Elle Potter

mildly hilarious, exceptionally fun, and usually barefoot.

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How My Dance Skills Won Me A Florida Vacation

I spent this last weekend up in Keystone at TBEX, a conference for travel bloggers. I think it’s safe to say that I came away from this weekend feeling radically inspired to finally start writing about all of the trips I’ve taken over the past two years – and I promise that will be coming at you soon.


One of the greatest highlights about TBEX for me (aside from piles and piles of decadent gourmet chocolates, mountain-top dinner receptions and buckets of advice and new ideas) was the party Expedia.com put on Saturday evening at Keystone Stables. There were horses (TINY horses!), a cowboy band, bales of hay – it felt just like home. My co-worker was particularly excited to do some line-dancing, so when the instructor came out, I hopped up to join her.

I was doing pretty good, learning some dance skills and bouncing around happily, until the emcee came over to me and pointed – “YOU’re a finalist!” I’m a what?! I immediately tripped over my feet.

It came down to me and 9 other finalists – once I realized people were watching me, I kept forgetting my steps and turning the wrong way so I was facing the other ladies. But the whole time, I kept smiling, yeehaw-ing and throwing out my elbows and knees to look at bow-legged as possible. It apparently worked – because I won!

Trick to winning: Practice when no one else is practicing.

The prize is a four-day, three-night stay at the Daddy O Hotel on Bay Harbor Island, Florida (basically Miami). That paired with some travel credits with United means this girl is taking her beau on a free vacation for her own birthday!

My glowingly proud dance teacher, Mike


For those of you who are still in shock that I won a dancing competition, here’s a little video for you.

Posted June 20th, 2012.

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I’m getting ready to board my flight to Phoenix, where I will be meeting up with my darling buddy Troika for a 9-city tour with Lord of the Rings, Live in Concert.  Troika has been collecting the super-cool movie props for the past decade or so, and it’s no small deal.  I’m pretty stoked to nerd it up and make my friends jealous.

As I was reorganizing my computer last night, I discovered some video from two and a half years ago of me driving by myself from Kansas City to Iowa City to see my best friend graduate with her Masters in Theatre.  I’m not sure what exactly I was going for here, but I think I may have achieved just what I wanted.  I hope you enjoy this fly-on-the-wall experience of roadtripping with me.

Posted October 12th, 2011.

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Adventures in the Big City

I’ve spent the past few days out here in Chicago, enjoying the company of some of my favorite people.  The best is when you haven’t seen someone for a year or more and yet you get together and it’s like you never missed a beat.

Last night, my old roommate Bryan and I walked to the lake front and enjoyed some beautiful views of the moon rising over the water.  It drug a long shimmery line of moonlight reflecting across the surface of the lake, and I was seriously convinced that if I could only get on a sailboat and follow that sparkly path, I would end up in Neverneverland.

Bryan and I wandered around the city for hours, ending up in a part of town even he had never been to in the three years he’s lived here.  We enjoyed some time sitting in a gazebo while a homeless man peacefully slumbered just a few feet away.

The evening wrapped up with us swinging and playing on slides at 1am, enjoying each other’s company, exchanging philosophical nuggets of contemplations about our own lives, and bursting with pride for where we have come from and who we are now.

I’m so blessed to not only have such amazingly inspiring friends in my life, but to watch them succeed and find happiness in where they are.

Handholding: It's not just for romance anymore.

Posted September 12th, 2011.

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Elle’s Year in Review

Tomorrow will be one year exactly since I left my job and went straight to the airport to take the red-eye flight to Boston to load up my cousin’s two-door Jeep Cherokee and move her happy ass out to Colorado.  Taking an 8+ day roadtrip across the country was THE perfect way to kick-off what became a year of travel and adventure all over the place.

Naturally, I decided to make a video montage using footage I’ve accumulated over the last year of adventure.  Please, join me on this nostalgic look back over the past year.

The song in the background is a little ditty I wrote last September that I’ve been holding on to for the perfect debut opportunity! (:

Posted August 27th, 2011.

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The Perils and Perks of being a Free-Spirited Mess.

Flight of the Gypsy Bluebird (as seen on the wall of a cafe in Santa Barbara)

I’m living the good life right now.  One day when I have blue hair and lots of cats, I will look back specifically on this past year as the good ol’ days, the start of living every day like an adventure (excluding the days I spend in bed, trying to recover from too much adventure).

It’s been just about a year now since I left what I thought was my dream job, based on a gut-feeling and a heart-wrenching whim to follow the obnoxious yet surprisingly intuitive little voice in my head.  It started with a roadtrip from Boston to Denver with my sistercousin and was followed with intense studying of Anusara yoga with Amy Ippoliti, a month on Maui, and a total of visiting three countries (five if you count the ones I had layover in – and I do) and 23 different states (25 if you count layovers – and again, I do).

All in one year!

Someone left their receipt at the ATM one day, so I kept it to inspire me. This is SO not my bank account...

I’m living the life I’ve always wanted – of adventure, of travel and being surrounded by increasing numbers of supportive people who empower my every move, even though I also suffer from delightful bouts of financial insecurity.

Often I hear from people of how much they wish they could do what I’m doing now – to which I can only ever say, “YOU CAN!”  It wasn’t easy.  It still isn’t easy.  But because it’s what I want, and because so many times I have put this life aside for a life I thought I was supposed to have – because of all that, I simply refuse to have it any other way.  I take advantage of every opportunity presented to me – and even that hasn’t always ended up the best.  My life is about taking chances and making mistakes, and as blissful as I am in my free-spiritedness, I am also a mess.

I can do this because I don’t really have bills to pay – I live with my folks, for cripessake.  I am constantly accidentally sabotaging myself by sinking deeper and deeper into flakiness.  I have walked away from a handful of friendships and even burned a couple bridges with some because I couldn’t bear to look back, either because of what they had done to me, what I had done to them, or a combination of the both.  Either way, this past year has been a serious renovation of my life structure and I’m the one who made the tornado that tore it all apart.  I decided to put myself first.  I refused to allow myself to continue to be taken advantage of in a number of ways by no longer spreading myself too thin.

Don't look back, except to witness how far you've come.

I’m a fluke of nature in that I am most comfortable when in the midst of violent transition in my life.  Letting the dust settle has never been a part of my nature, and there is something that scares me about sticking around long enough to see what comes into view.

Let yourself be a little bit of a mess, if even just on three-day weekends or on mental-health days.  If you want to be ecstatically happy in your life, you have to understand that you will have to completely shake things up.  Turn things upside-down.  And spend a lot of time in tears, wondering what the hell you have done and will it be worth it?

My experience leads me to say Yes, yes it will be worth it.  And I still, to this day, spend a lot of uncertain hours and even days, wondering what I’ve screwed up this time, what I’ve missed out on, where I should go and if I really want to spend another year at my parent’s house in exchange for another year of being a distracted gypsy.

All I know is that I am always exactly where I need to be, and luckily, the unwavering belief in that is the only thing that never fails to keep me moving forward.

Posted August 23rd, 2011.


Green with Envy – elle drinks green juice.

My friend Dennis called me one cold night in February. “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to go to Italy with me. I have to go for work and I thought it would be fun if you came so I’d have someone to eat dinner with while I’m there.”

“Sure, why not?” I replied, getting that excited feeling I get when I sense impending adventure. “When are you leaving?”



For two weeks, I ate breakfast twice every morning, gelato for lunch, and a huge amazing meal every night at a number of incredible restaurants throughout Bologna. It spawned my mindset of, “If I want it, I’ma eat it.” I came home ten pounds heavier (after TWELVE days of feasting!) and continued on with that frame of mind.

Of course, eventually I could tell it was catching up with me. After spending most of my time on Maui in December eating largely raw foods and drinking lots of fresh juices, I knew what it was like to feel like a million bucks. I was full of energy, I was glowing; why, even my green eyes were turning blue! There was such an incredible level of cleansing going on, and I enjoyed the sensation of it.

But now, I was eating without thinking, enjoying the novelty of eating meat again for the first time in three years, falling back into the habit of eating a cheese sandwich… which isn’t bad in moderation, but all of these habits that were making me feel exhausted, depressed, grouchy, and achy, all over.

happy handstand day at FHBC!After spending a weekend at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in June and having chats with my Gluten Free for Good friend Melissa, I knew I needed to get a grip on my eating habits. But later, I kept thinking. I’ll do it later, and I’ll blog about it and my new #FHBC11 friends will read it and it will be great. But later. I’m not in the mood now.

Last weekend I spent up at the Mountain Pose Yoga Festival in Copper Mountain with my infamous friends, Peggy Dyer, Laurie Maves and Melissa Ivey. I was dealing with a lot emotionally, and I found myself both feeling shitty because of internal struggles on top of feeling shitty because I was eating shitty… I slept for ten or eleven hours each night, exhausted from numerous tearful breakdowns and too much pizza.

On the second night at MPYF, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer and Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr, was the keynote speaker. Peggy and Laurie are huge fans of Kris’, and I was looking forward to hearing her speak about her love of green juice and kale. After all, I had loved the green stuff too, back on Maui.

I ended up at one of the front tables, sitting on the side that left me completely exposed to the podium. I felt vulnerable even in the midst of my intrigue, as though Kris and I were having a one-on-one chat. The more I imagined it was just her and I in the room, the more defensive I got when I felt like she was looking at me with her challenges to live life on purpose.

Laurie Maves, Kris Carr and Peggy Dyer

“Will you all make a commitment to juicing, starting on Monday?” she asked, questioning with her eyes dancing around the room. Then she looked directly at me. Or maybe it was my friend behind me. Either way, she looked directly-almost-kind-of-near-me and said, “Would you?”

I stared back, biting the inside of my cheek, hoping it was a rhetorical question.

It wasn’t. “Yes? No? Can you give me one of these?” She wiggled her hand side-to-side.

My friend behind me spoke up. “If I have access to a juice, sure! I’d love to try!” I relaxed. Maybe Kris wasn’t looking at me afterall. But my friend made the point that I was fuming over.

I’d love to live a super healthy lifestyle, eat nothing but the best all the time, fresh juice twice a day, fart rainbows and burp glitter and all that. But the cost! The cost is so much!! Buy me a fuggen juicer, I thought, and I’ll drink your g’damned juice.

I sat with those feelings for the next twenty-four hours, feeling embarrassed that I had experienced this unexplainable upwelling of rage. Until I realized that was the rage was masking was my fear and shame about my lack of nourishing my body wholly. I am fearful that I’m doomed to live a life of exhaustion and unhappiness and I’m embarrassed because I don’t have the will-power to uphold any semblance of consistency in my life, not to mention in my diet.

I pondered on that. And was I seriously coming at the thought of my health and well-being and self-care with an attitude of lack? Lack of funds, lack of faith, lack of love for myself and patience that I could get it right if I just gave myself the space to try… so much lack. What was I therefore fueling my body with by having those thoughts? Nothing but more lack. More fear. More shame. More turning away from taking control of my own health.

Well, that didn’t make much sense to me.

On Monday, I made myself a big batch of some sort of ridiculous green smoothie concoction. All I had for a blender was one of those little single-serve smoothie makers, so I made a complete mess, adding whatever veggies and fruits I thought sounded good. It was fantastic. When the whole thing was done, I sat down to take a triumphant sip – and it tasted like ass.

Yummm. Ass.

I kept at it, trying to find the right way to be able to suck down this disaster, but I wasn’t mad. At least I was making an effort, and I had been avoiding making the initial effort for way too long.

Then I went to Bed, Bath and my Butthole (I hate that store) and found a reasonably priced juicer. Sure, I broke it within 24 hours of having it, but I exchanged it for another… and we’re totally in love, me and my juicer. And then it broke again and I broke up with it. Going in to buy a legit hi-speed blender this time. I went to some vitamin-hut-cottage-place and bought greens powder to add to my breakfast smoothies. I’m learning, I’m making an effort and I already feel better.

I realized that while eating better is more expensive, it is a price worth paying. What’s the point of spending a ton of money on clothes or shoes (which I don’t generally do anyway) when I still feel sick, depressed, tired, achy, etc., when I put them on? I’d rather wear my worn out tank tops and endless supply of skorts until they fall off me as long as I’m eating amazingly and feeling even more amazing.

This is the decision we are all given, every day of our lives. And it doesn’t have to be my story, maybe it’s just making a commitment to get off your ass once a day and go for a 20-minute walk. Maybe it’s adding something green to your dinner every night. Maybe it’s drinking more water. There are so many little things that make such a big difference – because just as one bad decision can lead to a string of even worse decisions, one good decision begets more and more of consistently better and more fantastic decisions.

Now, don’t misunderstand – I don’t regret one chocolate croissant, one triple serving of pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate coconut gelato or one single plate of Gnocchi Quattro Formaggio that I had in Italy. I wanted to live my life fully while in Italy – and I did. And I was happy for it! But I can’t eat like that all the time. And I apparently especially can’t eat like that when I’m at home if I want to feel healthy and/or happy in the slightest.

What can you commit to trying next week? Just for you, for your health, for your well-being and for your happiness? I dare you to try.

Ingredients for Success in Green Juice!

Make yourself a super delicious juice!

If you’re using a juicer, just throw all these items in.  If you’re using a high-speed blender, remove seeds, stems and other non-edible bits.

2 green apples

1 lemon

1-inch knob of ginger

1-bunch cilantro

couple handfuls of spinach

1-bunch of kale

a few stalks of celery

1 cucumber

a few carrots

Enjoy!  Store in a glass container and drink throughout the day – or better yet, share with your friends!

The best thing about juicing is you really can’t screw it up – experiment with different things and see what happens.

Posted July 26th, 2011.

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Enjoy the View.

I went for a walk with my cousin Lauren not too long ago.  It was one of those beautiful spring-teaser days that Colorado is so infamous for – the kind where it is in the 70s and sunny but hear that it is supposed to snow the next day.

My cousin seems to see some of the most interesting things when she goes for a walk.  She actually has a very impressive collection of photographs of lonely gloves that have been most unfortunately separated from their other half and discarded along sidewalks, on fence posts, etc.  So going for walks with her always seem to be an unexpected scavenger hunt, where the list of things that are to be found is added to as we find interesting things.

I wanted to share some of the things I came across that day…  as a reminder that if you really enjoy the view wherever you are in that exact moment, there’s so much more to see than just the destination to which you are headed.

Posted April 17th, 2011.

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My guilty pleasure: granny panties. There. I said it.

the socks.

It all began on a camping trip a few years back with my friend Cynthia.  In our planning of the trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, we joked that we would dance around our campfire in granny-panties and polka-dotted socks like good little Pagans.  By the time we got to our destination, I had all but forgotten about this – but Cynthia had not.  After we finished our hot dogs and a bottle of wine, she pulled out the socks and underwear for the both of us and we put them on to dance around the fire.

The day we left the Ozarks, I had run out of clean underwear so I had to wear the granny-panties.  The elastic band hung at least a full four inches above the waistband of my jeans, but on the drive back I could not stop commenting on how comfortable they were.

And thus began my guilty pleasure.

When I had surgery two years ago, my sister presented me with upside-down heart-shaped balloons wearing granny-panties.  This was the greatest get-well-soon gift I could have ever imagined.  My most recent acquisition (because I never actually buy these on my own, mind you) was from my mom, a pair of eight silky, lace-trimmed, extra-high Hanes Her Ways.  I packed them for Italy and slept in them, hidden under my fuzzy pajama pants each night.

Yep. I took a picture of them when I got them.

As I repacked for my flight home from Bologna, I stuffed all of my unmentionables into one of the exterior side-pockets of my orange-trimmed suitcase.  I checked my bag and boarded the giant airplane with what must have been hundreds of French high school students for our flight to New York City.

Upon my arrival at JFK Airport, I was one of the first to get through the customs line.  In no hurry, I went to the luggage carousel to wait for my bag.  I stood at the end of the oval-shaped apparatus along with the couple dozen folks who were lucky enough to get in line in front of the horde of French teenagers.  From a distance, I saw my suitcase tumble onto the line, resting upside-down and half on top of another bag.  I acknowledged it but decided to just wait for it to come to me.

My gaze came back directly in front of me to the suitcases passing by and I saw a pile of pink silk and lace displayed between two bags.  My heart stopped and I felt a hot blush move up my neck.  I involuntarily began to take a step forward to retrieve my granny-panties before anyone else saw they were there – but I halted.  No one knows they’re yours, Potter, I thought to myself.  Act cool and no one will ever know your secret.

My pillowy puff of panties continued on its way around the corner and out of sight. I bit my lip to keep from laughing and decided it would probably be better to not pull out my camera and chase them down to even just take a picture for a blog’s sake.

Then my stomach dropped again.  My suitcase was upside down when it was spit out onto the conveyor belt.  Oh dear lord, what if it had busted open and there was a strand of granny-panties hanging from the side-pocket like a string of silky, over-sized prayer flags?  Then what?  Do I act like it is all not mine and watch all of the teenage French kids to laugh and point and take pictures for their Le Facebooks and wait until everyone has left so I can pick up my panties and save an ounce of my dignity?

Thank God that was not the case, because my suitcase was fully in tact when it rolled up to me moments later.  I pulled my hat down lower on my face and snuggled my chin further into my pile of scarves in an effort to hide how hard I was laughing.  I had been exposed, even if no one else knew it.  I walked away from my underwear before the gaggle of teenagers made it through customs and left the fate of my pink granny-panties up to them.

A few days later, I finally emptied out my suitcase to do laundry.  I cautiously unzipped the side-pocket and began to sort my unmentionables into color-coded piles.  I pulled out five, six, seven… eight pairs of granny-panties, the last being a pair of pale pink.

I realized with a start that all of mine were accounted for.  I didn’t lose a pair after all, and that pair on the conveyor belt had not been mine.  I was silently grateful that I did not pick up the pair but simultaneously realized that someone else had the same guilty pleasure as me.  It made me smile to think that I had felt exposed and a little vulnerable in that moment yet decided to choose to find humor in the whole situation.  And in the end, it was my life’s reflection in someone else’s… um, underwear.

Well, you know what I mean.

Don’t be ashamed of the things you truly love, the things that bring you so much joy.  It may very well be that you are not the only one.

Posted March 14th, 2011.

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I don’t know that I’d recommend speed-dating.

Speed dating.  It sounded like a really great idea at the time.

My friend and I arrived at the wine bar just a few minutes early, having precisely calculated the timing of our entrance as neither fashionably late nor desperately early.  The second we walked through the door, my heart sunk and I very seriously considered turning on my heel and exiting the building immediately.  But because I could feel my friend thinking the same thing, I was determined to prove that this was, after all, a good idea.

There were about twenty women in the room and half a dozen men.  And by “men,” I mean a rag-tag mish-mosh of what I only hoped was a practical joke.  We got our nametags and seat number assignments and made our way to the long table with the other women.  At 7pm, the men began to migrate over to sit across from each of us.  And then it began.

The ad for the speed date, which had promised the participants would all be between the ages 25 – 35, was sorely mistaken, but I chit-chatted amiably enough with each of them no matter what jokes my inner sarcasm was cracking.  One man in a Cosby sweater told me he was a musician; my friend told me later that I had misheard him and he was, in fact, a magician.  My favorite suitor was a charmingly effeminate man from San Francisco who, at barely five-foot, I wanted to carry around in my pocket.

Conversation was, for the most part, awkward and rehearsed, but I managed well enough.  If a gentleman began rambling on or if I couldn’t hear what he was saying anyway, I adopted a smile-and-nod system while I eavesdropped on the couples to either side of me.

A man with what was quite possibly a fake New Zealand accent really grilled me with questions.  He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, if I could do anything.  I told him I wanted to travel.  He asked about the traveling I had already done and I told him most of it had been done on my own.

“But don’t you want someone to travel with?” he asked, pronouncing travel, ‘treevull.’

you can only take so many pictures of yourself - Ireland 2005

Immediately realizing I wasn’t giving the right answers for someone looking for a partner, I replied, “Nope.  I enjoy getting to know myself.”  He pulled back from the table and smiled at me piteously, and I was very aware of some twenty years between us.

“Well, I can see that.  And I’ll tell you, when I was in my twenties I did a lot of travelling alone.  I have been to some of the most beautiful places in the world.  But eventually, it gets tiring, not having someone to turn to and share the sights with.  You’ll see.”  I smiled politely, squaring my chin to stubbornly take hold of my ground.

“I can appreciate that,” I allowed.  “But it’s not important to me to share it with anyone quite yet.”

That conversation roared in my head while I was in Italy.  Each morning, my friend Dennis and I would wake up and get breakfast before he left for work.  I would go back to the room and read, shower, do some yoga, and go back downstairs for another round of breakfast.  The days would be spent meandering around the portico-covered streets of Bologna, sometimes stopping in for gelato, sometimes walking for four hours into the countryside to catch some fresh air.

hiking in Hawaii, 2005

As much as I love my independence and enjoy travelling alone so I can enjoy quiet and solitude and the power of being in charge of making my own decisions, I really did begin to miss some company.  For example, my desire to have my sister along by my side would be so strong at times that it was almost as if I could feel a hole in the air beside me where I wanted her to be.  There were boutiques I wished my cousin was with me at and cafes where I wanted to have an espresso and a pastry with one of my girlfriends.

My greatest passion has always been to travel, to explore and to have adventures.  I used to always think it was mine, and mine alone.  I feared the experience would be ruined if I shared it, and there have been times in my life where people I loved didn’t share that same passion.  And so traveling became a choice – either I could have a boyfriend or I could travel.  I could never have both.

Dennis, my Italy travel buddy.

Now I realize that I don’t need a traveling boyfriend.  I have other people, much more important people in my life that I want to travel with – and who want to travel with me.  I have already been blessed with the opportunity to travel and visit and adventure with a handful of incredible beings.  I cannot wait to continue to share those experiences with them and also with the other people I hold so near and dear to my heart.

The conversation with that man at the speed date kept playing back in my head whenever I felt the lack of presence of a loved one on my solo day-adventures in Italy.  I think I understand now better what point he was trying to make.  Not that I needed a man to travel with me, which is how I took it and thus became defensive.  Rather, the point of seeing the world is being able to share that experience with someone – anyone – that you love.

Jamie, my Ireland/Vail and soon/Turks and Caicos travel buddy

Posted March 14th, 2011.

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The nude beach is no place for amateur fire-dancers.

“I’m going to Little Beach on Sunday night with my brothers.  Do you want to come?”

I had heard about the infamous Sunday nights at the smaller of two beaches in Makena, Maui.  Drum circles, dancing, impromptu yoga and fire dancing – all at the nude beach.

Of course I was not going to miss that.

Christian was my escort for the evening.  A friend of my friend, he had just graduated as a certified EMT and I spent some afternoons at his house where he made me smoothies with fresh fruit from his yard and played the theme to Requiem for a Dream on the harp.  For the record:  cute boys with harps in Maui are never bad company to keep.

He used to spin fire on these Sunday nights, he told me.  But it had been almost ten months since he had last been.  What, with school occupying most of his time, he just had not been able to get his fire dancing practice in.  Understandable.

Little Beach is separated from Big Beach by a big cliff that juts out, cutting between the two beaches.  To get to the naked side, one must climb up a crude stairway dug into the scratchy volcanic rock face.  (It’s not as dramatic as it sounds – but I am a writer and that is how I choose to describe it)  And then there it was.  Sunday night at Little Beach.

I had never been to a nude beach before.  I had also never seen naked adults kicking around a soccer ball, hula hooping or frolicking in the waves like over-sized children.  It was out of my comfort zone, fascinating – and absolutely beautiful.

It was too chilly to convince me out of my clothes (sixty-five is quite cold on Maui) but I enjoyed sitting quietly as others ran about.  I watched the waves breaking on naked bodies and considered the many possible reasons why men seemed to be much more comfortable wandering around naked than women.

The west-facing beach gave the perfect stage for the setting sun, and applause broke out as the sun finally slipped into the edge of the ocean.  If you have never applauded the setting sun before, I highly recommend it.  I don’t think the sun gets as much credit as it should for each of its stunning displays each night.

With the sun gone, the residual light faded quickly and everyone huddled in to supplement the original drum circle with an audience.  A circular arena was left open in the midst of the crowd, a someone set a pair of poi afire.

The first dancer was beautiful to watch and I was mildly hypnotized by the simple arcs of light.  As her fire went out, Christian next stepped into the ring with a long staff, each end lit.  It was incredible to watch, how controlled his movements were within the fluid expression he maintained.  When a man dances subtly while maintaining the utmost sacred masculinity – well.  Whether or not there’s fire involved, it’s simply hot.

He sat down, placing the staff in between his toes, shifting up into a shoulder stand and then winding his way onto his stomach.  His knees pulled up to balance on the back of his triceps and he slowly, with complete control, pressed up from bakasana (crow pose) into a handstand.  With a fire-stick stuck between his toes.  And came back down, releasing the grip of one foot and standing on it, removing the staff from between his toes and one again, spinning it in mesmerizing circles.

Been-ten-months-I’m-a-little-rusty, my ass.

I refuse to keep anything but fascinating company.

The next dancer had what I can only describe as nunchuks.  In retrospect, I am not sure whether it is because of the appearance of the things or just the way he spun them around.  Either way – Christian’s brother and I both took involuntary steps backwards from the edge of the circle when this guy started dancing.  He flailed and wielded his fiery nunchuks around, kicking and spinning himself in circles as well.  His pants were lit on fire three different times during his performance and the circle of onlookers subtly shifted back, making more surface area for him to hop around in.

But as half-terrifying as it was to watch him fling and flail about, no one walked away.  No one booed him.

One of my teachers has said, “When your life gets messy, the Kula (community) puts on its helmet.”  Meaning, when shit hits the fan, rather than leaving you, the people who love and support you the most will brace themselves in order to stand alongside you through the thick of it.  Playing with fire is no easy task.  It takes courage and certain curiosity.  And just like anything, when you begin to learn something new, there is a learning curve that is guaranteed to be a little messy.  When you begin to live your life with your heart set afire, parts of your life are sure to burn away in order to make space for the new.  People who are close to you are in danger of falling debris – but while they step back to give you space, your strongest support systems are the ones who still will not run away.

As we left that evening, Christian let me carry the torch to lead the way for our group and others across the darkened beach.  I had never been on a beach at nighttime before, nor had I ever carried a torch.  I felt like Indiana Jones.  Yet while I felt the power and prowess of the flame, I did not feel the draw to spin it, to disturb the simplicity of its warm glow.  Not yet – but perhaps soon.

I was, however, honored to illumine the way for someone whose fearlessness with their fire inspired me to consider playing with the light of my own.

Posted January 26th, 2011.