burlesque

What These Women Have Taught Me

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I promise, you can do this!

I am more in love with my work than I have ever been. One of the most beautiful parts of my work and my life is The Burlesque Experience. Running now for five and a half years and 22 seasons, around 230 women have come through this program, and  I gotta tell ya, it doesn’t get old. In fact, tomorrow, another group is finishing their program, the end of the line. Tonight, the last sleep tonight before Bust-Out.

And I have fallen in love with each of them.

Could I love this work any more than I do right now? I doubt it.

It starts with a strut.
It starts with a strut.

Like any marriage, my relationship to the Burlesque Experience has been challenging at times. At one point I even wanted to leave it (some of you may remember, Last Year’s Burn-Out…) But I realized that what I really needed was rest. I know now that I must do my best to keep my tank filled, keep my head on straight, focused, adulting, dedicated. I know that if I stay awake, stay present and in service to the group, it’s a sheer delight.

I’ve learned (the hard way) that impeccable self-care is the key to being good at what I do. It’s not just a novelty or ‘good-to-do’ kind of thing. It is paramount. And when I show up fully, I get the most out of it. I get to spend an exciting six weeks with a group of brave women who transform, bond, blossom and bloom in seriously palpable, sustaining and powerful ways.

I have the best job in the world. And I don’t just teach them. They teach me, too.

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Am I really doing this?

Here’s what these women have taught me lately…

  • We are so much more than we think we are. Every semester, week one, women come to that first intro circle, uncertain, curious, wanting more. They also come with their stories about who they are or who they are not, and sometimes even who they think they can never be. And then, I watch, as they shed those stories and prove to themselves they are so much more than they ever thought.
  • We need each other. Each semester, I watch a bunch of strangers sheepishly approach one another, wondering who will they like. Will they be liked? Do they fit in? By the time they reach their Bust-Out, they are soul sisters, they are intimately connected and they trust each other. They hold each other up, they wipe each other’s tears. They show up for one another in such inspiring ways. No one does this alone. In life, and in the Burlesque Experience.
  • We can be afraid and do it anyway. People who wait for the courage to arrive, before they say yes to their Burlesque Experience may be waiting forever. The courage comes while you are doing it. And afterward, you are more courageous than you were before you did it. That’s how courage works.Tomorrow, the Spring/Summer 2016 class busts out. Are they excited? Hell yeah. Are they terrified? Of course. Will they do it anyway? I have no doubt. Fear is part of the package. We don’t get to skip it. But we can move through it. When we start to realize we can do brave things AND be afraid at the same time, the world opens up for us. We become unstoppable.
  • We can do anything we set our minds to, even if a part of us thinks we cannot. Around week three, this group, and the ones before it, realize what’s ahead, and it feels insurmountable. Freak outs begin. Meltdowns are common. Fear works overtime. Overwhelm kicks in. I plead with them to stay with me, it’s possible, we can do this. And most of the time, they stay. But it’s not my pleading that convinces them. It is they, themselves. They work their tails off, they practice, they create, they stay connected to each other and dedicated to the process and to themselves, and then, they reach the end, and lo and behold, they do it, and hot damn, they do it well.
  • We all want to be seen. We all are meant to shine. I’ve worked with every type of woman you can imagine. Shy women, open women, closed women, wounded women, loud women, quiet women, younger women, older women, sweet women, sour women, and we all share so many things in common. One of them being this deep desire to be seen. To stand in a spotlight, to bravely say, “Hey world, here I am! Notice me!” This requires great bravery. And they have it. And every woman is capable of shining brightly. It’s not just reserved for a certain few. We all have it in us. In class, I call it our inner showgirl. We could also call it our essence, our spirit, our bright shining soul. We are meant to shine. Marianne Williamson said it best…

“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine… It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

It’s almost showtime.

I hope you will be there with me. It’s so much more than a “show.”

Hold space with me as we watch these women shine, as they are liberated from their fears, and in doing so, liberate others.

Cheer with me as they boldly step onto that stage and into the powerful glow of their very own light.

I am in awe of these women. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t feel more blessed.

I think they're ready.

They’re ready. Let’s do this.     

Photos by Sunset Hoots Monroe & Dee Hill.

Life is Smarter Than Me.

12368988_10153396512383473_3584647267137377978_nWelp. I had some plans, see, to hand over directorship of The Burlesque Experience so that I could be free, see… free to frolic, free to create new things, free to see what other adventures life had in store.

As it turns out, the adventure life had in store for me was not what I expected. It rarely is, really. We’ve all heard the John Lennon line “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans…”

Let me rewind a little. After five years, 20 consecutive seasons and bringing over 200 women to stage, to say I was tired was an understatement. Frankly, I was burned out. I was fried. I was tapped out, empty. Even the fumes that I’d been running on were gone.

I hired a new director, with lots of fanfare and celebration, we began our training in between seasons, delegating, discussing details, all the while, I was making major life changes and committing to self-care, wellness, vitality.

I was getting my mojo back.

The new director also had some major life changes over those months. She accepted an awesome full-time job that kind of fell from the sky, that she loves passionately. With two babies, a full-time job, and after hours, a busy freelance business, designing, coaching and doing burlesque, she is one busy babe. My gut kept saying this was not the right move.

I struggled with apprehension… I hate going backwards. It brings with it some of my least favorite feelings like regret, embarrassment, sheepishness. Will people understand? I mean, I even gave a ‘good-bye’ speech in front of a couple hundred people. Do I really want to direct this again? Can I love and care for this baby the way it deserves?

But the train was moving, and I had wanted to be free, remember? And I had made that speech…

Then, this week, as Life would have it, as a series of minor events, conversations, feelings, and a hell of a lot of thinking snowballed, I knew what had to happen.

I mustered all of my superhero powers to stop a moving train.

One day before the new semester was to begin.

UGH! Can I really do this? Yes, Life answered me. Yes. You got this.

It knew 100% it was the right thing to do.

She and I talked, and it just makes good sense, all around. I continue to support her in her pursuits and endeavors and am happy that she will still be an important part of the B.E. program and community.

And here’s the most surprising part: I have fallen in love with the Burlesque Experience all over again.

It’s clear to me now that what I needed last year the most was a break. A real break.

Surrender. Stillness. Silence.

I needed to focus on me, on healing, on self-care, on making some drastic lifestyle changes. (I’ll tell you more about those in another blog.) I needed to realign with my purpose, my passion, my path.

And I have.

I’m excited, I’m charged, I’m taking impeccable care of myself, I’m grounded and focused and committed and holy cow, I’m thrilled about this group of women that will be BUSTING OUT on February 26th.

Someday, I still would like to transition away to allow other leaders to step in to the Dallas operations, so I can focus on growing and expansion into other cities through licensing. I have books to write. I have programs to create. I have things to do!

For now though, one of my primary priorities is directing my baby, The Burlesque Experience.

I’m not just “okay” with that. I’m stoked.

Sometimes, we think we know our paths. We think we have it all figured out, that we know what’s next. And then life says “Hey, I have a better idea. How about going THIS way?”

I’ve said it before and I firmly believe that Life is smarter than I am. Smarter than we are. Sometimes, we just have to throw up our hands and say “Life, I trust you.”

Life, I trust you.

 

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Photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth

It’s Good to be Queen

expmanWhen a woman falls in love with herself, the world heals.

I’ve built my life around this truth.

We’ve spent so much of our lives, walking around wounded, feeling less than, never enough, too this, not enough that, always falling short.

To be able to grow away from those lies, to entertain and even embrace the notion of our innate beauty, our perfectly imperfect perfection, our enough-ness… revolutionary stuff, I tell ya!

Marianne Williamson, in her must-read book “A Woman’s Worth,” talks about our choice, at every given moment, to be either slave-girl, or queen.

I choose to be a queen. And it’s my life’s greatest honor to support other women as they claim their royalty. Ladies, it’s time. Our days of playing small are over. The slave-girl is ready for healing. She’s ready for her true calling, as Queen.

Burlesque dancing has been an inspiring, life-changing path for this transition. In my work over the last four years with hundreds of women, through this sexy, playful, empowering dance form, I’ve witnessed transformation, remembering, self-discovery, healing. It’s a beautiful thing to witness a woman falling in love with herself, calling a truce with her body, moving in ways that celebrate her femininity, as is. There’s such power in that!

The first time I performed Burlesque in front of an audience, I was terrified, I was literally shaking in my boots. Once on stage, every move became a message, a love letter to myself.

My audience responded to me with the standard hooting and hollering burlesque shows are famous for.

My boldness magnified. My courage took over. I lit up, luminous and radiant. I played with the audience, teasing them, flirting with them, and during that four minutes, we shared an energetic exchange that was electric. I felt so powerful, so in charge and beautiful. I realized how brave I was. And my life from then on was never the same.

Through my program, the Burlesque Experience, I’ve been able to re-live this life-changing transformation again and again. I’ve watched them change their lives after stripping on stage for a packed theatre. I’ve watched them heal. I’ve watched them shine.

I jokingly say the Burlesque Experience is “changing the world, one striptease at a time.” But you know what? It’s not really a joke. It’s true.

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Come dance with me! Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshop Friday 5/2 at MoveStudio!

Photo by Dee Hill Photography