Dance, dance, dance

I’m going to challenge you to try the same experiment that I am trying. It’s good. It’s hot. It’s super-sweet.

It’s kinda super-easy too – but somehow difficult. Isn’t life intriguing, with all these little mysteries and conundrums?!

I want us to dance more.

Yes, I do think that if we danced more, we’d be able to reach a state of happiness more often.

When I am angry, depressed, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed or feeling totally at odds with my body, the BEST thing I can do is to dance.

When I dance, a few wonderful things happen;

a) I stop thinking.
b) My body gets a bit warm and sweaty.
c) My body becomes my best friend because look at all the cool things she can do!
d) I feel happy.
e) My problem or stress is still there when I stop but I am less frantic about it. Less attached. I have snuck out the window and partied while the problem wasn’t looking.

Hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

a) I don’t have an hour.
b) I don’t feel like it so I shouldn’t do it.
c) Actually, I really don’t feel like it so please stop telling me what to do.
d) I don’t have time to take dance classes.
e) I can’t just go out to a club every night.
f) I don’t have a dance floor or disco ball. (This is actually a very fair complaint.)
g) DON’T TRY TO MAKE ME FEEL HAPPY BECAUSE I’M NOT RIGHT NOW!!!!

So here is my challenge. When you need a pick-me up, dance. Get up and move. To one song. Or two. Or seven. It can be a sad song, happy song, horny song, angry song. Get up and move.

FAQ

How do I find a song?

Umm, awkward pause. I’m going to give you some time to think about that question because I know that a) you have heard music before and b) some of it made you feel good. It may have been awhile but you get out there and FIND A SONG!

I don’t know how to dance.

I can’t believe that the judges from “So You Think You Can Dance” are at your house! Please tell them to leave immediately so you can start dancing.

I don’t have enough time.

Most popular songs are about 3-4 minutes. If you don’t have 3-4 minutes to brighten your day and love yourself, then this email is the least of your problems and we’ll leave it at that.

I can’t dance at work. What will people think?

That you are the coolest employee.

My partner/roommates/kids look at me like I definitely should not be dancing.

Poor them. Jealous much?

I’m too tired.

You might be exhausted – aren’t we all? But STOP READING THIS EMAIL RIGHT NOW AND START DANCING BEFORE YOU LOSE ALL OF YOUR ENERGY!

I’m still too tired.

I don’t care.
What if I feel worse after?

Ha.
Ha ha.
Ha ha ha.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!
You are so cute and funny too!

How do you dance on the subway without anyone knowing?

This is actually a lot of fun. I like to see if I can maintain a deadpan stare while I get my pelvic thrusts on.

We were born to dance. To move. To shake and sweat and groove to a beat.

Get out of your mind. Get out of your problems. Take a break and flood your body with love and freedom.

Fighting to love my body

You got to fight…
for your right…
to feel great in your body.
It’s hard to feel good in our bodies as they are. Because if we choose to pay attention (and it’s so hard not to), there are lots of people and messages out there that tell us that we can’t feel good in our bodies. Right now. As we are.

That makes me so mad.

Storytime, friends.

I’m in La Senza. Feeling good. About myself. About my body. About my life.

I find a great salesperson. She has breasts, this girl, so I figure that she is going to be my sister-in-bras. She uses words like “sexy, cleavage, push up, tight, rounded, slim”. I am ready to buy anything. Can it really be this easy?!

I try on the first one. Oops. Horrible. Erase. Delete.

I try on the second one. LAST CHANCE! Hmm, not good. But not horrible. Workable?

Hmm. Not good. Not. Good. Is it just me or are these change rooms really small? The walls are closing in on me. I’m surrounded by photos of beautiful slim girls who can probably wear everything in this store. They don’t even have a size – their size is “anything.” They are so happy prancing around in lingerie in Rio and Paris.

The lighting. Not good. Not. Good. Or….too good? Is my stomach really that fat? Wow. I am walking around feeling great in my body AND IT’S LOOKED LIKE THIS?! I have it all wrong; I shouldn’t be walking around pretending that everything is great because OBVIOUSLY IT IS NOT GOOD – LOOK IN THE MIRROR!

My brain immediately dumps all life-sustaining actions and starts working on the most important “to do” list of my life. Start exercising one hour a day as soon as I get home. Eat only veges and protein. Stop drinking. No more carbs. Discipline. Serious. Stop drinking.

Panic. Sadness. Depression. Anxiety. Disgust. Disappointment.

Yuck. F**k. F**k. F**k me. (I apologize for all this swearing in here but it really does the best job of conveying what I felt.)

Wait.

Wait.

Wait a gosh darn second here.

No. Not f**k me. F**k YOU! F**k YOU WORLD and La Senza! Don’t you dare rain on my parade. How dare you make me feel this way? Also, brain – SHUT UP!! You are just as bad as they are!!!

I decide to fight back. I turn away from the mirror. I close my eyes and start dancing to the party tunes playing. They are not just for beautiful models in Rio and Paris. They are for beautiful me! I Imagine myself surrounded by all my friends – loving life. Feeling loved. Cold beer in hand.

The heat of my panic cools. I breathe. I come back to myself. I think, it’s only that these bras don’t fit. There is nothing wrong with my beautiful girls and I’m going to find them a beautiful bra. And I’m going to fight to keep feeling good about this treasured vessel I walk around in.

I give my girls a love rub and blow a kiss to myself when I leave the changing room.

When I reflected on this experience, I realized that it was another classic example of brain vs body.

I was feeling great – in my body.
I was not “looking” great – said my brain.

Why was I believing my brain and not my body? Why did I trust my brain more? Why was I choosing to listen to the negative voices in my head instead of reveling in the calm confidence of my body?

If your body is telling you something beautiful and your brain is telling you something negative, make your choice. I know which one I’d go with.

And if someone is trying to rain on your parade, just say “Hells no!”.

(I have been listening to the “Cowboy Tailgate” playlist on Songza. My brain thinks the lyrics are stupid but my body loves it.)

Please SHINE. So I can too

The truth is, when you don’t shine, I don’t either.

So don’t be so mean – shine, baby, shine.
I had a(nother) mind-curving experience at the S-Factor retreat in San Diego in January that had to do with shining.

Here’s the story.

Although I have a lot of experience in sensual dance, because it was my first retreat, I was put in the beginner stream. Along with women who had never taken a dance class before.

The first classes were mostly just about warming up and a lot of following along. But then we got into doing some freestyle work and dancing in smaller groups – one half dancing and the other half watching. (By the way, I’ve been inspired by S-Factor to use the word “witnessing” instead of “watching” because it creates an interaction that is much more involved, loving and non-judgemental.)

This is when I started to hide my shine. Because I didn’t want to make the other women feel badly because they couldn’t move like me. I didn’t want them to feel not good enough. Not sexy enough. And I didn’t want to act like I was “too big for my boots.” I was dimming my shine so I wouldn’t outshine anyone else.

And then something changed in my mind/body and I couldn’t do it anymore. I ached to shine. I ached to BE ME IN ALL MY GLORY. To rock the place. I wanted to be what I can be; powerful, mesmerizing, magnetic.

Because I know that my shine is bright and brilliant. And it transforms me as well as other people.

So I shone. Baby, did I shine.

Several things happened.

Other women in the class were inspired. Pulled up. Became braver because of me. They didn’t shrink. They grew.

Then one of the most constrained women in the class wanted to dance with me. My shining didn’t repel her. It helped her.

By shining, I changed the room. The space grew. The ceiling got higher. And everyone reached for that higher light. Including me.

And now I realize that when I stop my shine, I am subtly telling other women to stop theirs too. “Don’t you dare shine because I’m sacrificing my shine for you so you better do the same thing for me.”

So please shine. However you do it. Whenever it comes. Shine your beautiful, unique and powerful magic on us.

When your girlfriend calls up and says that she is just wearing jeans and sneakers out and you are worried about outshining her in your heels and dress, SHINE ON! WEAR THAT DRESS AND THOSE HEELS! Don’t dim for her.

When you feel on top of the world and at your most juicy, please dive right in. SHINE.

And when someone gives you a compliment, take it. This is YOUR TIME TO SHINE.*

* I once told a women in a coffee shop that she was looking absolutely fabulous in her backless dress. And she was. She was shining. She said “thank you” and then said “I like your monkey hat.” My MONKEY HAT, people! I now realize that maybe she was afraid to be the only one shining.

Even if we might feel grumpy because we wish that we had worn a dress and heels or that we were the one telling the funny story that everyone is riveted by, ignore us. We’ll get over it. And we are going to look for and enjoy our chance to shine too. Because you let us.

We can all shine like little sparkly gorgeous stars fallen to earth. And that’s not just the hot toddy talking.

This emotion embarrasses me

Out of all the emotions that I feel, this one leaves the most bitter taste in my mouth. It is inelegant. Insecure. Shameful.

It is envy.

Envy eats away like a ravenous worm in my brain: once let out of it’s cage, it is on a rampage. Strong. Loud. Ugly.

After a recent envy trip, I got to thinking about envy in all it’s forms. I wanted to understand the enemy so I could destroy it. Good news; there is an envy that I like because it can drive me to success. It is based on admiration. When I feel envy-miration, it doesn’t make me sink down. Quite the opposite; it propels me forward. Fills me with endless energy and a joyful competitiveness. I want to crush things with my bare hands. This is a good envy.

Then there is stupid envy. This is the envy that makes me feel embarrassed. Because feeling this envy is pretty much the exact opposite of who I want to be. It’s such a kick in the ass. It’s so high school. So NOT ME. Stupid envy makes me mad because I know that there is no good to come out of it.

And then, when I started to really go through the things that I was envious of, I realized that some of my envy came from things that I didn’t really want.

Sigh.

Many things I was envious of were things that I wasn’t doing because I didn’t want to do them. And I didn’t want to do them because they were not in my nature. They were not what I wanted. They were not me. But they were things that I thought I SHOULD want. Or ways I thought I SHOULD be.

(Please join petition to take the word “should” out of the dictionary here.)

So basically, I was envious of things that I didn’t even want. I was fighting against myself. Disagreeing with my nature. Out of touch with what my heart and my body knew I wanted.

Damn. Really? Aren’t I supposed to be so in touch with myself? So together?

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

What are your experiences with envy? Does it fire you up sometimes; make you joyfully ruthless in pursuing something you want? Is it a vicious worm in your head that wreaks havoc and feels uncontrollable?

Do you ever envy something that you don’t want because you think you should? Because you are disagreeing with who you are? At odds with your nature?

“In order to be perfect” tip NO. 23,399 – FROM NOW ON, I SHALL ONLY FEEL ENVY-MIRATION. STUPID ENVY AND BEING ENVIOUS OF THINGS I DON’T WANT IS A WASTE OF TIME. I WILL NOT FIGHT AGAINST MYSELF: I WILL KNOW MYSELF, KNOW MY DESIRES AND LOVE MY NATURE.

So say we all. (And if you know where that comes from, I know that you are a really cool person. I have envy-miration for you.)

How would it feel to be in love?

Have you ever wanted to be like someone else because they seemed to be more…

successful
confident
happy
sexy

Or just more right than you?

I have always wanted to be the kind of woman who leaves the house with her make-up done, wearing the right clothes and put together in a totally luxurious and effortless way. In reality, I don’t really like wearing make-up, I don’t know what the current fashion trends are, I often have messed-up looking hair and I am currently sporting the ugliest pair of winter boots I have ever seen.

I recently realized that I haven’t been honouring who I really am.

One morning at the retreat, they had these amazing make-up, body paint and hair artists to “adorn” our inner dancers. My gut immediately said, “I don’t want this. It doesn’t make me feel excited; it makes me feel resentful and angry.” But instead, I listened to my brain who said “Just go along with what everyone else is doing because everyone else is excited so you must be wrong for not being excited too.”

About an hour later, with a make-up job that I wanted to scrub off my face and looking at a line-up at the body paint and hair stations, I thought “Screw this. I don’t want this.” So I left the room and went for a walk outside. Into the sunshine. My whole body relaxed and my gut said “Thank you.”

I realized then that I had not been sticking up for myself. I wasn’t listening to my gut (which is, by the way, bang on ALL THE TIME), I was listening to my brain. Bad news because while my brain is really good as some things, my gut and my heart and my body are designed to tell the truth. They do not lie.

I am the life of the party and also reserved and subtle. My inner dancer doesn’t like being adorned. She is all about simplicity and skin.

I was fighting who I really was. And when I stopped fighting and fell in love with this part of me, I became not only more relaxed and blissed out (which is what happens when you are not spending energy criticizing who you are…) but I became excited again about being in my skin.

Instead of trying to fight who I am, I’m going to drop deeply and delightfully in love with myself!

(sounds sinful, doesn’t it?!)

Until next time, fellow adventurers.