September

I’ve been wanting to dance lately, mostly in my room and whenever I bake late at night and have the kitchen and living room all to myself. Heaven for an introvert who hasn’t had a day alone at home in over a year. I play my “Happy Day Playlist” and somehow, my cakes turn out the best ever when I dance (and sing) while baking. No kidding.

But it’s not rocket science. Dancing is one of those things that makes me happy and instantly raises my vibration. And when good vibes + good juju abound, anything is possible. My instant happy dance song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Whenever it’s on, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing (even when I’m in the middle of a grocery run), I can’t help but bop my head, tap my feet, and sway my hips–trying to be a bit discreet at the same time, to contain the rhythm and joy bubbling from within, but it never lasts long. It is pure electric energy that needs to be expressed in movement.

September always unlocks happy memories. The best one in 1999, the last year of my golden ’90s childhood–hearing this song being played over and over again from a boombox in the school podium, juniors in their P.E. class dancing the swing. I was a freshman passing by, and to me, they looked like they were all having fun. I wanted to dance too, and not just any dance. I wanted to dance the swing to September. When I heard their music play, I would pull a friend aside and tell her, “Tara, sayaw tayo!” Kudos to her for indulging me even though we looked clumsy mimicking the steps. I was always the more enthusiastic one. I remember being so excited for the time to come when I can finally learn the swing. But third year came and we got folk dance instead. My group got Chinese fan dance. As with everything I did back then, I gave it my best–all-smiles in my red cheongsam top, waving my fan to a rhythm in foreign language. But the truth was, I was disappointed I didn’t get to dance what I wanted.

Then college came and on the very first term as a freshman, I got Social Dance for my P.E. class. We didn’t just learn how to dance the swing, we got the whole package–boogie, cha-cha, waltz. It was a wish fulfillment for this frustrated dancer. We didn’t dance to September, but we did to another Disco Fiasco song on my playlist–Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife”. I was secretly happy I wasn’t partnered with any of the guys in class because my dance partner was just what I needed. She was sweet and patient and made me feel at ease. She never laughed or got annoyed at me when I made mistakes or couldn’t keep up. Her palms weren’t sweaty. And most important of all, we were almost the same height. We didn’t have to worry about adjusting to each other’s level. I felt safe to feel the rhythm and just dance with less self-consciousness and inhibitions. I wanted to get it all right even if I didn’t look like a natural dancer, so whenever everyone else was out of the dorm or cooped up in their own rooms, I would practice by the shower rooms where the mirrors were so I could see myself dancing. It was precious alone time savoring something that made me happy.

On practical exam day, we danced an entire medley of all the dances we learned including modern, and passed with flying colors. I was never so blissfully happy getting a 4.0 in a subject that wasn’t academic. And I learned not just 1 but 4 dances! That more than made up for my junior high school self’s yearning to dance the swing to September. To this day, I still remember the basic steps. And I still dance just like that classic Billy Idol song goes…

“When there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove,
well I’m dancing with myself”

What is your happy dance song? What makes your heart want to dance–what makes you happy regardless of what everyone else says or everything else going around you? I hope you can find the time to dance–to let your heart just dance and do things that make you happy, whatever they are. πŸ’ƒ

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4th post in the series: Music / Film + Writing Heals πŸ’–

Love is the boldest stroke

“Is this really the boldest stroke you can make?” — The Half of It

It’s a line from a movie I didn’t expect I would resonate with and join my favorites list. I hear Ellie asking Aster and it becomes me asking myself, “Is this the boldest stroke I can make?”

I haven’t felt like I was making bold strokes until I learned to choose and embrace myself, until I grew comfortable in the silence and the stillness and found moments of peace, acceptance, and clarity I never even knew I was thirsting for. Moments of finding the courage to peel away the layers and reveal a truth or another part of me is also me painting one bold stroke after another. I’m nowhere near done yet with my painting and I still have a lot of space to cover. I have no idea what it would look like, but I am having fun creating it, building it stroke by stroke.

You wonder why you feel stuck or know you’re unhappy but never do anything to change it. You simply go on doing the things you do and stick with some people and relationships even when deep down you just know that who you are now doesn’t align with them anymore. You stay because they’re familiar and easy–they’re not challenging you to do the bloody inner work, to face your triggers and rise above them. Is it because you fear change? Is it because where you are is safe and accepted by the ones you feel you need approval from? But what is safe and what does external validation do for us, really? Is it even worth denying an essential part of yourself?

One of my bold strokes is finally deciding I’ve had enough of this and I won’t settle for safe and thumbsed up by everyone else but me. I learned you only grow when you learn to trust yourself and venture out of your comfort zone and into the wild unknown. When you realize the only approval and validation you need is from your authentic self, it’s a weight lifted off of your shoulders. It’s the taste of freedom and unity like that time the sea called out to me–waves lapping at my feet and without thinking, I just went into the water–my hair mimicking the waves and my dress getting soaked, a storm brewing on the horizon and I’ve never been happier. I want more of that and I am ready for it.

However my painting turns out to be, I hope it’s a beautiful mess of bold, colorful strokes speckled with jewels of neverending discoveries amidst the unknown.

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Third post in the series: Music / Film + Writing Heals πŸ’–

P.S. Ellie and Aster’s flirtation is a bold stroke for me and I like it. 😚

My Cherie Amour

Almost Famous (2000) | William sees Penny

Scene commentary: Kate Hudson as Penny Lane was golden in this scene. No doubt about it, in this film, she was Penny Lane. Patrick Fugit as William (the underage journalist/music-lover writer) translated all the awkwardness of telling the truth to someone you love even though it hurts. And we get a very powerful moment that transcends film and tugs at something inside us in reality.

William may look sweet and naΓ―ve, but he can see beyond the illusions of the Penny Lane persona. And that’s what scares her. To have someone who can be brutally honest with you even if it hurts you, who sees the real you and loves you for it can be unbearable for someone who desperately wants to stick with her illusions. Clearly, “Penny Lane” has a lot of growing up to do. William knows that and loves her enough to want her to shatter her own illusions. πŸ’–
~~~

“You are worthy of the deepest kind of love.”

Since I first watched this film, I wasn’t immune to Penny Lane’s charms. Her beauty, sensuality, confidence, daring, and childlike wonder drew me in to her depths. Penny Lane was a mystery I wanted to get to the bottom of. She was a siren calling out to me with her song. At the end, I got to know her like every wounded sacred woman: looking for love in everyone and everything else but herself.

There is a Penny Lane in all of us at some point. She is also the inner child yearning to be heard, seen, and set free. She reminds me of my younger self who still had a long way to go before her own awakening and healing journey. She is in parts of me that I have yet to embrace and express. She is me every time I belt out to that Queen song, “I want to break free”.

Penny Lane is so real, raw, and vulnerable. I just want to love her. And as I write this, I realize that the deepest kind of love I will ever know and commit to is the love I find in myself. The highest form of unconditional love can only come from yourself, not from others. Unconditional love’s only requirement is to love the whole. And most especially, the parts you rejected and have kept hidden for years–parts that triggered chaos, pain, and shame in you. When you’re ready to fully open up to that kind of love, only then can you accept it from another and nurture it. Because no matter the depths someone else is capable of loving you, when you haven’t explored your own depths and learned to love yourself whole, you will always reject love that’s being offered to you freely.

I embrace all parts of me that I hid, especially those I was ashamed of–the bits that used to make me feel inferior, unworthy, unloved. I set myself free from all poisonous thoughts, limiting beliefs, and all the barriers to love I put up myself. I will not put up with them any longer. I reclaim my power that’s rooted in unconditional love of self. I am open to more opportunities for growth and abundance. I desire and attract the kind of love that matches and nurtures my own.

P.S. I recommend listening to the song, My Cherie Amour (the long soul version) by Stevie Wonder to accompany this piece.

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Second post in the series: Music / Film + Writing Heals πŸ’–

Almost Famous (2000) | Penny Lane / Lady Goodman

Lovely as a summer day, distant as the Milky Way

Almost Famous (2000) | Penny Lane overdoses

You know that part in Almost Famous when Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) overdoses on Quaaludes and William (Patrick Fugit) was just in time to call for medical help? And as she was vomiting over the hotel room bathtub, severely wasted and emotionally worn out, her legs and feet fidgeting against the tiled surface, William kept looking at her as if she was the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour plays in the background and that’s when it always hits me: this is one of the sweetest and subtly erotic scenes I have ever seen. But I just do not like it for that. It’s also for the dream that it gives me: that a person who truly loves you is someone who sees you at your worst and still finds you beautiful.

Written: 3 July 2012

P.S. I recommend listening to the song, My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder to accompany this piece.

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First post in the series: Music / Film + Writing Heals πŸ’–