Art Journaling | How to use all the scraps on your craft desk

As an Art Journaler, when art journaling, do you have a desk that is full of scraps? This blog will hopefully give you art journaling inspiration on how to use all the scraps on your craft desk.

Art Journaling | How to use all the scraps on your craft desk

I always have a plethora of paper scraps, bits of fabric, embellishments, and other bits and bobs on my desk during and after any craft or journaling project. And I have a problem with getting rid of them, I mean you never know when you could need just that piece of ‘something’. You never know when that little bit of yumminess will inspire one of your best creations yet.

So I keep all those little bits in a basket on my craft desk for all the paper scraps, so that if I need a little extra on a page that I can scratch through the hundreds of scraps in that little basket and find just the right one.

I had a customer purchase one of my Fabric Journals as a birthday gift for a good friend. She asked to send the Journal directly to her friend and asked if I would put a little note in with the parcel to wish her a happy birthday.

Art Journaling | How to use all the scraps on your craft desk

I know I wanted to create something unique to go with the journal and while sitting at my desk looking at all these yummy scraps I had a brain-wave. And a one-of-a-kind birthday card was the result.

Needless to say she was very happy with both her gift and her card, which to me is why I love creating Journals, that special feeling you get when someone else loves your creation as much as you do.

Hope you enjoy the inspiration to use in your art journal and find a use for all the scraps on your craft desk.

Blessings

Jacqui

The Velveteen Journal Series – a fabric-covered junk journal series

A little look down memory lane and then a peek at The Velveteen Journal Series – a fabric-covered junk journal series. In this blog, I will explain my thinking behind some of the materials used in the Velveteen Journal Series, how I made them and what you can use them for.

As you most probably have surmised I have recently created this website with an online shop. I have always had a love for books, writing, and art. Then I discovered Bullet Journaling and Junk Journals. I fell down the proverbial ‘rabbit-hole’ and started creating my own Journals. After a couple of friends who I have gifted my journals too, said that I could sell them, I thought ‘why not’, I love making them and if you are a fellow crafter, you know that we have a tendency to hoard all things pretty and book-related.

An online shop was born

So if I wanted to carry on creating journals and not have them sitting on a shelf, or in a box I needed to do something with them. So the online shop was born, and others out there can enjoy them as much as I do.

I usually make Journals from old book covers that I have thrifted, but I have a stash of fabric from 6 years of belly dance costumes and thought that fabric covers would be something different.

It was great fun scrounging through the box with all the fabric, trims, beads, and old jewelry bits to pull together this series.

A love for velvet

What I discovered was that I seem to have a thing for velvet. So the Velveteen Journal Series was born. I started with 3 creating color schemes based on the pieces of velvet that spoke to me at the time.

So I ended up with a Turquoise and Silver, Black and Silver and Pink and Blue Junk Journal cover.

Collage covers and vintage pages

The Junk Journals are a Regular / Standard size (11x21cm). The covers are a collage of fabric, lace, and trim with an unbleached calico backing (inside cover).

They each have 2 signatures with a whole heap of delicious vintage and tea-dyed papers inside. They are stitched to the cover with a 3 hole pamphlet stitch, so they are pretty sturdy. This is not how I usually bind books, I prefer a hidden spine or Coptic stitch (if I am making art journals) but I thought the pamphlet stitch would suit this style of Journal better.

Plenty of secret pockets and tuck spots

I tried to keep the pockets and tuck spots in the Journals kind of matching the colors of the covers, so selected ephemera and scrapbook cardstock from my stash for each journal before I started putting things together.

The inside of the journals are pretty much identical in the placement of the pockets and tuck spots but the paper clusters and fabric ephemera are unique to the journal. I also made paper clips and dangles that will be unique to each journal and was super excited at how great they looked. Making some more beads and fixings so that I can add some to the shop might be a good idea.

I love using pages that are different sizes and textures because it gives the journals so much more interest. Previous journals I have created were quite plain and to be honest I don’t know which I prefer more.

The ephemera and book pages range in age from music pages from 1910 to poetry from the 1930s, stamp catalog pages from the ’40s, and diary pages from the 1950s. I can’t go past a thrift store / 2nd hand shop without stopping to see if they have any books…..and I running out of space on my bookshelf now.

These Journals are perfect to use for everyday journaling as there is plenty of space for writing. I love using them for Gratitude or Memory Journaling.

I did a flip through of the Pink and Blue Journal which I have linked below if you would like to have a look inside the journal.

A Flip Through of the Pink and Blue Journal from The Velveteen Journal Series

I intend to make a couple of additions to the Velveteen Series, as I still have a couple of other fun scraps of velvet and other sparkly bits that are screaming for me to make them into collage covers. I might even try my hand at matching pencil cases for the journals. What do you guys think?

I hope you enjoyed looking into the creation of these Velveteen Journals. I really enjoyed making them.

Keep a look out on social media for updates on further additions to the series.

Happy creating!

Blessings

Jacqui

XXX

Art Journaling is Good for you. Its benefits and why I love it!

Art Journaling is good for you! In this post, I want to share with you the benefits of regular art journalling and why I love it!

I have always been a dabbler in art, an artistic dabbler, putter of paint on paper. But only recently, in the last 5 years or so and with YouTube becoming ever more popular I have found so much inspiration between the pages of some of the most amazing Art Journalers on YouTube, that it has become an almost daily ritual for me. And I, to be honest, I think I am a better person for it. I will give you links to some of my favorites at the end of the Blog, so keep reading.

For the absolute beginners, what is an Art Journal you may ask? Well, it is very much like your traditional journal where you would write your thoughts, emotions, memories, daily reminders, free thoughts, etc, just in an art journal you can do this with paint, pencils, inks, pastels, paper cut-outs. Basically whatever takes your fancy. It can be as plain or as complex as you want to make it.

Magazine Art Journal – 2018

There are so many known benefits to Art Journaling, so the list below and my thoughts on them are definitely not an exhaustive list.

Art Journaling is good for Stress Release.

Think of it as an automatic un-wind and calm down button. The act of being creative in whatever medium tickles your fancy, falling down the rabbit hole of putting paint to paper, sketching, cutting images that speak to you out of your favorite magazine and putting them on a page, takes you away from what is occupying your mind and brings you to the present. You drift off somewhere between your breaths and just let go. I guarantee you, you will feel your shoulders drop from where they were hunched up to your ears and you will be smiling.

Art Journaling is Therapeutic

For people that have a little more on their plate than just everyday stresses, art journaling is a wonderful way to express your emotions, work through things that have you anxious, depressed or overwhelmed. Art Journaling is safe, it is just for you. You can literally let it all hang out on your journal pages. You can fill your pages with written journaling, get it all out and then cover those words up with layers of paint and pictures. It is an amazing way of turning something negative into a positive. It can be as dark and brooding or as light and airy as you want it to be. Your pages will never judge, they will never criticize, there are no limits in your Art Journal because it is yours. Only you see it.

Art Journaling is good for cognitive brain function and memory

No matter what age we are as adults we have those days where we walk into a room and have no idea why we are there…… this happens to me far too often.

Research has shown that regular art practice benefits fine motor skills, creativity, and emotional balance. It increases the serotonin levels in the body, it helps you with focus and concentration, but I think the biggest thing is that it gives you a platform to learn new things, to experiment and play. It makes you excited about life because you start seeing things differently, through an ‘artists eye’ and those inspiring images you see have a direct impact on your health and well-being.

Art Journaling can re-acquaint you with your Inner Child

Remember the days when you could play, run around, make friends and do things without a care in the world. Far too often nowadays we either self-criticize, or we worry about criticism from others. Gone are the days of doing something just because it brought you joy!

Well, you can be that 6-year-old kid again in your art journal. Finger paint, paint funky make-believe animals, draw unicorns, create imaginary worlds from cut out magazine images….and why not, it’s your journal! Remember the freedom and joy! You can keep a visual diary of all your best moments

Keeping a record of your memories is a wonderful way of connecting back to how the memory made you feel, who was there, what you were doing. ‘But I can’t draw a stick figure!’, you say. It’s your art journal, stick figures are great too! You can print out some of the millions of photo’s on your phone, cut them out and stick them to a painted background. You can experiment with actually drawing something from scratch and adding a quote that reminds you of the day. Whatever it is, however you want to record the memory, every time you look back at that page it will take you back to that place and time.

Hand-bound Art Journal – 2019

Here are some of the reasons why I Art Journal (besides and maybe in addition to the reasons listed above)

Practice

Yup, as clichéd as it sounds ‘Practice makes perfect’, okay maybe perfect is not the aim here. But practice definitely makes you more comfortable with the act of creating. You will definitely improve, you will find your style, you will experiment and try new things. There is nothing better than if you have found an artist you like and you take inspiration from them and with practice, you can honestly say that you like what you have created. Practice also build a habit and a creative habit is ALWAYS a good thing.

It’s Simple

I’m hearing that ‘But I can’t draw a stick figure!’ again. Art Journaling is simple. It’s about being imperfect, it’s about making a mess, it’s about turning the page on something you really don’t like because you can. It’s as simple as taking a piece of paper (any paper) and a pencil and making marks on it. Whatever marks you want to, however they speak to you. This flows nicely into my next reason.

It’s cheap

Let me re-phrase that. It’s as cheap as you want to make it. Don’t get me wrong nice art supplies can seriously make a huge dent in your bank balance, but they don’t have to. For those of us that are either starting out or are just doing this because it brings us joy, inexpensive is just as good. One of my first Art Journals was two Home Décor magazines that I bound together and put a cool cover on – ala Dede Willingham, and what I loved about that journal was that there were no blank pages. You could cover over them, you could add to them, whatever took you fancy.

The other books I use for Art Journals are Thrift Store books / Vintage Books that are on their way to being thrown out. A little gesso on a page and you are good to go. I started with inexpensive craft or acrylic paints, colored pencils and a set of brushes. Sometimes have less stuff is better, because you don’t get stuck trying to figure out what you want to play with today.

It’s Non-Judgmental

Face it, a lot of us have never considered picking up a paintbrush or pencil to paint or draw because we have never thought we were good enough. You see all these amazing artworks on social media and think, ‘there is no way I can do that!’. Well, you don’t need to, just the act of putting a mark on paper or canvas can be considered art.

We are all too caught up in having to be perfect that we forget to have fun. Art Journaling is just that, FUN! There should be nothing serious about art journaling, it should be messy and imperfect.  And because it’s your safe space, you can do anything you want.

Anything Goes!

Literally anything goes. Art Journaling is not just painting or sketching, it can be collage, mixed media, slow stitching, fabric art, you name it, you can do it. I can see some of you reading this and going….collage…..mixed media…..huh! The beginners’ version of collage is cutting out pictures you like from your favorite magazines and gluing them down in an interesting way – lookup ‘Glue Books’ on YouTube. (Some of my favorites are: Gayle Agonstinelli, KagedFish) and mixed media is mixing all sorts of art mediums in one piece, so you can use acrylic paints, pencils, magazine images, and fabric to name a few. One of my absolute favorites for mixed media is Tiff from SouthernGalDesigns. I just love her way of playing in her Art Journals with whatever she has on hand on the day. And she is never scared to try new things or make a piece that turns out not how you imagined it but it’s beautiful anyway.

So I challenge you to find an old notebook, a reading book, get hold of your kids paints and colored pencils or buys some really cheap ones, a stick of glue and some scissors and start creating!! I can promise you that once you have created that first page, even if it’s just a couple of random scribbles, it feels so amazing that you will want to do another one and another one.

Just let yourself be six years old again and do art because it’s FUN!

I promised a list of my favorites, so here they are –

Blessings

Jacqui

feeling lost

Lost your Dance Mojo, what now? Help get your dance mojo back

What you can do if you have lost your dance mojo.

After many, many years of almost daily dance practice, I haven’t danced or thought of dancing for almost 6 months now, I have lost my dance mojo. And does it worry me, for damn sure it does! So I thought I’d dive a little deeper into this feeling and see if I can find my ‘why’ and then ways of re-igniting the spark! See if they will help get my dance mojo back.

Lost your dance mojo

So many reasons

I think there are many reasons that we lose the passion, the drive, the ‘want to’ feeling. For instance, Life can just get in the way, you know the old adage “Life happens when you a busy making plans”. Perhaps you fall out of the habit or routine, your usual class closes, or you injure yourself, your dance buddies are no longer there to drag you to class. Maybe you don’t find it challenging anymore, or like a lot of us, the stress of everyday life and work priorities get in the way.

So if you are currently feeling decidedly un-dance-ified then maybe this will help get your dance mojo back.

Don’t feel guilty

Whatever your reason, don’t feel guilty.

I know that for some of us (sticking my hand up here) we have been so involved in it for so long and have people that depend on us to attend things, we feel guilty when all of a sudden we just don’t want to engage.  

But I suppose like with anything you start off full of enthusiasm and excitement, you throw yourself into it with everything, and then over time your enthusiasm starts to wane, you don’t get so excited anymore, you move on to other things.

I know as professionals we sometimes feel the pressure to produce all the time, to be perfectionists all the time, be creative all the time. Eventually, you will get to a point where you just can’t anymore. Don’t force it. Remember ‘NO’ is a complete sentence.

Find Balance

When we feel like this try and enjoy the time of non-creativity, stop and take in what you have done. Take the time to reload, recharge, find a balance. Even in nature, there is a time for huge growth and creativity (think about trees and flowers, they give their everything in Spring and then die back to replenish in Winter, so they are fresh for the next Spring) and a time to recharge. It’s always good to take a page out of Mama Nature’s book.

It doesn’t mean that you have stopped loving Dance but right now it just doesn’t have priority in your life, for whatever the reason. So what can you do to maybe help get the groove back, get your Dance on again? Well maybe try some of these.

Finding balance

Things to help get re-ignite the spark:

A change is as good as a holiday

Try and look at changing your dance venue/class. Looking for a new teacher, new space and new people might be just the change you need to get things going again.

Maybe take a break

Maybe you need to step back and spend some time sorting through the things going on in your life that may be detracting from your dance practice. Once you have found that balance, dance might come back to you when you need it again.

Dance through it

I know it sounds counter-intuitive but just dance more. We all know that dance is good for stress, it helps with memory and it’s definitely brilliant at lifting your mood. So you might just find you dance yourself right back into your groove again.

Try new things

Find new music that speaks to you, start a new playlist of totally different music and listen to it in your car, at the gym, choreograph in your head (I know we all do it!).

Maybe try a new dance style. Ever thought of taking an Adult Ballet class, a Flamenco class, how about Jazz. This will add new spice to your dance repertoire and get you all excited about dance again.

Do a Workshop 

There is something to be said about being in a room with 20 or 30 other women who are grooving and dancing, smiling and laughing and just generally enjoying themselves, the space and the company they are in. It’s infectious! It will quickly make you realize what you love about dancing in the first place.

Whatever it might be, don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself some time and space. Remember; DANCE WILL ALWAYS WAIT FOR YOU!

Blessings

Jacqui

My Sanity…..My Bullet Journal

My Sanity…..My Bullet Journal

I have an addiction to Pinterest, I will not lie. I love looking at and saving beautiful images. Usually relating to Bellydance costuming, Decor, Gardening and Art. During one of my trawls of all things ‘Artsy’ relating to Art Journalling last year April, I came across an image that changed my life and my delinquent brain forever….Kara from BohoBerry’s Blog post on her Notebook Collection.

My current Notebook collection

My SO said to me a while back, “you don’t have any addictions”. Well, technically no I don’t, – don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t eat chocolate (yes, that is a thing) – but…..I have an obsession with blank notebooks (especially ones with beautiful covers), is that the same? So you can see why this post caught my eye. And boy does Kara have some beautiful notebooks. But what really piqued my interest were her ‘Bullet Journals’ and the pictures of her current journal. It looked so pretty – like an Art Journal but so much more.

In her blog ‘BoHo Berry’ she referenced Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal website when I watched his video on the basic Bullet Journal or ‘BuJo’ I had one of the ‘AAAAAAAAAH!’ moments (you know the whole choir singing thing). Here was a way for me to keep track of everything I normally wrote on scraps of paper everywhere or forgot to write down, AND a way to feed my Notebook obsession.

I’m going to leave this little video from Ryder’s website here because he explains the system so much better than I ever could. And it’s only 4 minutes long…..so short and sweet.

Boy, was this an epiphany!! And to make it even better I could journal, doodle, plan, draw, colour in, stick pretty pictures and customize it to my heart’s content. So, of course, I went out and bought a new notebook and dove into my 1st Bullet Journal. This was in May last year. Has it helped, a hundred times YES!, if you get into the habit of actually writing everything in it. That is definitely the only catch with this system – you can make it as pretty or as plain as you want to but you actually need to write everything in it.

The spread I think I love the most and use almost every day is what most BuJo’ers refer to as a ‘Brain Dump’. You sit quietly somewhere and literally dump everything that is currently taking up space in your head down onto paper. You can do it as bullet notes or you can write is as you would a journal. And I don’t just mean your shopping list and what you need to remember to do tomorrow (well obviously that too), I mean things like what your kids did today that made you smile, the dog that dug up your favourite roses, your car that needs a service, hubby that doesn’t put the toilet seat down. Every joy, frustration, happiness, sadness and just things……E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!

Once its’ on paper the brain tends to think “Okay, I don’t need to remember that anymore, it’s now in a place that we can go back to, to remember it if we need to.” Making space in your head for new things, helping you remember, getting rid of frustrations, keeping cute memories. It’s cathartic for me. It’s almost as if, once you write it down, the brain can file it away correctly so that you can retrieve it a whole lot easier. I find that if I have ‘dumped’ it in my journal, I will remember even if I don’t refer back to where I wrote it down. I just remember it more easily…Go Figure. And for me, that was a BIG thing! Yes people, after 40 your brain does forget stuff a lot more often than it used to…..get used to it.

My first BuJo was a cute notebook I bought from a local ‘newsagent/stationery’ chain store. And I actually filled it – yup, that was a first for me – I filled it up in 6 months. At the time I was using it for personal and work stuff but realised that I needed to start keeping these separate so when it came time to migrate over to a new BuJo, and after hours of research on my ever faithful Pinterest I decided to go with an A4 Ring Binder for Work stuff and a Traveller’s Notebook which I made my own inserts for. For those of you that have no idea what a Traveller’s Notebook is, or TN for short. It is leather or fabric cover with elastic bands in the spine that hold notebook inserts. A TN can hold up to 6 / 8 notebooks at a time. Which is what I liked about the setup. Instead of using the index of a traditional Bullet Journal where you basically have all your collections, projects, notes, dailies etc. spread throughout your BuJo as you create them. I could separate my daily planner from my Brain Dumps / Commonplace book, from my Budget Planner, from my Collections. Each having their own space. As you fill one up, you replace it with a new one. Easy Peasy.

My current Bullet Journal

I must say that this system has been an absolute lifesaver. It has been a way for me to spark my creativity again, keep track of everything that is happening every day (which with my brain is a good thing) and to journal memories.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have a wealth of inspiration and tutorials on every aspect of Bullet Journaling, in all its various forms. I have created a list of favourite IG accounts for you to peruse. All these lovely ladies can be found on all the social media platforms and also have wonderful Blogs too. It was just easier to list the IG account names. If you get bitten by the BuJo bug like I have these guys will give you all the help you need.

@bohoberry                                     @tinyrayofsunshine

@theplannersociety                       @decadethirty

@makememoriestoday                  @thefoxyfix

@theinkyhand                                  @scrubs_n_coffee

@cursivebird                                     @sixtyninejournals

Like I said before if the bug has bitten you, it’s a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole. Welcome to the Madness, a sudden unexplained obsession for notebooks, coloured pens and pencils, fountain pens and pretty ink, washi tape….oh washi tape…., stickers, etc, etc. Make sure you put aside a large portion of your budget for your growing stationery stash, that you WILL have to explain to your SO because to them it just does not make any sense…..lol.

Well, I have given you a whole lot to ponder on. I think I may go into a little more detail on the workings of my BuJo’s in a future blog, so watch this space.

Happy Journaling!

Jacqui

Gratitude and Self-Love

I have the privilege of working with a group of awesome Ladies for a wonderful global company that allows us to work from home. We have a global online meeting bi-weekly and once a month one of us get a 10 minute slot to share something with the Group. It could be anything from a work related topic, to a game, quiz or Inspirational topic. March was my month, and after having a good 4 or  5 months to come up an awesome topic I decided to go with something that have been trying to do but still need to get a handle on myself. Being Thankful and looking after Myself – “Gratitude and Self-Love”.

Even though my ‘little-ly’ (my 18 year old son – lol, yes, I still think of him as my baby) doesn’t live with us anymore I can very much relate to the other Ladies in my Group at work – who are also stay-at-home working Mom’s and Wives. Even though you are technically at home, you still have to work a full day, along with all the joy’s of being at home all day too. You know what I mean- laundry, dishes, meetings, toy / clothes gatherer, cleaning, work deadlines, fight mediation, being a walking encyclodedia, keeper of the lost and found….. And we wonder how we are ever going to get everything done in a day….

Our lives are extremely rushed, filled to the brim with work and family commitments that we sometimes feel like we are robot’s moving from one day to the next. And we get to the end of the week and cannot remember what we did at the beginning of the week.

We need to STOP, BREATHE and take in the Wonder of the World around you.  All the things that pass us by on our busy days….Be present in our day, with ourselves, with our families. We need to take the time to be consciously aware of what we have in our lives, even the most minutest thing, and we need to be thankful for what it brings to our lives.

Studies have shown that being Grateful can:

-Lessens anxiety,

-Decreases depression,

-Creates Self – acceptance,

-Gives you more energy,

-Lets you sleep better,

-Lets you live longer,

-Lets you breathe easier,

-Creates greater Happiness,

-Helps make better decisions,

-Strengthens your relationships,

-Boosts your career.

So I challenge you to find time either in the morning before your day gets started (yes, you may have to get up a little earlier) or in the evening when things start winding down (when the kids are in bed and hubby is watching sport) to commit to paper those things that you are grateful for in that day.

I challenge you to start a Gratitude Journal for 30 days.

  • Using the prompts below will give you a good start. I found this wonderful printable on ‘GoodThingsRealized‘ Blog site and they are so thought provoking and speak to even the smallest things that can pass us by.
  • Try and add one additional thing that you are thankful for that is personal to you each day.
Image Courtesy of Shastalilly @ goodthingsrealized

On that list of things to be Thankful for is YOU!

We often forget that WE are the most important person in OUR lives, and we forget to take care of OURSELVES. Life is hectic, YOU need to be YOUR best and happiest, to give YOUR most to everyone around you. Look after yourself first, then look after others.Take the time to look after YOU!! I DARE you to try and do at least one of the things on the following list, at least once a week!! This printable is courtesy of Paula @ thirteenthoughts and some of these ideas are just so cute!! – When last did you jump on a bed, any bed!!!

Image courtesy of Paula @ thirteenthoughts

So all you Lovelies, these are my tips for practicing gratitude and self-love, so go and buy yourself a Beautiful Journal and a cute pen with glittery ink and give it a try!!

Happy Journaling!

Jacqui

Agapanthus 2016

Hello Again…..

Agapanthus 2016

Hello again…..its been a while.

Okay, I know. If you want to do thing Blog thing, you actually need to Blog, right? You actually need to show up and publish something, right? *Sigh* I know, I know…..Life happens when you are busy making plans.

And that ever present ‘no-body will ever read it’ reared its ugly head again. But yesterday while reading BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert, she addresses that exact point.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and bringing those treasures to light takes Work and Focus and Faith and Courage and hours of Devotion and the clock is ticking, and we simply don’t have any more time to think small.

So I have decided that I will bring my ‘extraordinary treasure to light’ and share them with you. If just one of them bring joy or inspiration to just one person I will be happy.I’m only one third of the way through the book and it has been inspirational to say the least.

So on that note, I will be trying to post something here weekly. Whether it be Dance related, a Creation or just Life in general. And hopefully you enjoy my musings, rantings and other stuff.

See you all again soon,

Blessings

Jacqui

Women Day Event

The Uncertainty of……

Self-sabotage and the uncertainty of……, a common thread through most of our lives. Even when everyone tells you otherwise.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently re-branded my Oriental Dance Studio due to the misconception of Belly Dance in the area where I live. To go with this re-brand and because it was so close to our National Women’s Day, I decided to host a Ladies Only Women’s Day Celebration.

Everything started off with a bang, major excitement from the Dancers, great enthusiasm for where and how we were going to advertise and how many ladies we could get to join us. Even a very unexpected benefactor and a wonderful sponsorship. Our initial intention with hosting the event was to showcase exactly what the Studio does and to educate the ladies in the town on the history of Belly Dance, as well as hopefully make a little moola to supplement the cost of our costumes for our year end event.

Well, we had posters up every where, or should I say businesses promised to put posters up, but the closer we got to the event the more we realised that the people in this town will promise you the world but seldom deliver. If it wasn’t for my wonderful dancers and the awesome sponsorship we would not have made a cent. And the Ladies that did attend were mostly friend and family of my dancers…..so much for new business.

I had a major bout of uncertainty about 3 weeks before the event due to the absolute lack of interest (and boy we went all out with advertising) that I was seriously considering cancelling the event. If it wasn’t for my SO’s gentle reminder, “who cares how many people attend, those that will come will love it. And besides you are not in this for the money, you are doing this for your dancers”. So the Show went on….

Everyone that did attend absolutely loved it (can hear my SO….’told you so’), but I don’t think we will be doing it again, purely because of the uncertainty of the eventual cost and the lack of interest of indifferent individuals.

None the less we enjoyed ourselves, any excuse to dress up, bling up and DANCE!!

On the subject of uncertainty, exactly a month later in August, Marina and I performed at the annual Tribalation event. This is an annual event held in Johannesburg, South Africa that provides a platform for Dancers and Studios to perform and showcase various types of Tribal Fusion, ATS, Gothic Fusion Belly Dance and is supported by dancers from all over South Africa.

I love performing at the event and this was my 3rd year but as before that voice of self-doubt and uncertainty reared its ugly head. I set myself a challenge this year to perform a totally choreographed piece. Now if people know me they know that I usually only do improvisation….so this was more stressful than I ever imagined. I had that constant nagging feeling that it wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough, no-one would like it, etc, etc,etc….ad nauseum……aaargh!! What made it even more difficult is that it was Marina’s first Tribal solo at the event. Last year she was part of the Studio Troupe number. This year she was choreographing her own Tribal piece, and here I was, her teacher, a nervous wreck about mine, having to be very strong and encouraging for her. Boy, I should have taken a page out of her book. A picture of calmness, strength and grace. Her solo was beautiful! Mine I will always find fault in and criticize, even though the crit’s for it were good.

Women Day Event

So in closing…….Why is it that a person cannot accept that something you do is good, that people like it, that you are good enough. Why do we always self-sabotage…..mmmmm. Something I am still working on.

Blessings,

Jacqui

A Little News….

Wow, but its been an age since I posted anything…..my bad! I think I spend more time trawling other peoples Blog’s and thinking how great they are at it….and how regularly they post, instead of doing my own. Hey, what can I say Pinterest is addictive…lol, so here is a little news from me.

Well, since my last post quite a lot has happened, so I thought I’d give you all a little insight into my mad world over the last couple of months. If you can recall, I have a small Belly Dance studio in Rustenburg, NW, South Africa. As much as it has been my Life Saver over the last couple of years, it has also been a source of stress too. We have been open for about 5 years now and over the 5 years I have never really had any more than 10 dancers at any one time and I look at other studios in similar sized towns with 30 odd dancers and I think, what am I doing wrong….which is a major frustration I might add. I had gotten to the point where advertising no longer worked, word-of-mouth had all but dried up and then the inevitable ‘haters’….okay, maybe that is a bit strong. I should rather say the ‘hugely misinformed’….women in our small town that look at Belly / Oriental Dance as something akin to stripping, parading ourselves for male amusement (not knocking those that do this…whatever pays your bills), wouldn’t been seen dead at a class or event, and the Husbands that will not allow those that want to come and try a class, to even mention it in polite company. Its a never ending battle that I sure many Belly Dancers through the ages have had to deal with. So after contemplating closing the Studio, which only lasted a short while because I couldn’t abandon my wonderful dancers, I addressed the possibility of re-branding the Studio with said ‘wonderful dancers’….and to my utter amazement they were 100% behind my decision. It was so nice to know that it wasn’t just me that thought that what we had created was worth fighting for and that we needed to make these misinformed women aware of the beauty of this ancient dance form.

And so the search for a new Studio Name began. Something that would embody our style, our mission, ethos and studio standard. After a short list of 5, the majority vote was for:

MiTribe Oriental Dance Collective

So on 1st August 2016, Rusty Belly Dance officially became MiTribe Oriental Dance Collective.

Our reasoning behind this move was to clearly define what we do as an Oriental Dance Studio. Although we still firmly base our foundation, and especially that of our Beginners in the fundamentals of Belly Dance, we have steadily become more Fusion orientated over the past three years. We aim to combine different dance forms, such as Tribal Fusion, ATS (American Tribal Style), Ballet, Contemporary, Cabaret, Kathak Indian, Bollywood and Spanish Fusion into our unique choreography and technique classes. We still feature Classical Egyptian and Turkish Belly Dance, but it is not our main focus.

Most importantly, we have to rebrand to suit the conditions of the extremely conservative, predominantly Afrikaans, “small town” mentality we face in our city. Rustenburg is growing and evolving, but it is not as cosmopolitan as the larger cities in the country and if we hope to sustain our growth, we will have to move away from the “Belly Dance” reference. It is a sad state of affairs that, even in this day and age, women are still led to believe that Belly Dance is something akin to stripping. In our town, this radical step is needed to change the attitude towards our dance form so that women would no longer be afraid to be associated with Belly Dance. We understand that we run the risk of being seen as taking a cop-out by Traditionalists, but we daily face comments from unenlightened women asking “Don’t you only dance for men?” or “What does your husband think?”, not to mention the negative body image issues that are associated with our costuming. This lack of education and exposure is harming the dance form, not helping.

The rebranding of our studio was therefore not a move away from spreading the knowledge and joys of Oriental Dance, but an action to strengthen it. Our studio ethos and mission statement had and will always be that of a tribe of women who collectively share the same standards and values and who embody the power and passion to motivate each other to be the best they can be. We strive to always represent Belly Dance in all its associated forms with the reverence and respect it deserves.

Our new Mission Statement:

MiTribe Mission Statement
MiTribe Oriental Dance Collective Mission Statement

And we kicked the re-branding off with a wonderful event to celebrate everything about being a Woman…….but more about that in the next post.

Have a Blessed day!

Jacqui

The Dancer in Me | My journey through dance

This blog takes you on my journey through dance, the dancer in me and how it has shaped my life.

Tribalation 2015

This a photo from my 2nd Tribalation improvised solo. Tribalation is an annual fusion style belly dance showcase in South Africa. I was very proud of myself for being there a 2nd time and this time with some of my students. Its been a rough road to building up the courage to dance at an event that showcases some of the best Tribal Fusion dancers in the country. Especially if you have never had any formal training, totally self-taught and full of self-doubt. But I digress, let me go back to the beginning…….

The Beginning….

Dance is in my blood, I have been dancing since I was about 5 years old. My dance journey started with Classical ballet in the Cecchetti Method which I completed my Advanced certificate in, then on the Modern Dance, a bit of contemporary and cabaret and finally Belly Dance. I was even lucky enough to take over a Ballet School to teach the DASA method for about 5 years. Even though I was always told that I was a born dancer, choreographer and was very good at it (by teachers, adjudicators, other dancers, etc) I have never really believed it. I basically spent most of my youth and early adulthood believing that I was not good at anything, that even included my marriage and being a mother.

When life hands you lemons, Dance

But as time passed and I grew up, went through so many challenges that broke me, that made me doubt myself even more, dance was always a constant. No matter where I was I always seemed to gravitate back to dance in some form or other. I found Belly Dance (as like most people) quite by chance almost 15 years ago. I did about a year of classes with my then sister-in-law and fell in love with it. It was my savior when everything around me was falling apart….when I was falling apart during a very traumatic divorce and custody battle…..in a way you could say that it rescued me, it kept me sane.

You are never too old

At the time, around 2005-ish, there was not really much belly dance here in South Africa but I luckily had a job that allowed copious amounts of internet access…..so a closet Belly Dance stalker was born. I started following the careers of Rachel Brice, Sadie, Ansuya, Petit Jamilla, just to name a few and absorbed the beauty of Belly Dance like a sponge. Lol…I still have print outs of belly dance handbooks and notes that I found on the internet, (hey, YouTube was not so good then….heehee). Have you ever tried to teach yourself Belly Dance from a written handbook…..not easy I tell you. After leaving town and having to stop the classes that I did at the time, I found out about BDASA (Belly Dance Association of South Africa) and Shalimar Harrison, right there and then I purchased by first belly dance DVD’s. And the rest you can say is history. I spent the next couple of years learning everything I could by myself.

After moving to Rustenburg in early 2010, a teacher in a nearby town heard via a mutual friend that I belly danced, and as she put it ‘brilliant’, she approached me to take over her group of students that she did monthly workshops with, these ladies were keen to do weekly classes which she couldn’t provide. After much soul searching and once again, that inevitable self doubt I said Yes. Thanks to the faith of a then total stranger, and now close Belly dance Sister, Mira, Rusty Belly Dance was formed.

Opening my Studio

We are a very small belly dance studio in Rustenburg, in the North West province. I teach the Middle Eastern basics to all my beginners students but we do a bit of AmCab, ATS and of course, Tribal Fusion. We have been going for 5 years now, with some faithful students from the 1st classes that are still with us, but we gain a few passionate ladies every year that enjoy  and learn to love Belly Dance like I do.

Through these wonderful woman I have learnt to love myself again, to see that I am strong, that I am good enough. And even though I have had only a little formal training in Belly Dance (in the greater scheme of things) I have been willing to learn from others over time and pass that knowledge on to the ladies in my classes. We have fun, we laugh, we cry, we share each others successes, challenges and heartaches and by doing so grow each and every day.

If I can leave one final thought. I will be eternally grateful for the role that DANCE and for the dancer in me has played in making me who I am today. Far stronger, courageous and happier than I ever thought I could be. I even met the love of my life, my soul mate through Dance. If that’s not good then I don’t know what is!!

Happy Shimmying,

Jacqui

xxx