Let’s set the stage. I’m sitting at the kitchen table overlooking two canals. Small quiet boats pass through, breaking the still waters as I type. Before I found myself in this position, and on my walk home, I discovered a specialty foods shop a stone’s throw from the apartment. It’s exactly the kind of specialty shop you want to stumble upon: A smorgasbord of black truffle potato chips, fudge made in small batches, old Amsterdam cheese, various types of prepared organic salads that are far more appetizing than those found in whole foods, brownies, vegan and vegetarian choices and so forth. Effectively, something for everyone. A large convection oven protruding from the wall stands ready to warm your bread or pastry and a moments notice and a warm inviting atmosphere drew me in the way a disney character smells a freshly baked pie from a mile away, levitates off the ground and floats inside in a dream like state. Incidentally, the waffle and crepe shops will give you the same effect.
But for now, several of these gourmet ingredients are spread across the kitchen table as church bells signal that it’s half past the hour. As I let the slow drip of honey spread across my warm gluten free bread, I top it with a slice of special cheese and consume the whole thing at once.
The canal is quiet. But only one night ago there were rain and thunder and lightening storms so loud and bright it felt like an IMAX experience, or better said, a real nature experience.
Earlier today I was on the subway it might as well be called the nicest underground I have ever laid my eyes upon. Immaculate from top to bottom, no doors separating each train so you can see straight through to the very end and possibly cleanest floors ever. It was delightful.
Simply walking through the streets of Amsterdam as an experience in itself. Like many European cities, the streets are lined with cobblestone and different textured stones and that makes just the mere act of walking a joyous moment. Different smells waft by, sometimes fresh air, sometimes pot, sometimes delicious cooking. My favorite is when a family is at home and about to eat dinner.
And Taxis. Can you imagine that if an E or S class Mercedes Benz doesn’t pick you up, any number of 100 different Tesla’s will? Fully Electric, top of the line, cutting edge Teslas as taxis!
Having lived in Venice for a year many years ago, it’s hard to not immediately notice the similarities between Venezia and Amsterdam. Fantastic architecture, the numerous uneven and winding canals and waterways, small boats, bridges, all nestled in a small compact city that is easily accessible by foot. But what is so interesting about the Dutch style of architecture here, is how narrow everything is. Because property was taxed based on it’s width, people built their homes as narrow as possible and as deep as possible and generally with high ceilings.
And, as I can vouch for in my previous house in the Hollywood Hills, having your first floor begin a couple meters above street level, gives inhabitants a nice sense of safety. And this is how most homes here are built. You come up to go in.
I am also thoroughly impressed with much of the contemporary architecture as well. So many unique and bizarre shaped buildings to take in.
The quantity of cheese to be found in Amsterdam is literally beyond compare. There are many different flavors, sizes, shapes to choose from. Naturally each shop is usually also lined with freshly baked bread with unique flavors such as chestnut, mushroom, caramelized onion… every day is Christmas in Amsterdam.
Certainly the more lascivious side to Amsterdam bears mentioning as well. Passing through the red light district is a very interesting feeling when walking by yourself as a man. Women bang doors, knock on the window, wink, flirt, tease, smile, call you from across the road, make inviting and come hither gestures. I imagine it really gives the sense of what it must be like to a woman who is constantly hit on by men. Walk down the same streets with a beautiful woman by your side and the girls hardly take notice of you. And sex shops… what can’t you find in Amsterdam? I saw a man purchase a ‘cage’ and some other devices that could only be described as painful. There’s a lot of contrast in the world.
It is also so interesting to see not just marijuana sold at every “coffee” shop openly and plainly, but an entire menu of selections accompanied by a knowledgable staff member ready to advise you on how to have the best trip possible. I overheard, “Well this one is a happy high but this one is more of a… stoned feeling… always wait for it to kick in before overdoing it.” Just walking by these places feels like you get a contact high as the smoke literally billows out, again, almost in a cartoon like fashion. It amused me to imagine what America would be like, if Starbucks offered such a menu of services.
Of course I cannot go any further without mentioning that our experience here simply would not be the same without the constant attention and above and beyond care of Jim Klinkhamer and Det. If it wasn’t for this man, I don’t think I would have experienced half of what Amsterdam has to offer, from the actual buildings he designed and remodeled, to unique museums, special facts about the city and Dutch way of life, fine dining, cooking, grilled vegetables and fine salads, fine wine, beer, the best cheeses…. Plus a phenomenal tour to the outskirts of Amsterdam which proved to be exactly what you would imagine Holland to look like: fresh air, blue skies, a cool wind, water, grassy fields, free roaming cows and sheep with a little black sheep to boot. We stopped at someone’s house who’s Lassie dog came running up to greet us, as the wind blew briskly through his fur. A house whose back yard simply backed up into the bay / ocean and I thought to myself, this must be the Dutch version of the Hamptons.
Now, I don’t like beer. In fact it’s often one of the more shocking facts about me that I have never drank one full glass of beer or one full cup of coffee or espresso in my entire life. I realize that this juxtaposed to the average human who does this upwards of three times a day is bizarre in itself but I digress. So I generally have a healthy disgust for beer. And I would NEVER consider drinking alcohol after acrobatics, but here, people go for a drink. So after Anastasia deeply enjoyed her second beer that Jim recommended because it was only made in small batches and only available to a dozen or so restaurants in all of Amsterdam, curiosity got the best of me…
And wow! Great beer! Great cheese! Great vegetables! Great wine! Great food! Great prices! The dutch really know how to do it. And I appreciate small things like the fact that the Dutch aren’t obsessed with closing their blinds and shutting out the light. They are not vampires but actually welcome the light and don’t gawk into other peoples houses. They are simply used to sharing space and having windows open. Of course, as usual, I have found people here to be friendly, amiable and generous, offering good eye contact, and good vibes.
I am particularly excited about the bathroom hardware I often see here in Amsterdam. For instance to turn on your shower, rather than bending over and turning a few dials dials. there is a shower mechanism that looks somewhat like a small thin cylinder with two easy to turn dials on either side and then the shower hose attached to this. When you gently twist one end, the water comes on, and when you twist the other, it adjusts the heat. It’s so simple, and elegant, I want one for my own place.
Our eyes have also gotten to witness something else that is very special. Much like my small family at JJ’s in LA, there are a group of 50+ and 60+ year-old acrobats, who all bass and fly each other in the most outrageous of tricks! Tricks such as handstand on head, Corbets and cascades, jumping from the head into hand-in-hand, toe pitch to high bird and so forth. In sum, tricks that would give a 20-year-old pause. I am touched, inspired, and thankful to know that I can be 60 years old and still playing safely while doing outrageously fun things.
Now, when I came to Amsterdam, I had a decent handstand. Now I have the sense that I am leaving with a much better handstand, shortly to become a great handstand for all of my bases and flyers around the world.
Unfortunately for the last several days I’ve had a pinched neck from who knows what. I had the opportunity to stop at a physiotherapist, thanks to Jim of course, who was able to see me within less than a days notice. Not only was my treatment affordable (35 Euro per visit!) but I also got to experience something called “dry needling,” which almost instantly removed the extremely sharp pain from my neck!
But if there is one thing I feel that I am taking away, That will benefit me most, it is finding proper alignment for my back, when basing hand flying acrobatic tricks. It is my sincere hope that this shift will dramatically change my ability to perform at my best.
Yes, being in Holland makes me thoroughly pleased. It’s a shame there is a 90 day limit that Americans may spend in Europe, because quite frankly I can see myself living here for quite sometime, as I could also in Vienna, italy, Barcelona and I’m sure if I saw it, Sweden. Oh and Switzerland, ESPECIALLY Switzerland.
My heart is so full of appreciation and wonder. Having lived in Europe on two separate occasions for a year each time, I thought being back here perhaps might feel a little same old, same old, but my travels to Europe have in fact been anything but that. I hope that those of you who took the time to read this will also feel inspired, and that maybe it has given you a taste of what it is like to be here. I know the traveling is not for everyone, nor is it accessible to everyone, but I feel very lucky and blessed to be able to have this experience this point in my life. Wishing you all the best wherever your road is taking you!
Tari Mannello for Elegant Acro™ and Tari Television
Getting out of Europe was a necessity not a desire. But after several months there I was really starting to get the hang of things: finding my footing, using public transport, speaking foreign languages and living out of a single suitcase that, let’s face it, really isn’t getting lighter than the maximum of 23 kilos.
But airports are interesting aren’t they? I’ve got a penchant for those that have tried to turn themselves into small sustainable cities. I even hear tell that some have built in hotel rooms for you to rest by the hour! Most that I’ve seen though put my hometown LA to shame. In fact, I try to avoid the abysmal LAX at all costs.
But moving between international borders is always an interesting experience. We are all people, with the same needs, desires and responsibilities, and for the most part have a good deal of freedom. But when you’re walking through the grim security corridors of the Fiumicino International airport for example, through those sections where you are either underground, moving through dimly lit hallways with a yellowish tinge, or worse yet a experiencing a bright florescent shine that reflects upon a chalky decrepit wall, it feels as if you’re being guided to your doom, or perhaps being deported, as opposed to simply a means to a destination; and this can be a little unnerving.
During such transitions, only the minimal is provided: floor, walls, lighting. Then it’s off to one of those large on airport transit shuttles where you’re packed in so tight you feel like herded cattle, and you really get to see some glowing personalities surface. Here in these moments, context is everything. The knowing that you’ll get through it, that this is just part of your journey and and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel helps steer the thoughts in the right direction.
But as I made my way from the home of yet another generous friend who allowed me to stay on their bed / guest room / air mattress and so forth, I walked to the tram took me to to Termini Train Station in Rome, where I took a train from Termini to Fiumicino airport, and eventually found my way to Terminal five. Talk about planes, trains and automobiles.
It seems these days that’s what my life is about on travel days: racking up modes of public transportation from one place to another. It’s truly amazing that you can get around outside of Los Angeles without a car in large cities, but it certainly is time consuming. I cannot remember the last time I was on a bus before traveling like this and now it seems to be the default way to get around. Oh if only I could have an electric car waiting for me in every city.
In any case, after hearing all sorts of haunting tales of what might happen to you if you overstay your welcome in Europe or the Schengen territory (which is most of Europe), I was keen to exit as soon as possible. As an American citizen we get a maximum of three months to enjoy Europe before we must exit for another THREE. Frankly, three months is about enough time to enjoy half of one small country.
But good energy was flowing this morning right upon my departure.
I used to be in the habit of trying to arrive to airports with as little waiting time as humanly possible to get onboard and leave. Just get me to my destination. But, as I make my way through airports these days, I’ve been arriving earlier and earlier to not feel rushed. In fact, I ask myself, how can I make the experience better and more enjoyable each time I come? How can I feel lightness and ease about being here? What hidden treasures can I discover and how can I amuse myself? With the huge overhauls some of these larger international airports have seen over the years, it’s actually not a bad place to shop, people watch, dine, chat and explore. And not can you people watch. How do people sleep on floors of airports? Have they not seen what the men’s bathrooms looks like on the floor and what gets tracked out of there and onto those floors?
But I was saying some airports can be awesome.
In fact, San Francisco has even added a YOGA ROOM to their airport! There is actually signage telling you so. Baggage claim, ground transport, gates and Yoga Room! I’m so excited to experience it some day.
But coming back to my departure, by now you must know that ease and grace are two of my favorite words. As I am pushing a large 50 lb (World’s lightest) suitcase around the world alongside a smaller wheeled carry-on, I try to make these transition periods as easy as possible. And so, I amuse myself with games like, what’s the lightest push and I can use to get both suitcases to roll, or can I wheel both suitcases up or down an escalator without disrupting my stride or scraping against the sharp toothed surface of the steps.
In large train stations and in busy metros such as Rome, people’s emotions can run high. Here it is evident how many of us possess a huge sense of grandiosity and self importance. This sense of entitlement can lead to people wanting to get on before others get off and I often wonder where this attitude comes from. Aren’t we all in a hurry? Isn’t everyone going somewhere they need to be? I remember once watching a documentary about aquatic life. As it turns out schools fish, literally in the tens of thousands of them, can all swim together, all within a millimeter of each other without once touching one another. But several humans can barely make it through subway doors, to not even speak about China.
But don’t tell me about China, I know China!
But I was suggesting that luck was on my side during my transition out of Rome this morning. Most people I come across, everywhere I go seem happy, friendly, welcoming and willing to help. So when I approached my first level of security, three well groomed border patrol officers greeted me with smiles for the first passport check. Then, after check in, I notice the Global Tax Refund kiosks. I made my way across the hall where one unusually friendly man sitting in a dark and ominous room with all the lights turned off, gave me all the necessary stamps without once asking if I had the merchandise on me I had purchased – something the sign that separated the two of us said must be the case if you want a stamp.
I found myself glad to have allowed an excess of three hours to do such things, I left with a little cash, a little credit back to the credit card and off I went. Feeling great about money flowing *in* I made my way to security and x-ray.
Was there something in the air? As though I was some Italian dignitary, the Italian TSA spoke gracefully: “Sir, it appears you have a laptop in there, would you mind taking it out for us?” Then they found I had a large bottle of water and yes I know better. “Sir I am afraid you must drink it or we must dispose of it.” Remarking finally to his colleague, he said, “The Signore will take a few drops more for himself and then dispose of it.” I then imbibed what would unequivocally be more than a few drops and continued on towards the big moment, Passport control.
All guys and one woman, so of course I smiled at her and yeah, surprisingly, she smiled back and I could feel that lady luck was on my shoulder. Buon Giorno! Buon Giorno! She glanced me once over, then down at my passport, stamped it and without any fuss this ex pat was on his way back to North America.
First however, more long corridors and tunnels. Did these corridors lead back to the Vatican City? But just as things started to feel grim I see before me the succulent thigh of an incredibly well manicured woman in a miniskirt making a provocative face, dripping in diamonds and staring me right in the face. She was three times larger than me but there she sat, looking larger than life on a billboard before Damiani. My how the scenery suddenly changed. As I came up the stairs from the dark alley of doom and rounded the corner to the flight deck, I could swear I had been whisked back to the Spanish Steps. Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Damiani, Dolce & Gabbana- every high end fashion house apparently has a boutique in terminal five. What a stark contrast, Roman security to the highest form of consumerism on the planet.
I boarded the plane and found myself sitting next to a larger man. A much larger man whose size was spilling over into my seat. Hmm, how to remedy? The whole plane is full but I am quickly distracted by how plush the seats are, how far back they recline and the absolute abundance of legroom to be had. I had never heard of Air Transat but this was great. I knew it would be a comfortable flight.
I also know from experience that larger men can do something that I can not, which is cross their hands over their round puffy belly, essentially using the belly as a pillow, and sit, even sleep comfortably like this! I wish I could do such a thing. Eventually he nodded off allowing me to wedge my elbow on the armrest and share.
But to my right was a screaming child, who
And we weren’t even moving. She was fed, she had been to the bathroom, she had toys, love, ipads and more but she was having none of it.
The shrieks are so loud, so piercing that in these moments I believe the noise alone to be a full deterrent to having or ever wanting children. My thinking is that any country wishing to work on population control should just sit next to a screaming child that isn’t their own for 30 minutes and all will be solved.
This little girl – who really seemed like she could control it IF she wanted to whaled on and on, pausing only to stare meanly at glaring passengers despite very loving parents doing everything they could to make the noises stop.
But guess who has child canceling headphones on?
Me! And Trust me, it worked.
I slipped back into my comfortable chair and closed my eyes.
Fondly I reminisced on the last time I was on a flight when a French stewardess announced: Ladies and gentlemen welcome aboard EasyJet. We have one persons who suffers from nut allergy aboard so we must ask please do not eat your own nuts and we will not be allowed to serve you ours…”
Yup, that’s a quote. I wrote it down.
My thoughts wondered. It was so nice to be back in Europe for a healthy amount of time! It would be very easy to take I don’t know, 2-3 years, just spending two weeks in each of the cities that I love the most. Two weeks is a good amount of time to really settle in and feel like you can mix it up.
Interesting things popped in my head, like being in Rome and discovering that Dyson has made both a sink and hand dryer all in one one. Water and wind unite with the earth on your hands that needs to be rinsed off. It’s shaped like an airplane and when you put your hand under the body, water shoots out. When you put your hand under the wings, it takes off like a jet!
Canada provides a strong contrast to Europe much the way America does and to my surprise both countries are actually quite similar. On my first day walking around I stumbled right into TIFF, The 40th Annual Toronto International Film Festival! The streets were packed with people just wanting to be out and seen!
McDonalds of course was trying to lure people in with a free coffee booth and a DJ inside of a human size Coffee cup on top of their pop up tent bouncing to the beat. Sexy girls in dresses were handing out free bottles of “Fresh Perrier,” (is there such a thing when it’s canned?) And one company had even come up with the idea of pouring Indian sauce on a can of tuna and calling it a tasty high protein snack.
Nevertheless, I was pleased to be back in a place where stores were open till 9, open on Sunday, open during siesta hours and the like. It was also nice to be back in a place where you can return something if you don’t like it. A place where, if food isn’t prepared correctly, you could say so and exchange it.
I also love the colorful money both abroad and in Canada. Canadian money actually has transparent holograms in the bills! Every single bill I handled here felt like it was Fresh off the Press, and each bill has a silky soft tactile feel with a full thick strip of plastic in between. truly cool.
What’s more cool than that? Taking 23-28% off every single thing you buy! The dollar is so strong right now that everything that is sold, even with a whopping 13% sales tax, is heavily discounted, when you’re spending American dollars. So Lululemon for instance… with an R&D discount is like getting 45% off full retail. Hot! Since more than half my suitcase has been full of Lululemon since the beginning of this trip perhaps this is a good place to stop.
Three weeks of alone time in Canada, rejuvenating, working out, touching weights regularly for the first time in over 8 years, visiting a chiropractor and physiotherapist to break any unneeded patterns, visiting with a couple dear friends and before I knew it was time to come back to American Soil for Divine Play…
Until next time friends, thanks for ruminating with me and here’s a video from Divine Play if you just need a little adrenaline.
Tari Mannello for Tari TV and Elegant Acro.
Mid August 2014. This month marks the one year anniversary of my standing Sports Acro and Acrobatic Gymnastics practice! Prior to August, I had only ever done AcroYoga or L-basing. But I remember the defining moment clearly. Diane Klein – the woman who is single handedly responsible for opening countless doors for me, called me over and told me to do my first standing hand to hand with a girl named Cassie Cutler. Now, I had seen it. I had fantasized about it. I had one go at flying it with Jason Nemer, but basing it? What with my total standing acro practice at zero, I didn’t think I was ready. But here was Diane who does have “the eye” for such things, insisting I would be just fine. Cassie climbed up and jumped in. And, sure enough, thanks to her, it worked! From this moment, a passion that teetered on the verge of obsession was born.
Well, soon came my first “official” visit to JJ’s gym on an acro night and Diane Klein put me in front of David Floyd, the man I “must” meet if I am ever to become anything in the sports Acro department. A signature pillowy hand reached out to greet me and I was lofted onto his shoulders quickly and effectively. “K ready?”
Up we went!! Somewhat effortlessly he put me in the air and despite any true know-how on my end, I was handstanding in another human being’s hands. I watched, I absorbed, smiled and obsessed. And rather suddenly, my Tuesdays and Sundays became permanently unavailable. Today, the things I am able to do with David and other friends take my breath away.
In two short months, Elegant Acro was born and I too began to host events where more acro could be practiced by my friends and all those around me with a good heart. I safely can say that some of the best moments of my life, have been basing, spotting and flying with all of my friends.
Today, I give a lot of thought to the idea that one year ago, this art was like a foreign language to me. I couldn’t speak it. But without knowing it, I was CAPABLE of it. It just had to be unlocked. What else are we capable of, that we can unlock within ourselves, but we don’t even know it yet? Through inspiration, dedication, and quite frankly busting my ass several times per week, the tricks came rather quickly.
But what it took was people outside of myself, SHOWING me how. I’m so appreciative to those who saw things in me that I did not know were possible, those who trusted me, who trained me, who were willing to climb on my shoulder and whom continue to work with me today. To anyone who has based me or had me base you, THANK YOU truly for touching my life.
Perhaps to some, 600 photos on Facebook of my friends and I in a handstand on someone else is… Excessive. But for me, or even us really, it serves to record each new breakthrough. A new trick, or tighter body, or head finally in the right place or a position that we can finally hold and make it look EASY.
I LOVE being there when someone gets a new trick and that feeling of delight washes over their face: eyes wide, pupils dilated, and time for a celebration. success, happiness, growth and expansion are the nectar of life.
Our community has helped me realize that we can’t be or become who we are without the interconnectedness of others. Without their help, love and support to challenge us, and in some cases prod us forward, we stand still. In our world, there are no solo endeavors. A flyer is nothing without an extraordinary base. And, though to a lesser degree, vice versa. And there is no progression without a very talented spotter. It’s about we.. us… and we’re all in it together.
So here’s to another year, decade or lifetime of more friends, more connection, more play and more acro! And who knows, maybe one day, a one arm high hand to hand! After seeing our nations most ELITE acrobats (shown below playing with me)… anything’s possible!
Recently I was interviewed on the subject of “practical spirituality.” In the video below, I picked a subject I felt each of us could connect with and apply immediately.
Spirituality is, much like God, money and sex, a loaded word. What does it mean to you? I’m a fan of short and profound explanations, so here is mine:
Being spiritual, or having a spiritual practice is something that happens more often than we think. I don’t believe it is an isolated moment in a church, yoga class or meditation experience. For me, “being spiritual” is simply each moment that you find yourself in joy, well-being and alignment. Spirituality can also be as simple as a moment when you find yourself in flow. All the better if you have awareness of it and really milk these moments. In the absence of resistance, wellness prevails. Well-being, excitement, knowing, playfulness, flow, eagerness, creativity, zest, passion for life, birthing a new desire, sharing smiles, coming into alignment with your desires and seeing manifestations unfold… these are all moments of spirituality and connection. There are myriad ways you can connect to “Source” or to your own spirituality: through communing with nature, through moving or sitting quietly with yourself, with animals, with children, with your body and even through body awareness. One of my favorite ways is by practicing deep listening and giving the gift of presence. Listening to myself, to my body, to others and most importantly to my internal guidance system: my instincts and intuition which have never steered me wrong.
One of the quickest ways for me to get present, listen deeply and connect with my higher self is revealed in the video below. I hope you enjoy the results and feel them immediately.
Here’s the article: Spirituality through Body Awareness