If I Had My Life to Live Over- Julia Maria Riehle’s Kitchen Dance Version

Poet-Julia Maria Riehle- Stuttgart, Germany

If I had my life to live over I would allow myself to be loved. To feel someone’s heartbeat at night and have crazy kitchen dances in the morning.

If I had my life to live over I would sing songs out loudly and dance through the streets. I would roll down the windows and scream out the lyrics.

I would go up on stage and bring on the karaoke show. Who cares how I’d be singing because at least I’d be brave in my living!

If I had my life to live over I would be less cautious. I would just go for it, just do it. I would worry less, knowing that no matter what happens, it would be worse not to have tried at all.

If I had my life to live over I would read more books. I would read more poems, maybe even share my own. And I would pick more daisies for my flower crown.

If I had my life to live over. ~by Julia Maria Riehle

(inspired by the orignal by Nadine Stair)

Every year, instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, I write an “If I Had My Life to Live Over” poem, inspired by the original by Nadine Stair. This year, I am so thrilled to be able to share Julia’s instead!

From what I have read, the orignal by Nadine Stair was written years ago when Nadine was in her mid 80’s. Although it is beautiful and touching, it made me quite sad as it lays out her regrets of not living life as fully, courageously, and as daringly as she would have liked.

I decided I didn’t want to have such regrets, so I grabbed a pen and paper, and used that line If I Had My Life to Live Over repeatedly on the page to find out what my soul was yearning for. What did I still want to do but was scared of? What was I aching to try but wasn’t sure how or whether I was capable? Instead of it being a sorrowful list of what I hadn’t accomplished, what came out of it was an uncovering of my deepest dreams and desires.

That actually became the catalyst to making those wishes come true for that year. It became a map for how I was going to show up in my life. The funny thing is that I didn’t even have to try. It was like the mere act of writing down my version of the poem allowed the Universe to hear it, and know I meant it and was ready. And I was amazed at how it brought me the exact opportunities and people to fulfill the dreams. All I had to do was let it.

I have been doing this for over ten years now, also inviting others to do the same. And I was so excited when this year, one of my Youtube subscribers who lives all the way out in Stuttgart, Germany decided to try the exercise, and shared her poem! She was so brave and vulnerable in her words, and I loved her reference to dance and expression in it. I knew it was perfect for the blog. And I couldn’t help to share it here.

Thank you, Julia, for such an inspiring piece. You’re right- how amazing it is that Nadine Stair’s poem, written so many years ago, connected us. And now, even though I haven’t even met you in person, you have already inspired me so much.

More proof of the power of the arts- the power or expression and connection- which is exactly what Dance Me Free is about.

To see the original poem by Nadine Stair, click here: If I Had My Life to Live Over by Nadine Stair

To see the original Youtube video where I share about this exercise and how to write your own If I Had My Life to Live Poem, click here: Forget Resolutions. Do This Instead

How Dance Revealed to Me My Own Infidelity

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

After taking dance classes for awhile, although I was enjoying them, I felt like I was missing something. How were others getting to such high levels in such short periods of time? Some were joining performance teams or even becoming instructors, while I was still piling up class after class, month after month, and not feeling like I had a lot to show for it. Sometimes, I felt more like I was falling behind than getting ahead.

What was the secret?

I decided to just ask. I approached some of the girls who I was envious of on the dance floor. I asked where they learned or what they did to improve. I wanted to find out who they had taken lessons from and what kinds of practise they would recommend. I guess you could say I was searching for the ‘magic formula.’

But it seemed there was none. Nada. In fact, their responses disheartened instead of encouraged me: “Oh, I just took a few lessons, and then figured it out for myself,” said one girl who looked like a rockstar on the dance floor. Or “I never took lessons, I just picked it up going social dancing.” I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide after that one. And then the final doozy was, “Girl, I’m a natural. It’s in my blood being Latina and all. You either got it or you don’t.”

I guess that meant I didn’t, I concluded.

I should have given up at that point. I mean, all the time and money I had already put into this, maybe I should just pack it in instead of wasting more. But I couldn’t bring myself to stop, to stop wanting it, to stop thinking about it, and to stop going out to the salsa clubs that brought me so much joy. Even though I was getting frustrated with my own dancing, when I would hear the music, and watch all the bodies on the dance floor interpreting it in their own unique ways, moving body parts that I didn’t even know could be moved, I felt so alive.

I wanted more of it. But I wanted to be IN it more, to be a part of it. To be one of them. Not just an observer, but to feel what they were feeling. To be one of the ones that outsiders like me were oohing and ahhing over. To be the one who inspired others to want to dance too. But how?

Despite not knowing the answer, I would still show up and put on my sparkly salsa heels, … just in case…

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How Dance Connects Us to Our Intuition

Photo by Andrew on Pexels.com

I should actually rephrase this title and call it, “Dance Can RE-Connect Us to Our Intuition,” because I believe we are all intuitive beings. We came here with the power of intuition to help guide us through this journey and beyond. I think we just forgot, or it was scared or ‘sensed’ out of us. As in, the voices that said, “Be more sensible, more practical, if you want to survive in this world.”

As children, we were encouraged to dream and discover and imagine and create. That was intuition at its best. No conditioning of what was right or wrong, no fear or prejudice against others, no questioning our natural ability to play and suss out what felt good for us. We intuitively knew we had intuition on our side and we didn’t have to second guess ourselves!

But as we grew up, other people’s opinions made their way into our heads, often well meaning people telling us what we should do, how we should be, and to BE CAREFUL. They themselves had been conditioned by caring individuals who were caught in this fear and trepidation trap as well. They were pushed to not rely on their gut feelings, because years of experiences that hurt or harmed them taught them that could be dangerous They thought that putting up a shield would stop others from getting in. But what we don’t realize is that it is actually also stopping us from getting messages from within us as well. And if we could tap back into that, it would be our greatest guidance and protector.

I am so grateful that Dance reconnected me to my intuition!

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Dance Can Teach Us the Power of Presence

Photo by Katho Mutodo on Pexels.com

When I first came to dance, even as a little girl taking some ballet classes, I didn’t know that I was so in my head.

I was thinking a lot- about where this foot went, and what angle to bend that arm, and where to place my body in relation to another fellow dancer beside me.

No wonder I gave up ballet somewhere around 10 years old.

As an adult, I was so excited to find partner dance. Salsa was the place I started first. I thought, this is it! I will finally be able to learn to move as elegantly and fluidly, and with the charisma of the dancers I was admiring for most of my life. Those beautiful dancers on stages and even on social dance floors. I couldn’t wait to learn how to ‘be like’ them.

So I took classes, and more classes. Really working out the steps in my head, and figuring out the timing and even the styling like it was mathematics. Though I was ‘learning to dance’, so to speak, my dancing felt and looked so robotic compared to the dancers next to me. I couldn’t understand how we all started in beginner classes at the same time, and I felt like I was putting more time into extra lessons. But my fellow students next to me very quickly became more flowing and free and fun on the dance floor, while I felt clumsy and stiff and like I had turned dancing into a science.

Well, I had. Because I had put it all in my head, as if I could work it all out with my mind. And one day, a partner I was dancing with said, “What are you thinking about?” right in the middle of our dance.

What? I wasn’t thinking about anything, I tried to convince both of us. But right then, I realized he was right. How did he know?

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What Each Dance Brings to Me, Especially In Relation to The Five Elements

I tend to go through seasons of different dances, and sometimes wondered if there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just stick to one dance?

And when people would ask me which was my favourite, I’d have troube answering that question. All the dances- from salsa, to bachata, to tango, to kizomba, to zouk- seemed to bring me something different, but I couldn’t explain what exactly. Until… I heard about the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine. And voila! Just like that, I got my answer. See, the Five Elements- are within all of us, but we are dominant in some, and have different amounts of them within us. Sometimes, they are in balance, and sometimes, they are very out of balance or craving a little bit of a less dominant element for a little while.

I realised that different dances were helping me tap into different elements that were undernourished, or needed revitalizing.

And learning about this system through two beautiful bellydancers- Dondhi and Titanya Dahlin really got me excited to share with you these wonderful insights.

Do you tend to stick to one dance? Or are you a dance dabbler like me?What do you think you get from different dances? And does your choosing them depend on your mood, who you’re with, the city you’re in, or even the DJ who might be spinning that night?


I’d love to hear your comments about this, and any of the elements you might resonate with. I will be giving a brief description of them at the start of the video. But you can always find out more details about this fascinating personality and health system through Dondi Dahlin’s book simply called The Five Elements.

Click on the link below to get into the Youtube Channel and then choose the video with the same title as this blog post:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX_K65HYLIlJWuwSBWGv6rw

The Milonga Mystery

(I do not claim to own this picture. Photographer and source unknown).

I was watching the movie I Feel Pretty the other night. And the main character Renee, played by the hilarious Amy Shumer, was complaining to her girlfriends about online dating. She was emphasizing how the guys only look at the pictures, and so if you’re not pretty in the guys’ eyes, they skip right past you.

She was so passionate in her monologue at that point. Her friends laughed, but you could also feel the hurt she had been holding in for so long, needing to get out. And it was how she ended it that rung inside me over and over: “And you didn’t even want to go out with this guy in the first place. But he’s rejecting you and it’s not fair. I’m sick of it.”

I know that feeling, I thought. But not because of online dating. Because of tango, and not because of the dance itself, but because of my experience of going out to some of the Vancouver milongas in particular.

Okay, I can’t believe I said that out loud, or wrote it out loud, but I am kind of relieved, because like Amy Shumer’s character, I’ve been keeping this inside for way too long. Maybe some of you tangueros out there will be shocked or disagree with my thoughts. But maybe, or I’m thinking most likely, there are people out there who can relate to this. More than they care to admit. So I am admitting it for all of us.

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It’s the Ma Moments in Dance, and Life, That Are to Be Treasured

Photo by Melike B. on Pexels.com

If someone asked me what I love about dance the most, I could list off quite a few ideas. But one in particular, I never knew quite how to describe: those moments of pauses, breaths, and silences in our bodies, and the music, when we are moved even if not actually physically, but from the inside out.

That space when our feet press into the floor ever so slowly and we can feel the floor pressing back up, connecting us to something bigger. That space. That slowing down…

What could I call it? Matrix style?

I tried capturing the concept of it in poetry, but the words would escape me. It seemed like something only someone who actually had experienced it would really grasp. And words didn’t seem sufficient enough to explain that space.

But then I would laugh, realising it’s not just in dance. It’s also IN the words, within poetry, lyrics, novels. I realised there too was that magical gap, a breath, a sigh, a whisper amongst the letters and phrases. They are not just to be seen, or thought through in the mind, but felt and heard, with the heart, and spirit.

It’s like a space that spirit grants us for a few seconds sometimes. A space that shows us and takes us into a realm of all possibilities. We come out changed, deeper, without even knowing exactly what happened. We just want to feel it and experience it, and be a part of it again.

And I remember thinking I wish there was a word for this. But how can there be for such a sparkly, stardusty concept that we can’t even hold in our hands? Could we ever find letters to capture it on paper?

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Your Vigour for Life, and Dance, Appalls Me ;-)

I was walking back from an appointment yesterday, and I stopped in front of this cute book shop. I tend to search not just for books through the window of shops like this, but for messages, from the Universe, I guess you could say.

For a couple of months, it was a little sign on the doll house in that shop that I took in as the message I needed: It said, “Books make a big difference in even the smallest of houses.” I smiled because my apartment is definitely small, and I have a lot of books in it. I find it difficult to part with them though. And I thought that this was the Universe’s way of telling me that maybe I don’t need to, at least not anytime soon. They put magic into my surroundings and it’s okay to hang on to them a little longer.

But today, I saw this book title and author in that same window that I had never heard of before. It was called Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me, by Robert Crumb. I was a little startled at first. I thought, what kind of a message is THAT? But I also considered that actually, that’s a pretty gutsy thing to say to someone or even to announce on a book. I was kind of intrigued, and of course, couldn’t wait to look it up when I got home. And then I laughed, because I thought this could actually be very fitting right now, as a message from the Universe.

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Dance as a Way to Share With the World Who You Really Are- Interview with Val Wang

I know you through Zouk, but did you start out in Salsa like many of the Zouk dancers? What is your dance background?

Bellydance is my first dance. Before any social dances, I used to train and perform with “Leilan”, a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Troupe at Stanford University. I was first introduced to Zouk by some Bachata friends. I couldn’t get it out of my mind after a glimpse of it.

Oh wow! I didn’t know you started with Bellydance. Now it makes sense why your hip movements look so fluid and effortless.

What is it about Zouk, and/or Lambazouk, that draws you to it?

In the beginning it was the connection, the music, the free-flowing movement and the seemingly infinite possibilities of things you can do in Zouk that drew me to it. Later, as I went on to perform and teach Zouk, I liked that it makes me reflect upon body awareness, breathing, mindfulness and spirituality. It’s like an area in life where I can observe my own growth and my blind spots.

Lambazouk is similar but it has more of a wild, happy and uplifting energy that I really enjoy.

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