“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Although Time is precious, and I feel an increasing need to retreat from social media in order to focus on creating the work and life I envision for myself, the truth is my work and life is connected to a world I actually love. There are bridges that deserve to be built and cherished. Check the ways we can connect and join me.
Who doesn´t like a shortcut, a formula that helps us get there – wherever there may be – faster and better; an efficient hack?
I know I do. Plus, I love to share the pearls I´ve been gathering in all these years of performing and teaching Egyptian Dance, first in Cairo and then around the world. Reflecting on what I´ve learned, filtering the information and expressing it in a way that students can benefit from is one of my biggest pleasures.
Without further ado, here we go: checkthe 3 things that will instantly improve your dance. And life. (you´re welcome 😉 )
Breathe more consciously and frequently; also, slower. Breath is a major key to a lot of essential things. In dance, as in life. Being aware of your breath – inhaling and exhaling – and managing it for your own benefit will not only allow you to dance better but it´ll increase your health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – and potential for growth. Write BREATHING reminders on post-its; start your dance practice with a minute of conscious breathing (eyes closed, in silence); introduce meditation into your daily routines. It can be a dance and life changer.
Love yourself, starting with your physical body. The way you move is a mirror of your relationship with yourself. If you´re someone who feeds self-hate and criticism, your dance (and life) will show it and suffer because of it. Self-care, self-love and self-awareness are basic skills for any Oriental Dancer (and, again, for any human being). The more you know and love yourself, the more confident you become and the more confident you become the better you move, the more chances you take, the more creative you become, the more you exhale positive vibes. Start replacing self-destructive thoughts with POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS. For instance: replace “I´m ugly” by “I´m beautiful”; replace “I´m not interesting” by “I´m unique and fascinating in my own way”; replace “I suck” by “I´m amazing”; replace “I´m a loser” by “I´m an achiever”. And so forth. Feed yourself properly, sleep/rest, exercise; become your own best friend.
Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to listen, receive, assimilate music and life experiences, feel the pleasant and the unpleasant; embrace life in all its colors. Open your heart (trust me, I know how hard it can be), show up as you are. Don´t fake it; express your true self, your joys and sorrows, your strengths and your wounds. In dance, as in life, becoming more vulnerable is a turning point. Start with saying “I love you”. First to yourself, then to the most important people in your life. Grab the phone or send a message. Reach out. If you´re afraid, say it so; if you´re lost, acknowledge it. Tell your parents, spouse/lover, friends, family how much they mean to you. Be the first to say “I´m sorry”, the first to lean in during a fight, the first to reveal something extraordinary like “I´m human; I also suffer; I, too, feel hopeless, sometimes”.Extra tip: watch Brené Brown´s Netflix Special “The Call to Courage”.
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It´s known, obvious, and official: I LOVE to talk about creativity, productivity, the art of consistently turning dreams into reality; writing, dancing, choreographing, teaching, growing.
When I received the invitation from NFreads for an interview about my books, the creative process, and what I´ve learned so far about writing, I jumped immediately on that train. Although I´m mostly known as a Dancer, a Choreographer, and a Teacher, Writing and publishing what I write have been a huge part of my career, one that offers me an increasing sense of fulfillment.
Plus, talking about the Creative Process, in dance or in writing, exposing things as they are, free of false glamour or needless b”#$%”t, is my thing. And that´s exactly what I do in this interview.
Although I don´t believe in Universal Formulas, I´m happy to share my TOP 3 LIFE HACKS, the goodies that work for me, the things that changed my life for better.
If they apply to you, great; if they don´t, I invite you to FIND YOUR OWN LIFE HACKS. Trust me, they exist. What makes a difference in your life may be different from what makes a difference in my life but those goodies – your goodies – are out there. Go and get them. Nobody will improve your life – only YOU can do it, starting with those daily, seemingly ordinary, things.
At first, it felt like an impossible task. How could I – the over-doer always on schedule and on the run – stop, every day, for 15 or 20 minutes to do”nothing”? How could I take time from my overloaded day to sit, focus on my breath, and be – just be?
I believe most of us, particularly Westerners, arrive to Meditation as a way to save ourselves from insanity, a last resource, searching for salvation. We reach a point of mild, or violent, burnout and realize we have to STOP in order to keep moving. I was no exception. My brain felt like it was going to explode; I´d lived more in 35 years of existence than most people I know live during their entire lives. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, in urgent need of respite. My “cup was running over” but not in a good way.
Once I forced myself to sit still and go through my daily meditation, the agitation gave place to peace. I endured the storms, the “what a hell am I doing, or not doing, here?” tantrums, the shenanigans, the bursts of laughter and crying, the almost irresistible temptation to quit. I stayed put, returned day after day to my seated position; eyes closed, mind – slowly – opening. Now, I can honestly say: meditation takes me to my happy place, my internal home, my personal heaven, the one which resides within. It has shown me HOW to breathe and use my breath to shape my reality; how to distinguish my thoughts from WHO I AM, truth from fantasy, fear from courage. It has made me more rooted, aware, calm, trusting, loving, and – tchan, tchan, tchan! – patient.
It has changed the way I dance, live, treat myself and others.
***There are many MEDITATION APPS, some of them FREE, available on the internet. Search for the one you´d like to try and give it a go. Realize it takes time to form a new habit so DO NOT QUIT. If you miss a day, or more, restart. You´re allowed to fall and rise up.
Make meditation a daily practice for at least 60 days in a row, the time it takes, according to research, to install a new habit.
The daily practice of GRATITUDE has changed my mindset and, consequently, the way I dance and live.
Complaining, criticizing, pointing fingers is so easy! Plus, we find loads of company for those activities. But, let´s be honest, complaining doesn´t get things done; criticizing may, or not, raise awareness on something which is not right but it doesn´t change it for the better; pointing fingers is disempowering.
Once you become aware of GRATITUDE, how it applies to your existence and how it changes it, you never go back to the CRITICS CLUB. You´ll be too busy saying THANK YOU, LIFE; too busy with your own life, the things and people that matter the most to you.
It´s as simple as this: I have a GRATITUDE APP on my mobile phone. As soon as I wrap my daily meditation, a central part of my Morning Routine, I´ll open the app and write the things I´m most grateful for. They can be “food on the table”, or “this sunny day”, or “my love relationship”, or “the success and the joy in my work”, or “the challenges that are making me grow”, or (fill in the blank).
What a daily GRATITUDE PRACTICE does is tuning YOU with LIFE´s ABUNDANCE, a POSITIVE ENERGY of LOVE, CAN-DO, INSPIRATION, OPENNESS. The more you say THANK YOU, the more you´ll receive.
***Create your own GRATITUDE RITUALS.
You can go for a GRATITUDE JAR where you´ll insert hand-written notes with the things you´re most grateful for at the end of each week; you can download a GRATITUDE APP, as I did, and use it daily; you can have your GRATITUDE JOURNAL where you´ll write before sleeping. Use your imagination.The most important thing is to make it a HABIT, not something you do here and there.
3. Filing my LIFE with Beauty.
I know it sounds too easy. Or difficult. You may claim: I don´t have time, money, or energy to focus on Beauty; that´s a luxury for the rich and the lucky. Yes, you may claim it. And I will disagree.
When, after many years of life in Cairo, Egypt, and travels world-wide for work, I decided to move for a while to the deep Portuguese countryside; I found a humble abode hidden between the mountains and the river and I settled in it. I knew I NEEDED to BRING BEAUTY into my life. That, in itself, would do a lot of the cleaning, healing, and rebirthing I so desperately needed.
I didn´t buy new clothes, furniture, or objects for decoration. I went back to the basics: a clean home which I cleansed with daily doses of fresh air, incense, and essential oils; a well tended garden from which I could take flowers to decorate my place (and myself); a silent, peaceful, bulshit-free environment where ONLY LOVE AND BEAUTY could enter. I filtered my thoughts, feelings, interactions with my inner and exterior world; I made sure nothing negative would reign in my space. No, sir, not on my watch.
I´ve moved out, lived in Morocco and Indonesia ever since. I´ve spent time in hotel rooms around the globe. Yet, my CULT OF BEAUTY remains untouched.
Bringing BEAUTY in all its forms into my life has changed the whole game. I no longer participate in negative, trashing, destructive scenarios; I make sure my environments are clean, fresh, beautified with whatever is available. I´ve discovered BEAUTY is healing and realized we eventually become a mirror of the things and people we surround ourselves with. If I catch myself into downwards/destructive mode, I catch myself up and breathe – staring at the trees, the sky, anything beautiful.
Add BEAUTY into your home, work space, internal and external life. Go for simplicity; filter the thoughts, things, and people you wish to bring into your life. DECORATE your LIFE in an uplifting, inspiring, manner. Beauty attracts beauty, the same way joy attracts joy, and gratitude attracts abundance.
YOU are BEAUTIFUL – let your dance, and life, be a reflection of that fact.
Enjoy this bonus video I´ve produced for YOU:
*Share your own LIFE HACKS in the comments to this post – I´d love to hear from you and the things that make your life happier.
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As a dancer, a choreographer, an author, and a creator who is constantly pushing boundaries and producing out of the box, I´ve been through it on endless occasions.
As a human being who thrives to continuous growth, I know how it feels.
That – mother f”#$%&r – state of “in between”, when you´re not where you want to be yet but you´re also not where you were; the “no man´s land” where you feel you´re adrift, having started the journey without knowing if you´ll arrive to your destination.
That space between your old self and your new self, your goal and the achievement of your goal, the middle point in your Evolution Journey – grey, moldy, blurred – is annoying. If you´re impatient, like me, the irritation gets exponentially multiplied. You´re working passionately but you don´t see the results. Not yet. You ask when? You keep on working, pushing, focusing. And still no results. Damn it!
You´ll eventually reach a crossroads: you either drive yourself crazy with impatience and tension (“Why, why, why aren´t the results showing?”), you quit (“This isn´t working, I´ll never get where I want to be; why am I doing all this work, anyway?”), or you keep on moving forward while surrendering, trusting life, knowing the fruits of the seeds you´re planting will show in their own natural time.
It can be hard, really hard, but there´s no escape. Like in many other things in life, you´ll have to make a choice: go nuts, quit, or keep going while trusting life and its timing. Although I´ve chosen each of the three options, on different occasions, I now know which is the wisest. And you know IT, too.