Gathering your bearings (Welcome, 2019!)

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Whenever I prepare to launch a new year, I look back and focus on the things I´m most GRATEFUL for in the year that´s coming to an end. I see it as preparing the ground for new, better, more loving fruits.

If we start a new year with resentments, anger, and negative vibes, those are the seeds we´re planting in the upcoming days and months. Why would we plant rotten seeds in a ground that we hope will bear delicious fruits? That, as many other questions, is a part of our human idiosyncrasies (let´s face it: we´re batshit crazy we don´t make sense, most of the time).

Instead of counting problems – or challenges, as I prefer to call them -, I count my blessings and I SUGGEST YOU DO THE SAME.

  • Here´s a sample of my personal 2018 GRATITUDE LIST – I hope it inspires you to grab a paper and a pen and create your own.

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  1. I´m grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones.
  2. I´m grateful for having found the Love of my Life, the man of my dreams; grateful for our love, our evolution; the blooming of our relationship.
  3. I´m grateful for the peace inside and around me.
  4. I´m grateful for the success and growth of Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School, one of the most exciting things I´ve ever done professionally, and for the fact that it has educated and empowered many fabulous women from around the world.
  5. I´m grateful for the amazing trips I´ve made, the first I didn´t take exclusively for work  – Morocco, Bali, Malaysia, East-Timor, Holland and more.
  6. I´m grateful for having a safe ceiling upon my head, food on the table, and people who love me and care for me at arm’s length.
  7. I´m grateful for the NEW DREAMS that were born and old ones which turned into reality.
  8. I´m grateful for my NEW BOOK – “Behind the Curtain” – which is about to come out.
  9. I´m grateful for the inspiration, the creativity, the faith, and the passion in my life.
  10. I´m grateful for having survived natural catastrophes, painful challenges, and tests.
  11. I´m grateful for the sky, the oxygen, and all the – visible and invisible – blessings that surround me on a daily basis.
  12. I´m grateful for my growth as an Artist and, mostly, as a Human Being.
  13. I´m grateful for BEING ALIVE.

Let the NEW YEAR & the MAGIC begin…

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God laughs at our Plans

When I moved to Bali, Indonesia, I thought I’d start a new, local, dance project and settle into the Asian way of living. I also had a personal dream, one I doubted would come true
The thing is I´ve always dreamed my own dream, did my own thing, followed nothing except the guidance of my own soul.
I now look at the last months and realize how little we know and how generous, and sometimes brutal, life can be.
My initial plan went down the drain, giving place to another plan, one I was almost afraid to wish for – finding true love, launching myself into creative adventures that make my adrenaline juices flow, getting into a new phase of my life that pushes me to drop my old, outdated, identity behind.
Like a snake, I shed my old skin. It hurts a little and it’s damned scary but there’s no way back 🌟When Love knocks on your door, you must receive it with open arms. And so I do.
Life can be a b….; it can also be a generous Mother. May we open our hearts and receive its gifts.
Photo: me, bathing in a waterfall in Bali 🌞, captured by the eyes of my beloved man.
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The Ballroom (Shall We Dance?)

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A new morning, fresh and generously damp, is upon Bali. Another big celebration is keeping the streets empty and the temples beaming with colors, life, rituals performed for so long time itself has forgotten when they´ve started.

I´ve arrived two days ago, after traveling for two days, and I haven´t stopped a second. Not physically, not mentally, certainly not emotionally. Much less spirituality.

Part of me is scared – our brains don´t like insecurity, we don´t like insecurity, the world tells us we shouldn´t like insecurity. Not knowing. Stepping on foreign ground – truly foreign, wild. Why would someone put her/himself through that?

They wouldn´t (most people don´t), unless they´re aware Life´s too short for small minds, small dreams, small hearts.

This is perhaps what it feels to be alive – out of the comfort zone, raw & open, our chest courageously open towards the wilderness: a mix of adrenaline, fear, excitement, moments of “why do I keep putting myself in these pickles?!” with moments of “Oh, God! I love myself and my life so much. I´m proud of myself for growing continuously”.

Moving to a faraway, exotic, country isn´t new to me. I´ve lived, and worked, in Spain, Lebanon, and Egypt. I´ve also traveled the world, consistently, for work in the last 5 years, dealing with people from varied cultures, educational backgrounds, perspectives.

None of that protects me from being human. Each adventure is new – the 40th leap of faith is as scary as the 1st. The risk of getting disappointed, hurt, open to failure and success; the possibility of not being able to adapt, love, engage; the possibilities for disaster and bliss are there, fresh out of the oven, as they were the first time we went out of our comfortable zone. 

I don´t think everybody should follow their dreams, the same way I don´t think everybody should avoid television, meat, gossip, self-hatred; a wide set of stuff I dislike.

I don´t even think everybody should live their fullest, brightest, life.

I do think everybody´s free to CHOOSE what they wish to do. Or not to do. Even if that means they´ll choose apathy, cowardice, fear, laziness, remaining in their comfort zone, not going for what they love, not fulfilling their purpose.

This is our biggest blessing and/or our doom: FREE WILL. WE GET TO CHOOSE who we want to be and how our lives are going to unfold. 

At our pioneering Online Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love”, I taught a module on Co-creation. In that module, I called Life our biggest, and most faithful, “Dance Partner”. And that´s how I see it: 

We´re all in a ballroom. Our lives are handing their hand to us, inviting us to dance. We check the dance floor – wet, slippery, dangerous; with holes that lead God knows where, weird corners, dark spots we cannot see in detail. 

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Most of us will bow our head and decline Life´s Invitation:

-Nah! I´ll pass. My feet are hurting.

Some, perhaps the crazy ones, will say yes with shaking legs; they´ll allow Life to take them to the dance floor. They´ll be lead and they´ll lead.

That´s the thing about accepting Life´s invitation: WE GET TO LEAD AS MUCH AS WE ARE LEAD.

The ones who stay on the sideways, complaining about their feet, are not lead and are certainly not leading. They´re stuck to the ballroom walls, watching Life go by, whirling-whirling-whirling with the ones who don´t mind falling, or breaking a leg thanks to the slippery floor. They´ll criticize them for falling, for making mistakes, for daring:

-Ah, how do they dare!

They´ll probably not know despair, the fear of the unknown, the risks; they´ll also not know what it means to be alive. Fully, unsafely, passionately alive.

Sooner than later, they´ll watch as their feet get stuck to the floor, their muscles become frozen, and their brains dead before time.

Yes, it´s a choice. Living or dying before time. Watching life go by or DANCING WITH IT – ALLOWING IT TO LEAD YOU WHILE LEADING IT YOURSELF. Wherever you end up, in this case, will be a good place. The Dance always takes you where you´re supposed to be.

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One of the many religious celebrations that parade in the streets of Bali on a practically daily basis.

 

“I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.
The great affair is to move.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The Big Move (Joana Saahirah´s NEW life in Bali, Indonesia)

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In Bali, two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand

Yet another rEvolution in my life & career – I´m moving to Bali, Indonesia, this June.

I fell in love with Bali two years ago, on my way to work in New Zealand (with the lovely Candice Frankland) and, since then, my mind was set upon it.

Big life changes are often scary. I know the fear because I´ve been through it many times, never allowing it to stop me.

-What´s the big deal? I would…(fill the gap with your dream)…but I…(fill the gap with your excuse).

“I would… if.” – I´d be a millionaire if I earned a buck every time I hear this.

The ones who actually go after their dreams – that may, or not, include moving to a faraway, exotic, country – are fully aware of the gigantic enterprise they have ahead. They´re also aware of the excuses – always easy to find -, the fears, the possibility of failure and, what can be even scarier, the possibility of success.

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In my life, a short but intense existence that already feels like a 200 years old adventure, I´ve done what everybody told me was impossible. First, in Egypt; then, around the world; and then, inside myself. It seems like proving people wrong has been my life mission.

I didn´t grow up in a particularly supportive environment, quite the opposite. I love my parents, and I know they do the best they can, but what they gave me, and my sister, while we were growing up was mostly negative critics, demands, the claim that we didn´t deserve much in life, and we´d never become financially abundant because, and I quote, “only dishonest people make money”; they made a point on making us feel we weren´t special. And we couldn´t dream big.

Whenever we brought A grades home, which was always, my mum would dismiss it as “nothing more than your obligation”.

I don´t remember them patting us on the back, or congratulating us for something we´ve done. Ever. At least not in our presence. Whatever we tried to do, it was never good enough.

They´d been raised in austere, poor, emotionally empty homes and that´s how they´ve raised us. Despite that, I made – keep making –  an effort to give myself what I didn´t receive in my childhood: love, sense of worth, self-confidence, a new set of beliefs about life.

The reason I´m telling you this is to tell YOU, too, independently of your circumstances, CAN grow, reeducate yourself, start LOVING yourself to the point of believing you can materialize any dream you commit to.

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I´ve ventured into different kinds of wilderness, only to discover most of the danger is within us, & I´ve gone beyond my limits, never setting for mediocrity, comfortable zones, less than what I know deserve. None of this makes me a hero – it just proves every human being has the ability to dream & give their best shot at the materialization of that dream.

For me, failure is not failing to arrive where you wish to go; failure is not even trying, out of arrogance-cowardice-weakness, joining the Haters Crusade as a consequence.

“Do what you preach; let your words reflect who you are.”

If I teach courage, self-confidence, uniqueness, & the strength to DARE GREATLY, I have to set an example. That´s the most important part of being a Teacher.

You have to live what you teach.

Time has arrived to evolve & trust life, some more.

I can do it. YOU can do it.

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Ready to take off, keep growing & sharing the light with the world.

 

NEW Online Course “Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening – Level 4 (Upper Body)

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Life, as Egyptian Dance, is a dynamic adventure.

We may plan, try to control, & understand it, but Life always wins over our private agendas.

Our NEW course – Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening – Level 4 (Upper Body) – was not in my plans, at least not for now, but it started haunting me, demanding to be heard, created, shared. And I followed The Call, as I always do.

Once I put my hands into it, I realized this was the missing element in Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School 1-year anniversary.

Why?

Continue reading.

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The Upper Body, the core of this Course, is the place that carries OUR HEART.

The Lower body represents our connection to the earth, the instinct, the moon, the Mother. The Upper body represents our connection to the sky, the spirit, the sun, the Father.

I suddenly realized this course made perfect sense – it had to happen in the month when our school celebrates its first year of existence. We stand by Unity, Wholeness, bringing the pieces – body, mind, heart, & soul – together. 

Of course, this course has to happen!

 

What will you find in this online – live & recorded – course?

  1. You´ll have access to 6 live classes – scheduled in our school – which will also be recorded. If you miss the live classes, you´ll have access to the correspondent class recordings for at least 6 months after the live classes have taken place.
  2. You´ll receive TECHNIQUE, & DANCE COMBOS focused on the UPPER BODY which is also one of the centers of Egyptian Dance, & its connection with the LOWER BODY technique. Torso, chest, shoulders, head, arms & hands will be at the forefront of this course.
  3. You´ll receive BONUS MATERIAL that goes beyond the regular “bellydance” learning resources.
  4. You´ll receive the tools, & empowerment, to explore your CREATIVITY & IDENTITY.
  5. You´ll be able to enjoy a PROMOTIONAL/LAUNCHING PRICE ($65) valid until the 22th May 2018. After that date, the course will remain available for its original price ($79).
  6. If you join us for the first live class, and you feel this course is not for you, you can ask for a FULL REFUND on that same day and I assure you´ll have your request satisfied. 

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How can you subscribe & take full advantage of the promotional/launching price?

  1. Log into your Powhow´s account. If you don´t have an account, create one (all you need is your email & a password you create on the spot).
  2. Go to the SEARCH BOX and type Egyptian Dance ABC Level 4 or follow the link: http://www.powhow.com/packages/joana-saahirahs-dance-studio/egyptian-dance-abc-creative-awakening-level-4-upper-body
  3. The system will lead you from that point on.

Let´s rock!

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Old veggies served at a 5 star Moroccan restaurant? I don´t think so.

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The night was young and we, me and a group of friends, were ready to rock Marrakech.

We left our riad, a building with fresh corners, a courtyard, and birds which drank directly from our hands, hidden in the labyrinth of the old medina, towards the famous Jemaa el Fna.

Jemaa el Fna is that way, that way, that way! – Strangers would yell at us, pointing in the wrong direction. Invariably.

Morocco was new to me and, yet, it wasn´t. The Arabic Culture, the North of Africa, the Chaos & the Colorful Mysteries of Life have been the core of my life for too long. Normality, if it exists, is exotic to me. Madness & adventure aren´t.

We settled for dinner at a 5 star restaurant, half lit, warm, pretentious. Girls dressed as “bellydancers” were swirling around, shaking their tired, apathetic hips in our direction.

I ordered my usual “vegetarian tagine”. What I received was a plate – steaming & depressed – of old, heated, over-salted veggies. 

-Hey, sir. Can you please come here? – I called one of the waiters. 

-Yes, miss. – He approached our table, pulling his “tarboush” towards his legs.

-This plate is unacceptable. You´re cute, the restaurant is gorgeous, but these over-priced veggies are uneatable. They´re old, heated, and over-salted. Take them back, please.

My friends were surprised. The waiter was surprised. I think the “bellydancers” were surprised. I wasn´t.

Whenever I feel disrespected, I say it so. Respectfully, but assertively.

I was being overcharged for a plate of uneatable vegetables and there was no way I´d shut up – “don´t make waves, girl; don´t make waves! – mamma used to say” – and eat something that hadn´t been properly prepared.

I wasn´t upset. In fact, I joked with the waiter the whole evening; I accepted an apology dessert, and I laughed my heart out. But I didn´t pay for that tagine and I certainly didn´t eat it.

Self-respect is a sign of SELF-LOVE. Without SELF-LOVE there´s no love. No love for others, no love for what you do. No love at all. Period. Love, and respect, start with ourselves.

Whenever you´re served an old, heated, over-salted plate of veggies, remember to set the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable for you, and don´t be afraid to make yourself respected.

It´s not a question of creating conflict, or being mean to others; it´s a question of justice, clarity, and evolution. For you. For everybody.

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P.S: This was the only time I was served a lousy plate of food in Morocco.

Moroccan gastronomy is amazing and, if you´re a foodie, like me, you should try it.

 

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Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

 

My Moroccan Journey

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A whole month of work, discovery, new dreams, and expansion -on a personal and professional level – in Morocco has come to an end but, somehow, it feels like it has just started.

I´ve rejected work proposals – not everything that glitters is gold -, I rethought my goals, studied business and marketing (way out of my comfort zone) and dared to expand, on a romantic/intimate level, in ways I´ve never done before.

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Guts, honesty and an open heart always take the prize, at the end of the day. And, I, dear friends, am proud of myself. This may well be the most precious gift we can give to ourselves: loving and being proud of who we are.

 

I´m aware of the value of time, focus, purpose, truthfulness – life. Therefore, my daily decisions, the big and the small ones, are shaped by that appreciation.

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I refuse to do things I dislike, unless they´re an obligation I cannot escape (doctor´s appointments, taxes, the logistics of ordinary life), I only work in what I love and with the people I respect; I choose my intimate circle carefully and I try – try* – to take care of myself, body, mind, heart and soul. IMG_20180324_100509_041.jpg

My work trips around the world are part of a package I call MY DREAM LIFE, the existence I was born to lead. They bring me joy, growth, discovery, the opportunity to share all I´ve been learning in my career, and life (they´re never apart),  and the possibility to find my nest, a place I can call home.

Morocco surprised me and it didn´t surprise me at all. A huge part of the country was familiar to me: the language, the mentality, the mix between the Arabic and the African cultures, the rhythm of life, the air. Another side, one I underestimated, astonished me. I had no idea Morocco was so peculiar, so rich in its colorful palette of subcultures, dialects, traditions, music, and dance; I didn´t know you could eat so well, and so much!, there. I had no idea I´d fall in love with the country, despite the exhaustion it can provoke.

IMG_20180311_221501_792.jpgWhen compared to Egypt, and it was impossible for me not to compare it after having lived in Egypt for so long, Morocco is a walk in the park. Even the old medina of Marrakech, a living hell for many tourists, is paradise when compared with the chaos, the noise, the crowds, the overstimulation, the privacy invasion – or privacy non-existence -, the sexual harassment and speed of Cairo. I felt relaxed in the midst of Marrakech´s messy, labyrinthic streets; the harassment of men was mild, almost invisible, when compared with the Egyptian world I (still) carry within.

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I could write many posts on Morocco, and all the amazing things I´ve done, and learned, there but time limitation, and priorities, speak louder. What I can say, for the record, is GO.

Go there. Go anywhere your soul calls for.

Traveling, for work or for leisure, is a blessing, a university degree, a window that keeps you from going stale. Water, as humans, was made to move. So, move!

 

Through The Other, the foreigner, the one we often don´t understand, we discover ourselves.

Through Traveling, an active dip into a foreign culture with a minimum of prejudices blurring our sight, we discover the meaning of life.

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Through Adventure – coming face to face with values, and ways of living, which are not our own -, we discover peace of mind. Through peace of mind we discover that, despite our differences, we´re all ONE.

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Why Joana Saahirah Online Dance School is NOT for everyone

Working, and living, in Morocco for a full month inspired me in many ways.

What I want, and what I do NOT want, became even clearer; new insights – personal and professional – bloomed from the inside out, or perhaps from the outside in, and NEW dreams showed up on my (already fiery) horizon.

Integrity, passion, purpose, and clarity on what I am and stand for are a huge part of this magical influence – no surprise I had to shoot the video you can watch in this post.

Common sense would suggest I´d proclaim out loud, my NEW school – Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School – is for everyone, a democratic space where everybody fits in. But, to be honest, that´s not true. My school, as everything I do, is NOT for everyone. I´m an original, very specific, often weird dancer/teacher/choreographer/author – I´m not what I lovingly call a belly dance Zumba gym teacher”.

Rest assured, my school is not for everyone. Students must be aligned with the purpose, the vision, and the vibration I´ve instilled in this newborn baby.

Special students for a special school.

Watch the video for more information and WELCOME to Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School Wonderland IF, and only if, you belong to our Tribe.

Joana Saahirah at the balcony riad Marrakech School

Is Egyptian Dance Spiritual? NEW video by Joana Saahirah

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I seem to be drawn to polemic subjects but none of it is premeditated. The thing is Egyptian Dance – the one I got to know and love in many years of study and, then, career, in Egypt – is filled with highly inflammable material. If we want to go deep into it, we´ll bump into several elephants in rooms most people, outside of the craft, don´t even dream about.

Changing mentalities is a huge part of everything I do and, boy!, isn´t it exciting?

Spirituality in Egyptian Dance or the question “Is Egyptian Dance Spiritual?” will raise many eyebrows; others will feel offended by it; some won´t see the point of such question. For the ones who do see the point, I can only wish an amazing ride.

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Welcome to watch, comment and share the video & subscribe to my channel on youtube.

Follow the link to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brGDv_an3gg

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