Happy International Dance Day!

In honour of today being the International Day of Dance, I’m going to share some of my previous dance life with you! You can find more here and here.

…if you’re on a device, you’ll need to view this in your browser to see the video. Click HERE to go directly to the website.

I call this dance the “Kitchen Baladi.” This performance is from Rockin’ the Casbah,  March 19, 2011.

And since last weekend was Saqra’s Showcase (25th edition!), here is a dance I did at her Showcase in 2009:

And because I am just a little bit silly (okay, more than a little bit), I’ll leave you with this combination of my two loves: big band and bellydance.

Have YOU danced yet today?

Learning to be Retired

I am sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop, looking out past the patio and over a couple of rooftops to the lake below thinking about why I have been unable to organize my thoughts to write a retirement post. Then this morning I read this blog post by Tamara Reddy and had an Oprah-sized ah ha moment.

Actually, I have had this same ah ha moment over and over and over. 🙂

Three months into my retirement and I am feeling a bit lost. Everybody I talk to and everything I read says it takes 1 – 3 years to feel settled after such a major life change. So of course, at only three months in, I have barely stuck my big toe in.  Of course I feel lost. It is normal.

Phew! It’s nice to know I’m normal! It’s normal to feel a bit displaced. To be tossing around and unable to settle one’s thoughts.

I keep telling myself that.

I have been very busy trying to replicate my life in Whitehorse.  I still feel that I must fill my every moment with productive work, and so I have tried to pack everything that I had planned for my retirement into these last three months.

Read dozens of books! Join community concert band! Join quilting guild! Join Fiber Arts guild! Bake bread! Try new recipes! Take quilting classes! Make friends! Lose the last of the weight! Become instantly fit!

Do do do! Produce produce produce! Time is my enemy and I am still fighting that.

I have not yet learned how to relax into a slower pace.

But I am working on it! Mornings last longer and longer as I sit with my coffee and read the blogs I follow. Walks are taken everyday, usually along the lake shore.

My advice to myself?

Dear Nita,
Just as your dance students learn how to be in their bodies in a new way , you are learning how to be in a new place in your life. Breathe! Relax into the movement. Don’t force it. Allow the new you to emerge as you dance your way into a new way of living. An inspired life, like an inspired dance performance, comes from a place of relaxation, understanding and joy.

99 Square Feet: a tiny space with a big heart

I got a note from a friend the other day week reminding me that I haven’t posted any pictures of my creative space yet. Thank you to Shannon for the inspiration and nudge to get it done!

This is the North wall:

008The mirror is for dance practice.  The bookshelf holds my yoga, aerobics & (about half of my) dance videos. The TV and DVD player are mounted on the wall above the shelf.

And yes, there IS enough space in the middle of the floor to roll out my yoga mat!

West wall:

010I used one of my happy retirement gift certificates from my mates at Yukon College to buy these storage shelves for my fabric stash and sewing supplies.

006This morning I unpacked another box and found some missing items:

005If you’re a quilter, you probably have a big grin on your face right now. 🙂

On the South wall, Kelly built me the most gorgeous sewing nook in what used to be the closet.

007The East wall will eventually contain my writing desk and/or work table. I’d love to get one of those sweet little antique secretaries. But as you can see, space is an issue.

012The room is 9×11. Pretty good for 99 square feet, eh?

Last but not least, I’ve pulled the fabrics for my next quilt project:

002I’ve been collecting these oriental prints for a few years now.

003I actually have two lap quilts in mind 🙂

001Stay tuned!

Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)

Six More Fridays

Kelly is now officially retired. Yay! Freedom 55 for my hubby! 🙂
…and you know that I’m not rubbing it in that I get freedom at 52 right?

Yesterday the College posted my job. Boy oh boy, does it ever feel strange to see that. I have SIX more Fridays! Whoop whoop!

Just to add some balance to that, here’s your choreography fix for the day. Maybe Kelly and I will give this a try, whatch’ think?  (can you see Kelly smirking? What’s that? He fainted? Yeah, that’s about right!)

Random Thursday & Beni wa Benak

Today is Random Thursday. Since I don’t have any quilting news, I thought I would finally get around to posting this choreography. This is my former dance troupe, Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble, performing Beni wa Benak at the Yukon Arts Centre in March 2011.

I originally choreographed this piece as a tool for the advanced class to learn and practice particular movements & combinations (among other things such as being aware of facial expressions, theatricality, embellishments etc).  The choreography itself is not performance art, but it has its place. As a performance piece it is best suited to an outdoor event such as a street fair or other event where the audience is milling about and stopping to watch the dancing for awhile before moving on. In this type of venue it is a perfect piece. Lots of movement, lively music, flash & glitter and the audience loves it. However, I included it in the Rockin’ the Casbah show mostly because I needed a filler piece. I adapted the dance to suit the theatre stage as best I could by having dancers join in from the wing mid-way through, adding variety and interest. Someday I’d like to revisit this piece with a troupe – I have ideas for the choreography that I simply didn’t have time to play with when getting ready for this particular show.

These costumes were well-suited to the piece and I love the way the skirts flare out when the dancers twirl.  And get a load of Doug, our MC in the beginning of the piece. The audience loved him!

Linking in with Random Thursday over at Live a Colorful Life.