It's Cold: Let's Dance!

It’s cold!

When I was a kid living in Arizona, we had ‘Snow Birds.’ Snow Birds were grey-haired retirees who wintered in Arizona. I didn’t get it.

Now I get it.

For most of my life I’ve been too hot. My thyroid didn’t work right so my internal thermostat was off. I absolutely couldn’t tolerate hot weather so Oregon was the perfect place for me where the weather rarely gets over 90.

After releasing a bunch of weight, a side effect was my thyroid started working better. What a wonderful thing when it comes to energy, but now I understand the Snow Birds!  I am cold, I tell you.

The other day, I sat on my couch next to the heater with long johns, pants, sweatshirt and coat under a blanket and still couldn’t get warm. My thoughts turned to Arizona and Hawaii, and warmth.

My dance studio is a remodeled shop/garage on my property with high ceilings and is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. So in the summer we work a lot on slow dance moves and in the winter it’s all about shimmies and other heart-pumping movements. It’s amazing how quickly it warms up when a room full of women dances together!

The holiday season can be a stressful time so it’s a good time to gather and dance together. I always have a show called ‘Winter Oasis,’ and we have a lot of fun dancing to Christmas music. We also wear green and red which makes it fun to come up with creative costuming. One dancer even wears battery powered lights on her costume!

Another thing we do each year is modify one of our class dances and use Christmas music instead of traditional Middle Eastern music.  This is really fun! Last year we danced to ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and wore antlers and red light noses that we found at the dollar store. One of our dancers had a broken leg and was in a wheelchair so she was the sleigh and we ended our dance leading her out of the room. This year we’re planning on doing our cane dance to ‘Sleigh Bells.’

Dancing can be great fun and stress-relief during this season. Holiday parties can be a great performance opportunity and nursing homes or retirement communities always love to have their season spiced up with a bit of belly dancing. Add some flavor by mixing in Christmas music and creativity abounds!

On another note, I have some costumes for sale for the voluptuous dancer and here are the links. These costumes are gorgeous and I hate to see them go, but they can’t be altered to my new size due to the exquisite beading. They would make great gifts for someone.

Happy Holidays,


P.S. This is the time of year we think of giving but we often forget to give to ourselves. Please take care of you by giving yourself plenty of time to rest and regenerate when you need it. It will help you stay healthy so you can enjoy the season

My Gratitude Attitude

Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, but I give thanks every day of the year.  It’s a way of life for me, and it’s changed my life by helping me focus on the positive and achieve happiness.

Today I want to talk about my gratitude for belly dance. I know, that’s a shock, NOT.

Anyway, I am grateful for the dance and for what the dance has given me.

Belly dance has given me healing and empowerment by helping me overcome shyness, sadness and so many fears. It’s helped me feel good about myself both physically and emotionally and best of all helped me leave victimhood behind as I walk tall in my life.

Belly dance has given me fun! I love dancing and I love making and wearing fabulous costumes. I also love traveling to events and seeing new places.

Best of all, belly dancing has given me friends, some of whom have become my chosen family. My belly dance sisters have been there for me through thick and thin. I can always count on them to hold me up when I’m down and to celebrate the good times. There is nothing like being wheeled down the hall to emergency surgery and seeing the hallway filled with belly dancers! Talk about feeling loved. And my Hawaiian-themed birthday party? Well you get the gist! Love and fun! What could be better.

This week’s blog is a short one because I’m off to pop the turkey into the oven. My kids and grandchildren will all be here today, and there are no boundaries to my gratitude about having my whole family together.

Happy Thanksgiving,



Focus on the Good!

Focus on the Good

This past week was a time of violence in Paris, Beruit and Kenya where hundreds of people were killed and even more injured. Just a month before that, there was a mass shooting at the Umpqua Community College where I teach belly dance. To be sure, these are horrors, and we can’t help but feel distressed, but what I want to talk about is the huge backlash of love that happens during times like this.

Since I live in a community where something like this just happened, I can assure you first hand that there is much more goodness and love around here than there is badness and hate.

I think that when we all first heard about what happened at UCC, we were shell-shocked and almost numb. It was so hard to believe that something like this could happen in our small rural community, and it just didn’t seem real at first. But it didn’t take long for people to move from thoughts of shock and horror to thoughts of how to help and heal.

Every reader board in the county says something about praying for UCC and staying strong. Banners were unfurled, thousands of candles lit up local gatherings and people came together uniting in the common cause of supporting the victims and their families with everything from free counseling to service dogs on the campus when it re-opened.

It wasn’t just locally, but people around the world were praying for our community. Millions of prayers were directed our way and President Obama even showed up in our little town to show support to the families of the victims.  While some people focused on fear and anger around this event, I chose to focus on the outpouring of love and healing.

I believe that people are inherently good. Whether it’s a natural disaster or mass shooting, it brings out the good in people as they rally and are motivated to give. People truly want to help.

One woman I know contacted all the alternative healers in our area, rented a room at the fairgrounds and had a day of free healing for anyone in the community who needed it. A dancer I know is arranging a fund-raiser for the victims. Throughout the community from individuals to big business, support is being given to those who need it.

This is what being human is about. The overwhelming majority of mankind wants to help, and when we focus on this, focus on what is right in the world instead of what is wrong, our lives can be much more fulfilling and filled full.

Now, let me tell you a story about 9-11.

Terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and my annual belly dance retreat was scheduled to start just three days later on September 14, 2001.

Now this was before Facebook and back in the day when people still used phones. I received calls from all over the country from other event sponsors asking me if I was still going to have my retreat. Belly dancers around the U.S. were concerned that it might not be safe to attend a Middle Eastern dance event after this attack, afraid they might be targets for picketing at best and violence at worst.

My thoughts were that canceling our events would let the bad guys win. Plus, I found out during Desert Storm that most people don’t equate belly dancers with the Middle East.

Some people canceled their events and those who didn’t had no problems.

My retreat is not open to the public and is held deep in the Oregon woods or boonies as I call it. I wasn’t worried about anything except whether or not people would attend.
So, here is what happened….

Every single person who registered for my retreat, except two, showed up. One had emergency surgery and one had a preemie grandbaby make an early appearance.  So, that was great.

However, because the airports were shut down, a few teachers didn’t make it and one of my teachers worked for the Red Cross and couldn’t make it. So as people arrived and checked in, I was asking known teachers if they could fill in, and people graciously volunteered for a class.

When we did our introductions around the campfire, a few people talked about feeling guilty coming to a dance event when the country was in mourning and over the weekend we did several healing circles sending prayers and healing energy to the crash sites. Several dancers approached me saying they were so glad they came, that being with their sister dancers really helped them through such a difficult time and that the healing circles gave them a sense of doing something rather than feeling helpless. 

It ended up being an amazing weekend, one that we will all remember and hold in our hearts.

When a disaster happens, we can’t all hop on planes and go help. We don’t all have money to donate, or the time and energy to hold a fundraising event. But we can gather in groups, hold hands, have moments of silence and prayer. We can all reach out to each other for support and remind each other of the need for gentle kindness during stressful times. We can all smile at each other and at strangers and remember the good in the world and count our blessings.

On that note, someone once told me that there is good in every situation. I remember lying on the floor after a fall wondering what could possibly be good about this situation. My husband had left me, I lost my home and my car and I fell while moving. I was determined to find something good and it came to me. When I fell, I fell on top of the suitcase I had been carrying. I thought, the good in this situation is my fall was cushioned by the suitcase and protected my face from slamming into the cement floor. Somehow this struck my funny bone and I started laughing. I swear I instantly moved from victim to victorious.

Yes, it was that simple.

Finding the good,





Cheating is Defeating!

I recently attended a birthday party where there was a giant chocolate cake which used to be my most favorite food group. It has grain, protein (eggs) and dairy, right? Unfortunately, it also has sugar in mass amounts and sugar is poison to me.
So I sat and watched three people on ‘diets’ eat a piece of that decadent cake and when I questioned their choice (because I’m blunt that way) they said it was a special occasion and they were having a ‘cheat day.’
This gave me food for thought and obviously a topic for my blog!  It’s about food but is also about belly dance, so for those of you who don’t have food issues!  Read on!
I don’t have ‘cheat days.’ It isn’t because I’m so special or so goody goody, it’s because I’m a sugar addict and chocolate cake is my crack. Sure I could eat just a small piece, but then I’d be tortured with cravings for hours afterwards. Why would I do that to myself?
Many people say they can have just a little bit and their craving is satisfied. For some, that’s true, for others it’s just something they say in that moment and in the next moment they eat just a little bit and those moments just keep coming.
If I cared about what others thought or about societal conditioning I would have dropped weight long ago, but I don’t. I care about me and how I feel inside and out. So having a ‘cheat day’ is cheating myself of feeling good and it’s a huge risk that I’m not willing to take, the risk of going back to bad eating habits.
I’ve watched many friends try to diet and fail and wondered why I am succeeding after so many years of failure myself. I read a Facebook post the other day and it became clear. The post was something about pumpkin pie and whipped cream in the break room and what torture it was to resist.
It wasn’t torture for me to watch all my friends eat a piece of decadent chocolate cake, not at all.
So I asked myself: what’s different, now?
What’s different is that I now focus on what I can eat instead of what I can’t. And! Instead of thinking of a diet as deprivation or punishment, I think of it as a way to heal my body. It’s a mental thing, about changing my thoughts.
I can eat delicious grapes, a crisp apple, or some decadent pineapple if I have a craving for sweets, and I’m satisfied and go on with my day craving-free.
Success is mostly a mental thing, thinking about what I can eat instead of what I can’t, thinking ahead when I’m on the run but it’s also about wanting to feel good and wanting it badly enough to change my thoughts and habits.
So what does cheating have to do with belly dance?
Well, have you ever had that troupe member that doesn’t practice? She’s too busy and thinks she can just wing it by watching her sister dancers.  This is cheating! She cheats herself first and foremost out of a good dance experience where she’s confident with her ability to do the choreography and second, she cheats her troupe mates when she gets on the stage and blows it causing her sister dancers stress and taking some of the fun away from group dancing and performing.
I’m a busy person also, but I won’t get on the stage with my dance friends unless I know the dance. I will do whatever it takes to learn the choreography. I’ve always been a ‘busy’ person, so if I don’t have the time to physically practice the dance, I’ll run it in my head and think through each movement of the choreography until I know it. I always have it written down to refer to when I forget something. I’ll do the dance in my head as I lay in bed ready to fall asleep or when I wake up in the morning or when I’m driving, waiting in line, etc. There is always time to learn and memorize choreography.
There is usually one place in each dance that I have a brain glitch and can’t seem to remember what the next move is. It’s a strange thing and I don’t know if it happens to anyone else, but if I have trouble with a certain step transition, or step-combination, I work on just that aspect of the dance and repeat it several times until it becomes natural. It only takes a few minutes when I don’t have time to practice the whole routine.
Success in eating well depends on my mental state, just as success in a troupe performance depends on my mental state, memorizing the routine so that I know it just like I know the list of foods I can eat. It’s also about wanting to feel good about my performance (and my sister dancers) badly enough to do what it takes to learn the dance.
As teachers, we always have those students who focus on what they can’t do instead of on what they can. Can’t is a four letter word that isn’t allowed in my studio! Belly dance is so diverse that I can teach anyone to dance; even people in wheel chairs!
You can’t do a backbend to the floor during floor work? Well, neither can I anymore, but I can do beautiful hands, arms and hips.
You have a bum knee? Well, so do I and it doesn’t keep me from dancing.  A bum ankle? Shoulder? You feel too old? Too fat?
Don’t let anything stop you from dancing! Please allow yourself the joy of dance and let me or someone show you the movements you can do and how to modify movements for your body. For everything you can’t do, I’ll show you several things you can do!
Your mind is a powerful tool and changing your thoughts to what you can eat or what you can do, will literally change your reality.
I have an 81 year old student who has had brain surgery and foot problems. Her movements are limited, but that doesn’t stop her from dancing. When she came to class a couple of weeks ago with her gorgeous, new silk veil, my heart was so very happy. When I asked the class if they would be open to performing a dance, she was the first to speak up and say, yes!  She is a perfect example of the ‘can do’ crowd.
You can do anything you set your mind to. You just have to want it more than you want to hang on to self-imposed limitations or fears.  Don’t cheat yourself out of feeling good inside and out. Don’t cheat yourself out of feeling joy.
Your Manifesting Mentor,

More Costuming Peeves and Hints

I got several responses to my last blog, and I’ll share some of them, but first I want to talk about troupe costuming.

In my opinion, there should be a consistency to troupe costuming. 

I’ve had a troupe for many years. I love troupe dancing, adore it and work hard at it.  You can ask my peeps in our Mystical Oasis Student Troupe; (M.O.S.T.) how seriously I take troupe.

Jasel and I spend hours creating a choreography, then we spend weeks teaching and learning the choreography, and more weeks practicing that same choreography! So, when we perform, I want the audience to see the dang choreography!

Ya know what I’m sayin’?

Whether it’s a soloist or a troupe, when dancers make an entrance, the audience looks at them first, to see they look like and what they are wearing and then they see the dance. That’s just the way it is. So, as I said in my last blog, if there is a costuming problem, it draws the eye and it’s hard to watch the performance.

I love watching other troupes perform, and I want to see their choreography, floor patterns and creativity. I’ve also judged troupes in competition for many years, and if you want people to see your dance, you need to have matching costumes.

When a troupe comes out in matching costumes, it takes only seconds to see the costumes and then you are almost immediately drawn into the dance.  When a troupe enters with inconsistent costuming, the audience looks at each dancer and what she is wearing; it distracts from the performance.

I once judged a lovely troupe who had great energy, but there were six of them and each one had a different costume. When I say different, I don’t mean color. I mean, there was a tribal costume, a cabaret costume, a ‘Gypsy’ costume, etc. It’s great to allow for each dancer to express who she is with her costuming, but it’s very distracting.

To me, troupe dancing is a group of dancers who dance together as a team or a tribe, not a bunch of soloists sharing a stage and doing the same dance. It’s the synchronicity that makes troupe dancing, so riveting to watch.

So here are some troupe costuming tips:

Costuming needs to match. You can all wear the same exact costume, or the same costume in different colors. I’ve also seen the same colors but each one has a different belt design which isn’t too distracting.

When I design a costume for my troupe, I either make them all the same, or the same but in different colors. Sometimes we have matching jewelry and hair adornments, and sometimes with these aspects, I allow for individual expression.

For our Halloween set, we dressed as zombies one year and vampires the next and all individually designed because it was just for fun, not serious like a theatrical stage show.

One of my pet peeves is a troupe with the exact same costume down to the jewelry and hair pieces and some have belly covers and some don’t. To me that is Tacky with a capital T. If one person wears a belly cover, everyone should be wearing a belly cover. I hate it when I see the ‘big’ girls with belly covers and the ‘small’ girls without them. A belly cover looks good on everyone, people!

I also believe that troupe costumes should be made to flatter ALL figures! I’ve seen some real sad sights, very distracting sights, cringe worthy sights.

My troupe consists of a variety of women from petite to voluptuous and from average height to six foot. We constantly get complimented on our costumes because they are designed to flatter any figure.

So that’s my two cents on troupe costuming and now for feedback from other dancers on costuming boos. They brought up several good points that I didn’t mention.

I once watched a dancer (well really her boobs) whose bra was cut so low I don't know how her boobs didn't jump out.  One of my biggest pet peeves is dancers who do not cover their bras with material before decorating.  They use a colored bra and just hang stuff off of it, but to me it still screams "under-wear" not costume.  Also along those lines is not covering the back of the bra - dancers should cover all "bra parts" or wear a vest of some sort to cover the back of the bra. …………..R. B.

I have an additional pet peeve. I cringe when costuming, (and dancing), clashes with the type of music. I love the creativity I see in tribal and alternative belly dance, but not when it disrespects cultural traditions.  I once took a Middle Eastern friend to an event.  She had a great time, clapping and smiling at all the dancers, except for one in alternative costuming dancing to a modern mid-eastern song.  I don't even think it was inappropriate or insulting, but to her it was jarring, confusing, and she just plain didn't like it.  I had a lot of explaining to do.  ………….S. J.

Like minds flow together. So here is the thought I have been pondering. I notice that a lot of the newer costumes are leaving a lot of exposure between the breasts. What you see is pretty much half the breast and pretty close to the nipple. Too much gap! It’s too much exposure for my taste. I have given this a lot of thought; am I being too picky? Am I over-dramatizing a difference in costume style? After much thought, this is what I came up with. When I see this type of costume, my eyes keep wandering back to the cleavage to see if one or both of the girls have fallen out. I am so busy ‘cleavage checking’ that I miss the dance and any other beautiful aspect of the costume. I feel like I am in the middle of a train wreck, don’t want to look but can’t help it. I just want to admire the beauty of the dance, dancer and costume and not worry about exposed body parts.  ……………...L.C

Costuming Peeves and Hints

October 29, 2015

I want to talk about costuming!  Yes, it’s almost Halloween, but I’m going to talk about belly dance costumes!  The photo above is a fun picture of a group of my students in diverse costumes taken by Fred Herinckx.

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was to play dress-up. I loved to pretend I was a princess or fairy or pioneer woman, and I would spend hours creating different costumes from whatever I could get my hands on from scarves to high heels to sheets!

So, when I first started belly dancing, I loved the aspect of dressing up! I lived in rural Oregon and the fanciest thing I got to wear was a t-shirt and jeans. To belly dance, I ‘had’ to wear sequins and satins. Be still my heart.

The other thing I’ve always loved is sewing and crafting. So for me, half the fun of belly dance is making and wearing fabulous costumes!

I once beaded a winged scarab on the back of a belt and interconnected ankhs on the front with eyes of Horus on the bra and a beautiful fringe that I beaded one seed bead at a time. I learned to bead growing up on an Indian reservation so I just switched from Native American designs to Middle Eastern designs.

When I traveled to dance, I would get so many compliments on my costumes and people would ask me where I got them. When I told them I made them myself, they would raise their eyebrows in wonder. Remember, this was long before beaded fringe and sequined appliqué’s came on the scene and costumes at that time were made with coins. (I’ve always been ahead of my time!)

I’d like to share some costuming pet peeves and tips with you and hope you find them helpful.

First and foremost, your costume should enhance your dance, not distract from it. Now, it’s common sense that boobs coming out the bottom of the bra, nipples out the top and cracks showing in the back are all distracters, but I still see it happening! And I forgot to mention the high slit skirts front and center and coochie shots during spins. I don’t want to see that, and if I do see it, I can’t see your dance because my eye is automatically drawn to your costume boo boos.

Now, that’s a given, but there are other costuming distractions. I once watched a dancer who had a scarf draped over her shoulder and tucked in her belt back and front as an accent to her costume. It slid off of her shoulder over a dozen times during her dance and she’d pull it back up. She should have either pinned it in place or the very least tucked it in at her shoulder. While she was dancing, it never occurred to her to tuck it in her neckline or just let it drop off of her arm and instead of watching her dance, I watched her pull up her scarf at least two dozen times each time wondering if she would tuck it to secure it.

Another distraction is when a costume doesn’t flatter the dancer’s figure. A belly hanging down over the front of the belt is distracting. Belly covers are easy to come by and can be very flattering to all kinds of figure flaws. The same goes for sleeves and not just for bat wings!

Straight beaded fringe can made a torso look shorter and a heavier dancer look heavier, but a ‘V’ shaped fringe can make a torso look longer and flatter the figure.

A face covering is very distracting. It can be great for a dramatic entrance, but then get that thing off your face! And then there is hair. Hair hanging in the face is not sexy; it’s distracting and both of these things block your energy and keep your essence from flowing into your audience.

Now if your hair falls into your face when you’re a wild woman in your dance, that’s one thing, but don’t leave it there and don’t style it that way. Sorry, but it’s not attractive. Really it’s not. Either way, your audience is waiting for you to get that hair where it belongs instead of watching you dance. So, make sure your hair is secure with a head piece or clip, or please just reach up and brush it out of your face. I don’t care if moving your hair isn’t in your choreography because I won’t see your choreography if I’m looking at the hair in your face.

Enough said about hair in the face!

When you costume, it’s important to make sure the color works for you, the shape of the costume flatters your figure, all your lady parts are covered and secure and that you have appropriate embellishments such as sleeves, jewelry and hair adornments. You want to be beautiful and add brilliance to your dance; you don’t want to be remembered for your awkward costuming.

I wrote a booklet called "Costuming Expose, Tell All True Stories!" It’s filled with true stories about costuming and it’s free if you sign up to receive my blog/newsletters on If you already signed up before I made this offer, and want this booklet, just drop me an email and I’ll send you the pdf file.

Happy Costuming,


P.S. I’d love to receive some replies on this subject!


2015: The Year of Getting Healthy

When this year started I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish. My plan included a new website and weekly blogs and newsletters, etc.  I was going to focus on my heart’s desire of creating a thriving belly dance business with all the bells and whistles.

There is a saying that if you want to make God/dess laugh, make plans! 

2015 turned into a very different year than I had ‘planned’ and I’m very happy and blessed!

This year has been the year of getting my health back, and it feels like a miracle. I loved myself the way I was, but feeling and living in my new body is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. Feeling vigor and vitality and having the energy to make it through the day without passing out from exhaustion is incredible. I feel better than I have in 30 years.

Two years ago I collapsed and in the ensuing months went to many different doctors, a general practitioner, cardiologist, endocrinologist and rheumatologist. I also went to a naturopath. No one could find anything wrong. I sometimes couldn’t even sit and hold my own head up and ended up lying on the floor or on the ground if I was outdoors. I had lots of joint pain, and the worst thing of all was the brain fog. I could barely function and each day it felt like an ordeal to even survive.

I couldn’t work and paid my bills by selling things like tools and other personal possessions, even furniture. It was hell.

On January 11, 2015, I was taking a workshop with the fabulous, Rachel George. About half-way through, I ran out of energy and had to sit out the rest. As I was sitting, I noticed that I no longer had a left ankle. It had become a ‘cankle’ and was as big around as my calf. My foot looked like a mini-zeplin with tiny zeplin toes sticking off of it. I looked at that, and felt something inside of me shift.

I was done!

On January 12, 2015, I stopped eating sugar and most carbs. I went on my version of the Atkins diet and released 25 lbs in the first month. After a month, I had my brain back, had more energy and went from two naps a day to one nap a week.

Now, nine months later, I’ve released 80 pounds!  I call it released because I’ve lost weight many times in the past and always found it again and then some. This time, I’m releasing the weight with love and I never want to see it again!

When I danced last weekend, I wore a costume I haven’t worn in more than 30 years! It was exciting and fun, but it isn’t about how I look; it’s about how I feel!  I love how I feel and love that I am vital and full of energy and can now do anything I want!

The truth is, I am a recovering sugar addict. As it turns out, sugar is a huge inflammatory, hence a huge decrease in arthritis pain. Not one of the many Drs I went to mentioned this.

I went from barely functioning to vital, from having many debilitating symptoms to being healthy and all simply by changing what I eat.

So, what do I eat? Yummy stuff! On a typical day I eat eggs and bacon or a cheese omelet for breakfast, cashews and a celery stick with peanut butter or ounce of cheese for lunch and protein and veggies for dinner. Plus, I eat lots of fruit and drink lots of water!  When I stopped eating sugar, I discovered that fruit is quite delicious! In the past, diets felt like punishment, but this way of eating is something I can maintain for the rest of my life.

I would love it if my experience encourages or inspires women to eliminate sugar, which I now call poison. I would love it if you could feel as wonderful as I do!

The year of 2015 is the year I got my health back, the best thing possible!

Oh, and I actually created a new website too! And, I published “Belly Dance Transformations” two other highlights of my year.

How has 2015 treated you so far? I’d love to hear some replies!

Blessings and love to all of you and may your heart’s desires and dreams come true!