Showing Up: Life Lessons from Dancing

Showing up. I am showing up and exploring new territory on my new site, Hope you may show up there and visit :).

Mermaid and the Marsh

To show up is to be present, and open.  And ultimately, it is to be vulnerable.

I’ve been thinking a lot about showing up lately, as I am back at it with a dance class in a style that is less familiar and comfortable for me.  When the wonderful, wise teacher talks with us on the first day, she emphasizes that showing up is the most important thing we need to do for class. It’s the essential thing.

Simple? Yes.  Easy? No.

At least not much of the time.

As usual, the body doesn’t lie (thank you, Martha Graham).  When we show up, open up to the movement and the rhythm, we appear more at one with them. It seems as if the dance is dancing us.  Our gaze is aware and our energy percolates.  When we don’t show up the opposite happens: awkward movement, off the beat, lowered gaze…

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Mermaid and the Marsh: New Blog

Greetings! I am excited to say that I have just started a new site, Mermaid and the Marsh,

Sirena Tales has been a wonderful experience.  Deep gratitude to everyone who has supported me here.  Please come visit in my new lair.

I will continue to explore expansiveness, inspiration, dance, connection and kindness, nature’s wisdom, and yes, Santa Hat adventures.  Tapping into the magic of the marsh even more.  Lightening my baggage and leaving most of the 600 or so posts here in their home; perhaps copying a few for Mermaid and the Marsh.  Aiming to write shorter pieces, at least some of the time :).

Wishing you inspiration, joy and peace. ~Sirena (Photo courtesy of Nikki Carrara © 2017)

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So, You Used To Be A Dancer? Life Lessons From Dancing (Reprise)


The message keeps begging to be repeated, as the world needs, the world hungers for people who have come alive. For people who have brought themselves alive by following and cultivating their passion. Do it! (Photo credit: Rich Davis)

Sirena Tales

NIK_5824Ask [yourself] what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”~~Howard Thurman

Folks keep coming across my path, voicing their passions along with their regret in not pursuing those passions.  So, I am running this post from the archives again, with some new photos. The original post, with many generous, thoughtful comments, is here . 

Sure, I’ve already reblogged it, but since the yearning for a more vitalized life continues to come up so relentlessly, I am repeating this reminder: DO WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE.

Not solely for dancers at all, this is for anyone who seeks a spur to vitalize.  This piece does also go out to the medical technician the other day who danced for 10 years and sorely misses it and the dance studio owner who confided that ceasing to dance for herself…

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Mess: Life Lessons from Dancing

Brainstorming with a young dancer pal for an upcoming performance provided unexpected treasure recently.  As the organizer of the event, I’ve created some plans and parameters for the work, which has structure and is also to be largely improvised.

Some plans and parameters will be beneficial, and even important.  Too many will choke the dance.

As the variables for this outdoor performance have been mounting, I’ve felt increasingly unsettled by how the uncertainty may play out.  The weather, limited rehearsal time, condition of the terrain, audibleness of the music, dancers’ comfort with each other and the parameters–they’re all in flux. Chaos! And so I mistakenly fell into the old trap: broadly exerting [the illusion of] control.

It took my buoyant collaborator to help me realize how I had gone astray, and also how I was missing buckets of possibility by over-managing the situation.  When his eyes lit up as he spoke about how he adores messiness, how it presents an exciting challenge to work with the chaos, find his way out of it or create something with it, his relish was infectious.

Yes, he’s spot on!

I was suddenly yanked back to recognizing how going with the flow amidst uncertainty would allow the pieces to breathe, to grow. How vast the possibilities will be when we combine such beautiful, skilled dancers, a stunning venue, outdoor artwork, an inquisitive audience, wonderful music.  Nothing I could try to set in stone will come close to the synchronicity of the moment if I step back and allow it all to unfold with a minimum of constraints.

Sure, fear and a sense of vulnerability have slunk back in here and there, since our brainstorming, aiming to lure me back to more rules and structure. Each time this happens, I stay my hand.  Opening it, instead, to the magical processes of collaboration and creativity.  And inviting that magic to flow through all of us–the venue, the dancers, the audience-to create a moment of one-of-a-kind beauty and connection.

Ditto for everyday life :).



Top photo courtesy of Christina Goldberg; Sculptures: Gil Boro

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Surprise Yourself: Life Lessons from Dancing

Surprising myself a good deal this past week and ruminating about how refreshing and, yes, scary and, absolutely, wholly essential this is. More on this soon….

Sirena Tales

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”~Andre Gide

We are in heavy duty dance performance mode now. After months and months, and in some cases years, of rehearsal, we are performing the new work in a variety of venues–from the stage to the sidewalk.

Of course, this means both that we have practiced the movement countless times and that we need to continue to find ways to keep each performance of it fresh. To strike the balance between being very well rehearsed and also wholly in the moment of “live” performance.

Our choreographer-director reminded us at Sunday’s rehearsal that we have to persist in digging more deeply–within ourselves and among each other–to avoid complacency. How to do that?

There are the obvious, outward triggers, that will keep us on our toes, like performing in different venues and dancing in…

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Got Demons?

Regal and huge egrets have returned to the marsh, so commanding in their power, grace, and tenacity.  And yet, to our surprise, red-winged blackbirds that are about 1/20 the egrets’ size have frequently been initiating pestering the egrets.  Pecking at the egrets’ heads and tails, and even persisting when the egrets are airborne!

At first, we thought that perhaps the blackbirds were protecting their nests.  But these territorial little birds have flown hundreds of feet from the trees in which they live and gone after the egrets halfway across the marsh. Time and again.

The amazing thing has been the egrets’ response: nothing.  Or close to it.

No, these majestic and focused creatures have continued on their mesmerizing, meditative paths, only occasionally ducking out of the way of the blackbirds.  The snowy egrets proceed with singular intent in their pavane of waiting patiently, moving in super slo-mo until diving in to snatch their meal of fish. Not once turning on the blackbirds with the egrets’ sizable, sharp beaks or even brushing the blackbirds away with their massive wings.

What a terrific lesson the egrets offer to those of us dogged by naysayers and doubters-both external and internal ones :)!  The egrets’ wisdom came back to me while rehearsing recently with the usual suspects of demons swooping in, attempting to derail me.  Self-doubt, distraction, hyper-criticism, illusory fatigue.  All gathering around and dive-bombing.

I wondered if when this happens, when the nemeses show up, what if I just continue along, committed, laser-like, eyes on the prize?  What if these demons just come along for the ride, like those pesky blackbirds hounding the egrets even mid-flight, whether the demons be from within or the skeptics on the outside?

I can just imagine the powerful egrets muttering to themselves, “Oh, you again?” when their relentless pests show up.  And then these magnificent birds chuckle to themselves and sail forth…on their paths…undaunted.

Note to self: Be like an egret!

Whatever you do you need courage.
Whatever course you decide upon, there will always be someone to tell you that you are wrong.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photo credit: Christina Goldberg; Sculpture: Gil Boro




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Cookies and Kindness

My practice of cookie baking and sharing continues. The recipes and recipients may change, but my intention remains constant: Spreading a little sweetness and joy one bite at a time. ❤

Sirena Tales

img_2441You can always count on cookies and kindness: Give a cookie and you get joy.”~Dorie Greenspan

I wholeheartedly agree with celebrity baker and guru, Dorie Greenspan, who has launched a wonderful cookies and kindness project.  It’s aimed at making “the world a sweeter place”  by inspiring, mobilizing and connecting bakers all over the world to bake and share cookies. #cookiesandkindness

A campaign to spread joy? YES!

I’ve been pursuing a cookie baking practice for many years, baking and sharing cookies frequently.  With family and friends, of course.  And also with folks I’ll never meet:  firefighters in my hometown or in a different city, folks at food pantries or soldiers overseas.

It’s always felt right somehow, this humble yet heartfelt practice.  Not one that is going to bring world peace, yet one that may bring moments of connection and delight into individual lives.


To bake and share something delicious…

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