IDGAF what you eat!

I’ve decided to adhere to a vegetarian diet and abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Now because this is my personal blog it makes sense to share that but much to my dismay I realized the other day that I was acting like one of those annoying people who let you know of their dietary restrictions and preferences within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. You know the type, the ones who lead with how they are currently nourishing themselves as if anyone frickin cares as much as they do. It’s almost like this badge of honor to be on something.  “Oh yeah, I’m on keto and I have so much energy and can you believe it, I don’t even miss bread?” mmmmk, I didn’t ask you all that but high-five to you! ” I’m on the Whole 30 and I feel like, so connected man” Um, cool, I guess.

I was having a meeting with someone over coffee and I managed to slide in that I was abstaining from meat and alcohol for a month. It had nothing to do with anything really. We were talking about lots of interesting things and I had to be that person. I think that both the diet and the seemingly less sinister health and wellness industry has really done a number on us. It’s like nobody just eats food anymore, everybody is adhering to something – low sugar, keto, paleo , vegan ,vegetarian, gluten free, pescatarian, raw foods, the list goes on. It’s not just that most of us are adhering to some particular way of eating it’s that most of us feel it necessary for others to know. If we are going out to dinner I get it, we need to be aware of others dietary restrictions and preferences but you know that you can simply just order the vegan dish without announcing you are vegan or just decline the bread basket without announcing that you are now in full ketosis right?  There are t-shirts with messages slogans like “Powered by Plants”, “Body by Keto”, “Bacon,Butter & Coffee”, “Vegan Pussy tastes Better” and “I Didn’t Choose the Gluten Free Life, It Chose Me”. Get over yourselves people.

I had to check myself after proudly revealing my personal dietary goals apropos of nothing to someone I didn’t really know that well. I refuse to be that girl. IDGAF about what people who aren’t sharing bodily fluids with me are eating and I damn sure have more interesting things to talk about than the way I choose to nourish my body.

Creating Your Season

So I’m big into seasons. The tagline for this blog is creating your season all year ’round. Anyone who knows me knows that I refer to April 17-May 31 as MY season. My birthday is on the 17th of May and I consider that the start of my new year. May 16 is my new years eve. From the time the 4 week countdown begins till the end of May I’m in full on celebration mode. Life is a party and I’m the guest of honor. I feel powerful, unstoppable, energetic, playful and ready for whatever.Nobody can tell me shit and I feel really light in spirit. For some people that feeling comes in the new calendar year. They approach January as a time to make bold declarations about what they will implement for the new year and feel pumped up and ready to take on the world. Others feel a surge of joy and lightness in summer, more sun and longer days fueling  both their productivity and sense of adventure. Whatever that special season is for you wouldn’t it be wonderful to live and feel that way all year long? I started thinking about what is it I’m tapping into that makes me feel so powerful, aligned and adventurous. How can I create this all year? So I broke it down .

What are the feelings?

  • Refusal to let anything get me down- Don’t bring a cloud to rain on my parade!
  • Playfulness – Hey I’ve made it another year let’s try something new
  • More time spent in meditation and prayer- Talking and listening to the Most High
  • Generous with myself and others, getting what I want without my usual price comparisons and find myself treating my friends more often as well – Ballin!
  • I see everything as working out in my favor-All I do is win win win no matter what!
  • I’m more attuned to beauty and take more time with makeup ,clothing choice and adornments for myself than I usually do- Glamorous Life honey!

How do I recreate these feelings?

  • Faith- Understanding that even seemingly “down” periods are ultimately to my benefit and needed to create a balance
  • Grace- Knowing that I am blessed even when I feel unworthy and that help from a higher power is always available to me
  • Patience- Not rushing myself through slower, more restful periods. Allowing myself to be in them with no pressure to get back to high productivity. Knowing that once I’m rested,inspired, and have clarity I will naturally shift gears.
  • Curiosity- Staying curious about life and all it has to offer me. Seeking out adventure and staying open to learning and trying new things
  • Abundance- Feeling that it’s ok to splurge on what I really want or treat a friend to lunch. At any particular time.
  • Keep it Glamorous- Tap into the fun of feminine dress, makeup and adornments.

Have I been successful at creating my season year ’round? Somewhat. I’m a work in progress and there are times when I get stuck. I have to remind myself often to keep it glamorous as I tend to  prefer sweats, unmatching socks and zero makeup in my day-to-day life and it also takes some effort for me to truly remain in an abundance mindset. Patience with myself is another one that trips me up from time to time. But when I can take some time to think about how damn good I feel April 17-May 31 and having identified exactly what I’m feeling and what is required of me to hold on to those feelings I do a pretty good job at creating and staying in my season all year long and I wanted to share in the hopes that it helps others create and stay in theirs.

The World is My Stage

In the past two weeks I’ve been a part of 2 performances. One behind the scenes as the choreographer and the other front and center as a performer before an audience. As I contemplated both experiences it hit me just how important performance is to the learning process. Of course not all art is performance based, some art is created and is then interpreted by the person viewing it or reading the words on the page. The artist themself has completed the work and they don’t necessarily perform it. But that’s what I love about the performing arts, the variance in the skill sets of songwriter/singer, screenwriter/actor, choreographer/dancer.

My greatest strength has always been in performing. I love to choreograph and bring out the best in others and I love being a student of dance in general but it’s in taking on the task of trying to convey something to an audience where I’m most at home. I’ve always loved dancing in front of people but I as I got older I also focused on my performance out of necessity. My body type, lack of flexibility and decent but not outstanding technique were all working against me but I knew that despite all of that I could always be a commanding presence on the stage. My kicks may not be as high, my feet may not be pointed as beautifully but damn it when I take that stage you will take notice and look at me.

My students that I set choreography for absolutely killed it last week. They commanded the stage and made people look. No one in the audience knew that their trio started as a group of 6, or that they had never twerked on stage before or that the shorts they ordered to perform in weren’t quite what they had in mind. During the show I went backstage to congratulate them and a dancer in another piece was in tears, mascara running and all. I’m not quite sure why but usually if a dancer is crying backstage it’s because they feel they’ve made a blunder onstage. All I know is that in the 2 minutes it took me to get back to my chair she was onstage in another routine and crushing it! I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. After the show I  was compelled to tell her that I had seen how upset she was just moments before and how proud and full of respect I was after seeing her pull her shit together and give the audience life!

This is what it’s about. How do you show up in your life?

We all deal with so many behind the scenes things that happen day-to-day that can impact how we take the proverbial stage of life but we can decide if we allow them to affect our performance or not. It’s not about impressing other people or wearing a mask, it’s about deciding to show up every day as an active participant in your life. As the  saying goes “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. While I agree with that in a sense, I feel like it’s a little disrespectful to the concept of dress rehearsals. Dress rehearsal is where you figure it all out. Where you tweak, adjust and get comfortable with all of the variables . I was always taught to go full out in the dress rehearsal as the only difference between that and the performance was the addition of an audience. The beautiful thing about life is that if you’re lucky you get another day to take stage.  Another chance to show up for your life and the people in it the way you want to.

Image Credit: Earl McGehee

Err on the side of NO

Ahhh, November. Cooler temperatures, shorter days, foliage if you’re lucky and an increase in obligations. The end of the year is approaching and many of us feel the pull to reach goals, complete tasks and accomplish things we had on our to do list for 2018. We need to figure out travel plans for the holidays and start making arrangements. What’s on the menu? Who’s making the mac n cheese? Are we doing Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday? Speaking of Christmas, we need decorations, a tree, an outfit to wear to the holiday party, teacher gifts and we probably should meal prep because we know how fast these holiday pounds can creep up! It’s the season for giving so yes we’ll go to that charity function and sure we probably should get the kids together before folks leave for Thanksgiving and yes we’ll come out and support your art, music, market, class, event etc…..The list goes on and on if we let it.

My plan for this November is to err on the side of NO. NO-vember, cute right?!

Last month I found myself over booked, over scheduled and committed to projects that if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t that enthused about. As women we are natural care givers and it is entrenched in our socialization that we need to make life easier for other people so we err on the side of yes. It’s not that we don’t ever say no but if we can squeeze it in, if we know it would help someone else out, if we have nothing else planned at that very moment then by golly we’ll do it. I’m done with that shit. I read something in The book of SHE: Your heroines journey into the Heart of Feminine Power that really resonated with me.

“If it’s not a full body hell yes! Then its a no.”

When you establish a mind-body connection you can detect reactions in your body easily before your mind goes to work. Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, changes in breathing, clenching of the jaw, an inadvertent smile, a furrowed brow, feeling like a weight has been lifted off your chest. All of these are your body’s gut reactions. Derived from instinct and experience and made without thought. For me, this November, that’s how I’m going to make my choices. I’m going to err on the side of no unless my full body gives me a hell yes. I will master the art of the graceful decline. I will not agree to things based on what I feel I “should” do. I will not be afraid to disappoint. I will prioritize having space and time to just be and remind myself that allowing for that time enables me to be a better, more relaxed partner, mother, daughter, sister and friend. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy NO-vember!

Rituals and Routines: So Necessary

Life out in the real word doesn’t come with trigger warnings. At any time life could present us with a disturbing set of circumstances so it’s important that we arm ourselves with the necessary tools to ensure that we can maintain our balance when shit gets real. That’s where rituals and routines come in. Having something that you do every day regardless of your situation or environment serves as an anchor. It gives you stability in uncertain times and provides you an opportunity to reflect in gratitude in calmer, happier times.

For me, having a ritual allows me to be in observance of myself. To see myself not as someone just in the wind, blowing wherever the circumstances dictate but as a person with the ability to stay rooted and to honor the commitments I make to myself no matter what. That’s gone a long way in building my confidence and self-reliance. When I first moved to Austin I started taking walks in my neighborhood park every morning. I had no job, I was unsure of how my daughter would adjust to life in a new city and nothing was stable. It made me feel good that although I didn’t yet have a favorite breakfast place, didn’t know where to get my hair done, and had no established hangouts, I had my walk.  The seasons changed and I had my walk. A few suitors came and left and I was still walking. I saw the older lady I usually greeted along the path who was always alone begin to pop up holding hands with a gentleman and gazing lovingly at him as they walked. Park lady had found a boo and I was still walking!

By creating this every day routine I was able to feel connected even though everything around me was changing. At different times in my life the ritual was different. In high school I would wake up and do 50 crunches, for a spell of my time in Vegas it was a cup of coffee and listening to James Brown. In Austin it’s been the walk. These days I don’t go to the park every morning but I do make it a priority to adhere to a daily ritual. Whether  it’s simply listening to uplifting music, doing breathing exercises, practicing yoga or going for a run, any positive habit you can put into practice on an everyday basis is a step towards self accountability and the strength you need to be able to weather any storm.

 

 

 

 

Dance Life ain’t just for Dancers

If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me “I would love to come to your classes but I can’t dance”. I’d like to clear up the misconception that dance class is only for those who have dance experience. There is something powerful and healing about moving in time to music, moving in unison with other people and learning how to control your body in ways you never thought you could. You don’t need experience in a class setting to enjoy that.

I get that social media has changed how we view dance classes. We only see the very end of class where people are killin’ it. The “For the Gram” version where the lighting is perfect, the angles are poppin’ and everyone has full command of the choreography. What we are really seeing on our news feeds and timelines is a performance in a class setting. We see nothing about the actual learning process. Now don’t get me wrong I can get into to that. At the end of my Twerk N Burn class I usually record a version “For the Gram” and want it to be as live and on point as possible. It feels good to slay the choreo and have those “Yassss Bitch!” moments. As an instructor it’s good promotion for what I’m offering. However, I’ve come to realize that as a teacher, while I love seeing students fully absorb the movement and show out, it gives me more joy to see something click for the person who just came to support their friend, the woman who walked in shy and unsure or the person who doesn’t give a damn about the steps and is just basking in the good energy!

I’ve been a student of dance for 33 years and I know what it’s like to not get it. To not be in the “good group”, to fumble across the floor and be completely lost. When you are training at a certain level those moments are bound to happen. But many people who come to adult dance classes aren’t necessarily training. They just want to have fun and improve. I’ve started to create more class spaces that are rooted in that vibe because I’ve realized how important it is to make dance more accessible to people regardless of their level of experience. I don’t think my gift is taking trained dancers and elevating them to an elite level, it’s bringing out the best in people who just want to move.

Dance has been such an outlet for me my whole life. It strengthens the body, sharpens the mind and helps keep me youthful. There is an abundance of quality adult classes in Austin to experience. Find the instructors you vibe with and take a few classes. Everyone ought to experience the stress release, mind-body connection and enormous confidence boost that comes with taking a dance class. You don’t have to be a dancer to live the dance life!