It served its purpose

Pictured is me on January 30, some 8 years ago.  About to get ready for work on the right and at work at Crazy Horse III, a strip club in Las Vegas on the left. I was going through and deleting old pictures on my phone and these two stopped me in my tracks. Taken just a few hours apart, the stark contrast caught my attention and then the realization that wow,these two photos appear to depict a totally different person but in reality they represent two very whole parts of who I am.

Days were spent doing school drop-offs and pick-ups, working out at the gym or practicing yoga, preparing clean meals, reading books on spiritual growth and personal development, maybe spending time with my parents….. Nights were spent in full hair and makeup, flirting and talking to men about shit that didn’t matter, taking shots of tequila in a smoke filled club, shaking my ass and charming men out of their money.

During my time in that industry, I kept other jobs that were more in alignment with my purpose, teaching the odd dance class here and there, working part time for a nonprofit and later as fitness instructor.Perhaps that’s what allowed me to see it as a job and not a lifestyle . In the beginning I never knew whether to be flattered or offended when men would tell me I looked and sounded like I didn’t belong in the club, or questioned why I worked there as a woman coming from a healthy two parent home with a college degree.

Working as an exotic dancer was a way for me to make a lot of money in a little time. That’s it. Like many women , I stayed in the industry past when it was enjoyable to me because I had grown accustomed to the lifestyle it provided and I had plenty of financial obligations to take care of. What drew me to becoming  an exotic dancer was the money first and foremost. A Taurean woman through and through, I value stability above all else and money is a way to ensure a certain level of stability.  But honestly it was also appealing to me. I enjoyed dressing up and playing vixen, I enjoyed drinking and smoking, I enjoyed hustling, I enjoyed being onstage and being center of attention. I enjoyed going home with a fat, comforting wad of cash.

Until I didn’t.

I have never cared too much about people’s judgement about being a stripper. It was not a secret. I didn’t necessarily shout it from the mountain tops but it never was a source of shame. I did take notice about when it stopped feeling right to me. I began to feel a calling towards using my time to do something more aligned with my purpose, to start building a legacy. So I left Las Vegas, moved to Austin and began to use my professional dance training to develop programming that could help women realize that those so called darker desires aren’t shameful. To move sensually, to entice, to drink and cuss, to twerk, to present as a sexpot or a vixen…. these are all expressions of the complex beings that we are. There is power in the erotic. There is transformation in the sensual. You can explore that without being in a club environment surrounded by the male gaze.

As my one of my close sista friends says…. we are #fullasshumans.

The work that I did in the clubs informed the work that I do in the present. Yeah maybe I stayed a little too long, yeah I probably should’ve saved more money, but in retrospect I am able to see how my time in that industry served its purpose.

 

Lessons from 37

I just celebrated my 38th birthday a few days ago and I always like to do a sort of year in review. I find that reflecting on the past year helps me set my intentions for the new year. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Respect the seasons  – We all want our ideas and projects to blossom. I’ve had to learn how to fully respect and appreciate the planting stage and the patience stage while waiting for the seeds I’ve planted to bloom. Sometimes it feels like I’m not “doing anything” and instead of sitting back comfortably and allowing for rest knowing I’ve been planting  seeds, I fill up with restlessness and anxiety. It doesn’t serve me and I’ll be doing my best to cut it out.
  • Empathetic and selfish –   I’m very empathetic and can almost always see and understand someone else’s point of view and extend grace. However when someone’s actions directly effect me, that grace is a little harder to extend. This year I’m making it a point to not let my self absorption stand in the way of being able to empathize fully. In other words, it ain’t always about me.
  • Importance of being one with what is – One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “It is what it is” and while I know that, sometimes I still let whatever it is bother me. I’m still resistant to it which is a complete waste of energy. I’m letting go of the idea of acceptance is a form of weakness. It doesn’t make me any stronger to fight against something that is already happening.
  • Giving no fucks – One of the best parts of getting older for me is placing less value on others perceptions of who I am. I feel 100% confident in who I am and that allows for a certain freedom. This past year I felt like I truly stepped into that freedom.
  • Understanding the value of a life partner – The combination of my independent nature and the residual feelings from a failed marriage caused me to downplay the importance of a significant other. I’m used to carrying my own weight, so to speak and have felt what it’s like to put your complete trust into another person you have formed a supposed lifelong union with only to be betrayed. I love love and give of it freely but when it comes to romantic relationships I’ve minimized the impact of just how valuable it is to have a  loving and supportive partner. My life has been enhanced and acknowledging that doesn’t make me any less independent, free spirited or self-sufficient.