It appears I am an initiate of the mid-life awakening.
2019 has been one of the most provocative years of my life--provoking in testing my ability to handle all the elements chosen and unseen. It's been a time of releasing so many layers, adding new ones on, living nomadically, surrendering to Bay Area home base on a super shaky ground and barely, I tell you miraculously meeting my Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
There is a calendar that lives in my household and each month there is a new activation--days ago when it turned into November, the invoker read, "Process your shame."
Fuck. My immediate response. Yep, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
First things first.
Second things--admit what you've been holding on to that has limited your ability to show up for all things totally abundant and good.
Work in progress.
Name it. Stop hiding. Tell the story.
You see, when you go through a hard time, it's so easy to want to constrict it, hide it, pretend that it doesn't exist.
Fact of the matter is, I have lived a great part of my life in denial, we can also call it blind faith. I am ever optimistic, positive energy activator, and I truly do believe and know you can make things happen--and as miraculous as it is--it can feel fully stressful too.
And at what sacrifice?
This year in the process of what I will call my mid-life awakening/ initiation--I performed and produced a one-woman show, traveled to Guatemala with a one-way ticket, experienced beauty in love, bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles to lead at Ecstatic Dance LA, and proceeded to ground down solo style on California soil--answering the call to return to Oakland and San Francisco--I lived in friends homes for weeks at a time until I found resources and a space I was to claim as mine.
I've been gifted with ambition, vision, and this psychic intuition that tells me to do things even when I don't know the reasons why--just like what I'm writing now. I know there is a point and I am discovering how to share it in this vulnerable state.
My head being shaved feels raw.
I do feel exposed. Like really exposed.
There is no mane of shame to hide beneath anymore.
In my efforts to show up, write messages, scroll Facebook and craigslist at ungodly hours because of a call to action and the innate need to survive--I have ended up working with the Bay Area's most profound players and changemakers.
I became a stage manager for Eye Zen Presents, Out of Site: SoMa production in San Francisco, California. I never played that role in my life and I chose it because I needed to make money and it also sounded extraordinary to work with a queer theatre company doing site-specific work.
It was the hardest "job" I think I may have ever had--in a really long time--I had to dig into parts of my brain that I do not put to practice a lot. It certainly showed me something about myself and that I was capable of something more and by god-- I can organize time, schedules and people.
It was also during this process that I had a lot of doubt and shame around this role--this wasn't what I was accustomed to being--I'm used to running the show and creating all the things behind it.
It was a humble bow moment that I later realized was only my small-minded projection that led to me to think I was playing less than. It showed me that there is a place for me to carve out here.
This work strengthened my mind and my body.
I got to work with some of the greatest players in the industry and they got to know me as I did them. So much love, respect, trust and camaraderie was built.
One of the things I'm most proud of during the era of this year is learning to ask for more. I worked dance studio hours into my contract, not knowing exactly what I'd do with them at the time--but had a feeling about it.
I kept having this idea that I'd get an opportunity to do something more experimental. Sure enough, the SOL VIDA™ conscious dance laboratory that we call Fab Lab was born and out of one of the healthiest collaborations I've experienced this year.
I have experienced the beautiful and abundant synchronicities of working with the holy-what-in-the names like Ecstatic Dance Oakland, Soul Motion, Girl Project, Grown Women's Dance Collective, Destiny Arts, and Eye Zen Presents in less than six months of my landing.
There has been a general consensus that this is where I'm supposed to be.
A friend noted that this year seems like my big year of collaboration. And you got that right.
We put SOL VIDA™ on the map in a big way. It's been so cool to figure out what this energy and movement is all about. It's also taken tremendous energy to figure out what to do next.
I've asked so many questions, spoke so many prayers, vision walks, journals full, minutes of chanting, prayers to the waters, hugs of the trees. I wake up everyday in practice.
My life has truly become what feels like one walking personal ritual.
Figuring it out every freaking god-loving day.
I am devoted to love and light.
I am devoted to walking my birthright.
I want to be the living, breathing, highest version of myself.
This shit is hard. Being her. Consistently.
My challenges and mistakes have aged me. They have built me up. They have clarified my purpose. They have helped me set boundaries. To say yes and to say no with equal satisfaction.
Lots of spiraling and spinning that I process in nature and on the dance floor.
As humans, we often think and say--when only this or this gets better, then I'll be better with myself.
I've challenged myself to ask: What decision will I make if I'm not centered on scarcity, lack or comparison?
Comparison is a bitch.
Periodt. (Side note: I love language and mixing up Ebonics, Spanish and all the things)
How will you really show up?
Which brings me to final shame sharing for now. I have shame about how I've handled money in my business. My methods haven't felt good, they often came from a place of feeling "thirsty" and based on survival. Oooh, it's so hard to admit and I thank you for saying yes to supporting this work anyway--we all know it's going to be okay boo.
This is a supreme area for growth that I've dedicated much of this last cycle to learning from others and finding a way to thrive in a colonial capitalistic society whose system I despise--how can I value myself, create the spaces and sustain the movement?
When I evaluate my choices and projections--I'm amazed I've had any level of success.
Here's the thing though--success is what you choose.
By god, I know that this is a year of success on so many levels--it just amazes me what happens after I teach--the affirmations are frequently immediate and remind me just how important this work is.
Part of this initiation is about setting priorities.
I've had to ask the questions about where is the energy flowing, what do I want my life to look like and feel like. How much can I commit to one thing? What is that one thing? Is there really just one thing?
The one thing that feels clear and has come through the messengers and chanting it has become very apparent to me that to gain my solid grounding, to be of the highest service of my self and the upliftment of humanity doing my work is in offering consistent opportunities to experience Unwind + Grind and Fab Labs.
I feel the most all of me when I get to teach from the depths of my heart SOL VIDA™ style.
And writing... so much more writing. This is scaring the shit out of me writing this and I'm doing it anyway. Highest self me is ready to revolutionize the world through these experiences in connection and expression.
This mid-life breakdown-to-tha-breakthrough initiation of truly stepping into the Golden Circle, being Queen Warrior Axé has been no joke. I am here. I want to be all the best of me. I accept the shit that has been living in me and I release the shame of the not knowing how I'm ever going to pull it all off.
I pray that this rawness symbolized by my bald head allows me to continue to remove these veils of fear and shame.
There is no hiding behind a bald head.
I am ready to stop fighting me.
I am being required to show up all the way.
To be successful in all the ways.
It's really quite miraculous--these hardships that turn into your most profound learnings.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Now that you've heard some of the story, I'd like to offer you some tidbits of personal ritual that you can practice for yourself, save you some of the time and the pain. There are ways to remember who you are and focus on what really actually matters--living your greatest truest high self and giving yourself outlets to get all the gunk out and be closer to a higher expression of your authentic self.
I hope some of these tools help you go there, consistently!
💜5 RADICAL SELF-LOVE RITUALS FOR THE EMBODIED REVOLUTION💜
Extra Love--> PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!! Ask for what you need and listen. No matter your spirituality or religion.
All right folx.
Leave a comment if ya hear me, feel me, feel this, want this, know this, whatever it is.
I am because of you. You are because of me. We are because of we.
Blessings dear babes, blessings of the highest to you and all that's in your heart.
Axé Out (drops mic in vulnerability and goes into the forest and hugs eucalyptus trees)
April (Axé) Charmaine (ah-shay / i feel the spirit / it is so) is the founder, director and leader of SOL VIDA™, revolutionizing the world through dance, connection and authentic expression. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she is a holistic dance and performing arts educator, writer, producer, speaker and consultant who is now a Bay Area, queer, black, mixed-race artist, unschooling mama, empty nester activating her dreams and activating #TheEmbodiedRevolution in Northern California, USA.
I was in a shared kitchen of a villa I was renting in Antigua, Guatemala cooking up a pot of greens and beans, when a song by Young Fathers came on, Wire.
As songs have often done in my life--they take over my entire being and require me to dance in the here and now.
Quite frankly, I lost my shit with this song and dance--you see there is a feeling I get when I dance that makes me feel so connected to my inner divinity, makes me feel larger than life, and so connected to the purity and vibration of one true love--universal love.
It's a true, cathartic delight.
There was something different about this free dancing episode.
I channeled a message, as I frequently do when I dance.
The message was to start a virtual flash mob.
I had no idea at the time that this dance would start to take on a life of it's own.
I knew I wanted people from all over the world to learn it. I knew it was something that was accessible to all genders, bodies, and levels of movers. What I especially knew is that it would get taught and performed in Denver, Colorado at One Sol.
What I didn't know is how it was going to impact people.
Since I downloaded the original vision, I have shown up to teach it live in my Facebook Group, on the hill at Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco. I even pulled over impulsively at a little hill in San Rafael to film an impromptu tutorial, and alas I got to teach it to the dancers of One Sol plus everybody of all the generations who attended One Sol // GET FREE.
I didn't know that this dance was going to live on.
I didn't know it was going to become a legit Flash Mob--Like a dance that can be performed spontaneously anywhere!!!
I didn't know people were going to start requesting to do it, that it was going to stick in people's beings.
I had a feeling that all of us knowing one dance together will be revolutionary.
I had a feeling that we can use this dance for protest.
I know that this dance can be used for mental health and physical fitness.
I know that this dance is fun as fuck and makes you feel good and so alive when you do it.
This dance lives on.
I hope you enjoy this short video that I filmed with my incredible roommates, Jett and Angus, on Stinson Beach.
They said, "We have to do your dance!"
I said okay.
I want it to be a dance for all of us.
All of us who know that we must shift normalcy. All of us who are impacting change.
This is my offering to the revolution. Dance as a revolution!!!!!!
This dance signifies the birth of Dances of The Embodied Revolution.
It begins within and then we get to pour it out. It is embodied choreography, meaning it is accessible, it is health full, it's for you to do in your body in a way that feels good for you.
It's here for you. It is here for we. Use it whenever you need it.
Try it on your body to any song you want.
Remember, always... YOU ARE A DANCER.
Here are some awesome ways to release your mind, have fun and get free in your body:
So much love,
Founder/Director, Sol Vida Worldwide
ah-shay / i feel the spirit /it is so
she l her l hers l they l them
There are three major catalysts that have lead to the creation of ONE SOL, a summer dance camp immersion and festival that is taking place in Denver, Colorado at the legendary Cleo Parker Robinson Dance this August 7-11.
1. Collaboration not Competition. speech I gave at the Colorado Dance Educator Organization Conference in Spring 2018, entitled "Collaboration not Competition." It was after I gave this speech to an audience of dedicated dance enthusiasts including budding teen dancers and their leaders that I realized how much we are hungry for true connection in the dance world. How there is a void and vacancy in the dance world for authentic collaboration spaces and an opportunity to enjoy each other's company without the edge of competition.
Which leads me to....
2. The Edge. Rewind to the summer of 2016 and you'll catch me and multiple artists from Colorado at The Savoy, coming together for a day of workshops and performances that were aimed to "cut the edge." We created a space that would allow artists to push past their normalcy and have their work seen regardless of experience. It was a beautiful day that has stuck with me for years. My favorite part was when everyone who was there got to participate in workshops with Jen Fagan Archer, Lisa Engelken and Kebrina de Jesus--there was nothing like all being in on the same thing. The feeling of connection and vitality was immense, I vowed to create more experiences like that.
Speaking of creating fulfilling experiences...
3. Sol Vida Pop Ups at Cheesman Park during the Summer of 2018. Honestly, I hit a point in my artistic and entrepreneur life that had me questioning my purpose. I have a group of global colleagues/comrades that I talk to every singe week about personal and professional development--it's a mastermind. It was in one of our discussions, that they probed at me and helped me to realize it was time to create something simply for the sake of love and passion--not money--but something that was just going to give me the pizazz of life again. This is when I dreamed up the pop up series. Some of the greatest takeaways that informed this future were the fact that these classes ended up being intergenerational. We had 12 year olds - 60+ year olds. We had representation from many cultures. And... not only did we get to train, there was meaningful choreography--what began the idea of "embodied choreography," and the opportunity to explore freeform, stillness, and the practice of holistic dance.
So there you have it folx, the reasons behind this season of ONE SOL. We are coming together to train, create, heal, and perform cutting edge works together, to allow ourselves to attune to our organic rhythms, to consciously connect, and say something with the body. Dances will be created to the theme, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," as brought to us by Gil Scott-Heron.
This is a space for people who want to dance, who want to explore. It's a place that is like no other place. A place where you get to meet form and freedom together while exploring the connections of cross-cultural, contemporary and conscious dance forms lead by embodied leaders from across the globe.
Please consider joining us for this revolutionary act in self-love and authentic expression. Here are the ways you can get involved.
If you wanna really have some fun while you're checking this out... learn the #ONESOL Virtual Flash Mob from the comfort of your very own chosen space. This dance will be taught and danced at GET FREE!!!