I recently read a post on Facebook from a dancer whom I have watched dance for years. She described how, after her group was finished dancing, a spectator walked up and expressed her admiration of the dancer’s “guts.” You see, the dancer is heavy. And while she does have AMAZING GUTS, because she just does in every sense of the word, I think I understand why she found the admiration frustrating.

When you are not the socially acceptable “normal” body type, people of ALL types generally expect you to cower. It’s as if there is some unwritten rule you must be covered head to toe in an effort to hide the fact that humanity is not perfect. Only those who appear to be skinny enough, tan enough (or conversely white enough), have the proper sized chest, or a cute teeny bum are “allowed” to share themselves with the general public. Anyone less than these standards are A) not meant to be seen; and B) surely not allowed to publicly enjoy their apparent station or lot in life. So, when someone carrying more weight than the doctors’ offices chart say is allowable is seen not only enjoying life and expressing joy through dance, but is damn good at it, too, others think of them as “ballzy,” possessing “moxy,” having “chutzpah,” being especially “mutig,” etc.

I know I hear it. I have women tell me they are so happy to see someone of “my size” dance in public. While I am happy they find it inspiring, it’s not quite what I am going for by my efforts performing. I feel that dancing is a way to enjoy life. I feel music is a way to express emotions. I dance to express the emotions felt while listening to a song. I enjoy expressing those emotions. I was blessed to be able to walk…to have legs on which to stand. I was not blessed as equally with a voice with which to sing (my mother, sisters, cousins, nieces….they received that). I could stand to lose weight. I could also stand to make more money, drive a better vehicle, and clean my house a bit better. However, those things should not make me not be able to celebrate and enjoy where I am at right now!

So if it is “ballzy” to enjoy myself, so be it. If it is showing my “nerve” to dye my hair blue (I DO see people noticing the blue hair, by the way. Tomorrow it may be pink, so be sure to keep watching). I am going to enjoy myself. I am going to love myself. I am going to love where I am at right now.

Too many say things like, “when I lose 50 pounds I am going to dance in public,” or “when I get those washboard abs I am going to wear a bikini,” or what have you. You know what? I’m not waiting to enjoy my life! I can work toward those goals and still enjoy myself NOW! I am going to love myself, so I am better able to love others.

So, I don’t care if you are a size 2 or a size 22, please, for crying out loud, enjoy your life! Enjoy your body! It is the only one you will get! Take care of it! Move it! Express yourself with it! There are plenty of places in this world where other people believe they have the authority to suppress the actions of others. I have been extremely lucky to not have be born in one of those places. At least we do not outwardly do that. Let’s not passively do that, either, ok?

It took a long time for me to be able to be comfortable with myself, and some days still I am not. But I sure will not be old, gray and immobile someday wishing I would have danced when I had the opportunity. October marked Troupe Zephyr’s 7th birthday. When Mandy and I pooled our efforts to get this going, our intention was to enjoy what we were doing.I will not regret not celebrating the joy of life. Because I intend to and you should, too.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Energetic healing is something I think a lot of people misunderstand. Techniques such as Reiki, Touch for Health, Therapeutic Touch, or others too numerous to list look at the individual as consisting of a physical, flesh and blood body, and an energetic body. Each effects the other and, in these modes of thinking, must be kept in proper working order to achieve balance.

Energetics have always fascinated me. I have countless books throughout the years on the above mentioned approaches and the ancient Ayurvedic chakra systems and the Barbara Brennan Healing Hands methods and Traditional Chinese Medicine….on and on. So, when a friend of mine put me in contact with someone who was a Reiki Master and Teacher, I jumped at the experience! I wanted to know how to do that. I wanted to be able to help people I wanted to be able to soothe energies and be that channel. And so I went. I did my level I and II training with the same woman. She was gracious enough to travel from Rhode Island to Ohio in order to share with us. But as things go, I lost contact with her. I was unable to line things up to continue my training.


A few years later, I ran into a woman who had a wonderful energy about her. She was a yoga teacher and a Reiki Master and Teacher. She and I traded services for some time. After about six months of trading Reiki sessions and essential oils, she offered to pass along the Reiki Master/Teacher level attunement. I am honored she felt I was ready and I am blessed to have received it.


Fast forward through the last ten years and my receiving more and more Reiki training in various styles, techniques and modes. I have received attunements not only in Usui Reiki but in Khundalini and Reiju, as well as others. I now teach and offer the attunements, as well as seeing clients for sessions. It has made a difference in my life. After a few weeks of feeling myself slip off the edge energetically, I come back to my teachings. I center. I focus. I soothe the energies. Even if I cannot realize what I need in the moment, I find it back. I pick up my teachings, and I begin again.


What is Reiki?

As I was taught, Reiki is a Japanese word meaning Divine Wisdom or Divine Love life force. It refers to the energy which flows through all. It is not originated with the practitioner. He/she is merely a channel for the energy from the universal life force to the client. Some like to refer to this as the healing energy of God. Some like to call it prana, or the breath of life. Does it really matter what it is called?

This energy flows through all living beings. At times the channels in the energetic body are thought to become clogged or dys-functional. The attuned practitioner acts as a funnel and conduit to redirect those energies. The practice involves the person performing the Reiki to be mentally focusing on the receiver. He/she may lay hands on the receiver or hold them slightly above the receiver’s physical body. This does not require the removal of clothing, although some massage therapists may incorporate it into their practices. This would mean the client was partially disrobed anyway. It should never feel threatening or uncomfortable in any way to the receiver not the giver. The receiver may experience a sensation of heat, vibration, mood shifts, or nothing at all. The sender’s hands may become hot or feel as if they were buzzing. The experience seems to be a bit different for everyone. However, now science is showing the promise of these modalities.


Science backing


In the American Journal of Palliative Care a study on Reiki being used for oncology patients at a day facility (Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2012 Jun;29(4):290-4. doi: 10.1177/1049909111420859. Epub 2011 Oct 13.), favorable results have been found for the use of Reiki. “Overall, the sessions were felt helpful in improving well-being, relaxation, pain relief, sleep quality and reducing anxiety. Offering Reiki therapy in hospitals could respond to patients’ physical and emotional needs.”

In a 2015 study involving bariatric surgery patients (Explore (NY). 2015 May-Jun;11(3):208-16. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.02.006. Epub 2015 Feb 17.), ” Healing Touch intervention is feasible and acceptable to patients undergoing bariatric surgery, and significantly improved pain, nausea, and anxiety in these patients.” This study looked at patients receiving Healing Touch sessions in day one and two of post operative care.

A 2010 article in the Journal of Holistic Nursing states (J Holist Nurs. 2010 Sep;28(3):193-200. doi: 10.1177/0898010110368861. Epub 2010 Jun 28.) that when “compared with those who received usual care, participants who received TT had significantly lower level of pain, lower cortisol level, and higher NKC level.” TT stands for Therapeutic Touch, which is an energetics system taught and practiced by medical nurses.

A June 2016 article in the Journal of Oncology Nursing (Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2016 Jun 1;20(3):E77-81. doi: 10.1188/16.CJON.E77-E81.) points out that Reiki outperformed massage and yoga as a method to help manage pain, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve mood of cancer patients.

There is research to support Reiki as a way to aid community mental health professionals suffering from burnout type symptoms (J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Aug;21(8):489-95. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0403. Epub 2015 Jul 13.). Reiki recipients have been shown to use less pain medications after C-section births (Holist Nurs Pract. 2016 Nov/Dec;30(6):368-378.).

There is more and more research done on this type of therapy every single day!

In a world where prescription pain medications are now thought to act as gateway drugs to dangerous street drugs like heroin; diseases associated with high stress and increased chronic pain like fibromyalgia and post traumatic stress disorders are running rampant, why could we not turn to trying Reiki? It does no harm.

Anyone interested in Reiki sessions (both in person and distance recipients) and/or learning more about it and receiving attunements, please do not hesitate to let me know!


A lady once told me, “I don’t need to cleanse because I already poop three times a day.” Really? Is that all people think cleansing is? It only encompasses how many times a person manages to drop a deuce in a day?

This is what we get when people rush out to buy cheaply formulated “cleanse” products which only serve to purge the intestines. What the heck happened to common sense? Good cleanses do not merely move the bowels – and they most certainly do not move them in such a way that would cause irritation and swelling. While finding a cleanse which works for your individual body type and make up may take some time, do not blindly take cleanses which do nothing past turning you into a “salad shooter.”


There are different types of “cleanses” which range from something as simple as laying of the refined foods for a time and allowing your body to recoup from the burden of excess simple sugars, etc, all the way to target cleanses designed to get the bile moving to “flush” the liver. So let’s start with some common sense:

Any time you fill your body with fresh, whole foods and leave out overly processed foods, you may have a “cleansing response”

What does this mean? Well, if you eat peanut butter and high fructose corn syrup laden grape jelly on white bread washed down with a red cream soda every single day and then suddenly switch to all fresh veggies, you may experience some diarrhea, cramping, etc. This does not mean the veggies gave you diarrhea. They could have but only because your body is not used to them. Any time you upgrade the quality of your nutrition, you run the risk of the body throwing off excessive amounts of toxins. I have people tell me all the time, “I can’t eat vegetables. They give me diarrhea,” only to find out they only eat them once or twice a year! No WONDER they are giving diarrhea! The body doesn’t even know what the heck they are!

It all evens out

Unless the person has some odd-ball condition like some diverticulitis type of things (it does happen…and is not limited to diverticulitis), slowly progressing into a more whole diet will become easier for the body to tolerate. The explosive results should not stay. As I said, this is barring some condition like a food intolerance or diverticulitis, or some other dys-functional state of the body. Even then, cooking the veggies, or just a light steaming, can make them more tolerable.


“Good” cleanses

Now, there are juice cleanses, colon cleanses, liver cleanses, kidney cleanses…really the list just keeps going on. The main type of cleanse I’d like to address is the kind which flush the liver. The liver is the main toxic waste sorting center of the body. Not all chemicals, but a lot of them, which circulate in the body go to the liver to be processed for disposal. It’s just like your garbage going into a chute in an apartment building. You toss it in the chute. It goes to the basement, maybe, where it is then moved to the holding area. There, it might be compacted or re-bagged, or tagged, or something to reprocess it for the purpose of getting it out of the building. That’s what the liver does. It processes these chemicals to get them out of your body. Usually this is done through a whole string of chemical reactions including methylation, and more. It can get extremely technical, but the end point being the liver turns these chemicals into substances which can be eliminated out of the body either through sweat, feces, urine, and even the vapors of the breath.


What I refer to as “good” cleanses contain some key components:

A liver flusher

Any herb which increases the flow of bile could fall in to this category. I like to use bitter greens like yellow dock or burdock paired with berberine containing herbs like Oregon grape root, etc. The increase in bile is thought to stimulate the process of ridding the body of toxins.

A fiber blend

This should be a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers. It should be gentle enough to not add to the irritation which may be occurring in the intestinal tract already. Also, it should not taste like a cardboard box just took residence in your mouth. I like to suggest a fiber blend containing things like psyllium (if tolerated. Some people have allergies to this one and do better on something else), marshmallow root, slippery elm, and more. This fiber blend can act as a sponge to oak up the bile. Then, it becomes a ball of goo which should work its way through.

A bowel mover

Too much fiber without locomotion makes a brick wall in your bowels. A bowel mover can be either a laxative like senna or an herb like Cascara Sagrada which acts by stimulating the parastalsis movements of the intestinal walls. I consider Senna to be equivalent to a jack hammer. Some people need this type of action. Others do not. However, be aware of the difference.

A soother

The bile which is thrown off can be extremely irritating to the bowel. There is no need to intentionally increase pain! That’s just crazy. That’s why I have suggested to some clients to add soothing, cooling herbs like some forms of aloe, yucca, or cat’s claw to their cleanses to reduce the potential for angry intestinal reactions.

A mood booster

Science has shown us that the gut has an enormous amount of nerve activity going on. It is now thought to function as a “second brain” and has more neurotransmitter receptors for compounds like serotonin, etc than any other part of the body INCLUDING THE BRAIN!  Long used terms such as “a gut feeling” now take on new meaning since science is supporting the emotional link to gut health. Since the gut includes the intestinal system (it does not stop at the stomach), it only stands to reason that emotional support may be needed to help a cleanse go well. I like to use flower essences for this. Individual remedies may work, but I find the blends to do a much better job, overall.

A diuretic

Keeping the fluids flowing through the urinary system is a must! Dandelion, uva ursi, and other diuretic herbs may aid in keeping all the waters flowing in the proper direction.

Vitamin and Mineral support

Dandelion is such a wonderful herb. It is full of minerals necessary to keep the body balanced. Multi mineral and multi vitamin products may help as well. The trick is finding which one(s) work the best for you, individually.


These are just some places to start. Seeing a natural health consultant or herbalist who can help you narrow down your choices may be beneficial for you.


I attended a series of seminars a few years ago which focused on inflammation being the root cause of disease.  I don’t think I truly understood the entire body of information the speakers were presenting…until now.


Look around you. How many people do you see who suffer from conditions which have been diagnosed as “fibromyalgia,” “rheumatoid arthritis,” athlersclerosis,” “gout,” “inflammatory bowel disease,” etc? What do all of these medical conditions have in common? INFLAMMATION. They all are inflammatory conditions. This means they are conditions in which the body’s tissues are swollen, hot to the touch many times, and painful.

Check out these stats:

-The National Institute for Health estimates 23.5 million people in the US have an autoimmune disorder (https://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/autoimmune-statistics/)

-The CDC estimates half of all adults have periodontal disease (inflammatory disease of the gums) (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm)

-Scientists estimate 5 million Americans from the age of 18 and up have fibromyalgia (http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia_ff.asp)

-52.5 million Americans are estimated to have inflammatory arthritis (http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/arthritis.htm)

-Inflammatory bowel diseases (this tag includes Chrone’s, IBS, and ulcerative colitis, etc) is estimated to affect as many as 1.4 million Americans (http://www.ccfa.org/resources/facts-about-inflammatory.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/)


The list goes on and on and on.

I know there are cases of autoimmune disorders where no known cause is ever found. That is sad, and very true. However, what would happen if we dealt with the body’s inflammatory response in a bit more natural way, when possible (hey – sometimes you just can’t, and that’s when I am thankful for modern medicine and doctors who are open-minded and truly altruistic).

What can be used?


Turmeric is an herb used in a lot of Asian cooking. You may recognize it as the yellow seasoning used in a lot of Indian dishes. It contains a chemical called curcumin which, along with other chemical constituents in turmeric, has been shown to decrease inflammation in some studies. (Please see https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric and follow the cited reseacrh from there)




Ginger has been shown to act as a COX2 inhibitor. Cyclooxygenases (1 and 2) are enzymes which perform a variety of functions in the body. Specifically, they are involved in the inflammatory response. They trigger certain hormones and such to make the body swell. NSAIDs (like naprosyn, ibuprofen, etc) are non-specific anti-inflammatories because they act against both enzymes. However, long term use has been shown to damage the lining of the stomach or the kidneys (depending on where the drug is adsorbed or broken down). You may recall the recall of certain prescriptions (Viox, Celebrex, etc) which were recalled in the late 1990’s due to side effects of heart attacks and more. These drugs were manufactured to work against the COX2 enzyme specifically. Ginger has this ability to inhibit COX2! The difference is ginger will not give someone a heart attack (to my knowledge). Here is just one fo the studies showing it’s efficacy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018740/


Ginger is often an ingredient in various cleanses because it relaxes the smooth muscle of the digestive tract,  and helps to relieve the swelling.


I cannot say enough about this herb! I dearly love it and I am trying to grow it in a pot, here in Ohio.

There are many studies regarding it’s ability to act as an anti inflammatory,  but the study I cite below it had been shown to act as an antiinflammatory in rats with collagen-induced arthritis.  This is very promising. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24188460

Ashwaghanda has been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine. In my book,  that counts for more than studies on lab rats. Many formulas used to combat the stresses of every day life comtain Ashwaghanda.


Yucca is often overlooked.  It is a native of the Americas.  Often grown as an ornamental plant,  it seems to function as an acid reducer. One class I attended in Utah in the early 2000’s highlighted the saponification action displayed by the root. This bubbling reaction brought down the acidity level of the vinegar to which it was added. The proof was in the pH paper.


There are many products where yucca can be found,  along with other herbs historically used to benefit those who suffer from arthritic-like pains.


While this is nowhere near the entire list of herbs which help decrease inflammation,  they can be a good place to start.

Remember each person is different and different herbs work better for different people.  To further narrow down what may be the most beneficial for you,  schedule an appointment for a consultation with me. Together, we can get your possibilities widdled down to increase your chances for success!




At times, our group has been asked to attend a meeting or event and put on a bit of an “educational” program about “belly dance.” I thoroughly enjoy these types of gigs. They truly let my inner geeky nerd come out to shine! However, I have noticed the general “non-raks” public is not satisfied with my ambiguous answers on the origins of the dance.

I explain that I am no where near an expert in the field. Not by a long shot! I generally defer to those who have extensive research in the area and have been in the community much linger than myself. Sahra Kent and Shira are just two examples of wonderful ladies using their talents for the betterment of the oriental dance community. I dearly treasure their efforts! You can check out much more about them by looking into Sahra’s Journey Through Egypt programs and Shira’s website, shira.net.

But these people want answers and I am there. So I tell them what I know. It goes something like this:

What a lot of people consider to be belly dance in the western world, is not even close to what it even is. In fact, it may be easier to start with what it is not. It is NOT stripping! It is not pole dancing. It is not “just shaking your ass.” It doesn’t even use that much of the belly, per se, and probably should be called something else. Dance Orientale…there’s a much better term.

Dance orientale is a an amalgamation of various folk dances and movements from the area of the world many scholars refer to as “the cradle of civilization” and into what was ancient Phoenicia and Egypt. Since the times before memory, dance has been a part of life. As people move across the globe, their music and dances go with them…just as their daily habits, religious beliefs, etc. Each particular area or group of people have added their own touches and flavor throughout the eons.


(This is the part where I tell the story of Ishtar going through the gates of Hell to retrieve her lover, consequently losing a veil at each gate, hence giving some shred of connection to ancient fertility rites. However, I was informed by a gentleman that that particular tid-bit was unnecessary and “unsettling.” So, for now, I have left it out from the usual spiel.)

Our group usually follows it up with examples of variations and costuming differences from different areas. We do our best to explain the folk dancing end of things.

So, while no one really knows the exact beginning of this dance, let us appreciate the ever-evolving dance with all it’s roots!

Judges 11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh to his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

Psalms 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

Psalms 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises to him with the tambourine and harp.

Psalms 150:4 Praise him with the tambourine and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

A person randomly messaged me recently and asked me, “…and what do your herbs cure?” WOW! That’s a loaded question! You see, in the U.S., the word “cure” is a no-no for those who not medical doctors. Even medical doctors are somewhat reluctant to use the word when it comes to certain situations. Given that I did not know with whom I was chatting, I answered with the long version. I informed the prospective customer that I do not practice medicine (which I don’t); that using the words “cure, treat, diagnose” and a few others may be misconstrued as the practice of medicine in the United States and therefore I do not use them…EVER! I went on to explain how herbs, supplements, etc feed the body various nutrients and phytochemicals it could be lacking. Through this “nourishment” the body may be able to restore its own balance and achieve homeostasis. I further went on to explain how I use an assortment of traditional assessment techniques to form an idea of where each of my client’s stand and offer up advice in a “what I would do if I were you,” kind of way to my clients. It is completely the choice of each individual if they would like to try it out or not and I ALWAYS advise he/she to double check everything with a pharmacist if on medications and to be sure to share their products with their medical practitioners.


This is all very true. For those who would like to learn more about natural health modalities throughout the world, I encourage you to look up research at www.pubmed.gov. This website is sponsored by the United States’ Federal Government’s office on NCAM. I AM allowed to point to various studies and cite them as examples of the successful use of a natural remedy. For those in Ohio, please look into supporting the Ohio Sunshine Freedom Coalition (http://www.ohiohealthfreedom.info/). This organization is working hard to enact protection laws in the state of Ohio that would allow consultants, such as myself, to practice without fear with informed consent from the client.

Be strong out there, people….do not allow your rights to be lost! Be informed!


About ten years ago, I was dancing with another group and had traveled to a workshop taught by the fabulous Caroleena Nericcio. I was humbled by this experience beyond measure! Here I was, at the ripe ole age of 32, thinking I had this “belly dancin’ thang” down. This event took me outside my comfort zone and showed me exactly this: I.KNEW.NOTHING.

While that event woke me up to the plethora of knowledge I most certainly did NOT have, it also lit a fire under my bum and made me want to learn everything I could about Raqs. Every style, every region of origin, the languages, customs…everything I could get my hands on.

It also made me realize I would need more instructors – a wide variety of them to bring me the knowledge I was lacking. My “dance mom” and “dance fairy godmother” were awesome and forever hold special spots in my heart, but I was ravenous for more! With two boys at home, dropping my life and traveling to Egypt, Turkey or Lebanon, et al. was not an option, unfortunately (those locations are most certainly still on my bucket list). My gears were left turning, and I asked my other fellow dance troupe members, “what’s stopping us from having a workshop and show like we just took part in?”


Hence, Beledi Extravaganza was born! We busted our butts on that event. And it paid off in experience and learning techniques.

As time goes on and people go their ways, I found myself in a new group. I wanted to show my ladies everything I knew and expose them to everything I didn’t know, too. Voila! Gypsy Mystique came from the toils and triumphs of the Troupe Zephyr birthing process.

There have been tears. There have been babies born through the tasks. There have cancellations…blow ups…drama…love…and of course, dance. Lots and lots of dance. Sometimes we wonder the hell we were thinking. We have learned to be inventive, pioneering, socially active self-promoters, financiers, johnny on the spot maintenance people who can roll with the punches and take the good with the bad in order to share our love of RAQS!


Now, we are coming up on it’s SEVENTH YEAR! SEVEN YEARS!!! That is a long time in show biz…especially small potatoes, mid-western, rust belt location show biz. Each and every year we have different instructors and learn new techniques. At the age i am now (do the math…I’m not telling), I find myself constantly evolving. Isn’t that what it is all about? Learning and growing as a person and a dancer?

Please, join us this year. We’re going to have a good time and we would love to share with all of you!

You know the person: “So-n-so Bitchypants” who just can’t stop being the voice of negativity in the world. this person has spread the seed of vile anger across the countryside and cannot, no matter the effort, get over the negative vibe he (or she) seems to be enveloped within! UGH! How can someone have so much doom and gloom and negative emotions in one’s life? Right?


Well…I did a video about dealing with all of those negative emotions, naturally. Please enjoy 🙂