“We Were Born to be Powerful!”

One week ago, I was leaving work about this time to go home and nap before an EPIC weekend of sisterhood.

Many of you have heard me talk about GRRRL Clothing before.  For those that aren’t aware, GRRRL clothing does not use standard sizing for their clothes.  Everything is based on your measurements, and named after a BAD ASS female athlete.  Sizes are bullshit.  GRRRL also seeks to unite women as sisters, and allow us to realize that we do not need to be in competition with one another , but rather, to encourage and build each other up to change the world.

I posted last year about GRRRL Live, and how life changing it was.

Well.  We just finished #GL18, and it was every bit as amazing as last year.  If its possible, it was more so.

This year, we talked about so many important issues…sisterhood, intersectional feminism (with the BEST. PANEL. DISCUSSION. EVER.), white privilege, overcoming food addiction, breaking through what is holding you back from achieving your dreams, writing your story/loving yourself where you’re at,  and so many more amazing topics.

There were also INCREDIBLE workshops available, like dead lifting and Strong GRRRL, self defense, ultimate body confidence, MMA with ROSE NAMAJUNAS!!!, plant based living,  and the Nurtured Heart Approach.

Let me start with Friday night’s pool party.

I’m not a bathing suit fan, or rather, I never used to be.  But being surrounded by so many amazing women, knowing that they weren’t there to judge my thighs or scars, or body hair, I was so comfortable.  In fact, they’ve made me feel so comfortable, that I’m planning to buy a bikini for this summer.

We danced.  We sang.  We ate cheese.  We jumped into the pool (I say “we”, I mostly mean “they.”  I kind of hopped into the super shallow end, with my water phobia.  lol) I got to hug and reconnect with some of the AMAZING GRRRLS I met last year, and then met some AMAZING new friends…who are local to Las Vegas!!!!  It was an awesome night, despite the ridiculous wind that tried to blow us all away.

Saturday was amazing.  We heard from 2 of the Next Gen GRRRL models, who are still in school, but are learning important lessons in life about supporting your sisters, dealing with bullies, and finding something you’re passionate about (I’m looking at you, Ava!  You were amazing with your presentation) and doing it to the best of your ability.

Talking about intersectional feminism was one of the Saturday highlights for me.  As a white woman, I need to make sure that I am using my privilege for GOOD (and not being a trash bag about it).  This talk and the following panel opened my eyes to so many things, and reaffirmed so many other things that I had already thought about.  We spoke briefly about cultural appropriation, a topic that always concerns me, as a student of Arab Dance.  It was eye opening, and I’m looking forward to learning all that I can.   I desperately want to be helpful, but not in a “the white girl is here to take over” kind of a way.  I want to find an organization or cause dealing specifically with issues for POC, and see if they’ll let me help out in the background…stuffing envelopes, etc.  I don’t need to be a mouthpiece, I just want to help.

Saturday I also tried dead lifting for the first time, and I am HOOKED.  I am currently searching for places/people to train with, because I just loved it.  The world of power lifting is beckoning me!!!

Sunday was emotional.  We had a talk about freedom from food addiction, and I resonated SO much with what our speaker was saying…I am extremely excited to have some one on one time next week with her so we can discuss steps I can take to be truly free.  So much of what she said hit me…things I can’t really get into here, but lets just say, she could have been talking about my life.

We also had a talk about breaking through barriers…quite literally.  Our speaker brought enough boards for all of us to write down what we wanted on one side, what was standing in our way on the other side…and we broke the boards with our fists!!  Talk about empowering.  I’ve never felt so amazing.

The highlight for me, however, was being asked to co-teach the ultimate body confidence workshop with 2 other amazing women.

We taught body confidence through dance.  There was twerking, chair dancing, and of course…belly dance/Arab Dance.

This was the largest group I’ve ever taught in a workshop setting, and I loved every last second of it.  Even with the 30 minute time constraints, every participant was able to grasp the basics of the moves that I showed, and they learned a short combination to dance to.

Being able to share my passion for dance, while imparting how amazing they all were was incredible.  Dancing has bolstered my confidence so much, and even though I still have days where I feel a little like “Oh, I don’t know…my scars will be showing,” etc…if you love what you do, the confidence will come.

The other awesome part for me was being able to educate these women (albeit a bit briefly) about the origins of the dance, and to impart that this is someone’s culture, not just a super fun “shake your butt” activity.  (Although it is super fun, but its also a cultural dance.)

There were other events that I wasn’t able to stay for, like an AMAZING WEDDING!!!!  2 incredible GRRRLS that met through the Facebook group got married on Sunday night! There was also a movie premier, which I wish I could have been able to attend, but we had other things going on that night.

All in all, after the weekend, I feel much better about some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do, but putting off.  I have new ideas,  and although they will take time, I know that I have some amazing things to do that will help me achieve some of my commitments, and make an impact in the lives of GRRRLS everywhere.

I’m going to leave you with some photos from the weekend.  I can’t wait for GRRRL Live 2019.  It promises to be an even more incredible weekend.  To all my GRRRLS who I met/reconnected with this weekend, thank you so much for everything you do, and everything you are.  We were born to be powerful.  We are warriors!  We are sisters!  We are going to change the world!!!!!

 

 

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If I had a heart…

Good morning my dear readers.
I hope this post finds you all well.
I am feeling a little better since my last update, although it has taken quite the roller coaster to get here.

Its been a trying couple of weeks, culminating in the week from absolute hell this week.  But, I feel as though I’ve come out the other side a bit stronger, and a bit more grounded, with many things that I want to work on.

Tonight, however…I dance.

Tonight, I’m excited to say, my friend Nina and I are debuting our new dark fusion dance troupe, Dualitas.  We will be performing at the Dark Arts market tonight, and have a brand new duet, custom made for this event.  Its spooky and creepy, and amazing, and I cannot wait to dance it tonight.

Its amazing how dance and music can bring you through things.  I’ve found so much solace in music lately, I’m building myself a playlist on YouTube right now that is serving to inspire me, in a more primal way.  I can’t really explain it.  Many of the songs are either by Native Throat singers, or Pagan “folk/rock” groups.  The music stirs something in me, that is just…primal.  And beautiful.

Anyway.

My dear readers, I thank you for your love and support.  It makes me smile any time I see that someone has “liked” or followed my blog.  I’m just a woman sharing her innermost thoughts for the sake of writing them down.  I appreciate you all.  Thank you.

Until next time, when I will most definitely have more things to say, and more substance to write about.

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Change is coming from my Shadow

Its been a while, my dear readers.   I have to apologize, I’ve been super busy of late.  I got a promotion at work, and while previously most of my writing was done at work (along with all my reading and knitting), I have tasks that keep me focused pretty much all day, so I struggle to find time to write.

Perhaps that is part of why I wanted to write this blog…

You see…I’ve been in a bit of a depressive state for a few months.
Most of you know that I’ve struggled with depression my entire life.  Over the last few years, I’ve found more of a balance, and I’ve found ways of coping that are healthy, but the last few months, I’ve been struggling.

I have a little bit of a reputation these days for being very strong, and being very grounded.  Today I feel out of control and confused.  I feel very weak.  I want to give in to my depression and go home early from work, and just sleep.  But I can’t.

And so, enter the functional depressed person.

Depression isn’t necessarily a red eyed person crying their eyes out all the time.  Its not the person who calls in from work all the time.  It can be, but not always.

Today, depression looks like a woman who got up and put on her “relaxed/casual Friday clothes” because she couldn’t stand the thought of putting anything other than a HUGE baggy sweatshirt on, because her self image is in the tank.

Today, depression went to pick up my free 8″ birthday pizza, and ate the entire thing in one sitting, within about 10 minutes.  Its overeating.  Its not eating later tonight because I overate at lunch.  Its indulging in my last day of eating carbs before I go strictly back on my low carb diet.

Today, depression hasn’t gotten much accomplished at work.  She’s looked busy, but she’s not doing much.  And next week, she’ll be overwhelmed.  But today, I just can’t.  I don’t care right now.  I just want to go home, but I can’t.  I have to be responsible.

This weekend, depression will dutifully get up and clean the house, because she knows that she has to help out. She doesn’t want her husband to know that she’s depressed, because he’s struggling with his own depression.  He needs me to be the strong one.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that I can’t be strong right now.  I need to go to sleep, and I need to rest, and regain my strength.  So, she will force herself to get up and do what needs to be done.  She wants to feel like she has accomplished something this week, when she knows that she has done so little.

Depression has been nagging at me to sell the workshops I’m supposed to attend in July.  No particular reason, she just doesn’t want to go, even though she knows that its going to be a great learning experience.

Depression today, looks like a girl who is just a little tired, when inside, she’s so exhausted she can barely sit here to type.  She’s feeling sad, and confused, and anxious, and desperate, and lost.  But if asked, she’ll say “I’m fine, just tired.”

I’m functioning.   I know I’ll get better.  But today…there is no light at the end of the tunnel…or there is, but its a train headed right for me.

I try not to post negativity here, or on my social media accounts anymore, because positivity begets positivity.  But sometimes…sometimes I just have to let it out.

I don’t want any of you to worry about me, my dear readers.  I’m going to be fine.  In fact, I’m looking up the practical Self Love things I can do to help me feel better soon.  OOOOH  I found it.  I found the one I wanted.  Look Here.  This post is amazing, and doesn’t trivialize self care down to bubble baths and mani/pedis.  (The post has not been altered at all.)

I know I feel weak, but let me tell you, it takes strength to admit that you’re not ok.
And right now, I’m not ok.

But I will be.

Blessed Solstice, Merry Yule

and so, dear readers, the end of the year is upon us.
This year, I’m doing things a little differently than I have in the past.  My new year is beginning on the Solstice, with the longest night.  The following day marks the returning of the light, and I’d like to begin my new year with the promise of bright days to follow.

As I do every year, I like to recap what goals I’ve met, and set goals for the new year.

Personal Goals Met:
*Observed and celebrated Samhain, Mabon, and Yule (this week)
*Read 1 book per month
*Read over 52 books this year
*Kept up with household chores
*Started memorial tattoo

Dance Goals Met:
*Took 1 workshop with OOT dancer
*Performed 3+ times

This past year, my CDFs were:

Cultivated:  grounded, rooted, earthy, and immersed in culture.
Magical: witchy, observant of magic all around
Connected: closer relationships
Stong: physically, mentally, emotionally
Cozy: comfortable, relaxed
Playful: playful with friends and family

I feel  like I embodied a lot of these this year, particularly Cozy, Cultivated, and Magical.  I spent quite a lot of time drinking tea, cuddled in bed or in the bath with a good book.

This year has been interesting.   It hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been spectacular either.  This year has definitely been one of growth.  Outgrowing practices, people, bad behaviors.  Losing people.  Gaining others.  Connecting with different people.   I danced quite a bit.  I spent quite a lot of time with the love of my life, and with my family.  I feel as though I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge and perspective this year too.

I’m looking forward to the new year.   2017 wasn’t spectacular, but it was a pretty good year.  Lots of learning experiences.  I feel that 2018 is going to be amazing.

So, without further ado, my goals for 2018:

Personal Goals:
*Finish editing Morgan’s book
*Get fit, strong, and healthy
*write my own stories, 1 day per week
*Read 104 books
*Start language study again
*Cook more
*Fit into costumes again
*More planning time
*Monthly date nights
*Monthly friend dates

Dance Goals:
*1 workshop/private lesson with local dancer
*1 workshop with OOT dancer/musician
*1 OOT workshop
*Perform 3+ times
*2-3 times a week practice/drilling
*Purchase Karim’s sagat DVD

My CDFs for 2018 are:

Limitless: without limits in every aspect of my life.
Delight: 
Pure joy.  Playfulness.  Magic.
Sage:
Wise, and powerful as fuck.
Stimulating:
Intelligence, wit, conversation, sex
Passionate:
filled with passion for life and my loved ones
Magical:
witchy, filled with wonder at the real, every day magic in the world.

Life is what you make it.  With the returning of the light, may this year be bright and full of promise, and goodness.

I want to wish my readers, my loved ones, very happy holidays, whatever you celebrate or don’t.  Have a safe and happy new year, and may 2018 be full of joy and love for you.

Gratitude, and a new Year…

Another year, another “I’m going to post something I’m grateful for every day” on social media…another year that I am dreadfully behind.

The fact of the matter is, I’m pulling away from social media more and more these days.  And that’s actually something I’m feeling grateful for.  I have resolved to spend more face to face time with people that I love, and I don’t want to spend all my time on my phone.

As is customary for me, I always want to post a blog detailing the things that I’m grateful for.

This had been a trying year.
Tragedy struck Las Vegas just a few weeks ago.  There’s been all kinds of crazy tension between people online due to political leanings, racism, sexism…friends fighting friends.  People thinking that LGBTQ rights and struggles are a laughing matter.
I personally have seen a different side to people that I thought I knew.  Intolerance for different races, sexual preferences…even snide comments from people we were once super close with.  I’m sure they thought I didn’t notice, but I did.  Believe me I did.  And it hurt.  But I’m not letting people hurt me anymore.  Its not worth my time anymore.
I’ve lost touch with more people that I loved.  Things are weird and tense.  I’m pretty certain that I’ve been written off completely by at least 2 if not more.  I try to keep things friendly, but if they don’t want to reciprocate, I’m not going to force it.

Which leads me into my gratitude list.

First and foremost, I am grateful to have people in my life who are true to their words when they say that they love me.  They stand by me.  Even when we disagree on things, they don’t let ego get in the way.  They respect our differences.  They can recognize that things have been hard, even if we don’t confide details.  I am grateful that they know that I love them as well.  Even though I’ve been shite at seeing and hanging out with people recently (something I truly hope to remedy soon).

I am grateful for my husband.  Through thick and thin, we have each other’s backs.  Through hard times.  Through fun times.  Through arguments.  Through laughter.  We’re there for each other.  We respect each other.  He’s my strongest supporter, biggest cheerleader, and the love of my life.   I love our drunken scrabble nights, our snuggly Downton nights, our bacon and cuppa mornings, and our cooking days with music and dancing.  We have our ups and downs, but the constant is that we love each other, and I’m so lucky to have found that with you, Morgan.  I love you babe.

I am grateful for my family.  My parents, aunt and uncle.  I’m grateful that we see each other almost weekly these days.  That we are able to laugh together, talk about politics, celebrate birthdays, and being cancer free.  I love that my family has so graciously and completely accepted my husband for who he is, and that they love spending time with both of us.  I’m grateful to have spent so much time with my youngest niece and nephew, Jacob and Jillian, this summer.  It really made me happy to be able to see you two for more than just breakfast one day.  Thank you for going with me to the Goddess Temple.   I’m grateful for my seester Sara, and for Meghan, and so proud of her for going off to school, that we are able to talk with snapchat.  I’m grateful for writing letters with Aunt Norma, and even though I don’t talk to them as often, I’m grateful for Unksie, Sandra, Adam, and Aunty Kathy too.

I’m grateful for my pups.  My little loves with the stinkiest breath ever…they are just the sweetest.  They know when I’m sad, and they do their best to make me feel better.

I’m grateful for new opportunities that are starting to present themselves.  Options for a future, for a change…I’m grateful that I’m able to keep an open mind.

I’m grateful that Morgan has taught me (by osmosis, mostly, and watching) how to cook more intuitively.  I’m grateful that he’s open to my crazy ideas in the kitchen.

I’m grateful for my still new spirituality.  For the openness I have with my husband about performing rituals, for smudging, for collecting rocks and crystals, and incense. For him putting up with my failed attempt to garden. (Just wait till spring, I’m totally trying again!)

I’m grateful for my witchy sisters.  For Nina, for Brooke, for Leslie, for Janae, for Lisa, for Lala, and for Heather.  You all have provided me with much needed help, information, inspiration, and resources.

I’m grateful for dance.  Every year.  I’m grateful to Sandi, for hosting the haflas, and providing a place for us to dance for the community.  I’m grateful to Phil and BBear for asking me to dance at their many charity events…for allowing me a stage to do not only traditional Arab dance, but to dip my toes in the fusion pool in a safe space.  Thanks for letting me do shots of tequila on stage and then spin around like crazy. 🙂 I’m grateful to have been able to take a workshop with a dancer I was previously unfamiliar with, but who I LOVE now!!  I’m also grateful to have been able to volunteer at the Tribal Massive this year, and meet many amazing dancers.   I’m grateful for my dance friends, old and new, who not only believe in me and encourage me, but inspire the hell out of me.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I have coming up this coming year…I already have 2 workshops to go to, and I couldn’t be more excited!

I’m grateful to friends that I don’t want to single out, but you know who you are.  You open your home and your heart to us.  We play games together, cards, smoke cigars, drink wine, eat delicious food and cheeses.  We trade smutty stories, and cookbooks.  Your family is my family.  You come to concerts with us.  You just come over and hang out and drink, and play games with us.  You offer an ear when we need it.  You play disc golf with us.  You come to my dance performances.  You encourage and inspire me to keep trying when I feel like I can’t do it anymore.  We read books and share experiences together.  We workout together.  We inspire each other on the web.  We maybe have never met in person, but we can confide in each other about experiences, and stressors.  You come to karaoke, and drink and sing with us.  You are an ear, a shoulder, and a pair of arms when I need a hug.  You give me alternative methods of taking care of myself when I’m sick, and offer amazing help and advice.

My friends, I am so grateful for you.

In a year where I feel as though I’ve lost so much, I am so grateful to know that I really have so many amazing people and opportunities left in my life.

My year in review is coming up again, and as the holidays descend upon us, I wish you and your family a peaceful few months, whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate.  May your days be filled with joy and laughter, and your nights be warm and easy.  May you be blessed with amazing food, drinks, and time with  friends and family.

Until next time, dear readers, I remain grateful for you.

15 years of dance

Can it truly be that as of today, I have been studying Arab dance for 15 years?

Not quite a third of my life, and yet, I have difficulty remembering my life without it.  Recalling days when some of my favorite artists didn’t include Oum Kalsoum, Abdel Halim Hafez, or Mohamed Abdel Wahab seems impossible.  Remembering life before meeting all of the absolutely amazing friends I’ve met through the bellydance world and community is strange to me.  Some of my very best friends are dancers.

I remember back to when I knew that I had to learn to dance:
I was at the Bristol Rennaissance Faire, and I saw this woman dancing.  She was just STUNNING.  I’d seen belly dancers before, but never had I seen someone embody music the way she did…and she was only accompanied by a drum!  I knew then that I had to learn from her.
I waited until the show was over, and approached her, asking if she taught.  She did, and said she would come back with a card.

This was the day that I met my first teacher, Nadia Sahar.

The first lesson that I took was, quite literally, life changing.  I searched for and bought any music that sounded remotely like what was used in class.  I fell in love with singers like Amr Diab and Hakim.  I practiced every single day.

From that first class on, I was unstoppable for a very long time. Searching for knowlege from multiple classes, multiple teachers, spending every waking moment either dancing or thinking about dance.  I took a handful of workshops in Milwaukee and Chicago, with amazing, big name dancers.

After moving to Las Vegas, my horizons expanded even more, as I was fortunate enough to join a troupe and perform with some amazing people.  I took more workshops than ever, and attended my very first dance festivals.  I even started teaching beginners classes, and was lucky enough to teach at the Las Vegas Belly Dance Intensive before it ended in 2015.  I also competed for the first time that year, and made amazing friends and memories.

I’ve slowed down a bit over the last few years, due mostly to my health, but my passion is still there.  When given the choice, i would gladly listen to Arab music over anything that’s played on the radio today.

I’ve found performance opportunites within the belly dance community locally, and also with friends hosting charity fundraisers. I still take workshops whenever I can, and am travelling to a festival next July.  How exciting!

As I do every year, I find it so important to thank the many amazing teachers, mentors, and peers who inspire and challenge me to become the best dancer I can possibly be.  There is no way I could possibly thank every single one personally, but here are some general notes of gratitude:

To my mentors, the teachers I have studied with in countless classes and workshops over the years. From the instruction of movement, to, folkloric dance, to Arabic words, songs, and music structure, to origins of the dance and music, you’ve given me a firm foundation to build upon.  You’ve opened my eyes to the wonder that is Arab dance and music.  You all make me want to be the best dancer that I can be.   Your passion, your patience, your continued support, your feedback…I cannot thank you enough.  Thank you for challenging me to grow.   You inspire and amaze me.  I cherish everything you’ve done for me and for other dancers, and hope that I make you proud when I dance.

To the amazing teachers that I have only studied with for a short time/taken one or two workshops with over the years:  Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me: choreographies, variations of movements, warm ups, Arabic words,  drills, props, makeup techniques, facial expression, stage and spacial awareness, and so many other amazing things.   Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me.  Thank you for what you do, and for providing areas of growth and development, inspiration, and wonderful memories.

To my peers: Other dancers, professional or just for fun, dance partners, troupe members, students…friends.  Thank you so much for believing in me.  For challenging me.  For unbiased feedback about performances.  For providing performance opportunites, and workshop opportunities.  Thank you for listening and understanding when I post swoony things about dance and music.  Thank you for your friendship.  You also inspire me so much.  I’m inspired by the dedication to doing what you love.

This dance has changed my life in so many amazing ways.  Here’s to the last 15 years, and also to many, many more.