She’s Got the Power

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful group of 32 12 – 15 year old girls at NAIT’s G-Force Summer Camp. The camp focuses on personal empowerment and I love the opportunity to not only teach hoop dance, but to use the hoop as a metaphor for teaching important life lessons.

This is my third year back at the camp and I’m always astounded at the girls’ wisdom. I started the workshop by asking each girl to share her name and one characteristic of a strong woman. Their answers were amazing and they even addressed some of my ideas of a what a strong woman is. To them strong women are empathetic, intelligent, they follow She's got the powertheir dreams, they know what they want, they are stubborn! (I think she meant someone who sets her boundaries and doesn’t give into peer pressure), they don’t care what anyone else thinks about them, they have high self esteem, they are loving, they are compassionate, they are beautiful on the inside,  they are brave and they ask for help when they need it. They listed more characteristincs, but these are the only ones I can recall. It truly fills my heart with joy to see that there are so many aware and awake young woman growing up in the world today. I’d like to think that I would have given an answer like theirs when I younger, but I truly don’t know how I would have answered. Today though, I do have some solid thoughts about what a strong woman is. Below are the characteristics of strong women we touched on in the workshop.

A strong woman only focuses on the three things she can control in her life – her thoughts, her feelings and her actions. A strong woman does not spend time worrying about what other people think about her or about what other people are doing. She chooses to create her reality, she explores her feelings, she chooses to be aware of her thoughts and will consciously choose to change them if there is any judgement of self or others. I asked the girls to pay attention to their thoughts during the workshop. To notice if any self judgement creeped in if there was a trick they weren’t picking up as quickly as some of the other girls. I invited them to shift their thoughts from self judgement to self love, instead of saying something like “I’m stupid and I can’t do this”, I invited them to shift to “I can do this and I just haven’t figured it out yet”. Our thoughts are so powerful and we need to choose them wisely. It is only when we are aware of the thoughts in the first place that we can choose to change them. When we accept where we are, we can redirect that misused energy to become more productive. We’ll likely figure out a trick faster when we’re not judging ourselves for not getting it right away.

Pony

Here’s me, expressing myself at a recent music festival and being brave enough to share it with the real world.

A strong woman is brave. She goes after what she wants, even if takes a lot of time or if she has to stand up against what others want her to do or be.  She walks her path and allows herself to be seen, even if it feels uncomfortable, she is committed to living her truth. She follows her heart. I shared with the girls that when you see a woman like this, you will likely be attracted to her because she is confident. As a teen, I wanted to conform but also wanted so badly to express myself at the same time. I encouraged the girls to be brave in the workshop and use the hoop as a tool to express themselves and the emotions they’re feeling. I encouraged them to find a healthy way to express their emotions in their regular life, because emotions are completely normal and they just want to be acknowledged and felt, not to be pushed away or ignored. I encouraged them to find something that makes them as happy as hooping makes me and use that as a tool for self expression.

A strong woman asks for support. She recognizes when she is struggling and asks for help. In my experience, this is a tough one for so many people, something I’m only starting to really explore myself. I think we often feel like unless we know exactly what we need,  we can’t ask for help. The truth is if we knew what we needed, we’d probably try to help ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and access the vast support networks we likely have, we’d be doing ourselves such a service. I think there can be a stigma around asking for help and I believe that needs to change. I asked the girls to not be shy to ask for help in this workshop if they needed it. I hope that this gave them the opportunity to practice asking for help in a small way so they could feel more comfortable asking for help when they needed it in bigger ways, like when they were feeling depressed, isolated or heartbroken sometime in the future. Many of the girls did ask and I can only hope this reinforces that it is not a weakness to seek support.

There are so many characteristics of strong women that I could write and teach about it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love being able to start the dialogue about this topic so the girls can begin to explore and appreciate all the ways to be a strong woman. I think they are already well on their way.

❤ Nicole

Light My Fire

Once again I’m reminded of the importance of self care. I’ve been feeling off all week since I ingested some lemon essential oil. I know that this is a great detoxifier and added a couple drops to my water because I felt like I needed a good detox. The next day I woke up with an upset stomach which didn’t really go away all week. I didn’t have any other symptoms, flu or otherwise so I did feel like I was just removing a lot of toxins from my liver but they weren’t actually leaving my body no matter how much lemon water or green smoothies I drank.

All week I’d been aware that I was avoiding meditating and journaling and doing any of the other things that helps bring my mind, body and soul into balance. I was feeling lethargic and starting to notice a little bit of depression creeping in. This morning I woke up, still not feeling 100% though I finally felt ready to write in my journal, meditate and face whatever this was. 10 pages later, my stomach is no longer bugging me. What my body was trying to release was not just physical toxins, but past traumas and anger. After journaling I cleared away all that I was holding onto with a smudging ceremony and was inspired to draw a flame with my oil pastels. I felt it was important to create a visual image I could use to remind me that I am powerful.

ImageAs I was drawing and colouring, I realized the flame is such an important representation of my power. My flame is always burning, but sometimes I choose to let other people dampen it. I will now choose to remember that I control how bright my flame burns because when I give my power away, I become lethargic and unmotivated.

As I coloured, I allowed my inner flame to grow inside of me and to burn brightly. The more I did this, the more motivated I became to spend the day creating. I spent some time hooping and working on the Yin Yang Hoop Dance workshop I’ll be offering at Spin Milk 4. I spent some time rearranging “my room” as I like to call it. It’s a spare room that I have set up for meditation, journaling, yoga, hooping and whatever tickles my fancy. It’s my self care oasis. I reorganized my bulletin board so I could hang my flame on it and see it on a regular basis. I was inspired and motivated to blog about my experience and after this I’m still feeling inspired to go to the grocery store and pick up some ingredients to create tasty dehydrated snacks!

I know how important self care is yet sometimes choose not to make it a priority. Today is just another reminder that taking care of myself is a practice and I’m not perfect at it, but when I choose to take care of myself first instead of distracting myself with mindless activities or doing responsibility type stuff, I’m much better off for it. Self care makes me come alive and invites me to step into my power as a creator. The flame reminds me to keep stoking my inner fire so I can shine my light out to the world.

Sacred Circularities Sedona 2013. Whoa.

Wow, how can I possibly sum up one of the most intense, beautiful and expanding experiences of my life? I’ve been crafting this post since I returned from the Sacred Circularities Sedona Retreat, almost a month ago now, partly because there is so much to say about the experience but I think also because I’ve had to take some time for integration. Also, life has been ridiculously busy since I came back home. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really think I can capture it all in one little blog post, but I’m sure gonna try.

The Journey Begins

I boarded a plane, looking for a little break from my busy life, some time to get reacquainted with my hoops and with the intention to celebrate my 30th birthday doing something awesome. I got all of that, and so much more.

The desert consumed me. As soon as I hit the road to Sedona I became immersed in the present moment. Though only six days long, Sacred Circularities nourished me more than any vacation I’ve ever taken and I’ve even spent 6 weeks in Thailand! The land was a perfect container to allow for self exploration, expansion, contraction and growth.

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Boynton Canyon, just outside of Sedona.

My personal intention was to allow myself to be seen. As an introvert in group settings I often have the tendency to shrink into myself. For these 6 days I wanted to push out of my comfort zone, to allow myself to connect with strangers and to let go of any self judgement that was hanging around and holding me back. I declared this intention in opening circle, staring into my lap with my hair hanging in front of my face. I was not off to a very good start, but called myself out on this and experienced my first real moment of being seen. Many more followed.

Every day I learned something about myself.  Each experience I had sparked a transformation inside of me. I’m so grateful for the gift I gave to myself, the gift of time and space to journey deep. I kept my cosmic appointment. I was where I needed to be on the final days leading up my 30th birthday, my Saturn return. It was no coincidence this particular group of people had gathered at this exact place and time. I learned so much, but three main lessons came to light.

Going All The Way

The first real workshop I attended was Qi Gong with Shellie White Light of The Healthy Hooper. At 8am on Monday morning, I began an intensely wonderful breath of empowerment journey. She emphasized the “work” part, as the breath is intense and can be uncomfortable but the results were amazing. I’ve done similar breathwork before and it’s amazing how it activates your body. By the end I felt every limiting belief I had dissolve into nothingness while simultaneously fully embodying joy and love and excitement for what I was calling in to create for my most epic 30th year, the next week and the sheer excitement that this was only the first workshop! The rest of the day proved to be amazing as well. In Jocelyn Gordon’s HoopYogini™class we declared life is awesome as we awakened and strengthened our bodies using a hybrid of yoga and hooping and then, well, I went all the way with Hoopalicious. How did I go all the way with Hoopalicious you ask? During her core conditioning workshop, she mentioned that even though what we were doing might be hard on the body, we were never going to be in this exact place, at this exact, time with these people again and we might as well go all the way.

Going all the way in Malaika's African Dance workshop. Photo courtesy of Cadencia Photography.

Going all the way in Malaika’s African Dance workshop. Photo courtesy of Cadencia Photography.

Who could resist going all the way with Hoopalicious? Not me! I booty bumped my way around the room like nobody’s business. It was awesome, and Anah, I would buy the “I went all the way with Hoopalicious” t-shirt :P. Anytime during the week that I was feeling tired or felt like crawling back into my shell, I remembered those words and went all the way.

Nothing has ever motivated me to live fully in the present as much as those words did and now that I’m back to my regular life, I’ve been trying to live that every day.

Being Myself

I was blessed to have many moments of clarity over the week. In each workshop or ceremony I was given a gift. A key message from an instructor, the time to explore a new movement or the space to more deeply explore a feeling than I’d allowed myself to before. Every moment there was precious. I have never had the gift of being around so many mirrors before. Each person there showed me something about myself that I needed to see to further my personal evolution, I am so grateful.

Prior to our Five Elements ecstatic dance journey, our facilitator Malaika Darville encouraged us to be authentic in our dance. She pointed out that no one looks at a rose and wonders why it isn’t a daffodil. When she said that, she didn’t know my last name is Rose, but I knew that message was meant for me. I don’t need to be anyone else except for myself. I’m Nicole Rose, not Nicole Daffodil and no one expects me to be Nicole Daffodil so I just need to remember to be happy with being Nicole Rose.

This message, along with the messages received after my epic birthday Lomi Lomi massage from Malaika, reminded me that where I am in life right now is perfect. What I’m doing in life right now is perfect. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I need to let go of all the things I think I should be doing, like teaching more hoop classes or working more on growing my business or practicing fire hooping. I’ve always felt like I should like fire hooping. I’ve tried it out a few times now and I just don’t get excited about it but thought maybe I should keep trying because it’s something I should like.

Being myself, celebrating my 30th birthday in the healing garden at Sedona Mago Retreat Center.

Being myself, celebrating my 30th birthday in the healing garden at Sedona Mago Retreat Center.

I celebrated my 30th birthday at Sacred Circularities.That night there happened to be a full moon and eclipse and a fire hooping ceremony to go along with it. Once again, I felt like I should try fire hooping because it seemed like it was something awesome to do on my birthday.

I ended up being a bit stressed the entire time, waiting for my turn because I knew that I really didn’t want to fire hoop, but I wasn’t listening to myself and was gong to do it anyways. I was so relieved when we ran out of time and didn’t get a turn because it turns out I just really don’t like fire hooping. And that is OK. Thanks universe, I get the message – be yourself, listen to yourself and be gentle with yourself.


Balance Comes From Within

I’ve often felt out of balance in life. I get really caught up in human doing and don’t allow myself to practice human being. Even when I do relax, I’m still doing something, like hooping or yoga or this or that. That feels like an excess of masculine energy. On the other hand I can be indecisive in decision making, never fully trusting my intuition. An imbalance in feminine energy perhaps. I’ve always felt like I’m the most out of balance Libra around, giving that the symbol is scales. Throughout the course of the week, I had many lessons pop up to bring my masculine and feminine energy into balance within me.

In Khan Wong’s workshop on creating an authentic hoop practice, I ended up partnered with the only male in the group in an exercise that had me being intensely witnessed by my partner. I thought I was at Sacred Circularities to be seen by others but this experience helped me to see that I did not yet see myself as a woman. I’m not so sure why I hadn’t made the jump into womanhood yet, but that’s OK, I reminded myself, because where I’m at is perfect and turning 30 seems like the perfect time to start feeling like a woman anyhow.

In Khan’s second workshop, we delved deeper into authenticity. I discovered that my favourite moves were either breaks & reversals or just being really fluid and flowy. I then saw that these moves represented masculine and feminine. I can be the feminine with soft, fluid, flowy movements as well as the masculine with fast, linear breaks and reversals. I was able to see that my hoop practice is a balance of the divine feminine and divine masculine and every time I hoop I dance these two energies into balance inside of me.

Whoa. All of that was within me and happening for 5+ years and I had never given myself the opportunity to see it until now. It’s truly amazing all the meaning you can find in life if you just give yourself an opportunity to explore.

Taking the opportunity to explore hooping atop a mountain.

Taking the opportunity to explore hooping atop a mountain.

Exploration

I love hooping workshops because they give me time to play and I’m constantly in awe of the instructors who have given themselves the time and space to explore. The hoop really is infinite and every time I am taught by a new instructor I see that all over again. Learning from Beth Lavinder, Ann Humphreys and Julia Hartsell for the first time allowed me to take a peek into each of their practices and see an authentic piece of each one of them. What a privilege!

I have such gratitude for this whole experience. So much love for Jaguar Mary for dreaming up such an amazing retreat and so much love for all the instructors and facilitators too. I could write a full blog post for each workshop I attended and how deeply it impacted me. Sacred cacao ceremony, dream-time soul making, ecstatic dance, African dance, Five Elements dance, theta healing, yin yoga, hoop kirtan and of course hooping, so much hooping! Hooping with Beth Lavinder, Anne Humphreys, Julia Hartsell, Rainbow Michael, Jocelyn Gordon, Khan Wong and Hoopalicious. Wow! Each hooping class was filled with more than just tricks or concepts. Each instructor put so much into their workshop and the message aligned perfectly with the lesson from the workshop before. Often, I was given an opportunity to explore being authentic which allowed me to be seen as that from others.  Each workshop seemed to come at the perfect time, offering me exactly what I needed to experience so I could expand, contract and grow.

Integration

Since I’ve been home, I’ve tried to incorporate all of these lessons and learning and love into my daily life because I feel it needs to be spread around the world and not just stay in Sedona. I had one decompression day before I went back to work. I started off Monday feeling great, but by Friday I was bagged and worn out by an intense work week. That night though, while dancing in a garage with 30 of my friends, at the best halloween house party ever, I felt the magic feelings from Sacred Circularities arise from within me once more and I knew that while the sparkly feelings may fade, I can always come back to them because they will always be inside of me. These past few weeks since I’ve been home have been busy, but I am constantly reminding myself that I can always bring myself back to the magic I experienced at Sacred Circularities.

I hope to go back to experience this amazing retreat next year. One thing I didn’t really touch on was how awesome all the other hoopers there were. I came in only knowing a couple of people and left with 30+ new friends and an even stronger connection to the world hoop community!

Group shot of my new friends, courtesy of Cadencia Photography

Group shot of my new friends, courtesy of Cadencia Photography

If you’ve been inspired to attend after reading this post, I encourage you to do it. If you register before November 15, 2013, you can register for almost half off the full price! I can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed.

❤ Nicole