About trajwani

Lover of words, cultures, art, magic moments, children, soulful endeavours, dance, and music, music, music.

Secret to Success 1- Make It A Habit

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This morning, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and was about to make my usual scrambled eggs for breakfast, but I stopped.

Instead of turning anything on on the stove, I put down the frying pan I had just picked up, and put on my workout clothes. Without even thinking, I was soon out the door, heading downstairs to the gym.

I hate cardio. But my body just went straight to the stair master machine, and the 20 minutes on there felt like it went by fast. Don’t get me wrong, I was sweating. And I wanted to give up a few times into it. But my body overpowered my thoughts and just kept at it. It was strange, but also wonderful.

It made me wonder how I got to this place- not just to the gym, but to a place where going to the gym was not something I had to write down on a schedule, and force myself to do, or procrastinate over. I realized today that it had become something I craved, something that just felt right to do, something that had become a habit, almost as much as the brushing of my teeth just before it.

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Don’t Become A Workshop Slut

workshop1Years ago, I was in New York taking a writing course. It had me inspired and excited so much so that when I found out that I could register for another workshop at the same school, I shared the news with my instructor.  I told her that I was originally planning to go on a trip to Argentina, but I wanted to stay committed to my writing and to learning so could put off the trip to another time.

She looked at me for a moment and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then she said one of the best pieces of advice she received from a former writing teacher herself was, “Don’t become a workshop slut.”

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If He Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

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I’ve been trying to work out consistently for a long time. It wasn’t very successful before.  I’m so into it at the start.  But then bam, I’m back to not being motivated or just being frustrated with not seeing results. And then I stop.

Was is the problem, I kept asking myself? Why don’t I see results? Is it because I haven’t stuck with it long enough? Or is it that I’m not working out hard enough? Or am I working out too hard and then feeling too exhausted to go at it again? Or maybe I am just not using the right amount of weights? Maybe my workouts aren’t varied enough? Maybe the way that I’m working out is the problem, and even if I spend a couple of hours in the gym at a time over a long period of time, it wouldn’t make a difference?

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If The Shoe Fits, Buy More Pairs!

shoe shoppingI haven’t been dancing as regularly as I’d like, and haven’t been social dancing in a few months. This is partly due to a knee injury I am trying to sort out. But I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was missing dance, especially zouk, for so long. So the other night, I finally went back to our weekly zouk social.

As soon as I walked in and heard the music, my body did this kind of ahhhh like release. As if it was just waiting for me to get back, and now it could be free to be happy again.  It’s kind of crazy how dance can have that affect on you.  Zouk music- even the mixes that aren’t authentic zouk but carry that beat, make me feel that beat inside me. It enlivens something from within that only other dancers could understand.

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Piano As Therapy- Interview With Tyler Wilson

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How long have you been playing piano, and what is your preferred genre to play?

I’ve been playing piano now for about 18 years, ever since I was 6. After a few too many times banging on the keys of my grandma’s old upright, she sat me down and began teaching me classically, initially. This built a good technical foundation, but as I got older, I started getting into playing pop music. Eventually, I found my passion in jazz, specifically the old standards and swing!

I find sometimes it can be difficult to follow your artistic passion as an adult, especially with certain societal or cultural pressures to pursue something more “practical.”  Did you find those around you encouraging your music pursuits?

Luckily, the stigma against following the arts as a career path doesn’t seem as prominent in my generation. The rise of the entrepreneur/side gigs among millennials has made for a relatively accepting environment for people that are pursing their own path. But I would definitely agree that culture, upbringing, and environment have a heavy impact on people actually pursuing music and the arts as a sole source of income.

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“…But those unheard are sweeter”

Heard melodies are sweet,

but those unheard are sweeter.”

~John Keats

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Recently, I saw this quote from Ode to a Grecian Urn tattooed on a girl’s back shoulder.  I am glad there was a huge treble clef attached to it, which drew my attention to the words.

So many memories of English Literature class, and falling in love with Romantic poets were brought back to me in that moment. And Professor Lee Johnson, my favorite professor, who instilled such a passion for poetry and words in me, even though I was actually in sciences at that time.

Those words meant something in particular to me at that time, according to what was going on in my life then. I wasn’t dancing, and I definitely wasn’t singing when I first read those poets and Keats’ ode.  But I understood and got a taste of those “unheard melodies” in the form of pauses and breaths in the middle of certain sentences or poetry lines.  Writing and reading took on this whole other sensation for me because of this.   So did fine art, as I would notice not just the strokes and colours on the canvases I painted or drew on, but also the negative space within those creations.  I could see the beauty of the “unheard” melodies in the artwork I studied in art history classes as well. To me, they were the spots that the artist chose to purposely leave blank.   The blank spaces often said as much, if not more, than the ones full of swirling brushstrokes.

It’s amazing how now, the words take on another layer because of these newer passions of mine, especially dance.

Because it is the breaths and pauses in dancing and singing that I live for the most in these disciplines.  Very often, we concentrate on the hits, the strong beats, the parts in the music where your feet want to step the loudest or strongest.  But when someone breathes with me at the beginning of a dance, or when suddenly, there is a pause in the music, and we stop together to take in that moment, that’s what makes the hits and sharper, quicker movements so memorable.

It’s also what gives me goosebumps- those “unheard” melodies in between the musical notes, in between the dips and spins and waves.  I can name particular dancers over the course of my dancing experience who have made me feel those moments, those pauses, between the pulses and traveling sequences.  It is the leaders who have stopped me in my tracks to be so present in those moments, to experience the sweetness of what is not heard but felt so deeply, that remain in my memory forever.  Although those moments can never be replicated again exactly as they were, that is also what is beautiful about them.  They linger within us, long after they happen, because of their magic to bring us into that very instance.

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It’s like nothing else exists in those moments except for that feeling. And that is the part of dance that makes me crave more of it.  These captured moments of ‘stillness’ that we often don’t take the time for in our daily lives, these instances of total surrender to our senses- the feel of our partner’s hands or arms around us, the touch of our feet pushing through the floor, or the floor pushing back up into us to ground us and keep the motion flowing, or the deep breaths taken at the same time as the pause in the music.

It is this that draws me to the dance floor again and again, no matter how tired I might feel beforehand, no matter how many other life issues are on my mind.  Dance takes me out of this and into the moment.  It feels like something otherworldly, orchestrated not by us but by something divine. Or to remind us of our connection to Spirit and the Divine. We just have to be open to it, to allow ourselves to listen and believe in the “unheard” melodies that capture our hearts and let our souls soar. It is the pauses and the breaths in the dances that enliven me and convince me that we are connected to something so much greater than ourselves. We just have to let that connection flow to and from us.

Dance allows us to hear the unheard, to experience something out of this world while still remaining in it.

Dance is divine.

12 Lessons Learned From House Class

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Most people know me as a partner dancer. But from time to time, I’ve been sneaking away from the partner dance world to attend classes that I would have to do on my own.  I wanted a class in which I wouldn’t be able to cheat by relying on my partner for balance, energy or to just initiate the movements.  I wanted to improve my ability to find the feeling in my own body first, and to develop myself as an individual dancer. This was not to get away from the partner dancing world, but to help strengthen myself as a dancer, and bring this back into the dances I was already doing.  I was thrilled to be able to find all this, plus a great cardio workout, through House Dance classes!  And I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learned from them.

Of course, the concepts below can and should be learned throughout other dance styles, including the ones I was already doing. However, there was something about my taking myself out of the style and space I was used to that helped ingrain these lessons in me on a deeper and more conscious level.  The House Dance classes made the concepts I should already “know” clearer.  And this awareness has given me more confidence to understand them and apply them more intentionally to my other dances.  Thank you, to my instructor Kyle Vicente and iDance Vancouver Studios, for these great lessons!  Continue reading

Awakening to Your Dreams

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For the past few nights, I have fallen asleep with my guitar.

“Wait, you play the guitar?” those of you who know me might be asking.  Others of you might be thinking, “I think she needs a man.”  Yeah, that’s a topic for a whole other blog post.

But yes, I actually own three guitars now.   But I rarely play them. I thought I just couldn’t figure out HOW to. I would try every once in awhile, take a couple of lessons, but nothing would stick. If any of you have tried playing the guitar, especially as an adult, you know it’s not that easy.  Getting your fingers to coordinate and stretch enough but also be delicate enough to get right into the exact spots on the frets is pretty tricky stuff.

Each time I would pick up the guitar again, I would get frustrated and think that this whole guitar thing is so far from… well, who I am.  So I would give up.

But the universe has this way of bringing you back to something that you might need to give another chance to. Plus, there are guitars all around me- from the guitar paintings I did years ago, still hanging on my wall, to the guitar piggy bank I have in my kitchen, to the little guitar decoration on my bookshelf. Oh, and what about that guitar keychain I owned for a few years? Not to mention that one of the most inspiring and life changing movies I have ever seen is also, quite frankly, called The Guitar.

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Watch and Learn

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You can learn a lot from someone just by watching, especially if you learn HOW to observe.

On some nights, when I am out at a dance social or even at a practica, I might not have the energy to dance every song.  Sometimes, I am not even sure I have the energy to dance at all.  But I try to remind myself that the learning doesn’t just come from what you do, it also comes from what you see.

My initial fascination with dance definitely came from seeing people dancing, seeing the movement, the expression, witnessing the joy and energy that came from dancers who were feeling the music. Yes, their inspiration stemmed from the feeling that came from within them. Something I couldn’t see in a tangible sense.  But, it poured out from them through their connection to the floor, to their partner, to their smiles, to their gritty, passionate style and flavor. And THAT- what I saw, was what drew me into wanting to dance. The desire to do what those dancers were doing came out in me because I saw that desire in them.

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A Fine Balance

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I don’t dance salsa as much anymore.  My body doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with it as much. Maybe because the movements are often sharper or faster than the zouk and kizomba I’ve been turning to more over the past few years.  And those spins. Man those spins. Haha.

But the other night, I was at an event where the kizomba and bachata rooms upstairs hadn’t picked up yet.  So I stayed downstairs, giving my first dance- salsa-  a shot again. Let’s see how my body takes this after so many years of not doing this.

It’s funny how some things do just come back, because of muscle memory, because of the years of practise in the past. Sure, I stumbled on a few moves, and maybe my reflexes and spins weren’t as quick. But my body kind of found its way through the dance for me, without my having to think about it too much.

And while this was happening, little tips and tricks from all those years of lessons long ago started popping up in my head as well. Spotting, thighs together in spins and turns, safe arm styling  choices, pushing off the floor, and even just how to be more efficient overall in the dancing.  Continue reading