Family, Vegemite, and Tai Chi in Gold Coast, Australia by da-ALi

Our first evening in Gold Coast, Australia!

Australia is a quick flight from New Zealand. Getting there marked the second half of our vacation, which began with Auckland + Rotorua + New Zealand’s Redwoods + Huka Falls + Craters of the Moon + Waitomo Glowworms Caves + Taupo + Pirongia + Hamilton Gardens,as well as the birds of Australia Part 1 of 2.)

We landed in Gold Coast to visit cousins who I’d heretofore not had the pleasure of meeting. Lovely inside and out, they were generous to us in every way!

What took me so long to meet these lovely family members?!
Good food, greater people!
Some of my Australian family is striped!

The following morning, a delicious breakfast awaited us — including yeast extract to spread on our buttered toast. Brands for the ‘acquired taste’ can be a heated topic: Australians generally vote for Vegemite, New Zealanders like Our Mate, folks in other places are partial to Marmite or Promite or Bovril or Cenovis or…

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After all the eating and relaxing, it was time to get moving!

Tai chi is healthy for all ages!

Admirably fit and flexible Rita (the beautiful lady with her arm around my waist) introduced me to a free tai chi class at the local park. If you’re ever in the area, Robina Tai Chi Club Secretary/Treasurer Yulan deSalve assured me that all are welcome to email her at yulandesalvo@gmail.com for particulars. Ask her nicely, and she might demonstrate the sitting koala pose!

Geckos are common guests in Gold Coast, Australia.

What animals do you have near your home that are unique to your area?

Argentine Tango Elegante: Video of Newest Step by da-AL

Khashayar and da-AL learning a new step. Khashayar and da-AL learning a new step.

It’s no coincidence that my soon-to-be self-published novels have to do with dance! Here are my husband and me practicing a step we just learned at the end of class (and here’s more and some more and more and a quick clip and the first time I posted a video of our dancing about the style of Argentine tango that we dance that’s taught by these outstanding teachers)…

Here’s a masterfully fun tango clip of “Lost in Paris,” a marvelous film I recently discovered by French film burlesque style due Canadian Fiona Gordon and Belgian Dominique Abel…

And another from the same movie — that’s choreographed by them (and danced?)…

What’s your favorite dance film?…

Flamenco Fusion by da-AL

“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” is the title of the first of my soon-to-be self-published novels. The ‘Sitting Cat’ part of the title refers to the geographical shape of Iran…

Map of Iran out lined in shape of a Sitting Cat.
Map of Iran outlined in the shape of a Sitting Cat.

I grew up with only classical music — and flamenco music and dance. My father, who left Barcelona in his mid-20s, wanted it that way. Since I left home at 18, it’s a gift to watch any type of dance I like and to listen to every kind of music that comes my way.

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.

I still love classical — and flamenco! Especially fascinating to me is when flamenco is fused with the dance of Iran, where my husband was raised. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is an Iranian dancer now residing in France. Flamenco is as much about individuality as it is about technique — it accommodates all cultures, all forms of beauty.

If only politics were as intent on creating a climate of ‘we’ rather than an ‘us vs. them’!

The way Ghalam (click here for his Facebook page) fuses dance styles is respectful and hypnotic…

For more flamenco, check out Part 3: Marvelous Madrid — Flamenco

What fusion art do you enjoy?

Learning from Cancer by da-AL

Photo of daisy wearing glassesPhoto: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Years before I was diagnosed with cancer, an agency that facilitated emotional support groups for people with cancer hired me to produce a video for them.

The morning my partner and I gathered our camera equipment, I braced myself for an emotionally trying day. Listening to the stories of those battling to live, I did my best not to cry as I stood behind the lens.

By the end of the videotaping session, I felt uplifted by their strength — and mystified! How could many of them speak of cancer as a blessing?

In 2007, I too was diagnosed with cancer. At first, I was angry, sad, frustrated, and terrorized. It took time for cancer to reveal its lessons to me.

Photo of a group of mallard ducks walking Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Learning that happiness is worth fighting for has changed me profoundly. Early on, a sage cancer warrior recounted how a friend of hers dreaded when his cancer would kill him, yet he outlives many loved ones. The wise woman told me, “No one can predict how long they’ll live. We’re lucky for every day.”

Day and night, as I endured my illness being categorized, quantified, and treated, I obsessed over how I might have contracted it…how to get rid of it…how to never get it again…how it would hurt my loved ones…and on and on…

When I tried was hot yoga, the laser focus it demanded quieted my mind. The full length mirrors reflected how, if I dwell on what hurts and what I fear, then my yoga suffers. They showed me how, when I physically and mentally resonate words like ‘happy,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love,’ possibility becomes reachable.

Photo of bee at purple flowers Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

It’s a wonder that my worrying didn’t kill me. Often I wondered if someone as ordinary as me deserved to live. Eventually, I figured that I’ve got as much of a right to breath as do cockroaches and fleas. And that I’ve got something to say, which is how this blog started (as did the two novels I’m writing!)…

Life is always a gift, and that includes all of our experiences.

Has illness taught you any lessons?

Tango Elegante Video: “El Día Que Me Quieras” by da-AL

da-AL dances Argentine Tango with her honey

Each year, a dear friend opens her home to her dance-loving friends. We share great food and either perform or just enjoy watching.

My love of dance is great — that’s why one of my upcoming novels is titled, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”! The style of Argentine tango that my husband I dance is called Tango Elegante, taught by these outstanding teachers.

Our friend’s daughter kindly shot this video of my honey and me…

What’s your favorite dance?…

Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

Guest Blog Post: 3 Partner Dances Couples Should Learn by Leon Turetsky

Dancing with my honey, my pals, on my own, and watching others dance — I love all dancing! When ballroom dance instructor Leon Turetsky offered this guest blog post, I was delighted…

Leon Turetsky partner dances
Leon Turetsky partner dances

Partner dancing, known as ballroom dancing, is one of the most rewarding activities couples can do together. You can learn how to dance for parties, weddings, and other social events. While the rest of the couples will be sitting down, you’ll be having a blast together.

Besides having fun together, couple dancing also makes for a great exercise, especially for those of you who don’t like going to the gym. You can motivate each other to go out and dance!

Okay so you’re sold on the idea of dancing together, but which dances should you focus on?

While there are more than 20 different Ballroom dances out there, I’d recommend you start with the Waltz, Rumba, and Swing:

1. Learn the Waltz

The Waltz is a classy dance that travels around the floor in a counterclockwise direction. Most of you may be familiar with the 1,2,3 count that is used in this dance. The reason you should learn how to Waltz is because the closed frame hold instills a very smooth and romantic feeling for couples. Also, it is based on a box step pattern which makes it very easy to learn for anyone.

2. Learn The Rumba

The Rumba comes originally from Cuba and unlike the Waltz stays mostly on one spot. The timing of this dance is slow, quick, quick. The Rumba is a great dance because it combines elegant movement with underarm turns and open breaks. This dance has plenty of moves in the closed position but allows couples to break apart into many other fancy moves. The is a great dance for those of you looking for variety.

3. Learn The Swing

The Swing is a dance that has triple steps from side to side, as well as rock steps. This dance has lots of turns, spins, arm changes and dips. Many of your favorite rock and roll songs will usually fit this dance. It’s the perfect dance for those couples looking to dance to faster music with a more energetic beat. Also, there are 2 styles of Swing you can start with – The Single time Swing, and the Triple time Swing. I’d recommend you start with the Single time first as it’s easier for beginners.

So what are you waiting for? The next time you’re looking for a new challenge, try some Ballroom dancing and ask them to start with the Rumba, Waltz or Swing. You can always expand into other dances later.

About Leon Turetsky: a professional Ballroom and Latin dance instructor, he runs Passion4dancing.com where he teaches people how to dance online with videos.