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I think they are stunted
by environmental influences
usually in childhood.
I think they've been conditioned
into an aberrant behavior,
by the people
in their lives.
I blame societal influences.
And some of them just do it because it's cool.
They do it for attention.
They could choose not to be that way.
They could choose another path.
Despite their conditioning and upbringing and societal influences,
despite thinking it's cool,
despite who they are now
or what they've done in the past.
They could choose to do differently.
To be different.
Bigots, I mean.
peeking from dappled shadows
your petals on the ground
around your ankles.
I see you.
Conflict is a part of life. It happens every day in dozens of ways. It's how we handle conflict that affects the health and longevity of relationships.
I believe there are four horsemen of relationship apocalypse -- contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. I want to talk about them and then about strategies for avoiding them.
Contempt - When you treat people with contempt, you are saying with your behavior, "I don't care about you." Namecalling or ridiculing or being sarcastic, these things piss people off and pissed off people do not want to agree with you -- even when you're right.
Criticism - Criticism is feedback ... but often it's feedback that was not asked for or is unnecessary. Often it calls attention to things that cannot be changed or to things that are more about our own issues than someone else's. Unnecessary or frequent criticism makes us feel like we're tap dancing in a mine field. You never know when or what will bring about more.
Defensiveness - This is an often unconscious effort to protect ourselves from anxiety by employing diversionary tactics, intimidation or by distorting reality.
Stonewalling - This is simply shutting down and refusing to engage at all.
All four of these things destroy relationships. They are the leading factors in divorce but they affect every relationship. They hurt people.
All four of these things are ameliorated when you apply the True, Kind, Necessary rule. Measuring your words by this yardstick can make sure you are not being contemptuous, overly critical, defensive or stonewalling. Here's how it works. Before speaking, ask yourself, "Is this true? Is this kind? Is this necessary?" If it is not all three of those things, leave it unsaid. If it is necessary and it is true, find a way to say it kindly. It's saying the necessary things kindly that is often the challenge. There are many non-violent communication techniques that can help with that. Here are some I like:
1. Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone's opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing. Often what they're talking about is not even really the issue. Try to tune into their needs and the feelings they're experiencing to figure what's really going on in the situation and how you can respond helpfully and with love.
2. Keep the problem the problem. Don't personalize the issue by attacking the speaker or diverting to another issue. Stay focused on the issue with the goal of reaching a solution that meets everyone's needs.
3. Instead of articulating what we DON'T want someone to do, speak what we DO want the person to do.
4. Instead of just saying "No," explain what need of ours prevents us from saying "Yes."
5. Breathe. Take a moment and breathe slow and deep. Step away. Let the biochemicals of emotion dissipate before choosing a response.
6. Forgive and accept each other.
7. Forgive and accept your self.
Those are some of my strategies for dealing with conflict. I'm no expert and I make mistakes but these tools have helped me. I'd love to hear what works for others also.
"Let my words today be tender and sweet, lest tomorrow I have to eat them."
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.
Honoring this woman and all the suffragates who endured abuse, humiliation, imprisonment and even torture so that we may have the right to vote, on this the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote. I am so grateful for you all. And I do not take your hard won right for granted. (I don't think most people even realize that we've had this right for less than 100 years.)
Drums and Drumming:
Tony and Melissa are kind enough to bring a lot of percussion instruments for everyone to share. Please help them set up. It's a lot of work. More than I think people realize.
The drums and percussion instruments they bring for sharing are on a blanket in the center of the circle. If there is an unattended drum that is not in this area, look around and see if it belongs to someone. Ask before you borrow it. It's considerate but, also, some drums have special considerations that only the owner may know or special meaning to their companion human. I have one friend who has a drum that he loves and he is the only person who has ever used it. They have a special relationship. Others may have that too. Let's honor those.
If you bring instruments to share, place them on the sharing blanket. Then people will know it's okay to use them.
Never wear rings while playing hand drums. It can ruin them and injure you. Also, do not use sticks on hand drums. It can break the heads. They're called hand drums for a reason.
Drums and percussion instruments need to stay in the drum circle. Children have been known to wander away with things and those things are sometimes never seen again. (I'm thinking particularly of a pair of castanets.)
Listen! I love you but I gotta say, it ain't all about you. Listen to the drummers beside you. If you can't hear them, you are playing too loud. A drum circle is a rhythm structure built by many people. One person playing too loud, especially if they lose the rhythm, can throw off the entire circle (which, in turn, throws off the dancers). Plus, if one person plays loud, then others have to play loud to hear themselves. This makes things exponentially louder. Learn to play quietly. It's simple. Don't strike as hard and make sure that you can make out the rhythm of the percussionists farthest from you. If you can't hear them, take it down a notch. Drumming with others is a dance of call and response. It requires listening. It also requires leaving spaces of silence. Make an effort to not fill every single space with a bang. The silences are notes also.
There is such a thing as too much cow bell. Cymbals too. These things are incredibly loud and are heard over everything else. They are not ideal for kids. Tamborines either. They are for accents, not constant play. If you pick up one of these instruments, be conscious and considerate. Remember, you are one part of the rhythm, not the totality of it.
We are very, very lucky to have some amazing musicians who play other instruments who come to our jams. Tonight I am speaking specifically of Larry. Larry is an incredible professional artist who plays a variety of cool instruments including wind instruments. If he picks up one of his flutes, that is a cue for all of our drummers who are consciously listening and being considerate, to tone down the drumming a bit. Djembes are loud. They are made to be heard for miles. A flute, on the other hand, is beautiful as it wafts across a meadow but it is not going to be heard over even one djembe unless people are being conscious of its presence. Listen. Pay attention. Notice. Play softly. Share the rhythm. We all benefit from this.
Drumming and hooping both allow us to enter a flow state. Please do not talk to drummers while they're drumming. (I know I can't drum at all when someone is trying to talk to me.) And resist the impulse to interrupt hoopers, poi spinners, unicyclists, jugglers or dancers during their flow states also. There is plenty of time between rhythms for chatting.
Do not smoke near the drummers! They can't get up and move away. It's a wide open park. There are plenty of places to smoke. Be conscious of how your actions affect others, especially under the covered areas.
Measure yourself. It can be easy to go faster and faster and faster. Try to stay in the tempo. Speed changes affect the whole drum circle and they wear out the dancers also. Drumming is not a race. If you find yourself getting faster, regulate your breathing. Breathe deep and slow and you will be able to play deep and slow.
Listen for the call that the rhythm is about to end. This allows the circle to end together. It also shows that you are, indeed, listening.
Please help Tony and Melissa gather the drums and chairs and what not at the end of the evening. It's dark and it's a lot of work. Many hands make light work.
Hoops and Hooping:
Each week I bring about 30 hoops and a few sets of poi for anyone to use. I place the hoops to the right of the drummers in piles that are separated by size. These hoops are for everyone to use. Please use them! But not every hoop at the jam belongs to me. Other people bring hoops too. So it is important if you are using hoop jam hoops that you not only get them from these piles but that you return them to where you got them. When they are left in the grass, I often lose them once the sun goes down. Plus, then people don't know which ones they can use and sometimes they end up using someone else's special hoop. The hoops have a place. Get them from the borrow pile and return them when you're done. If you loan it to someone else, instruct them where to return it.
Hoops thrive when used on grass. Asphalt and cement destroy hoops. Please use them on the grass.
Hoops are never to be used to hit anyone! If I see you hit someone with a hoop, I will come take it. Period. I'm not much of a hardass but I am a hardass about that. I'm also a hardass about namecalling. The only name you should ever call anyone is an endearment.
Hoops and poi are not to be thrown in trees! Last spring I had to climb a tree to rescue one of my poi. I was not happy.
Hoops are also not for pulling between two people or leaning on. Both these things will break a hoop.
Finally, it can be fun to roll a hoop but only, only, only do this on grass. Gravel, cement (unless it is very smooth), asphalt -- these things are very bad for hoops. They destroy them and I can't afford to replace them. Plus, a hoop with torn metal tape can cut someone.
Be aware of the space you take up, especially behind you.
If you see a by-stander, invite them to play. Show them where the hoops are and help them get started if they seem lost or shy. We were there once too. It's an easy way to change someone's life for the better and make a new friend.
Hoopers also enter flow states. Allow them to bliss out. Be aware that their personal space is large. Give them room. Give each other room. A hoop held in the hand can take up to 10 feet all the way around. We're lucky to have this great big park. Let's use it and give each hooper a lot of space.
If you see a hooper has their eyes closed, this is not the time to talk to them. It's like interrupting someone who is meditating.
Children. Kids come to our hoop jam. Be conscious of them. Sometimes they run right into your hoop bubble. It's up to the hooper to not hit them. When kids are around, keep a gentle focus on the ground at all times.
We also have a few blind kids who come from time to time. Be aware of them. Help them find the hoops that have bb's in them. Then, if they lose their hoop, they can hear where it goes. Also, look out for them. Don't let them walk into another hooper as they chase their hoop. And if the hoop circles around behind them, call, "I got it!" and help them out by giving it back to them before they go looking for it in the completely wrong direction.
Express gratitude. We are very blessed to have these amazing drummers come drum for us each week. Many of these folks are professionals. That's why we have a drum circle that is not dissonant and chaotic like most drum circles. A lot of people work hard for us also, especially the people who set up the circle. They deserve our love and gratitude. When a rhythm ends, give them a round of applause, a shout out, a hoot or a holler. In short, show them some love. That's what they're doing for us.
We are very lucky to be able to meet in Pullen Park. It is super important to respect the space. It is a public park so drinking and drugs are not allowed. Plus, a sober drum circle is a more rhythmic drum circle. There. I said it.
There are trashcans for trash and recycling bins for recycling. Make sure that you pick up all your belongings at the end of the evening. Leave No Trace! And if you see trash, even micro-trash, heck, especially micro-trash (balloon bits and pieces, etc.), please pick them up and throw them away. You could save an animal's life.
Sharing is good. I encourage you to bring food and snacks and beverages to share. It builds community and keeps everyone's blood sugar up. Also, share your toys! It creates new playmates. (Did ya'll check out the guy who brought unicycles to share tonight!?! He plans to come back every week. Wheee!)
Children. All children must be supervised. It is a big park with a lot of strangers and places to get lost. I am not your baby sitter and I can't keep up with your kids. Keep them within sight and supervise their use of the percussion instruments especially.
Dogs. I love dogs and you're welcome to bring them but if you do, clean up after them! There is nothing worse than stepping in dog poo, especially if you're barefoot. Ewwww! Bring a bag and dispose of waste in the trashcan. Also, keep them on a leash if they're a runner. There are a lot of distractions in the park, including a large colony of feral cats.
Be respectful. Realize that the jam is family environment, even when kids are not there. Refrain from profanity, vulgarity or sexual talk or behaviors. Also, don't hit on people. I know there are a lot of hotties but it's not a singles bar. We want everyone to feel comfortable and safe at our gathering and it's not really the place for that.
Fire Spinning - I know we have a lot of great fire spinners in our group. We do not have permission from the park to spin fire though. I believe it may be okay occasionally and in moderation (they do have grills there) but I must insist that anyone who does so clears it with me first, has a trained safety who is paying attention and fully present, has a fire blanket and an extinguisher and also has a license to burn, which is a license that shows you have completed a fire safety course. If you want to know more about this, talk to me.
Respect that the jam is people's playtime. It's not a teaching environment even though I and others are often happy to show you a few things but understand that this is our time to play also. There is a happy medium. Don't "not" ask for help but be conscious and respectful and grateful when you do.
Gratitude makes the world better. Live it, express it and sing praises. I, for one, am grateful for each and every one of you. The Hoop Jam would not be the amazing experience it is without your input. And it is amazing. I think we have the best hoop jam in North Carolina, possibly the whole country. I could not be more grateful for that! Thank you.
I love you all,
p.s. Thank you also for my birthday gift two weeks ago. You are so sweet and it really meant a lot to me. I adore you all. You are my family of friends. I look forward to playing together each week.Thank you for your kindess, generosity and for being who you are. You make me so happy.
When I dance with my hoop, I emphasize different places in the music with my hoop or my body. If the tempo of the music moves from fast to slow, my movement moves from fast to slow. Where the melody rises and falls, I also tend to rise and fall. And in those percussive places where there is a strong and sudden drumbeat or guitar slap, I step into those places and try to represent them through movement too. I call this “Beat Punctuation”.
Beat Punctuation is about accentuating a percussive spot in the music. We hear these places with our ears and we feel them in our body. Beat punctuation is about embodying them in our dance. Not every single one, of course, but the powerful ones. The crescendos. Because of this, my nickname for beat punctuation is "Pah!"
Pah! is a powerful, explosive kind of movement (though it can also be very minimal). It is a stepping into that space deep in the beat, inhabiting the beat so that you ascend slowly, like the beat does, then explode to the apex just as the beat does, pause there a moment for emphasis and then continue dancing to the melody. Pah! is kind of like trying to visually and bodily represent the percussion in a song.
One example of simple beat punctuation is utilizing a lift so that it hits its peak powerfully and right on the beat. Beat punctuation with a lift means you raise the lift with purpose and perfect timing. There are many ways to cultivate this. You can practice, practice, practice until your lifts reach their fullest height right on the beat. Or you can experiment with any song and simply try to stop all movement on the powerful beats. Experimenting allows you to figure out how to create a “ta da” stop in any moment. And this is the basis of pah!
Put on a song, preferably one with a tempo and melody that changes, and practice stopping on the percussive beats. The first step is developing an ear for them. You can often hear a build up to them, even if you don’t know that song. Wherever you are when a strong beat happens, pause. Then move on. Feel how that feels in your body. Check it out in the mirror and see how these pauses look. Really exaggerate each pah! and then subtly hone it until it's perfect. With our lift example, this might mean that you not only end on the beat but you’re standing tall, your arm is straight and your gaze is directed deliberately. Use a mirror or a video camera to give yourself feedback. If you notice the move looks better with your feet together, take note and practice it that way so your technique is as good as your timing.
As you play with these ideas, they will begin to happen naturally in your dance. You won’t even have to think of them. They just flow out of you as you interpret the melody and the rhythm with the movement of your body and/or the manipulation of your hoop.
Practice freezing in "pah!" Figure out a bunch of ta-da stops and punch into them. And know that you don't always have to do it with your hoop. You can do it with your arms! "Pah!" Or your gaze. "Pah!" Or a finger or a knee or even an elbow. Think roller derby! "Pah!" You can also move into “pah!” while doing footwork or pause in the midst of a traveling step. And when you combine footwork with either hoop or hand, "Pah! Pah!" Explore space. Experiment.
Now I realize this is a concept that is hard to explain in words so I have taken one of my videos and annotated it to show where some pah!’s happen. Hopefully it will help demonstrate this point. Here is a link: www.youtube.com/watch You’ll notice a little box appears around some of the pah! moments. This annotation only denotes the beat punctuation, not the melody punctuation. This move is about embodying percussion. And you’ll notice that punctuating a beat does not always require stopping the hoop. Sometimes it is a matter of making it land exactly where you want it, exactly when you want it – like in the chest roll about half way through where the “pah!” happens right when the hoop is on my heart.
Once you have started adding beat punctuation to your repertoire, pick your very favorite moves and figure out how to punctuate beats with them. You can do it with pretty much any move so you already have the skills you need to get started. And you will freaking love it! Play around and have fun. Beat Punctuation comes naturally to us. If you already understand this idea, take this opportunity to be conscious of it and really explore it. You'll find yourself accentuating parts of the music right on the beat, right when you want to, without even thinking about it, with either your body or your hoop. Or both! Your love for your dance will grow exponentially. As an artist, you will be able to create in a whole new way in your dance. Beat punctuation is powerful! It’s also really fun.
waiting by the door
long brown legs a'showing
pink petal panties
on brown bare ground.
Sunshine reflects white
from those pink petals
so they shimmer
as if wet.
Her standing there
suddenly almost naked
only a few green leaves
that barely cover
a boa of honeysuckle
her just waiting there
beautiful in a whole new way
seducing with sweet honeysuckle scent
bedizined with honeysuckle blossom.
Look at you!
Why you were sassily
attired with blooms
this very morning
yet here you are
and scantily clad
this springtime eve.
you are beautiful.
-May 3, 2010
Clay Greene and his partner of 25 years (what little reporting there has been says 20 years but court filings say 25), Harold Scull, lived, until very recently, in Sebastopol, California. Sebastopol is in Sonoma County, the wine country largely thought of as one of the most "gay friendly" places in the United States. Apparently not.
As long-time partners, Harold and Clay had named each other as beneficiaries of their respective estates and the agents to consult for medical decisions in times of crisis. Harold was 88 and in deteriorating health so it was bad enough when he fell down the steps of their home. But it got a lot worse. Like anyone, his partner Clay immediately called for an ambulance ... and that's when their troubles really began. Harold Scull was taken to the hospital. While Harold was hospitalized, Deputy Public Guardians Michael Brewster and Karen Stagg-Hourigan went to the men’s home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of the furnishings, artwork, and collectibles that the men had collected over their lifetimes. Harold had worked for MGM during the 1950s and 60s under Louis B. Mayer and had collected numerous artifacts and memorabilia from that period, many of which were displayed in the couple's home. Clay Greene had worked in television, "working with many stars early in their careers," and also had a large collection of irreplaceable memorabilia. As the two supposed "guardians" toured the men's home, it seems clear that they began to hatch a plan -- a plan to use their official capacity as county employees to rob the men of everything they owned.
Ignoring Clay Greene's legal rights entirely, Sonoma County petitioned the Court for conservatorship of Harold Scull’s estate. They told a judge that Clay was only Harold's “roommate”, failing to disclose their true relationship, and the County proceeded to treat Harold as if he had no family. Sonoma County sought immediate authority to revoke Harold's powers of attorney and to liquidate an investment account to pay for his care. Then, despite being granted only limited powers, and with undue haste, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.
To make matters even worse, the county removed Clay Greene from their home and confined him to a nursing home against his will! They placed him far from his partner and kept Clay from seeing Harold. Even his telephone calls were monitored and limited. Three months after Harold was hospitalized, he died, alone, without ever seeing Clay again.
Because of Sonoma County's actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with Harold, his beloved partner of 25 years. Compounding this horrific tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home or life he shared with Harold. The life he was living up until Harold's fall is gone. He has been unable to recover even one piece of his property, not even his beloved cats who he fears are dead. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life as he lay alone and dying.
I bet if we went to Michael Brewster or Karen Stagg-Hourigan's home, we would find some of Clay and Harold's belongings. Perhaps at the auction company also as they illegally participated in this scheme and are named in the criminal complaint.
I believe this is a hate crime. This is from Clay Greene's criminal complaint, which is being handled pro-bono by some attorneys as he has lost everything he owns!
"On or about June 28 and continuing through August 2008, Defendants ACV, Dillingham County, Liedholm, Stagg-Hourigan, Brewster along with others did not allow Plaintiff Clay Greene access to Harold Scull, his partner of 25 years, who was terminally ill. On or about June 28 and continuing through August 2008, Defendants ACV, Dillingham County, Liedholm, Stagg-Hourigan, Brewster and others, falsely imprisoned Plaintiff Clay Greene behind a locked gate at Defendant ACV's premises and restricted his movements and communications with his friends, family, and the general public. Mr. Greene was put in fear of physical harm, was intimidated and attacked, and remains to this day fearful that he will be chased down and locked up again.
On or about August, 2008, Defendants Michael Brewster and Karen Stagg-Hourigan, employees of the County, acting in their official capacities, did disparage and demean Plaintiff Greene in his presence and in the presence of others, making derogatory references to Plaintiff Greene's sexual orientation and age, stating "You know how those 'gay boys' are..." After Harold Scull's death, Defendants Brewster and Stagg-Hourigan further expressed displeasure at dealing with expressions of grief by a gay man who had lost his long-time partner."
Clay Greene has lost everything -- the love of his life, his home, all his belongings, even his cats. And he thought he'd taken every precaution. He had every legal T crossed and I dotted and, in the end, separate was not equal for him. This is why we should legalize gay marriage!!!!
Michael Brewster and Karen Stagg-Hourigan remain on the payroll of the County. I wonder if we went into their homes, how many of Clay's belongings we would find?
Again, the mainstream media is not writing about this. It is up to us to bring it to their attention. Please share this story far and wide and sign the letter to President Obama here:
Ask your friends to share this story also. Harold may be gone but his death need not be in vain. Please help.
We can make a difference. It's up to us to work for justice for Clay and Harold.
When we concentrate, we have a tendency to frown. Frowning locks the jaw and freezes up more than the face -- it freezes up the body as well. If you don't believe it, start waist hoping and then put a frown on your face. Feel how your whole body stiffens up, how your muscles tighten from top to bottom, how much harder it is to hoop and to breathe. Suddenly your suppleness is gone. Your moves become jerky instead of fluid. You start to move like you've stepped on an electrical wire.
Now try another experiment. Start waist hooping and put a big goofy grin on your face. Feel how your whole body loosens up and suddenly becomes free and flexible. Feel how your attitude changes and joy returns to your hoop experience. These two thngs are reason enough to become aware of, and deliberately cultivate, a gentle smile. There are plenty more.
Smiles are healing -- to us and to everyone around us.
Smiling promotes relaxation and emotional control. It makes us more attractive. It invites others into our experience. It helps us make friends. And because smiles are contagious, smiling is peace work. Your smile will flow from person to person like a blessing. Smiling changes our mood, makes us feel more hopeful, expands our possibilities. A smile when we're frustrated changes that emotion into something much more joyful and empowering. It's the best anti-depressant money can't buy. Smiling relieves stress. It relaxes the body and allows us to breathe deeper, which also gives us more energy. Smiling literally requires less muscles so it is less work to smile than to frown. That manifests as hoop energy also. Smiling boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure. It releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin. It lifts the face and makes us look younger. It makes us more successful because people want to do business with people who are happy. Smiling helps us stay positive and it makes the world a more positive place. They are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.
Smiling also pulls us from outside experience into inside experience. It helps us Be Here Now, to be present in this moment, in our body, right now, to exercise control where we can rather than live in our heads. It increases our patience and lowers our inhibitions. It puts us in control of our emotional state rather than putting our emotions in control of us. Smiling makes us more supple and flexible and happy and healthy. It heals us even as it heals the world. It also helps us be better hoopers.
Oh yeah, and it looks a lot prettier than that grimace of concentration otherwise known as "ugly face".
"Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
- Mother Teresa (and this goes for smiling at your Self as well.)
For beginner poi spinners, though, I recommend that you consider spinning sock poi. There are a lot of advantages to sock poi. They don't tangle like strings do. Tangles can be frustrating, time consuming and they interrupt your flow, making it harder to learn poi basics. With sock poi, you'll never accidentally throw flax seed all over your living room. And sock poi pack down very small so that you can stick them in your purse or backpack and have them with you should you find an opportunity to spin. You can also take them into concerts. And if you make them the way I recommend, you won't hurt yourself or anyone else with an accidental poi thwack. Sock poi also stretch just a bit as the poi spin to help you feel like your hand ends not at the end of your arm but at the end of your poi.
Here's what you'll need:
- a pair of long socks that you are ready to repurpose (I prefer tube socks because they are heel-less but any long sock will do. I also prefer striped socks because the colors separate out beautifully when they spin.)
- a pair of old stockings you don't mind cutting up or a piece of cloth and a rubberband
- some flax seed or birdseed or rice or quinoa or cous-cous (some sort of loose small grain. You could also use lentils or small beans.)
Here's how to do it:
- Pour 3/4 cup of flax seed (or substitute) into the toe of a stocking, then tie a knot in it so the ball of seed is tight but still squishy. Cut off any extra material. Craft the second ball. And make sure they're the same size. Voila! Two squishy balls. (I know. That sounds dirty.) If you don't have stockings, take a piece of cloth, pour the seed in the center and close the corners with a rubber band. You may want to do this twice to ensure the ball doesn't come open inside your sock. It doesn't have as much give as stockings but it's still pretty good.
- Drop the ball into the toe of the sock.
- At the top of the sock, use your scissors to cut two straight lines parallel to each other about six inches long from the top of the sock toward the toe. This should leave you with two, equal sizes, flaps of material at the top of the sock.
- Where the cut stops, fold the sock over itself and tie a square not so that the cuts end in the square knot. It should look like your square knot has given birth to two bunny ears. Do the same to the other sock.
- Make sure the knots on each sock are the same distance from the toe so your poi will be the same length. You may need to adjust one of your knots to get them the same length.
- Then take your two rabbit ears and tie them together at the top, creating a small hole you can peek through and put your fingers through. The size of this hole only matters if you want it to be big enough to put your whole hand through. Otherwise, big enough to get a finger or two through is enough. (Plus, it's going to stretch out as you spin your poi. So it'll get bigger anyway.)
Ta da! You have sock poi!
You can hold the poi by putting your fingers through this hole or by holding the bottom knot (the one closest to the toe gives you the most control). There are several other ways to hold poi also. I won't go into them now but it's important to know that there are other ways and to rotate between different grips to avoid repetitive motion injuries. Plus, some grips just work better for some moves. (Note: You could have simply made the sock poi with no knots at the top or with one knot at the top. I use the two knot method because you can alternate between about 10 different grips simply by leaving that hole.)
Poi spinning is fun, easy and accessible. It is also multi-purpose. In New Zealand, its main purpose is story-telling (similar to hula dance in Hawaii) but poi are also used in dance and to train Maori warriors who fight with a short sword in each hand. Grandmother's have even been known to craft tiny poi on thread and use them to mesmerize fussy babies to sleep. Poi spinning is done by people of all ages. It is even accessible to the wheelchair bound. It's easy to learn and feels like you're remembering something you didn't know you'd forgotten.
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