Media has a long standing tradition of teaching women we are only worth something based on a level of conventional attractiveness and how quietly we sit and smile. We learn this from the time we’re very young when we must wear the pretty dress and have our hair just right while we silently smile and act like a good girl at family gatherings. Our parents instill that in us along with that oh so dangerous idea that if a relative wants a hug or kiss on the cheek well then we must comply. We’re conditioned to believe we’re objects, to be seen and never heard. Good girls don’t have tangled hair, muddy clothes or refuse to smile and say no. But is that entirely our parents fault? Nope, they learned it from their parents and so on and so on but over the last 100 years media has perpetrated these messages and created a society defined by media standards. Doesn’t matter if it’s in print, movies, photographs, tv or music. All of it over the last millennia has taught us just how we should be and it’s fucking bullshit!
The messages are everywhere and their confusing as hell so it’s no wonder that the women I work with regularly still have massive insecurities and hang ups about their bodies and value. They worry that they’re too fat, too thin, too old, don’t have big enough boobs, have the wrong hair, wrong skin color, wrong style, aren’t of value because they aren’t fully able bodied or whatever else you can think of. It’s so much and it’s exhausting because regardless of the factor it all comes down to one issue…weren’t not worthy. If we’re too old or overweight or not the right skin color we have no right to be seen as sexy. If we’re young and thin and have conventionally beautiful features then we’re only allowed to be sexy for men but we’re still sluts because of that. If we don’t dress sexy then we automatically get the label that we’re some kind of feminazi out to destroy men or just simply not womanly enough and we should try harder. On the other end of this when we do find a male partner we’re supposed to be hyper sexual for him. But only him and only when he initiates it and certainly only for him to see. If we’re bisexual or lesbian then that’s only “hot” if we’re putting on a show for men to see otherwise we’re disgusting.
It’s all too much and it’s no wonder we all feel some sort of constant shame, insecurity and doubt ourselves. The media does a damn good job of pushing us down and at the same time making us spend billions of dollars on changing our appearance and buying products, clothing and such to fit in. But it’s never enough and we still feel somehow less then. In my coaching group, the women I teach are constantly wondering how they break free from this messaging when it shoved down our throats rapid fire on a daily basis. It’s hard to give them an answer because I’m working against a force much larger then myself. I’m essentially one rebellion jet going at a Death Star. But all of us Star Wars nerds know that in fact one rebel fighter took down an entire Death Star so there’s hope. What I tell them is to on a daily basis compliment themselves, dance and move for themselves and compliment each other. Find a way to share their voice and spend time with themselves learning to love their bodies. If they can love their physical self they can slowly learn to love the inside too. If they do that while finding ways to stand up for and light up other women then it’ll spread and overtime we can break down the media machine. Right now our society is at a turning point. There’s powers trying to take us back and powers trying to break us free and we just need to get in the habit of feeding the right wolf. I see women everyday that are starting to push forward so if we stand behind them and with them we can transform our world for the better. The men out there who support us can help by continuing to hear us, validate us and support us by making sure we know we are worthy as is. It’s gonna take a lot of work but we can do it and then we’ll have created a future where every woman is given a voice.
Sometimes life throws a shit storm your way. Like legit proverbial shit storm that feels like the end is near! It’s so easy when life feels like it’s kicking you in gut while you’re already down to give up. It’s even easier to believe that nothing good can come from the bad. You get completely into a state of self defeat and can believe that there’s no way out. You can even get into a state of believing you must deserve whatever is going wrong. I’m totally guilty of that and it’s something I still work on.
When shit hits the fan though that’s the best time to look for the good. When everything’s going wrong you’ll find that it was probably never right to begin with. It’s the universes way of saying it’s time to move on but how you react to it makes all the difference. I’m one of those people that the moment things blow up I first need to cry, scream and feel like the world is ending. But with either coaxing from loved ones or myself I open my eyes to the reality of the situation and see the opportunity to do better, find better and surround myself with better. Anytime something has failed or I’ve had a major conflict with someone and I sit back and really look at the situation I can find that it wasn’t right ever. The person I have conflict with wasn’t right to work with and there were red flags from day one, a relationship wasn’t solid from the start, a situation had lots of problems I’d ignored. You can only ignore the signs for so long till the universe will force you to pay attention. When it does finally wake you up you have two choices. You can either give up and continue to let things get worse or you can see the lesson and start getting honest with yourself from day one about what you really want.
Not everything goes right all the time but it doesn’t mean it all goes bad either. If you find the good in the bad you can usually find better. Every time I’ve opened my eyes to what really didn’t work in the first place I’ve let go of what didn’t work. Then I’ve found something or someone better and life improved, my mindset and progress within myself improved. So when things go wrong step back, see the situation for what it really is and you will find a way out. Life is full of ups and downs and it’s so easy to forget that there’s so much good. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it”. Take the bad and find the good and then find the way into the great 💗
So the Super Bowl happened and while I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the game I watched every bit of that half time show at least 20 times by now. It was incredible for so many reasons and for women all over the world it was a statement loud and clear. There were multiple political statements represented especially during Jlo’s piece with the children and we could talk at length about the political messages but I wanna talk about the messages for women. Shakira and JLo are 43 and 50 respectively, 43 and 50 and they look freaking amazing!!! These women performed at a level that most dancers their ages have stopped doing because the toll it takes on your body is intense. They didn’t just perform well for women their ages, they performed well period. They showed that women over 40 aren’t suddenly old, dried up matronly figures.
For women every where that was a clear message that age doesn’t mean a damn thing. They were strong, sexy and powerful as hell and what an incredible message for us all. So much of our media tells us that over 40 we seize to be sexy and should start hiding away from the world. It’s ridiculous because we women of a certain age don’t suddenly stop feel sensual and sexual as we age. Not at all and last night those two goddesses made that super clear. JLo has most likely at least started peri menopause and yet she is still clearly a very sensual being so all those media messages saying otherwise can suck it! But these women are also mothers. As a mom myself I can’t tell you how often we are conditioned to believe that as mothers we stop having an identity outside of our children. We are supposed to become almost asexual beings that live only for our children. It’s part of what causes so much depression in moms because we start loosing our identities, doing things for ourselves. These two moms reminded the world that mothers can be both incredible, giving moms and women who have goals and dreams and still be sexy as hell.
They showed little girls around the world that owning your body and the way you represent it is powerful and makes you powerful. For the young Latin girls that sang on stage with JLo and her daughter Emme they got to make their beautiful voices heard. So often little girls are taught to be pretty and sit quietly in a corner. Not last night! Those girls were encouraged to shine. For all little girls that was an important message but for little brown girls around the world it was a much needed one. The representation of the girls in cages was very much a slam at this administrations disgusting practice of locking young Latin children in cages. The girls coming out of the cages as they sang Let’s Get Loud became an anthem both for the injustices going on in our country and for girls and women everywhere to stop being silent and start making their voices loud and heard. It was breathtaking and the displays of Latin and middle eastern culture made us all remember this country is a melting pot and there’s so much diversity in the world.
Now I can’t leave out the pole dancing because as a 21 year veteran pole dancer it filled me with pride to see it represented at such a large scale event. The pole dancers on that stage were exhibiting beautifully executed high level tricks. JLo may have only do a few modest tricks but given she was holding a mic and singing I’d never expect more. But what she did do was show the world pole is a beautiful artistic expression and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’ve seen so many people take issue with it but honestly all of it was extremely tasteful and really pole dancing isn’t inherently dirty. We only perceive it that way because people have insecurities and issues they project out. Strippers and sex workers in general are often vilified and really it’s time to stop. Expressing yourself in a sensual way isn’t degrading if it’s something as a woman you feel safe and comfortable with. JLo feels empowered by pole dancing, moving sensually and dressing in sexy outfits and as women we should be celebrating her right to do that. I sure as hell am and I’m so glad this is stirring a conversation about so many aspects of the performance.
In short, these women absolutely rocked it and deserve to feel utter pride in what they put out there. I hope this is a jumping off point for much more discussion about age, motherhood, sensuality, women of color, injustices and so much more that need way more positive discussion then they’ve been given. If you haven’t checked out the full show check it out below and I’d love to hear your thoughts!
A few days ago on my Instagram I posted this photo and a quick discussion about experiencing desire as a woman. Within an hour I lost several followers. I’m not stating that to have a woah is me moment. I talk about a lot of things but female sexuality and desire is a big one so if you don’t like that well…I’m not for you! But no I’m not posting that so I can whine about it. I’m saying it to make a point which is that female sexuality and desire scares the shit out of people. Other women to be particular. In the sixteen, nearly seventeen years I’ve taught pole dancing, exotic movement and empowerment I have seen waaaay more women be judgmental, afraid, scared of and even down right angry at displays of desire and sensuality by other women. I’ve been asked to perform pole for events only to see women in the audience glare at myself and any fellow performers. I’ve seen them become so angry they’ve attempted to make us fall off the pole potentially risking severe injury.
Ladies I love you with all my heart but it’s time to stop this vicious cycle of behavior. You know what I’m talking about too. It’s this cycle where one women will break free from patriarchal ideas that women are for men only, that we must have babies, be good girls but sluts for our husbands, sit down, shut up and stay in our pretty pink lanes. A mob of you will then come after her, shame, ridicule, diminish, disempower, bully and even harass her for living her unapologetic existence. Fuck that!!! We talk about men being the oppressors and while there’s plenty that are, there are just as many if not more women willing to become near violently enraged about sexual empowerment. But why? Why are so many women so damn angry about other women living their best sexual lives? Is it fear? Is it jealousy? Or is it something else? I tend to lean towards the idea of fear. Yes jealousy is in there but jealousy stems from fear as does hate.
I’ve taught thousands of women now and I can say with confidence that I have come across so many women who from early on were taught to think of their bodies as dangerous, dirty vessels used only to procreate. We live in a world where if a woman is assaulted she’s immediately made to play a game of twenty questions about what she wore, how she acted, who she was with. How gross is that?! Super gross and it’s also super sad because we’re over here feeling hurt, scared, confused, sad and people are coming at us like we wanted to feel that. We are told to be virginal but then when we get married but sexual for our husbands but not too sexual because that’s wrong. What a bunch of confusing fucked up ideas right?! We’re dangerous alright but in the way we think. When you empower a woman to see herself as she truly is, a goddess with the ability to experience otherworldly amounts of pleasure who can create life, she no longer lives by the rules placed on her.
That’s scary as hell to women who’ve been conditioned to believe all the horrible things about themselves they’ve been taught. So of course we have other women raging out about our expressed desire. That doesn’t make it ok but honestly it’s basically like taking the red pill in the matrix. Waking up from the ideas you’ve been told by everyone, many times even your own mother, is scary as hell. It challenges you to think differently about everything and everyone. This virginal idea that we are only good when we sit quietly and pretend we don’t feel desire, lust, pleasure and all the other delicious feelings we’re capable of is bullshit. But it’s bullshit we’re fed from an early age and that takes a lot to unpack. Many of us are so conditioned to believe things about our body that we experience numbness or pain even because we have no idea how to really work with our bodies. So for those of you living your best sexual desire-filled lives be kind and patient with your fellow sisters. It’s so easy to just say “she’s just a hater” and walk away but you have a responsibility to understand that woman “hating” on you has a lot of conditioning she believes.
Be open to having a conversation with her and one filled with love and compassion. For those of you shaming or becoming angry at women like me who are desire filled, pussy loving, orgasm loving goddesses openly expressing and talking about our desire and passion I challenge you. I challenge you to dive deep and ask yourself why your so upset by our displays. Why you want to turn away instantly or unfollow? Figure that out and we’ll be here with open arms and hearts because that journey to understanding your distaste can be filled with pain, confusion and anger. It’s ok, but know that whatever you’ve been taught isn’t your fault. I give you permission to explore your feelings about your own body and desire. You also have permission afterwards to live in whatever way feels best for you just try to watch the judgment on any of us open to exploring in our own way.
How often are you celebrating the successes you have in life? Do you even truly pay attention to what you’ve accomplished and take pride in that? If not, why the hell not?!
Celebrating your success is vital for 1. Appreciating what you’ve already accomplished 2. Bringing more successes into your life because your giving gratitude for the ones you’ve already achieved and 3. Your building confidence in yourself when you see what you’ve already done. Not all success has to be career or 💰 related (those are nice though 😉) but it’s any success! Regardless of how big or small you perceive the success it’s still valid and important to take note of. This is something that many of us struggle with because it’s so much easier to get in the mindset of checking things off a list and moving onto the next item. Taking time to really notice what you’ve accomplished gives you a chance to be present and see what you’re truly capable of. When you don’t pay attention to your wins and you have a moment in life where something isn’t going right something happens. In that moment, you begin doubting yourself and your abilities. You stop thinking of yourself as someone capable. This leads to some serious issues that stops your life successes.
So what can you do to celebrate the wins? Anything you want but make sure you do it! This doesn’t necessarily mean buying yourself something or taking yourself on an elaborate dinner. I’m not a fan of spending outside your means so make sure you do something that fits your budget. But find some way to celebrate each month when you look back at what you’ve accomplished. Let’s say your goal was to develop a better night time routine, stay off social media except designated times, start a blog or podcast, finish a work project. Whatever it is if you did it reward yourself for it! I personally love doing things like having a little living room dance party, treating myself to a yoga class or lunch out or if it fits my budget getting myself something I really want. I keep a planner where I set my intentions for the month and then have a list of things I want to accomplish each week. Everyday if I accomplish five things on my list I give myself a big W for the win and at the end of my month I look over everything to see what I’ve accomplished. If I achieved what I wanted to achieve I decide how I wanna celebrate 🎉 and do it!
Try it for yourself and see how much it changes your outlook on what you can do and how much more you can do!
This is kind of a dark topic to finish out the decade when there’s so much excitement for the new one but whatever, I never do things in the normal order. Honestly, in some ways it’s the perfect time because as you start to think about what you want for your new year you have to eliminate things you don’t want. For me, the last several years has been the most transformative of my life and I’ve been through some shit but this last period…talk about change! I’d like to say that all the transformation came from just simply deciding to work on myself and keep improving but it’s not. Most people don’t go through a transformation without having some sort of dark night of the soul. My start was dark, as dark as it’s ever been, and it was not pretty. Of course no one ever fully realizes how shitty the process of self development is till your in it. We hear people say it’s a rough road to get there but until your in the trenches you have no fucking idea how ugly they can be.
So how did my journey start? It started with everything breaking down around me to a point I found myself in the hospital under suicide watch. Not many people know that, well honestly more than I wanted knew due to the betrayal of someone I’d once trusted but we’ll get to that. Regardless, yes I was in the hospital for an attempted suicide and I lied to get myself out. For the record, the hospital I went to was a horrible place and all I had to do to get out was say that I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. That’s it, no actual therapy or talk just say yes or no and your out. In truth, I was very much still a danger to myself but after witnessing and experiencing some of the poor treatment in there I wanted the fuck out. So I lied, went home to my crumbling life and tried to continue hiding how bad things were for fear of being readmitted. The day after I got out I sat through an entire four hour conversation with my now ex-fiancé yelling at me, telling me everything I was doing wrong and ultimately leaving me. The whole time my thoughts were doing the cycle they’d been doing of say things like “see you are unloveable, no one wants you or to deal with you, your just a burden and hated and really are you doing anything good for this world? You’re not, you can’t provide for your daughter the way you should, people hate you and want to see you fail, you’re alone, no one cares, you should just leave this world, it’s too painful here just leave it’ll be better for everyone if your dead”.
Yep that was the stream of thought in my head and in the car after that long conversation my only thought was “you could just run yourself off the road and it’d be so easy and everything wouldn’t hurt so much anymore”. I don’t know how or why I didn’t but I drove myself home and slept. I slept because it was the only thing stopping me since I had no intention of going back under observation. If I was gonna leave this world I was gonna make sure I wasn’t getting stopped but I was being watched heavily by my dad and my poor daughter who in my mind would’ve been so much better off without me. While all this is going on a breakdown was still happening within my business that started an avalanche and my decline. I’d spent years giving myself to my business and what I’d initially created it to be had completely changed into something I didn’t want. I let so many other people determine what it was, how it functioned just to make them happy that I had lost all passion for it. I’d gone through an assault by a former client a few years before that I was so ashamed of I still hadn’t received help for it. It wasn’t my fault but I still felt shame and that event led to me closing myself off. I trusted no one anymore, I hardly ever went out anymore but because of the utter loneliness I felt and need to liked by someone, anyone I latched on to the people around. That would’ve been staff and a few long term students that became staff. This was the biggest mistake I’d ever made and biggest lesson of my life.
The staff I latched onto I’d developed a rapport with and relationship with but it was one that had no boundaries and one where I asked for no respect as a boss. When I needed to talk about something, instead of going to the friends that had been in my life, I’d isolated myself and talked to my staff. So that meant if there was an issue with a staff member the only other people I had to talk to about it were their peers. The problem with this is obvious but for someone who was still hurting so bad over being violated and betrayed, then shunned by a few people that did know about my assault, I didn’t see that. I’d finally gotten into a relationship again but so much of me was still closed off because I couldn’t fully trust and having a partner that scolded me anytime I needed to vent just made me shut down further. So there’s just a whole shit show of problems with all of this and in the middle of it I’d made bad decisions within my studio financially. I added unlimited memberships to make people happy which by the way is the worst decision any small boutique studio can ever make and I was paying my staff way more than was affordable or deserved. They were coming in teaching using programming I created, advertised for, paid for in a place that I paid for and ran but I was paying them more then I paid myself because again I latched on.
So all of this boiled down to major financial strain that basically was on the verge of ending me. One instructor, who I’d become particularly close with was unhappy and started reaching out to the others. She’d offered to do an event for the studio that she wanted to put on and let the studio keep the profit but afterwards, and because admittedly I was behind, decided she did want the money from it. It wasn’t there because I had used it to start getting ahead on things but she wanted it. In this whole timeline I’d set all my staff up to believe they were more important then me and I had molded everything to what they wanted all the while loosing my dreams for it, feeling like I couldn’t tell them when they were screwing up because they’d get mad and leave and having absolutely no boundaries. This ended with said former employee going to each of the other staff members and telling them I’d said horrible things about them. She’d stepped down already and was reaching out but at this point what she didn’t realize was that I was in a state of depression so deep I couldn’t get out and was trying to figure out how to kill myself. She didn’t know but the shit storm had started and one by one many of my employees started coming down on me. Why? Because I allowed all of it and things were so out of control that I couldn’t see a way out. So I ended up in my car driving to a damn and on the ledge ready to jump when I was found by police and subsequently taken to the hospital.
All of this led to me being ordered into therapy which honestly is where I should’ve been before but money had been the issue and well it’s really hard to think of getting help when you believe the worlds just better without you. But I started therapy and yes everything was breaking down and it broke down more through this whole thing. But as I was going through this whole process of finding myself again I learned so much valuable information. I learned that giving everything you think people around you want will not make them love or stick by you. I learned that putting everyone before me leaves me empty. I learned that letting others decide what’s best for me and my business only ends with me feeling used, hurt and alone when they don’t get their way anymore. I also learned how much I needed to lean on the people that truly cared about me and stop settling for people that didn’t have my best interest at heart. I also learned that hiding from the traumas I’ve been through doesn’t fucking work and the problems your going through cannot be dealt with alone.
I have dealt with strong feelings of failure throughout this journey and sadness knowing some people utterly hate me. That has always been something I’ve struggled with given I grew up with a mom that hated me. I don’t like the feeling which is why I always tried to make others happy even when it destroyed me in the process. Getting past that is something I constantly work on but as shitty as it all was I don’t think I would’ve ever gotten to a place where I actually faced the real problems had I not gone through this. Depression will teach you so much and I’m certainly not advocating going through that. I wouldn’t wish being in that place on anyone because it fucking sucks! But, like it or not, it can be the thing that finally gets you to a place where you finally start living for yourself. That will mean people will leave and they won’t support your journey. The people you let walk over you or get more from you than you’re comfortable with will end up hating you. They’ll hate you because you’re not allowing them to be more important than you or get away with things you were never ok with. You may loose your partner which looking back who wants to be with a partner that shames you for needing to vent or lean on them when your falling apart? No one in their right mind needs that and sometimes you have to loose your mind to get in your right mind. Depression sucks and it’s certainly a long road through it and out of it but it can teach you so much if you let it. The trick is once you learn the lessons you don’t repeat them. I hurt and scared my family so much with this and that’s the only thing I still struggle with. But everything I’ve been through has led me on a path to finally understanding what I really need and want in my life and that is an invaluable lesson.
I’m the mother of an incredible eighteen year old daughter who I’ve raised pretty much on my own aside from the help of dad. So being a single mom I didn’t have a partner to take over when I wanted some me time. I did, however, have a great dad who would watch Angel when I worked, went to classes and out occasionally. But being a single mom and one who had her daughter at the age of 20 let me tell you time alone was difficult! Even with a partner getting a few minutes alone to go to the bathroom can be an utter miracle or a sign of end of days…take your pick. Being a young mama though I was looked at with judgment often, especially considering based on great genetics and skin care people think at nearly 40 I look anywhere from 23-30. Other moms would give me looks like I was some product of trailer park living and had no education on birth control, abstinence or morals. Trying to fit in with the PTA moms when she was in elementary school went out the window quickly. Not just because they tended to not speak to me but because after some time of listening to them I had no desire to fit in with them.
When Angel was very little I was doing everything I could to be the ideal mom because I’d already given her a shit show of a dad that I left before she was two. I also was young and hearing the judgments of the world about how young moms were usually shitty parents. So I took Angel to library book readings and activities, metro park classes, museum classes, zoo classes. I took her to all these places and more pretty much daily and outside of college and working I made her my whole world. I didn’t go out really for over I’d say six years. Like not even for a haircut or massage and certainly not out with friends. My life was for her and if I could take her with me I did. It was the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever done and it backfired big time. Now don’t think I regretted taking her to all those activities because I didn’t. I gave her experiences my own mom never would’ve and it’s helped mold her into the compassionate, intelligent person she is. What I regret though is what I did to myself and what happened after those six years that effected us both.
After six years of making my daughter my entire world I snapped. I started going out one to two times a week which doesn’t sound like an obscene amount but let me explain why it was a problem. I was going out drinking and dancing with people I’d met through mutual friends and drinking way more then I wanted. I started “dating” again and we’ll call it dating because so much of it was hooking up with guys after a date or two I did not like and some I didn’t even go on a date with. I was hooking up with a guy for two months I couldn’t fucking stand for fucks sake! I was so lonely and desiring adult interaction, friendship, companionship that I was just giving myself over to anyone who paid me attention and doing things that really brought me no joy. In that two year period of going out like crazy I was also going through a long and just utterly damaging custody battle that’s a story for another time. I’ll just say in the five year battle he finally just walked away which is what he wanted to do all along anyway and it was the best thing he ever did for Angel. But I was living a life outside of being a mom that made me feel like a bad mom and ended with a sexual assault that’s taken me years to overcome (again a story for another day).
I didn’t get to do my early twenties like most people do and tried to make up for it in a way that didn’t make me feel any better. The problem wasn’t having a life and identity outside of my child. The problem was I waited so long to give myself that that I was lost and not filling myself up. So I stopped going out in that way and threw myself into work and her and went out very little. While my situation may be slightly different from the average mom the theme is the same. It’s the theme of putting your kids and everyone else before you! It’s what I consider an epidemic among moms and why so many mamas suffer from secret depressions, sadness, regret and so much more. As moms we tend to forgo our own needs and give some type of excuse for when we give to ourselves. How many of you mamas have gone out for a friend date and immediately told your friends your husband or partner was babysitting the kids because you’ve been doing xy and z? Probably a lot of you and when the friend date ended and you had a blast even with your secret guilt for being away promised to do it more often because it was really fun and “we really should spend more time together”. We both know though it’ll be six months to a year before you do it again and you use the excuse that life is different now and that’s ok.
I have moms come into my studio all the time that eventually drop off even though they love classes because mom is the first person to sacrifice time and attention. It’s heartbreaking to watch because you can see this amazing chick sacrificing something she really loves and is thriving with. But we over schedule our kids with sports and activities and yes ladies that needs to stop! Your child doesn’t need to do two sports a season on top of everything else you’ve got them into and it’s time to nip that in the bud. Kids need to be kids and have down time. They also need to learn an important lesson on self care and you are their first teacher. Learning to balance my time and identity as a woman with my time with my daughter and being a mom is one of the greatest lessons I’ve taught her and I know this because she’s told me. From me, she’s learned to go after what you want and that it’s important to have goals that are your own. She learned that building friendships and having hobbies that bring joy and pleasure are necessary and that self care is a priority. In fact, I’m writing this very blog sitting in a bubble bath with sexy music on and a mimosa on Christmas Day and I dint feel bad. Why? Cause I wanted some me time and guess what she’s doing? She’s painting because that’s her thing and plans to take a bubble bath later too because she feels like it. Yes she’s an adult now but this has been something after my wild child phase that she saw regularly. I give her quality time and always have but I’ve also given myself time and attention. I may not be perfect at it always but I’m a hell of a lot better then I used to be.
Having a daughter it was key to teach her to put herself first and for those that have sons it’s critical to teach them that as a woman your needs are equal to and as important as any males. That’s how we breakdown these ideas that keep women down in society. Teach your kids and your partner what you need matters and for the love of god stop apologizing for it!
I own a pole dancing and aerial studio. There I said it! Normally when I start off with someone new it’s always “ I own an aerial studio” because that’s safe. Aerial is cool, it’s Cirque Du Soliel and prestigious. Pole is seedy and dirty and immediately invokes a certain perception. So normally I leave it out and as I begin talking and getting to know someone I finally fess up. It’s not because I’m ashamed, it’s because people can be judgmental as all hell! But that’s not what this is about although it’s important to know.
What I do for a living can be extremely healing, empowering and therapeutic for many people, women in particular. Women come in often thinking there’s no way in hell they can do this because their not super skinny, not super fit or flexible, they don’t think their young enough or coordinated, sexy, graceful or any of the other 5 million things they focus on. This is their space to learn that they are strong, beautiful, sexy, graceful and anything else they strive to be and I’ve worked really hard to create that feeling and a space that offers this. So on a night like tonight when yet another male photographer comes in to shoot pictures for an upcoming article I immediately get tense. Why you ask? I’ll tell you why! It’s because every freakin time without fail the dude that comes in, chats with me to go over the class, lighting, etc. and I explain my vision and goal for my studio and wait.
I wait to see one thing and that is if he’ll here me and focus on capturing a bit of all the beautiful women in my studio or will he focus on the 2% that are young twenties and look like they could be a Victoria’s Secret model. I love all my students and each one deserves to shine but the problem with focusing on “the hot girls” isn’t about the girls themselves, it’s about this idea that they are the only ones worthy of being seen. That is infuriating to me as someone that constantly tells students they are amazing and sees them as the beautiful goddesses they all are. Yes the ones that look like models or professional aerialists are beautiful and should feel that way but they are not the only version of beauty in this world. Yet they are who often gets focused on and that is why so many women have issues seeing themselves as worthy and safe to hold space in our society. The ones who are showcased often are showcased in a way that makes them look like a sex doll. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a male photographer or videographer at a pole show, competition or expo and you look at pictures afterwards or video and there’s always a zoom in on their asses and pussies. God help her if she’s touching herself or making the face doing a sexy routine because that will definitely be zoomed in on.
It happens every time and while yes most of us are showing off for the performance because we can and should be able to it doesn’t mean we want to get back a bunch of crotch shots or stills that could be used for the cover of a porn. We’re expressing ourselves in a way that is for us, not for some dude to publish so other dudes can jerk off to it. But every time that is how we’re represented but that’s not the worst of it. Because for any of us that are curvy ladies, not in our 20s or even 30s, don’t look like a playmate we end up getting very little shot of us. We’ll go through pictures days after the event is over and notice that the hot girls have many frames and there will be two, maybe three of us. It’s heartbreaking because it sends a message to us immediately that we aren’t worthy of being seen. We are less than and should be hidden.
But this doesn’t just happen in my industry, it happens everywhere and it’s disgusting. How often do we see an ad campaign and there’s one token plus size model or black model or model that is alternative in some way. The way they are captured is usually all the same and it’s always done in a way that doesn’t say sexy or hot or beautiful. Then the hot girls, the conventional beauties are shown as being well…doable. Now I do understand that it is a step forward to even see a model or women pictured that does not fit the standard and for that I’m glad but we need to do better. Yes, the person or company hiring the photographer or videographer needs to do better in advocating for what they want and make sure it represents all women in a way that values them. But what about the photographers that don’t listen, like tonight.
After I explained what my studio was about and what to do and not do the photographer got to work. When he first came in he was nice enough but it immediately turned south. One of my 2% students was in. She’s a beautiful mid twenties that is a performer and has the body of one. In the hour he was taking pictures he focused 90% of his time on her. He even got in the way of another student just to shoot this one. I had to ask him to back up because my other student wasn’t speaking up and not able to enjoy the class in the way she wanted. I was livid as I started watching these women who support and cheer each other on and themselves become one by one withdrawn and insecure. These women were essentially being told by this guy that they didn’t matter, they weren’t important and had less value and it broke my heart. I wanted to scream but I kept my composure and pulled him aside to explain I wanted to see the diversity in women of my studio represented. The response I got was the typical “I’m going to go with the best shot”. That’s douche for “I’m going to submit the ones of the one I’d bang if I was younger and not married”. It left a horrible taste in my mouth and a promise to speak to the editor.
I wish I could say this isn’t the norm but it is. Women are often valued or undervalued based solely on their aesthetic. We are so conditioned to see a tall, slim, tanned blonde when we think of a bikini model because that’s typically what we’re given. The women who look like that aren’t to blame or at fault and should never be judged for the way they look. But they also shouldn’t be seen as better then simply for that. We are constantly being told who and what we are and if we matter or not based on the images we see everyday and narrative those images give us. Men, we are not a commodity and we do get to matter whether you are attracted to us or not. You make an assumption that we even want you when you decide you want us. You make an assumption that we aren’t beautiful because you have decided what beautiful is without looking at us as more then our bodies. Yes, men are visual creatures but when a photographer goes in to do a shoot for a magazine he’s assuming all men find the same aesthetic beautiful and that’s not true at all. Men, like women, can be attracted to women of all different shapes and sizes and ages but that’s not the point.
The point is we aren’t here for you to decide if we’re attractive enough to be seen or not. We’re here to be seen and when you come into a space that’s safe in a world where most of us fear being assaulted, harassed, judged please understand how special it is for women to have a space where no one is less then. So often we are pitted against each other or taught that some of us deserve to shine and some of us deserve to hide away unseen and unheard. It’s hard to find spaces where we can all belong and tampering with that can destroy hours if not years of work. I can’t wait for the day when the women we see represented daily looks like the beautiful collage that represents our society. Until then, gentlemen get your cameras out of our asses and pussies and stop giving the rest of us a pitiful two or three shots as a consolation prize for breathing.
Most of us have experienced self sabotage in our lives and most of us are aware on some level we do it. It may be with relationships, money, health. Whatever it is it can be a viscous cycle of getting so close to a goal or stage in our lives we want and then watching it all crash down around us. Why do we do it though? It never feels good when we see it happen and it never leaves us any better off then we were before. In fact, the longer we continue this ugly process of giving ourselves a little of what we truly want and then pushing it away everything gets worse and worse and worse. From there we have two choices, either get to the root of why this is happening and do something about or spend the rest of our lives never having what we really desire. Yes that sounds extreme but we’ve all come across someone we’ve seen living just a miserable existence and wondering what the fuck went wrong. Most likely it was a lot of things that just build up to create a mountain of failures, disappointments, set backs, hurts and they got so weighed down they never tried to get back up. Sounds sad as hell right? It is and it happens to too many people.
But why does it happen, what starts it all? It’s usually one hurt stemming from either a single event or person in our lives and most likely at a younger age. Many of us aren’t quite aware of what that incident was or if we are we aren’t cognizant enough to understand all the ways that person or event is effecting our lives. For me, money has always been an issue. I have struggled to get myself to a financial place I have dreamed of or wanted. I’ve gone through consistent cycles where I’ve attracted money, maybe not quite the amount I wanted but definitely more than what I had been making, and then the next month watched myself make even less than I normally do till the point that it evens out. It’s defeating and add stresses like not bringing in enough to cover bills, cover rent, worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to get my daughter anything for Christmas, feeling like a failure for not being where I wanted at any stage in my life it’s overwhelming. I didn’t quite always understand why this was happening though. Not until I dove deeper into self discovery and really started working on myself.
I have done several coaching programs, read countless books, followed dozens of podcasts and YouTube videos of different speakers and coaches. My three personal favorites out of all of them are Lisa Nichols, Layla Martin and Regena Thomashauer aka Mama Gena. Male coaches I can enjoy but their energy never quite spoke to me the way these incredible women have and each have taught me similar things in different ways or very different things but all related to similar areas of my life. But all three have promoted living your truth and living in joy. As I’ve learned from them I started understanding how deeply my lack of self love and self belief went and knew it effected why I wasn’t having the success in my business that I wanted to have, why my romantic relationships always ended up being catastrophes, why I didn’t feel like I had the kind of friendships I always wanted and the list goes on and on. I knew those feelings were there but I couldn’t quite get to the root of them to overcome them and “fix them” (there’s a reason I’m putting that in quotes by the way). I just felt stuck and like something was in me that I desperately wanted and needed to clear out. It felt as if physical muck was just sitting inside my chest and throat and I wanted to reach in and pull it out.
But I had no idea how or what this all really was until I learned an exercise doing Lisa’s Abundance Now course and a similar exercise in Layla Martin’s VITA Coach Certification ( I highly recommend both). The exercises have the same goal but different techniques. Both exercises are all about discovering with clarity why you have the blocks you have. Blocks are those lovely little things holding you back and most of us again have an understanding that we have them but we don’t always understand the root of them. Many coaches or personal development courses talk about moving past blocks and getting into an abundant mindset. The problem I have found with a lot of others is while their promoting a mindset change they aren’t dealing with your current mindset and what created so all those self sabotage issues aren’t actually being faced. But with Lisa, Layla and Mama Gena I started facing the things that held me back and discovered something just fucking mind blowing! I discovered that this all came from a place of self protection.
I spent so much time trying to fight past my demons and fix them which wasn’t working and I was never moving past them. But when I did some work to sit with and meet my shadow self I realized she was the little girl still inside me that was hurt because her mother never really loved her, saw her or cared about her. That little girl so desperately wanted her mother to value her and hear her and never felt cared about. I have a wonderful father who encouraged me to shine but the woman in my life who was supposed to be the most influential and most important didn’t care. So I grew up feeling unseen and unimportant and being someone that serves women in my daily profession it now makes so much sense why things just weren’t working. How could I surround myself with women to help them heal, grow, thrive and become empowered when deep down I felt none of that because I was still waiting for someone to make me feel and experience all those things about myself? I couldn’t! I don’t have a relationship with my mother given her toxicity which I’ll go deeper later on how to deal with removing people from your life. However, I have done a lot of work and still do meeting that shadow side and giving it space to express itself.
Our shadow side isn’t something we can get rid or fix because it’s part of us. We can meet it, talk to it to understand why it’s created all those blocks and behaviors that hold us back and give it space to feel heard and loved. Doing that is absolutely necessary in working past them to have what you really want. For me, I have come to and understanding with my shadow side and allow myself to converse with it so as anything comes up for me I can understand what’s really going on. It’s not easy and requires facing things like massive insecurity, feeling like I can’t be my authentic self for fear of being rejected or unheard but it’s so worth it in the end. I may not have everything I want yet but my overall joy in life is so much better. I’ve done work with my shadow self through meditating and visualizing that part of me and asking it questions, I’ve written the question why over and over while thinking of a block to get answers out, I’ve written letters to myself to give it love and apologize for ignoring it. Each time I do that or anything else I start to feel more connected, more vibrant and alive.
If you haven’t done anything like this for yourself try it. It’ll feel weird at first but it’s so worth it. I also highly recommend checking out the incredible coaches and their books and if you’re in the Columbus Ohio area I’d love to have you join me for my Sensual Power course where we start diving in and beginning the journey of self love <3
When I was young I loved Christmas lights. Seeing hundreds of twinkling lights in multi-colored brilliance always made me feel some spark of magic inside. It’s the same feeling from a grand fireworks display or wishing upon a shooting star. Kids have this spectacular ability to experience magic in the smallest, most innocent things in life. It’s what allows them to believe in Santa, fairies and magical realms they could slip into just inside their closet. I can’t tell you how often I played in my closet as a kid and had this entire world imagined that was a combination of Candy Land and The Nutcracker. My imagination had no bounds and I had absolutely no problem telling my dad or anyone else about this make believe world I’d created within my young mind. All young kids have this unfailing capacity to be not only proud of their imaginings but they will defend them vehemently.
Somewhere along the line though we stop believing in the magic of the world around us and stop imagining what could be. Someone makes fun of us or demands we grow up and there’s this cruel notion that to be an adult we are no longer aloud to dream or believe in magic. We become cynical and jaded as we stop trying to be the person we fantasized about becoming when we were young. It happens every time and we wonder why so often in our adulthood why we just kinda feel like blah about everything! Our idea of fun is to plan out a vacation once a year if we’re lucky that stresses us the fuck out to plan, we don’t enjoy it entirely because we’re so stressed about making sure we do all the activities and then we come home no better except now we’re really freakin annoyed at the idea of having to back to work. How is that living? It’s not!
Our existence isn’t meant to be one where we just go through the motions with little bursts of joy and magic. We’re meant to live a full life and that life includes magic. Feeling the pure ecstasy of magic can transform how we live our lives and the great part is there isn’t one way to do it. We all find sheer joy in different things and all that’s necessary is to figure out what they are. Once you do, find a way to incorporate them in your life regularly. You may not be able to go see Christmas lights and fireworks year round but you can sure as hell hang twinkle lights in your home, get out and appreciate the miracle of nature, have random dance parties in your living room simply because. Whatever you do just make it part of your life. When we’re in a state of joy and wonder we experience so many changes in varied aspects of ours lives. So make a list of yours and figure out what you can do to feel the magic!