On New Year’s Eve 2013 it was exactly 14 months since I had picked up my first pair of poi and 6 months since I bought my contact staff yet here I was performing for a fee at an event attended by thousands in an outfit I designed and made on a budget of 26 quid. Here’s the story of my transformation…
HOW IT ALL STARTED:
I was a lonely kid
and books and music were my best friends. When I wasn’t voraciously devouring a book, I would sit alone in my room taping songs off the radio (yep, I’m that old :D), learning the lyrics off by heart and making up dance routines to them… No one ever knew I did it and I never showed anyone…
THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC & MOVEMENT:
Growing up, I had some tough emotional times filled with suicidal thoughts & attempts for reasons I’ll go into another day but I was intensely private; I was never one to confide in others so I would put on my headphones and sing or dance to make myself feel better.
I can’t really explain it but even if I am asleep, if I hear a good tune, I will immediately start jigging away as if I am filled with a sudden burst of energy. In these moments of being bathed in spirit, everything is illuminated, I don’t know how else to explain it. I would ponder a problem (mine or someone else’s) then solutions would just appear out of nowhere… I have always known I had access to the collective consciousness but somehow I never realised the role that music played providing an entry point until writing this today.
However, the time I came most alive was when I was alone… I was in a full boarding environment there so I had access to a music 24/7…It wasn’t enough for me to hear my favourite songs – I had to reproduce it and submerge myself further… so I would turn on my Walkman (for anyone under 20 that’s an old school ipod;D) and listen to a track, then play back the song by ear on the piano… I then did the same on the other instruments. At one point I knew all the violin solos on the Levellers (if you are under 20, Google them) albums. Again, this was done in solitude, for seven years till I was 18, no one would ever know I did these things. Not my family, not my friends, just me.
PLEASE DON’T STOP THE MUSIC!
But then I went to uni and without funds to buy my own instruments, I had no opportunity to continue playing so I focussed on my studies instead and for two years I played not one note…
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE 2000-2002):
The year before I was supposed to graduate I spent a year abroad in Russia as part of my course and there I found an underground world of dance music , a music producer boyfriend and jazz band artist… My parents had been really over-protective (I was rarely allowed out of the house nor allowed to keep friends outside of term time and remember, this is back in the days before internet social media) so aged 20 let loose with disposable income in a foreign land, I threw myself into the world of clubbing and pretty much was out dancing every night (suffice it to say, my Russian got pretty damn good ;D).
I ended up staying an extra year almost throwing away my degree to sing and play trumpet in my boyfriend’s jazz band… I got to hang out with famous musicians who were obsessed with ‘black’ people and music and for the first time in my life, my pigmentation was actually a bonus and the socially-awkard secret music-loving geek became ‘cool’ for the first time and began to come out of her shell…
OBSERVING THE DREAM:
I knew that I would be going back to the UK to graduate and get a corporate job and I always wondered how my boyfriend survived as a musician… I would revel in the all-night jamming sessions, wonder at the lack of routine or certainty, watch with admiration as these creative creatures would perform on stage without a hint of nerves, and feel pain/fear during the periods when others would worry how they were going to eat the next week in a country with no social benefits system…
It was an amazing 2 years of observing those living life at the opposite end of the spectrum to where I was headed – a claustrophobic world where money and status would be more valued than creativity and social freedom by all those around me…
MY TRANSITION 2008 -2011 :
So how exactly did I get to this place where I am now? Well, that’s a story with many twists and turns during a long period of inner work so I’ll leave that for another time but, in short. what initiated it was the death of my surrogate mother 6 years down the line in September 2008. I took a month out of work though stress (having never once pulled a sickie) which was a big no-no given the nature of my job but because I couldn’t express to my boss what I was going through, I would eventually be was first in line for redundancy when the credit crunch hit.
THE LAND OF SMILES:
A month after my return to work (where I was treated as a pariah for having lost the company money due to my unexplained absence despite having made them millions) a friend invited me to spend three weeks at a yoga retreat to Thailand in December – this is where I witnessed my first fire poi performance (and got a tattoo!) Three months later the redundancy came as predicted so with time on my hands, I started to revisit topics I had begun as a child exploring spirituality, natural herbal remedies, crystal healing and other therapies and initiated a plan to help neurodivergent people like myself, especially kids…
SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND:
During my investigations I kept coming across stuff about the Maya and an online search ended up with me stumbling across a Mayan themed party and there I met someone who introduced me to the squat scene full of people intent on freeing their mind. From that moment, I started to go to illegal parties to do healing areas
I saw a pair of poi at a friend’s house ( I was crashing there after I left my teaching job and was homeless :/) . That night I had a dream that I was spinning poi and when I woke up I took them to the park to have a go. I didn’t know what to do but when I listened to music, I would dance and the poi would do cool stuff.. I watched a couple of tutorials but it never worked as well as when I just moved to music. I started to video myself day and night and could regularly be found spinning poi at train stations and while waiting for the Tube watching my reflection in any surface I could find (I remember how happy I was when the train was delayed or cancelled lol). There was a spinning group that met regularly in London; I went once but was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of everyone around me (and also their capacity to drink lol). They were all so confident! I also realised that I learn better when I am alone with spirit… I just somehow knew what to do..
OMG IT’S A DOUBLE RAINBOW! (May 2013):
I had started a graduate teacher training programme but I was appalled by the state system and knew that it was not fit for purpose so I left, precipitating a period of homelessness. I couldn’t bring myself to squat (I need to be alone too much to share my space) and I had never lived with anyone who wasn’t my partner so when I got the opportunity to house-sit for a friend in Kent, I jumped at the opportunity even though I would be leaving everything/everyone behind. The second day after arriving, I had the urge to spin as soon as I woke up, so I found a local park. It started to rain and then there was an auspicious double rainbow.
Something told me to return to the same spot the next day and I did. Five minutes in, another spinner came over and introduced himself. He took me to a local circus club and invited me to spin with his group at a party in Essex the following weekend. I’d only been spinning for 10 months at this point and was nervous to perform with a bunch of strangers. I hadn’t spun with anyone else so I had no way to gauge if I was any good or not…I stuck my earphones in and off I went.
THE TEACHER BECOMES THE PUPIL – (summer 2013):
I started to spin in the local park and kids would come over and ask what I was doing and why so I would let them have a go. I have always taught myself every subject I know so I am good at breaking down information and I got so much joy from watching particularly challenging kids who, no doubt, were regularly rebelling in the classroom become calm and focussed when they had poi in their hands..
In July I decided to buy a staff and was mesmerised. I had no internet, so again, the music taught me what to do. In August, someone recommended me to a circus shop to demo the products at festivals.
I only went to seven events but on each occasion I got to spend time with experienced circus performers and I started to realise that I could really do this for a living but I would have to find a way to get over my shyness and get my confidence up…
THE CATERPILLAR BECOMES THE BUTTERFLY – NYE 2013:
In the middle of December, I decided to go to London to attend the London Spinners Christmas cabaret…. I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. I watched the performers in the cabaret and it started to dawn on me that I wasn’t there to just watch them but to realise that I had become one of them! When I got back to Kent, something told me to check the group’s posts and there was a request for spinners for a New Year’s Eve event so I offered my services. I took my fire poi and my contact staff which I had only had for five months and had never lit… It was the strangest point of my life… 14 months after picking up my first circus prop, I was performing. For money. In front of people. Mental! The most important part for me is that I know when you spin, you create sacred geometry/healing mandalas and the opportunity to do this consciously for so many people makes me SO EXCITED!
IN CONCLUSION – RETURN OF THE DIVINE FEMININE/LEFT-BRAIN ACTIVITY:
When I was a kid, I used to imagine myself performing but I never imagined I would end up doing it. I had always excelled academically and had never had any importance placed on creativity but now I can’t think of doing anything else. Such is the nature of the times we are living in – the return of the divine feminine, that chaotic, dark energy which if channelled intuitively can bring magic to life and give birth to dreams.
My years of solitude gave me plenty of time to analyse and let go of many traumatic experiences I had endured alone and in silence and the music ensured that I could fully heal and start to welcome in these creative experiences.
RIGHT IS WRONG?
As for the Right side of my brain, my academic mind will not go to waste as I know I can write down my experiences for others to benefit from 😀 I have never been in the habit of opening up to people, more interested in helping them to overcome the issues at the heart of their insecurities and find the confidence to live their dream so this post is a bit dry, but it is definitely time to share my experiences, if only to show myself how far I have come with my inner work after decades of being silent.
SHARE WITH ME!
I would love to hear from you if you are mid-transition/post-transition. I would also be interested if you have seen me out and about and have any constructive criticism – when you spend so much time on your own, you never really know where you are. It’s always good to know you are not alone during these times of change so please do share your stories 😀
BTW, there are a lot of “I”s in this story but there were many people I came across who played their role in my transformation. We are all a piece of each other’s puzzle and I have lots still to learn 😀 Namaste ❤
Above – my costume for Valentine’s fire dance which I put together today 😀
More on my circus outreach youth programme here: Facebook.com/isis8star