About Jim (Or How I Found the Missing Piece of Dance)

I'm going to keep it real with you in describing my life. I'm not a trained dancer, a licensed therapist, or—worst of all—a native Montanan.

What I am, though, is a devoted father, a man with a deep commitment and belief in the healing power of dance, and a person with a long background in communication and facilitation. I may be new to this, but I am not without skills. I also have a deeply passionate belief that dance can transform us. All we need is the space and the right atmosphere to allow that to happen.

My life is a testament to the healing power of dance.

However, what a road to get there! Let me share an abbreviated version of my life's story to date.

I was born in Ohio and grew up the son of a United Methodist minister, always moving from place to place, and never feeling a sense of home. However, growing up in a religious household, my family exposed me to a lively exchange of ideas. It was only natural that I pursued philosophy in college at Ohio Northern, where I graduated with a double major in philosophy and history.

Philosophy is a wonderful field, but I do not know what job a philosopher does except teach philosophy. So, I did the next best thing and worked at a garden center in Seattle for a couple years, married the woman I was with, and moved back to Ohio to study more philosophy.

Oh, hold that thought a second; there is a huge missing piece here! While studying philosophy at Ohio Northern, I fell in love with Yellowstone National Park. The story of how I got there is fascinating in itself, but all I will say here is that I spent five of the most wonderful summers of my life working in Grant Village. Yellowstone has since been a lifelong obsession.

So, after five summers in Yellowstone, a wife, and a return to Ohio, I completed my Master's in philosophy at the University of Toledo, where my first relevant Chakradance facilitation experience came from teaching undergraduate philosophy courses.

You may notice that I have not mentioned dance. Teaching, facilitating, and writing were and always will be huge parts of my life, but at that time, dance only showed up in my writings metaphorically. For example, I wrote about our "ideas needing to dance," but what about me? Until much later in life, I never took the metaphor literally.

Anyhow, the next move was to Washington, D.C., where I pursued a Ph.D. at Catholic University of America. I am not and have never been Catholic, but they have a whole college of philosophy, and their emphasis on metaphysics was a perfect academic fit for me. However, culturally, it was not. As I continued to teach philosophy at Catholic and at Mt. St. Mary's, I began to feel aloof in academia, and I deeply disliked its politics.

Furthermore, while I had a wonderful relationship with my students, those relationships were fleeting—usually ending when the semester ended.

My marriage also fell apart during this time.

What's more, I increasingly became involved in grassroots anti-war and social justice activism and organizing. Living in Washington, working and walking by the White House all the time, I found it impossible to resist the allure of the streets. My parents had protested the Vietnam War, and I felt a real call to lend my body and voice to something that mattered.

This was—after going to Yellowstone—the next truly transformative experience of my life. I really found my voice, as I did far more than simply march in the streets. Often, I was organizing six or seven days a week, attending events nonstop, and soon I became a leader in the local activist community. My voice was strong and eloquent, and people regularly asked me to give radio and news interviews, speak at press conferences, or present at other events. I learned so many skills about the basics of organizing without money. We were not affiliated with a non-profit; we really were just people who came together who cared enough to want to do something about it. I facilitated dozens and dozens of meetings, and the skills I picked up in grassroots organizing far exceed anything I've learned at any of my professional jobs. This was a labor of love.

It was also an unsuccessful labor of love. We did not stop any wars or do anything of consequence, except provide food to the many homeless people we served. Even worse, my groups always self-imploded, destroyed by the politics of infighting and ego. Much as it was for me in academia, it was the same in some ways in grassroots activism. While I was truly passionate about activism, it was not enough. My fellow activists and I were missing something fundamental for us ever to achieve our dreams of a just society.

In the meantime, I was in another long-term relationship, and this one produced our son, River.

Soon after River's birth, it was finally time for me to be closer to my spiritual home in Yellowstone. So, we moved to Bozeman.

I was not yet dancing.

In Bozeman, I immediately became an environmental activist, volunteering regularly with Buffalo Field Campaign. I even spent a full season living out near West Yellowstone with them. Prior to that, I co-founded Buffalo Allies of Bozeman. Later, I organized with Occupy Bozeman while also developing the website for the short-lived Rocky Mountain Independent Media Network. However, it was ultimately more of the same. People were disappointing; I was disappointing. Something important was still missing.

My relationship also again fell apart, though River's mother and I have really worked hard since to make it work for him.

During this time, I fell in love again, and this person led me to dance. I cannot say I first danced entirely because of her, but I doubt I ever would have if not for her influence. She gave me the greatest gift anyone has ever given me by introducing me to 5Rhythms dancing. Once she did, I was hooked.

5Rhythms is a lot like Chakradance, and I recommend it to anyone. Dancing it, I began to have significant spiritual experiences. My body began to open up, and I felt the beginning of my inner transformation.

That transformation did not happen fast enough for this particular romantic situation, but I did not throw dance away. Yellowstone, then activism, and now dance had revolutionized my life.

Being River's father has been something else altogether. Fatherhood has been more evolutionary. I have always been deeply devoted to my son, but the power his presence has held over my life is not something that happens like a bang. It just is, and every part of my life since his birth has been infused by his presence. Besides our hundreds of hikes together in Yellowstone and many other places—like Yosemite or the Canadian Rockies—he is often with me in body and always in the spirit of everything else I do. As I dance more and more, River is always woven into my dance.

As I continued to dance, I also worked a lot on the deeper issues in my body, which were keeping me from my fullest spiritual awakening. I discovered rolfing (links on the left side of this page are to the web pages of the two women who helped me on that journey). Rolfing is a holistic approach to the body—something like massage but with key differences. The result of rolfing has been to help me hold my own space better, enabling my body to do the things my heart and mind have always wanted.

Life has been so happy the last five years, as I have enjoyed dancing, exploring Yellowstone, being a father, and pursuing my own self-growth. I continued 5Rhythms dancing, but I began swing dancing, too. I also sought other avenues of self-growth, such as tantra, and I continue to seek out the next tools to help me with my calling—to be a facilitator of the healing process. I spend as much time outdoors as I can, particularly through hiking, running, and cross country skiing.

At a tantra workshop, I discovered Chakradance. In my very first Chakradance, I saw powerful visions and received clear answers to my inner questions. Subsequently, through an interesting turn of events, someone suggested that I train to be a Chakradance facilitator. I sat with that a while, and then I went for it. Now, here I am today, a licensed Chakradance facilitator.

I am now dancing and will never stop.

Besides dancing, exploring Yellowstone, and being a father, you can already gather that I also love to hike, work out, and write. Add a love of baking to that list. I mostly bake cheesecakes but also enjoy baking homemade pies and other goodies from scratch.

My life has been unusual and eclectic. Dance, however, was the missing piece. I dearly want to share the missing piece of dance—through Chakradance—with you. I hope that by being raw and honest about my life's story you will see that whatever your story, wherever you are in life, you too can find the key that dance holds to unlocking many things. They probably will not be the same things as they were for me, but I am confident that they will be no less beautiful.

Thank you for reading this far. It will be my pleasure to hold a Chakradance class space for you.

2019-2020 update: Recently, I have had the honor of taking a seven-month online "Deep Dive" course led by the founder of Chakradance, Natalie Southgate, and limited to 20 people worldwide. The course was really transformative for me. One intention I set while diving deep into the chakras was to figure out how to better use all that I'm learning on my journey and find better avenues to share it. Wonderfully, the course itself provided its own answer. Natalie has hired me to help her co-facilitate the 2020 Deep Dive course, which is ongoing. This is an amazing opportunity to be an aid and a witness to those truly seeking to do the deep work involved in Chakradance. My main role is telephoning each member of the class once a month (for approximately one hour a call) to check in on her or his journey. So, as I grow into this field, opportunities are manifesting. Indeed, dance when practiced with intentionality can do that. My life only gets better and better.

Contact Jim

Send an email to jim@chakradance.com.