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

Interview With Amyn Sunderji- On Food, Music, and Memories

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Where were you born?

Tororo, Uganda

And when did you come to Vancouver?

I landed in Vancouver on the 13th of February, 1974. The sun was shining and crocuses were in bloom.

Aww,… beautiful. How long after that did you open up your restaurant- Kilimanjaro?

I opened the restaurant in November of 1978.

What made you decide on a restaurant?

When I was in the States at university, after years’ worth of cafeteria food, (laughs) I got tired of it.

Oh, I didn’t know that (laughs).

Yes, so I wrote to my mom, and asked her for recipes. She sent me some, as well as spices. And I started cooking at home. So I was always interested in cooking while I was going to university.

And that continued here in Canada?

Well, over here, I first got an insurance business- a mutual funds business.  I was selling insurance, I was selling mutual funds. But I would always take the clients out for lunch.

Continue reading

The Story Teller and Other Pieces -Interview with Writer Pramod Kumar

The Story Teller by Pramod Kumar

Some untold stories

To die is one thing, to fall in love is another…

To live is one thing, to be alive is another…

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The café was full as usual. Though located in downtown, it was particularly mannered compared to its other counterparts.

It was not the aroma of the freshly baked coffee beans that pulled women to this part of the town, but the young lad who used to tell stories- stories with strange endings, which sometimes would leave the audience spellbound, sometimes in rage of anger, sometimes in tears. They would promise themselves not to come to him again, not to listen to his stories again. But the promise was too hard to keep for they had become addicted to the drug he secretly served in his stories. Continue reading

French Flows Like a Dance- Interview with Oceane- French Teacher

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Which part of France are you from?

I am from a small city in the North of France called Saint Amand les Eaux, close to Lille.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a French teacher?

It’s funny actually how teaching became my life purpose without me even noticing. My mom was a teacher, and I originally never wanted to become one, as I was seeing all the drawbacks of the job. But when I was 16, I became a French and Mathematics tutor for the younger kids of my neighborhood.

Then, when I was 20, I became a diving instructor as I was completely in love with scuba diving (and still am).  I wanted to transmit my love for this amazing activity to the greatest number of people I could. And teaching was a great way to do so.

After that, when I arrived in Vancouver in 2016, I started my business of teaching French classes online and on-site. I could see there was a big love for the French culture on the West Coast, and it was quite inspiring to help lead and support that. Continue reading

Interview With Elina Sumichan- Dance Brought Me Back to Myself

Photo by BachataX Toronto (2)

Photo by BachataX

You have been dancing a few different dances over the years.  Is Bachata your favorite?

I semi-retired from dancing for about 5 years, and I recently came back to it in the last year and half.  I realized how much I missed dancing. Then I ran into Davy, who is now my dance partner, and Bachata fusion has been our main focus.  But I love all styles of dance combined! I’m a fusion dancer.

You have a background in solo dance first, rather than partner dance, right? 

Yes. As a child, at 5 years old, I actually started with traditional Balinese dancing back when I was living in Bali. Then I learned modern dance, and after that, I did Jazz and Hip Hop throughout high school.  I picked up Balinese dancing again for a few months one summer vacation as a teenager, which is probably where I got my hand styling from. I was dance obsessed ever since I was a teenager, and I learned everything I could as far as other dances- from Hip Hop, Contemporary, Ballet, Belly Dancing, and even Flamenco!

How did you get into partner dance?

The first time I learned Salsa was actually in Bali, when I was 14. It was during the summer holidays when I was with my family. When I came back from the trip, I started to take lessons from various instructors in Vancouver and discovered the social dance scene here.  I spent my summer breaks for the next few years taking private lessons with a teacher in Bali and going out to socials. For a few years after that, throughout high school and university, I worked at a dance studio in Burnaby. That was when I started learning all partner dances on top of all the Latin dances I was already doing- from Latin Ballroom, Standard Ballroom, Argentine Tango, and West and East Coast Swing.

Do you think you got more out of partner dances or solo styles of dance? 

To this day, all of the mix of random dance training that I did contributes to my style, skills and abilities.  There wasn’t one training that I did that became irrelevant.  The fact that I exposed myself to everything gave me body movement awareness that I probably would not have gotten if I hadn’t tried a variety of dances. Continue reading

Dance Connects Cultures- Interview with Masanori Fujita

Masa8Where did you learn to dance? And which style of dance did you start with?

I started breakdancing nine years ago in Osaka, Japan.  From the first time that I saw the amazing technique put in the dance, I was totally hooked.  So, the next day, I went to a dance school to learn and I also practised on the street.

After I came to Canada, I just practised breakdancing first.  I didn’t know Hustle at that time. But at some of the events, some of the dancers were doing hustle. I saw it and thought I really wanted to learn to dance it. Everyone looked like they were really enjoying it. So that’s what made me start dancing Hustle. Continue reading

Faith, Freedom and Truth- Interview With Andra Carmina

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Which styles of dance are you into?  Do you have a favorite?

​I started dancing in 2009 after taking some salsa and bachata lessons at McGill. My dancing journey eventually followed me to Toronto, where I got introduced to zouk, and from there on, no other dance has had my heart quite like zouk does. I’ve dabbled into other dances like bellyDancing, kizomba, and dancehall.  While they do bring out certain parts of me, zouk allows me to express myself in ways I almost can’t explain. Continue reading

Following Your Heart- An Interview with Madan Kumar

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Where do you live and what styles of dance do you dance?

I live in Mumbai and I dance Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba

What got you into dance?

Dancing was my hobby since childhood, but I never knew I would end up as a full time dancer, teacher and performer.

I remember being asked why, if I’m Indian, I dance Latin dances instead of Indian dance. I I love Indian dance, but it just wasn’t what I gravitated to. And I thought it was a bit of an ignorant question at the time. Haha. But now, here I am, asking you the same question (laughs). Since you are in India and Indian, what made you choose Latin dances instead of Indian dances?  Continue reading

Interview With Sia Kaskas- Revolutionizing Aging

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I really admire you for your strength and agility as a kickboxer, but also for being in a field that traditionally might have been thought more ‘suitable’ for men.  

Did you find it hard to work your way up in kickboxing, especially as a female, in terms of having support and being taken seriously?

Staying at Champions Martial Arts Academy for all the years that I did- from being a novice student to becoming an instructor and employee- had its challenges. I would say it made it easier having female role models around me- such as Master Ingrid Katzberg and Sensei Anita Katzberg. These two sisters own and run the school (along with Master Farid Dordar). Their strength was so inspiring and motivating for me and thousands of other female students in the city.

Yes. I remember them being highly regarded throughout the school and community. 

Yes, and Master Ingrid and Master Farid welcomed all genders to train and compete. I never felt any judgement from either one of them. The only challenges I encountered were from a minority of younger males who felt uncomfortable around me. I competed early on in my training years in eight tournaments and in five ring-fights and I was always the oldest female among the fight team. So that was tough in terms of judgment. And I later faced another challenge when I began instructing. Once again, some males found it difficult to be instructed by a female. This led me to train harder and to show them I am not as limited as they think. Of course now, after fifteen years of instructing, one builds a reputation and I have not had any issues with this in a long time.

Continue reading

“Work It Out”- Interview With Reuben Avery

Reuben on Trumpet

I know you first as a musician – specifically as a keyboardist and trumpeter. You have been playing music since you were a child, right? 

Yes, I’ve been playing music since I was very young. I grew up on a farm and in our home there, my family had an old upright baby grand piano. When I was a toddler, I would crawl over to the piano and pound on the pedals. This would shake the sound board enough to make some noise. My mom eventually figured out that I was interested in the instrument, so she popped me in my high chair and sat me in front of the keyboard. I would happily plunk away for hours on end.

Wow! That’s amazing.  And kind of adorable (smiles).

Yeah, I think I have improved a bit since those days (smiles), but we’re not sure since we can’t find the cassette tapes that contained my recordings that were made on our small Fisher Price recorder.

Aww… haha (smiles).

I love how it seems that you chose the instrument, and your mom saw your interest in it and just encouraged it, rather than you being pushed into it. I think forcing kids to take music lessons can sometimes actually make them lose all enjoyment in it.

Yes, well I did eventually start taking piano lessons in grade 2, and was off and on with them throughout my grade school days. I always enjoyed improvising on the instrument and creating my own music…often much more than practising what was assigned to me by my various teachers. As such, piano, has always been my first love and I can still entertain myself for hours on it. I just love being able to create lush harmonies and lay creative melodies over them.   Continue reading