Awesomeness Fest: Making Space to Receive

When I was invited to Awesomeness Fest by the beautiful tantric yogi Lara Berg she said, “it will change your life.”

I told her “I hope so, Lara, I’ve had SO many transformational experiences even just this past year.”

AFest was 5 days of heart based entreprenuers, thinkers, writers, performers, speakers, healers, designers, marketers, and just people looking to gather and promote a conscious planet. There’s a magic that happens when you gather peaceful fun adventurous people together for 5 days in paradise. It was filled with countless life altering experiences, many of which I’m only now able to articulate. Today I’m present with one of them.

A couple of days into AFest Terry Tillman led us in several experiential exercises. Before I left for the Dominican Republic we were reminded to bring a special and meaningful object to the event. We didn’t know was what Terry Tillman had up his sleeve – an exercise in releasing attachment to the object.

My object was my ballet slippers. I was at a Somatic Experience training which is all about learning to treat clients how to regulate their brains and nervous systems by reconnecting clients to their bodies after they’ve been through trauma, duress or chaos. In one of the trainings I had a moment of inspiration. I told myself that I HAVE to dance. I knew that if I didn’t start dancing I would die. Some part of my spirit would die. At 41 yrs old, I took my first ballet class.

I was so excited to slip on that first pair of ballet slippers. I love those damn slippers sticking out of the pocket of my back pack. I want people to see them. Carrying them to class makes me feel special and proud. The 4 year old in me is all, “look at me, I take ballet! Eeeeeeeeee!”

I still haven’t grown tired of checking into the dance schools on facebook every time I go to class and get to study with the likes of prima donnas like Sandra Adrian and Natalie Rast. I’m so grateful to them. Going to class fills me with happiness.

When Terry Tillman asked us to take the object and give it away to our seat partner I went into terror. He wants me to give away my frickin’ ballet shoes!?!?!?!? I was paired up with Erwin Valencia and at first thought to just tell Erwin I forgot to bring my object. I can’t possibly give away the ballet shoes!!!

I got a grip. Saw the wisdom. And with Tears in my eyes, I told Erwin the stories, the importance of my shoes. How I grew up in a home where bodies were shameful, naughty, expressing with a body was not allowed. I told Erwin how I’ve found a joyful niche treating performers and artists at my psychotherapy practice. And I had finally reached a point in my life where it was important to tend to my own art.

Erwin let me safely tell how I cried through a ballet class at 4 yrs old and never went back because the week before that class I had been raped in a house just half a block from the studio. It wasn’t the dance class that brought me to tears. It was the proximity to the place of the violation. Kids have a protective ability to forget, go into a freeze response or go into confusion. My neural networks had coupled dancing with shame back then.

Luminita Saviuc said it best at AFest that our darkest moments are our biggest teachers.  Those horrible attacks made me the healer, psychotherapist and psychic that I get to be today. They taught me that the unpopular  truth is freedom like Erika Napoletano spoke about so passionately. It transformed how I approached my own traumas. I found peace. And I found permission to dance.

I am a dancer. We`re all dancers. The shoes can’t make that true or untrue. Like Jeff Marx told us about identity being in particular labels…the shoes don’t make me a dancer. Life is a dance.

I placed my slippers in Erwin`s hands. I placed my hands over his and released the slippers.

Not only have we both worked in the healthcare and healing worlds, we both had loved ones in the Phillipines (the typhoon struck just days before). But my partner in the exercise, Erwin Valencia actually was a dancer. He told me that dance is the thing that brings him to LIFE! And he’s a lively guy. He handed the ballet slippers back to me and said, “I know where you are in your journey as a dancer. Keep these. It’s important right now.”

I cried and thanked him. The gift of the exercise was that Erwin had seen me in the moment. The shoes were not the important thing anymore. The release had already happened. When I checked in at Rast Ballet Dance Loft in Chicago this afternoon, it was a freer experience. I owned it in a new way. And you were there with me Erwin. I love you and your dancer’s spirit. Thank you. And thank you AFest tribe!