Tag Archives: belly dance

2012: Let’s Do This

I dislike making New Year’s resolutions. They have taken on a decidedly negative connotation for me, what with my lifelong history of dieting. I’ve done the “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” and the “I will go to the gym at least 4 days a week” resolutions that kept that hateful cycle spinning, as well as the faux-positive “I’m going to exercise more,” or the extremely (and purposely ) vague “Be healthier,” both of which for me was just code for “I am fat and I hate my body the way it is so I must work to change it.” So I don’t make resolutions anymore. I set intentions. Some may argue it’s merely semantics but it feels kinder to me and avoids an idea that I’ve come to equate with body hate.

So without further adieu, in no particular order, here are my intentions for 2012…

* Get back to belly dance
If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that belly dance is an integral part of who I am. Or at least it was. Over the last year, I got a little lost and let insecurity and my issues surrounding food and dieting derail my dancing. But I am determined to find my way back this year and plan on searching for a new dance home, even if that means rediscovering where I began. It’s going to take some time and it won’t be entirely comfortable at first but I want to do it.

*Implement the stress and anxiety management techniques I’ve learned and build on them
I have the knowledge. I’ve got books and handouts and online resources for stress reduction and anxiety management, I just need to actually put that knowledge to work. I also want to learn to meditate and practice that on a regular basis.

*Treat my body better
This is kind of an all encompassing but super important intention. It’s more than just continuing on my Fat Acceptance journey. I need to do things to care for my body better than I do now. I need to get more sleep. Enough of this 5 or 6 hours one night and then 8-10 another. I’ve got to fix this. I need to start stretching on a daily basis because lately, my low back, hips and knees have been super unhappy. I need to floss more (lord help me if my father, the dentist, knew I wasn’t already flossing regularly). And maybe I can stop biting my nails. Maybe.

*Be more social
I admit it, I’m a homebody. But I’m a homebody with some awesome, inspiring, creative, fun friends whom I don’t see nearly enough of. This year I want to change that.

*Let it out and ask for help
I have an unhealthy behavior pattern that goes something like this: I bite my tongue when things are bothering me, letting the anger/irritation/frustration build and build and build until I blow, generally at an inappropriate and/or illogical moment. I also have a problem asking for help when I need it because I taught myself long ago that I needed to be Wonder Woman and do it all myself. I think both of those things sound like excellent fodder for future therapy sessions with my wonderful LCSW.

*Stop wasting so much time on the internet
I know this might sound strange coming from a blogger but I really do need to cut down on my internet usage. Every day I feel compelled to check my various social media sites and blog list, generally multiple times a day. I have this deep seated fear that I’m going to miss something. So I scroll and scroll and scroll and check back again and again throughout the day, even when I have things I should be doing. And when I don’t have things I should be doing, I grab my laptop, open Chrome and mindlessly click when I could be reading or practicing belly dance drills or stretching or meditating. I need to disengage somewhat.

*Curtail the tardiness
In my defense, I will argue that this is genetic. I swear. Any planned family event has a stated start time which is never the same as the actual start time. We are a tardy people. But really, it comes down to time management. I need to get my butt in gear sooner in the mornings and get the important stuff done first. (See also previous intention.) When I know I’ve got an event where I’m going to be getting super-femmed up, I need to allot more time for makeup and general prissing and primping. I need to start overestimating rather than underestimating my prep time.

and last but not least…

*Be open to the changes that are coming
While every year brings change of some sort, I already know that mine will be of the major variety this year. I will be leaving my profession of 12 years and returning to academia for a new start. This will bring with it all sorts of new situations and challenges. I freely admit that I’m scared. This will not be easy. But as my partner likes to say, nothing worth it is ever easy.

For the first time in a long, long time, I feel calm and centered and confident about the coming months. Ever the wanderer, I finally chose a direction and I don’t feel so stuck anymore. I’m also surrounded by amazingly supportive, inspiring people. I’m going to learn to lean on them along the way.

Living Your Ideals


I am vegan. This is one of my truths that took quite a while to discover. I wish I could say that it was ethics that brought me to my awakening, but it wasn’t, at least not initially. I was vegetarian for about 8 years and I was the kind of vegetarian who thought vegans were “extreme”. I was also guilty of using the shameful “But I love cheese too much!” excuse to resist going vegan. But in 2007, while struggling with my Crohn’s disease, I decided to see a naturopath (my experiences with natural medicine will most likely fill another blog post entirely) who urged me to remove dairy from my diet. I balked at first. My beloved cheese! However, I now had an actual medical reason to go dairy-free. Since it was dairy all along that had stopped me from going vegan, I decided it was finally time…eggs, honey and gelatin went too. Though I got nothing else out of my visits with the naturopath, I will admit that she was right about one thing: going vegan improved my health. I was able to much more easily manage my Crohn’s disease with a dairy-free diet. I am also living proof that you can have IBD and be a vegan (obviously, IBD affects everyone differently, though, and I recognize that).

In addition to feeling better physically, I felt more at peace. For so long, I had lived with such a cognitive disconnect, professing to love animals while still participating in and supporting the system that tortures and exploits them. I began to learn more about the horrors of the dairy industry and the ridiculous myth of “humane” meat and eggs. Slowly, I began to transition my wardrobe and makeup to vegan items. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy at first. You don’t realize just how much we use animals until you start to rid your life of the cruelty we impose on them. Initially, winter items were the most difficult for me. Having just moved from Virginia, I was facing my first Chicago winter and I was terrified. I learned to layer and amassed a collection of fleece socks and cotton scarves and hats. I even found a super warm (albeit ugly) parka from Land’s End for the most bitter days. Shoes were also a bit tough at first, until I figured out where to look and what to look for. Now I can zero in on a hot pair of vegan heels in a second. (Tip: There are so many vegan options on Endless and DSW; just check in the under $50-60 price range. Also, Madden Girl is almost always vegan. Same goes for Michael Antonio and Two Lips, just watch out for the suede.)

It does take a bit more time and planning to be vegan but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. I know that there are certain things I can only get at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s so I make a list and once there’s enough on it, I’ll make one big trip. I buy in bulk a lot. I stock up. This goes for makeup too. As a femme and performer, that’s one area that can still be pretty tough, but it’s getting easier, thanks to sites like Cruelty Free Face and companies like Urban Decay and Sugarpill Cosmetics who clearly label which of their products are vegan. I wait for sales (Sugarpill has them often!) and then stock up on colors. Costuming is definitely more difficult for me than for my non-vegan dance sisters, as tribal belly dance accessories are frequently adorned with feathers or shells and belts are often leather. This, of course, is where craftiness comes in. It also helps decrease procrastination. I don’t have the luxury of leaving costuming to the last minute because there are often items that require special ordering. I can’t run to Walgreen’s right before a show and grab some lipstick to go with my color scheme. This is far from a big deal.

I do not lead a life of sacrifices. I eat a more nutritious and varied diet now than I ever did before going vegan. I actually like cooking now! I’m not deprived or malnourished or humorless. As a queer feminist, the life I live is fully aligned with my ethics. I fight for those who are oppressed and exploited, human and non-human alike. And I look damn fierce doing it, too.

(L.O.V.E., which stands for Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation, has some really great resources for going vegan. Check them out!)