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.
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.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Confession: I´m a little scared – my heart’s going BUM, BUM, BUM! – and beyond excited.
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.
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.
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.
Jet-lagged and in love with the tranquiliy that came after the tempest, here in Ubud, Bali.
The town is silent. My heart isn´t.
As I sit in the darkness, listening to little drops of rain falling from surrounding temples and pigeons mating (oh, yes, baby, love is in the air), I realize how precious and fleeting our lives are. How much we run to fulfill roles that rarely match what our souls desire and how much time, energy and focus we waste on accessories, forgetting about the Essential.
Being great at my work has been such a huge part of my life – dominating all others – that I didn´t realize the distance between success and happiness. And there is a distance.
What about being great at LIVING? That´s what I´d call success. Or happiness which is, by now, my definition of success.
Hmmm…a new horizon is born. Thank you, Bali
– Where is the reception? – I asked, at the entrance of the SPA, mesmerized by the beauty of the statues (Krishna, Saraswati, Ghanesh), the luxurious nature – shamlessly wet, green, stubbornly sensual – and the aroma of different incenses burning, simultaneously.
-I am reception. – A Balinese lady told me in her rough, yet efficient, English.
-I AM RECEPTION…- I repeated after her, in a whisper only I could hear, wondering at the lesson she´d just offered me without noticing.
What do I do when I land in Bali? I search for a full goddess body treatment in an old SPA in Ubud – that´s what I do, that´s what good daughters of Venus do.
The name of the lady who received me – claiming to be THE RECEPTION – was Katut (number 4), the fourth child of a family. I loved the sound of her name and spelled it aloud, like an excited child, learning her first words:
KA-T-U-T. The last three letters drummed on my tongue – TUT! – and made it tingle.
She took me to the massage parlour, a piece of heaven in the midst of Ubud´s hub – and I struggled not to fall asleep. I was exhausted. It took me so long to arrive to Bali: endless hours of flying and waiting between flights. In and out of consciousness…half awaken and half asleep…mixed up brain due to time zones´changes…the frontier between reality and dream vanished.
It seems to me that arriving to Bali is an Initiation the country demands from its visitors. The trip doesn´t start when you arrive to the country – it starts when you head to the country. In just 2 days, I caught 3 airplanes, 2 of which with long flights enough to review my life from birth until the present moment; I had lunch in Paris and breakfast in China. I even visited downtown Guangzhou, in China, between flights. Jet-lagged, foggy and cranky, I still roamed with the flow.
My brain endured – and eventually adapted to – 3 time zone changes.
If you successfuly arrive to Bali after this long, long trip, your brain is already stripped of any logic, sense of reality or balance. You´re literally out of your mind. And I wonder: how bad can that be? Losing our mind is not the worst thing that can happen. But that´s just me, a Madness child, talking.
-Am I awakened? – I asked, while sleeping.
-Am I dreaming? – I asked, while awakened.
I arrived to Bali not knowing which day it was. The taxi driver answered before I could ask:
-You arrived on Saraswati day.
-Ah…ok. Fair enough. Not Friday or Saturday, just Sarasvati day. Some folks know what´s important. – I smiled, a happy zombie on her way home. Another home.
Although she assured me she was using coconut oil, Katut´s hands smelled of rice. And her silence was loud.
Even stuck between dream and reality I knew: another school term had begun.
The eternal student is back to school!
More informations on Saraswati Goddess: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati
I can hardly believe it. This girl is heading to Bali & New Zealand. Amazing work and life on the way.
Time runs so fast and I´m always so busy and excited about 1000 things, simultaneously, that I can, some times, miss when something truly amazing crosses my path. Here´s two of those things: Bali & New Zealand. Work, pleasure, discovery and love. Not too shaby!
From Egypt to the World – bringing back the Soul of Egyptian Dance.
Honoured & excited ❤
Joana Saahirah & The Secrets of Egyptian Dance in Auckland, New Zealand, this July!
From Egypt to the World – bringing back the Soul of Egyptian Oriental Dance.
Event sponsored by Candice Frankland ❤
So much of what people see in my shows, workshops and lectures is the tip of a huge iceberg. Success is great but who are the ones who are willing to put up with the work, eventual sacrifices and perseverance necessary to achieve that success? I know I am; always have been. Talent + craft honouring through work = excellence. And excellence is always my goal.
Backstage preparation is a mandatory task for me. I´ve been creating long enough to know that talent must be honoured and not taken for granted.
So here I am, once more, divided into different jobs – performing, teaching, choreographing, writing my new book, getting ready to travel – and making sure my talents receive the proper work they deserve.
Only the best to the world.
New Zealand and Bali, here I come!