Sweet Potato Spring Rolls

by Sunday, February 28, 2010
This is a recipe my dear friend Amy made for a recent party we attended together. Not only are they delicious, they're pretty and filling! Vegan and delicious don't always cross paths in my experience, so wahoo!

Note: I input all the info into Weight Watchers, and it came out to 1 point per spring roll, but I think it is even less, as I ended up with lots of extra veggies at the end. The sauce comes out at 1 point per serving, and I would guess one serving for every two to four spring rolls, depending on how generous you are with your dipping. These are so light, but rich, so I find I can only eat three before I am full! So essentially a 3-4 point meal. If I were making it an entire meal, I would probably supplement with a salad. Not bad eh?!

Sweet Potato Spring Rolls
Makes 10

1 sweet potato
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup Bragg liquid aminos (or soy sauce if you prefer, but it will be saltier)
2 ½ Tbls sunflower oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ medium head red cabbage, sliced very thin
½ medium red bell pepper, cut into long thin strips
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
10 rice paper shells

Heat the oven to 375F. Prick the sweet potato with a fork, and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool enough to handle, then peel and mash. Meanwhile, place the lemon juice, liquid aminos, oil and garlic in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the cabbage, peppers and cilantro and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Drain the vegetables. One at a time, soften the rice paper shells in a bowl of hot tap water. Spread 1/3 cup of the vegetable mixture onto each piece of softened rice paper. Pipe or spoon a tablespoon of mashed sweet potato onto the vegetable mixture. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper up over the filling, tuck in the edges and roll the rice paper to form a roll. Serve with the Secret Dipping Sauce (below).

Secret Dipping Sauce
½ cup tamari
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup toasted sesame oil

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend.

Black Bean Lettuce Bundles

by Thursday, February 25, 2010

My delicious lunch today!! I could see heating this up, adding maybe some red onion, and/or adding a favorite meat to make it a shared dinner for two. There's lots here to dig into.

1 cup black beans
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels (I didn't cook, just fresh from the can)
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
4 medium scallions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin (I put in a smidge more, cuz I like it)
1 medium garlic clove (I used 1 med and 1 sm, I wanted more)
1/2 tsp salt
1 head Boston lettice, washed and separated into leaves (I am just using green leaf, because I have it on hand--not as hearty, but it will do)

Blend all except lettuce together in bowl. Put in fridge for an hour to let flavors blend.
Place about 1/4 of mixture into a leaf and roll up "burrito style".

1 point per serving
4 servings total

Finding my footing...

by Thursday, February 25, 2010
As I type this, our troupe is in the middle of the busiest performance season we have had in of years. By mid-March, we will have had eight performances in three weeks, when in the previous months we had closer to one performance every eight weeks. And as I type this, my co-director Renee is about ready to bring her new daughter Rose into the world, and has been on maternity leave since the beginning of the year. One would think this was a recipe for head-exploding or rock-crawling-under or possibly both simultaneously.

But instead, I am feeling refreshed, challenged, rewarded. And it's a pretty exciting time for yours truly, to be honest.

In a previous post I talked about discipline and setting up structures in our life to support success, and then outlined my Game Plan in 2010. And I am already seeing the results of these structures, as they are helping me to handle a large volume of unexpected responsibilities with relative ease (yeah, I know I just jinxed it ;).

Last week our troupe participated in four performances alone, and each one was an incredible testament to my beautiful dance sisters' skills and professionalism. They really have been amazing, stepping up to the new challenges and delivering performances with grace, power, and beauty. They are the real reason these shows are a success. But as any director knows, each of those performances translated into a zillion little details that had to be discussed, tracked, and followed up on. And for those who don't know what role directors play in the life of a performance, here is a little breakdown.

A General Timeline of Organizing a Performance:
* Initial contact with host
* Discuss schedule with troupe and secure commitments
* Put on tentative schedule
* Contact host to confirm participation and determine:
- event time and location (and parking info as needed)
- number of performances and performance length
- venue details, including stage dimensions, entrance and
exit options, and dressing area info
- expected arrival time, where and with whom to check in
* Update online calendar with show info so far
* Discuss music options with troupe, considering venue and audience
* Edit music as needed, assemble set, make sure it hangs together,
& adjust as needed
* Plan staging and/or choreography
* Rehearse, revise set music as needed, possibly re-editing
and/or changing set order or content
* Rehearse final set beginning to end
* Discuss costuming and finalize details
* Mail out/upload any new music edits to group
* Update online calendar with new details

Of course there is a lot of follow-up communications in here, among multiple hosts sometimes and the six members of my troupe; and this doesn't include day-of preparation and planning, of course. But that's the "setting up the details" list off the top of my head.

As you may imagine, none of these steps are as linear as they appear on paper, nor does each step represent one meeting, one e-mail, one discussion or decision. And when there are multiple gigs coming up around the same time, the flurry of information, constantly shifting, can be rather daunting.

In February, we have been juggling the details of 12 performances over six weeks.

How did I not dissolve in a puddle of directorial freak-out? STRUCTURE!!

Ah, it isn't lost on me that I am right now singing the praises of something I felt pretty proud of operating without. I like working for myself because it means my schedule is incredibly flexible. I can (for the most part) decide the flow of my days and weeks, and let things unfold somewhat organically. But when it comes to Getting Shit Done, being too fluid can be your enemy. You develop habits of procrastination, laziness, and even get stubbornness against YOURSELF ("I know I should be doing my paper work, but I don't wanna." *harumph*), in the long term making your own life more cluttered, both literally and figuratively. Complacency leads to being overwhelmed, and then we are frozen.

But I have been spending the beginning of 2010 trying to establish better habits--better structure--in my daily life so that I won't get overwhelmed by the details. I am teaching myself how to take lots of small bites that add up to big results. It's WORK! It has not been easy, but it has been incredibly satisfying, and I can see how it is not only affecting me, but others in my life. I can see how my husband's attitude has shifted, and how supportive he is being was no surprise but very welcome. I see how my troupe-mates have stepped up to be more involved in the day-to-day of the troupe, really engaging me and each other on a level I honestly don't think we have ever experienced; and I see how that creates a feedback loop of pride and satisfaction which makes us all want to keep that positive momentum into the future. And the rest of my framily has been so incredibly helpful and positive, feeding me even more fuel to keep this going into the future.

Will it last? Of course I hope so, but part of this process is promising myself to stay here in the moment. Little bites. Little steps. Focus on what's in front of me, and really give it 100% and see it through. I feel like I am finding my footing at a time when I most needed to get my balance. Yeah.

TWO inFusion Tribal Performances TODAY!

by Sunday, February 21, 2010

Personally, these events will be my first performances in 6 months! My foot is on the mend, and I'm itching to perform for you all. Hope you will come and lend your enthusiastic zaghareets to the audience and make these shows to remember!

Two Birds Tattoo Grand Opening
7408 Greenwood Ave N
performance by inFusion Tribal at 5pm

inFusion Tribal's favorite tattoo artist is opening her own studio, and we are celebrating with her! Come out for wine, snacks, schmoozing, and get some discount coupons for gorgeous tat-work. Oh, and did we mention BELLYDANCING?!


Saltana Band at Navya Lounge
$7 cover, Children Free
All Ages
Navya Lounge
1333 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101
Located inside the Rainier Center behind the Rock Bottom Brewery at 5th and Union

inFusion Tribal is taking an adventurous leap and going to dance to live music at this show. It's an experiment for us, and for the fabulous band working with group improvisation. Will we fly or fall? We don't even know! Come see the fun for yourself!

Crock Pot yumminess: red bean, chicken sausage and rice soup!

by Thursday, February 18, 2010
Slow Cooker Red Bean, Sausage and Rice Soup
4pts per serving
8 servings (1.5 cups per serving)

Could sub chicken broth for veggie broth, and chicken sausage for veggie sausage, and I imagine it would be just as yum for my vegetarian/vegan friends.

1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 medium red onion(s), chopped
1 large celery, rib, chopped
1 medium green pepper(s), chopped
15 oz canned kidney beans, dark-variety, rinsed and drained
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained
9 oz cooked chicken sausage, andouille-style, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth
1 cup(s) uncooked white rice, converted-variety recommended


* Place garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, beans, tomatoes with their juices and sausage in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add thyme and pepper; stir well.

* Pour in broth and rice; stir again. Cover slow cooker and set on high power; cook for 4 hours.

Why I will never again dance at an Eagles Hall.

by Saturday, February 13, 2010
We have a troupe rule.

Never dance at an Eagles Hall.

And this is why.

The Eagles have a policy whereby you can use the Eagles Hall for your event, but their members MUST still retain access. So it isn't just your place; their members are still walking about. And if you know anything about the Eagles, they tend to be older gentlemen of a particular demographic...good ol' boys 'round these parts.

The first "incident" was at a dance competition...oh...6 years ago maybe? We were not competing, but performing in a showcase on Saturday evening. The place was set up so that there was a big well-lit dance floor in the middle of an open room, with rows of chairs for the show spectators; and along the back wall, under a dropped ceiling so it was kinda cave-like, was a loooong bar area with some old low tables near it--think a stereotypical 70's holdover dive bar and you have the image right (that image to the left is not the one we were at, but is an Eagles Club bar and is pretty close to capturing the "essence"). So here are all the spangly dancers and their fans, and under the "cave" was the dark, dank bar with old men smoking up a storm, drinking, and LEERING. Oh yes, leering. Back then, we were wearing turbans, and one man saw fit to come up to us and start ragging on "towel heads", which I think we handled pretty well saying that not all people in turbans matched his experiences and expectations, US included. Everywhere we walked, rheumy eyes followed.

It was smoky, stinky, and creepy. We said then we would never ever dance at an Eagle's Hall again.

But then we adopted the "we'll try anything TWICE" rule. We realized that judging something based on ONE experience isn't really fair, and if we have a bad experience once, we should give it one more chance. Oh what fools we were...

There was a local dance camp I used to go to every year for many years. And I was honored as could be when they asked me to guest teach one year! It was the 20th anniversary of the camp, and a Big Deal. They decided instead of the usual hafla at the campsite meeting building, we were "going into town" for a gala show. So I had my troupe come out (it's on an island, so they took the ferry out) to perform with me at the show. And where was this show? At the EAGLES HALL!

So again, the same rules. The members must have access. But this Eagles was set up a little differently. There was a side room/ballroom where we held our dance show, and then there was a central room with tables and chairs and the full bar separate from that. Still the same cheesy/divey 70's getup; but here we were a little separate, and though tickets were sold for anyone who wanted to come in and see the show, it was sold out pretty quickly by campers and friends.

We were greeted very kindly by one of the head honchos, who gave us a pitch about how us young folks should join the Eagles and all the benefits. It was uncomfortable, but friendly enough. We went to get ready, and found out that some creepy man (a member of the club) had asked to buy tickets for the show, and was turned down because they were sold out. He then asked if he could pay ***$100 TO STAND IN THE BUSHES AND LOOK THROUGH THE WINDOW!!!*** Of course they said no, and was asked to leave. He was later found at the window anyway, and was escorted off. Later we had to walk outside around that side of the building to get in to the show, and though no, we didn't find him there, it was scary to walk back there no doubt.

Later, two of our girls went up to the bar to get a drink, and a man walked up behind them, slid himself between them and put an arm around each of them. I don't remember what he said, but I can picture one dancer who still tells the story today that he used the word "Lllladies" (you know the tone) as he rubbed each of their shoulders and looked right down their cleavage. Bless their hearts, the girls who fell prey were my least confrontational of the bunch and froze in fear and then hurried away.

After our performance, the ballroom turned into an open dance space, and we were all getting our boogie on when some of the members of the club would come up and try to dance in on us. Hello? Big circle of women dancing in a closed circle into one another, and guys would come and try to "hump up" behind. We kept moving around the room to get away from them, and insinuating ourselves when other women found themselves in similar situations and didn't have the wherewithal to know how to handle it, and finally gave up and left the open dance altogether.

Finally, some drunken 50 year old men out back tried to pick us up while we were trying to get some air and escape the madness indoors.

Aaaand, we were done.

We laugh about it now, because we have that sense of humor and no one was hurt in any way, but we will NOT be dancing at an Eagles Club again.

Spoon's take on the evolution of Bellydance

by Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tribe isn't as dead as many people think, and over on Shira's tribe, there has been a lot of eager discussion about bellydance fusion and its legitimacy as bellydance. Some purists posit that it is an insult to the cultures from which bellydance comes from to change it or fuse it in any way. I have long held the belief that the nature of human culture is that things grow, change, and evolve over time just by being brought into a new environment. Nothing stays the same, and in the world today it is even more true--we are becoming a global culture where things will mix and mingle and change whether we want them to or not.

Now I *DO* agree that some fusions have moved so far away from bellydance, it doesn't fit the genre any more. And I agree that a lot of these more recent "infractions" are being perpetuated under the mistaken moniker of tribal. But that is another topic altogether. This particular post by Spoon addresses the idea of "change as insult" quite well and I wanted to share.

"American Cabaret is the original 'Fusion' style of bellydance in America. You see... a dance follows the music and in this case we had musicians from all over the Mediterranean and Middle East coming together and playing music with one another. They learned or were already familiar with the music of multiple countries so as to give the widest number of people at a given venue a taste of home. When the music blends together the movements start to blend together and American Cabaret fused multiple forms of Orientale dance together into one. Was that an insult, the destruction of dance tradition, or was that a representation of the natural way that cultures interact when brought into close proximity?

Today Arab-American music and Mediterranean-American music sounds different than the its parental styles. This is because there has been yet another cultural exchange; this time it was not simply between Islamic nations, this time the exchange occurred on our home soil and in some cases a more global soil. Thus pulling in influences from all over the world. Where the music leads the dance will follow.

What we are looking at is not confined to dance, if it were it would be an easily resolved issue, this is both a generational and a cultural issue. As the music of North Africa and Asia Minor has migrated outward and mingled with other influences, as is often the case when emigration occurs, the resulting sound has reflected those changes. In America the visual result has been American Cabaret, Tribal (not specifically ATS) and then its offspring, Tribal Fusion and ITS. Each represents a stage of musical and cultural development that have evolved hand in hand over the years. What I would like to know is if some of you honestly expect that two cultures would come into contact with each other and not leave any kind of visual impact on one another.

I think to understand fusion you have to understand diffusion. Take a bowl of water and add a couple drops of blue food coloring. At first the coloring will hold to its shape within the water but eventually it will diffuse evenly throughout the bowl if given enough time. This will happen every single time you try it because that is just how the universe works. Now to get a good idea of what America is take a bowl of water and drop in just about every color of food coloring you can think of and then wait. What color comes out dominant? What happens during that span of time where you wait for the colors to completely mix together? Do you really expect that all the little colors will keep to themselves in that bowl?

...Theatrical Bellydance and Gothic Bellydance I would like to point out are not actually dance forms, ie they have no official vocabulary of movement and are actually composed of multiple forms of Orientale dance including American Cabaret, Turkish Orientale, and even folkloric dances are often featured at shows under these banners alongside performances that weigh in with more theatrics or more of the Gothic cultural aesthetic. In these circumstances it would be handy to use the term bellydance as you would never be able to clearly state what actual form of bellydance would be present.

As for Amy Sigil of Unmata... would she have started considering her dance as not belonging to the bellydance family tree if she had not felt forced outside of it? I think that if you want a little more honesty in advertising in the bellydance community that we could all benefit from it. I would like to see Turkish Orientale dance when it is advertised as such. I think it would be very amusing to see this sort of honesty applied to the non-Tribal dancers. I largely suspect that many would not be able to distinguish what movements came from where and when nearly half as well.


Feedback: "A work in progress"

by Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Over on tribe there is a discussion going on about soliciting feedback, and how to get honesty out of people rather than always having smoke blown up your patoot by well-meaning friends and family. Fariha has fantastic, almost obvious, advice that I am going to implement IMMEDIATELY:

"They might be more honest if you show it to them as a work in progress. For example, take some girls getting ready to go out on the town together. If I ask my friend about an outfit and I have something else to change into she'll tell me if it won't work BEFORE I wear it in public and save me the embarrassment. But if we're already out she won't embarrass me by bringing it up."

Three cheers for Fariha! Not only does this place our would-be critics in the right frame of mind, it also puts US in the right frame of mind to receive it. If we think of our work as a work in progress all the time, then we are open to criticism to help us develop it over time. I love this!

2010: Part of my Game Plan

by Friday, February 05, 2010

A change in my diet, and getting healthier physically, is only one of my ambitious goals for 2010 and beyond. Another major one for me is getting my home in order. I have fallen into some incredibly slack habits when it comes to daily organization and plain old cleanliness.

I used to have a good excuse: I have had years of back problems where I couldn't even walk sometimes, so housecleaning and tidying up wasn't close to on my radar. But as I am strengthening and healing, I truly have no excuses for letting this drag on as it has. I mean, seriously, I work 3-4 days a week, several hours in the evening. My days I have flexible hours for working on my web design work, so I can be taking some of that time to get to it! So I am forming some new habits and here is how I am doing it:

Each day I am assigning a room to myself. On that day, I can do anything I think needs to be done in there, big or small. So for instance, Mondays are Living Room days. We spend most of our time in there during a given week, and it is the first thing people see when they enter our home. So I put it right there at the top of the week so the rest of my week is spent pleasantly enjoying a clean space.

Now as I said, I can do anything big or small. So some days I will maybe do a little light dusting and fluff the throw pillows. Other days I will vacuum, sweep, mop, and organize my bins (where I keep knitting projects, current reading material, etc). This past week I finally put some holes in the walls--hanging some pretty hooks I had been meaning to install behind the door for oft-used coats to be hung. And I also went through our media cabinet, dusted, and thinned out all the clutter that had accumulated in and on it. How liberating!

Tuesdays are paperwork/home office days. Filing, banking, admin stuff for my business, cleaning my desk, refilling the printer paper trays, vacuuming, etc. Thursdays are the bathroom (ick! But someone has to do it!) or bedroom (changing sheets, vacuuming, putting away laundry, cleaning the dog's beds, etc).

There are a few special circumstances. Wednesday is "do something" and Friday is "do nothing". Wednesday is a day that I can choose anything I want to accomplish. So that could be gardening, leftover paperwork from Tuesday, etc--little things that didn't make it into the other days. And Friday is "do nothing", where I give myself permission to do nothing at all if I don't want to. But for instance, today I am pulling everything out of the coat closet and reorganizing it. Because I WANT to, not because I have to.

My other side rule is that EVERY day is kitchen day. Chris and I have gotten more into cooking in recent months, and nothing discourages cooking more than having to clean the kitchen, or clean pots and pans, BEFORE you can get to the fun stuff! Then what happens? Ordering pizza or eating crap that is quick and doesn't require much prep becomes the likely option; and when trying to eat better is your top priority, you want to empower yourself to make good meal choices.

So what I do is every morning when I get up, I go straight to the kitchen and put the kettle on to get some water going for my tea. While it is heating, I load the dishwasher (or unload it and then load it, as needed). In the meantime, the water heats, I drop my teabag into some hot water, and by the time I am done with dishes and wiping down the stove and counters, my tea is ready to go! I then go do some morning pages writing (Artist Way holdover) and drink my tea, look at my schedule/plans for the day, all before I let myself wake up the computer to check mail/FB etc. The day has barely begun and I already feel accomplished!

If I did all the dishes the night before, and there is no kitchen cleaning to do, then I do the same thing but with a load of laundry. Hit the hot water, go to the basement and fold a load, transfer, start a new load, and when I come back up I am ready to steep my tea and start my day.

That was all a longhand way of saying that I have adopted a "baby steps" attitude with my organization. I never look at a room and say "Oh my gawd, how am I ever going to get this place tidied up?" Instead I look at one or two things that I can do right now, today, in usually as little as 15-30 minutes, and in the long term it adds up to one very lovely and clean room, and in turn a clean and welcoming home. Removing the clutter and chaos is having an invigorating effect on me, and it makes me want to do more because it feels so rewarding! I just keep reminding myself: I don't have to do it all. Just *something*. And more often than not it snowballs into getting more done than I even planned in the first place.

I still have a long way to go, but in the month or so since I started, I have been sticking to my plan and even going at it with gusto, and am feeling really motivated to keep it up! And frankly I can't wait for spring when I can tune even more of this energy onto our yard projects that have been on hold over the winter, and looking forward to our season of parties and entertaining that Chris and I so love.

Anyway, wanted to share what this girl is doing with her 2010 energy (Tenergy!)! What about you guys? What are you manifesting in your world right now? Any inspirations? Frustrations?

The image I used at the top of this page ended up being on a blog where the author was writing about nearly the exact same subject as me! Coincidence! FATE! Here is her list of plans for her week:
Thyme at Home

She also includes links to several other sites on the same topic:
http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/cleaninglists.htm <---this one is INTENSE. Not my style, but maybe inspiring for someone.

Paulette's Musing: Dancing with Grace

by Friday, February 05, 2010
Over on Momma Paulette's blog she wrote late last year about moving with grace while still being grounded. I enjoyed this summation at the end of the post:

That is what should happen in tribal when you are following your leader. The leader takes charge, listening to the music, and dancing with intention and deliberation, in the groove, and paying attention to who is following her. As a follower, you need to be in the flow, and not even think about what could happen next. Just move your feet or hips or arms, trust your body, stay light on your feet, yet grounded, feel the energy of the movement and the moment, and just do it. Quit thinking! Know what I mean?

Yeah, I do know what you mean!

Low point creamy deliciousness! Pasta Primavera

by Thursday, February 04, 2010

This is what I made for myself for dinner last night. YUM! I had some veggies lying about that needed to get used, and it went great together. If I had realized I had broccoli hiding back there I woulda used that, too!

Note that a cup of whole grain pasta is a point less than regular, but I am just not in the swing of it yet and didn't have whole grain fettuccine in the cupboard.

I was out of fresh garlic, and that is the only reason I used garlic salt and the little amount of pesto. So to drop a WW point, omit the pesto and garlic salt and just cook fresh garlic with the onion in the first step. You could also spice this up with some crushed red pepper flakes, or earthier with a little sage. Possibilities are endless!

Pasta Primavera in a Light Cream Sauce
WW Points: 9

a handful of each (or whatever veggies you have on hand):
white onion - thickly diced
zucchini - quartered
green pepper - thickly diced
cremini mushrooms - quartered
1 tsp olive oil (1pt)
1/8 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp heavy cream (3pts)
2 tsp store bought pesto (1pt)
1 cup fettuccine (4pts)
garlic salt
salt & pepper

1)Start water boiling for the fettuccine. Continue with the steps below, throwing noodles in when water comes to a boil. By the time your ingredients are finished, the pasta should be about done as well.

2) Over medium heat, heat olive oil in pan, then toss in onion and blanche, about a minute (if you have fresh garlic, add it now as well)

3) Toss in zucchini next and cook for about a minute

4) Throw the rest of the veggies and a few dashes of garlic salt in and toss to coat, cooking about 1 minute

5) Pour in the veggie broth and cover, cook about 2 minutes

6) Take off lid, turn up heat to medium high and cook off most of the liquid.

7) Add cream and pesto, turn immediately to low and stir frequently until it thickens slightly. Note: It will NOT be thick like an alfredo, it will be much saucier, but should thick enough to stick to the veggies and noddles without being too heavy.

8) Drain pasta and toss with veggies and sauce.

This was way yummier than I expected, and served to fulfill a craving I was having for a little bit of a creamy sauce. It was plenty filling, and hubby was looking longingly at my meal and telling me how great it smelled. Oh well! You don't want to eat vegetarian when I do, so you lose! Seriously, though, I could have doubled the batch and thrown in some leftover chicken breast for him had we had any, and it would have only added a few more points for his meal. But I didn't need it, I was plenty satisfied as it was!

I can't wait until summer when there is some fresh asparagus and yellow squash running around to throw into this dish! And if I had red pepper instead of green to toss in, the colors would also have been really amazing.
(PS the pic above is not mine, but is a good representation of what you can expect to enjoy! If you want to make the recipe to go with the picture, it is a Cooking Light recipe and you can find it at http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1611725 By their nutrition information, it is only 7 points, though I am not certain how...)

Your dance vocabulary...

by Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I recently watched Bahaia's "Combinography" video. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the content overall, but this one line was so well articulated, I had to share it with you!

"Your dance is a way of expressing yourself. Would you like your dance to be more like a poem or an encyclopedia?
While there's a lot of knowledge in an encyclopedia, it might not be as expressive as a poem. A poem takes only a few words. So your dance could take only a few steps and still express more about you than all of the steps you know which could fill an encyclopedia."

Yes! I often remind my students that one really meaningfully executed move, done with intention and passion, can be far more enthralling than the same move done three or four times with nothing behind it.

Be a poem! Thanks, Bahaia!

Discipline: Forming Good Habits

by Monday, February 01, 2010
Here follows some rambling about making this year a better year, this decade a better decade, through new habits...

Okay confession time: I have never been a very disciplined person. To be honest, and this is maybe gonna sound haughty, but as I was growing up, most things I was presented with came pretty naturally to me. Whatever I put my mind to, mentally or physically, I managed to do at least passably well. I had really fabulous parents who were always encouraging me and making new opportunities available to me, and in return I tended to deliver on those opportunities with awards, certificates, and good grades. But frankly, so long as I was delivering on the expectations put before me, nobody took a look at how it was that I was achieving what I was achieving. Nobody was looking at the habits I was forming. Namely: almost none. I didn't have to study much to get A's and B's. I didn't practice as much as I could for my choir performances, my clarinet solos, or roles in plays, but managed to know my lines and put on a decent show. So who was going to raise a fuss?

While I was above average, I wasn't really pushing myself to the upper limits I was capable of. It was easier to occupy a space below or outside of my greatest potential, rather than do the extra work to really achieve all I was capable of. This acceptable mediocrity was the timbre of my life's pursuits, and it bled into my habits in my everyday life as I grew to adulthood. The house is "clean enough"; it's not like anyone is coming over today. My organization of my files is fine; I can find everything if I dig for a little while. Sure I have some free time right now, but I have enough clean clothes to get me through the week, so that pile of laundry can wait. And the list goes on. But frankly, those little things start to pile up and weigh on you over time. I can attest, it is a demoralizing feeling to look around and realize that for the longest time you haven't cared enough to do a few little things that would have made such a difference in your attitude and your daily experiences.

So today when I look around at my life, I want more for myself! I want to be more proactive. I want to take those little extra steps daily that build into long-term gains. I have the potential to achieve more than I currently have, in my domestic life, my business, and my creative outlets. So why is it so hard to motivate myself to make change, even tiny little ones? Because I haven't established habits which support the basic structure I imagine for my ideal life. I am out of practice with regard to how to set up a system of support for MYSELF. How did I get to 35 and not have these skills? I look back and see that I was always doing just enough, but never all that I was capable of. 2010 is a year to jump on the motivation train and finally step up and defend myself against myself. It's time to make some new habits. It's time to be more disciplined.

Discipline is such a funny word, really. It has two faces. For many, it implies punishment. When you do something wrong in school or work, you are "disciplined". The image of an overly strict teacher seems to hold "discipline" over your head like some menacing sword of Damocles. It's a heavy word, right? Yet it is a word that is also used with reverence. I admire people who are disciplined in their practices or pursuits - runners who get up every morning to get some hoofin' in before work, yoga practitioners who do it every day without fail, people who make time to meditate daily no matter where they are, even on business trips and vacations, friends who stick to their nutrition regimen even when tempted by wine and cheese at parties. The trick is that they have figured out they aren't so much denying themselves something as they are giving a gift to themselves of greater strength, peace, and health. For me, above all, I marvel at their self-love -- that it is strong enough to get them up an hour earlier, carve out a quiet moment in their hectic day, or make kinder choices about what they put in their bodies for long term health benefits. Where did they get that? How did they find that resolve? How do they maintain their discipline?


We're not all born with the instincts to care for ourselves as we should. We aren't born knowing how to brush our teeth or wash our faces. These were learned behaviors. Nesting may be a animalian instinct, but I assure you that doing dishes and vacuuming is not encoded in our DNA. As dancers, we may love putting on our costumes and getting on stage, but the weekly and daily honing of our technical skills in class or at home alone isn't quite as innately rewarding as the roar of an appreciative crowd. Each of these acts of self-care and preparation for success does not necessarily carry with it an immediate reward, but instead are a means to an end. I don't like hauling out the vacuum, but I sure love the pet-hair free carpets and clean-smelling home. It may sometimes feel a drudgery to perform repeated plies or crunches, but it empowers me to execute movement I want to use to express myself in my dance and protect my body from injury as I do.

The people who I admire most in my life are people who formed habits which empowered them to take their skills, their work, their daily life, to the next level. Not satisfied to occupy the space outside their potential, they are taking steps every day toward their ideal life. Nobody is "there". Are we ever? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yes? I think "pursuit" is the key word here. We must always be moving toward happiness, grabbing snatches of it as we go forward. We never arrive, grab a deck chair and a Mai Tai, and say "I'm good now, thanks. Happiness achieved!" Happiness itself is a habit, isn't it? It is building a structure of our lives which supports happiness, and maintaining that structure through discipline.

So that is what I am doing. 2010 is about getting my shit in order. It's about clearing away clutter--the weeds that choke the soil--and making way for the really good stuff to take root. And I am doing this by forming some new habits. I am making little steps every day that are adding up to bigger rewards. And it feels really good. And I am not alone! Seems there is a vibrating energy singing in the air around us this year, and all my friends seem to be tapped into it as well. We're getting organized! We're getting motivated! We're getting disciplined, dammit!

What about you? What is your history of habit-forming? Where do you stand on the concept of discipline in your pursuits today? What are you doing to make 2010 the best year--the best decade--yet?!


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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