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What I Learned in My Week at the Ranch


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I owe it all to Manuel, the salsa instructor, and Lena, the handwriting analyst.
Last week I was teaching fiction writing at Rancho La Puerta spa on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. And I attended other teachers' classes and talks– yoga, dance, weight training, graphology, etc.

In the course of these, I had a medium-sized epiphany about how I learn and how I can do it more easily.

The salsa class, taught by Manuel Velasquez, was a cardio workout that combined steps from rhumba, mambo, cumbia, chacha, and tango.  Complicated! and I had a hard time getting my feet to do right.  So much so that I gave up and decided to concentrate on shoulder and hip instructions and save feet until some other time. 

The result:  when I wasn't thinking about my feet, they did the right thing.  This astonished me.

Now, people have always told me to "just stop thinking" about , for example, what my knees are supposed to do while skiing.  I've never understood how one goes about stopping thinking. 

Now I know. One distracts oneself from "the hard part" by concentrating on something else.  Sort of learning with the peripheral awareness. 

The lesson was reinforced when graphologist/visual artist Lena Rivkin analyzed my handwriting in her talk on handwriting of writers and artists.  First thing she said:  you should rely on your gut more; but you like to overanalyze things….

No more.  Now I'm all mindless mambo.  Should be interesting.




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