You Are Not My Competition

Dear woman on the street,
You are not my competition.

Dear talented sisters working behind the scenes,
You are not who I strive to be.

Dear gorgeous beauties who time and time again I have been
assured of your jealousy towards me to validate my ego,
You are not my end goal.

Hello familiar face,
Restless eyes who has seen what I’ve seen,
Hands who have touched what I’ve felt,
And heart who knows my deepest yearnings,
You are my only competition.

My daily task list consists of goals and aspirations that are set
day after day so that the only person I am better than,
The only person who I want to rise above,
Is the girl who stared back at me yesterday.
The girl shedding her skin,
To become a better woman tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Manny Man Photography

Feisty Thoughts: Today Marks 27

Preface-

A few days ago I wrote a blog post with the intention of sharing it today on my birthday. It is incredibly personal, to the point that I talk about things that even my husband and family aren’t aware of. It reflects on a very dark time in my life and how I feel about it today.

I hid that post and did not have the courage to share it until now. But all the reasons why I’ve hidden it are all the reasons why I believe that we as a society need to talk about these matters. Every excuse that I had given myself, which really comes down to personal scrutiny, are reasons that may give someone else who has lost their voice hope. So without further delay, my birthday post.

 

Today is my birthday, and although it’s a rather insignificant birthday by society’s standards, it’s impactful to me. You see, a long time ago, when I was consumed with terror and self-loathing, I made a promise to myself. A promise that will not be upheld. It was a promise to take my own life by the time I was twenty-seven.

Now I know that to many of you that comes as a shock, but a little over a decade ago, those words would not have been as unpredictable as it is right now.  I was a young girl, scared, alone, and worst of all unnoticed. I screamed out for help, using all methods except my voice. I was afraid of my voice. I didn’t understand the power that it held and as many young women unfortunately experience, I was the victim of sexual assault.

I took that pain, that shame, and that utter betrayal and hid it deep inside. But it wouldn’t go away. It was always there, killing me from the inside out. By the time I was seventeen I was addicted to cocaine and basically any pills I could get my hands on. By the time I was nineteen I was addicted to heroin and blowing off family functions like Christmas to continue to live in a fantasy. By the time I was twenty, after countless ruined relationships, a brief stint in rehab, and continued disappointment from those who loved me most, I decided I had to leave home in Charleston to make a new life in San Diego. At that time, I did not make a conscious decision to heal, but I knew that I had to leave home where I had created this safety web to continue to enable all my addictions.

When I moved to San Diego, I had no plan. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to make money. I just knew that I was suppose to be there at that moment in time. About a year into my move, I saw a post about burlesque auditions with a then local troupe. I had no experience in dance and had never seen an actual burlesque show, but I knew that I loved the videos I saw online of Dita, and the old Teaserama films. I decided to give it a shot. My first audition was horrible and terribly cliche, but they were nice enough to give me pointers and give me an opportunity to re-audition. I took their pointers, and auditioned again. It was better, still awful, but they saw something in me that I didn’t even know I had, and they gave me a spot within the troupe.

My first performance with them was five years ago at their Valentine’s Day show. It’s crazy to think that five years has gone by. The longer I performed and the more I learned from so many prolific teachers and performers, the more I understood that to be a better performer, I had to really take a look at what was going on within me. I had to set out to heal so many old wounds that I had continued to cover up. I had to let go of so much of that anger and pain before I could be the performer onstage that embodied confidence, love, and power. That’s it, if I wanted to be a dynamic force onstage, I had to take back my power.

I credit finding burlesque as the tool that gave me back my life. Performing with so many talented, strong, and inspirational performers has opened the doors to journeys I never thought I would experience. From flying across the world, to performing on Vegas stages, to witnessing many legends, and legends in the making, showcase sexuality, femininity, and masculinity, in the way THEY most adore while audiences responded with pure bliss. This journey continues to feed my soul.

I now find myself in the position that not only have I reclaimed my voice with purpose, but I can now be a voice for so many who have had similar experiences. So this birthday, what I would love more than anything, is for anyone who has ever felt like their power has been taken from them, to go out and reclaim it. Find that something that makes your soul sing. Remember that these journeys take time, and don’t get discouraged. Everyday is a chance to continue to move forward, and as long as you are going forward, no matter what the speed, that progress to be proud of. Thank you for continuing this journey with me. It means the world. <3

 

My Burlesque Journey

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My first Photoshoot as a Performer

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My first show in that horrible wig! (Gahhhh!)

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My first festival in San Francisco.

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Performing 7 months pregnant.

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Promotional material shot by Miss Missy Photography.

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That time when I performed and placed at Viva Las Vegas!

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Performing in London for the World Burlesque Games.

 

Falling in Love With Your Act

This past week I have traveled from San Diego to New York City to Toronto performing and competing. It was a rewarding and exhausting week. I have to admit that I was apprehensive about the act I competed with last night. 

I have traveled, performed, and competed with Soul of a Man. What I have realized was that when it wasn’t accepted or judged how I would have hoped, then the love that I had while originally creating the act started to diminish. I would doubt myself before ever hitting the stage. I would harshly compare my slow sultry number against a high energy crowd pleaser that was more audibly enjoyed. Little by little, my confidence in whether or not I should even perform my act started to fade. 

  
But call it the energy of the city, or a new attitude in performing and loving what I do, or even a little more time spent getting grounded for the show so I could be present with the audience, last night I stepped up on that stage and felt fabulous while performing that number. It was electric, and although not a loud crowd pleaser (slower acts that focus on glamour rarely are) I loved every second of it. I realized that I wasn’t watching the show backstage and judging my act against the others. I wasn’t trying to figure out if my technique would come off more polished or graceful. Instead, before I hit the stage, I set an intention directed for the audience. I wanted to transport them away from their troubles and everyday life, even if only for 4 minutes. I wanted to entertain them and show them a little extra love that they may have not gotten that day. And just like that, doing my act was no longer about me. 

  
When I stepped off the stage, I was overflowing with love for an act that just days before I considered changing entirely to better suit what I thought would be more expected. I no longer cared about expectations or judging criteria. I realized, after walking through the crowd and being stopped several times by audience members who enjoyed my act, that the reason I perform isn’t for the titles or the competitions, but because I want to entertain a crowd and share my vision of beauty and glamour. I want to create a special moment that they can take away with them, and if that is my focus, then the other noise won’t matter when it comes to how you perceive your own art. 

There are various factors that go into award winning acts and even acceptance letters from festivals. Don’t let others’ judgements diminish your love for your art form. Continue to polish your own work, and try not to judge yourself against other performers. There are performers who I adore that I will never be able to do what they do. Be true to yourself onstage and remember, we wouldn’t be anything without our audience. Show them some love.