Last week, I attended a beautiful meditation for world peace on November 11th, 2015. Two days later the Western world was rocked when the terrorists attacked Paris (I only heard about the earlier Beirut attacks after that).
It was so difficult to wrap my mind around. Violence in the Middle East always seems so far removed, but Paris…. I grew up learning all about France, in school, in countless movies and books, through the food I eat and the wine I drink. I have spent time there, and since I speak French, I feel a kinship with the place, in a way I don’t always feel with the far flung reaches of the globe where I’ve never been.
The news of the attacks hit me, and a whole lot of people I know hard. I cried, and wondered how it could happen, why and how could we stop it from happening again? What can we do? I became more educated about what has been happening in other areas of the world, the things our media doesn’t always report and my heart grew heavier still. Then people began reacting in fear, with many condemning the people who need our compassion the most and my heart felt like it might break.
I refuse to let this harden my heart, or to change what I believe. I know that peace is possible, but we will never defeat darkness and hate with more of the same. Only light can drive out the darkness and only love can conquer fear and hate. This world needs more love, not less. More compassion, not less. More understanding of each others humanity, not alienation and xenephobia.
These terrorists use, well, terror because their hearts are hurting so badly that lashing out in anger is the only thing that might bring them some relief from the pain of their lives. How many of us can even comprehend suffering of that magnitude. Their pain is immense and must seem practically insurmountable.
I, and so many of the people around me are lucky enough to have lives filled with joy and love. Our basic needs are beyond met and we have the room in our lives for fun, and creative self expression. Heck, I get to dance for a living, and dancing is my living praying. It’s how I connect with all that is. It fills me up with so much love and joy that it just burst out of me.
I am lucky enough to be able to facilitate this joyful movement for others as well. In my Hoop Flow class last night, our theme was Dancing Your Essence. We were moving with the intention of expressing our unique light. We moved through several exercises, including Sway and some blindfolded hoopdance, and went into a 25 minute dance journey with a wide variety of music, allowing our bodies to move and interpret the tracks in whatever way authentically arose. We moved through melancholy, desperate, sad music into the hopeful, happy and joyful. You could feel the energy in the room shift, and the happier the music, the higher the vibration. People were grinning from ear to ear, myself included as I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for this kind of healing tool .
After a short rest, we concluded our dance journey with a song dedicated to world peace. With our intention, we filled up our hearts with so much love that it just couldn’t be contained, and then sent it out into the world around us. This was the track we danced to: https://soundcloud.com/revolvr/youve-got-the-love-remix
We can begin to change the world by starting with our own hearts. First emptying them out, through our movement, sweat and tears. Then filling them up with so much love and light that it just spills out of you. Then from that place of fullness, you can go out into the world to do your work. Obviously it isn’t enough to just pray and dance. There is work to do on the ground. This is how I start though. This is how I do my healing work for my own heart, filling it with love, music, movement, joy, compassion, community and gratitude. This is also part of my work out in the world. Helping others fill up their hearts, filling up their cup so it’s overflowing with love, so they too can go out into the wider world and meet all those they meet with love as well, treating each person with dignity, respect and compassion.
It starts right here, and begins with you. Paraphrasing the wise words of Gabrielle Roth, healing happens when you lovingly move through your pain, sweat your prayers and let go of the past. Once we have done this, our hearts are open, full of love and we can work together to create peace on earth.
It’s probably no secret at this point that I love to dance (with or without my hoops), but I especially love to dance in gorgeous, interesting places. I often find myself inspired by my surroundings, moving in new and different ways! Well, last night I was lucky enough to shoot some promo material at the gorgeous Art Gallery of Alberta!
Talk about inspiring surroundings!!!
I am booked to perform at the upcoming Refinery: Shadow Play at the Gallery on November 15th, and the program co-coordinator (who happens to be a friend of mine) offered some time rehearsing in the space. How could I say no to that? I had literally dreamed of dancing in the space before and it was a great chance to collaborate with a fellow artist, photographer and dancer, Nixie Olivia from Sprite Photography.
Nixie captured this great shot of me in front of the mural in Manning Hall, Jill Stanton’s Strange Dream, a fantastic wonderland cartoon landscape that starts out in black and white, with just splash of color in the center. Dancing with the piece, allowing it to inform my movement, felt like a conversation between us, which I think the artist intended. The notes on the mural say “This strange and evocative landscape draws viewers into the space, inspiring questions of how we look at our environment and how our environment can affect one’s subconscious.”
Having the chance to interact with, rather than just view the piece gave me a much more visceral experience of the art itself, that completely changed my appreciation for the work.
If you’d like to see what I mean and come dance with this ‘ dense, immersive and dreamlike forest vista’ with references to ‘dreams, hallucinations and altered states of consciousness’, tickets are still available for the AGA Refinery. If you can’t make it, you can still view the exhibition until December 31st, 2014 (and as it’s in the lobby, it’s free to see!!!)
Well, I’m back from my Arizona adventure, which seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage to Sedona. My husband put it best when he said last September, you know you’ll never not go to Sedona!
It was over the top inspiring as usual. I feel a peace and contentment as soon as I see the desert. It feels like home out there.
It actually is home to a dear chunk of my family, so I’ve been visiting once every year or two my entire life, which probably helps with that feeling. Sacred Circularities in Sedona is the perfect excuse to travel down and visit them and then head out for a dance, mediation and personal renewal retreat in my heart’s home, the land of the red rock, where all the vortexes swirl.
I’ll share more about the retreat later, but for now here’s a clip of some hooping on Bell Rock. I shot 2 minutes of video on our hike, and this is what happened. You’ll notice I’m a little conservative. That’s because tossing the hoops would have been a very big problem 😉
I spent last week in a jaw-droppingly gorgeous part of the Kootenay mountains,halfway between Nelson and Revelstoke, in a little town called Argenta for the Medicine Hoop Retreat hosted by Jen ‘Cookie’ Cookson. We were basically in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere quite so remote… I drove for hours without cell service out (which definitely makes it seem like the middle of the wilderness). After taking a Ferry, I turned onto a secondary highway which was a little more rustic (ie- twisty, turny high mountain dirt logging road) that I expected. It was so gorgeous it took my breath away (it wasn’t the heights or the fact that driving off the road would mean instant death, I swear!).
Fortunately it was early in the day and the weather was clear, so I just slowed down and enjoyed the view coming with all the hairpin switchback turns. The lake, the forest, the mountains with the clouds nestled gently into them, the wild flowers, the random waterfalls. It was unreal. I couldn’t even listen to music, all I could do on the drive was drink in the gorgeousness of the landscape.
When I reached my friend Cookie’s house (an adorable log cabin, next to fields with cows and bulls), she was shocked to see me. I made great time she said. Apparently, most people take the main highway, and it takes at least an extra hour (and it’s paved, and goes through some beautiful towns instead of the wilderness). I, however, trusted google maps, and honestly, I’m so happy I did. It was totally worth it.
I spent the day with Jen, who gave me the tour of the property, taking me through the forest, by the river and through the fields. It was so peaceful, yet invigorating. I hadn’t seen Jen since Bali last year, so there was a lot of catching up to do and hugs to be had. We talked about life, love, food and the retreat we were hosting that weekend while we wandered.
The next day, as we were waiting for the retreat participants to arrive, I decided to dislocate my pinky toe by slamming it onto her staircase landing. I popped it back in place and thought it might not be so bad… It didn’t really hurt (yet), but all I had to do was give it a minute. I rarely take over the counter medication, but I always travel with some pain killers, so when I realized that yes, it was going to be incredibly painful I popped some ibuprofen with a muscle relaxer and asked Jen to make some coffee so the caffeine would kick it ASAP.
Bless her, she made me some rocket fuel and set me up outside, under a gorgeous tree in a zero G lounge chair with coffee, ice for my foot and the book ‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat’. I sat there, under the blue sky, looking at the trees and the mountain with the hint of cloud dressing it up like a fluffy fascinator and I felt no pain. Just peace. I was so well taken care of. If I had to injure myself, this was an ok place to recuperate.
Two of our guests (friends Cookie made in Bali, my new friends) arrived after driving up from the States, and we spend the afternoon getting to know each other, exclaiming at how beautiful it was and then heading out to a farm to pick out some veggies for the weekend. Later that evening, when our party was complete (just five of us that evening), we sat down to an incredible, mostly raw vegan dinner we made together, (Ok, Cookie did most of the work, I just cooked the green beans with summer savory and coconut oil), drank some wine and talked until we all crashed.
We had planned on camping, but the retreat turned out to be intimate enough that we could all crash in Cookies home. The bonus of the sleepover was waking up to fresh coffee brewing and and homemade spelt bread toasted with coconut oil and almond butter as well as each other’s company.
It took us some time to get going in the morning, but that was beautiful and relaxing. Once the 6th member of our tribe arrive, our Sacred Dance instructor, Bernice Raabis, we headed to the Argenta Hall. Another log cabin, this one with a wide open hall for hooping and with a kitchen, eating area and a lounge area for couches. It was perfect.
After a short and sweet opening circle that created this beautiful energy of connection and intention, we started our movement practice with my Hooping with Wild Abandon workshop, which was hilarious. I thought it would be the perfect addition to a retreat focusing on sacred play. The intent behind this one is to play with movements that don’t need a lot of technical expertise or flight time. I want to give new (and experienced) hoopers some ways of playing with the hoop to music that are easy and fun, but also kind of badass. Spoiler alert, there’s a lot of pelvic thrusting involved. It was a great way to start the day and everyone was a great sport when it came to all the silliness. I think they had a good time.
After that we sat down to some lunch, more amazing deliciousness courtesy of Cookie and her magical sunflower seed pate. We digested our food by taking a walk outside, looking at some property for sale behind the hall. My toe was black and blue at this point, but it only hurt when I had shoes on, so I got to walk through the field and forest barefoot, feeling the softness of the dirt, grass and pine needles under my feet. So good to connect with the earth like that.
While we were out walking, Bernice was preparing the hall for our sacred dance journey into the shadow side of Sacred Play. We moved and danced together releasing and honoring the blocks that we had about play and opening into the joy of movement and play for it’s own sake. Her music was so perfect and evocative.
After all that dancing, we were so ready to go on the shamanic drum journey with Cookie. We were able to lay down on the mats and couches, journeying together, finding our animal allies and totems and then sharing our experiences with each other.
Spending the rest of the afternoon jamming and drinking tea, we wrapped up early and headed back to Cookies abode to chill and relax. Everyone it seemed was just as interested in spending time relaxing outside and getting to know each other as we were in hooping. It was like reconnecting with old friends, even though we had just met and we were never at a loss for words.
The next day, we changed locations, to the Meadow Creek Hall, due to the Argenta Hall being needed for a celebration of life for one of their community members who was finishing his Earth Walk. I was so happy we were able to juice up the space with all the gorgeous energy the day before, so they could send him off in style. The Meadow Creek Hall was even more perfect that the last one. A larger, brighter space, complete with a two lane bowling alley!
We opened with movement mediation I facilitated, where I offered a guided meditation to bring love, light, appreciation and healing into each part of the body, then created space for free form movement, dance, stretching and an exploration of whatever our bodies’ needed at the time. We drew energy from the Earth and the Cosmos and reveled in our movement, honoring our inner child and the way it wanted to dance.
Breathless afterwards, we shared our experiences and the feedback from everyone, hearing what the experience let them tap into moved me to tears. There is so much power and healing in moving in whatever ways our bodies crave, I love it so much and creating a safe space for people to do that is one of my favorite things in the world.
After some snacks, we made our way back to the hall to experience an 80’s music driven journey through the chakras led by the hoop shaman and healer, our host Cookie. This was quite the sensory experience. I grabbed a huge hoop and spent the first few songs body rocking and giving my lower chakras a hoop massage as Cookie guided us through some dance driven chakra clearing. It was so good. As we moved up the chakras’s I picked up progressively smaller hoops, interestingly, and once we were in the head, I found I was off body hooping exclusively. Very interesting how that happened. I couldn’t always tune in to what Cookie was saying, as I was transported by the music and dance into another realm of existence. I really didn’t want to stop, but by the end of the hour, I was spent, sweaty and so, so happy. I felt clear, and light and ready for a shower, but we just had a late lunch instead.
Eating on the incredibly comfortable couches sucked the energy right out of us, and we realized that we were all quite spent and decided we would wrap up the hooping part of the retreat and do some exploring of the land instead. Best. Idea. Ever! I’m so grateful we had such a small group so we could be flexible with the schedule and respond to everyone’s energy levels and desires. It was so perfect.
We headed out to Duncan Lake, this crystal clear mountain lake that was almost as smooth as glass. It was cool, but not cold. Just borderline for skinny dipping, especially since we didn’t have towels. There is something about being buck naked out in nature, in a forest valley, surrounded by the elements. I felt completely safe and unguarded, like I was being cradled in mother nature’s arms. That’s the feeling I had the whole time in the Kootenays. The Rocky’s are so tall, wild and exhilarating, with this masculine, exciting energy. The Koots felt softer, far more feminine and gentle.
The whole time I was there, I was planning my return trip (next summer, but for longer, there’s so much more to explore). We closed the retreat by having dinner at Drifter’s, the only local restaurant around. The food wasn’t quite like the amazing local, organic food we’d been chowing down on all weekend, but the cook did mention she infused Reiki love into each meal she cooked (after asking us if we were having a goddess weekend!).
Cookie surprised us all with gorgeous handmade accessories, hair pieces and eyelashes, each lovingly crafted to suit us personally. This woman is so full of love, compassion and talent, it blows my mind. I learn so much from being around her, and I felt the same way about each woman I came to know and love at the retreat. Saying goodbye was hard, but it really was just so long, until next time my friends, because I know we’ll all be back to play and dance under the stars (Oh my, did I mention the stars??? You can see the starry bowl, with more stars that I’ve ever seen in my life!). Next year, I know there will be more of us, and it will be different, and amazing in it’s own way, but this intimate little retreat, which was just as much connecting with the land and each other, as well as our hoops, was perfect in every way.
We will be honoring the divine feminine through movement meditation, dance, flow arts, shamanic journeys and all kinds of other fun activities. We’ll be connecting to the Earth as we camp outside, spin fire and dance under the stars. We’ll be nourishing our bodies with healthy, delicious food. We’ll be feeding our souls by taking some time to step out of our daily routine to dance, play and make new friends!
I’m excited beyond words to share the weekend with all of the beautiful beings who are going to be joining us.
This is a fantastic opportunity to really take some time for yourself to refresh your soul and fill up your cup before the end of summer.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to hoop dance or use a flow wand, this is a perfect opportunity in a serenely supportive environment. We’ll also have multi-level classes conceptual classes designed for newbie hoopers and baddasses alike to grow and challenge themselves.
I’m stoked to share my Hooping With Wild Abandon workshop, as well as lead a movement meditation class. I’ll also be offering private hoop dance or energy healing sessions if you’re interested in a level up for your practice, and your life!
Today is the last day for Early Bird tickets, but we still have spots available and we would love to have you join us! Come to the Kooteney’s and play with us! I can’t wait to dance with you!
This awesome stencil that I found somewhere on facebook really says it all. I don’t know where it came from (if it’s yours or you know who I can attribute it to, please let me know). But it’s so succinct, I had to share.
‘Every time I dance, I turn into a better version of me’.
Here’s an example:
A couple years ago, two days before my wedding, I was getting a little stressed out about the details. I was snappy, defensive and felt like everything was a looming disaster. My husband and sister couldn’t talk me down, so they just handed me a hoop and said “Dance! We’ll be back in an hour or so. Just dance it out.”
Of course after 15 minutes of moving to music everything seemed right in the world again. An hour later, I couldn’t even remember what I had been upset about. (BTW, I wasn’t a bridezilla at all. That was one of only two times I kind of freaked out. I was a chill bride, I swear!)
Anyway. Some people run to blow off steam, some people knit. I love to dance, with or without my hoops because it makes me better in every way, every time I do it.
It’s great exercise obviously, and it gets all your endorphins going, so you feel good doing it (and afterwards), but unlike just running or doing yoga, I get to be creative. It’s easy to drop into that beautiful flow state that sends my conscious mind to the back burner while my body and spirit take the wheel. I feel a sense of peace and oneness that transcends the personal experience I’m having and puts me in touch with the greater picture.
Dancing makes me happy. It feels celebratory. Or, it can feel incredibly emotional in other ways; sad, angry, lonely, scared… But dancing out those emotions is so cathartic that it swings back to happy. Or at least peaceful.
For years, whenever I’ve asked for guidance (from above, from my inner self, from the universe, which ever), the message I almost invariably receive is ‘Dance!’.
Not only does it make me better, it makes the world better. Every time you dance, you make the world a better place. Even if it’s a dance of sadness, of pain, of anger or frustration, it makes the world better.
Dancing is the expression of your essence. As you move, you let yourself be known.
“Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made.”
This art, this essence expression makes you a better version of yourself. Every time you move authentically, you level up at life. You are here to be you. Every time you dance, you let your soul qualities shine through. Through dance, you allow your most radiant self to shine through.
“As we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”- Marianne Williamson
Imagine a world where everyone allowed their most radiant inner light shine through.
What would that look like?
What would that feel like?
Imagining it gives me warm fuzzies and chills all at the same time.
Our joyful movement raises the collective vibration and illuminates the world.
Our dance is revolutionary.
I’ll leave you with a great hoop dance jam I had the other day.
I found some music that moved me, almost to tears and I had to hoop it out.
Here in a shiny example of it’s epic nature is our cabin’s awkward family photo:
We were given two sets of instructions for this:
One was ‘Stare off into the distance, with dreamy, pondering eyes’. Then someone else said ‘Now pretend you see a Pterodactyl!’ Only a few of us listened to that last instruction, and I think that makes it better!
I wish I had more time to get to know these wonderful, talented ladies, but they were great cabin mates. For some reason they put all the folks from Canada, Wisconsin and Massachusetts together. Perhaps they thought we’d bond over snow and prairies… Turns out we bonded over hula hoops and acro bunk bed yoga. My travel companion Carla Snow from http://www.flowlab.ca
Speaking of Carla, I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. We always have so much fun together, and she’s been my biggest support on my hoop journey. She gave an incredible Hoop Talk on Thursday night (recovering from Laryngitis in the nick of time!) She spoke passionately about feeding the community through intentional business practices and my heart swelled with pride as she had the whole audience nodding and agreeing with her the whole time.
We had the chance to take in loads of workshops from some of the world’s greatest hoopers. My favorite hoop classes were taught by Beth Lavinder, Nick Guzzardo and Kenna Hoops, but they were all amazing. I think the most memorable class for me was a dance/movement class with Khan that involved dancing for 10 minutes for your partner, who was a silent witness, with no music. Then taking 5 minutes each to talk about the experience. It was a really powerful hour for everyone in the room, and it brought up a lot of interesting feelings to work through. I needed a good cry afterwards, and another class participant said she wouldn’t need therapy for a year! Healing, transformative movement!
It was really incredible how open and accessible the teachers were, and so many of them were right there in the thick of things, taking workshops with us. Carla captured a moment where Emma, Brecken and I were being a little disruptive during Spiral’s class, after I realized you could do some rebounding crotch thrusting inside a mini hoop (which was definitely off topic). It was ok though, cause we turned it into a combo working in the class material. Here is our crotch rebound into a corkscrew!
As much fun as the classes were, the jams and showcases were the real highlights for me. There was a real showcase (flowcase) where our incredibly, jaw dropping-ly talented instructors performed ridiculous routines. Here’s Nick Guzzardo’s piece, which was second only to his topless fire hooping the night before:
Hoop Convergence also had a renegade showcase the next night, which is a tradition from juggling conventions. This was probably my favorite activity all weekend, and not just because SaFire, Carla and I taught a renegade Finger Flow workshop wearing onsies. Most of the acts were dirty and hilarious and the few that weren’t were downright beautiful, like Caroleena’s piece with her gorgeous cockateil Mulder. There was everything from uni-cycling while hooping, butt jumping with skipping rope, hooping, dooping, vooping (don’t ask) and a ukelele sing along.
I’m already counting down the days till next year.
Hoop Convergence and North Carolina have stolen my heart.
Back in November while I was doing the dishes. I had been absorbed in the moment, perfectly present and at peace it was like a moving meditation. The silence of my mind allowed a beautiful epiphany to shine through.
Now is the time to relax and let go of all your worries. They no longer serve you. Everything is OK. Everything has always been OK. Everything will always be OK.
I’ve always known intellectually that everything always works out. I often say “If it’s not OK, it’s not the end!” But as much as I believe that with philosophically and spiritually, I still wind up worrying. Usually about money, which is stupid, because it’s never been a problem for me in my life. I save $$ every month, and still have more than enough for a comfy life. There really has never been a reason to worry, but it sneaks up on me sometimes when I’m feeling particularly tired or vulnerable. I also realized I worry far more whenever I have caffeine. The slight raising of my blood pressure seems to create this feedback look where I feel like I’m stressed, so I must be stressed and I find things to stress about. This is one of the reasons I’m sticking to green tea and chocolate as my biggest sources of caffeine these days.
With that message though, I felt as though my body finally caught up to my mind, and my cells finally accepted that there really wasn’t any point to worrying or stressing. I felt blissfully calm and peaceful for the next month or so. The buzz of that epiphany has worn off slightly, so I wanted to write about it to remind myself. Worrying about vague undefined potential future issues wastes energy, and does nothing constructive. If there is a problem, then I need to let myself feel the emotions surrounding it, and work towards fixing it, but just worrying for worry’s sake is unproductive. Actually it’s counter productive.
Don’t worry, everything little thing is gonna be alright!
At the end of this video there is a little proof of my own optimism… This is called Kacie Hooping in March Snow (Facewash). From March 2011 (back in the day).