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.

 

Is it sustainable tho?

I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 days in a bathrobe in my room. Not talking to anyone or doing anything productive. Just reading books and watching Netflix and napping. I just could not. Could not think of anything related to my business, could not think of anything upcoming, could not focus on anything that wasn’t right in front of me. I wasn’t necessarily sad, just detached, hermit-like and  interestingly enough, really present.

Today I’m starting to emerge from this state and I realize now that the way I’ve been conducting my life is not sustainable. I’ve understood for a long time that I’m introverted and that lots of socializing and interacting with others drains me and I need solitude shortly thereafter to balance out. I’ve also long understood that I love connecting with people, love to dance, love music, love living a full life and doing all the things. What I’ve come to understand now is that in order to do what I love while still honoring myself I must be much more strategic about the placement of all of the things. When I’m in action it’s all good. But burnout is real. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’ve hit a brick wall.

Around this time last year I wrote about erring on the side of NO which explored choosing not to move forward with projects or commitments that didn’t elicit a full body Hell Yes! and I think I’ve done a pretty good job with that. Now I understand  I must acknowledge the fact that enthusiasm and the desire to create, even under the best circumstances , when not balanced with stillness and rest will still lead to a feeling of complete burnout. I also understand that my innate quality of rapid implementation (quickly moving from having an idea to putting it into action) is usually beneficial but in some cases it isn’t. When I have a creative idea I want to move on it IMMEDIATELY! While I pride myself on being someone who is “bout that action” it’s become clear to me that I don’t consider if I can sustain the action needed to complete said project. Key word: sustain.

There’s nothing I love more than to go out and hear good music and dance. I also enjoy supporting people here in the community who produce art and events locally. I understand now that those activities are best done in a vacuum. I’ve been stacking stuff on top of each other. ” I can go this show, than pop up and support this event and then teach my class the next day, I’ll be fine!” And I feel great, dancing at the show. I also feel great being an invested member of the community and showing up for things. I feel the greatest giving my full energy to my class and seeing the participants feed off of that. But when it’s all over I realize that while everything was so damn great, there is nothing left for me. I am depleted.

I have a whole ass family that comes before all of this stuff and I want to be present with them and have the energy to support them in whatever way they need. I’m still gonna be doing all the stuff. Just much more strategically and with more thought given to the effects on my well being.. A part of me feels wack even writing this. “Aww poor baby introvert girl needs her special quiet time” is what I hear in my head. I acknowledge that I am privileged to be able to sit in my room for 4 days while I figure this out.  I acknowledge that I have a group of friends I can share with and that don’t take it personally when I’m on silent mode. I acknowledge that I have a partner who holds it down and encourages me to take whatever time I may need without me having to worry about bills getting paid.

During the course of writing this it occurred to me to go back and listen to a reading that I had gotten back in April. I’m so glad that I thought to record it. “Go somewhere and get quiet, that is your 2019. Those moments are gonna be hard to come by. Whatever it takes for you to zone out and connect to your higher self, that’s what’s gonna push you through”

Noted.

It’s not always about what you can gain, but what you can sustain.

The Marathon Continues!

10 things to do when you get the urge to hate

Don’t take anything personally. It’s the second agreement from Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic book The Four Agreements. Ruiz writes “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators.”

In other words it ain’t about you boo! We all have the propensity to hate on someone else. It’s not often a real hate for another, it’s just a bit of envy or a splash of jealousy. As women we tend to compare ourselves to each other and we all know comparison is the thief of joy. Maybe you feel slighted, or you haven’t tuned in to the fact that you are projecting some insecurities outward onto others. Whether it’s throwing a slight bit of shade or spewing full on hatefulness, here are 10 things to do before you make that shady comment, type that nasty text or badmouth someone. Like most things, it could just be a matter of prioritizing self care!

  1. Drink a big glass of water – You may just be dehydrated sis! Sit yourself down with at least 10 oz of water and see if that shadiness doesn’t pass you by.
  2. Grease your scalp – Again, dehydration…no one is nice when their scalp is itching up underneath a weave, wig, or protective style. Go head and put some tea tree oil on there and see if  you feel better.
  3. Read a book- Maybe you’re too caught up in your own life, your wheels are turning nonstop and you just need a brief distraction. When those twitter fingers start itching try picking up a novel and get lost in someone else’s story.
  4. Have an Orgasm- You may just need some good quality D. If there’s none available, take matters into your own hands, but walking around with pent up sexual frustration is guaranteed is sure to bring the pettiness out of you. Handle that.
  5. Meditate- Sometimes we just need to silence the inner chatter. The inner voices that tell us we are not enough, that people are out to get us, that that we are undeserving. When we have a clear channel to connect to the Most High, we can recognize our own divinity and use our energy to express gratitude as opposed to using it to tear down someone else.
  6. Take a shit- No really. When all you feel like doing is talking shit it might be because you’re full of it!
  7. Admire yourself- Sit down in front of the mirror and really take a good, hard, long look. Spend time exploring and admiring  your most beautiful features. Get so caught up in self-love and appreciation that your mind doesn’t even have space to consider the next chick and what she is or isn’t doing.
  8. Go for a run- You may just have a lot of stagnant energy you are holding on to. Sometimes you need to move things through your body. Get that ass up and jog. Get some endorphins pumping and watch all those insecure feelings fade away.
  9. Spend some time in nature- Admire God’s creations. The majestic sunset, the birds in flight, the ocean waves….it’s harder to hate when you are in a space of admiration for all living things.
  10. Count your blessings- Everybody is #blessed right? Don’t just hashtag it, embody it. How can you be counting #blessingsonblessings and still be concerned about anything anyone else is doing?

 

Changing my relationship with money

I’m realizing I’ve held a very fixed, black and white view of money for a while now. It’s either sacrifice, miss out , restrict and hoard resources for the benefit of my future OR enjoy, take part, consume and experience at the expense of my future. When I think about it, no matter what my financial situation is at the time, whether I’m flush with cash or my resources are spread thin I’ve had the same negative emotions around sending money. I always question any purchase that isn’t directly related to my survival. 9/10 times my feeling is negative.

“Yeah I really enjoyed this concert but I could’ve put the money in savings” (Guilt)

“Ok,I’m buying myself this item but then I’m not spending another dollar for two weeks” (Punishment)

“This is the perfect gift for______ but I don’t feel comfortable buying it now, my account is kind of low”(Scarcity)

I feel free and generous in every part of my life so why when it comes paper currency do I feel tight and negative? I’m done feeling that way. Money never truly belongs to you, it’s just your turn with it. I have not once found myself without shelter,clothing or food. To the contrary, I live a full life. The crazy thing is that in all the scenarios above, I have the money!! It’s not an issue of lack, it’s an issue of mindset and training my mind not to focus on absence but on all that I have right here and right now and using that feeling to be at peace. That is not to say, there is no need to save or to be pragmatic with money. It simply means I can be at peace knowing that I have all that I need and remember that I am an abundant being. Not only abundant in health,spirit, love, and joy but also in resources.

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.

I will not be humble or sit down.

hum•ble

  1. having or showing a modest or low estimate of ones own importance.

No ma’am. I happen to think I am very important. I think very highly of myself and I think you should too. I’m not perfect or above reproach. I am flawed in many ways but I most certainly don’t have a low estimate of my own importance. I think we need to change the way we view being humble. I think you should feel yourself, big yourself up and not be afraid to let the world know that YOU know that you are the shit. We all have good days and bad days but to be aware of and remain in gratitude for your own light and divinity…..that goes a long way. I believe in being proud and celebrating yourself fully, even when/if nobody else does.

  • My life doesn’t have any more or less value than another human being
  • Be kind to all humans I come into contact with
  • Understand that there is always something I can learn from someone
  • Being good at something doesn’t make me the sole authority on it
  • Use my gifts, skills, talents for good not to deceive or get ahead at the expense of others

These are the values I hold tight to. As long as I never lose sight of them I am perfectly comfortable telling the world how highly I think of myself, and I think you should be too.

 

“You are always a valuable worthwhile human being not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason”- Wayne Dyer

Seasoned.

This past Sunday morning I woke up feeling all the familiar nervous energy of show day. In the past few years I’ve shifted my focus from performing to teaching. Honestly, I think I’m a much better instructor than I am a dancer but that’s here nor there. In any case, it’s been a very long time since I’ve taken the stage to perform choreography that wasn’t my own and I was excited. As I started to prepare and get ready to go to the venue I felt like I was 12 years old again. I was brought back to that same exact feeling of packing up my little caboodle, going over routines in my head, triple checking my dance bag and feeling full of joy, knowing that soon I would get to be on one of places most comfortable to me, the stage. This feeling has been a part of my life at so many junctures. As a little girl trying to win a trophy, as a high school student looking for respect and admiration from her peers, as a college student with a new understanding about dance composition and as a young woman in Vegas paying the bills with show gigs.

The feeling was comforting in a way that I didn’t expect and I couldn’t help but to stop and observe that despite me feeling 12 years old inside, how much my life had changed on the outside. As I prepped my face for makeup I chuckled to myself that my routine now included age renewal eye cream. Lack of flexibility has always been my weakness so I’d always give myself extra time to stretch, now I went to an actual stretch studio where trained massage therapists release my fascia and guide me through assisted stretches. Wow. I never had to go on stage carrying any real baggage. On this show day however, I discovered my 11 year old daughter had reactivated a social media account that I made her delete and I was furious. I had to set that aside for the time being.

Damn. I felt 12 inside but on the outside I was dealing with age creams, stretch studios and mommy problems. For a split second I was like damn girl you old but before that thought could even settle in I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude for my mom and dad who paid for all of these dance classes throughout the years. For shuffling me around to this practice and that rehearsal, this recital and that competition. For showing up in the audience and making sure I was supported. Gratitude that I’ve found a warm and welcoming dance community in Austin. Gratitude that 33 years after I put on my first little tutu at daycare I’m still here. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to find and hold on to the thing that keeps my spirit young and joyful. I ain’t stopping anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Earl McGehee