:

 My trainers, Charlotte & Gail:

The Nia Retreat Center on Anna maria island, FL:

There are more trainings scheduled for February, April & October 2013! Go to for the details or to find one near you! We are learning the 13 principles of Nia and dancing everyday. Long days, but much learned. I have not done this much creative movement in a long time! I must go to bed now and recover . . . there are 2 more full days and one half day, with graduation on Friday :  )

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion. 
   ~ Martha Graham 

creativity and Nia

Yesterday after Nia class, I was interviewed by international faculty member and trainer Gail Condrick. Gail has already edited this video interview and done a super job - see below. She's putting together a number of videos about the Nia White Belt Training coming up in October and February on beautiful Anna Maria Island in Florida. Gail will be team-training with her friend and Nia instructor/trainer Charlotte Jorgensen, October 13-19, 2012. I will be immersing into this October training! Below are the video clips Gail took of me telling a bit about why I have registered for this training. The video was taken inside Island Yoga Space where we have Nia Classes - I love the prayer flags behind me! I have embedded the video in this blog post, but if for any reason you can't see it please use this direct YouTube Link. To learn more about the White Belt Training and Nia - click here.

Video below: Behind the Scenes Planning a Nia White Belt Intensive with Gail Condrick!

From the Nia Website:

What is Nia?
Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that draws from martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries. Trainings are designed for those seeking personal enrichment and professional development. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.

Additional videos: How close is the beach? Gail shows where you can take some time off during the training!

Gail's interview with Irene Schmoller, another White Belt Trainee -and why she is doing the training.

More videos here on Gail's YouTube Channel!

colour study : music & dance

This post I wrote has received 5,012 hits!! 

From the video by OK Go: Skyscrapers 

The video below features the song Skyscrapers by OK Goone of my favorite musical bands. It came out about 3 months ago - I immediately fell in love with it and watched it repeatedly. Recently I saw a link to this video again, reminding me of how wonderful it is . . . and here I am once again -- hooked! I think it's a combination of the song, the colours, and the sensuous dancing which draws me in every time and makes me want to share it here with you. The direct link is here in case you can't see the video below.

Earlier today, I sent a link to this video to my dear friend Frieda. Perhaps she had not been able to watch it before? She only recently got broadband where she lives in rural Scotland. I thought she'd enjoy because of the waves of colour that run through this video, considering all the colour themed ATCs we have shared! The colours as they change while they dance are inspirational in and of themselves. She wrote and told me she enjoyed it hugely!

The woman dancing so beautifully in the video is Trish Sie and her dance partner is Moti Buchboot. Trish is also the producer and the director of this video. Her brother is Damian Kulash, who is OK Go’s lead singer. It is his voice we hear on the video. Trish has choreographed five videos for OK Go, and probably the most well known one is their Treadmill video. That's how I was introduced to this band, by my sons! I love OK Go's videos for more than just the sounds I hear and the visuals I see . . . I love them for their sheer creativity. How they got there. Trish Sie gave an interesting talk on Ted Talks about creativity - which you may enjoy watching. There is also a fabulous article to read in the New York Times (July 13, 2012) about how the Skyscrapers video inspired the dance company Pilobolus to choreograph a piece based on it. Wow!

From the New York Times article, Pilobolus' Executive Director Mr. Kubovy said: he was immediately struck by how “the formal treatment of the colors had so much story in it,” he said. “It was mysterious: What was evocative about it? Was it one couple in a million different situations, or over the course of a long time, or different people in different situations? Without even knowing, it just felt kind of emotional.”

That's how I feel when I watch it, emotional. You? please comment if you like.

Love is, above all, a gift of oneself.
~ Jean Anouilh

sorry, i do not know who this is dancing . . .
It was an image I saved some time ago.

Nia and healing

I went back to Nia class today for the first time in 5 weeks -yes, 5 weeks! Back in February I started having trouble with my right arm and shoulder. I thought I had tendinitis caused by over-stretching in a chest opener in yoga class. I kept going to Nia, but my arm seemed to be getting worse and not better, so in March I decided to rest my arm entirely and not go to class. Unfortunately, it still did not get better so I saw a sports medicine orthopedic doctor this week. It turns out I have a frozen shoulder, yuck! Doesn't that sound terrible? He gave me a cortisone shot which has already helped my movement and loosened my shoulder up. I'll start physical therapy next week. He told me that movement (within reason) would not hurt my arm -in fact, it would help it. Even though I still cannot raise my right arm over my head, I went to Nia on the beach with my friend Kathy today and it was really good for me in more ways than one. I felt very grateful and emotional standing there barefoot on the beach as the music started . . .

This very short stop-motion video is made from photos I took while taking a break during class today. I am learning how to make different kinds of videos and this was fun to do. My friend kathy is an awesome teacher and has helped me to think positively about my predicament . . . .
I am healing my shoulder. xoxo

If at first you don't succeed, you're running above average.
  ~ M. H. Alderson

celebrating dance . . .

Today at Conscious Movement, sponsored by Dance SRQ in Sarasota, FL . . . I took some low-light photos and played with them in Photoshop. Click on any photo for a larger version.

- xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox -

It was a very large group of conscious movers today and this photo does not even show everyone who came and danced, whooped and sang! Lots of energy and lots of fun. Thank you Kathy, Mary & Debbie for facilitating, thanks to Norman & his friend for the live music. A wonderful time. I am still smiling because of it.

creative things

Tomorrow, 2/5 is Conscious Movement here in Sarasota and I am so looking forward to it. This is the closest thing I have found to the modern dance improv I did growing up and for many years after, that I love. The photo above is a Photoshop version of 2 photos I took at the last conscious movement event. I love taking just a few quiet photographs during the hour and a half and then bringing them into Photoshop and seeing how I can tweak them artistically. Tomorrow we may have visitors from St. Pete join us, so I think there will be lots of energy and spirit dancing in the room!

Today, I went to a wonderful Zentangle® class taught by certified Zentagle instructor, Mary Masi. I met Mary through Conscious Movement and Nia classes! Here are the two 3" x 5" tiles I completed in Mary's excellent class today . . .

Zentangle looks like doodling, but is really so much more. From the Zentangle® website, "Our Zentangle method is a way of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is fun and relaxing. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages." Find out more about Zentangle here on the website. I found it so relaxing. 

I also visited a new studio and Gallery called Artspace on Anna Maria Island this afternoon. My friend Cheryl who hosted my collage class earlier this week, told me about Deborah and her husband who are opening this awesome space. It is bright and beautiful, with a gorgeous view of the Anna Maria Bay.

The view!! It is above the post office, 101 Bayview Plaza, Anna Maria Island, FL

It looks so good! They are going to have their first show to coincide with the Grand Opening on March 23 and I am definitely going to make a "Spring Cleaning" piece and enter! 

Afterwards, a quick trip to the north of the island . . . 
ahhhhhh . . . i love the beach. 

happy weekend! 

dancing gratitude

I met Debbie Moran through Nia classes, Conscious Movement and Dancing Gratitude-all fun dance and movement related classes/events I have enjoyed very much since moving to Florida. Debbie asked her friend Michael Ringalever to film Dancing Gratitude on Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota and he put this cool video together. When Debbie shared it she wrote, "Christmas Day my friends and I celebrated our version of White Christmas by Dancing Gratitude on Siesta Key Beach."  ; ^ ) I could not attend Christmas day, but some of you may remember me participating on Thanksgiving day. Large silk scarves are used and people passing by are encouraged to join in and and dance their gratitude with us. I love this video; it is so full of joy!

The direct link is here if you cannot see the video.

From the Dancing Gratitude page, "This dance of gratitude begins wherever you are in the moment and has the capacity to bring a sense of inner peace and calmness back into play, combining movement, fun and gratitude to help release the stresses of the world and raise our vibrations, enabling us to create our own "healthier" version of reality ... one of both inner and world peace."

Love this! I hope you enjoy. Here are some photos from November's gratitude dancing . . .


my favorite photo of the day with Debbie on the left
and Mary on the right.

In gratitude, lenna

every single moment you are . . . .

. . . . writing the story of your life.

I just realized, watching this animoto video I made, that it was actually about healing. The art you see, the Nia/dance, the beach, the sun, water and shells, taking these photographs, my dogs and my family, especially my husband, have been my way to heal after the loss of my father. I am so grateful for all I have and I hope you enjoy the sand and sea.

*I suggest watching this in full screen by clicking in the bottom right corner!
If you cannot see the video here, use this link.

p.s. this is the first time I have ever tried using video clips and I think it worked well!
To view more of my videos, visit my YouTube channel.

: ) lenna

photo collage and dance

On Sunday morning I attended a conscious movement event in Sarasota, FL hosted by Dance SRQ/Conscious Movement Sarasota. While there, I took just a few photos of this hour and a half free-form movement class without flash, not wanting to disturb the environment. Later at home, I brought the photos into Photoshop and layered two or more of them together to create more depth. I played with the filters and opacity of the layers until I came up with a number photo collages I liked.

The collage above was created by tweaking the 2 photos below after they were layered together.
Click on each photo for a larger view.

Here are some more I created with those photos...
I like the shadows created in the top section, below. They come from yet another photo.

The photo below was added to create the collage above

more variations . . . yes, I am obsessive!

My favorite I think . . . click on it for a larger view.

The dancing was . . . . "authentic" in the words of my Nia dance teacher Kathy, and I would agree. It is wonderful for me to combine my love of dance and movement with my new love of photography and being creative with it. I just wanted to share this! Have a creative and happy day. : ^ ) lenna

life's what you make it

I heard this on pandora radio today and started dancing in my studio . . . then I wanted to share it. When I looked up the song I was surprised to see the single was from 1986 - could that be true?! 25 years ago? wow. One of my favorites, then and now . . .

Baby, life's what you make it
Can't escape it
Baby, yesterday's favourite
Don't you hate it

Baby, life's what you make it
Don't backdate it
Baby, Don't try to shade it
Beauty is naked
Baby, life's what you make it
Celebrate it
Anticipate it
Yesterday's faded
Nothing can change it

Life's what you make it
Celebrate it
Anticipate it
Yesterday's faded
Nothing can change it
Life's what you make it

-singer/songwriter Mark Hollis of the band Talk Talk, 1986


more info and songs by Talk Talk on You Tube.

Another big time favorite of mine is It's my Life by the same band. I guess you could say I still like that 80's music! I hope you enjoy . . .  lenna

Nia: through movement we find health

I feel very fortunate that I am able to participate in Nia, a body-mind-spirit fitness program a few times a week here where I live in Florida -- and I have the option of taking classes on the beach!   

On Tuesday, I drove a little farther than usual to Siesta beach, Sarasota and had a lovely class with my instructor Kathy Oravec, below center. 

Siesta beach has won the recognition of #1 beach in the USA and it is a very popular fitness destination. There were so many people walking or jogging by, observing our class and smiling at us. Some walkers even made comments and a few even joined us! Siesta is a very social beach, and much more busy than the Longboat key beach class I had been to before. A view of the busy Siesta beach, below. 

Yes, it is still very warm on the west coast of Florida! Actually right now at 11pm the temperature is only 50 degrees, but during the mid part of the day it still gets up to 75-80. Very idyllic, I know I am blessed. Today I returned to Longboat Key for another Nia class. It was quite windy and I had a sweatshirt on. We start at 9am and I took this wonderful photo before class of the sun above Kathy's Nia banner, marking our spot on  the beach.

Longboat Key is a number of miles north of Siesta beach and is much quieter. I enjoy it very much. I was not sure initially if I would like doing a movement class on the beach, but I decided to try it and I am so glad I did -I love it! A week or 2 ago, just as we started warming up facing the ocean, 2 dolphins did a series of beautiful leaps out of the water. The waves were quite large today because of the wind and the sound they made was a perfect accompaniment to our dancing. Often the gulls fly overhead and it is really a very freeing experience to be outside, in front of the powerful ocean, moving and sensing everything. It is just what I need at this time in my life.  

 I took a quick break to drink some water and could not resist snapping a photo of Kathy teaching -beautiful. I have added a video below that will share with you more about Nia. If you are not reading this on the blog, you can link to the video here.

yours creatively, lenna

Dance SRQ and photoshop

I found out about a Conscious Movement class held once a month on Sundays through my Nia teacher Kathy Oravec. This class is held in Sarasota and sponsored by Dance SRQ (the Sarasota Airport code is SRQ) and hosted/led by Kathy. She described the activity as a free-form movement class with conscious awareness of your sensations, movements and surroundings. I found it very much like the modern dance classes I took; the improvisation section especially. It was fun, freeing, I met new people, drove to a new place, and was brave. I also got quite a workout as it was an hour and a half long and I moved a lot! I took a few photos on Sunday and later enjoyed playing with them in Photoshop elements.

The Bayfront Community Center is a really fabulous space, with wood floors, tons of light.

Tweaking the photo with a Hard Mix filter makes for a very interesting look.

We took several photos of our bare feet for a new Dance SRQ logo!

I put those 2 photos together by treating them as layers.

The windows were overlooking the Sarasota Bay and it was quite amazing. Dancing in front of the windows and looking out over the water, I felt and still feel that I am living in paradise.

Another combination, photo collage - two layered photos

You can achieve some wild colors via photoshop - I do like how it looks like paint.

This one is my favorite out of all my efforts and I chose this photo 
for my 300th upload to blipfoto! (my photo journal)

I'm starting to do mixed media art again which is good, but since I'm not quite up to speed yet I thought I'd share some of the other creative things I have been doing to feed my soul and "fill me up" as my friend Donna said, not too long ago. It is all creative, all a way  to express myself which I obviously need to do (!) and I love keeping a record of my journey. If you would like an easy way to flip through a number of posts on my journey, try the flipcard view of this blog. Hover over any square to see the title and date of the post and then click to read! I do like that version very much but am leaving it as an option instead of the default for now until it is more seasoned.

Hope you are all doing well, sending love -lenna

creativity, photos + The Ringling Museum

* my husband, Steven *

Taking photographs and perhaps playing with them in Photoshop elements has been the only way I have been creative since my dad passed away October 1st. I know this is to be expected and I know it is okay that I feel this way.
I understand it . . . and yet, it still feels strange to me not to be doing any mixed media art for this amount of time, about 3 weeks. In general, I am a fairly prolific artist and so, I feel slightly out of step right now. I have been thinking about doing an art journal page - truly, it's just a half a page to finish a journal, or some ATCs. There is also a 4x4 themed piece coming due at the end of the month and I have even been thinking about getting started on my Sketchbook Project 2012. But basically, I keep telling myself that yes, when I am ready, I will start up again with paper and paint and fabric and ink. In the meantime, I am glad to have my camera and the creativity it affords me.

On Saturday, I took myself and my camera to the Ringling Museum while Steven was out using his new paddle at a local messabout. While at the Ringling, I visited their 2 Circus Museums. This was a new experience for me having never stepped inside them before.

Inside the Circus museum, I could not resist taking a photo of myself among the clowns. I especially enjoyed all the posters and the history I learned about the Circus.

After lunch at one of the cafes, I walked through a beautiful Rose Garden on the estate where I took many photos before continuing to the Ca'd'Zan Mansion that belonged to John and Mable Ringling. It's described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Ca' d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings. I only saw the first floor and that in itself was quite amazing. It is huge and looks out over Sarasota Bay, Florida.

The Rose Garden 

For Frieda . . . 

A glimpse of the Ringling Mansion . . . 

Inside, looking out at Sarasota Bay

The courtyard overlooking the Bay . . . 

Another view of the front -click for details

Next, I walked towards the courtyard of the Museum of Art, which I had visited before. The Ringling property spans 20 acres! More about the history of the Ringling estate is here. In the courtyard of the museum there was a special dance performance being put on by students at FSU (Florida State University) as part of the Ringling International Art Festival. It was titled, When Art Refuses to Sit Still and be Quiet. The group of young women from FSU danced among the renaissance statues in the courtyard and I was most certainly entranced. I had danced in a similar performance in the courtyard of the Wadsworth Atheneum museum in Hartford, CT when I was a teenager. 

Then I made my way into the art museum proper . . . 

The painting below is by my great uncle, William Glackens.
I stood in front of it for quite a while.

I am enjoying using my camera and figure I will be back to my 'usual' creativity before too long. I am simply feeling a little more quiet than usual, which is to be expected. I do talk with my mom a lot, as well as my sister and my husband Steven and it seems we are all just moving through this life changing event of my father's death at our own pace. Do not worry, we are as fine as we can be. With love, lenna

p.s. I am not sure if the comments glitch has been fixed, but I did send notification there was a problem. If you get to a blank page when publishing your comment, please use the back arrow, open up the comments again and you should see your comment there ready to be published. So sorry for any inconvenience!

If you'd like to see more of the courtyard and museum, about a year ago Steven & I visited the Ringling together. Afterwards, I created this 4 minute Animoto Video - fun to watch & create!

more of my photos here . . .
creativelenna. Get yours at

take a walk . . .

When I looked at my blog today I couldn't believe I had not posted since Saturday! I also haven't worked in my art journal since that day either, how odd -must get back to it!
I've been otherwise occupied you could say, mostly with organizing my new art swaps for creative swaps. I'm almost ready to set them up on the blog and announce them. I've been working on more than one thing, more than one swap - writing lessons and instructions. There will be a series of shorter turn-around ATC swaps and this summer, a postcard mail art swap due in September. Stay tuned, more info soon!

In the meantime, to save my sanity yesterday since it was not a Nia dance class day, I took Asia and Chloe to DeSoto Memorial, a nearby park run by the National Park Service. It has been really hot (90's) and dry here until recently, even again this morning we have had rain. Yesterday was overcast, not too hot (80's) and a good day to try walking at the park again.

A path through the forest -they had a prescribed burn here in April.

which way now, ma?

How about on the mangrove path?
As I was walking I saw these little tiny flowers on the board walk . . .

 And realized they were from the mangrove trees above.

I loved the way they spilled down to the bench and on the path.
 click on any photo for more details.

I saw some very small creatures and practiced my macro shots . . .

Come this way, through the Sea grapes . . . 

You might see a great blue heron watching over the water

And there will definitely be time for a walk on the beach . . . 

and perhaps some swimming!

mmmm, refreshing! 
This was my 'blip' for yesterday, my photo of the day on blipfoto.
There is usually a journal entry with the photos too. 

I hope you enjoyed our walk, I enjoyed sharing it with you.

My sister and her family are arriving here today from Connecticut for a few days visit, but I still plan to dive into my art journal again soon and also finish up and announce the new swaps! Kathy will be spending time with my mom and dad so I can squeeze it in. When I can, I will work on these things and I will not worry about it if I don't get to them right way . . . just wanted to let you know. xo lenna