Blog

Welcome to Colibrí Holistic

19025077_10101116794422769_6651558943232654535_oI am Audrey.

I am an adventurer / dancer / healer / lover of the Earth / student and lover of life.

I share this blog to share my story. My life journey and dance story – and because I enjoy writing.

We are all unique, living life in the best ways we know how. We are fragile, beautiful beings, with dynamic lives.

My intention with massage therapy has always been to facilitate individuals on their health journeys. I suffered a lot with my mom being terminally ill – she suffered, but our family also suffered, as her family, as her caregivers…and the ones who are left behind once she was gone. Since losing her, I have been inspired to focus my energy on helping others with their self-awareness and self-care with a holistic, preventative approach.

I hope to provide some self-care advice or food-for-thought through my life and dance stories. Every day I am learning more about life and myself. I have had many guides and supportive people along my journey, and hope to be the same for others – after all, we are all teachers and students for each other.

My goal is to fuse my experiences in massage therapy and dance to express how for me, they have been what keep my soul dancing through life, and inspire me to share my skills, always continue to learn, explore and grow.

 

One Year into my Journey

AudreyAs my first year of being self-employed comes to an end and my second year begins, I am feeling a lot of feelings as I reflect upon this last year and the beautiful journey it’s been. This year has been filled with a lot of moments of overcoming fears, learning new skills, outreach, exploring my capacities as a business owner and massage therapist. 

I am so grateful for all the people in my life who have supported me during this first year, friends, family, clients and of course, my dear Siggi – my life-partner and greatest support. You helped me get started with my website and purchasing my first linens and still drive me to do my laundry, while always giving me so much patience while I work on my website, or client files  and keeping me nourished and showered with affection when I’m deep in my work! 

To my family, friends and clients who have shown your support through words of encouragement, referring clients and helping me grow! To fellow RMTs who have given me advice, shared ideas and best practices, you have really helped me – serious shoutout to Whitney Anne – you have such a big heart! Thank you all! You have given me the courage to do what I love, and know that I am supported to continue along this healing path. 

Thank you to all the clients that have come for a treatment – your commitment to your health and well-being, really allows me to continue doing what I am passionate about. You inspire me to learn more, grow as a healer, and want to explore new ways to help you along your journey. Thank you for trusting me with your health and feeling safe in my care.

As I reflect on my first year, one of the most impressive aspects of growth I’ve noticed is all of the new skills I’ve had to learn, like building a website, accounting, writing blog posts and social media, booking my own clientele, doing way more laundry than I ever imagined, and accepting all the tasks that come with running a business – while maintaining my values and staying aligned to my purpose. It has been challenging at times, however I find a deep fulfillment in doing what I’m doing, finding my way of doing things. My most important value is to respect my truth and express my authentic self. 

I know this journey is just getting started and that it’s a process, but a deeply fulfilling one! I have some really BIG ideas that with each day, are getting closer to being fulfilled!

With deep gratitude and honour to provide my services to you, 

Audrey

What’s coming next?

This July I will launch three new services, Thai table massage and Thai Foot Reflexology, as well as Jade Stone Massage!

Mid July, I will an Ashiatsu (barefoot massage) course in Ottawa – great way to spend my birthday! Ashiatsu has been something I’ve always, always wanted to learn, and now I am excited to finally learn the skill and technique! 

Also, being inspired by some of my awesome clients, I’ve dedicated a page to success tips, best practices and advice from that has worked for them on their path to improving their health, living a pain free life and increasing their quality of living. I know self-care practices are different for everybody, and what works for one person, might not work so well for another, but I do want to encourage you to check out what others are doing to gain success in their lives and see if there is some inspiration there for you! Check out Inspired By You. 

I invite you to follow me on Instagram and Facebook to keep updated with any promotions and when I’ll be launching these new treatments! 

El Flamenco

Back in 2004 I lived on Edward Street in Halifax. Often I’d be on my way home from campus when I’d hear the thunderous stomping coming from Evelyn Benais’ home dance studio. Evelyn was the dancer who owned El Viento Flamenco dance company and school. She’s since moved to France, however, I did have the pleasure of having her teach me a few times. In my second year at Dalhousie University, I started my Spanish Major, where my interests in dance unfolded even more, intriguing me to take flamenco classes – not because of the flamenco art form itself, but because I enjoyed dancing and learning new things, so I thought, why not – let’s try this. I first had classes taught by Evelyn’s company dancers Megan and Maral, where I learned Sevillanas and some basics in tangos flamencos.

A friend from the Dal Spanish Society told me about a flamenco festival here in Halifax, so we decided to go. It was then that I first saw Maria Osende – presenting a guest artist from Spain, Manuel Reyes, at the Dalhousie McInnes Room. It was my first real flamenco experience. I had never seen a performance like that – and especially by a male dancer! I had never seen such strength and grace, expression and emotion like what was transmitted by his powerful performance.

I started taking classes at Flamenco Dance School Maria Osende soon after that, hopping into her intermediate class, two weeks into the term…which means I had missed the first two weeks of choreography. I remember that feeling of never catching up, but loving the challenge. We were learning an alegrias. I remember how tough some of Maria’s steps were, but looking back at the choreography years later, I see how much I’ve grown – and how much my confidence and posture have improved!

I’ve trained with Maria Osende for over eight years – some years taking more than one class, some years missing those first two weeks of class or months at a time from travelling; but coming back to her class was like coming home. And flamenco, certainly has a way of calling you…and not just for the footwork – it resonates with our deepest emotions.

Flamenco is a complex art form; its musicality and structure vary from rhythm to rhythm, and requires dedicated study in order to embrace and present a genuine artistic expression. In flamenco and in life we are all students. There are always so many more layers to learn: styling to add, steps to create and play around with, masters to learn from, emotions to uncover…it is a constant exploration of our souls. Practice and an open mind can lead you down that path – however, the true essence of flamenco, in my opinion, comes not from studying just the steps and the compás (rhythm), but from listening to the music, diving deep into your soul, letting it feed your emotions, and bringing them to surface, then releasing them through your feet, your hips, your arms, your head, your eyes, your mouth…transcending your physical body and unleashing that emotion to the world around you. That is flamenco. That is the rawness of this art form. It connects you to this raw, open place – where you cannot inhibit yourself – you must release it. You can only share your emotions fully, truly and honestly – there is no faking it, or half-assing it – it’s an all-or-nothing art. This is where the studied performance becomes true art.

I am a bilingual English-Spanish speaker and I feel that expressing myself in Spanish has introduced me to a new dimension of flamenco, allowing more curiosity and interest, and above all, a deeper understanding of this art form. The cante (singing) is the foundation of flamenco; it gives life to the dance. I started exploring flamenco as a dancer, and over the years, I have become interested in its musical expression, cante. While in Spain, I took every opportunity to attend performances and classes to begin my study of flamenco cante. Being fluent in Spanish has allowed me to enjoy and explore the art of flamenco cante, as well as create connections with many teachers, artists and locals, further broadening my knowledge of this complex art form.

Initially, as I mentioned earlier, I started taking classes as a hobby, but little by little, this art became a process, a path to unpeeling my layers, uncovering my truth (shyness, quietness, bad posture and all) and making me face my fears (in front of the mirror, in front of my teacher, of my body and self-esteem), to embrace who I really am.

Flamenco forces you to see these things, if you want to or not. In the end, a student can choose to remain in the realm of seeing how pointing out all the imperfections makes them uncomfortable or, they can use their unique story and imperfections to express themselves fully. Flamenco allows you to be fluid and proud, yet grounded, heavy, sassy and emotional. Of course like any other art form, it requires practice, commitment, and above all PASSION to go from the student who doesn’t use this information, to the amateur or artist that embraces what life has served.

I never thought that this hobby would take me down this path. I am a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, and although as a Pakistani woman, it is unlikely that I would embrace this art form (due to the conservative nature of eastern culture), I’ve been dancing for ten years now and peeling back all the layers of culture, history, suppression and anti-sexuality to embody my true essence and transmit my self-expression.

Aside from my inner courage, I have to acknowledge and share my deepest gratitude for my teacher and mentor through all these years, Maria Osende. It takes a true artist and teacher to see the potential in their students and nourish them with drills, constant pep-talks, studio time, private rehearsals, performance opportunities, teaching opportunities and an understanding that everyone is on their own path, but that they, as teachers are there to support and help you grow, no matter what.

I have had several opportunities to dance at local festivals, student fiesta nights, flamenco nights, fundraisers, community events, Spanish-themed events and even weddings over the years. This wild art form can captivate such an array of audiences because it taps into our emotional core, connecting experiences we all can relate to.

I began this journey over 8 years ago, maybe even earlier without knowing it. I have been a late bloomer in life, however, flamenco is an art form and lifestyle, that has no age or generational obligation. Yes, the younger you start, you have more time to develop technique, learn all the songs, fine tune and evolve. However, being a foreigner to this art, it has been welcoming and insightful to my personal journey – allowing me to break free of some cultural shyness and empower myself. Flamenco has unearthed some part of my identity, and guided me, opening doors along the way.

| Valentina La Morena |

The Roots of My Rhythm

I think my first dance memories come from my Mom and I singing and dancing around the house to Pakistani music. I only have a shadow of these memories, but they are still there. Hopefully, one day I can unlock the full picture and more. Other times include when my parents would dance to the Lambada by Kaoma – obviously they didn’t dance a lambada as they would in Brazil, but they did their own version of feeling the music and enjoying it. Growing up in Southern Ontario, I remember my dad taking my brother, sister and I to a Pow Wow on the Six Nations Territory in Caledonia – the powerful rhythm of the drum and each step of the dancers, resonated so deeply within me.

In elementary school and high school, air bands were a popular aspect of my dance nurturing. Between the Spice Girls and the 90’s boy bands, we were never in shortage of choreography and songs to learn, dress up and perform for our classmates or entire school. So, early on, I got a taste of how much I love dance and choreography and the challenge of keeping up. In high school, I had a longing for being a part of the Step Squad, however, internal forces like my own shyness, self-limiting beliefs, and external pressures like only “cool kids” got to audition or be part of it, or that I was still a visible minority (but not the cool kind) steered me away from taking a stand and going to an audition, plus my own self-image and dealing with my mother’s death, kept me focused on what I was good at: school, and community service.

However within all of that, I have very fond memories of going to all ages nights with my bestie throughout high school, or rockin’ it with my glow sticks at a high school dance or at the Toronto Caribana Festival every August. These experiences allowed me to embrace the rhythm and flow of energy through my body, slowly awakening my essence.

Live. Learn. Be Brave. Find your Path.

I don’t know if it’s my Pakistani roots, a past life…or just the true essence of my soul, that I am born to dance. I come alive from hearing percussive sounds, and fill with joy when I feel the bass in my bones, or a song that resonates in my depths.

Although as a child I felt this urge to dance, my parents put me in piano and soccer lessons – where I was to focus on those skills. Being from a submissive culture, where there is no room for being open minded and where you don’t challenge what your parents think is good for you, I never explored my feelings about dance and succumbed to being shy, quiet and introverted. I remember taking a jazz class just once during the summertime – a program put on for low income communities, and I seemed to enjoy it very much. However, I’d say that cultural and religious pressure kept me focusing on my academic path of “doing well in school” so I could make my family proud and get a good job…like be a doctor or a UN ambassador someday (true aspirations).

I wish so hard that I had had a way to nurture my dancing soul and let it shine, so I could show that potential to my parents. But…as it appears, artists in my family are not common, and definitely not supported…so even if they had the potential, they would have never blossomed into an artist for me to see it.

My brother has a lot of skill in sketching since he was a little child, and welcomed teenagehood, teaching himself electric guitar, and then acoustic! My dad never supported him once, or acknowledged the talents of his son! Just complained of the “noise” my brother made with his scratchy amp…and instead of giving up a case of beer once in a while to gift him some good sound equipment, he constantly put him down and made him feel like he wasn’t enough. My mom, seeing the beauty of her child, was very open to my brother’s artistic talents, but I still feel that deep in her heart, she still wanted him to excel in math and English so he could “do well” in school and then get a good job.

So, is that all parents care about? Good grades in the institutionalized education system we have? I know since the 90’s things have changed, however, I believe we really need the unconditional love and nurturing support of our parents to have that open door to explore our heart’s desires, without them questioning or steering you off of it.

Back to me. So…wishing hard doesn’t really change your circumstances – you just have to create the life you want. Yeah…how? Your strict, immigrant, low-income, Catholic parents don’t have or give you the resources to show you how. I will come back to this later. I only realize now that I am where I am because of the decisions I’ve made – so yes, because of my circumstances my path has been maybe more windy than some others, but at least I have listened to my heart and steered myself back on course. So, I don’t blame my parents anymore. I’m learning to be grateful for my struggle and embrace my dance story; that it’s unique and solely mine…all obstacles and opportunities included.

The seed was planted, but how did I grow?

I was a dedicated student and member of my church and local community throughout my childhood and adolescent years. Losing my Mom at 15 really woke me up to the realities of life and many other things. I learned how to live life with a big grain of salt. And although my naivety sticks with me in tiny amounts now…it took me years to really wake up and smell the bullshit, hypocrisy and ingenuity of most people, and replace it with courage, strength, love and light. I realized, I only have me, and I have to follow my heart – no one else is going to do it.

My childhood passions for social justice, community development and language really allowed me to listen to my heart and explore the world through music and dance.

Merengue in El Cacao and Sundays in La Habana

I would say that I didn’t really have my first “dance lesson experience” until I visited the Dominican Republic during the last two weeks of my summer vacation after graduating high school…just before heading off to university. I was staying with a family in the mountains outside Santo Domingo in a small coffee-growing village called El Cacao. It rained heavily for a few days as we were approaching hurricane season. As the mom prepared a big lunch for the homecoming of her son from studying in Cuba, the two young girls in the family, maybe 9 or 10 years old…put on some music and taught me how to dance merengue! It was amazing! Merengue is just like walking on the spot, but with the right flavour, you’re dancing! The son Eli, came home and danced with me a little and showed me a little more…and then taught me the basics of bachata, the traditional dance of the Dominican Republic…it was like a door opened and dance just flooded through.

That evening, to celebrate more, Eli took me and the other volunteer to a bar in the village where I didn’t get a chance to sit much as many of the guys kept grabbing me for a dance. I could see Eli noticing my hesitation after one guy wanted to hold onto me for more than two songs…and a merengue can last ten minutes sometimes! He told me not to worry and tell the guys “solo un baile!” (Only one dance!). What an experience! It was an exciting time to experience this – the cultural exchange and hunger from the locals but also the reality of what traditional social dancing and dance culture (outside of the Western dance institution, theatre performance, or clubbing) is about. I must add that I was still an innocent, naive young woman…who was just starting to explore the world in person…rather than through books, news and movies.

Coming back to Canada from this trip and entering university I felt curious about Hispanic culture and dance. I had a Cuban housemate during my first year of university, who showed me some basics of Cuban salsa, and it was only in my second year at Dalhousie that I started taking salsa classes with Cindy & Danny at Halifax Salseros and flamenco (Read More! link to Flamenco post) with Evelyn at El Viento Flamenco. At first, I enjoyed learning new dance steps and styles because I enjoyed the rhythm and music. I suppose we call this self-expression. Dance was and is the way I express myself.

In 2005 I went to Cuba for a three month exchange as part of my International Development Studies program. Although I didn’t take any dance classes there, I did enjoy going out to as many live music shows, dance parties and clubs which offer such lively, exciting ambience and a true local experience. The Afro-Cuban worship at Callejon de Hamel every Sunday in Centro Habana is an unforgettable experience. The rawness of the Afro-Cuban percussion and singing to the Orishas, calls to a place deep within you and plants those rhythms there for you to carry on.

Returning to Halifax from this exchange, I continued with salsa, African and flamenco classes. Each dance form bringing out different emotions and parts of my personality. Salsa is fun and social; African, earthy and liberating, especially for me who is shy (but I never went in the centre of the circle in those beginning years); and flamenco, for many reasons – challenging footwork, confidence, beautiful, feminine outfits, and raw expression.

Dancing from the Depths

Each dance has taught me, shaped me and helped me grow as a person and an artist.

So, after all that I feel, and after all that I have learned, there are many questions about where I go from here? And…who am I really? Am I a dancer?

I am not what is called, a “professional dancer,” or a “trained dancer.” I have a lot of respect for the beautiful souls who have dedicated their lives to the art of graceful movement, and so don’t consider myself a dancer in the institutionalized form.

I might not have much turn out or flexibility, but I’d say I have an inner fire and exceptional rhythm, that stand with their own unique purpose.

So, I can only express myself: I am a dancer. I am a mover, a feeler, an interpreter.

Today, although I am most passionate about flamenco, my soul likes to dance to different rhythms. So, I also dedicate my time to bachata (traditional), kizomba and salsa, while still learning about many other styles of dance and movement. I’ve explored ballet, barefoot ecstatic, belly dance, African, samba, tango and many Latin American folk dances (Peru, Mexico, Colombia) to enrich my style and expression.

I have been a very shy person for most of my life, however, through dance, performance and exploring my own self-limiting beliefs, I’ve been able to let go of some of that shyness, and embrace my true self-expression – being proud to share my expression, without letting ego take over.

We all have a story. There are hills and valleys, and some serious mountains to climb; then there are all the beautiful encounters that paint the journey with colour and energy! We are a sum of every moment until now; life is dynamic and vibrant – teaching us, pleasuring us, and opening doors to all the possibilities.

|Audrey|

The Brave Hummingbird

 

Rosas en el Gran Retiró, MadridWhy colibrí?

In Spanish, colibrí translates to hummingbird. I admire the hummingbird. They are petite yet have an impact with their speedy little wings and silky colourful feathers. They are fierce fighters (when need be), but also have deeper representation in the animal and spirit world.

I have been inspired by the hummingbird since many years ago when I first came across a short story, which finds its origins with the Quechuan people in South America: Flight of the Hummingbird: a Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Kenyan Environmental Activist Wangari Maanthai tells the story here: I will be a Hummingbird.

We are constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed.

The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.

In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’

But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’

And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird, I will do the best I can.

This story has always inspired me to never give up and do what I can – no matter how “little” I think I am or how little I think I am doing – if we all bring our own drops of water, it will put out the fire.

| Audrey |