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Monday, October 18, 2010

openheartedness:: excerpt from @spiver's newsletter

Susan Piver is an author I REALLY enjoy - her books, blog, newsletter, etc. feel less like a spiritual teacher lecturing and more like a friend providing extremely insightful advice.

Here is some info that spoke to me (especially the part about crying a lot - made me feel better about myself; that I'm simply open-hearted, not an emotional freak):

The 7 Signs of Openheartedness*

- You see the sadness. You cry a lot and it’s kind of OK.

- You see the humor. You laugh a lot. You know how and when to make others laugh without pissing them off, even when the matter at hand is quite serious.

- The sorrow of other people touches you. So does their joy.

- Inspiration knows how to find you and you are not a stranger to enthusiasm.

- You are polite to everyone yet are not a doormat.

- You feel what you feel without shame (“I suck”) or aggression (“I deserve to feel this”).

- You reek of genuine genuineness. (As opposed to the staged variety.)

*The number 7 is arbitrary--feel free to add to this list.

Opening your heart changes the world.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Simple Steps For Twitter Success - Newbies

Want to market yourself, company, brand, products, services ______ (whatever) on Twitter and not sure how?

Keep hearing all this buzz about Twitter and don't get why you should care?

You should care because as far as I can tell, Twitter is insanely effective FREE advertising & networking which can lead to colleague relationships you never expected.

I've won give-a-ways on twitter, gotten web design advice, made friends, even interacted with celebrities. It's freakin awesome even if you're not using it for business.

However, if you don't understand how to jump into twitter... Set up an account and never use it, obviously it won't do you any good.

I suggest setting up your profile on the web but after that there are many apps for your phone to interface with Twitter (which can be more convenient for some than using the website). I like the free iPhone app Twitter offers for the most part.

Here are the simple steps to making Twitter work for you.

1. Sign up (for free) and pick your username - something that represents you or your brand. Be sure to give it a lot of thought because after you have built up followers it will be confusing for them if you change it.

2. Upload a picture and customize the design BEFORE building up who you follow & followers. No reason to put the cart before the horse... have a nice profile established first. There are many easy template programs that allow anyone to have a spiffy profile. That generic egg picture that shows up by default does nothing for your image. Even if you don't want your avatar to be YOU, it can be a logo or anything representing you.

3. Search for friends that are already on Twitter. You might be surprised!

4. Search for more to follow. The more you follow, the more interesting your twitter stream (or feed) will be. If you only follow 2 people, you're not going to get ANYTHING out of this. Use the twitter search on all the topics related to your interests, your business, etc. Most any large business, company, etc. has a twitter account (though not all know how to work it).
The more you follow, the more will follow you. (And if no one follows you, all this work will be for nothing.)

5. KEEP SEARCHING and refining who you follow. Look at who your friends follow and who esteemed colleagues follow. You can browse interest topics and sometimes Twitter even has some good suggestions for you.

6. INTERACT with who you follow - A LOT (as least as much as you post about your topics). Retweet posts that you like and others will be more likely to retweet your posts in the future.

If you are just spouting your ads, message, blog posts, feelings without ever responding to others, no one will want to follow you. When they read your tweets, all they will see is "STUFF ABOUT ME... ME ME ME ME ME! I don't care about you, read about ME!"

7. Learn the lingo... Here are some terms that should definitely be understood:

On Friday's, #FF (Follow Friday) is a good way to promote people you follow (and in turn, you will get promoted too). Follow Friday is like a great big twitter love-in.

Hashtags - The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet.

DM - Direct Message (rather than go through @ replies, send a private message to someone).

@ - this symbol precedes a twitter username and turns it into a link to that person's profile. When you reply to someone on twitter, it's called an @ mention.

Favorites - any tweet you see that you like and want to reference later can be added to your favorites by clicking the "favorite" star on the tweet.

RT - Retweet - sharing someone else's tweet.

Trending Topics - topics being discussed most currently on twitter.

After you've been using it a while and feel comfortable with Twitter, check out all the MANY tools available that integrate with Twitter. (IF you're ready to learn and get more out of the experience).

You can also start organizing everyone you follow into lists (when you follow a lot like I do, lists are essential!)

And hey if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them!

Happy Tweeting!

@niellemc

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Belly Dance Practice On The Go

Hey dancers - frustrated because your budget or time doesn't allow for belly dance class?

Do you spend countless hours behind a computer desk wishing you could be practicing dance instead? Well good news, you can practice isolations just about anywhere!

Sitting at your desk:

- alternating glute squeezes. This is pretty easy to do without anyone noticing (so long as your face isn't making a weird expression :) As you hopefully know, alternating squeezing each butt cheek is a great way to build up your shimmy strength (while also practicing muscle memory). First make sure you have the correct posture. Then focus the mind on right cheek, squeeze and then left. If you can only do it slowly that's just fine, it's still an effective exercise and eventually you'll easily speed up. For more info on glute squeezes see Shira's website.

- pelvic tuck, glute squeeze (both together). Make sure your posture is correct. Sit toward the back of your chair with both feet on the ground hip distance apart. Engage the lower abdominals and squeeze both buttock cheeks to tuck the pelvis. Pelvic tucks are routinely used in many movements in belly dance. Not only will you improve your range of motion but you'll be working a few different muscle groups at once.

- subtle upper body work. If you focus on making the movement small and precise, you can practice chest lifts, slides and circles. It's good practice on making your movements controlled and if someone happens to walk by, it kind of looks like you're just stretching in your chair :)

In the bathroom:

- belly rolls. OK this is bordering on the yucky & TMI but really it kills two birds with one stone. :-) (on the can)
Even if you can't do a full belly roll you can practice isolating upper abdominal muscles from the lower. Push out with upper while pulling in with the lower and vice versa. Or if that's too challenging just work the muscle groups individually. For more info on working up to a belly roll, again Shira's site has great advice.

In the car:

- upper body isolations. Now if you're a beginner and these take your brain power too far from concentrating on driving, I don't recommend trying it. But if you're starting to get these movements, it's a great time-saver (who cares how you look to the car next to you). You can easily practice chest lifts/drops, slides and circles - if you're advanced, chest figure-eights. But please if these impedes your driving, for the sake of all around you, don't do it. :) It's also good to practice the difference between pops and locks with chest isolations (locks - freezing the movement into the locked position, pops - letting the movement bounce a little).

While walking:

- small hip circles, omis, figure 8's or sassy walk.
This is another good time to work on smaller, controlled movements (because let's face it, we don't want to look TOO silly while doing this).

In case you don't know the sassy walk, it's a movement I learned from Ava Fleming. When you take a step on the right leg, the right hip pushes forward and around (a half hip circle). Similarly when stepping on the left leg, the left hip pushes forward and around. This is a subtle movement so to the unknowing observer, you've just got a little hip and sass in your walk.
Figure 8's are a little trickier to try while walking but once you can, working on making the movement small and controlled (usually we learn the movements in a big way so the student can see it well but we want to be able to do them a variety of ways). Similarly with hip circles - when you practice them small and controlled, you'll notice your muscles engaging differently. Since omi's are usually a smaller, controlled interior hip circle, these are easier to practice in public. It's great practice for the bellydancer to incorporate isolations while walking. I have quite frequently moved through the grocery store in this way without anyone noticing (I think).

- belly flutters. Especially if you're wearing a loose top, you won't be noticed walking around practicing flutters. I find these to be very challenging to do without holding my breath, so the more practice the better. I've heard a teacher or two say to hold your breath but when I watch a lot of pros, they seem to be breathing just fine during the flutter. Here's a good tutorial on how to do a belly flutter.



If you are a dancer/teacher/performer and you can think of any other I've forgotten, please let me know in the comments.

Thanks and happy practicing :)