Dancing My Way Through Life
I will never forget the day I thought I was going to die young. I was terrified, in pain and waiting patiently in the ER for my CAT scan results. The doctor came in the room and told my father and me that he thought I may have cancer. Instantly, my life flashed before me. Six days before my 25th birthday and I began preparing that year to be my last. The only experience I had ever had with cancer meant a death sentence. Looking death right in the eye, knowing it wasn’t my time, I asked what I had to do to beat this. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and a team of superhero doctors was the answer.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was working at a busy, upscale salon. Almost six years as a stylist and I was at the height of building my career. I was booked up, attending and teaching advanced haircutting classes, as well as mentoring and managing staff members. I worked the entire time I went through treatment. I kept myself as busy as my body would let me, needing to feel like a normal 25-year-old. Cancer didn’t make my outside world change much, but inside my soul there was a shift. I wondered why cancer chose me. How could I prevent it from coming back? What is my purpose in life?? This pivotal moment is when I began living to the fullest, adventuring around the world and seeking out a more healthy, holistic lifestyle.
Cancer radically changed the way I viewed my body and its wisdom and gave me a profound sense of how precious this life is.
Up until then, I ran, lifted weights and did a variety of workout DVDs (yes, some VHS) all with the goal to stay fit...and because I really enjoy a good piece of cheesecake every now and then. All of these forms of movement were “okay,” but none of them brought me joy while doing it. In 2010, my niece asked me to hula hoop with her. I remember struggling so hard to keep that hoop up! With a little perseverance, I began to keep it up longer and longer. I searched for fun new things to do with my hoop and when I did, my mind was blown. I found a YouTube explosion of countless videos of a beautiful form of dance. Hooping AND dancing? And making it look graceful?? Me? Dancing?? Forget it! Dancing had always made me feel so vulnerable and awkward. Nonetheless, I was determined to learn and can now say the hoop has been my best dance teacher and my greatest tool for health and fitness.
I have learned movement is the best medicine next to laughter.
Looking for a getaway and to dive further into the hoop, I began seeking out hoop retreats. I’ve traveled to Bali, Peru, Colombia, Amsterdam and across the U.S. with my hoop in tow. Once I began learning and was inspired by others who had similar passions, I felt like I began stepping into my body. Soon I went from shying away from the dance floor to moving in a way that exuded confidence and grace - in all aspects of my life. Nia was first introduced to me in 2012, though it wasn’t until I relocated to Portland, Oregon, that I decided to explore what it was all about. Similar to hooping, Nia encourages freedom of movement and allows self-expression. It’s the perfect complement to my hoop practice and yet another way I can connect with my body, mind and spirit.
One thing is true in all of my work; what I offer comes from a genuine place of joy and caring. I’ve often been told I bring a sense of peace to others. These are the moments that bring me such clarity around why I love doing what I do. In the salon, I am present and listen to my clients' needs. I work with the hair’s natural texture and tendencies, in order to make their day to day easier and to reveal their natural beauty. On the dance floor, I encourage you to always do what feels good to your body, to let loose and be yourself. I strive for whole body, mind and spirit wellness in my own life and am dedicated to helping others let their authentic selves shine.