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Happy International Belly Dance Day!

Today we unite in dance with women around the world to raise awareness and funds to end violence against women and children.


SM flier

You can show your support by coming to watch at the above times, or by going to to donate or donate directly to the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County.


Other posts on this topic:


Shimmy Mob 2013 – We’ll Be Dancing to Change the World



Dancing is when you rise above worlds, tearing your heart into pieces and giving up your soul.


Dancing to change the world – does the idea seem a bit grandiose to you? It did to me too at first blush.

But each day I see a little more clearly how the dance we choreograph – step by measured step – through life’s ever-changing rhythms is the world.

Mallika Sarabhai’s Ted Talk recently forced me to reconsider the power of the arts.  Her video (embedded below) takes less than 20 minutes to watch.  If you are strapped for time, the first 5 minutes alone are quite enlightening.

Last May I had the pleasure of dancing in Shimmy Mob 2012 with the Memphis group.  Shimmy Mob is an international flash mob event that raises awareness and funds for women’s and children’s shelters.

The video below will give you some idea of what this event is like.  It is a “mash up” of the dancers across the world who participated.

So why raise awareness and funds for these shelters?

Consider the sobering statistics:

Every 15 seconds a woman in America is battered (UN Study on the Status of Women, 2000). Almost a third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 2001).

Only about a quarter of rapes or attempted rapes are reported to the police (U.S. Justice Department). Many victims of rape do not report violent acts against them because they are ashamed, fearful of not being believed, or afraid of further violence. Of the reported rapes in the U.S., around 18% of females have survived a completed or attempted rape. I use the word females here instead of women because children make up a large proportion of this number: 12% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped and nearly 30% were between the ages of 11-17 (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010).

Of course this is not just a “female problem.” Boys raised in violent homes are 10 times more likely than those raised in non-violent homes to later abuse their spouses (Family Violence Interventions for the Justice System, 1993). In 2010, of the 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults that occurred in the U.S., around 15,020 of those were among males (2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, Department of Justice).

Numbers offer a depersonalized, abstract answer to the “why?” question. For additional answers, you might consider listening to the voices of individuals who have experienced violence personally.  I recently read two vastly different and fascinating perspectives from self-proclaimed “predatory teen-aged girls.” These perspectives, which can be found HERE and HERE reveal two truths which seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.  There again is that paradoxical tension, which is, in the words of Parker Palmer, the “power that wants to pull [the] heart open to something larger than itself.”  It’s enough to make your head spin if you think about it.

As for me, I’ll be dancing because my head looks pretty ridiculous spinning without the rest of my body.

If you want to join us in the dance for this cause, registration is now open to participate in this year’s mob.  It will be held on World Belly Dance Day, (yes there really is such a thing) which falls on Saturday, May 11, 2013 this year. The choreography is beautiful and accessible to beginners.  You do not have to have belly dance experience to participate.  Check out the website for more information about how you can join us.

This year locally we will have team leaders in Memphis (Lucie) and in Southaven (Penny).

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

–Margaret Mead

I stepped into the barn and paused a moment letting my eyes adjust to the shadows. Then I began to systematically photograph the murder scene.

It was gruesome. The body had been dismembered. I could only imagine the fear she must have experienced in her last moments or the fear the others must have felt being trapped in this space and forced to witness the horrors that played out before them. Would one of them be next?

There were no footprints. The perpetrator, or perpetrators, had scaled the walls. The perp(s) had been in no hurry to devour the queen. The queen’s wings hung from the ceiling, a haze of flies buzzing around them.  Her webbed feet and bill were cast aside in the opposite corner. White feathers were scattered everywhere in between. The brazen predator(s) had crawled up into the rabbit hutch to defecate leaving twin piles of feces containing P.Queen’s innards.  Why the rabbit hutch? This was the mystery that would haunt me into the dark hours of the night.

You killed the duck. That was bad enough. But you killed the duck and shit in the rabbit hutch?  Twice? Oh Little Bandit, enjoy your full belly while it lasts, but don’t expect to come back for seconds with such ease.

Lord of the Flies is freakin’ amazing and totally relevant to my weird enlightenment-no meat quest, which was totally ruined by the way on Saturday when I went to a faculty retreat and was served an eggy roll,  gumbo with crab, shrimp, clams, and crawfish, and a salad covered with bacon, chicken, and steak.  I had requested a vegetarian meal!  What the heck? This is the imaginary conversation between the food planners that played itself out in my head:

Sadistic Person A: You know what would be fun? Let’s slaughter every animal on the farm to serve to the vegetarian!

Sadistic Person B: Yeah! And then we can see what creepy crawly things we can pull out of the ocean to kill!

I tried my best to eat around all the animal bits, but I accidentally gagged down a clam thinking it was a mushroom before realizing my mistake.  There were also minute bacon bits consumed.  I considered just going crazy and eating all the meat, but somehow I couldn’t do it. There were no cravings for even the beefy bits after weeks of hamburger fantasies. On the contrary, I found it all a bit…gross.  I traded my steak and chicken for a friend’s avocados, so I guess it all worked out alright.

Anyway, back to Lord of the Flies – the way I see it killing the pig marked the beginning of the island insanity and the ending of logic and reasoning. 

I loved Golding’s way with words.  My favorite descriptions:

“His face was dark with the violent pleasure of making this stupendous noise.”

“He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself trying to exercise control overing living things.  He talked to [the transparencies], urging them, ordering them…they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery.”

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