Video Contest

If you have a minute, I was wondering if you’d help me out. I entered Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution video competition. If I get the most amount of votes for my video, I would be able to perform a solo at the BDE show in New York.

Here’s my video: first choreography is a choreography by Jillina, and the second is an improvisation.

If you like it, click here to vote! (No signing up necessary!)

EPL: Surrounding Yourself With Inspiration

My Christmas last year was spent circling over Chicago in a plane, unable to land because of fog, and ultimately flying back directly where I came from — Memphis (Columbia Regional Airport flies to the Memphis hub).

While I was grumpily eating Burger King in the Memphis airport, I missed a very cool family moment — my sister (who managed to make it home) and my mom ended up making vision boards. Vision boards are essentially collages with visual representations — pictures of yourself where you’re healthy and happy, magazine cut-outs of places you want to visit, a snapshot of a person who  possesses attributes you admire — of goals you want to accomplish and things you want to be reminded of year-round.

I was talking to my sister recently about her vision board, and she told me that most of the things she had put on her vision board had actually had come to pass. And it got me thinking:

The longer I live, the more I see that we have the power to manifest what we want in life. If we work hard, put positive energy out into the universe and trust that our lives are unfolding exactly as they should, there is no way we can be defeated, even if seemingly bad things happen to us. I don’t spend enough time appreciating the present. I have spent too much of my life brooding about the past or worrying about the future, and I refuse to do it anymore. I’ll be the first to admit it — I have played the victim card before. And it really doesn’t change anything or make me feel better. So new strategy: Anytime I want to feel sorry for myself or play victim to what is happening to me, I am now trying to see the positive in it, roll with it, and keep my eyes focused on enjoying life NOW. As a good friend said to me recently, “You could die TOMORRROW. Do you really want to spend your last days on Earth worrying?”

I can’t tell you how much happier I have been lately, just living in the present. It was incredibly hard for me to do at first — bad habits are hard to kick — but the more I try to practice this every day, the better I feel and the more natural it becomes.

I feel like a vision board might really help me not distract myself with the past or future — it will manifest positive energy while still forcing me to live in the present. Think about it– what if I created a visual representation of all that I want to accomplish, place it somewhere where I see it constantly, and every time I see it, I visualize it happening and put good energy in the universe? I see it as a very powerful tool.

So, in the next few days, I am going to create a vision board, and I am going to make sure to include elements that relate to the project I am working on. Every day I am going to remind myself what my goals are and where I want to end up… and I am going to live every day in the present, focusing on making those goals happen.

The other goal that I am starting this week and continuing through my month of creativity expands off of the idea of the vision board. This month, I am surrounding myself with inspiration. I plan on seeing as many plays, exhibits, and concerts as possible. I am going to read as many books as I can. I am finally going to put something on the walls of my house that have been empty for a year.

I’m off to a good start — I saw a Japanese dance exhibition today, and right now I’m off to see “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” which is the musical that we have been designing costumes for for the past few weeks at work (I work in a costume shop at a performing arts college).

I think one of the best ways to tackle a new goal is (as others on the message board have mentioned) to set small, managable goals that you can slowly turn into positive habits. So my mini-goal is this: surround yourself with inspiration. Anyone taking part in the experiment can do the same — invest in a fruit bowl and some new cookbooks, check out some books on meditation, or buy a new piece for your altar. I challenge you to think of a way to surround yourself with positive inspiration for whatever goal you’re tackling.

EPL: Day 1 and 2

The very first day of the Eat, Pray, Love experiment, I drank barely no water, I didn’t eat breakfast, and I capped off my evening with a gas station muffin and a ton of Pepsi.

… whoops.

Yeah, I basically displayed flagrant disregard for what I put in my body, which directly contradicts what I have been promoting this entire time. But, in keeping with the experiment’s code, I am not beating myself up or calling myself a failure.

I wondered why the first day was so rocky, and I remembered the rules I set for myself about modifying your experiment is things seem to be heading south. After some thought, I came to these conclusions:

1) I am still very much excited to work on my goals, and I like to eat healthy. But I realized that right now, I am not excited about food. I want to tackle it, but not first. I need to focus on another of my goals first.

2) I have been given some extra time off from my job, so I have lots of time. I want to use this time pursuing creative endeavors.

So two days in, I am switching up the order of my goals. I believe that this is the month that I have to finally get this big project I’ve been contemplating off the ground. I am a huge procrastinator, and it’s gotten to the point where I’ll create distractions for myself instead of actually tackling what I need to be tackling. So this is the month — no more excuses, no more distractions. I am creating this month.

I also created a tribe for all of us experimenters. A link to the tribe can also be found under the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Experimenters” menu to the right on my blog. This is a message board where we can share as a community our goals and progress. It is free — all you have to do is create an account (I have never had a problem with spam or anything — the site is legit). Posting on the message board is completely optional but strongly encouraged. Occasionally there are problems with the site being down, but I prefer this type of message board to google groups or yahoo groups.

If you are keeping track of your journey on a personal blog, I’d love to link to you! Comment on this post and respond with your blog’s url.

The EPL Experiment: Getting Started

I’m flying high — literally and figuratively.

In the literal sense — my flight is coming back from Fort Meyers, where my grandpa lives, and it has internet access. It is the first time I have ever connected to the internet whilst 32,000 feet in the air!

Figuratively, I have been in a great mood the past few days. These last few weeks of November, I have been doing a lot of reflection on what I want to get out of my Eat, Pray, Love experiment, and what I feel are some good ideas for those participating to operate under.

1) This experiment is not a chore. If it becomes a chore, modify it. I feel like I could approach this experiment two ways. My first month goal could be, “I’m not going to eat any crappy food, I’m only going to eat raw vegetables, and I am going to lose 10 pounds.” But… that sounds really boring and not fun at all. And they practically know me by name at the Taco Bell down the street from my house, so I have a feeling it might be difficult — it’s hard to stick with something you’re not super excited about it. So my goal is not going to fight my nature. If I am craving chocolate, I am going to eat chocolate. But I am going to buy the best dark chocolate I can find, cut a reasonable portion, and then sit down with no distractions and enjoy that piece of chocolate — as opposed to, say, eating half of a chocolate cake with my eyes glued to an episode of 30 Rock (… don’t judge me, but I’ve actually done that before in a chocolate craving gone desperately wrong). My first goal is that I am going to spend a month exploring new foods and experimenting with what will make my body feel optimal. And let me tell you — I absolutely cannot wait to start.

2) There is no failure, there is only learning. Who knows, three days into my food experiment I could find myself laughing through a chocolate-frosting-encrusted mouth at Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin — old habits die hard. I’m not going to call the experiment off just because I had one crappy day. I WILL, however, take note of how that decision affected how I felt, I will try to learn something from the experience, and I will try harder the next day.

3) Keep track  of your experiment. Believe it or not, I only recently got into journaling and keeping a written account of what’s happening in my life. Looking back and reading the few things I have written has reminded me what an important tool it can be, especially when embarking on a quest of self-exploration. I am currently looking into getting a message board or online group started, so anyone that wants to take part can stay connected with others. Stay tuned!

4) Build a supportive community. I am asking anyone and everyone who might be interested if they would like to take part in the project, and I hope you all do, too.  It’s always nice to have buddies when tackling a large undertaking.

5) Read the book! “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert is the book that inspired this whole project. I am in the middle of reading it now, and it is inspiring me and getting me psyched to tackle this project.

Martha Mantra

Thanks to Rachel Brice for sharing this in her blog:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.

It is not yours to determine how good it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly
to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.
No artist is ever pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.”

–Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille