Please let your light shine bright!

Let’s talk about self-promotion by way of a little story…

The other night, I went to see a show in a very cool new venue in town. Though I hadn’t yet heard of the band that was playing that night, it had been warmly recommend to my gentleman friend and I by one of the guys running that venue.

A singer-songwriter was the opening act. She had a lovely voice, and her music was great. At least twice in her set, she kinda started telling a story, and really grabbed me. She clearly had a talent for stories (and I’m completely spoilt, and thus picky, when it comes to storytelling) – I wanted more.
Seriously, you tell us that your guitar is one year older than your grandmother? There’s a story in there, and I want to hear it!

She was also, quite obviously, shy and not completely at ease in front of us, even though she seemed to have enough stage experience under her belt. Probably contributing to her uneasy feelings was an apparent self-consciousness of the fact she couldn’t speak much French and was singing in English for a francophone (though certainly bilingual) crowd. One of the ways her shyness manifested was that as soon as she finished a song, she’d start tuning her guitar for the next one, without even pausing to enjoy the applause. She even said, at one such point: “Oh, I’m just tuning my guitar!” – but you’ve just finished a song, sweetie, and that’s what we’re applauding you for!

Well, this was part of who she was in those circumstances, and that was all well and good. It even contributed to distinguish her from any other too polished singer-songwriter, whom I would not have been talking about here because there would have been nothing to say. I’d even say that it was, in a way, endearing.

However, one thing saddened me: not only was she not introduced before or after her set, but she did not introduce herself either. I enjoyed her set and would have loved to know more about her. Heck, I would have liked to at least know her name! But really, I’d also have loved for her to tell me where she was from and if she had other shows in my area on her calendar. At the very least, I would have liked to know where I could find her on the web so that I could find those infos by myself and even sign up to her mailing list so that I’d get updates and could maybe catch another one of her shows one day.

I would have liked to tell her: Sweetheart, I know it may feel uncomfortable to you to say these things. You may think it’d look presumptuous of you to assume we might want to know. But really, I do want to know! I liked what you did tonight. Please help me find out how I can get more!

End of story, back to here and now…

I guess I don’t need to draw you a picture. You do cool stuff. You are passionate about it. Please give me the opportunity to learn about it. Let your passion shine! I will most certainly at least appreciate getting a hit of that passion. And I may well be among your Right People, in which case chances are I will also be interested in your Thing, and will be happy to get the info without having to pry it out of you.

Talking about that cool thing you do is not bragging, it’s not spamming, unless you go overboard and, really, I trust that you would not: this is so not your style!
(And, as Havi would say, please, please, please do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase “shameless self-promotion“; it’s never a good idea.)

So remember: when you’re talking to your Right People, you’re doing them a favor by telling them about that cool Thing you do. Whether you’ve created the most amazing vegan and gluten-free amaretti cookie recipe that on its own makes it worth to buy your cookbook* or you’ve put together a reflexology guide to ease the discomforts of PMS, believe me, those who need it want to know that such a thing is out there in the world. Don’t hide it from them!
*Winking to my friend Celine, who has created that amazing cookie recipe (yes, it’d be worth getting the book even if it was just for that recipe alone, and I say that about other recipes in that book too; seriously, do yourself a favor and get it!) and was patiently waiting for me to publish that little piece of mine on self-promotion. Love you, C.!

You’ve certainly gotten my point by now, no need for me to drag it any longer.


What about you: is self-promotion difficult for you? If so, is it hard no matter what, or do you find it easier in certain circumstances? Do you have ideas as to what would make it easier?

Posted in Participant observation | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Lessons from a wise little guy

This past Christmas, I’ve had the good fortune to receive a lesson from one of my greatest teachers.

How did that happen?  Simply through observing the way my favorite 9-year-old was interacting with the gift my gentleman friend and I had given him.  I know I have a lot to learn from children, and that was once again made clear in a beautiful way.

We’ve given him a kit to create pop-up books.  In the kit were included two blank hardcover books, markers and other accessories he could use to create and illustrate his stories.

As soon as he was done opening all of his presents, he opened the box, grabbed one of the books and the markers, and wanted to get started.  Right then and there.

You know what went through my mind at that moment?

Something like: “Hey, not so fast!  Is that really a good idea?  He hasn’t even had the time to think about it, to plan the masterpiece that would be worthy of being thus immortalized…  Won’t he be disappointed when he realizes he has ‘wasted’ one of his books by rushing in this way?”  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

Oof!  I thankfully held it in.  No more than a feeble “you sure?” went through my lips, and I let him go.

As you’ve certainly guessed, my reaction was totally a reflection of what *I* would have done.  My own insecurities.  The way I would have agonized in front of those blank books before doing anything with them – that is, admitting I eventually would have done something with them, which is far from certain!

Yup, my damn fear of not having the best idea ever, as well as my absolute certainty that I would have a better idea right after I’d started drawing and that I would have thus ruined the whole thing – I’d have let them stop me.  And that’s not even taking into account my fear of not being able to do something that would meet the standards… which standards?  My own distorted stuff masquerading as true universal standards, of course!

In short, I have tons to learn from that wise little guy.  That is why I took notes as I watched him go.

In my mental notebook, I noted that…

Clearly, that artist knew where he was going. No agonizing over details.  Decisions were made quickly, with confidence.

That artist wasn’t hesitating for even one moment. His decisions were put into application as soon as they were made.  He showed that creation happens through action.

That artist’s vision was personal and self-assured. Comments and questions about his work never led him to reconsider his creative choices.

Nowhere in the process did the idea of perfection intervene. When I pointed out that he had forgotten a few words in the middle of a sentence, the artist simply added those words over the line.  He didn’t lament that his page was ruined.

That artist had no difficulty declaring his work done. No existential questioning, no wondering whether something was missing, no interminable fiddling.  A certainty as to the completion of that piece.

He was genuinely proud of his book and happy to show it to anyone who would look. No hedging, no false modesty, nothing but beautiful self-confidence.

And I have to give justice where justice is due: none of the worries I had when this all started were justified.  His book is absolutely fantastic, down to the tiniest details.

The cherry on top of the sundae?

All of that happened pretty late at night, a time at which I’m not expecting much usefulness from my brain, and even less from the brain of a kid of that age.  It was past 1 a.m. when he finished and showed us his book.  What was he doing at a quarter past one?  He was telling me the title of what would be his second book and describing his plan for it, page by page.  Uh, wow.

Also?  When I told him I was delighted to see him enjoying our gift that much and that I was at the same time feeling a bit sad knowing that he would so quickly be done playing with it, he told me not to worry.  He said those books would be fabulous souvenirs and he’d be really happy to have them on his bookshelf.  Such a wise perspective!

All things considered, I’d say I am the one who’s received the best gift.  Thank you, C.

Posted in Participant observation | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments


This is going to be short and sweet, as I still have to finish packing and I’m leaving early tomorrow morning.  No suspense, just a quick drumroll…

And here is the promised “after” pic:

I love my post-Shaved Head Challenge* look!  It was my first time shaving my head, and most probably won’t be the last time!
*follow the link if you’ve missed the story and the “before” picture

Update: In my haste, I forgot to mention it: my hair donation (to make wigs for the kids who’d need one) was accepted.  Yay!

See you once I’m back!

Posted in Slice of life | Tagged | 21 Comments

Not totally random hair story

One thing you may not know about me is that I love playing with my hair, in more ways than one.

First, I’m always twisting a lock between my fingers, and I’ve done that for as long as I can remember.  Actually, it’s probably genetic: my brothers and some of my uncles used to do it too.  I also use that lock to stroke my cheek or the corner of my eye: I love feeling the silkiness of my hair on my skin.

Related to that lock-twisting thing, I have developed advanced knot-making techniques – really, I could say I’ve turned it into an art form!  My hair doesn’t need to be much more than 2 or 3 inches long for me to start making all kinds of knots with my locks, from simple to pretty elaborate ones.

Finally, another favorite way for me to play with my hair is playing with its length.  I’ve had very long hair, I’ve had very short hair, and I’m having fun going from long to extremely short without transition.  I’m a short-haired girl at heart, and that’s why I’m using the pic you see in my profile here and on Twitter even though it’s several years old (I haven’t changed much if at all, anyways).

Deep down inside, I feel I am more *me* with short hair.  Yet, it still happens that I let my hair grow long, but I do it for one and only one reason: it’s simply so that the difference it’ll make when I have it cut again will be more striking.  However, I’ve played that game often enough that people around me have become immune.  Seriously!  One year, my hair reached down to the middle of my back when I visited my parents for Christmas.  When I came again for New Year’s Day it was, oh, probably no longer than 2″ long.  No one even noticed!  I had been there for several hours when I finally asked mom if she had noticed anything different, and she had to take a long hard look at me before she realised what had happened.

I must admit that, at that point, the game lost a lot of its appeal. :)

So I decided that I’d stop putting up with the hassle of growing my hair, and I’d keep it short, but… this is what I look like right now:

Yes, I did it again.

This time, though, I’m doing it for a good cause

Last year, my nephew participated in the Shaved Head Challenge, an annual fundraiser for Leucan, an organisation that has made it its mission “to enhance the well-being, healing and recovery of children with cancer and ensure support for their families”. I had heard about it a few years before and knew I’d do it one day, but I had yet to act on the idea.  Though I was inspired by my nephew, I couldn’t join him last year, so I decided I’d do it this year and that I wouldn’t have my hair cut until then.

Of course, the thrill of going from long hair to shaved head played a role in my choice to let my hair grow as much as possible; however, it was not the main reason why I decided to do it.  I was hoping that my hair would be long enough for me to donate them to contribute to the production of wigs for children with cancer who may need one.  There couldn’t be a better reason for me to play this little game one last time!  As it stands now, my hair is precisely the minimum length required for donation, so I’m not sure if cutting it will bring it just a hair (ha!) too short – I’ll see if they accept it on the day of the challenge.

So, you’ve seen the “before” picture.  And yes, you will soon see the “after” picture.

The challenge happens this weekend: I’ll have my hair shaved on Saturday. Until then, if you feel like supporting my gesture and the wonderful work Leucan does, you can make a donation on my participant’s page (please don’t feel like you have to; I’m really only mentioning it in case someone would want to do it, but I have no expectation at all).

It may take a while before I post the promised pic of me and my new hairdo (!) though, as I’m flying out on Sunday and I may post again only once I’m back.  I’m going to Portland and am very excited about this trip for several reasons – seeing friends! attending a Shiva Nata teacher training! playing with mindful biggification and doing Old Turkish Lady yoga with Havi at her new Playground! visiting the city also known as Vegan Mecca!  And that’s only part of the exciting stuff happening around here these days…  More details to come!

Posted in Slice of life | Tagged , | 14 Comments


You all know that Shiva Nata has been a passion of mine ever since I first heard about it and started practicing it.  From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to get to the point where I could teach it.

I didn’t know when I would be ready to make that happen, but I knew it would happen.  Some time.  In the future.

When I first met Havi last summer, she assured me I could start teaching right away.  Really?  Hmm… clearly, I wasn’t quite feeling like I was ready.  At that point, I was in a hard place in my practice, and from the vantage point I had in the depth of my stuckness, I couldn’t see how I could be of any use to my eventual students.  Still, she said she’d come to my class once I’d have started teaching – that was powerfully motivating!

Fast forward several months to this past January, when I’ve had the chance to spend time with Havi again at her wonderful Destuckification retreat.  She reiterates that I don’t have to wait after anything to get started teaching Dance of Shiva.  This time, I feel like I am indeed much closer to feeling ready to do it.  Still, there are all those questions floating in my mind – but how? where? who? and I can’t even talk about it in a semi-coherent manner, so how would I go about telling people they have to try this? etc. – and no answers, of course.

Since then, shifts and transitions have happened.  Things have moved.  But I was still there with my questions and no answers.  Teaching Shiva Nata was still something I’d do at some indeterminate point in the future.

Until that one day two months ago when everything snapped into place

I am involved in the storytelling world, and I knew I wanted to offer our local storytellers to teach them Shiva Nata – it was one of those “one day” plans.  It just so happened that that day, I realised I didn’t want to wait any more: I had to make that plan move forward.  I didn’t want to wait until their last meeting before the summer break because I wanted something to happen before next Fall.  At one meeting a month, I could see the summer break coming extremely fast!  So I had to think fast and quickly make up my mind because they had a meeting coming up a few days later.  If I missed that opportunity to go and present the idea, I’d have to wait for another month before anything happened.  I was scared, but the thought of a one month delay was not comforting.

I had reached the point where I had to do something even though I was scared.

That was big.  You see, I was completely scared because teaching Shiva Nata to those storytellers was the only possibility I could see.  As long as it was just an idea, it had some potential, but if I presented it and it turned out they weren’t interested, I was left with nothing in front of me.  Hey, what happened to that huge shift in perspective?  Well, it still holds true.  Yes, the idea of retaining the potential in that opportunity and not risking to get confirmation that it wouldn’t work was tempting… and yet, I didn’t let it stop me.  I went ahead and did what needed to be done for me to be invited to talk about Shiva Nata and do a demo at their next meeting, a few days later.

And this is when the magic happened

As soon as I have sent that message letting that group know I wanted to go to their meeting to present my offer, my mind started reeling with ideas.  Other people I could contact, other places I could teach, ways I could make this thing happen.  The storytellers were no longer my only option.  And the meeting hadn’t even taken place yet!

Simply, making that first step opened the way for ideas to come forward.  It told my mind I was ready to get this thing moving, so the ideas could now flow.  And some of the ideas I had were hugely ambitious, yet nothing seemed too big.

That was amazing.

To make a long story shorter

I became a Shiva Nata teacher one month ago, when I taught that free introductory class I had set up for the storytellers.  I loved it, and can’t wait to do it again.  I don’t have a regular thing going on yet, nor have I sent proposals to the other people and places I have in mind.

I haven’t stopped dreaming, though.  And, just as importantly, I’m still baby-stepping my way towards making this thing happen.

Also, through this experience I have learned – in such a way that now I know deep down inside – two things:

One, I am a Shiva Nata teacher.  (Wow!  I said it out loud!  And I believe it.  And it feels good.  Wow.)

And two, when I don’t have all the clarity I think I need before I can move forward, I can make the smallest of steps and that will light up the next part of the path.

Posted in Processing out loud, Shiva Nata | Tagged | 19 Comments