My Blog

July 24, 2017
New Nia and Horses program
Three years from its launch, Nia and Horses is a more potent, affordable and accessible program  - for everybody

By Randee Fox – Nia Faculty Trainer, Black Belt Nia Teacher and Nia and Horses Trainer


Tripti Kenzer and Nia and Horses horse teacher, Caanie
during a Nia and Horses Training session.
Nia and Horses has both expanded and yet contracted since I first launched it three years ago, summer of 2013 with our three horse teachers. It is now a two-day energetic exploration experience, meant for creative discovering. There is both a deeply meditative quality to the work, slow and kinesthetic, and as well, delightfully fun and exhilarating.

The program is fully approved and accredited by The Nia Technique and its founder, Debbie Rosas. It is designed to be fluid so that personal discoveries can be made. It is rooted in The Nia Technique principles and, as well, grounded in safe horse-humanship. I am both the designer and trainer of Nia and Horses, a program that grew out of my 20-year-old horse education school - Blue Heron Ranch, Educating Humans for Horses - and my Nia education practice both as a Nia teacher and as Faculty Trainer.

Randee with one of her
Nia and Horses horse teachers, Sierra.
Nia and Horses is for everybody - dancers and non-dancers, equestrians and non-equestrians. We start with and return to ‘Beginners mind’ -  a place of ‘empty’ with ‘no agenda’. The horse senses this ‘no agenda' and is drawn to us. There is a deeply physical quality to the work. A natural energetic 'in-out', ‘inhale-exhale’, ‘draw in-send out’ and creates physical balance. 

We continue to check in with our own physical sensations and make adjustments. We often return to this place - for our nervous system to maintain buoyancy and balance. The horse senses this ‘self care’ and is drawn in.  Together we are able to enjoy and build a reciprocal relationship – body first, then with horse.

Some sessions include sensation
awareness time in the pasture
with the horses.
There are deeply rich segments with a ritual-like quality to be practiced, in studio, in nature and with horse. These segments open doors to deeper awareness and connection with our body first - which, when sensed, horse is magnetically drawn to. This, I believe is the essence, the true nature of ‘animal magnetism’ or charisma. They are gratifying and fun to practice as the results are immediate. Energy is sensed immediately by the horses and by our own ‘animal body’ too.

Ultimately, after practice and making energetic adjustments, an embodied human and horse partnership is created, a place for true relational creativity. This is when we can dance with a horse, fully grounded, relaxed and aware.

Horse teacher - Caanie, Debbie, me,
horse teacher - Sierra, Sameer, Kathy and
horse teacher - Kachina during a
Nia and Horses Training weekend.
The Nia and Horses program offers a fresh beginning to 'life as art in an animal body' through discoveries that can be utilized in life. Learn more here about Nia and Horses Training opportunities.




June 16, 2016
Dancing with community
Finding solace through Nia during hard times

By Randee Fox – Nia Faculty Trainer and Black Belt Nia Teacher

Illustration by Randee Fox ©2016
I have been teaching Nia classes since 2004. In my 16 years of teaching, I have led classes during many tragic and heartbreaking events - some personal, some local and some global.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a wave of ‘Nia Bayou Boogies – Dance and Donate’ classes swept across the country and the globe, starting right here in with NiaSeattle teachers then spreading to the global community with teachers and students raising over $32,000 in one month.  We danced and donated again as NiaSeattle teachers for many more natural disasters such as the China earthquake in 2008, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and the tragic Oso, Washington landslide in 2014. Our Nia classes have continued through a series of human made disasters as well, including dancing to end violence against women in the One Billion Rising worldwide efforts held yearly since Valentines Day 2012. http://www.Onebillionrising.org

In November of 2012, Washington State voted into law that marriage is legal between same sex partners. On December 15, 2012, the morning of my long awaited wedding to my partner of 23 years, I led an emotionally filled Nia class one day after the horrible Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

“Events like this can create fear that further isolate and change the values and practices of our culture, community and country; or, it can strengthen the personal and collective resolve for compassion,
equality and justice for all.”
--Bob Gilbertson, President and CEO of YMCA

On Saturday, June 11, 2016 I was up late, laughing, celebrating and opening birthday presents from my family until past midnight after they took me out to dinner and to see “Motown, The Musical” in Seattle. It was a wonderful and festive night watching world-class musical theater. The very next morning, on June 12th, I awoke to the horrific news that 49 people were killed and another 53 injured by a mass murderer at The Pulse, a gay dance club in Orlando, Florida. The mass murderer died too making the total 50. I sadly reflected that this was happening as I opened my birthday presents. It was Latin night. They were dancing, celebrating life, doing what they loved to do, with their friends and loved ones, at, what they thought was a safe place.

“We must begin to see and feel that the life force of people and all living things is precious. We must drop the fear and step into love. We must find a way to stop the hate.”
--Debbie Rosas, Founder and CEO of The Nia Technique

This week, as I lead my six Nia classes at my own Blue Heron Ranch Studio in Sammamish and at Bellevue Family YMCA, I have a very sad yet strongly determined heart – a heart determined to spread more love and more compassion in any way I can. As a Nia teacher, I have learned that moving with music and dancing with community can be healing and empowering – even in the most hopeless of times. I was happy to receive a heartfelt note from my directors at the YMCA, where I have been employed as a Nia teacher for nine years, including one from the president and CEO of all YMCA’s, Bob Gilbertson. He ended his note with a reminder of our choices, “Events like this can create fear that further isolate and change the values and practices of our culture, community and country; or, it can strengthen the personal and collective resolve for compassion, equality and justice for all.”

I also received a strong message from the founder and CEO of Nia, Debbie Rosas, where she included this call to peace, “We must begin to see and feel that the life force of people and all living things is precious. We must drop the fear and step into love. We must find a way to stop the hate.”

This week the focus for my six Nia classes is ‘Dancing with community’ with the intention to move and bring a sense of harmony, synergy and love into our bodies and our lives. It is an honor to provide a safe place to dance with each other while cultivating a dynamic collective positive energy that I hope will somehow, someday penetrate the fear, sadness and hate and heal our broken world. More kindness. More forgiveness. More compassion. More love and peace. Starting here. Now. http://www.randeefox.com



Good-bye's
Choosing a 'high-road' departure

May 25, 2016


By Randee Fox

I have witnessed a variety of career departures in my over 40-years of career life. Some have been mindful and eloquent.

Some not so much.

Some look eloquent at first blush but underneath, upon “reading the fine print”, not so eloquent, in fact, literally self-destructive.

Here is what I know and what I choose to follow whenever at all possible. Never burn a bridge – and this does not come easy when I am ‘seduced’ by the lure of the change I am making, by what is next or if there is ‘unfinished business’ to complete.  Takes a lot of discipline to ‘complete the unfinished business’ and leave on the ‘high road’ with good closure as best as I can.

A poor departure would be like selling my home, clearing it out but leaving bags of trash and not having it cleaned for the new owners. A good departure would mean that the house was left sparkling clean, better than I found it and with a gift and kind note for the new owners.

Nia White Belt Principle 11 (thank you Karri Winn and Debbie Rosas) has supported me…”what we leave in our wake…the residue…is it positive or negative? Either way, the wake’s residue will follow me and either litter or nourish my future path." 

True success (the kind that lifts my very Soul and supports me) is all about relationships, afloat on a foundation of love. I learned early in my career as a Gap corporate executive at age 25, never to burn a career bridge.

When I left that position to become an artist, due to a strong calling, I left eloquently, mindfully with good notice, making sure someone was trained for my job. I let them know my truth - that I wanted to follow my dream to become an artist. They supported me. Even before I left, The Gap immediately rehired me as a freelance artist. This set me up for a very successful career, allowing me to build a solid portfolio.  I have always been appreciative. Thus, whenever possible, to this day, 39 years later, I shop at The Gap!

Since then, I have seen people leave incredible positions in a variety of ways. Sometimes seduced by the lure of ‘what is next’ has clouded their ‘good judgment’ and enticed them to make poor and even self-destructive choices. Or when there are ‘unspoken truths’ or ‘unfinished relationship business’ poor choices are made.

I told one beautiful, friend this when they made a choice to leave a company and create something in direct competition with the company they left:
“What I see clearly in your new website is your choice to burn the bridge you crossed to get to where you are. Unless you choose to rebuild that bridge, which could take a very long time, it could be very difficult to flourish, being fed from the all of the relationships you invested so much time, energy and love into.” 

My brother David Fox, who also lives by this rule, talks about the
metaphor of a gymnast's routine. She does her routine beautifully but
screws up her dismount. What do people remember? The dismount. 

My spouse and I have lived by this rule. With decades as career professionals, we have cultivated long time professional networks, some relationships going back to grade school and college days, and are mutually prosperous. 

The relationships have boosted our ability to become successful in our present careers. And after 27 years together, our networks have even intertwined and created a gorgeous, delicate and intricate weaving with no broken threads, supporting us all in our goals and dreams...and so it continues...
__________



November 17, 2015


The media and government, just people 
Blame seems to be what we do when we feel afraid. Powerless. 


I don't blame people in the media or government for anything. I was a newsroom artist for ten years - The News Tribune, The Seattle Times, MSNBC. "The media" is not some 'dark force' but rather people like you and me doing their jobs as best they can. Fast. To get the news out. To us. Freedom of the press. I have witnessed tremendous courage and skill in talented newspeople working together to cover controversial and dangerous stories which caused significant and positive social transformation. 

My spouse worked in government for many years including the US Attorney's office and The White House. Same. People (many who 'we the people' voted into office) doing their jobs as best they can - 'a government by the people, for the people'. 

Both fields have changed tremendously since our careers began. There were few women and minorities when we started. All paper press. No internet. Smoke filled rooms. I could go on and on. Seattle Times led the country in diversity training for every member of the news room in the early 90s, thanks to visionary Managing Editor, Alex Macleod. Ahead of their time. 

Both fields are connected, of course. Why? To protect the people and get us the news. The media is not run by the government in this country. And the government is not run by the media. And yes, as people working in those fields we can do better and we are. 

Either we or our ancestors arrived in this country by immigration, many of them fleeing inhumanities in their home countries - unless our homeland was violently stolen from us as Native Americans, or we were violently stolen from our homelands to enslaved as African Americans.

Put your skepticism down. Vote good people into office. Roll up your sleeves and work together. Speak your truth. Make a difference. Stop blaming and separating us. Celebrate all of our freedoms. We The People are one people, one Humanity. 





___________________


January 30, 2015

Nia and Horses - from dream to reality

As we rested in the sun together,
she stood above me and exhaled 
the scent of sweet grass upon 
me. I looked up to find my 
reflection in her kind eye me
true connection is born out 
of love.

To to be a dream achiever I have learned to hold the vision of my dream, while inspiring and accessing the support of others. This means creating a support system that I am willing to nurture. It means asking for advice, listening, learning, changing, being afraid, falling down, getting back up and consciously pouring in as much positive energy that is needed into these relationships, all the while chipping away, carving the stone of my dream - no matter what I am receiving back. My support system is a web of relationships that are intricately connected and vascular in nature with deep roots and reaching branches that circulate kindness, compassion and love through the heart of my every realized dream. I need this connected human system in order to do my best work and my best work is in achieving my dreams. Here is my story:

By Randee Fox - Nia Faculty Trainer, Creator of Nia and Horses

Nia and Horses Training has finally launched as an accredited Nia Technique Program under 'Training’ on the home page of Nianow.com

Dancing before riding
This has been a focused dream of mine which truly began with dancing in the early 1990s. Before competing in horse shows, I would get up at 4AM and do my own version of Nia FreeDance using African Dance moves and music to a sweaty elated state. Then I'd clean up, put on my show clothes, load up my horse in my trailer and travel to horse shows, compete all day and come home with many blue ribbons!  I had no idea then why, but this dancing ritual worked. My horse was more connected to me after I danced. And I was not nervous! Thus I began a practice of dancing before riding.

R.O.C.K. and learning that horses really do help humans heal
In 1998 I learned how horses' big hearts and specific movement can help humans heal. I opened my first horse education school on our ranch in Georgetown, Texas. For the next four years we taught all ages of people about the joys being with, caring for and riding horses. I watched our students' confidence and well being grow just from being with horses. During one of my 'How to buy a good horse' clinics, I met a physical therapist named Nancy Krenek. She shared her dream of opening a therapeutic riding center for kids with special needs and needed seven horses. That year Nancy, with her herd of seven horses and a group of visionaries, started Ride On Center for Kids - R.O.C.K.  She began hiring and training Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) instructors. My horses and I helped R.O.C.K.'s first instructors learn about horses and pass their riding exams and worked as a volunteer at R.O.C.K. as well. I was invited to become a R.O.C.K. board member where I served for four years. A key member of their board, Patti Colbert - winner of the 2014 Equine Industry Vision Award created a program for at risk young men from central Texas juvenile detention program at R.O.C.K. While watching Patti and the therapy horses create relationships and bond with these young men over time, I clearly saw how horses healed humans - all humans.  R.O.C.K. is a PATH Premier Accredited International Center has not only expanded their Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Horsemanship programs, R.O.C.K. but also offers Equine Facilitated Learning and Horses for Heroes programs (video below). On Nancy's recommendation, for the past two years I have been on the Board of Trustees of Rainier Therapeutic Riding a sister therapeutic program for America's military heroes, both active and veterans, based in Yelm, Washington.




Finding the Nia Technique
I found The Nia Technique in the year 2000 in Austin, Texas with teacher Liz Ganz. After just one class I knew I had found the movement practice that I had been looking for my entire life. In 2002 we moved back to Washington State and I opened Blue Heron Ranch - Educating Humans for Horses and continued my Nia practice, joining a small group of twelve Nia teachers -  NiaSeattle (now 36 teachers strong). Practicing Nia added to my “Randee dance” as my family had called it for years. In 2004 I became a Nia White Belt teacher and in 2005 I earned my Nia Blue Belt. Then in 2006 as a Nia Brown Belt, I began to bring specific Nia White Belt principles into my own relationship with my horses with great success of better communication and connection. I began incorporating the Nia principles with my equestrian students' lessons with incredible success. We learned that horses love it when we are present in sensation - it allows them to connect to us. Every White Belt principle enhanced the relationship between horse and student.

Seeing the "Cavalia" horses dance changed my life.
Seeing Cavalia, studying with The Equus Projects and learning how to dance with my horses
That same year my then partner (now spouse), Paula surprised me with tickets to a new show where Cirque de Soleil dancers dance with horses. It is called "Cavalia". I sat there moved to tears - seeing the blending of two of my greatest passions, dance and horses. Seeing the Cavalia horses and dancers changed my life forever and showed me new possibility between horse and human. To dance!

Later that year on a visit to New York City I took a Nia class with teacher, Jayne Mielo. We connected instantly after class, shared some coffee, our stories and a cab to our perspective locations in Manhattan. In that cab I told her about my dream to unite Nia with horses. She told me about a brilliant artistic director of a New York-based modern dance company, Joanna Mendl Shaw and her company,  "Equus Projects".  They create dances with horses and teach clinics all over the world to dancers. As soon as I arrived back to Washington state I looked up Joanna and called her. I found out that she was due to come to the Seattle area the next year to present a clinic so I signed up and learned how to incorporate some modern dance principles with horses. I loved learning with them and went on to take three more clinics with Joanna and her dancers. Now she's my friend and mentor.

Here I am with Sierra, one of our Nia and Horses
trained horses, learning to apply modern dance 
principlesat an Equus Projects clinic in 2008. 
The birth of Nia and Horses
A few years later in August, 2008, my Nia Black Belt year, Debbie Rosas, Co-Founder and Co-Creator of The Nia Technique, came to my ranch to conduct the first Nia 5 Stages Teacher Training. I arranged for her to ride one of my horses with my riding teacher and mentor, Level 4 Centered Riding Instructor,  Karen Irland (who to this day says she never has taught anyone so connected to their body - surprise, surprise!). It was that trip that Debbie told me of her vision…for me to have people come to Nia and horse retreats on my ranch. She saw it as she so clearly sees many things before they happen. Meanwhile I began presenting Nia at horse training clinics, including clinics with horse trainer, Barb Apple, NW Region of the U.S. Pony Club's Regional Conference and AQHA Region One Championships in British Columbia,  and horse conventions all over Western Washington and in British Columbia with great feedback. Everyone seemed to love adding Nia with their horses. The relationship is synchronous.

Becoming a Nia Faculty Trainer
In June, 2010 Debbie invited me to become a Nia Faculty Trainer with a group of about 50 other Nia Black Belt Teachers. I graciously declined and said “No thank you. I love my life.” To that she said, “What if you were the only one in the world teaching Nia for Equestrians (what we called it then) and if it was a Nia-accredited program?" She had me. I asked her if I had to become a Trainer to teach Nia for Equestrians. She said a very clear YES. So I stepped in and over the next 2.5 years learned how to become a Nia Faculty Trainer. I love training the Nia White Belt. I presented my first vision of Nia and Horses at “Courting Your Destiny”, a meeting of potential Next Generation Nia Faculty Trainers with First Generation Nia Trainers at Nia Headquarters over three days in August 2010. It was at this meeting that I officially stepped in to become a Nia Faculty Trainer and Nia and Horses Trainer. I graduated in December of 2013 along with 36 of my friends. Nia Faculty Trainers went from 12 to 50 during our 2.5 year training program. Our graduation celebration video is below.


While becoming a Nia Faculty Trainer and training my first eight White Belt trainings I wrote and implemented Nia and Horses (I changed the name realizing that this program is not just for equestrians but for everybody - all sessions taken on the ground with horses - yet all sessions transferrable into the saddle for those who ride).

Debbie Rosas with Robin Gates' horses during 
Liberty Training Clinic.
Studying Liberty Training - a perfect foundation for happy horse teachers
In 2013 I brought Debbie with me to another incredible horse trainer, my current mentor and teacher, Robin Gates, who practices and teaches pure liberty training with roots based in the Carolyn Resnick Method

For three days, under her direction, we explored our energy styles, sometimes surrounded by her full herd of horses. It was both frightening and enlightening and energetically informing to run so much energy through our bodies with so little movement as leaders. We both came away changed forever. I have continued my relationship and studies with Robin over the past five years who has also become a dear friend. I also have taken two online 8 week courses with her mentor, Carolyn Resnick who originated this full liberty method of training horses. Thus, we have happy horses who love to teach humans how to connect with them!

Soleil and me.
During 2013 and half of 2014 I finished writing the Nia and Horses syllabus and applying sessions following the protocol of Nia's Specialty Application Process. In July of 2014 I conducted the first and only pilot program, Nia and Horses White Belt Training. It was an immense and intense week of applying all of the 13 Nia White Belt principles with horses. That stretched me incredibly as a trainer and I learned so much as did my nine trainees. I came away with greater insight that the Nia White Belt Training needed to remain the White Belt pure and Nia and Horses needed to become a shorter and more spacious program, one that could respond to the ever changing needs of creatively facilitating the energetic connection of humans and horses using Nia principles - so that we could ultimately dance together.
Horse Soleil with Trainees, Simona Foggitt, 
Ginger Atherton and Cathy Mahon perform their 
Nia and Horses dance with music at the end of their 
Nia and Horses White Belt (pilot) training, July 2014.

From August to December 2014 Debbie and I, with the help of Karri Winn, Nia's Director of Social Purpose and Jessica Sarantakis, Debbie Rosas' assistant, had several reconstruction meetings - some every week to two weeks, as I listened to Debbie, recorded her words and processed her advice, rewrote, refined, clarified intent of each session, tested with the horses, and tweaked the program again into a very rich three-day retreat. Now it feels just right. I have three trainings up now, two at my ranch and one in Tuscany!  Kristen Gasser, Austrian Nia Black Belt and producer invited me last summer to come present Nia and Horses at her friend and Nia teacher, Dagmar Baumann's farm, Le Costarelle in Tuscany, Italy. That happens in September. Learn more and register to join us here!

Nia and Horses - now an official and accredited Nia program
The Nia and Horses training went live on Nianow.com in mid-January 2015! What a huge amount of work for all involved at Nia headquarters too. From Tripte Kenzer editing what I wrote, to Lisa Vaughn taking my loose logo ideas and creating three pages of brilliant comps then finally narrowing it down to the most elegant and perfect logo (see below). Then Andy Price, Nia's webmaster adding everything to the Nianow.com website which I have great appreciation for from having been an art director of news at MSNBC. Everything web-related takes more time. I also have deeper appreciation for how Nia International Headquarters operates and their demand for perfection on a whole new level. 

It is my new dream to share Nia and Horses with you. It will change your life. The horses inform us so perfectly and intimately about our energy states, our vulnerability, our magnetism and true connection to sensation in the most incredible way. And it is fun and delightful to let go, slow down and be grounded in a playful ‘animal state’ with others in nature.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me.





Jada and Sierra.




___________________________________________________________________________

June 13, 2013

A call for healing: Dancing with clouds


Drawing lessons and reflections from my fallen teacher, Robin Gates, now healing from a freak accident that happened June 4th 2013, with one of her horses 


UPDATE ON ROBIN'S HEALING JOURNEY: 

  • Friday morning, June 14th update from Lynn Elston:
    Robin got home to her ranch yesterday, late afternoon.  She still has much healing to do and there will be rough patches, but she WILL get through it.
    I am certain, when she is able, we will hear from her directly.  But, until then, Leslie assures me that she feels all of our love and support each moment.  So, we’ll keep on thinking of her and sending her good ju-ju!!!
    And, now, we have a way to reach her with cards, flowers, etc.
    Robin’s mailing address is:  PO Box 464, Kenwood, CA 95452
    Her physical address is: 1110 Kenilworth Avenue, Kenwood, CA 95452
    I will be sending the Remembrance book and the Loving Sphere out to her on Monday morning, so please, if you still have a word or a message you’d like to have included, send it today.  I surely don’t want to leave anyone out, so send your thoughts right away!!
    Also, once again, I will say that the GOFUNDME site http://www.gofundme.com/3804dc
    for Robin IS a good place to contribute a donation to help Robin, in this medical financial crisis.  I liked Carolyn Resnick’s suggestion of sending something monthly, to help make up for some of Robin’s lost income through this summer.
    And huge thanks to all of you who have already donated...look at the difference we are all able to make!!!  And doesn’t it all feel wonderful??!!!
    Lynn

  • Sunday evening June 9th: From Leslie Whitelaw, Robin's dear friend: Nicole & I went to see Robin this morning for a couple of hours.  She was completely engaged in a complex conversation about managing the barn, food, money etc.  She looked a lot better - much less swelling and bruising, her eyes open, eating soft foods. Tomorrow (Monday June 10th) is the scheduled surgery (could change if docs decide she still needs more time for her brain to settle from concussion).  She was told it would be a seven-hour surgery beginning at 6 am.  Every bone in her face including her nose (which looks perfect and just like the original) affected. Her clavicle and a rib are also broken.  I believe she is to return to ICU for at least one week, maybe two according to one of her nurses. It will be a painful recovery  from the surgery. The impact of the "inconvenience" is beginning to sink in now that she's more "here". I know you will hold Robin in your hearts & minds tomorrow and beyond. We are getting the barn organized for the long haul.  I have great confidence in our group - it will all work out and I'll bet Robin will be back in the thick of it sooner than we imagine. Lots of love to you all.  You support is truly a huge boost to us all.

  • Sunday afternoon June 9thMORE GOOD NEWS! She's doing remarkably well. Her swelling has gone down significantly and the best news is that her nose and forehead are not broken. Even more of a miracle is that she still has all of her teeth. She will have reconstructive surgery on Monday. A long operation but hopefully the only one she will need. They will wire and fuse her bones together and eventually they will heal. The bones actually heal faster than the swelling. She should feel better in 2-3 months and full recovery in about 6 months.
  • Saturday morning June 8th: GOOD NEWS! Robin received an  A+ neurology report and got word from the ICU Team that she will move out of ICU! 
June 8, 2013
Blog and photos by Randee Fox
Debbie Rosas watches as Robin Gates works with a wild mustang she has adopted.








My dear mentor and Liberty Horse Training teacher, Robin Gates, took a severe kick to her face by one of her horses this week, on the evening of June 4th, 2013 as she fed her longtime friend and horse, Red. She was found unconscious in Red's stall. No one knows what happened as it lies in Robin's memory, temporarily lost. 



Robin teaches her Washington students with horses at Lynn
Elston's 'From theMother' Farm in Snohomish, Washington.
When I wrote this on June 7th she was in intensive care at Stanford University Medical center awaiting the swelling in her brain to recede for at least 48 hours so that the surgeons can begin to put her face, now unrecognizable, back together.
Word has it that she is coherent with her sense of humor well in tact. 

Many of her facial bones have been broken with fractures to her skull. Thankfully, her eyes are functioning fine but lids temporarily swollen shut. Robin faces a long journey back to the work she loves so much to share, teaching her message about life, love through horses, sharing her the work of her mentor, who she studied with for 30 years, Carolyn Resnick

In April my other mentor and teacher, Debbie Rosas, Founder and Creator of Nia
and I went for a a three-day intensive at Robin's Rising Moon Ranch in Sonoma, California. Rising Moon Ranch sits high on a magnificent plateau among the patchwork vineyard-lined cloud hugged hills of Sonoma, California - a mystical place to visit, for sure.
Robin Gates and Debbie Rosas share philosophy as 
Leslie Whitelaw spends time with her horse at 
Robin's Rising Moon Ranch.
The three days with this master teacher, philosopher, brilliant trainer and her horses were life altering for me. Being with Debbie and Robin was, at times, like being the net between a wild game of ping-pong. The pearls, the metaphors, the way of looking at all that is life, love and available lessons, in any given moment, with and through horses, at liberty, as a member of their herd, in nature, was one of the most magnificent kinesthetic journeys my body and soul have ever taken taken. At times I felt fearful, at times exuberant, and always inspired, soaring high on a suspended plane that seemed to transcend time.



At home I have three horses and have owned a number of horses for 22 years. My horses are nicely trained and over the past three years, we all have been learning The Carolyn Resnick Method of training horses, mostly with Robin and most recently with Carolyn. Each day is a new with them and is filled with magical and sometimes very funny moments. Our trust and bond has grown significantly. Now my place in the herd is solid as leader. They come when they are called. They will walk with me with no halter or lead thanks to Robin's and Carolyn's teachings - and we are just beginning. All of the work transfers into the saddle, making riding them quite enjoyable as we have established connection, through a series of rituals on the ground first. 


Soleil, nuzzles me  as I spend time with my horses,
a ritual called 'Sharing Territory' with Liberty 
Training.
However since the news of Robin's accident, I have felt slightly paralyzed have been wary, feeling vulnerable with my horses. I even left the ranch Thursday to spend time at the ocean, allowing the lapping waves to 'wash over me' helping me come to terms with what happened to my friend and teacher. 

On Friday night, I realized it was time to talk to my horses and tell them my Truth. So I did. I went out to the barn and I told them one by one, what had happened to Robin, and that I was feeling scared, pensive, vulnerable with them. I told them that I did not ever want me or anyone else to be hurt by them as tears flowed for Robin. Each one listened at their stall doors with soft eyes. I have no idea if they heard me but they seemed curious and very present for me as I surrendered to my emotions. 



The sun rises over Robin Gates' Rising Moon Ranch.
Now I imagine Robin's light and free spirit soaring among the hills surrounding her horses at her beloved Rising Moon Ranch, dancing with clouds as she lays in her hospital bed, healing with the timeless patience she has taught me to have with my horses, with myself and with all of life. 

Sending love and healing to you, my friend - with reverence


_______________________________________________

A singing vestibular system…and “Beyond”


Illustration by Randee Fox © 2012
I am writing to share my experience of teaching only one Nia routine, “Beyond” for the past five weeks.

On July 24th I decided to teach Nia's newest routine, “Beyond” for the first week of the 2012 Summer Olympics, in honor if its co-creator and teacher, Nia’s First Generation Trainer, Ann Christiansen, also an Olympiad in swimming. After one week, I started to notice positive changes that, in all my nine years of teaching Nia, I had not experienced. I wondered what would happen if I taught only one routine through to the end of August. I have one final week to go.

Not changing to another routine allowed me to become intimately connected, uncovering choreographic and musical detail like finding shards of blue glass on the beach. Doors to playfulness and imagery opened enabling me to infuse my own artistry.


"I thought of a Broadway actress. Every night, sometimes three performances a day on a weekend, over months, maybe years, she pulls something from deep inside to repeat her performance brilliantly, inspiring audiences, over and over. This thought helped me seat deeply into my self and stick with "Beyond"."
--Randee Fox, Nia Faculty Trainer 

This truly required a deeper practice on my part – deeper than my normal learning of a routine, dancing with DVD 5-7 times. More like 25-30…and still practicing.

August traditionally has been the slowest month for Nia at my studio in Sammamish, Washington. Each year, over the past seven years, I have considered closing the studio but never have. This year I chose to go in the opposite direction. Deepen my commitment. And with an eager crowd at the YMCA where I also taught, I had a larger group of students to play with too.

Choosing to do only “Beyond” over 25 Nia classes seemed to free something up inside of me. I didn’t have to do anything other than continue to study, practice and deepen my relationship with the routine – then share the rewards with students. This was like choosing only one uniform to wear every day. No worries about what to wear! Just wash it and iron it as needed and put it on!  This freedom inspired me to add two new August Playshops – Nia and Horses, something I have never done in August – both were very successful and rich.

At mid-month I experienced what I call ‘mid-range worries’. "I have come this far, how will I go as far to the end? Will my students become bored?" This worry illustrated an insecurity in my ability as a teacher. 

I looked inside myself and realized that I often change or mix routines or add new music to please my students - to keep them coming. Through this 'experiment' of staying with ONE routine, I learned that this is not always necessary. The changes are in my presence as a teacher, my ability to illustrate the intensity choices and like a skilled conductor, play the principles as members of an orchestra. I looked to my history and training, from White Belt to Trainer and realized that at this point in my career in teaching Nia, I do have the skills to create a 'new and unique' class that delights students consistently.


Audra McDonald with cast is a five time Tony Award winner
including 2012 for "The Gerschwins' Porgy and Bess".
I thought of a Broadway actress. Every night, sometimes three performances a day on a weekend, over months, maybe years, she pulls something from deep inside to repeat her performance brilliantly, inspiring audiences, over and over. This thought helped me seat deeply into my self and stick with "Beyond".

As I continued on this quest, my students have come with me, allowing me to lead them more deeply into this beautiful body of work. They were inspired because I was. We all were falling very deeply in love with this routine leaving blissfully drenched and renewed each time happy and proud as we embodied the music and moves.

During this mid-month time I was asked by my director at the YMCA to add two new Nia classes at where I have been teaching for five years. I accepted this as a validating reward that I was on a good path.

The changes are continuing with each class I teach and here’s what I have noticed thus far:
1.      I am enjoying a deeper understanding of the music of “Beyond”, decoding details inside the musical design and cueing my students in time to match our movement to them. 
2.     Choreographically, I am becoming more skilled because “Beyond” has challenging yet delightful 'cross patterns' to master.
3.     I use less words and trust the routine to 'take us'.
4.     I am standing taller, and feel more rooted to earth.
5.     The tightness and pain in my hip joints is gone.
6.     I feel lighter, more agile and strong.
7.     With all of the turns and cross pattern movements, my vestibular system, for the first time in my life, is climbing to a new level – and singing:
·      My ability to hold balance has improved.
·      I am enjoying keener spatial orientation, and am enjoying a sense of 'flight' in my movement
·      I understand what dancing my entire body in a Nia routine means and sense more mobility and fluidity in all of my joints and spinal column.
·      I have clearer vision in my eyes. 
·      My sensory system seems to have come alive as if I have lost years and am getting younger.
·      The dizziness I sometimes experience when turning over and over is slowly melting away.
8.     I am sleeping soundly like a baby every night.

This has been an enlightening journey for me and as I bring the five weeks with "Beyond" to a close next week, I have a new formula for deepening my Nia practice…going ‘beyond’ my wildest dreams into routines and leading my students into the rewards of commitment.

Thanks to creators, Trainer, Anne Christiansen, and Nia's Co-Creator Debbie Rosas, Nia's CEO, music and video director, Jeff Stewart and to all of the beautiful Nia dancers who participated in the video of this routine to give me a spectacular masterpiece to learn from and now share.
I have another four classes to teach to complete the month of August with "Beyond" so please join me. You can find my class schedule here.



Soleil comes home
After 18 months of show training and on the road to be sold, I pulled the plug and brought my youngest horse home to learn Liberty Horse Training with me


 
Soleil back home at three years old during a Liberty Horse Training session waiting for me to bring her reward of carrots and cookies after a liberty walk with me around the arena.
August 3rd, 2012
By Randee Fox

A few more profound changes have happened for me since writing my last blog in June about my experiences and lessons with Robin Gates, Liberty Horse Trainer with my horse and her horses at her Rising Moon Ranch in Sonoma, California.

When I bought my horse, Caanie four years ago she was in foal five months. I used a wonderful process called "Spirit Blending" with human, horse and unborn foal twice a day from the moment she arrived. It creates a three-way bond, mare, foal and human. You can read about it here. http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Blending-Foals-Before-Continued/dp/1553956907  (starts on page 21 of the book - you can read on Amazon.com) It is a beautiful process.

Soleil running with Caanie her first day of life.
Soleil was born April 5, 2009, very strong and bold from day one. For two years I worked with her on foal starting and groundwork that I learned before Liberty Training. By age two she had impeccable ground manners, could wear a bareback pad, could stand tied, load and unload in a trailer, lunge, bathe, stand to her feet trimmed, walk and trot over a blue tarp, wear it on her head, go over poles, back through barrels and so much more. I simply taught her everything I knew how to teach a horse on the ground.
Soleil at 2, started under saddle.

She was ready to be started under saddle, in my view. My intention was to sell her. Over the 18 months she was in training she had done well and yet reports from trainers I used were that she was not all that happy with going round and round in an arena. Though she was an incredibly talented mover she was sometimes bored, other times resentful.

I began my journey with Robin Gates' Liberty Horse Training in April 2011 (based in the Carolyn Resnick Method). The more I learned, the more I heard my inner voice saying that traditional show training is missing huge pieces of the puzzle for me in my lifetime relationship with horses. For the last two years I attended the AQHA Championship and watched hundreds of AQHA horse and human athletes compete together. The most moving moments were what the horse was offering to the human...such heart, spirit and willingness. However for me something was profoundly missing often in what humans were offering back to the horse's true nature. 
Me with Caanie, Soleil's mother, on a joyful Liberty run after practicing
Liberty Horse Training with her for 15 months. (photo Anne Staveley)
I am now hooked on a brand new path and all three of my grown horses love this method of relating. The Resnick method includes learning what she calls "The Waterhole Rituals". These are bonding rituals natural to horses that deepen the connection and enhance their performance and create harmony. The rituals, when shared by humans and horses, allow us to match each others' movements like a mirrored reflection. It is the most nurturing dance I have ever done with a horse on the ground. 

Though I had Soleil in traditional show training with the intention to get her sold, I never took her homemade nameplate off of her stall. And I never let any other horse use that stall. It's as if I knew inside that she’d return but I was not ready to listen to my own spirit’s voice. I was not ready to let go.

The 800-mile drive home alone with my horse and dog from Robin Gates’ Rising Moon Ranch in Sonoma, California allowed me lots of time to reflect on my life and path with horses. After spending so much time concentrated with Robin and her horses, both awake and in dream state, camping on the ranch, something began to change inside of me.

When I got home I chose to have Soleil shipped back from Texas where she had been in training with the intention to get her sold. At this newest program, she kept getting injured – two injuries in 2 months while being turned out alone in a paddock - first a cut above her eye that required stitching then a gash on her neck. I finally listened to her and my own spirit’s voices, both saying clearly, “Enough!” and had her shipped home.

She came home defensive to me and to the other three horses. She was even afraid of my hand near her face. I have no idea why. But it doesn’t matter. I made a commitment to her – to let her 'chill out',  be a horse and that I would relate to her and train her using a totally new language, a language that she would easily understand and enjoy.

It is interesting to see the three other horses ‘train’ her too as they put her ‘in her place’. For four weeks they would not allow her into the upper pasture to graze with them. They chased her to the lower pasture by the barn where she grazed alone. It’s going better for her now after a month and just this week she has been invited to graze with them. She has four new liberty trainers - me and the three mares. It is pretty cool to watch her create harmony carefully and thoughtfully in order to find her way into the herd, with a more respectful attitude towards each of us.

She has caught onto the Liberty work very fast. I do small sessions daily, wait for a ‘yes’ and stop her. My intuition says not too much for now. Let nature take over…her nature and the nature of horses. She is only three and has a long, long life ahead. Natural time.

The most profound changes…no more defensiveness, no ears back. She greets me with curious, interested eyes and a happy face every day. She comes when called, drops her head when I say ‘head down’ and lifts it when I say ‘head up’. It was not that way when she arrived.

I am waiting to hear the “yes” in her skin, all over, waiting until she leans and melts into my hands before I saddle her up and ride her, the kind of feel I have with the other three. She will get there when she is ready. We have all the time in the world to get acquainted in this brilliant and authentic way. 

__________________________________________

Three Days with Robin Gates, Liberty Horse Trainer
At Rising Moon Ranch in Sonoma, California with my horse Caanie

June 2012
By Randee Fox
Sunset reflecting looking east over Robin Gates' Rising Moon Ranch, Sonoma, California


My partner Paula gifted me 3 days with Robin Gates, Liberty horse trainer for my 60th birthday this year. I have taken three Robin Gates clinics as an auditor and one private 2 hour session on her visits to From the Mother Farm in my own state of Washington since April 2011. This clinic at her ranch was a private intensive for us with her and her horses on her beautiful ranch which sits on a mesa in the wine country hills of Sonoma. I camped in my trailer on the ranch with my dog Lil'Ley as we were on our way home after 11 weeks at our home in Santa Fe. I practiced and played six hours a day for three days with Robin and her horses as my guide. Her working student, Nichole, a talented young teacher, was also instrumental in my learning. It was a total immersion and transforming for me on many levels. I wrote each morning, recapping what I was experiencing...much more than horse training but rather, opening new doors of awareness of how I use and direct my own energy with regard to horses and my life. 



“Neurons that fire together wire together.”
--Robin Gates, Liberty Horse Trainer

Day One June 14, 2012
In one word – humbling.

I was born with pure Love of Horse. Just the sight and smell of them thrilled me as early as I can remember. My first pictures as an artist were of horses. The books I loved the most were about horses. Though I grew up in a city I longed for a farm with horses.

As I grew up into adulthood the longing to be with horses grew. Thus, as soon as I could afford a horse, they were in my life…starting at age 39. I am now 60. It’s been an incredible learning journey so far as a lifetime horsewoman.

Yes, I was drawn to horses out of purity and Love and I have had magnificent connection moments that created not only inspiration and wonder of life, but a perfect environment for healing my past from the devastating ‘loss’ then abuse by a mother suddenly stricken with Schizophrenia when I was 10. Thus I was seduced by a certain ‘power over’ horses out of a deep need to ‘control’ my destiny.

I have often come from a place of Fear rather than a place of purity and Love with regard to my horses. It is that Fear that masks the need to heal, to control my destiny. This is what I seek to change and why I am here.

If there was no Fear, no ancient notion of dominance with regard to Horse, what would I be left with but the Love I was born with? This notion makes me feel unstable, shaky…and it is where I must go in order to change.

Horse is not here to heal me. I am here to heal me.

And coming from a place of Love vs. Fear may even allow me to help Horse heal too.   


Vulnerability - a seedling for stability on the path to creating charisma
"The willingness to love, accept, embrace, dance with and express my own human vulnerability not only opens a pathway to deeper personal stability, it has a contagious effect and opens doors for others to enter the circle, breathe a sigh of relief, shed pretense and do the same. This, I believe, is the true beginning of giving birth to a stable and shining leader, one who radiates the inner light of true charisma and personal magnetism in order to build positive communities."
 –Randee Fox

Day Two June 15, 2012
Robin Gates and her horse Cabo taking a little 'chill' break.
In one word – Surrender
(Letting go into trust to ride the currents of Harmony.)

Manufactured Fear is certainly a defensive distraction that rips me off for living in the moment, enjoying life's surprises. So I have begun using Robin’s mean green leprochan image sitting on my shoulder whispering fearful stories into my ear. And enjoying destroying him in a number of satisfying ways.

I was set out into the Sea of Trust, again and again, to find my way with awaiting horses including two mustangs recently brought from a wild herd, Robin’s trained masters and my horse, Caanie. Each were magnificent containers of “Horse”.

My task was to first consider and sense the currents of life within and surrounding my body and my own very Life Force as it expanded outward infinitely into the sky and beautiful rolling hills into the distance … then the same within and surrounding each horse.  

The first horse, Jordan, gave me what I needed to go back to my beginning as a girl, into my untainted and innocent Pure Love of Horse…as a child. He accepted my unveiling as tears seeped from my very umbilical cord of life, deep into the center of our shared Earth.

As the day went on, at some moment, early in my experience with each horse I was able to sense a kind of mutual 'latching on' energetically as we floated into the unknown together, my heart lightening and often into laughter as the day progressed.

With the lens of Fear removed, I could see each horse being’s was uniqueness unto themselves with an ancient history in their eyes and a sense of delight, even humor. During the journey with each horse, even the mustangs, I discovered keys that opened doors to gliding with our mutual own energy moment-to-moment. This is much different than the defensive ‘micro managing’ of our energy that I came here with.

At one point I let Jordan move me. The sensation was incredible. Not pushing against or blocking but ‘moving with’ him as if he were my skilled dance teacher saying, “I am leading, let’s move this way.” 

Allowing that sensation of “moving with” him untaught my body to defend and revealed the soft bubble of energy that a polite horse can have.

I ended the day surrendered, floating in a mineral pool on my back, being held by the salts effortlessly. As I closed my eyes I saw images of Robin’s ranch of the future. Lovely people and horses in true harmony.

It is my desire to help this come to be during my lifetime.



Day Three June 16th 2012
Sun rising over Rising Moon Ranch during my 3-day training
with Robin Gates, Liberty Horse Trainer.
In one word – “Chill” (a great word for 102+-degree weather)

We agreed to start at 7:30 AM knowing the day would reach 102+ weather. Sonoma was having a big heat wave!

I had Robin help me with a ‘backing out of trailer’ issue I had been having with Caanie.  The horse backed out fast and though she has gotten better over a period of months, she was still not waiting for my cue and rushed to get out.

Robin put a bowl of sweet feed about 40 feet from the back of the trailer. And put another bowl in the trailer.

With a very slow and relaxed demeanor she worked my horse back and forth with reward and down time, “chilling” in the trailer or out of it to the ‘pathway of pleasure’ between sweet feed dishes. Everything was done in slow motion with an attitude of no negative energy, just reward and relaxation. She definitely got the horse into a ‘seeking mode’ by the end.

If at any time Caanie backed out before she asked, she went with it and ‘non-punitively’ backed her around the trailer as if she and my horse were going for a nice slow back-walk.  Sometimes she backed the horse a huge circle all the way around a shed and back to the trailer. After several times repeating she waited for the “yes”, for the horse to back more quietly then ended with lots of reward.

I could see the horse choosing to change her energy, mirroring Robin’s loose and released energy with no concerns. I knew that any permanent change would not happen overnight. It would take time…for both of us, me leading the ‘Chill locomotive”.

The rest of the day was spent working with and watching a variety of horses including watching Robin, Nichole (Robin’s working student) and Leslie with their horses.  We all wore long sleeved cotton or microfiber shirts, military cooling vests that we dipped in the horse troughs and wet scarves on our necks as well as the ‘must have’ wide brimmed straw hats. as the temps climbed to over 100 by 11AM. I really got a sense of what it means to ‘chill’, relax and drop my energy into the earth as I worked with and observed the others in the searing heat.

Robin also showed me the lightness in her horse Cabo as I got to experience the lightest ground driving with a single line ever. “As if he is on the end of a kite”, she instructed me. Even my arm needed to be in full flow, down, energy released and relaxed. I loved this sensation, the horse responding to the lightest shift. More “chill”.



"Harmony is not about perfection. It is about synchronization, and coming together for a common goal. Not the mechanical synchronization that is obtained through mindless repetition but synchronization through a flow of blended energy between two or more individuals. It is what makes up nature and what brings spirit to life." 
--Mark Rashid (Aikido master, horse trainer, and author) from his book, "Nature in Horsemanship"

It will take time to make this awareness and energetic shift. Lots of practice and awareness on my part…in all areas of my life….to “chill”.

The training ended at 1:30 PM and we all went to lunch at an amazing Chinese restaurant in Santa Rosa.
Caanie home at Blue Heron ranch after 11
weeks of travel, enjoying the belly high grass.

Robin and Nichole took a break after lunch at the most intense the heat of the day.  They began their training again after dinner all the way to dark – something that they did every night. I was amazed at their energy.

As the evening cooled into the 80s Caanie and I went for a long walk and trot around the ranch as I took photos of the beautifully painted sunset over Rising Moon Ranch.

Neil, Robin’s husband came down and joined us under the solstice sky slowly deepening from goldens to reds to purples to nighttime backlit blues. We shared a cold beer and lighthearted ‘laughter embellished’ conversation that I am certain echoed through the ranch and made the horses smile as they grazed on their evening piles of hay. It was a beautiful end to a rich three days.

Caanie, Lil’Ley and I left the next morning to begin our 800-mile journey back to Washington, making nightly stops at beautiful ranches and with lovely people and animals that I found on http://www.horsemotel.com in Redding, Ashland, Eugene (where we picked up my 9 year old niece, Jada), Oregon City and then arrived home four days later, wiser, more relaxed and more courageous than I ever imagined.

______________________

Dancing for a lost angel
Sunset on Santa Monica Beach February 2012.


February 20, 2012
By Randee Fox

I was born in Hollywood, California and raised in West Los Angeles - a land of exquisite beauty, majestic coastal mountains, tall palm trees, white sandy beaches, mild weather and the birth place of the movie industry. As long as I can remember L.A. was a racially diverse city inhabited by every colorful character imaginable -  a city rich with cultural creativity, inspiration and stimulating energy constantly exploding in every direction. It was a great place for me, as an artist, to be born.

Both of my parents were also born there in the 1920s. So I consider myself an original Los Angelian. As a young woman in the 1970s I followed my older brother and escaped L.A., heading north to the San Francisco Bay Area to 'find myself' and begin my career as an artist. I was offered a job as a newspaper artist and moved to Seattle in 1987. L.A., though it was my home and though I loved many things about it, had become a place that represented sadness and loss for me. When I'd return, I struggled to see the beauty through the cloudy lens of my past.

In the summer of 1962, my whole family took a road trip up to the Seattle Worlds Fair in our Mercury station wagon. During that trip my beautiful mother had a psychotic breakdown, one of her first departures from us all from Schizophrenia. The Mom I knew and loved for the first ten years of my life was gone, never to return. The memory is a strange collage of fun and excitement from visiting our first World's Fair, dinner at the Space Needle, beautiful ferry boat rides, trout fishing with my dad on an Oregon river peppered with the bizarre behavior that we witnessed from my mother, including her wandering off and being "lost" at the World's Fair for a period of time.

My mother, Irene Brown in the 1940s in
Hollywood, California.
Following that initial breakdown, she appeared in various dramatic and eccentric forms, some very fun and wildly adventurous, others darkly frightening, and yet others seemingly lost in a quiet, childlike, glassy stare. It was to and from mental institutions for her over the next 45 years of our lives. Though she looked very much like Mom, I was never sure, was it really her, or not? When I'd finally open up and trust the whoever Mom she was being, she would eventually become lost inside the walls of her frightening dilusions only to have us escort her back to the hospitals or mental institutions. There, over a period of months, she'd get medicated again, 'emotionally balanced' and dulled from all of her senses so that she could return to society and lead a "normal life" until the delusional cycle struck again...and again.

After I left L.A., I'd return every few years, to see her, my father (who had a new life with my first step mother, then my second step mother - both who I love very much), my brothers and sister from my Dad's second marriage. Some visits with my mother were okay, others were sad, leaving me crying in my parked car outside of the hospital, her temporary apartment or in the end, a nursing home. It was always a crap shoot. Who would she be this time? Periodically my brothers and I would be called back to help get her institutionalized again - with the help of my father, who always stood by us. She had gone off of her medications (which initially made her feel better) and had become a danger to herself again as the psychosis set in. Through the years we all kept her written medical 'history' updated to help us get her the help she needed. The signs were obvious, a strange sound in her voice, sometimes outrageous outbursts, then a phone call was shared amongst us, along with a familiar sinking feeling, "Mom is sick again." A few times she disappeared for months and took to the streets, sleeping in cars and we were called by police. Other times it was her second husband, a landlord or co-worker calling and reporting strange behavior. From age 10 to age 55, Los Angeles was a dramatically beautiful, romantic place where I was born, where my family history resided and also a place that I equated with the bittersweet sadness of my 'lost angel' mother.

In March 2008 she passed away at age 79 and we gave her a beautiful funeral. Though my younger brother, father and sister still lived in L.A. I chose not to return after her funeral until I healed and was ready to renew my relationship with Los Angeles. I had built a beautiful life in Seattle with my loving partner of 23 years. And I discovered Nia, a movement practice that really fit with my love of dance and teaching. Over the past 12 years I studied the practice, became certified in all of the belt levels and last year became a Nia Trainer - training teachers and certifying them to teach. The practice of Nia, a combination of dance, healing arts and martial arts, helped me heal, dance through and shed deep sadness from my past while truly renewing my body and my life. I love it.

Last fall I noticed that Nia Santa Monica, California, had a Facebook page. After looking at the five teachers represented on NiaSantaMonica.com, Beck Brown, Cheryl Byrne, Collette Sherhouse, Susanne Conrad and Christine Waljeski, I felt a desire to connect with this community. So I wrote them and asked if I could come teach some guest classes during my visit in February. They welcomed me with open arms and an adorable, zany New York transplant Nia teacher named Beck Brown, offered to help host me. Beck and I began a friendship through our exchanges over the phone and email, getting to know one-another and planning my visit over the next few months.
Paula and me at The 54th
Grammy Awards Ceremony
February 12th, 2012

My partner, Paula and I came for a Valentines Day week vacation, staying at the beach in Santa Monica with tickets to The Grammys (my partner is a singer/songwriter and voting member of the Grammys) and with me planning to teach the two guest Nia classes for Nia Santa Monica, seeding for the Nia White Belt in October of this year. The day before the Grammys at a family dinner, we learned that another angel was lost, only a few miles from our hotel. Whitney Houston had died. We were shocked and saddened as we watched as the Facebook posts popping in. The next day her loss cast a dark shadow on the Grammy Awards. She definitely was present.

It was a glorious week. Los Angeles never looked so beautiful to me. No smog, brilliant sun, breezy and beautiful mild winter weather. As we headed east to the Staples Center and the Grammy Awards Ceremony on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the HOLLYWOOD sign on the hill as it hovered over The Hollywood Forever Cemetery where my mother was was laid to rest. I sighed at the thought of her having to endure such tremendous challenges and suffering from the debilitating effects of Schizophrenia and felt relieved that the 45 years were behind me and that four more years away from L.A. had helped me heal. I had returned to renew my relationship with my home town.
Sharing the joy of Nia and the joy of community with Nia Santa Monica
Sunday February 12th, 2012.

The two Nia classes were both a joy and blessing for me to teach. When Beck Brown and Christine Waljeski picked me up from my hotel they jumped out of the car  welcoming me with huge hugs. I felt at home. In fact all of the Nia Santa Monica teachers felt like old friends to me. Beck Brown was an excellent host, checking up on me daily during our week-long stay, making sure I had everything I needed. All of the teachers showed up to dance during the two weekend classes as did teacher, Miriam Kaufman Nash and my friend and White Belt, Nana Pianum from the Manhattan/Hermosa Beach towns just south. The Santa Monica community filled the studio and was wildly vibrant and expressive in their dance...and vocally sounded so loudly that they drowned out the music at times, which was loud! I felt honored and appreciated by all of the teachers and students. 

What a wonderful thing...that I could come back to my home, The City of Angels, dance for her, my 'lost angel mother' and renew my past on Valentines Day week with my long-time loving partner...dancing though life with a beautiful and loving Nia community. I am so grateful.

10/30/11
Liberty training today with all three horses in the open pasture
Robin Gates Liberty Training along with Karen Irland and Tom Nagle's Riders Seat Clinic is paying off!
By Randee Fox

I had intentions of spending most of the day on horseback but with a blustery wind and rain storm and a bunch of debris blowing down from the trees this morning I chose to stay inside until things settled down. I let the three horses out at 1:30 PM...very late for them!

Caanie was first and thundered to the upper pasture flagging her tail. The other two followed. Big energy today! I became aware of a keen desire to join them in their territory and explore the Liberty Training I have been learning. So with my liberty crop and blue bucket filled with apples and horse cookies I crossed the stream and went up. I placed the blue bucket outside of the fence but not so far that they could not get into it.

They saw me in the pasture and said, "Let's get this party started!" in huge display of flagging tail, wild horse energy - all out running, sliding stops to the fences (leaving 25 foot tracks), roll backs, rearing, all out bucking and kicking out at one-another in an expressive display I had not seen in any of them...ever! Was it me? The wind? The fact that I let them out late? What had I gotten myself into? I felt a momentary rush of fear. What if one of them gets hurt? What if I get hurt?

This 'fear response' was a red flag to lower my energy and breathe. As I did I noticed that I had energetically mirrored their adrenaline inside. My heart was elevated. I used a wonderful technique that I just learned this week in my second The Rider's Seat Clinic with Karen Irland and Tom Nagle called 'breathing the long C'. I engaged my psoas muscles and got into my Hara center, breathed that 'long C' from base of psoas in my pelvis to the hyoid muscles which allowed my chest to lift and expand, yet remain flexible, into the top of my spine behind my eyes - inhale and exhale. Immediately I felt my energy pour into the earth. Phew! Now I have something to work with.

What was my goal being out here? Well, I wanted to just be and practice what I have learned...and see what new things would happen. Even if I just stood with them and enjoyed their party. However I did not want to join their party. Karen Irland's words of advice came to me the, "Just because they are having a party does not mean we need to join in (on or off the saddle).

So I stood with myself in my contained and grounded energy bubble enjoying nature and watched my sensations and emotions. We all settled down. I called Kachina over who comes readily like a good dog. She left the herd and came trotting over and touched my offered hand. Then I led her to the fenceline and bucket and asked for a whoa. She did and I got her a cookie and brought it to her. I sent her off and they all started partying again.

More breathing and quiet bubble time.

Then Kachina returned with attitude as if to say, "You are mine and those are my treats!" So I sent her off and asked her to stay off. To my surprise she did and gave me a about a 150 foot berth.

Then I got the idea to lead Caanie from behind. This took a while for her to get what I was doing. She took the opportunity to run off, buck and rear which caused the others to join her. I realized that my energy had elevated again and in me was a slight fear that I would get hurt. Lots of flying hooves out here today. So I lowered even more. "No energy leaks" I said to myself. Then I chose Caanie again and moved my feet very slowly. One step, pause, then the other, pause. If she walked too fast away from me I'd stand. She was about 100 feet off but I could still choose her and 'cut' her from the herd. Wow. I felt like I was doing cow work with horses. Soon I had her moving slowly and turning too. We walked half the pasture. Kachina got interested and started coming in and I clearly said "GO" to her. She left.  Then she headed to the cookie bucket and I growled at her from afar. She ran away from it and I asked her to whoa. She did!

Then asked Caanie to to come to me. She did! I felt a much different energy from her than in the arena. Elevated! This made me feel a little afraid. But I kept 'breathing and centering' and told myself to trust and keep my energy 'contained'. And I did. I walked a few steps toward the fence then stopped. Then backed her with the tiniest movements and directed intent. She lowered her energy. Soon I was able to walk with her, stop, back then walk again and stopped her about 30 feet from the fence. She waited and I went and got three cookies. I gave her one and asked her to move off and she did.

Then I noticed that Kachina was still standing in the middle of the pasture where I asked her to whoa. I praised her, "Good girl!" She looked so happy as if to say, "You noticed me!!!" I have never seen this expression in her in the 12 years I have owned her. Then I went to her and gave her a cookie for being so good and gave her lots of pats. I was laughing now delighted at the results of this game.

Then Sierra tried to get to the cookie bucket and I chased her off with my voice "Get away from my bucket!" She tore up the pasture at an all out speed. Sierra was a bit more challenging for me. I really had to constantly check in and lower my energy. She tore off when I'd start leading her from behind. So I went even slower and breathed deeper. I'd move. If she moved at all I'd stop completely. Soon I had her leading and turning from behind. I asked her to come to me and she did. She would walk with me a few steps but preferred to try lead me from behind. I did not want her to do this. If I asked her to step up she'd run off. So more patient leading from behind.

I looked up to see Caanie and Kachina intently watching us from the middle of the pasture. Sierra tried to break them up and move to them but I just kept 'cutting' her from them slowly. She finally got it, licked and allowed me to lead her. Then I asked her to come to me and she did. It really helped her for me to say the word "walk" when I wanted her to walk. I discovered that she needed to hear that word. She got it and we walked together, did a little stopping and backing then whoa then walking again and I asked her to wait about 15 feet from the fence and and went and got her a cookie.

Now our collective herd energy was completely different. All 3 horses were interested, relaxed and in seeking mode intent on this game in the middle of the pasture. And I was clearly the leader with the goods. I decided to call one at a time again and walk with them at liberty and reward. Sometimes they came immediately, sometimes I did a little leading from behind, 'cutting' them from the others first then called them and they came. It was easy now. They were wonderful. I was even able to do big right circles away from the bucket.

At the end I asked all three to stand in the middle of the pasture. They did. I brought each of them a big apple and gave each the last of the cookies in the bucket.

I am so happy I tried this in the pasture with all three today and chose to "ride" their big energy with them, in the herd in their territory and freedom. It was truly time for me to do this after practicing and studying this work independently with each in the arena over the past six months. The three Robin Gates clinics I have attended since last May have really paid off for me with in my relationship with my horses. Everything she has taught seems to come back to me when I need it. And adding her work to the somatic work that I learned this week with Karen and Tom  -  has given me a more stable foundation.

Here is a stunningly moving slideshow from Robin Gates' last clinic. Photos by Kimberley Parsons


10/23/11

Rocking the horse
By Randee Fox

I had learned earlier this year the value of tapping as a healing sensation and tried it on my horses. They love it. Then I did some research discovered an actual technique called Emotional Freedom Technique.


Spirit Blend-1                      Randee Fox © 2011 
Today I discovered the value of rocking my horse.

While attending a three hour movement workshop called Nia Five Stages (mostly on the floor) yesterday I discovered that if I created slight rocking sensations within the movement stage called "Embryonic", very nourishing and relaxing sensations followed and filled my body. This reminded me of watching my broodmares during their 11-month gestation, carrying their foals. Pendulous rocking was a big part of what I saw in the foals' development, side to side, circular, front to back as their mothers moved at different gaits while they developed in utero. I imagined often of how it must feel to a baby horse to be rocked this way and what the rhythms must be imprinting on them before birth.

Today I went out to work with one of my horses,  one who is sometimes slower to trust. After a little bit of liberty movement work she joined me in the middle of the arena for a quiet spell. I imagined her as a baby horse in utero in my mind's eye and began to rock her, starting very tiny rocking motions with my hands on her shoulders then withers then back. In a few short moments she started giving back, rocking and rolling with me.  Soon I could feel all 1000 lbs. like a large boat on a calm sea softly rocking as she loosened under my hands. It was so relaxing. I kept in my mind's eye pictures of her being in her mother's uterus, rocking as her mother walked, trotted, cantered and moved about her day grazing on pasture. Rock, rock, rock, back and forth, rolling in her amniotic fluids, a definite never ending rhythm back and forth, side to side, circular.

While doing this over her entire body, including her belly, ribcage, topline, picking up each leg and rocking, hip, head and neck, if at any time she showed resistance I removed my hands and slowly walked a few steps away with my back to her. She immediately followed me, standing so close I could feel the tickle of her nostrils exhale as if asking for more rocking. So I did. After 30 minutes we had rocked together, every part of her body. Her head was the most sensitive but I was able to rock in all directions paying special attention to the axis (poll area) and mandible (jaw). Soon she lowered it to the ground breathing out a big release. I kept envisioning her in utero as if to communicate that vision. I went behind her, took hold of her tail at the dock and gently rocked her spine, back towards me and forward by softly pulling and releasing - something I had learned from Linda Tellington Jones. She rocked with me. Forward and back.

After this 30 minute Liberty rocking session I asked her to move off in walk, trot and canter. She did so softly, making turns and changing leads as I changed my body cues. What I observed was much more swinging and fluid movement with obvious signs of connective tissue released and moving along her muscular-skeletal system -  waves of movement rippling like currents. She had become a very relaxed and happy horse with a long lowered neck and head, more circular in form as she reached her back legs deeply beneath her. Her emotional connection with me was strong yet soft and continued into the night when I went to let her in for dinner, leading her at liberty into her paddock from the pasture. 

Nice discovery.




10/17/11
My experiment: Holding one focus for an entire day
By Randee Fox
Today I challenged myself to hold one focus for the entire day. As I lay in bed before I rose this morning I cast ahead into my day. What did I want? Gratitude came immediately. Gratitude? That's what came so I went with it. My intention was to see if i could hold this focus until I went to bed tonight. 
Even though I forgot about her, sometimes for a few hours, overall, I did pretty well. Gratitude hovered her grateful self over me all day long. 
  • I took her with me to feed the horses this morning, breathing in the crisp air, bundled in a hat, scarf, down vest and mittens for the first time since last Spring.
  • I took her with me as I prepared to get ready to depart for my Nia class in Seattle at Community Fitness.
  • She followed me as I prepared my back seat of my car for Lil'Ley, my dog, to stay with me all day.
  • She came with me to the barn at 9:30 A.M. to let the horses out and clean stalls before departing for class.
  • She was with me all during Nia class - what a beautiful groupnof students.
  • She came with me to Third Place Books for a cup of soup.
  • Then she drove with me to Kirkland for my bi weekly massage. We got there early.
  • She joined me and Lil'ley on a 30 minute walk along the Kirkland waterfront on one of the most beautiful sunny days of the year. 
  • Then she joined me as I gave Lil'Ley a long drink of water before tucking her in my back seat of my car before getting my massage.
  • She was with me all during a healing massage, one where I learned about my 'holding and blocking' tendencies.
  • She came with me and Lil'Ley for another 45 minute sunset walk along the Kirkland waterfront.
  • She reminded me of her presence while I waited in traffic.
  • She followed me home glowing a red sunset light upon me.
  • She helped me let the horses in and feed them.
  • She helped me choose and prepare a tasty and healthy dinner.
  • She sits here with me now as I write about her partnership in this day.  
  • I will take her into my nighttime slumber...and dream of her.
I am grateful to have experimented with holding this focus of Gratitude all amazing day long.






10/15/11


Some kind of animal magic 
By Randee Fox

After teaching I played with all three horses Saturday for many hours. It was glorious for me. They all came out of their stalls with an immediate willingness to bond and connect instantly all sharing the same quality of kindness and interest in me. It was if they aligned and planned it as if saying,
"Let's all be really interested in Randee today." 

The magnetic energy between us made me appreciate the many years that we have all lived together and the years of time invested in creating a relationship with each of them.

The animal magic continued into the night for me and as it grew dark I sensed a calling to be outside in a long walk with Lil'Ley, my dog. Fog hugged the ground yet stars began to emerge in the teal twilight. My country farm neighborhood is great for stargazing but not great for night walking in its pitch black with no sidewalks. 

So we got into the car and drove to The Issaquah Highlands, a diverse planned community built in the hills above Sammamish and Issaquah. I parked the car near Coffee Ladro set out on our walk up the sidewalked and street-lit Park Ave all the way to the lovely little Village Green Park. It was 30 minute uphill cardio climb - just what I needed...breathing in the crisp 44 degrees air.  On the way back we found a wood bench with a vista of Issaquah Alps and Seattle. Lil'Ley sat and waited, enjoying the view too like a perfect dog. 

On our drive home I was awestruck at the two-thirds full enormous orange harvest moon rising above my little country farm valley road. So I pulled over, opened my window, turned off lights to gaze its illumination behind the tops of silhouetted fir trees. Then a doe walked slowly in front of my car. I watched her then Lil'Let let out a single "Woof!".  

Truly some kind of animal magic out here tonight.

______________________________________
10/09/11
A SPECIAL Nia class that changed me forever

By Randee Fox - Black Belt Nia teacher Trainer

On Wednesday, October 5th my class at the Bellevue Family YMCA proved to the one of the most moving experiences I have had in my eight-year career as a Nia teacher.

Upon arriving I learned that the microphone was not working. In Nia we start each class with a Focus and Intent. I chose the focus, "Dance and music as a universal language" with the intent to create synergy in our community. I used the Nia routine "Humanity". I had the class pretend that we all spoke a different languages and I told them I'd be teaching a silent class, meaning no words but definitely we would be 'sounding' and that I'd be using 2 claps and clear body language to cue changing the moves.

Immediately the class had a different feeling to me. I sensed a kind of immediate 'oneness' with the students and deep connection to the music. I saw them inspiring one-another and sensed a sort of energy thread connecting all of us. I found myself using my own eyes and energetically 'herding' the room much more intently to cue the changes and to bring more unity. More and more students started pouring into the room and soon we had fifteen.

Suddenly, three songs into the routine, a group of eight people came into the room and stood by the door in a cluster watching. I noticed them and thought that perhaps the Y was introducing new members to Nia by showing then our class. But they did not leave. Normally people pop their heads in and leave. I felt a change in the energy in the students but noted that everything was fine. We were being watched yet it felt non-judgemental and kind. Since I am a little nearsighted and don't wear my glasses in class, I could only tell that it was a group of people in jackets but no detail. I could not see that they were smiling with wide eyes. But I did sense is that they were mesmerized and enjoying the experience of watching very much.

I created a "FreeDance" moment for the students and danced to the group of people at the door. There were six young people, 18-21 years old, all with special needs, and two teachers. I welcomed them and I could tell they were just waiting to be asked to join us so I invited them by saying, "What are you waiting for? Come on in, take off your jackets, shoes and socks and join us." To my delight they did with no prompting! And my community warmly welcomed them. The energy, inspiration and synergy in the room expanded and soared higher than I could ever imagine. I knew it was my job to ride it, invite everybody to ride it and direct the magic and love.

The young people and their teachers took to Nia like fish to water, each of them dancing the moves in their own way, just like the rest of the class.

The regular Nia students, including four Nia White Belts, were visibly moved, catching my eyes and smile often, some of them with tears of joy streaming. Everybody had a fantastic time and I am certain that the Spirit of Nia poured her grace upon us. I personally was so in my zone that I was beyond tears and in pure Gratitude of being gifted this amazing Humanity moment.

It was, for me, a symbolic gift of committing myself fully to a practice that honors every Human Being as perfect.

After class all of the young people came up to me, shook my hand, introduced themselves and thanked me. Their two teachers thanked me too and told me that they were from Transition Academy in Redmond, Washington which is a community-based program for young adults, 18-21 years of age, with developmental disabilities. They come from The Lake Washington School District and have finished high school and now are interested in continuing their preparation for work and life in the community, thus their visit to the Y. I thanked them all too and told them that their presence in class made it very meaningful for us all. I sure hope that they all return to Nia.


Having received the gift of their presence in our community has changed me forever and has given me even more faith that I am truly on the right path as a Nia Teacher and now as a Nia Trainer - one who will inspire others to teach this loving, humanitarian and peace-spreading practice.