Lavinia Plonka answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


When you asked me this question earlier, I found myself sitting there going, "Nice"... is that kind? Does that mean if it was somebody kind to me or is it that somebody did something that later on I look back on, and even though it wasn't kind, that I appreciated or that in some way affected me? I went back and forth and back and forth, and then suddenly it hit me and I'm really glad I had some time to think about it because I was sharing the story with my husband and as I was telling him the story, I burst into tears. So hopefully, I won't do that while I'm telling you. This actually happened to me about 35 years ago and you could say in a way that it was the trajectory that led me to where I am today. But at that time, I was in my 30s and I was... now you know how old I am... I was a starving artist.

It just seemed like my life was hand-to-mouth and nothing ever went right, and then I hurt my back. Somebody suggested that I go see this chiropractor and I went to see her. Her name is Dr. Terry Wulster and she did an examination, and she said, "Well, you're going to need several adjustments." I had no insurance and I couldn't even pay my mortgage at the time. I went, "How much is that going to cost me?" She said, "Well, the adjustments are $35 a session," and I fell apart. I just completely like weeping and sobbing about how I can never get it together and I don't have any money. She just went, "Well, don't pay me." And right in the middle of all my tears I just stopped cold, and I realized that, wow, when you get the right kind of shock, your emotions can change instantaneously. I was like, "What?"

Dr. Terry Wulster

She said, "Don't pay me." She said, "You'll pay me in some other way. You'll pay someone else some other way. Money is just a form of energy exchange and clearly you don't have that energy right now." These were ideas... I mean, now we think of these ideas in our world as something that we want to work with and play with, but at that time it was like a mindblower. I mean, the whole world shifted, my big paradigm shift of the century. Then, of course, she had no idea that later on, a couple of weeks later, I'm still going to see her and I'm sitting in her office and I pick up a magazine. And in that magazine was an interview with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais where he started talking about how our habitual behavior — and what he called them are parasitic habits of anxiety — and our postural attitudes actually keep us from getting the things that we want in life.

I went in to see her and I said, "What do you know about this guy, Dr. Feldenkrais?" She went, "Oh, wow, Feldenkrais, that would be perfect, that would really help you." Of course, she has no idea... I haven't seen her in over 20 years, she has no idea the trajectory that my life took because of those two small things. You could say they were nice, you could say they were kind, but I would definitely say they were amazing. Because of the story, I actually went and looked and I saw that she's still working as a chiropractor in New Jersey, so a shout-out to Terry. Thanks so much for letting me share that.

Body language expert Lavinia Plonka has helped people improve their movement, behavior, relationships, and careers for over 35 years. Her unique expertise connects the dots between posture, movement, emotions, and the mind. Lavinia’s training and professional career have included theater, dance, yoga, and the martial arts. She has taught the Feldenkrais Method® for over 25 years, and is also a trainer of other practitioners. Lavinia is also a level CL4 teacher of the Alba Method and an Emotional Body instructor. 

Her professional artistic endeavors include an artist-in-residence for the Guggenheim Museum, and being a movement consultant for theater and television companies around the world — from the Irish National Folk Theater to Nickelodeon. From Esalen to the Council on Aging, from Beijing to Mexico, Lavinia’s popular workshops explore the intersection between movement, emotions, and the mind. She is the director of Asheville Movement Center in Asheville, North Carolina, offering a complete movement curriculum, including workshops and private lessons. Lavinia’s writing includes several books and audio programs, as well as her popular column, CosmiComedy.

Click here to visit Lavinia’s website.

Click here to listen to Lavinia read a 7-minute excerpt from her book, What Are You Afraid Of?

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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 9: Somatic Movement Summit