International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I have a plethora of strong, amazing, incredible women in my life, and I’m beyond blessed to have them there.

Women are amazing beings.  We really are.

I’m talking about all women: Literally any human being who identifies as female/woman.

How amazing are we, ladies?

We are friends, lovers, mothers, caregivers, daughters, sisters, executives, teachers, IT professionals, lawyers, doctors, singers, artists, bloggers, stay-at-home moms, business owners, politicians.  We are warriors, fighters, queens, princesses, saviors, knights, Madonnas, Jezebels, strong women, power lifters, dancers.

My women.  My amazing, inspiring women.  My friends, my family.
Me.
We are.  We are women.  We have struggles.  We are beaten down, oppressed, depressed, repressed, pressing the laundry, pressing the grilled cheeses, pressing matters, pressing the button for the destruction of inequality.

My women.  My amazing, inspiring women.  My friends, my family.
Me.
We are.  We are women.  We are creatively mothers, even those of us who are child free.  We give birth:   We birth ideas, babies, recipes, knitting patterns, home decor, weddings, funerals, business plans.  We work tirelessly, up all night feeding our children, our infants, our pets, our spouses, our projects, our music, our dance studio, our painting, our depositions, our desperate friends.  We nurture and mother, whether we are mothers or not we are nurturers.  We care deeply.  We love.  We comfort.  We give advice freely, over coffee, over tea, over whiskey.

We are.
We are WOMEN.  We endure.  We live it every day.  The passive aggressive turned aggressive turned violent in less than 5 minutes dating site messages.  The fragile egos of the fuckboys who insist that they are “nice guys”…who aren’t so nice when we politely say that we aren’t interested.  We endure.  The constant catcalls.  The men who tell us to smile.  The ones who leer, and call us prudes for going slow when it comes to sex, but call us sluts if we admit to enjoying it.
We live through the victim shaming.  The repression of being told what to wear, how to dress, how to avoid being raped, when it is NEVER our own fault!  If I walk down the street buck ass naked as the day I was born, it will NEVER BE CONSENT UNLESS I SAY YES.
We live through being TOLD we are being repressed, oppressed, simply by dressing a certain way.  If I cover my hair, my face, my body, its oppression.  But what they don’t realize is that I choose this.  What they’ll never realize because they never ask is that I feel empowered by modesty.  I feel empowered by nudity.  My empowerment is not for you to dictate.  Only I can say what empowers me.

I am a woman.
An Amazing woman.

A woman who sees other amazing women beginning to spark changes.
Women who make it their mission to build other women up.  Realizing that we are NOT in competition with each other, but we are striving for a sisterhood.

Striving to understand one another.  To break through barriers that divide, united in the fight for ALL women.  For our right to CHOOSE.  For our right to have control over OUR OWN bodies.

Today, I celebrate WOMEN.  All the beautiful women in the world.
You are all strong, courageous and inspiring.

Ladies, don’t give in.
Don’t become complacent.  We have to fight.  We cannot be comfortable.
Stand up for each other, and each others rights. ALL rights.  Don’t tear each other down.  We are ALL in this together.

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A healthy shift

This past week was a little rough for me.
I’m not sure why I was so affected by the events that happened.  Maybe its because I don’t do well with passive aggressive behavior (like my old roommate Pat used to be)…maybe I still just care FAR too much about other people’s opinions of me.

Long story short, without causing more issues:  someone I thought I was fairly close to was apparently talking about me behind my back, and people were making passive aggressive statements to/about me on a forum I used to participate in quite frequently.
As of Friday, I deactivated my account there, and “unfriended” the vast majority of the women I knew from that site.  Not all.  But the only ones I kept are either: not active there much anymore, or women I actually interact with on FB.  There were a few that I probably could have kept on FB, but in reality…I was upset and didn’t know who I could trust anymore.  (If any of you happen to see this, know that I didn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings…I just seriously was unsure of who all had participated in the gossip.)

My anxiety and depression have kicked in pretty hard core.
I don’t like that I’ve allowed myself to become so upset over a handful of internet strangers opinions of me…but then I’ve always cared just TOO much.

I’ve decided, however, that this is a blessing in disguise.

At some point, we have to just move on.  At some point, we realize that not everyone we meet is a friend.  Not everyone who says they love you mean it.

What I can do right now, is I can focus on the people in my life who actually do care.  I can focus on myself, and on making my life better, without worrying about being judged.

On that note, I’ve found a spark of inspiration this weekend.  After feeling extremely low for two days, I had the opportunity to kind of immerse myself into the dance community this weekend.
The Tribal Massive is an event that takes place in Las Vegas every year.  I know the organizer/producer, but haven’t ever really done much with the event, because tribal/fusion isn’t my forte.  I do more Egyptian style, and folkloric dance, even though I do love and appreciate good fusion.

This year, I opted to volunteer at the Festival stage and the Fission show.  I was a “Stage Kitten,” meaning I helped out if costume bits/props, etc were left on stage/fell off/exploded.   It was the most fun job, even though people kept picking up their own stuff.  I had a blast.  I got to see all of the Festival performers on Saturday, and I got to watch the Fission show from the wings on Saturday night.  It was really great!  So many awesome performers.

Its put a bit of a fire under my ass to start working on more pieces.  One of my goals this year is to perform more often.  I have a Khaliji piece that I want to do in April…although it will be mostly improvised, I definitely have to start working on practicing, and work on the hair tossing…

I’d like to work more on the duet that Nina and I have put together…

I also want to put together a couple of fun pop numbers for shows put on by friends/should the need arise for a fun, peppy number.

I also desperately want to do a gooey, beautiful, classical piece.

Then, I had the brilliant idea for a double assaya piece.

Add to all this my desire for appropriate costuming, I’m actually going to be looking at asking friends for sewing lessons so that I can make my own costumes.  (the easy ones, like Saidi dresses, etc)

I definitely have my work cut out for me this year.  I just have to be diligent and not allow myself to get sidetracked.  I need to spend any free time I have working on improving my dancing instead of playing stupid games on my phone.  I need to work on conditioning, and exercise.  I need to work on strength training, and endurance.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like its possible.  But I know it is.  I know that its worth it.  I know that all the hard work, the dedication, the tears, the frustration, the elation, the pain…its all worth it.

If I can make just one person smile with my dancing.  If I can touch just one person…its all worth it.

Life is too short to allow yourself to be brought down by things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

While I’m here, I’m going to dance.

Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2015

Me dancing at the LVBDI in 2015.  Photo by Lee Corkett

 

furious-dancing

The Journey Woman Exercise/Notes

*This is another exercise for the book club book “This is Woman’s Work.”  This exercise was fun for me, as I’ve dreamed of traveling the world, to some specific places, for my whole life.  In this exercise, we were asked to actually put ourselves somewhere:  a real, geographic location or a place in our imagination, and compose postcards from those places.  Here are mine:  

 

Caire

Greetings from Cairo! There is ancient magic here, I feel it penetrating my soul. The sun is hot, it beats down on me, making me sweat, but I don’t mind. Gazing around me, I see so many colors in the souk, and look there…pyramids in the distance. Sitting at a small table, I can smell spices and coffee. The taste of hummus, REAL hummus makes me smile…the perfect hummus, not too much garlic like back home. Smiling, I sit here, eating my snack, listening to Oum Kalsoum drifting over the air…her songs tug at my heart.
I’m excited to be here, finally. My lifelong dream of seeing the pyramids, my 15 year dream of learning real Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, real folkloric dance, from Egyptian dancers…to immerse myself in Arab culture, music, movement, food…I love it here. I feel like I don’t ever want to leave.

uk-london-night-multi

Cheerio from beautiful England! Wandering through the streets, I can smell the storm approaching…its going to rain again. Grey skies, red phone boxes, although you know I’m searching for a blue Police box! I swear I can hear the TARDIS around every turn. I’m exploring at my own pace today. Popped into a little chippy for the most delicious fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. London is beautiful, even on the grey and rainy days. Rain is falling lightly on my skin…it feels more magical than a rainstorm in the states.
I could live like this…grey skies, a hot, steamy cuppa with milk and sugar, maybe a good book…Traveling all over to see the amazing historical sites…there’s magic here too. Deep, magic. Faery mounds, too. I could explore forever.

argentina

Hola from Argentina!  I’ve dreamed of coming back to Buenos Aries for a good 10 years.  Returning to Zarate to visit all the old restaurants, to taste the delicious fish empanadas.  Its humid here, I’d forgotten.  The humidity feels heavy on my body, and my hair…what a mess!  Wandering the flea market, I look at all of the beautiful colors: the blues of the flag, the dusty rose of the Rhodochrosite jewelry.  I can smell the mate, brewed hot and fresh, its bitter and delicious.  I’m so glad that I finally came back and experienced the wonders of the city at my own pace…siestas, and late dinner by the water…

chicago-2

Ah, Chicago.  I’ve missed you SO much.  As the bumpy train pulls into the station, I can feel the anticipation already.  My home.  My favorite.  Can I do it all in one day today?  I step off the train, the fumes from exhaust assaulting my nose with a loud “welcome back.”   Walking down Michigan Avenue, I hear the street musicians playing their hearts out.  The skyline is just as majestic as I remember.  All my favorites:  The Field Museum, The Art Institute, they’re all welcoming me back with open arms.  Finally, dinner at Pizzeria Uno, the cheese burning my mouth, the amazing taste of home filling me.

ireland

Is this real?  Am I here at last?  Oh Ireland, I’ve dreamed of you my whole life.  As far as I can see, rolling hills, greener than anything in the States.  The scent of fresh air and the faintest scent of heather are all around me.  I lay in the green grass near the cottage, and feel the earth beneath me…my roots.  My ancestors.  My history.  All here.  I close my eyes and I can hear the birds singing to me.  My neighbor pops in…her beautiful accent bringing the biggest smile to my face if she asks if I’d like to join her for tea.  I’m delighted.  The tea is sweet and strong. My heart is content here.  This is my home.  This is where I’ve longed to live out the rest of my days. In my beautiful cottage full of books, tea, and a crackling fire.

Healing up…or “why I don’t get paid to read X-Rays.”

The last few days have been rough as hell for me.

I had my ESWL procedure back on the 19th…and it was by far the WORST experience of my life.  Except for that time that Dr. Lesani left a surgical clip inside of me by accident.  (I say by accident, because he not only didn’t tell me he was leaving it until 2 weeks later, when a CT scan thought it was a stone, but when I had my second procedure, my GOOD surgeon, Dr. Kassahun, said that it wasn’t doing anything in there.  Sometimes they’re left in to hold a blood vessel or something, but this one wasn’t doing anything.)

Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yeah, the ESWL.

So.  We got to the hospital at 3:00pm.  I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8am that morning. I was feeling a little dehydrated.
When the nurses tried to start my IV…they missed.  3 times.
On the last attempt, the nurse hit a nerve, sending searing hot pain into my right hand, between my middle and ring finger knuckles.

I legit cried, sobbing hysterically, for 20 minutes.  It hurt SO bad.  I’ve never had an experience as bad as this one.
The anesthesiologist came and took me back, and he gave me gas to put me under, and HE started my IV.

Doc started my procedure off by letting me know that there was a good possibility that they wouldn’t be able to blast the stone completely in one go.  Being an 18 mm stone, it was pretty big…better to set my expectations low.

My recovery was weird.  As I got further away from the surgery date, the more pain I was in.  Specifically, this past Friday and Monday, I was in so much pain I could barely see straight.  I was miserable.  Painkillers didn’t help.  Heating pad didn’t help…

I had my follow up appointment yesterday though, and got much better news than I anticipated.

You see, when I had my x-rays done about a week and a half ago, when I got them home, I looked at them, and could have sworn that I still had a big chunk of stone left.  I was ready for my doctor to tell me that we had to schedule another ESWL.

Not only was I WAY wrong…there were just a few small remnants, which doc said he thinks will be 100% passible on their own…but we also removed the stent.  Instant relief, let me tell you.  INSTANT relief.

Today, I feel a little sore.  I’m tired from being back at work and not laying down all day.  But I’m much better.

Doc also said I can start exercising again in a few days.  I figured I’d wait till I’m no longer peeing blood, and then I’m going to GO for it!!!

Its a relief to me though.
I truly am SO excited to get back into the swing of things, and back into my routine.

The Conjure Woman Exercise

This is the third exercise I am posting from my online book club.  For reference of what book we are using please click here.
This exercise deals with The Conjure Woman.  The Magic Woman.  The Root Worker Woman. As a newly practicing witch, this exercise excites me.  I’ve had a few encounters with magic recently, and I love rituals.  The exercise calls to us to write down a recipe, or a “Witch’s Brew.”
I’ve actually taken the concept, and written a bit of a poem detailing my ritual, and how I’ve been practicing.   I love magic.  I love learning about it.  I love feeling it.  I love seeing it at work in the world.  In this day and age, we could all use a bit more magic.  

the sun is setting
preparations are underway:
Cleanse your body, wash your hair…
You are meeting Divinity tonight.
Set your altar.
Items to charge in the moonlight.
A pot for burning.
Candles.
Incense.
Offerings.
Clothe yourself all in white, in whatever makes you feel beautiful.
Adorn your head in rainbows.
Now, it is time.
Light the smudge stick:  White sage, Cedar, Palo Santo.
Inhale the purifying smoke.  Speak to the Divine within.
Prepare your spirit.
Call the quarters, with peace and love in your heart.
Send your petitions.  Speak what you desire to manifest.
Burn what no longer serves you.
Release.  Cry.  Smile.
Bathe and bask in the New or Full Moonlight.
Sit a while in silence.
The Divine, she is Within you.
She is All around you.
She is YOU.
Powerful. Peaceful.  Feminine.  Magical.
Dismiss the quarters:
In Peace With Us Abide.
Have a drink.
Remember
Your Divinity.

moon

Ghost Woman exercise Notes

This is the second exercise for my online book club.  This exercise was painful, and eye opening for me.  

In this exercise we were instructed to really connect to our body.  To sit somewhere quiet.  To listen to our breath, and think about each body part individually.  To really connect.
As soon as I really felt connected to my whole body, I started to weep.  Crying, and simply saying over and over “I’m so sorry.”  

So much hatred for my body.  So much disconnect.  So much that I’ve ignored.  Hated, dreaded looking at.  So much anger at this body of mine for not being different.  Stronger.  Healthier.  Its not my body’s fault.  I’ve made the decision as of right now, that I need to do everything in my power to take better care of myself…this goes beyond “Taking care of myself” to lose weight…this is actually really learning to love my body, and do things that it needs me to do.  Starting with the following entry, a love letter, and an apology. 

Dear Body,
My god, I am so sorry.  I’ve always felt that there were parts of you that I didn’t like.  Things I was unhappy with.  Today, I realized that for so long, I’ve been feeling hate, anger, and resentment…but it isn’t your fault.

You see, I’ve been completely ignoring you.
Ignoring steps to make you stronger.  To heal you.  To make sure that you’re hydrated, fed, healthy, happy.  I’ve done things for the wrong reasons for years.  I’ve been more concerned with the aesthetics…losing weight, toning up, being beautiful…but I’ve not thought about doing things for you…I haven’t thought about eating healthier food because its what you need.  I haven’t thought about lifting weights because it will make you strong.

I’ve felt my whole life that you are my body, so you should serve me.  Do what I want.

But I think now that I’ve got that backwards.

You’re my body…and the only one I’m ever going to have in this lifetime…so I really need to make sure that I honor you.  To make sure that I care for you.  That I love you, and give you the correct fuel.  The exercise and work to keep you well and healthy.  And in return, you’ll help me to do the things that I love…like dancing and running.  But it is a partnership, not a dictatorship.

Dearest body, I’m so sorry.  I can’t believe its taken me so long to realize this…to realize that I really truly do have to care for you, deeply, and every day…not just once in a while.

Please forgive my ignorance.  Please forgive my anger with you.  Please forgive my mistakes.

I’d like to begin again, to have a real relationship with you.  To allow you to be  cared for in the right ways.  Every day.

Because I don’t hate you.  Its not your fault.  Its mine.  And I want to fix it.  I want to fix us.  And together, we will do great things.

 

body

Shadow Woman Exercise Notes

I am participating in an online book club with some friends.  The book we are working through is:  This is Woman’s Work: Calling forth your inner council of wise, brave, crazy, rebellious, loving, luminous selves by Dominique Christina.
The book walks you through exercises, and I felt compelled to blog the exercises, in the spirit of transparency.  These exercises are not easy for me to work through, let alone post.  But here we go.  For details about the exercises, please refer to the book.

Shadow Woman Exercise in Balance:

Do you know me?  The woman who moves as the moon moves?  You haven’t seen me yet, although you may have caught a glimpse of me here or there…

Me, who moves gracefully and sensually.
The one who embodies the music, so it appears that her body is the instrument.  The one with power in her hips, and her hair.  The one with knowledge like a tree: deeply rooted, and stretching vast into the sky.
My hips orbiting, my torso undulating, creating power, controlling tides, waves, emotion.
I am here, waiting, in the dark.  Dancing alone. Emitting joy.  My body is strong.  My spirit is soaring, making music.   I dance in shadow, dreaming of the light.  Dreaming of the day that my beauty will shine.

 

Shadow Woman Exercise Out of Balance:

I see my silencer.  He looms over me, a dark void, an endlessly black figure.  Darker than the darkest night, there is no light to him.  He screams at me, breath foul and reeking of decay.
You can never afford this.
You can’t take classes:  there’s no money.  Think of your medical debts.  Your car repairs.  Your debts to your friends and family.
You’ll never pay them down.
You’ll never participate in the classes and workshops that you need to succeed.  To be born.

Behind me, they slither.  As dark as the void, but they whisper in my ear, endlessly the whispers:
You’re not as beautiful as the successful women.
You’re fat, and you’ll never lose the weight.
They’re better than you.  They have more opportunites, because they are thin and beautiful.
You are fat and ugly.
You’ll never make it.
You’ll never realize your passion.