Roots buried deep in the ground
Take hold my ankles beneath moon round
Make me one with your breath
Keep me safe in life and death
Arms outstretched to rays of light
Branches reaching day and night
Grounded feet buried deep
Fruits from harvest you will reap
Body, mind and spirit grow
As above, so below

A Journey of Self-Love Through Belly Dance




(Though the show just recently passed I still wanted to share this blog about my little journey of dance and how it inspired me to feel whole again. Enjoy. It was written prior to showtime but with all the rehearsals and running around I present it to you now). Photo by Bradley Marshall or dancer hubby.

I’ve never felt so included and so part of a team as I do now. I have been belly dancing since I was fifteen years old, that makes it ten years since I fell in love with Egyptian dance. I learned all I could from my early instructors, Samay of Mid-East Performing Arts Company and then for a brief time once I left Florida with Alexandra Smith of the Alexandria Dance company in Knoxville, Tennessee. Several workshops between by instruction of either school helped me to gain more of a respect for the art form. I went on hiatus for a few years after this due to medical issues. Once healthy enough to try to pick up where I left off I joined the students of Belly Motions in fall of 2015 after having moved back to Miami, Florida. I was so nervous to start again. Getting to know new people, being afraid of overly competitive dancers, and trying to keep up when I was so out of shape felt like a giant weight on my shoulders the first day I walked back into class. Though I’d been at advanced level years prior I forced myself to start from beginners again and work my way back up (as I’ve done every time there is too long a gap between training).

I attended several classes held by Miss Alexandra on the weekend to try to catch up and although terrified couldn’t pass up a challenge that presented itself only two weeks after I began. I was told choreography programs were soon to commence for a theatre production being held in spring 2016. Taking a leap of faith I signed up for an advanced level baladi choreography knowing I’d been two years out of practice.
This is how I came to join eleven other dancers under the direction of Yesenia, our instructor and choreographer extraordinaire, who has drilled us for the last six months. Alongside them I was able to prove to myself I could still step up to challenges, face them dead on, make new friends and be humbled by amazingly talented people. I was stunned at the inclusivity  I felt from the other dancers and staff and can honestly say I have never felt so appreciated, so part of a team as I do now. My expectations of diva type dancers who degraded others were bashed. My old conceptions of the dance community in Miami were re-aligned to a more positive frequency. With the guidance of our instructor the students and I were able to learn an advanced level choreography we are due to perform only three days from now on stage. It has been such a humbling, positive and strengthening experience. I’m a more mature woman compared to who I was years ago when I first started Egyptian belly dance. I still have a lot of studying and training to do but I can finally say I am proud of myself for falling back into something I love so much while battling bouts of depression, anxiety and medical issues that kept me out of commission for so long. I have Miss Yesenia, the Belly Motions team and the wonderful students I dance alongside to thank. Your strength and dedication were and continue to be an inspiration. (One of our girls showed up to rehearsals with I.V. needles taped to her arm so she could receive treatment before &/or after dance when she discovered she had Lyme disease. Talk about dedication, strength and drive. You go Nancy!) Thank you all for helping me believe in team work, art and myself again.

Raks On,
If you live in the Miami area and are interested in taking a class at Belly Motions click on the link below or stop by the studio.

Belly Motions

Moving Forward and Other Things Humans Resist

I have to admit to having been a little sluggish as of late. Not so much with writing per say, as I’ve been prepping articles for the upcoming issue of UNIQUE ME magazine, but with other goals and dreams. Throughout our lives certain situations and circumstances may arise when least wanted or expected. When this happens we as human beings have the choice of being completely derailed from our main focus or surmounting the obstacle by better balancing our lives and moving forward.

I must admit to having been completely derailed. The fact that I am sharing this of course means that I am now trying desperately to get back on the horse and continue after my own aspirations of completing my middle grade novel and degree while keeping a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I’ve been able to strengthen my relationships with friends, make new ones and visit places I’ve never been to or seen over the past couple of weeks. Locations in Midtown, the Art District, Brickell and Indy hangouts in South Beach and Coral Gables were great places to explore and have adventures unfold. They were part of a healing process really, trying to move on from a very difficult first half of the year while keeping as busy and distracted as possible.

I’ve written about balance in this blog before. The last post was on this very subject, as a matter of fact, which is why I’ve been missing in action. I was anything but balanced. My emotions turned into individual whirlwinds, I had no job, no appetite, dealt with the one year anniversary of a death in the family and other personal matters I’m not even willing to share that were piled up on me all at once. I slumped under the pressure for about two weeks. My book was left on the back burner and I was soon tipping the scale on play much more than work. As I said before it was part of a “healing process” I’ve been undergoing until I recognized how completely unbalanced I’d become. I’m not the type of person to abandon projects related to my life purpose for fear of manning up and moving forward from whatever issues I’m facing.

I forced myself to start doing things independently as I’ve always done. I shifted my mindset again in the direction of publication, education and well balanced meals and exercise. Color came back to my face, the dark circles under my eyes disappeared and I started writing for pleasure again. The last catalyst for manning up was attending boot camp for the first time after having surgery. I completed the entire training session and have been sore ever since. It helped the warrior archetype that was lying dormant within me resurface. Back came the drive to want to succeed and to make my dreams a reality. And what once felt debilitating feels like a dull pain. It’s true that time heals things, but so does will. Having the willingness to push forward and wanting to heal is what prompts positive change. Resisting this is what causes human suffering. Make the right choice.

P.S. While I did run amok in the city I found some local spots you might enjoy.
*All these locations have their own FB/websites. Can be found through a search engine. All have a bar/live music/DJ’s/karaoke. Some restaurants)  Check them out, have a little fun ; )

Blackbird Ordinary
Brickell Irish Pub
Fado Isrish Pub
Club 50 at the Viceroy Hotel

South Beach
Radio Bar
Kill Your Idol
Automatic Slims
Fox Hole

Mid-Town/Art District/Downtown
The Corner Bar (Looks like a saloon from the 1800s/awesome)
Art Walk (2nd Saturday of the month)

South Miami/The Gables
Titanic Restaurant and Brewery
Open Stage Club
John Martins Irish Pub
Red Koi