Believe you deserve to be happy

Art by Anna Kapustenko.jpg“The more I observe myself, and others, the more I find universal patterns, wounds and dreams. We are unique in many ways – we´re also astonishingly similar.

One of our common wounds is the sense of UNWORTHINESS. We believe we´re not worthy of happiness.

We don´t actually say it: I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Nope. That would be easy to identify – we would notice the nonsense, the suicidal impulse and our ego would lose the battle.

We don´t say out loud – we just believe in it, and act accordingly, which is more than enough to screw us up.

Have you caught yourself feeling guilty when you´re happy? I have.

“Too happy for my own good”, I´ll whisper, fearful of what will come.

We set a Happiness Limit, seasoned with needless obstacles and drama, and we´re terrified of going beyond it. It´s a ceiling we build for ourselves – one we refuse to surpass. As if by doing it we would be defying the Gods and they would punish us as a consequence.zeus.gif

-I´m feeling too happy. Should I be worried?

Worried about what, exactly? That´s the golden question.

In grew up with amazing, yet pessimistic, parents who believe life is hard. If you ask me how I define life, in one word, I´ll answer “Adventure” without blinking. If you ask my parents, they won´t blink – we have than in common-, but they´ll start describing my concept of hell. Are you ready? Take a deep breath and dive.

Life is:

A burden;


Sacrifice and pain;

Hard work;


A series of unfortunate events nobody can, or will want to, avoid.

Their parents carried it too – the pessimistic, unworthiness, self-sabotaging bug. It gets into your genes  – it´s heritage passed on from generation to generation like blue eyes, high cholesterol or crooked noses.

Believing we don´t deserve to be happy – not beyond a comfortable, usually mediocre,  level we have set for ourselves – is an invisible trap most of us fall into. We´d rather be unhappy – remain on familiar ground, even if that ground is a mud pond infested with alligators and foul smelling frogs – than risking punishment for being happy beyond our measure. Our measure – take that in.

In theory, we want it. We may say we deserve it, write in notebooks, sing and preach. But, when we check under the carpet, we find the (ugly) truth: we fear our own greatness; we avoid annoying the gods with our arrogance, our ambition, our childish belief that the garden of heaven can exist here, right now, on the palm of our hands.

I´ve learned it the hard way: we cannot be happy if we keep feeding the belief we´re unworthy of it.  We have to grow up, literally, by paying a visit to the monster under the bed. It may be an imaginary monster but we act as it is real.

Imaginary monsters rule our lives.

Dare to go into the dark room, the one your father warned you against, and look under the bed. Don´t think too much. Just do it. Get on your knees, look.

The only thing you´ll find down there is dust. Dust, my friend. Bloody, fucking, ridiculous dust. Grab it and put it where it belongs (you know where).

You – we – deserve to be happy. It´s not a crime to experience life at its fullest.

If we´re able to receive unconceivable amounts of pain, and disappointment, we´re also able to receive unlimited happiness and pleasant surprises.

We were born to reJOYce, not to be punished.”

Excerpt from chapter of a book I´m currently writing.



Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School February Agenda + Juicy NEWS

January Magic in Joana Saahirah s Online Dance School

February is arriving and with it comes a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S month of classes and special events at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School!

This month, we´ll have special promotions, a contest and a webinar, aside from NEW Online, live & recorded, Courses that will rock your world.

Stay tuned for more news on our February events

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lotus_10205_lgEgyptian Dance Nuggets – Polish your Technique (Level 1)

Suitable for every level, from beginner to advanced

Egyptian Dance Nuggets – Polish your Technique (Level 1) is a training most of our students have been asking for since we opened our school. Get ready to polish & improve your technique by going deeper into it. Each class will feature a SPECIFIC MOVEMENT from the wide range of vocabulary in Egyptian Oriental Dance. We´ll cover the traditional, & most used, vocabulary in Egyptian Dance using feet, legs, hips, torso, arms, hands, shoulders & head. Exercises & simple combos focusing in specific movements combined with musicality, feeling & creativity will be offered in each class.

❤ Follow the link for more information:

Joana Saahirah Majance Choreography Online Training

lotus_10205_lgJoana Saahirah Majance (Entrance on Stage) Choreography

Suitable for Intermediate & Advanced levels

Welcome to Joana Saahirah Majance (Entrance on Stage) Choreography, a ground breaking piece that gathers authentic Egyptian Style, as Joana has recover it in many years of career in Egypt, Classic & Modern influences. The music used is Joana Around the World, an original musical piece composed for Joana´s show, in Cairo, by Hossam Shaker. You´ll learn the choreography, with inner & outer space exploration, musicality, feeling & an incredible richness of Classic & Modern Egyptian Dance plus Folkloric styles included in the choreography. Be a part of Raks My World Documentary by Joana Saahirah!

❤ Follow the link for more information:

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lotus_10205_lgArms & Hands in Egyptian Dance – Romantic Choreography

Suitable for Intermediate Level

This is the continuation – or culmination – of our Training “Arms & Hands in Egyptian Dance” available at our school. In the first training, we focused on Arms & Hands Technique – basic vocabulary, layering, poses & uses. In this NEW Training, we´ll apply what we´ve learned in a Romantic Choreography that will blow your mind and open your heart. While you learn the choreography, you´ll develop the following skills:

1. Arms & Hands Technique.

2. Coordination.

3. Self-expression.

4. Emotional openness.

5. Interpretation

6. Tarab.

❤ Follow the link for more information:

lotus_10205_lgTabla Solo Creative Discovery – Level 1

Suitable for every level, from beginner to advanced

WARNING #1: this is not your regular bellydance tabla solo. WARNING #2: this is more than a tabla solo choreography – this is a Creative Discovery. Are you ready to awaken your juices and take your dance, & self-expression, to a higher level?

Follow the link for more information:

lotus_10205_lgVisit our school to check our RECORDED ONLINE COURSES (unlimited access to the class recordings and bonus material – music, articles, videos – offered with every course):


Joana Saahirah Majance (Entrance on Stage) Choreography – Online Special Training

Joana Saahirah Majance Choreography Online TrainingWelcome to Joana Saahirah Majance (Entrance on Stage) Choreography Online Training.

You´ll learn a ground breaking piece that gathers authentic Egyptian Style, as Joana has recover it in many years of career in Egypt, Classic & Modern influences.

The music used in this Training is Joana Around the World, an original musical piece composed for Joana´s show, in Egypt, by Hossam Shaker. You´ll learn the choreography, with inner & outer space exploration, musicality, feeling & an incredible richness of Classic & Modern Egyptian Dance plus Folkloric styles included in the choreography.

Raks My World 2018Also: you´ll be able to be featured in Raks My World Documentary by Joana Saahirah, if you want to.

All you have to do is to film yourself, by the end of the training, doing the choreography you´ve learned and send us the video. You may also want to include your answer to the question: WHAT IS EGYPTIAN DANCE? and send us the video, as well. High quality videos are encouraged. The best dance pieces, as well as the best answers to the question “What is Egyptian Dance?” will be included in the documentary.

Follow the link for more information on this special Training:

Important note: our online courses are live (they happen, at the scheduled day & time, face to face with the students who are invited to share their questions with the teacher, via chatbox, during the class) and recorded.

Once a live class has happened, its recording remains available in the VIDEOS section of our school. Once you subscribe to a class, or class package, you´ll have access to the class recordings, and the bonus material offered with them, for unlimited time.

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Joana Saahirah´s Baladi Improvisation in Canada

Oh, what fun! 

The performance – fully improvised Baladi –  you see in this video happened in Quebec, Canada, at the end of a long, wonderful & exhausting USA & Canada Tour.

I was sick – under heavy medication – but trying to convince myself I was at the top of my game. Somehow, I pulled it off. 

The video´s sound is not 100% synchronized with the movement; cameras cannot capture the energy exchanged during a performance. But, hey, it´s the best we´ve got. For now, at least.


Quebec Official Poster November 2017

The world owes you nothing

Working on one of my books. One word on a never ending loop: coffee – coffee – coffee.

Here´s something the Crazy Brigade – artists, writers, freelancers, dreamers who turn ideas into deeds – is fully aware of: nothing is guaranteed; nobody will pat you on the back – not forever, anyway -; circumstances change – today you´re the king and tomorrow you´re the beggar; there´s no 1+1=2 in life. Infallible equations, logic, and predictable outcomes work in math, not in life.

Instead of getting furious at life – you know what happens when you throw rocks at a wall, don´t you? – , claiming the world is evil and it doesn´t SEE YOU, I propose you roll with it while changing it, lovingly, with your actions.

Dance The Dance using your own steps.

Roll with the punches using your own fists.

Be, and do, your best with less expectations. Use your resources. Give it all you´ve got for the fun of it. Be on fire. BE FIRE. If a rock is everything you have at your disposal, turn it into a diamond. Alchemists have been doing it for centuries.

Show up for what you wish, do your part, be present. But never, ever, presume something is owed to you.

Repeat after me: Life owes me nothing. When you say it out loud, there´s a weight immediately off your shoulders:

-Ah… – A sigh of relief rises from your gut.

Dealing with rejection, falls & failures, frustration and injustice – or what we consider an injustice – is an integral part of this human experience. And being human is hard – the toughest job I can think of.

When you accept the premise – Life owes me nothing -, everything you get is a gift, a bonus, a blessing you didn´t see coming, a reason to smile. Pleasant, or unpleasant, results are overrated – just two sides of the same coin, the condition for being an active player in this game without rules.

See it as an Adventure – you fall so you can rise higher; something is taken away from you so you can earn something better; you are rejected so a more interesting thing, or person, can come into your life.

From the moment you assume life owes you nothing, you´re a chronic winner instead of a chronic blaming finger. Nothing will have the power to pull you off your center. 

Stop asking: what does the world owe me?

The real question is WHAT DO YOU OWE THE WORLD?”


Excerpt from one of the books I´m currently working on.


Happy week, beautiful people!

January Magic in Joana Saahirah s Online Dance SchoolJoana Saahirah´s Online Dance School wishes all our students, and followers, an amazing week.

May this be a time of peace (starting within), passionate drive, love, health and dreams come true. Make IT happen. Believe in yourself & work to turn wishes into reality. Feel welcome to join us at one of our live, & recorded, courses happening this week:

How to choreograph YOUR Baladi Awadi by Joana Saahirah Online Dance School 2*How to choreograph your Baladi Awadi

Follow the link:

Arms & Hands in Egyptian Dance NEW Course by Joana Saahirah Dance School.jpg

*Arms & Hands in Egyptian Dance

Follow the link:


*Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening – Level 3

Follow the link:


*Shimmy Wonderland – Level 3

Follow the link:

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*Also check our immense, & delicious, variety of RECORDED COURSES by visiting our school.

Follow the link:

*IMPORTANT NOTE: all our online courses are live and recorded.

Even if you miss one, or more, live classes, you´ll have access to the class full recording for unlimited time. You´ll be able to watch, and review, each class in your own time and pace. Bonus material – music, videos, articles & other unexpected gifts – are offered with each Course.


The Essentials + Egyptian Dance (funky) Levels

Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School Magic.jpg
There are many dimensions, or levels, in Egyptian Dance:
1. The exotic striptease level – the lowest.
2. The Gym “wanna lose some weight & shame your hips for fun?” level.
3. The pretensious “bellydance” class which is not more than level 2 advertised as dance.
4. The Dance School level – technically basic but with good intentions.
5. The Dance Festival level – choreography & competition oriented; technically more developed.
6. The professional wanna be level.
7. The professional level divided in two cathegories:
7.1. The Diva-Competition-Commercial Addict who moves to be #1, whatever that means, earn applause and general acceptance.
The Artist who moves (from her/his soul) because she/he loves it.
8. Egyptian Dance as an Art Form combined with Self-Knowledge & Empowerment – the highest level.
If you wish to learn this dance as an Art form, and a way to empower yourself in dance, and in life, there are ESSENTIALS you cannot escape, independently of how long you´ve been involved in this dance field.
I´m sharing the main courses, available at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School, I know  for a fact will help you get to that rare, & precious, level 6.
Here they are:​
Egyptian Dance ABC & Creative Awakening
Arms & Hands in Egyptian Dance happens this month
Arms & Hands in Egyptian Dance
REMINDER: there´s a 15% discount on all our courses valid only until tomorrow. Take advantage of it.
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Follow the link to visit our School ❤ :

So in love am I (Barking to the Choir)


For me, everything is an emotional experience. If not, I´m not interest.

Books, too, have to move me: my head, my heart, my soul, my blessed limbs. No wonder I lose interest in perfectly crafted books by perfectly respected authors; no wonder I fall in love with the most unexpected authors and stories.

I´m reading several books, simultaneously, as usual:

One book about the craft of Writing.

Two children´s books.

A novel.

“Barking to the Choir”. This one has punched me in the stomach, ravished my soul (pretty dramatic, eh?) and made me gasp for air. I often have to stop reading, in the middle of a phrase; close the book, take a deep breath and cry. Yes, you read it well: I stop reading so I can cry, an uncontrollable reaction to what I´ve just read.

It´s mortifying. I´m Portuguese, raised by stoic peasant parents, for God´s sake! – we don´t cry in the street, holding books and hearts in our hands. Mind you: these are not ellaborate expressions I´m using to make the book appealing. These are real experiences I´m going through while reading the book.

They say real life is way more fascinating than fiction and they´re totally right.

“Barking to the Choir” was recommended by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the famous “Eat, Pray, Love”, on Instagram (did I mention I´m in love with Instagram?). I´m going to start following all her reading suggestions.

Go brag that book.


Make friends with The Father

10394782_1000936299919139_8857878506426207838_n.jpgInspiration strikes when we least expect it – we just have to pay attention and catch the falling star before it fades away.

Yesterday, Saturn dropped by while I was having coffee with a friend. We didn´t set out to speak about him but he´s not the kind of guy who waits for an invitation – he shows up when he has to. 

412ee3099bec368ddf2d58b3fc601f97--funny-valentine-vintage-valentines.jpgHe´s the policeman, or party pooper, who erupts in the middle of a gathering to warn the light minded folks they must turn the music volume down, stop drinking and go to bed:

-You got work to do tomorrow, you morons!

Party guests look at the floor. The clink of the cups, overflowing with champagne, stops. Someone mumbles “damn” – weak, resigned, with bad breath.

This is how he shows up: unannounced, unwelcome, necessary.

He´s the Father, the Master Teacher, the echo that comes back to haunt us, the invisible boomerang we rarely want to acknowledge. He´s Cronos – the Lord of Time -, Karma, Limits, Responsibility and Wisdom earned from personal experience. The fun stuff.

He´s the voice that warns you against the possibility of failure – he´s also the voice that tells you “if you put your mind to it, and work with all your might, you´ll get there.”

He´s our fears – he´s also the loving parent who doesn´t want his kids to get messed up by falling into life´s crooked corners. 

If you cannot beat them, join themBad losers, like me, choose their opponents wisely. And Saturn is not an opponent I can bring down. So I befriend him:

I listen to his warnings – I consider them and create safety nets that will allow me to succeed, or fall, with damage I can recover from. I act against him, while carrying him on my back; I question him, have intimate chats with him, invoke his help – often disguised as opposition. I allow his ambition to drag me up the mountain.

Muscles don´t get strong without struggle. You gotta push, push, push – childbirth, remember? – and sacrifice for what you want to bring to life.

He knows I´m a hard worker, a warrior, someone who has never had a single penny handed to her. I mean business and he delivers the candy as a reward.

We meet on the ring – he punches me and I punch him harder. It´s a  beautiful thing to watch: a love-hate relationship. We cannot live with each other; we cannot live without each other.

-You cannot do it. – He teases me. – I´ll break your bones.

You, bitch! I can do it. I´ve done it before. 

-Nope. Not this time. You cannot do it, I´m telling ya´.

-You´ll see.

– Get real. Who the fE”R#$%R& do you think you are?

-You´re so common. Drop the clichés, asshole.

As my friend Susana put it, my Saturn is a pissed off, badass, black woman from the Bronx. 

He, or she, is the frenemy – the jerk who pulls your wrong strings so badly – you´re a loser; you´re not talented, good, worthy enough – you have no other choice but to prove him wrong.

When the Perfectionist Whisper  – one of Saturn´s many masks – comes by, I kick it to the curb by doing the opposite he tells me I´m going to do.

Example: I was terrified by the idea of writing a text about Saturn. And here I am, doing it. Perhaps shitty, perhaps not. Who has the authority to tell? 

The fact is I sat down and made it. I´m ahead of everyone who didn´t do it. Critics will criticize – doers will, eventually, write shitty texts. So, what?

I turned an idea into a deed, despite the limits, real or imaginary, that bind me:  self-confidence, time, talent and knowledge. Victory is here, in the done deed, as far as I´m concerned.

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We tend to wait until doubt, and fear, disappear so we can move ahead. What if they never go away? Will you keep waiting?

Joining forces with your doubts and moving forward, with your fear checked in your luggage, is probably a better strategy.

Results are overrated while doing is shamefully underrated. Maybe because it´s not a glamorous thing to watch. And I agree: it´s not.

Who wants to see a dishevelled writer struggling with a phrase – doing, and redoing, it – like a maniac, at 4 o´clock in the morning, in his pajamas?

We want the lotus flower but few of us are willing to dip our hands in the mud.

Hint: no mud, no lotus.

See it as a collaboration with our shadow. 

When I show up, for whatever I set myself to do, and face the storms with arms wide open, perseverance and an almost absurd stubbornness (I ain´t quitting, bitch!), Saturn compensates me.

It all comes down to courage. The courage to be human – less than ideal, way less than “perfect”, whatever perfect means to each one of us. The courage to see how limited, and unlimited, we are as creators. Creators of specific work; creators of our own life.

We´re afraid of facing our limits – we´re even more afraid of facing our unlimited potential. We´re terrified of our own Greatness and the responsibility attached to it.

Here´s something my (less than) friendly meetings with Saturn have taught me: once you accept to face your limits, and work against them, you start to go beyond them. You become a wall breaker. Those broken walls will take you to other walls. From wall to wall- keep breaking them -, the sculptor reveals his Masterpiece.

For the record:

Having great ideas doesn´t make you an artist; thinking about happiness doesn´t make you a happy person; knowledge is not wisdom.

One of the keys to long lasting happiness, or Happiness as a default mode, is the guts to make peace with Saturn, our Great Father, the Asshole who tells you can´t so you can get enraged and prove him wrong.

Face the bull – eye to eye.

Pay the bill.

Take responsibility for your life.

Work with, or against, walls.

Accept time, and the wisdom to work with(in/out) it, as a natural part of life.

Dare to turn dreams into reality, even if reality falls short (it often does) or turns out to be the opposite you imagined.

Learn patience, resilience, persistence, humbleness & unshakeable self-confidence.

Look at what you´ve created and be proud, even if what you created looks deformed, small, beneath the ideal you carried around for so long.

Embrace the hidden part of the iceberg – the work nobody sees but ultimately allows you to shine on the surface.

Accept the difference between the world of IDEAS and MATTER. Ideas are limitless – matter isn´t. Ideas make you feel like Einstein – matter makes you feel human. As I often say: we´re all geniuses in our heads.  It´s the DOING, turning wishes into deeds, that reveal our true potential and build our character. 

Hug the father. There´s Light on the other side of fear.



It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 by Theodore Roosevelt