***UPDATE, 3/24/2018: my craniosacral training is fully funded! While I continue this training, I am also starting massage school. See latest campaign update for full story, but know that anything donated from here onward will be used for tuition, fees, or supplies for massage school!*** Hi! My name is Ammon Dennis. Naiveté, ambition, despair, and renewal: my life story has all the chapters of a great memoir. Interested? Keep reading! But first, let me tell you why I am here (and how you can help me with the "renewal" chapter of my story!): I am enacting a long-overdue career transition from professional dancing/catering to a form of bodywork called Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST). I need help paying for the rest of the training that will certify me as a BCST practitioner! Built upon 6+ years of sobriety and a personal understanding of healing from trauma, my career transition will provide a financially and physically sustainable means by which to support myself into older age. BCST is also a career naturally in-line with my personal values. As you will see, my experiences with trauma, recovery, dance, meditation, and my presence and depth as a person will make me a sought after practitioner! I have been working for various companies as a cater waiter, bartender, and captain for over 18 years. The job's flexibility allowed me to pursue my dancing, but for the last few years I have been unfulfilled and stifled by it. This feeling has only increased since I decided to stop my full-time pursuit of dance. PRIORITIES: WHY I AM ASKING FOR MONEY ￼(Me and my family, Lodi, CA, Sept. 2017) As a dancer in New York City, I prioritized art over money, which forced me to choose catering, a seasonal, flexible night job that barely covered expenses in one of the costliest cities in the U.S. Likewise, I now prioritize BCST training and family obligations over a more lucrative, stable day job. I am unable to earn money from BCST until I am certified and cannot work the days I am in school. This leaves me with a dilemma. I make enough working in catering to pay for my living expenses and all of my priorities except for one: the rest of my BCST tuition! My priorities and their constraints: • Beginning in October 2017, the BCST training consists of ten five-day training modules every few months over the course of 2+ years with practical and theoretical study in between. I cannot work during the modules and need to pay in advance for each ($9,250 total tuition, though I have paid for the first two installments with my own earnings, which is why I am only asking for $7,400). • My mother has stage 4 melanoma, and my father has severe scoliosis, asthma, and osteoporosis, among other conditions. Either parent may require my extended caretaking. We have had a few health emergencies already, so I have volunteered to do longer term, in-home (they live in California) caretaking when needed. In light of these two concerns, catering remains a suitable yet insufficient job: it earns me just enough to live in NYC, pay for flights home, and be able to arrange my schedule around my priorities of education and family but not enough to pay for the entire BCST tuition! I have been unable to find other funding sources due to the nontraditional nature of BCST. I applied for ACCES-VR funding but was denied because BCST is not a Federally recognized vocational category. However, my intake counselor was so impressed by my personal progress up until now (keep reading to see why!) that she recommended I begin a GoFundMe instead, so here I am! Life in New York as an artist/freelancer is a financial and emotional struggle, as I am sure many of you can relate. I have been through some unique and trying experiences. I take full responsibility for my choices and the situations they put me in. As you will see, my tenaciousness, perseverance, honesty, introspection, and humility have pulled me through no matter the circumstance... MY STORY ￼(Photo shoot the year before I moved to NYC) PART I: TRAPPED Naive yet driven, I came to NYC in 1998 to pursue dance professionally, and had those very qualities used against me by a Svengali. I lost my own direction, yet thought that was acceptable if I could be given the dance career for which I longed. I started a relationship with a much older, more experienced dance teacher, a relationship that I thought would help me but turned out to be toxic. I pursued the relationship not for itself but for what it would give me. I allowed myself to be objectified in order to succeed at dance. Mine was a double life: outwardly, I was the dedicated, deferring perfect partner; inwardly, I was disintegrating, collapsing under the weight of my decision to sacrifice my agency and individuality to get my dream delivered by someone else. PART II: ADDICTION The dark consequences of my choice led me to drugs. Isolated in the relationship, I faced a difficult reckoning: I had sacrificed my sexuality, agency, and truth for a goal--how might I cope with the shame and anger at myself for such sacrifice? I began numbing myself with drugs so I didn't have to feel, so I could escape doubt, suffering, and rage at the situation. Then, 9/11 compounded my inner chaos. We lived a block away, with the second plane flying directly over our apartment, waking us. I saw people jumping to their deaths. We feared death as the towers collapsed around our building; we were engulfed by the debris clouds. Even on that day, I used drugs to cope with the chaos and entrapment of this additional trauma. I was left with anxiety, which I further numbed via my growing addiction. When, in 2007, my partner got multiple myeloma cancer (most likely a result of 9/11), I gave more of myself as caretaker while using more of the drugs that insulated me from the pain and desperation of my situation. He died of the cancer in 2009. PART III: RECOVERY After his death, I descended further into addiction. I lost so much that I finally broke my denial: I asked for help. I entered treatment. To begin unraveling the knots of addiction, I entered a methadone-to-abstinence program in 2010. I was finally able to tell my truth: first to a counselor, then in 12-step meetings. I found nurturance and strength in fellow clean addicts. June 9, 2011 was my first day without drug use for over ten years. I stay clean to this day. Since then: • I reclaimed my identity and power from the wounds of the past with the help of a therapist. • I quit smoking in 2013 using the tools I learned in 12-Step meetings. • I rediscovered my Vipassana meditation practice, whose emphasis on mindfulness of bodily sensations grounds me in an unpredictable world. Such groundedness is an essential skill for practicing BCST. • I revisited dance and was able to help shelter children discover its joys via volunteer work at House of the Roses Volunteer Dance Company. • I discovered the healing potential for myself and others of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST), a form of bodywork so effective in resolving emotional wounds and suited to my character that I am excited to now be pursuing it as a career! This is where you can help me! WHY I AM WORTHY OF FUNDING: I am on a positive path towards bettering myself and the world. I now need the final resource which will enable me to complete my journey. I will use the unique and deep understanding of my own suffering as a powerful tool to help others, and you have the chance to help me in this! By overcoming my addiction, recovering from a traumatic, abusive relationship, and healing the wounds caused by 9/11, I have learned tools that will make me an outstanding BCST practitioner. As evidenced by my meditation practice and volunteer work, I am dedicated to mindful living and intent on helping others utilizing my artistic and lived experience. BIODYNAMIC CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY: WHAT IS IT AND WHY? ￼(With my Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist, Kathleen Kish) Tracing its roots to Osteopathic Medicine, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) is a form of somatic healing that works to resolve pre- and perinatal traumas via a profound settling of the nervous system and orienting of the patient to deeper tidal organizational forces of health. BCST takes the position that there is always an undercurrent of health and support available to the patient, no matter how traumatized or stressed he or she is on the surface. I began BCST treatment in the Fall of 2016 and soon found ingrained, rigid emotional patterns relaxing and softening, as if shards of long-frozen icicles were melting. Physical pains lessened and I softened toward others, becoming aware of how defensive a stance I had assumed toward the world and how this fostered an unhealthy dependency on others and drugs in order to survive. While private practice as a BCST practitioner is my goal, I also intend to broaden my skill set with massage therapy licensure and/or other trainings such as Structural Integration (Rolfing) or Somatic Experiencing (SE). WHAT YOUR MONEY WILL PROVIDE ￼(At Moving Body Resources, where the training happens!) Your donation will be applied to the remaining $7,400 tuition cost of the 2-year Stillpoint BCST training that began October 11, 2017 which--when completed--will qualify me as a certified Biodynamic Craniosacral Practitioner with the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association of North America. Any additional funds raised above $7,400 will be used for business supplies or additional trainings (massage therapy, Rolfing, etc.) directly applicable to my new career. Please help me in this exciting career transition by donating any amount you can! I will regularly post updates on my progress in the next two years (so you can see your money at work!). Finally, a thank you to the innumerable seen and unseen hands who have lifted, guided, challenged, and befriended me to this point. Where once I had lost faith in my life and worth, I now move forward with hope and support. Thank you.