Tag Archives: bellydance

For the love of power naps

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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.

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Dance against all the odds

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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/

 

 

 

The Waning Moon

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If I could choose, I’d snuggle up in my writing room from full moon to new moon.

At new moon, I’m fired up and open to ideas zipping around the universe. I take them, examine them and claim them if they’re useful. Sometimes I let them go; often I save them in case they may prove useful.

At new moon, I’m working towards. I act on new ideas. I can see where I want to be, what I want to achieve and a path to follow to get there.

At new moon, I’m fresh, vibrant and excited.

On the full moon, I give thanks – I’m here! I made it! There’s a sense of achievement, even if I’m not where I expected to be.

And then the moon begins to wane.

Louise asks Lizzie the question in The Orphan Witch:

“So the full moon isn’t necessarily the end of something? You mean while it’s waning is the time to dot the ‘I’s’ and cross the ‘T’s’ and confidently file away the past weeks?” Lizzie nods in reponse to Louise’s grasp of the concept.

I’ve completed one week of the waning moon, with another to follow before the new moon on 13th July, and I’m longing to hide on my riverbank, just me and the trickle of water over the rocks, the call of the red kite and the abundance of butterflies flitting among the brambles. Reducing the Vesuvius size pile of day-to-day, is exhausting. But there’s five days to go. I must complete what I’ve started. I must rally, summon the energy and push through to the end.

This is also my time of the month for letting go. Some tasks are challenging, some actions may not have succeeded or caused problems. Often my own doubts surface at this time of the month and cloud my vision. This weekend, on my riverbank beneath the waning moon, I’ll write down those niggles, those old stories that take away my confidence and I’ll burn them, sending them away so as not to carry them forward to the new moon.

…and then I’ll be ready for whatever the new moon has to offer….and I’ve new ideas battering my ears already; new music to dance to, new dance combinations, new lesson plans and, best of all, new stories.

For more magical musings and a FREE short story, sign up for Wendy Woo’s Round Robin here http://wendysteele.us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=bd3cc38cba01c2dea4a5f386f&id=6210056252

 

The Wonderful Wendy Woo Witch Lit Team

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On the run up to The Flowerpot Witch blog tour, I’ve been introducing you to the fabulous team of women who help me get my book from my imagination into the public domain. Today is the turn of my final first reader, Melanie Collier.

Hi, I’m Melanie, dance and movement teacher, crafter, blogger and provider of document services such as proofreading, copy-editing, data entry or just plain old typing.

I teach belly dance in Pembrokeshire, where I also provide cover for LIFT (Low Impact Functional Training) gentle exercise sessions for Age Cymru. My first love was ballet, but I’ve been to workshops or courses in lots of other dance styles. I also studied contemporary dance, and through that was introduced to somatic movement practices. Since I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis several years ago, (something of a hindrance and embuggerance to a dancer) I’ve found yoga and Pilates useful and become increasingly interested in somatics, both as physiotherapy and as applied to dance.

When I’m not dancing, exercising, proofreading and editing, I like to mess around with yarn (I always have a pair of socks on the needles), wire, beads, sequins, sea glass, fabric, ribbons, paint/pens/pencils or Photoshop. I take commissions for things like socks, jewellery and fabric flowers. Various bits of my digital art are gradually being added to the print-on-demand sites Zazzle, Redbubble, Cafepress and Deviant Art as I engage in the perpetual fight with my antiquated PC to load them.

And when I’m not doing any of that, I’m gardening, watching wildlife, recording moths (like proofreading, identifying moths requires an eye for detail) and butterflies, blogging, doing mindful meditation, and trying to find time to practise drumming, learn other new skills and curl up with my cats and a good book. Housework is low on the list of activities!

I met Wendy through dance and it was only later that I learned she’s an author. I was quite flattered to be added to her team of first readers for The Naked Witch, a new genre and activity for me. I immediately fell in love with Lizzie and her daughter, and was enthralled by the way she thinks and works and the descriptions of her sessions in her sanctuary, so was very glad to get an early look at the following two novels. I’m not sure if Wendy likes or loathes my nit-picking (especially the lack of commas before clauses beginning ‘but’, which drives me NUTS!). However, I am sure that readers will enjoy the books very much indeed.

Melanie is a creative, vibrant spirit and a beautiful dancer. Of course I like her nit-picking! With Melanie’s sharp eye and unflinching determination for perfection, she helps me whip my books into shape, ready for you readers.

http://dancingmoth.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DancingMoth/

Join me tomorrow to meet the cover designer and formatter of the Wendy Woo Witch Lit books. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the blog tour poster and, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the Lizzie Martin series, check out my books on my author page.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

 

 

The Wonderful Wendy Woo Witch Lit Team

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The Flowerpot Witch is nearly here and like all heartfelt, all consuming endeavours, I couldn’t have done it on my own. Family and friends supported me over the nine months it took to write and edit, but a very special team of people… in fact, a very special team of talented, creative women then took the book on, to be ready for publication and online, out into the public domain.

Over the next few days, I’m showcasing my own personal heroes, the real and amazing women behind my books.

Today I’d like you to meet Sarah Ward, one of my first readers. I met Sarah four months after she’d delivered her second child, when she  came along to a lesson to learn American Tribal Style® Bellydance with me at Tribal Unity Wales. She’s a friend but one I can trust and who will always be honest with me….

I’m Sarah, and I run an independent photo print shop – Y Stiwdio Brint (“The Print Studio” in Welsh) – in Lampeter with my husband, Ash.

I do a bit of design work here and there, but mostly spend my time ensuring that our business runs efficiently, and continues to flourish the way it has over the two years we’ve been open to-date!

I volunteered to read Wendy’s first Witchlit novel rather selfishly as an excuse to read something fictional and non-business related; since our three children came along, and then the business, reading for pleasure seemed to be a distant memory! I got stuck in, fell in love with the main character Lizzie, and savoured every word I read! The laid-back depiction of any “witchy” goings-on made it feel like I was reading about a friend, and the warmth of Wendy’s writing made the book a total breeze to actually read!

The biggest compliment I could pay was to ask Wendy to be a first-reader for the next two books also, as I couldn’t wait to see how Lizzie’s story continued to unfold. Now that all three are out in paperback form, I’ll soon be putting in an order for the trilogy so I can easily dip into Lizzie’s world whenever I like!

http://www.ystiwdiobrint.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/yStiwdioBrint/

Sarah is easy to work with and delivers useful feedback and honest critique. She’s an amazing, young, creative inspirational woman and a stunning dancer. She plays an active part in her local community looking to revive Lampeter high street, as well as nurturing three children, dancing with her tribe and administering in the shop. I’m blessed to have her as a friend.

Do check out her website and facebook page for all things print.

Join me tomorrow to meet another member of the team.

 

 

 

 

Why Awakened Bellydance™?

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Sunlight glistened on the snow topped mountains. Eleven women embarked on a journey of a lifetime, guided and supported by Katie Holland.

We breathed, we feared but we trusted and within the safe, protected space of our room, we danced, allowing the music to shake up our bodies and free our minds. We let go and the layers began to peel away.

Every day, we learned, shared, discussed and laughed and then we danced again, fear, judgement, disempowerment and pain, relinquished from our bodies and minds, into the earth to be transmuted to the love we craved.

Together, we healed, allowing our minds to be free to think, to create and to manifest and to step closer to our bodies, to feel the emotions and energy rising through us.

Deeper we delved into the closed off parts of ourselves, removing all obstacles and reinstating the power of the goddess, the women we truly are.

We reached up, beyond ourselves, out into the universe, to the stars from whence we came.

Katie is woman, dancer, teacher and healer and I’m blessed to have been part of this unique, transformational experience, shared with a group of awesome women who I now call sisters and friends. With Katie’s guidance, I look forward to sharing with the beautiful women of the world, helping them to be free of the constraints that bind them and imbuing them with the power that is truly their own.

 

Join me for my course here in Wales https://www.facebook.com/events/384660835330530/ 

or for more information about Katie Holland and Awakened Bellydance™, go to the website https://www.awakenedbellydance.com/

 

Awakened Bellydance™ – 7 months on

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At the end of April this year, I embarked on a personal journey with eleven other women in Bulgaria, guided and supported by Katie Holland, dancing and learning to facilitate Awakened Bellydance™. I wrote this a few days after returning home…

‘We breathed, we feared but we trusted and within the safe, protected space of our room, we danced, allowing the music to shake up our bodies and free our minds. We let go and the layers began to peel away.

Every day, we learned, shared, discussed and laughed and then we danced again, fear, judgement, disempowerment and pain, relinquished from our bodies and minds, into the earth to be transmuted to the love we craved.

Together, we healed, allowing our minds to be free to think, to create and to manifest and to step closer to our bodies, to feel the emotions and energy rising through us.

Deeper we delved into the closed off parts of ourselves, removing all obstacles and reinstating the power of the goddess, the women we truly are.

We reached up, beyond ourselves, out into the universe, to the stars from whence we came.’

Awakened Bellydance™ changed my life… I was no longer afraid. Without fear, I chose music for Tribal Unity Wales to dance to, confident that I had chosen well and in every lesson I taught, I allowed my heart to guide me.

I published my second Witchlit novel ‘The Orphan Witch’, knowing it was the perfect magical sequel to The Naked Witch’ as Lizzie Martin, my main character, followed her heart. The third novel, ‘The Flowerpot Witch’, flowed from my pen.

I grew a few vegetables in a bath tub and a tractor tyre and cooked plant based food, gathering new recipes and sharing time cooking with my partner.

I sang in the car…and in a hot tub in Essex in front of other people!

And so much more! Everything I did was different…I was different. I shone with a sense of ‘me’ I’d never felt before. There was no ego, just a deep connection to myself, who and where I was and an understanding of where I fitted into the universe.

Life hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot to deal with but trusting from the heart, I could cope with anything.

One morning, a few weeks ago, I awoked to depression, anxiety and fear. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world forever. Why had the fear returned? How had the depression manifested when I was so much more in tune with my mind and body? What had I done to bring this on? What had I done wrong?

But I refused to revert back to the old stories. The past is gone, no longer my story to tell so, I chose to see this time as a different kind of chaos and Awakened Bellydance ™ had equipped me with tools I could use to live in it. If I cared one iota about myself, now was the time to use them. I grounded and protected myself every day, sometimes outside in my wellies and dressing gown in the frosty morning air, sometimes indoors. I danced every day to my favourite song at the moment, ‘Wild Things’ by Alessia Cara and allowed myself to laugh or cry, however the music moved me. I continued to write, sometimes choosing to research or write a short story rather than my novel. I taught my dance classes from the heart, allowing myself to be swept up in the music but always focussed on creating the best lesson possible for my ladies.

I facilitated Awakened Bellydance™ solar plexus chakra, guiding and supporting women to clear away the old stories where they lacked confidence and self esteem and where they sought impossible perfection. We opened our hearts to new opportunities, stories we could create of focus, achievement, perseverence and resilience. We stoked the fires, burned away the obstacles and rose like the phoenix from the ashes.

I’ve focussed on strengthening the connections to the things I care about. On my riverbank, beneath the magnificent full moon, I blessed my physical sacred tools and sang to the goddess of the moon with my singing bowl.

 

I’ve lived with depression since my teenage years and learned to cope in many ways but Awakened Bellydance™ provides the dancer with the ability to reconnect with herself and the universe. It’s not about coping but living in confidence and love. Not only are the old stories confronted but they’re dealt with and binned and new stories are created, ready to manifest and be the story of the life you want to live.

For more information about Awakened Bellydance™ and its creator, Katie Holland, visit https://www.awakenedbellydance.com/awakened-bellydance

Lift the veil and live your life as the person you really are.

 

 

The book that changed my life

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More than ten years ago, I was struggling with life. My daily battle with depression was compounded by debilitating and fatiguing IBS. I was dancing Egyptian belly dance but feeling stuck and uninspired. A new lady came to dance class and loaned me a book. It changed my life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Violet Mary Firth, aka Dion Fortune, penned her first short stories in 1919, as a way to bring spiritualism, psychism and inner awareness to readers, otherwise unfamiliar with these practices. Two of her novels, Sea Priestess and Moon Magic greatly influence Doreen Valiente, in many people’s opinion the resurrecter of modern British witchcraft, and it was the first of these books I opened all those years ago.

I devoured every page. My magical practise, until then, had been purely personal but Sea Priestess opened up new possibilities, especially the opportunity to share, heal and inspire, not only through my writing but my dancing as well. In 2007, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian belly dance. Over the four years I taught in Essex, I was able to teach and, hopefully, inspire over 300 women and girls.

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At the time, my first novel was underway and I spent 3 years (30 minutes in the car every day waiting to pick up my children from school), writing and editing. ‘Hubble Bubble’ was about an English teacher who lived her life through her passion for literature. I was wordy, over 100k but it started me on the path I follow today. The characters were vivid and the imagery exciting…I just needed to learn how to plot and write story more effectively.

For three years, I taught dance, practised self healing and gathered holistic healing experience. The premise for my first novel ‘Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy’, ‘what if a traumatic childhood experience sent a woman on a different life path?’ inspired me to write my first novel about the use of magic, contacting other planes of existence and the Qabalah, in our physical life on earth.

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Although my books are fantasy, the characters are real, living live like you and I, falling in love, raising children, finding new jobs and moving house. Relationships are an important element in my novel, often unconventional and sometimes surprising. ‘Destiny of Angels’ relies on the strength of friendship, as Angel’s friends help her dispel the hurt of the past. In ‘Wrath of Angels’, Angel’s love for Aidan is tested, as is her self belief and self worth.

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Bringing magic, inner awareness and affinity with nature into my stories brings them to life. In ‘Sea Priestess’ and ‘Moon Magic’, Vivien Le Fay Morgan, the main character, is both of this world and ‘other worldly’ and this other dimension, almost a secret side to her personality, fascinates me and is always with me as I write.

The three women in The Standing Stone books, inspired by my arrival in Wales, appear to live ‘ordinary’ lives across three different points in time but, all three are searching for something. Even Fern, the only one who already has a connection to the goddess through ritualistic nature worship, is seeking more. In Home for Christmas, they are guided by Binah, the Great Mother, the dark goddess who stands proudly beside Chokmah on the left hand pillar of the Qabalah Tree.

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My only foray into non-fiction is ‘Wendy Woo’s Year- A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written at the request of friends who kept telling me to write down my tips to combat depression and bring peace and self healing to your life. The book is often practical, sometimes spiritual but never religious, occasionally witty and full of ideas to bring a smile to your day.

Have you read a book that changed your life? Be lovely to hear from you.

 

A life less sensible

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Sensible has two definitions in the dictionary:

1. done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit.
2. (of an object) practical and functional rather than decorative.
My mother was a practical, prudent woman but whether by nature or because of living through WWII and the following eight years of rationing, I will never know. Either way, her parenting was of a very strict, sensible nature and I learned how to manage money from her. Living a ‘sensible’ life, however, did not sit well with me.
My first marriage was to a ‘sensible’ young man, training to be an accountant with his own car and with aspirations to own his own home….I was beaten on my honeymoon.
My second marriage was to a less ‘sensible’ man, who made me laugh and was kind and generous. We were friends first and it was the arrival of our first child that pushed us to do the ‘sensible’ thing and buy a home together. We got on well but, like many friends, we had different ideas about many things. His new job in the City boosted his aspirations to make money and though I tried to be the executive wife (I even bought the blazer!) after twelve years together, this relationship ended.
Now I was torn….I needed to be ‘sensible’ as three young lives depended on me being their rock and supporting them and yet, having been married the first time at nineteen years old, I longed for the pressure to be lifted. Meeting my present partner gave me times of bliss, laughter and naughtiness which helped me maintain my ‘sensible’ parent status, seeing the children through school.
Turning fifty was a landmark moment, a time a lot of women dread but for me, with a new, exciting adventure in Wales to look forward to and my children through school and University, for the first time in my life, I felt carefree. Antonyms of sensible include foolish and stupid but for me, carefree means not automatically taking the prudent option but sometimes just ‘going for it’!
This last weekend I partied in a yurt in a field on Friday night, dancing of course, before performing at the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on the Saturday.
On Sunday, I taught morning and afternoon workshops. On Monday, I barrowed logs, made up two boxes of kindling, cooked, baked, washed and cleared up after the weekend. None of this was ‘sensible’ but I loved every second! Today, Tuesday, I’m spending the day writing as my body gave me a nudge to say it needed a rest.
Organising a building site requires me to be sensible with resources and time and organising the household, the same but for the rest of the time, I enjoy a less sensible life….paddling in the sea on Christmas day, getting my first tattoes Wales 2014 020

Eight pointed star, one of the symbols of Ishtar

Eight pointed star, one of the symbols of Ishtar

Dancing with my friends in the sunshine…..11053065_1610337169224773_4219450298485072431_ntaking time to dress and make up for a performance….10556448_727027910700917_1801320681454343591_n

welcoming the sun and moon in the sky….11012386_10153650985507802_1147847422645631772_n ….drawing pictures in the sand and writing the books I care passionately about….books for women….m_DSC01109 about strong, fabulous real women….Wales to 21st June 2014 013books to bring magic into your life every day, books about the beauty of Nature and the part women play as the goddesses of the world….Standing Stone Home For Christmas Cover drop shadow….as they deal with real life (including all the ‘sensible’ bits that make others lives run so smoothly) while embracing the women they really are….DSC_1413

Let go your inhibitions and join me, living a life less sensible.

You can find out more about ATS® Belly Dance at http://www.tribalunity.co.uk.

For links to all my books, please visit my author pages: http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1365459567&sr=1-2-ent

Love and light xx