An Ear-splitting Cry: Gender, Performance, and Representations of Zaghareet in the U.S.

May 14, 2013

Great post!

Sounding Out!

At the opening of a recent annual “Under a Desert Moon” concert presented by Sahara Dance, a belly dance studio located in Washington, DC, one of the teachers began by telling the audience that the dancers would appreciate vocal feedback during the show. Holding a microphone with one hand and the other in front of her mouth, she demonstrated the practice known in Arabic as zaghareet, asking audience members to imitate her sound. This pedagogical interaction with an ethnically and generationally diverse audience on the campus of American University illustrates some of the complexities of translating sonic practices across cultural and economic divides. Zaghareet carries very different weight in a Palestinian wedding in the West Bank, where it is one piece of a larger formation of celebratory experience, than it does in a belly dance performance in Washington, DC, where it is used in part to generate authenticity in a tradition both geographically and culturally removed from the Middle East.

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Embrace the Gray

May 12, 2013

Gray comes in many forms. Gray skies. Grey mood. Grey hair. Even in two spellings. 

Grey can come up quickly, or slowly transition and you don’t know how it got here. A mix of black and white, light and dark, or shades and tints of color, gray is a dull silver. Gray doesn’t shine and is sometime mistook. Gray hairs that sprout through dark ones on the face or the scalp, often aren’t really gray. It’s their unwelcomeness that makes them so.

How do we deal with gray? We pluck, we dye, we try to fight. “Don’t let the grey day get you down.” Gray is a subtly evil force, trying to seep through the holes in our fishnet of happiness, squelching the light spaces of hope. “I’ve lost my youth, my verve, my sunshine,” we think. “I’m not who I used to be,” or worse, “who I thought I would be.”


What if we could embrace the gray? Let the unknown be. Don’t lighten or darken or dye. Breathe in and breathe out amidst the waves. What might that feel like? Aren’t we looking for answers from life, or at least relief?

I’m afraid, too. I have yearned for the energy to write that next song, to apply for that dream job, to talk to that someone. Sometimes I don’t know why I can’t take the step. Fear is like a gray blanket, blocking out the light because I think I’m blinded. Who could see through all that possibility?

Even though I don’t want to admit it, there’s something comforting about the grey fear. When there’s a sliver of hope, I believe it’ll make me bleed. That it’s a trap. That if I really go for it with abandon, I will be abandoned.

That’s where faith comes in. You don’t have to be religious to have faith. Perhaps you identify faith with naivete. Go ahead. The age-old question arises, would you rather be “realistic” and depressed or naïve and happy. Don’t choose the first option. You deserve better.

Embracing the gray could mean more darkness, at least in the short term. Other people’s judgment. Letting go of “standards” of beauty. Letting go of a pattern of pretending. Walking in the rain on purpose. Taking sick time.

I’m not advocating for not treating depression. When the grey is too dark we need help. But when the clouds roll in, and experience tells you that they will roll out again, but while they’re here, there might not be much fun, or warmth, maybe don’t run away. Start a conversation:

“Hey, Grey. I see you there. You have sapped my energy; I’m feeling down. Not sure where to start on this project. Trying to ignore you, but it’s not working. So…how’ve you been? What’s up? You seem blue, Gray. Come give us a hug.”

The tears may flow, but you can swim. Trust your intuition—can you just put your toes in the water, or your whole foot? Do you need to call someone to swim with you? That’s okay. You’re not here to go alone. Call God. Phone a friend. But perhaps don’t ignore the gray and imagine it’ll just go away. Reach your arms out and welcome Grey in. He or she might not stay as long as you thought.

Holidaze are here again

December 30, 2012

Holidaze are here again

Check out the link to my new article on Elephant Journal (above), especially if you’ve ever ridden a bus.

Tech Crashed

July 22, 2012


This week I entered into technological failure.

It began a few weeks ago when my hard drive died on my original 2006 MacBook. I own an external hard drive, but I don’t back files up that often, and actually, since you’re asking, many of the files I have on my external hard drive I don’t actually have on my actual computer.

Then the apps stopped downloading on my new iPhone. They all said, “Waiting…” Waiting… I could relate.

I consulted a few experts about my broken hard drive and they recommended data extraction, which would cost $890. However, in the meantime, I would need to buy a new computer. Having committed to Macs, I recommitted and bought a year-old refurbished one for $980. I had bought my old MacBook six years ago for $1300, when I was making half of what I make now (but paying less than one quarter of the rent). I took a deep deep breath before clicking Submit Order.

After three glorious computer-less weeks, the new silver rectangle arrived. However, asyoumayknow, Macs don’t come with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, et al) automatically so I began to agonize over another purchase. I went to plug in my external hard drive, which has not died, yet, and due to the upgrade on my computer hard drive-wise (or is it foolish?), the cable no longer connects.

Did I mention that while on the phone with Comcast trying to figure out my why-fi problems, I also asked why (on earth) my monthly bill had jumped from $24.49 to $63.99 in just over six months. “Well, Sir, your promotion ended.” Am I no longer being advertised? “The only way to move you to a lower price is to reduce your speed.”

That isn’t a direct quote. But I remember it that way. It’s true, I am moving too fast…in my mind. Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re not getting anything done, but everything’s seemingly moving so fast. The question I had to face, for at least the thousandth time, was, Do I create my own reality or do I live in an objective one?

Like all good questions, there are multiple right answers to this one. I wasn’t wrong when I almost always believed all the thoughts in my mind. Whether those thoughts told me that God didn’t exist, or that I wasn’t good enough, or that I would never live up to my potential. What I believe isn’t wrong. It is only an option.

Another option can travel across the spectrum from those choices. When the techno-nightmare was dominoing all over me this past week I could feel the walls of my apartment caving in. The emerging sanctuary regressed into that familiar cave, from which no one outside the windows and walls can transcend or comprehend. Despite these darkening prospects, an ounce of light spilled into my brain and oxygenated my consciousness. A new thought tiptoed in, like a new kid from out of town, anxious but hopeful. The message the kid brought came across as—“I know it’s stressful. There’s probably no way to fix this all at once. Maybe take one issue at a time, don’t make any rushed decisions and you can find your way out.” The thought also encouraged me to take a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other—whether in getting dressed, doing laundry, going to work, eating some fruits and vegetables, or going for a run.

There is a garden where I unconsciously go to pick this fresh crop of thoughts. Apparently I had wandered through it absentminded and probably distracted by my storm clouds of doubt, and isolation. There, in the form of a radish, or maybe hanging just ripe from a plum tree, was the out of town kid, mixing my metaphors.

Imagination, inspiration, and wonder keep us alive. When the material world, as it often does, hands us a raw deal, or a stacked deck, a fixed match, or a dead end, we need an alternate solution. I ended up ordering a new firewire cable, downloading a free Microsoft Office alternative, and trying wireless passwords until one miraculously worked. Miraculously. Such is the way a thought can move, when we haven’t predetermined its outcome. Just as a human would when we choose to believe in him or her.

Yes, this computer will break—or die, as we like to say—as well. It’s what happens beyond the inevitable that makes life worth living.

Holiday Special!

December 18, 2011

Realizing Your Vision special! Three sessions for the price of two. Makes for a perfect holiday gift, to yourself or a loved one. Coaching helps.  Email for more info, and Happy Holidaze!

I hear you

November 3, 2011

Have you ever been in a conversation with a small group of people, but you just can’t seem to jump in.  Everyone else—often just two people—seems to be feeding off each other’s momentum, and really knowing what they’re talking about and it’s just a topic you know nothing about, or something you know a lot about, but there just aren’t breaks of enough space to breathe between their insistences, let alone chime in.

How do you feel when that happens?  Are you content to just be and let them talk and be a silent presence beside them?  If so, for how long?  Often when we feel left out or forgotten, it’s hard to remember why we matter.  When we can’t contribute our voice to a conversation, to the world beyond our head, we get backed up.  Like an artery or a freeway.  At work, in relationships, on our own, this clogging has become all too common.  We forget that the world needs to hear us, because we often get the message that no one cares what we have to say.

The competitive feel of that conversation and its social demands can get us way off topic.  When you’re home, and have had some tea, or just taken a shower, or done something that makes you relaxed without checking out (tv, internet, overeating—whatever your vegetative strategy), take a moment and listen.  Hear your thoughts and listen deeper. What does your intuition say?  Where is your joy?  Does it seem irrevocably lost?  It isn’t.  Joy easily hides when the world’s clutter collects.  That’s okay.  Each of us has the time and energy to dig to the bottom of the pile of leaves.

I hear you.  You’re too busy, your kids, your significant other, you’re taking care of a parent, you have a hard deadline at midnight, or you don’t have time to waste because you have to find a job.  Those responsibilities may have truth to them.  They may be “have to”s.  But at what point does making yourself happy become a have to?  When can you no longer afford to put that off?  When does your stuck-ness, or depression, or worry become too much for both you and the people around you?

Many of the people I work with have come to this place, but don’t know what to do.  We can’t become unstuck by doing the same things we’ve been doing.  Those strategies brought us to the mud.  Changing course is difficult if only because it’s unfamiliar.  That’s where coaching comes in.  Coaching helps someone see beyond their immediate, seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  With help, you set up a structure that will slowly but surely carve a new path for your heart.  Or your soul.  Or whatever innerspace you associate with your true self.

Your voice matters.  The complex collection of ideas, personality, and inspiration that is you constitute an essential harmonic chord that the world needs.  Learning to hear your voice, express it when no one’s around, to articulate your vision on your terms, and then share it with the world will create the space for your elation.  We are not here to be disappointed.  We are alive.

Last metaphor:  You are in a snowball fight with this kid named, “The World.”  You’re yelling antagonisms at each other.  “You can’t take me!”  “I could do this all day!” as you launch snowballs from behind opposing mounds.  A few of your friends show up and help, but The World has a whole gaggle of people show up to help.  After a while you can tell that your friends are tiring and want to go home.  You sought their help but now you’re losing.  What do you do?

You can always keep throwing snowballs, but you’ll get colder and colder and more tired and frustrated, and somehow the World will still get stronger.  Or you can make friends.

“I can’t beat you!” you yell.  “I might as well throw with my left hand.”

A cheer comes up from across the snowfield.  “You surrender?” yells back The World.

“No don’t,” say your teammates, looking bedraggled, but holding on to pride.

“It’s okay,” you whisper to them.”  “I do!” you shout back.

The World’s friends high five and laugh, and slowly walk away.  You peer up over the mound and catch sight of The World.  “I have an idea,” you say aloud, so that your friends can hear, but not directly to them.  You surmount the mound and trudge across in your boots toward the triumphant World.

“It was a great battle,” you hear yourself saying, “but seriously I’d love if you can show me your technique.”

The World tilts its head.  “Sure, I’ve been doing this for a while.  Your throws aren’t that bad actually.”

How does that last line sit with you?  Does the seemingly backhanded compliment offend you?  Or do you take a breath realizing that you’ve turned an adversary into an ally?

There will always be more obstacles.  Within you have the resources to climb, or circle, or tunnel.  You have choices—fight yourself into the ground, surrender and reach out for help, or somewhere in between.  Where on the spectrum of joy will you fall?

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September 4, 2011

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solid core self

September 4, 2011


Last week, I attended the weekly meditation led by Tara Brach.  Although calm and still she did her fair share of smiling and kept the atmosphere light with jokes amid such serious topics as addiction and “wanting mind.”  Embodying what it feels like to want something (so bad it hurts) each of us had the physical feeling of what many of us feel emotionally—not enough.  She reminded us that actually we are.  We are enough.  We are okay, right where we are, in any moment.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But enough is not enough.  I want to be great.” or “I am great, why don’t other people notice?”  It seems sometimes like our world is set up to entertain, to entice, to entangle but when we get stuck in life’s wb, worldwide or otherwise, we don’t know how we got there.  Getting stuck can be a disorienting and disempowering feeling.  And too many of us get accustomed to it.

Lately I’ve been trying to integrate this feeling into my consciousness, that I am just right, here and now.  That I have a solid core self, that is untouchable, safe, and strong.  The image shifts, but often it is a red fiery ball warming me when the world feels cold.  Is it my intuition?  My soul?  I don’t need the answer.  I just (need to) know it’s there.  My external self might be battered by the winds of life or excited by new possibilities, but the core is the real me, holding me steady, reminding me that nothing on the outside is as important as what’s deep within.  Remembering about the core is the challenging part.  Challenges, though tough, help me.

When you walk around in your life, or more significantly, when you are sitting alone at home, can you picture that solid core self?  What does it look like?  If you don’t feel it or see it or believe, did you ever?  Who convinced you that you were not enough, that you needed external validation to be a worthy person?

Whatever has taken you down, down the path of self-criticism, of hopelessness or doubt, of seeming paralysis, I invite you to let it go.  What if the negative thoughts and opinions in your life are the opposite of the truth?

You Made It.

January 25, 2010

If you are on this website, reading these words, something brought you here.  A pattern, a friend, a question.  Thank you for coming.

Realizing Your Vision (RYV) offers a handful of services to help you finding your deepest meaning and create a solid, supportive community.  All of us are somewhere on the spectrum of this process, and most of us have made more progress than we know.

Vision Coaching

Facilitated Social Networking

Interpersonal Coaching