Golden days

I’ve written before about how we celebrate good news, here at Propriometrics Press. Well, the emoji strings were flying thick and fast Saturday night, as news broke that we had won not one but TWO gold medals at the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards.

Three of our books were nominated for Health Book of the Year: Diastasis Recti and Movement Matters, both by Katy Bowman, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, by Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel. Movement Matters was also nominated in the Essays category. Much to our delight, Movement Matters won the gold medal for Essays, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well picked up gold for Health.

Here’s how that news was received in our virtual office on Saturday:

 

Once we’d cleaned up after the confetti cannon, frolicked for a while in nature, and consumed all the virtual champagne and tacos, I had a chance to ask our winning authors what it meant to them to win a Foreword Indie.

“Although I’ve written many books, I still think of myself as a sort of blogger-turned-author,” says Katy Bowman. “Most of what I write is on the internet—in short bursts on social media or in the occasional article. And even though I write about the importance of movement to our physiological, social, and ecological models, my books have always been relegated to FITNESS categories, making it challenging to spread the idea that movement is critical to our bodies, lives, and planet to anyone but exercisers. Movement Matters won Best Essays! In a contest open to essays on all topics, with judges who are into books, and who are not necessarily into movement or exercise or fitness or even health! I’m excited because it means Movement Matters is accessible—interesting, even—to those outside of fitness, which is the most critical step in bringing the idea that movement matters to the world.”

Roland Denzel echoes that sentiment. “We’re honored and thrilled to have been nominated,” he says, “but overjoyed to have won. It’s wonderful to be recognized for our hard work, and when it’s by people outside of the health and fitness industries, it’s even better. This is the audience we’ve always wanted to reach and help, so when they appreciate our work, we know we’ve succeeded.”

And finally, I asked our editor in chief, Penelope Jackson, what went through her mind when she heard the news two of our books had won gold—especially in light of how new this company is, and how small our list is. She resisted the urge to reply in emoji strings and celebratory gifs (for once), and instead told me: “What I thought of first was all of the hours Roland, Galina, and Katy put into writing their magnificent books; all the time I and our other editors spent working with the text; the time Zsofi spent designing and laying them out; all the time you, Steph, have spent managing distribution and sales and printing. So much of the work that goes into a book travelling from an author’s mind to a reader’s hands is invisible, and that’s why these awards are meaningful. They are a recognition of all that uncelebrated labour. We know how special and brilliant our authors are, and we know that every minute of our work has been more than worth it—I’m so glad other people see it too.”

Emoji tacos and champagne for all!


Introducing Doniga Markegard

This fall we’ll publish Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild, by Doniga Markegard. We’re excited about this book (Starhawk is writing the foreword!!), a memoir that traces Doniga’s life from the time she was a teenager seeking direction and meaning, through her time at the Wilderness Awareness School in the Pacific Northwest, from her studies with Lakota elder Gilbert Tatanka Mani, to tracking mountain lions along California’s rugged coast, to falling in love with a rancher named Erik and starting a life and a family with him. Doniga’s understanding of the natural world, and the lessons it holds for all of us make this memoir a must-read for anyone longing for a deeper connection with nature. When you order Dawn Again through our pre-sale, you get access to a thirty-minute long audio file called Tracking for Beginners, in which Doniga offers tips and advice so you can get started right now, no matter where you are. 

We had a chance to ask Doniga some questions about Dawn Again. Here’s our conversation:

When you think back to where you were in your life when you began learning to track, what kind of road might you have followed if tracking and wilderness studies had not presented itself as an option?

That is an interesting question. I discovered tracking when I was searching for meaning in my life and a direction where I could feel part of the solution to some of the destructive things I saw happening around me. As a child I would often ride my horse on logging roads and witness an entire hillside clearcut. When I began traveling the county and seeing crop dusters spraying chemicals on long rows of monocrops I became further disillusioned. I had grown up close to nature and the beauty of rivers and trees. It was not until I began tracking that I connected the pleasures I felt or fully understood that the life I experienced growing up was being threatened by over extraction of resources. I think if I had not discovered tracking I may have followed what the people around me were doing instead of following my heart. It is hard to say where I would have ended up because my life took so many turns, yet I was always led back to nature.

What do you think Gilbert Tatanka Mani saw in you that made him want to work with you?

Gilbert did not just mentor anyone who came along. Some people would visit searching for spirituality and he would remain silent. He had a way of knowing what stories and lessons to share at just the right moment. I think what he first saw in me was a passion for learning everything about nature and he admired that. At first he did not pay too much attention but taught me small things such as how to make prayer ties or a sacred song. When he would share something with me I would immediately take it on in my life and practice it daily. It was this dedication that he saw in me and led him to share more. When I would tell Gilbert what I learned and stories about my time in nature he would share more. This grew to a very deep spiritual relationship, one that I had not expected going in, yet emerged in the most natural way.

You kept extensive tracking journals that you were able to go back to in writing this memoir. What went through your mind as you pored over those?

I loved looking back at my old tracking journals. It was like peering back in time to the first discoveries of the stories that are all around us. The maps I drew immediately brought up vivid memories of the places I frequently tracked. I could almost smell the cottonwood buds and hear the rivers and feel the rocky sand beneath my feet.

What has tracking brought to your life?

Tracking has brought a deeper sense of my own connection to everything around me. It has also brought me a deeper connection to myself. When tracking an animal I put myself in the past, present and future in order to gain clues about the animal, what it was doing, where it was going, when it passed by and why the animal was moving the way it was moving. When I track I ask a lot of questions. These types of questions, who, what, when, where, why and how can be applied to anything in my life. Solving mysteries of tracking can convert to problem solving at my own ranch. Tracking also brought me a very keen sense of observation. While tracking I am constantly looking at the natural cycles around me to take in the bigger picture of the story. Now that I am practicing regenerative agriculture, that keen sense of observation has been key to making good decisions for our family and our land.

What did you learn about your own experiences in tracking, ranching, and raising a family by writing Dawn Again?

Writing Dawn Again provided me with a time to reflect. I think often times people do not take the time to do that in their lives and they may keep moving forward without learning the lessons from the past. Writing the book also gave me an opportunity to be thankful for the gifts I have been given. I felt so grateful for the lessons of nature, the mentors in my life and my family that have all shaped who I am and the outcome of what my life has become. Often when I was writing and thinking very hard about how to approach a chapter or a subject I would do research of things that were already written, but that did not give me the feeling that I was complete about my writing. What helped me to round out my stories of the past was when I walked outside and interacted with nature, or sat down and had a conversation about the subject with my husband, children or friends. One time I was writing a story about a coyote and I walked out my front door and a coyote was standing up on the ridge. When I was writing I was paying very close attention to everything around me, just like tracking I was looking into the past, present and future through all of my senses. What really came out when I was writing was the less tangible sense of instinct. I just got into a zone, like when I trail an animal. My fingers moved and not many thoughts went through my head as the words came on the screen.

See and hear more from Doniga Markegard here on the San Francisco Exploratorium website, where Doniga is part of a permanent exhibit called Listen.

will be published November 1, 2017. Our pre-sale is on now, through the summer. You can follow Doniga Markegard on Instagram to see nature through her eyes, and to glimpse some artifacts of her tracker past.


Come work with us!

Spread the word: Propriometrics Press is seeking a marketing co-ordinator!

We’re looking for a US-based marketing whiz with at least 4 years’ experience in book marketing to work as our in-house marketing co-ordinator.
We’re a small but rapidly growing company and we’re in search of someone who’s excited about our message to create and execute complete marketing plans for our publishing programme.
This will include creating full marketing plans for each title, creating and placing ads, pitching media, booking events, running our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and more. You’ll work with our editorial, operations, and design teams, as well as our amazing authors.
We need someone with big-picture strategic capabilities as well as the ability to do the day-to-day work of implementing our plans.

• Work can be remote or in-office in Sequim, Washington. 20 hours a week: 8–12 PST Monday to Thursday, with four more hours when needed (occasionally weekends or evenings). As the company grows, these hours may increase.
• $30/hr

To apply: Please send us a cover letter and CV, as well as a sample full book marketing plan, either one you’ve created in the past, or for a book from our list. Send to info@propriometricspress.com. Deadline is June 5, 2017.


Mother of all gardens

My mother has always been a gardener. Together, she and my father turned our suburban corner lot into a glorious green place, where we grew most of the vegetables our family of six ate in the summer, where we composted our organic kitchen waste (long, long before composting was trendy, or even understood by our friends and neighbors), and where we kids spent summer evenings picking stones out of the soil, and summer mornings harvesting endless rows of beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes so my parents could pickle, can, and otherwise preserve them.

Years passed, and our yard went through many phases, growing and changing as our family did. The huge garden gave way to a swimming pool and my parents continued to grow a few tomatoes and other favorites in raised beds my dad made. After he died, those went fallow, and then gave way to grass.

But this year, my almost-seventy-year-old mother decided she’s ready to grow some tomatoes again. There’s a decently sunny patch just off the deck in the backyard, but it was terribly unkempt, filled with raspberry canes and spring onions that had gone rogue from other parts of the garden, and a rhizome-spreading visitor from next door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom wanted three planting boxes, and a stone pathway she could use to get among them to do her work. So, on a recent visit in advance of Mother’s Day, my spouse knocked together three nice planters, and Mom and I got busy with shovels, rakes, and brute strength. We pulled out an old planter, dug out bags and bags of that invader from next door, harvested some spring onions and some nearby rhubarb, dug out and moved rocks that were in our way, and got the area ready to become a new garden.

This made for two day’s worth of bending, pulling, pushing, grasping, squatting, single leg squatting, reaching, and twisting, lots of barefoot-on-dirt time, and tons of fresh air. Not to mention the time spent hanging out with each other, working side by side, or resting on the deck, drinking water and congratulating ourselves on our hard work.

Mom wanted a path she could feel comfortable stepping down onto, and walking over, while she goes about her planting and weeding. Something that would provide both stability for her less-sure moments, and enough texture that she can continue to challenge her balance and give her bare feet some lumps and bumps to navigate.

My mom has just started reading Dynamic Aging, and while she doesn’t see herself climbing trees like Joan, Joyce, Shelah, and Lora, she is absolutely interested in aging well, maintaining the mobility she does have, and even gaining more if she can. She’s even getting back to her composting roots, albeit on a smaller scale than our garden’s earliest days.

I’ve been working to #stackmylife more consistently, and this project really lent itself to that philosophy: I moved more, and moved more of me, racked up some barefoot time, spent time with my mother, took care of a little patch of the Earth, enabled my mom to move more, and move more of her, and to divert some organic waste to her own backyard to feed the soil that will eventually feed her (and me, if I’m lucky!). Also, that’s Mother’s Day gift-giving done and dusted. A pretty efficient use of two mornings, I must say.

If you’re still looking for a gift for your mom, or for one you know, we’ve sorted some of our recent books into helpful piles for you! Find what you’re looking for at your favorite online or bricks and mortar book retailer, and Happy Mother’s Day to all who mark it!

 


Move Your DNA: Dynamic Reading and Writing

This special guest edition of the Propriometrics Press blog is written by our publisher and best-selling author, Katy Bowman. And, it features a chance for you to win a copy of her best-selling book, Move Your DNA.

I identify as a mover, but I also write a lot about movement. I’m a mover who writes. I think the way I identify is key, as it influences how I get my writing done. Because I define myself as a mover, I’m rarely unmoving—even when I’m being productive in ways we think of as sedentary.

I’ve written eight books (EIGHT BOOKS!) in the last few years, so clearly I’m in a passionate relationship with my computer. Also, I love books. I love reading them, taking pictures of them, and discussing them. Books have been key to my life. They not only teach me facts, they teach me new ways of seeing the world. So, reading and writing. How do those go with movement when both seem so sedentary?

Move Your DNA (and also Don’t Just Sit There) are books that show how to infuse movement into the non-exercise parts of your day. The movements are smaller than large feats of exercise, but they’re movements nonetheless. Often, getting more movement (and moving more of you) comes down to positioning yourself differently.

When you hold up your own body instead of leaning it against the back of a chair, you use your core muscles more subtly than you do when holding a plank, sure, but you can do it while you work or read. Cycling through sitting cross-legged, sitting with your legs in a V, or kneeling while you chop your veggies for dinner is an easy way to stretch. Wearing minimalist shoes (or no shoes) gives all the muscles in your feet a chance to strengthen, even with no added “exercise” time. Standing up to email, working outside whenever possible so your body is responding to fluctuations in light, temperature, sound, wind velocity, and more—all these things add movements to your life you may never have considered before.

Propriometrics Press is a #practicewhatyoupublish company. Meaning, the books we publish infiltrate the lives of our staff and authors. Many of you have asked “what position do you read or work in?” so I thought I’d show you how all of us work with books on the move.

Our editor-in-chief, Penelope, nature lover, often works outside.

If she’s not outside, it’s likely blizzarding (anyone in Nova Scotia will tell you that should be a word). If stuck inside, she’ll create an obstacle course and walk it a couple times an hour because movement and creativity are related and really, it just makes us feel better overall.

Our book covers are all dynamic thanks to Zsofi and her dynamic workstation.

 

 

Note: Canine co-opting is a thing. You’ve been warned. #theydontcallitdowndogfornothing

Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well authors Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel are not only great at coaching many on how to fit more movement into their life, they’re also good at doing it themselves. Galina’s reading sessions look very similar to a workout:

 

 

And Roland can often be spotted walking and audiobooking (when I make up words, I tend to go for it).

Doniga Markegard, author of our forthcoming title Dawn Again: Tracking The Wisdom of the Wild balances writing time with nature time by writing in nature. This is the cool thing about being outside while working: you’re being moved by your environment, even while sitting there.

 

Now and then our Dynamic Aging authors, Lora, Shelah, Joan, and Joyce come down out of the trees to work. Whether it’s a standing work desk, exercise-reading hybrids, or simply going outside, what you see modeled here are ways to move more of you.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it takes less to move more. Less leg (on the table) means more leg (positions not available in a chair, and use getting up and down from her lowered desk) for Stephanie, our Director of Operations.

And finally, some of my favorite read-exercise hybrids involve my piriformis and legs up the wall.

 

Some of my less favorite (or perhaps it’s just less productive) movements include working with my children, literally, on my back.

You can also watch this video of me working over a 60-minute period (it’s sped up to two minutes because watching me work is sort of like watching paint dry) to see how much movement goes into my “office” time—a time many perceive as mandatory stillness.

So there you have it. Books can move you. Not only your mind, but your body too.

And, GUESS WHAT, friends, there’s an expanded version of Move Your DNA hitting your bookstore the first week of May.

To celebrate, we’re giving away three copies of the new book! To win, show us how you make your reading time dynamic. Maybe you read while squatting and lunging. Maybe you take your book to the park or forest. Maybe you log a little Legs On The Wall time while you read. Doesn’t matter how you do it, just show us. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @propriometricspress on Instagram
  2. Post a photo of yourself in a dynamic reading position
  3. Mention @propriometricspress and @nutritiousmovement in your caption
  4. Use the hashtag #moveyourdnawhilereading

Enter by 11:59pm Pacific on Wednesday, April 26. We’ll select three winners in a random draw and announce those winners by Friday, April 28.

This contest is open to participants 18 years of age and older. It is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.


So, that was something!

So, in case you missed it, one of our books was on The Today Show on Friday, no big deal (totally a very big deal). First of all, what a total thrill to see Katy Bowman and some of her Dynamic Aging co-authors on national television!  And of course, the idea that millions more people were able to gain access to the ideas and possibilities presented in Dynamic Aging is the real fuel for our collective fire around these parts.

So that part was awesome enough, and then around mid-day Eastern time, Dynamic Aging started charging up Amazon’s best sellers list, finally coming to rest in the number two position, where it stayed for just about twenty four hours. At this writing, it’s still firmly in the top 50 books. You guys, out of more than thirty million titles. Let me give you a bit of perspective on this. Propriometrics Press is a very small company, with one full-time employee and a ragged band of independent contractors. We’ve all been together in person exactly one time, and it was just a few months ago. Getting our book on The Today Show was a massive accomplishment. Watching it climb the charts and compete alongside books published by the Big Five was a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming experience. Seeing it still sitting comfortably in the top 100 books today—I don’t know how to explain the feeling. We do not do a lot of resting on our laurels, but we are pretty good at celebrating our success with long strings of celebratory emoji, like this:

The part of all this that remains the most awesome is hearing from readers. So, if you’ve had a chance to look at Dynamic Aging, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments if you like, and if the spirit moves you, maybe review the book on Amazon—reviews of all kinds help other readers decide whether a particular book is for them.

And now, it’s on to the next! (see under: laurels, not resting on). We are getting ready to release an expanded edition of Move Your DNA in just a few weeks. Tell you more about that soon!


Today tomorrow!

California, here I come!

It’s been an incredibly exciting time around the Propriometrics Press offices! We’re delighted to share the news that Katy Bowman and three of her four septuagenarian co-authors will be on The Today Show on Friday, March 31, sharing what Dynamic Aging looks like in action. Katy and her co-authors spent a day with Maria Shriver in Ventura, California, right after Dynamic Aging launched, and you’ll be able to tune in and see the result of that on The Today Show during the 8 a.m. block. If you can’t make it to a television set, you’ll be able to stream the segment afterward, right here. We’ll share some video of the episode if we can to make it extra easy for you to find!

And if you’re looking to get your hands on a copy of Dynamic Aging, we’ve made that easy to find, too!


Honors and mentions: Foreword Reviews Indie Awards!

Foreword Reviews announced its 2016 Indie Award nominees yesterday and Propriometrics Press is thrilled to announce that three of our books are on the list! Roland and Galina Denzel’s Eat Well Move Well Live Well is nominated for best health book, Katy Bowman’s Diastasis Recti is also nominated for best health book, and Movement Matters, also by Bowman, is nominated in both the Health and Essays category. Winners will be announced during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24, 2017. Good luck and congrats to our authors and the team that midwifed these books into the world!


Meet the dynamic women of Dynamic Aging

We talked with Katy Bowman’s four co-authors of her forthcoming book Dynamic Aging: Joan Allen, age 78, Joyce Faber, 79, Lora Woods, 75, and Shelah Wilgus, 78. Their stories, shared in more detail in the book, are seriously inspiring. (The book will be available in stores and online March 1… but pre-sale copies are available here.)

We’re all told that we have to accept certain things as we age. These women, who have been working with Katy for nearly a decade each, are proof that just isn’t true. We’re not talking about climbing Mt. Everest at 80 (but if that kind of goal gets you moving, go for it!), we’re talking about having agency over our own bodies by way of understanding and appreciating how our bodies work. And, of course, working with ourselves as we age so that we can enjoy active, healthy lives that are filled with vitality and engagement for as long as each of us is roaming the earth.

JOAN began working with Katy at age 71 after a long career as an attorney (imagine the amount of sitting over the years). She’s dealt with pelvic prolapse, chronic constipation and foot problems. Joan, now 78, gleefully reports numerous changes to her overall health in the past seven years: her chronic constipation has disappeared, she walks daily, regularly hiking three to ten miles and can walk comfortably in zero-drop shoes and barefoot.

Scheduled for major surgery to address her pelvic organ prolapse at age 72, Joan was able to side-step that, continuing to heal her body through movement instead. Joan says, “My balance is the best it has ever been—two years ago I walked barefoot across a log six feet above a rushing river, something I never thought I’d be able to do, and certainly not for the first time at age 77. My overall body strength has improved significantly. Changing how I move has changed my life.”

We asked Joan: Is there a moment that stands out for you, a turning point in your work with Katy when you realized what kind of change was possible for you?

A: There have been many moments that stand out for me over the past seven plus years of working with Katy that I would consider turning points. One was when my chronic constipation ended after three to four years of diligently practicing the correctives, getting off my butt, and adding more daily movement to my life. Another was when I was able to discard my orthotics and once again walk barefoot on the beach and in minimal shoes with no discomfort. The ongoing “moment” or “turning point” for me is knowing what to do and doing it in the way of correctives and movements that have kept and are continuing to keep my pelvic prolapse under control.

Q: What are some of the physical accomplishments of which you’re most proud?

A: Overcoming my overwhelming fear of getting on the BOSU. Now I practice on the BOSU on both feet with my eyes closed, list on one leg, can list on the inverted BOSU and actually teach BOSU classes—all of which has helped enormously with my overall balance. The other physical accomplishment I am so proud of is climbing and hanging from trees. But for Katy, I never would have thought of doing something like this “at my age.” What freedom and exhilaration!

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking, well, that’s nice for you, but I don’t see how it could work for me?

A: Try it—you might like it. And, what have you got to lose? Whether you start Katy’s movement program or not, with any luck at all you will continue to accumulate more years. What if, like good wine, you could get better with age or at least not lose ground?

SHELAH started classes with Katy at age 66 after retiring from her graphic designer job (read: sitting at a computer. A lot). She describes herself as a “life-long exerciser,” and explains that it was the “logic of the scientific theory of Katy’s program” that convinced her to take Katy’s training program.

Shelah also describes herself as “a work in progress” and a product of her long-term habits. (Aren’t we all!) It was when she was preparing for a trip just before her 75th birthday that she reached into her closet for a garment and twisted too far. The resulting back pain, she says, was evidence that something was very wrong, and a later MRI confirmed she had serious scoliosis accompanied by painful shearing of lumbar vertebrae.

It was after a month of doctor-prescribed inactivity, aside from short walks on level ground, that she was well enough to start the basic exercises offered in Dynamic Aging. Shelah notes: “Moving better doesn’t automatically mean you don’t get injured, but it makes you more resilient if you do.” She credits Katy’s teaching with giving her “the knowledge and tools to know what movements I can do, like hanging and core strengthening, and which movements I must be very careful doing— like twisting.” And today at age 78, she can walk three to four miles daily in relative comfort.

We asked Shelah, what were your expectations, as you began studying with Katy?

A: I didn’t have any, but from the first class it was clear to me this was not a regular “exercise class.” I loved the clear explanation and theory of each movement, something I had never encountered in any other movement class.

Q: What else is on your physical bucket list?

A: Working on ribs down, feet straight ahead, and hanging (upper body strength.)  I want to again be able to get up from the floor without using my hands, squat comfortably and do at least one pull up easily. And I would like to do some more long distance (10-20 miles a day) walking trips both in this country and abroad.

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking, well, that’s nice for you, but I don’t see how it could work for me?

A: Try it, what do you have to lose. It’s non-invasive and you are in control.

Q: What else would you like to say about the process of aging dynamically?

A: Be grateful and keep moving. Walking is (my) key to independence.

LORA was headed for the first of at least two surgeries that would have resulted in a complete knee replacement before she started to work with Katy. She says, “through my work as an RN and dance-movement therapist, I thought I knew and had experienced all the self-help modalities and was resigned to ‘the knife.’”

But after doing some of Katy’s exercises for two weeks, namely the calf stretches she learned, Lora began noticing that signs of her “restless leg,” which had robbed her of sleep for decades, had disappeared. It was that success, she says, that empowered her to cancel knee surgery and try more regularly the gentle knee-stretching exercises she’d learned from Katy for her frozen knee.

Now age 75, Lora can walk up to six miles at a time, which makes walking to all her in-town errands and appointments possible on what she refers to as her “original equipment.” She also says, “Incorporating the principles in this book into my daily activities has created opportunities to change life-long conditions I thought were just me.”

We asked Lora: Is there a moment that stands out for you, a turning point in your work with Katy when you realized what kind of change was possible for you?

A: I was skeptical but [engaging with the exercises fully]. The turning point for me—which I observed almost immediately—is that Katy has a completely different paradigm. This really works for those of us who want control in our lives. Early on in Katy’s program, I realized I had the power to change my projected future.

Q: What are some of the physical accomplishments of which you’re most proud?

A: I went on a Sierra Nevada packing/camping trip and faced eight miles mostly uphill the first day (that’s two miles more than I do without a 25-lb pack.) I got to the point of fatigue where I was shuffling and cursing myself for doing the trip. I considered my alternatives and found none, so I turned on my Katy-brain. I concentrated on rocking forward after each heel strike, and activating my toes in this way seemed to give me a little lift or boost. By the time one of my sons came back to find me I was well in control of the situation and he carried my pack for only about half a mile. And after that first day I needed no help!

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking, well, that’s nice for you, but I don’t see how it could work for me?

A: One success will lead you to many more. The power-of-the-body concept that Katy introduces you to is beyond expectation. So, one’s first success is rather like being set free of previously felt age limitations.

JOYCE navigated painful knee injuries for nearly 30 years; she tore the meniscus in one knee and the other knee was damaged shortly after from compensating stresses. Never enamored of the idea of surgery (skeptical it would bring actual improvement), Joyce leaned on various palliative measures over the years to mitigate her knee problems: limited walking, Tai Chi, gentle yoga stretching, daily pain medications, weekly chiropractic treatments, and massage therapy.

But when she started Katy’s program, she says, she began to understand her body for the first time from a biomechanical point of view and learned that injuries, pain, and inflammation are our bodies’ warning flags and that “we shouldn’t ignore them or power through them, but rather teach ourselves to heal using them as our guides.” She also says, “This whole-body model of wellness has taught me that our health is influenced more by our habits—the way we use, load, and live in our body—than by our age.”

Joyce will turn 80 this year. She’s had no surgery, has regained her ability to walk without pain or impairment and, as she puts it, lives with wellness in her body, mind, and spirit. “Whole-body movement has made this possible in my life and I feel strong and capable walking the path to healing and wellness.”

We asked Joyce: What were your expectations, as you began studying with Katy?

A: My expectation was that it would be just another version of Pilates, Yoga, or Tai Chi that I would need to learn yet again—another discipline and framework that would not give me any significant benefit. It seemed senseless and boring to me. I was not ready to choose surgery but did not have hope that there was another choice. I didn’t realize that there was a paradigm out there to heal the wear and tear on the body at the cause.

Q: Is there a moment that stands out for you, a turning point in your work with Katy when you realized what kind of change was possible for you?

A: Yes. I felt that excitement during the first lesson in her studio. Katy told about optimal cellular regeneration, how the body is a whole system affected everywhere by even the tiniest change. Doing the exercises with her was interesting for that reason and also because I felt aliveness inside and outside my body—and I realized that was important, very important to my health and well-being. Gaining that understanding was new and exciting to me—that how I learned to live in my body would directly affect my health.
Q: What are some of the physical accomplishments of which you’re most proud?

A: Walking effortlessly and aligned all day long! My car sits in the garage as I attend to my errands on foot each day, walking three to five miles or more. I gain my health directly from this habit. I’m most grateful to Katy for teaching me how to do this. I feel a sense of freedom, power and aliveness that is satisfying and connects me at a deep level to a vital source of my health.

Q: How would you describe your quality of life today?

A: Excellent, rich and fulfilling. Without Katy’s work, I would have had two knee operations, and one laminectomy for my cervical spine because of pain and loss of ability to move. My physical mobility would be compromised.

 


Body of Wisdom

Over the past few weeks I’ve been starting my days in a new way: reading Katy Bowman’s Movement Matters. (And that’s not happening just because I’m managing social media for Propriometrics Press).

The thing is, I love big ideas. And even more than that, I love big ideas that I can bring to bear on my life in tangible ways. I still find it astonishing that a book can deliver a person up to all that. But then again, I believe in the power that books have to open minds and seed meaningful change in our world.

I’m a pretty active person. I also work at jobs that have me staring at screens and tapping lightly on keyboards a lot of the day, so getting to use my body to experience the world became, and remains, vitally important.

The place I currently call home, Halifax, Nova Scotia, affords me some of the lifestyle that balances out my screen time. It also happens to be a port visited by numerous cruise ships, mostly during the gorgeous fall we often get. And it was on one of those autumn mornings that I took the long way to work, through one of our city’s most expansive public parks, which leads down to the North Atlantic Ocean.

I walked through some forest, down to the water and along the coastline for a bit, then past some shipping yards as I worked my way back to our mid-size city streets. En route, I passed a kind of ocean parking lot: where cruise ships from around the world anchor and where tourists disembark to see what they can see.

Chalk it up to the fact that I had been reading #MovementMatters, chalk it up to how everything was sparkling in some very beautiful morning light, but I was noticing things I hadn’t noticed before: like the road signs for pedestrians, the signs for cars, the parking lot full of cars, and the fact that I was the only pedestrian around at that time. And in the background? A cruise ship that had—what was that?—a giant plastic giraffe on its upper deck, wearing a bright pink life preserver. And looking down to the other end of the upper deck, a huge, and I do mean huge, screen. Think Jumbotron you can see from miles away. At sea.

It occurred to me that we may not have intended this in our dogged contemporary pursuit for more “leisure” time, but from my vantage point that day, it sure looked like we’ve reached a level of confusion about it all.

How did we get here? I blame the giraffe in the pink life preserver.

OK, blame might be too harsh. I love giraffes. But I’d argue that our cruise-ship friend, and even the cruise ship itself, is a fantastic symbol of where we all find ourselves. If I hadn’t read Katy’s book, I’m not sure I would have found the language for this, but I think I have some now: we’re getting it backwards. We’ve traded our natural tendency toward movement for epic bouts of sedentarism. And hey, I love relaxing as much as the next person. But I’ve noticed (you, too?) how relaxation doesn’t really do the trick after a long day of doing nothing, physically, already…

I always wondered if I was a bit odd (affirmative!): not really loving the gym, opting to walk to and from grocery stores carrying heavy bags, eagerly volunteering to help friends move or paint rooms in their houses. (Katy calls this “stacking your life.”) I’ve always loved using my body in the service of human living, and I realize I love the communal effort, too. And now, as I do even less sitting in chairs, add more movement throughout my day as often as I can, turn away from screens to look more at the sea and sky, and talk with our organic farmers who feed us so well, the more I don’t crave “leisure” as much as I crave connection with the world we all live in and with the people in it.

I used to dance tango a lot (and when I get back to it, I’ll be trying it without the high heels. Thanks, #WholeBodyBarefoot). It was my first profound lesson in the power of connecting with my own body, attending to the cues of another body, and witnessing the ability of the human machine to pick up on a great deal of non-verbal information—from music and rhythm to microscopic moves emanating from my dance partner’s lead to listening to my own intuition. While embroiled in a tango that sometimes would work really smoothly for a few seconds, a beautiful thing got created that was much, much bigger than the two of us.

So, I’m a believer in the sheer awesomeness of the human body and what that means as we move about planet Earth. I’ve got my own batch of gathered evidence. But it’s Katy’s #MovementMatters that has offered me not just a new vocabulary, but a new, dot-connected way of understanding the world.

What we do with our bodies matters. And that extends way, way beyond my immediate space. I feel the responsibility and the thrill of that. And I also feel tapped into a source of clarity about what being a human connected to the world means. Based on my own experience, it’s the moving of my body that delivers me back to that clarity when a lot of the signs and signals around me are saying something different. I’m happier, yes, but I’m also trying to be a better citizen. And it starts with a simple calf stretch in the morning. Amazing.

I love this line from Katy in #MovementMatters: “When striving for an evidence-based life, consider that your most relevant evidence is your body.”

To that I’ll add, without putting too fine a point on it: Vive la révolution!

(Giraffes welcome).

By: Tracy Picha