Category Archives: My dance

Life begins at fifty #healthy life 6 – The scales are not your friend

Standard

I never owned bathroom scales because I didn’t need them. While I was smoking, if my jeans felt a little tight, I increased the amount of exercise I did, watched what I ate, and over a few weeks, the jeans would loosen, but not anymore….

My absolute conviction that eating five hundred calories a day less than I’m burning would make me lose weight has been shattered. I’m sure it plays a part, but I should have realised my mistake; we’re amazing, complex individuals – why would only one formula apply to everyone?

In a bid to affirm my belief, however, I bought bathroom scales in the January sales. I read lots of helpful advice online about weigh ins, the best I thought was weigh myself three days running, once a month to get an average of the weight loss….

What I did was weigh myself every morning, even though I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I was exercising loads, following my plant based diet to get good nutritional benefit from my food and logging my calorie intake into Cronometer, so my reward would be to watch the pounds drop off, right? Wrong!

On the first three mornings I gained weight. Even though I knew I was being dumb, I got upset about it…and then I increased the exercise, to the point I was permanently exhausted. I continued this self berating/weighing scenario for about a month, before sharing with women in my dance class to find that they too were experiencing the same problem….their shape was changing, but they weren’t losing any weight, even though people were commenting that they had.

You may ask, why am I hung up on the amount I weigh and it’s a simple answer…the less weight I have to carry, the less pressure it puts on my already damaged knee. Yes, it would be nice to fit into my clothes again, but carrying less weight while increasing my exercise has to be better for me.

I am starting to listen though…my shape change could be because the fat is going and muscle is appearing, which we know is heavier. Since my body did its ‘return to factory settings’, I’m beginning to feel the benefit of the exercise in my legs…I’m walking quicker but getting less breathless…

On Saturday, my ATS® Bellydance tribe, Tribal Unity Wales and I hosted a hafla, a bellydance party, to raise money and collect donations of clothes, blankets and toiletries for S.H.A.R.P., Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response. We had so much fun, raised £132 and took in bags of donations….and I clocked up the most active minutes ever on my Fitbit!

I’m not getting hung up on the weight anymore, but instead, I’m looking for more ways to have fun with exercise, eat new, interesting food, try new recipes and live my life to the full.

I hope you’re enjoying Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life! Please like and follow and let others know!

Visit again for recipes, tips and sharing.

 

Advertisements

The magic of writing, dancing and healing – International Women’s Day 8th March 2019

Standard

I am author, wise woman and goddess. I write, I dance, I teach, I heal, I inspire.

In March last year I published my first Witchlit novel, The Naked Witch, contemporary fiction, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. Since then, I’ve published two more, The Orphan Witch and The Flowerpot Witch, gritty and believable stories with magic sprinkled through them, offering the reader a new perspective on reality. There are layers to my novels, making them enjoyable to all readers, hopefully teaching and inspiring too, dispelling the myths about modern day witches.

I discovered belly dance at the age of forty, having been told I was a fairy elephant and too fat to dance as a child. Fifteen years on, I’ve been teaching for eleven years, encouraging women to shake off their inhibitions and dance for themselves. I learned Egyptian belly dance first and taught that, before being bitten by the tribal bug, and completing my training in American Tribal Style® Belly dance. I began Tribal Unity Wales in March 2014. We take our dance into the community, not to perform but to share, offering other women the opportunity and the freedom to dance irrespective of age, size, shape or ability.

I’m reiki and aromatherapy massage trained, so mixed with my latest facilitator training in Kate Holland’s Awakened Bellydance ™, and my magical practice, I heal in my classes and workshops and through my writing.

I’m a riverbank witch, a hedge witch, living my life with the Wheel of the Year, honouring the Sabbats and loving and respecting all that lives on our amazing planet.

Embracing my crone phase, I am wise woman, not necessarily right, but reflective and contemplative where once I jumped in feet first. Looking back, I learn from my mistakes, let go of old stories and embrace new beginnings and exciting ideas.

 

The goddess is in me and in every woman. She is the tiny voice that tells you how beautiful and perfect you are. Trust in her helps us remember, because we all know, but it is just that this reality encourages us to forget who we are and where we came from. Hers is the voice that has inspired women to stand up for equality, for equal pay and equal rights, throughout history. The more we trust in her, and ourselves, the possibilities are infinite. Listen. She is here.

 

 

 

 

 

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

Standard

If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now!

Standard

For the first time, since I was eighteen, my Christmas dinner was cooked for me this festive season. We were away at our eldest son’s house, joined by our other children and partners. I shall remember it as one of my favourite Christmas times ever.

We walked and talked, catching up on life and sharing our thoughts and ideas for the future. After four glorious days, I made some decisions….

Now! Is the time to spend days and weekends with family and friends, the ones that make my heart sing.

Now! Is the time to embrace the fitness challenge with both hands, and see what I can achieve in 2019.

Now! Is the time to commit to plant based eating and to spreading the word by sharing recipes and ideas.

Now! Is the time to get the groundwork in place for our potting shed/greenhouse and new raised beds, so we can grow lots of veg.

Now! Is the time to finish my Lizzie Martin Witchlit series, inspiring women to embrace magic in their lives.

Now! Is the time to work magic every day, be it a lighted candle of thanks to the goddess or a chosen tarot guide to seek guidance or assurance.

Now! Is the time to push all our plans on our house and land forward, creating the warm, cosy home we seek.

 

Life’s too short not to do it now! ‘It’ doesn’t have to be big, but whatever ‘it’ is, don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Bright blessings, peace, health and happiness for the coming year xx

 

10 months on – The daily fight

Standard

Ten months on from stopping smoking, I don’t feel any fitter or healthier. My body has been through hell, ridding the nicotine and I never want to have to go through it again. Keeping cheerful has been difficult. We get to the coast as much as we can. This is me with my feet in the North Sea two weeks ago.

 

At the beginning, the constant gnawing and craving preoccupied me, but as my hormones began to party without the nicotine hanging on for a ride, my weight gain has become my focus.

That’s me in the purple and black in October 2017, and here’s me in March 2018

If one more slim, yogatastic, enlightened 30 something tells me to embrace this new part of being a woman and be excited about my crone phase, I’ll punch them in the face…not really, but you can hear my frustration. I didn’t ask for this. I thought stopping smoking would make me feel better…I’ve never felt so depressed and anxious.

Smoking held back some, but not all my menopausal symptoms. Everything has been heightened since stopping putting nicotine into my body, so my IBS has been chronic too. I feel like my body is returning to factory reset, shaking everything up along the way, but rather than settling, everything feels off kilter.

I had to stop running, my knees couldn’t cope, partly because I’m running on the road and there isn’t a single flat section anywhere near me, and probably because I already have knee damage and I’m heavier than I should be.

I am not alone. Thousands of women are waking up one morning to find their once taut bodies have softened. I haven’t been this fleshy since I was pregnant and the irony of that is like a stab to the heart…you’re no longer capable of conceiving a child, but your body looks like you’re carrying one. Wicked.

It isn’t all bad news… I’ve stuck to my walking every morning as soon as I get up, and my new morning best is 5.2k steps. I always do at least 2k, and often do 4k. Having said that, I do walk some lunchtimes too, but now the evenings are dark, I’m not walking in the evening. I’m guessing I put on two stone at the beginning of the year with eating a bit more and the change in hormones and have now lost one of those, but I still can’t get my clothes on. In fact, last week I bought bigger jeans. Gutting.

I am a fighter. Every morning when I walk, Dr Dain’s affirmation rings in my ears ‘All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory’. Life is amazing. I have a wonderful partner. My friends and family are dear to me. I live in an amazing house in a fabulous part of the world, with a roof over my head. I’ve started doing a little yoga after my walk, just a few balances and stretches…the plan is to build up to more, making sure my thighs don’t get too bulky with all the extra walking. Loki likes to be carried around on my walks…He is a fidget though

There is other good news. I’ve gone back on my original HRT. I now sleep through most nights. I sweat less during those nights. The day time sweats are occasional.

But every day is a battle, making my steps count and attempting to balance my body. As you may know, my diet is already plant based and I cook most meals from scratch, so how I lose this lump orbiting my middle, I’m not sure. Food and I have battled for most of my life and I’m gutted I’m being forced to re-evaluate again, when I thought I was doing the right thing becoming plant based.

Women need to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t just hormones! Have you any idea how life changing their fluctuation can be?’

I’m re-inventing myself. I may have had to buy bigger jeans but I also bought the cutest pinafore dress, and I’ve booked in for a new tattoo. Support the women around you while they deal with this life changing transformation. No more jokes about menopausal women being grumpy!

 

15k tweets and beyond! Tweet and tweet again!

Standard

Last week I reached the 15,000 tweet milestone and I’ve been sharing a few tips and ideas for those of you who’re new to this social media or who would like to take part, but aren’t sure how to join in. This final post is about bringing YOU to the party.

Tweets are unique. Those good with tech can produce clever banners with links, GIFs and videos. I am not one of those people, but that’s okay. If you read the first two posts from last week about tweeting https://wendysteele.com/2018/09/25/tweeting-milestone-15k-and-beyond/ 

and https://wendysteele.com/2018/09/28/15k-tweets-and-beyond-part-2/

you’ll see that honesty is one thing I’m passionate about when sharing online, so my tweets reflect that. I use ** then write my headline, enclosed by ** on a lot of my tweets. I first use this way of highlighting when I began **The Amazing Karmic Sharefest** on Facebook (now obsolete because you can no longer see ALL the posts from pages you like) Think of a style or way of posting that is unique to you, that might make you stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t have to be on every tweet, but it helps.

You’ll find lots of accounts encouraging you to sign up to gain twitter followers. The whole point of twitter followers is that they are likeminded in some way, I believe, so gathering followers like that does not appeal to me. I follow people I’m interested in. If someone follows me, I check out their profile and decide whether to follow back, but that’s just me as other users follow everyone back. You can decide the way you build up your world on Twitter.

There are hashtags on Twitter that you can use to encourage people to follow cool people you know and interact with like #FF (Follow Friday), but I decided to go one step further. I’m a great one for ‘thank yous’, so every day I thank those who have RTd for me and on the line sharing groups, I say a big thank you to everyone for liking my words. It doesn’t take long, maybe fifteen minutes out of my day, but it’s very me and another way I can be honest online.

I rarely interact with DMs (direct messages), will unfollow if I see any posts that are racist or inciting people to make judgements or make unkind comments and will RT any cause I believe in, for example, homing rescued animals.

I’m on my way to 3,000 followers, but on a day where I’ve done my five tweets and have time, I’ll start working backwards through the alphabet, RTing for my followers. They don’t know that’s what I’m doing, of course, but it’s always a lovely surprise when someone I haven’t heard from in a while RTs for me.

When you follow me on Twitter @WendyWooauthor, you are welcome to the world of Wendy Woo.

Tweeting milestone – 15k and beyond!

Standard

Today I hit 15,000 tweets; not bad for a woman who struggled so hard to find her place on Twitter. So what did I do? How did I ease myself into the Twitter community?

When I began social media, honesty was the key. I wanted people to meet me in the street and find I was the same person they had ‘met’ online. I’ve never compromised who I am, but in the past, I’ve been a little shy.

On twitter at first, I couldn’t see the point. I was a tiny person in an enormous aircraft hanger, calling out to anyone who would listen, ‘Hello? I write books, did you know? Hello?’ I took a step back. Maybe I could operate in a similar way as I did on Facebook, share for other authors and offer help, advice and share my experiences. I asked other users, but still couldn’t find a way that suited me.

Then I discovered the 5 Tweets a Day idea. Knowing I only had five tweets to construct gave me confidence to try new things.

Tweet 1: something helpful, a ‘how to’ tweet, either from something I knew myself or from YouTube or other people’s blogs

Tweet 2: inspirational: I chose writing quotes at first. Later I found tweets about my passion for dancing were popular.

Tweet 3: fun: I chose to share pictures of my crazy cats and kittens

Tweet 4: retweets: I chose to RT from groups that I care passionately about, for example, The Woodland Trust.

Tweet 5: promotional: limited offers and links to FREE content.

 

Tweeting just five tweets a day is a great way to begin on Twitter. You’ll discover which times of the day work best and you’ll bring people into your Twitter world who are likeminded.

Join me later in the week when I’ll share more of my Twitter ideas. Full moon blessings xx

Getting the balance right part 2

Standard

It’s life, isn’t it? Mind and body, work and play, life is all about balance.

Living in a renovation project makes balancing really difficult. There’s always something to do on the house, byre or land, but since stopping smoking on 21st January, I’ve struggled to find a balance for my body.

The terrible gnawing pangs in my stomach could not be sated with food. I found that out after a couple of weeks, but even though I stopped eating so many granola bars, my hormones were going balastic. My IBS symptoms and menopausal symptoms returned with a vengeance. The new HRT my doctor insisted on didn’t agree with me and I gained weight really fast. My usual six hours of dancing each week wasn’t enough to stop me continuing to gain weight and on top of that, I wanted to cry every morning because I couldn’t have a cigarette.

That’s when I decided to start walking and counting steps every morning. It began with 1k in the morning, and then I made it morning, noon and night. It quickly rose to 2k when I discovered that was approximately one mile. Every morning when the alarm goes off, I get up and walk around our land, sometimes accompanied by Loki, who loves being carried around.

I do the same at lunchtime and in the evening and these past two weeks I’ve added in 3 barrows full of brambles and 3 Wendy barrows of stones moved, to try to achieve every day. This gives all my arm and back muscles a good work out too.

But this exercise has to fit around my writing plans for August; to complete the fourth Lizzie Martin Witchlit book, The Eloquent Witch. And then, of course, there’s marketing and promotion. I’m using my power naps, but my family is visiting next week and I’ve less than half of the novel completed.

Have I got the balance wrong? I hope not because I’m feeling more energised. I don’t know if I’ve lost weight because I don’t have scales but there’s no doubt the equator-like ring around my middle is decreasing…and last night on the river bank, I jogged the length of it for the first time. I asked myself the question ‘Can you jog?’ It’s been over thirty years since I’ve run and I’m going to build up to 1k steps, 200 jog and 200 walk and repeat, by the end of the month.

Balance of mind and body has to be a personal thing, but if walking, dancing and maybe even jogging, give me more energy and keep my depression away, enabling me to write and enjoy life more, I’m going for it. I’m sure the plant based diet helps too, with fresh vegetables from the garden.

For tried and tested plant based recipes, type ‘plant based’ into the search box on the home page.

 

 

 

For the love of power naps

Standard

I discovered power naps fifteen years ago, and now I’m self employed with no dependents living at home, I can use them to gain even more constructive time in my day.

Four years of IBS left me thin and weak, and then I discovered bellydance. If I wanted to dance, I had to eat, but also be as rested as possible, to give me the best chance of dancing the hour and a half session. How could I fit it in? I was so tired and yet, daily household tasks needed to be done and the children needed collecting at 3.15pm. I chose to power nap from 1.30pm to 2.10pm, rising from my bed, driving straight to the school able to spend almost an hour in the car writing my first novel.

I loved bellydancing and wanted to dance more. There was another hour and a half session the following evening. Could I manage two nights of dancing? It wasn’t just the overwhelming fatigue I felt every minute of every day, but the pain was often excruciating, leaving me drained and nauseous and ready to give up on life. I tried the classes and with the help of my regular nap, I was able to bellydance twice a week.

Sticking to the routine was easy for me; it helped with pain and tiredness and enabled me to do the things I wanted to do. I had so much more energy for the children too, making getting them to clubs after school so much easier.

The power nap combined with bellydance changed the course of my life. Before I had my children I ran an Offshore Funds Settlements Department in London; in 2007, at the age of 44, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian dance to women and girls, as well as continuing to write. I had articles published in dance magazines, interviewed dancers and musicians and wrote their stories, but it was around 2009 that I knew I wanted to write magical novels, having discovered the stories of Dion Fortune.

My mind was opened to all sorts of possibilities, but managing the IBS was still a problem. I’d taken on two cleaning jobs for friends, just three hours a time, but with teaching in the evening, and attending classes and workshops myself, I struggled to manage my pain and the fatigue again. And then I discovered reiki. I’d signed myself up for an aromatherapy massage course, hoping to learn more about essential oils and their healing properties, but there weren’t enough people so the reiki course was suggested as a stop gap.

Learning about chakras gave me the frame work to heal my own body and mind. I attended a later aromatherapy massage course too, and proceeded to Reiki 2 training. My naptime took on even more relevance, a time not just to rest but to heal. Around this time, I realised a sense of ‘self’ I hadn’t known before. I discovered American Tribal Style® Bellydance and around the same time, greater confidence working magic on my own or with close friends and my daughter.

Throughout this time, I discovered that a power nap wasn’t called Forty Winks by accident. Forty minutes was the perfect length of power nap for me; any less, I didn’t feel refreshed after and any more, I felt heavy and lethargic and struggled to get going. I was allowed to press the snooze button though, as it gave me ten minutes if I needed it, to come round slowly.

Now, especially if my partner is working away, I use power naps to make my day even longer. Up before 6am and out walking by half past, if I nap before 3pm, I can still have energy to pull brambles, dance, research or write until about 11pm…I feel like I’ve fitted two days into one! It’s not possible to use them every day with work commitments, but if I’m up early and fading by 11.30am, I’ll always try and fit in a power nap…or sometimes a cat nap if a kitten comes to join me.

Dance against all the odds

Standard

Our two half hour sets at the annual Lampeter Food Festival held in the grounds of University of Wales Trinity Saint David, gives Tribal Unity Wales the opportunity to share the dance we love and all the hard work we’ve put in since January, working on a new theme. This year, as well as learning new dance moves and combinations, we’ve been focussing on formations.

Getting ready together, we were oblivious of the problems the organisers were facing….… one of the generators had been tampered with. We arrived at the entertainment tent to discover there was no electricity to our half of the site. All we could do was wait…and have our photos taken… …and wait. We were told, no more than fifteen minutes…twenty minutes later one of the fabulous husbands ran home to get his guitar amp. We wouldn’t rock the festival with it, but we could certainly hear the music to dance to….and the crowd enjoyed it too.

We’d never danced in a chevron to fast music before. It’s really hard because only a few people can see the leader, relying on every member of the tribe to cue clearly to pass the moves on. Despite the quiet music, we loved it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O7wGp5Yzas&t=2s

We were rained on a few times during our break between sets, but still the generator wasn’t fixed; another had been delivered, but didn’t work either. My partner drove home to pick up another music machine for The West Wales belly dancers who were dancing before us, but in the end, it wasn’t needed as one of them had a spare generator. They were able to perform to full sound and kindly allowed us to borrow it for our set too.

Supported by the rest of the tribe zilling, three of my advanced dancers and I shared duelling duets in public for the first time. See if you can work out how it works….it’s tricky to perform, but once you get the hand of it, great fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWgmwsUjH_8&t=5s

We did it! We shared our love of dance, especially American Tribal Style® Bellydance and invited up the audience to join us at the end. Because there is no choreography, American Tribal Style® Bellydance is a dance language, bringing dancers together from all over the world. Watch out for the Worldwide American Tribal Style® Bellydance Flashmob, held annually. This year, on 13th October, American Tribal Style®dancers will dance to the same piece of music, on the same day, all around the world and share their videos on Youtube. This year the music is Burning of the Temple by Djinn and it looks like Tribal Unity Wales has secured permission to dance somewhere other than the park….it’s going to be brilliant!

I was a chubby child I was often called clumsy or a fairy elephant, told I could learn the piano but was too fat to dance. All my life, I believed I couldn’t dance…until I was 40 years old and walked into a bellydance class for the very first time….and I haven’t stop dancing since! My daughter joined me on that day fifteen years ago. I’m pleased to say, she loves to dance and we sometimes get the opportunity to dance together.

Don’t wait, join a dance class near you today!

Check out the Tribal Unity Wales Facebook page for details of classes, photos and videos. https://www.facebook.com/Tribal-Unity-Wales-1291117667580270/