Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm just finishing up on my packing for Spain...hard to believe that this time is here already! I'm looking forward to getting to Spain and chilling, Martin says that the weather is hot and sunny with temperatures hovering around 40 C. Yay!! I'm looking forward to some proper Spanish heat. My flight is at 5:50pm, so I'm gonna head out of here around 2 pm...I gotta get to Stanstead airport which is a fair distance away so I'll need to allow for more time.
I've caught up on some sleep, which feels great and I went for a run in Greenwich park this morning. The weather is variable but warm. There was a massive thunder and lightning storm on Monday night which caused flash floods all over London, the sky was really dark grey with swirling clouds. It was quite ominous at best! I made a tasty ginger carrot butternut squash and sweet potato soup as it seemed fitting with the weather. Yum!!
I rested most of yesterday and did some much needed cleaning in Mandy's (Sarah's mom) room where I have been sleeping. The room is much better now and got a good vacuum so the dustmites have fled thankfully.
I did go to my first bellydance class with Anne White last night in Islington. Anne had asked me to perform for her beginner class, and I stayed on for her intermediate class. Anne was a pivotal dancer in London in the 80s and 90s, but doesn't really dance that much anymore aside from her monthly Planet Egypt events that are held at Darbouka club. Anne knows everyone in the UK and knows many dancers abroad (Raqia Hassan, Leila, Dina, Amani) so she is a good person for me to stay in touch with. She is going to put me in touch with some higher level working dancers here in London, as well as with her first teacher Suraya Hilal (!!!!) when she returns from abroad in August. I also met a young Turkish drummer Tash who was drumming for the class and expressed much interest in working with me when I get back from Spain. Tash is very talented and is also on the cusp of being signed to a record label! All in all it was a very good experience, and I feel that I have much to learn from Anne. Anne is a very large vivacious blonde with a huge personality and a bigger laugh. She is very relaxed in her style and also very Egyptian. I had a blast in her intermediate class and I have so much to learn from her. She talked to me afterwards about me contributing some of my personal style to the class so that the students learn something different. I was hugely flattered. Anne and Tash gave me some info on where to go for dancing work, and Tash is gonna help me crack into the Turkish scene, primarily weddings. I'm excited to come back from Spain and get my dance career started here! I am also very excited to study dance here and get inspired again. I have been stumbling along in Vancouver being completely flat and too busy in my dance life aside from flamenco, and London has so much to offer me creatively. This to me is one of the biggest reasons that I am here.
Anne's classes are very interesting. She told me that she teaches 6 - 7 classes a week and that she has many men students as well. A Chinese man in a business suit showed up with a scarf around his neck, and proceeded to remove the scarf from his neck and tie it around his hips! He is a professor of Chinese medicine and attends Anne's 2 Tuesday night classes with his wife! Most of the other women came to class in skirts and fancy work tops, Anne taught in skintight jeans! I was equipped in my usual Lululemon combo, so I felt really out of place! The beginner class started late as we were all having coffee together before all sauntering upstairs to have our "medicine" (as Anne calls it). The beginner class was super duper easy but it was good for me to have a look at Anne's teaching and style methods. In the end the beginner class ran for 45 minutes, and then I performed at the end. The intermediate class was bigger and we covered more ground. Anne absolutely sparkles with the dance energy and it was wonderful stepping back to watch her sail around the floor with her dynamic dance personality. I left feeling happy and excited.
Well I must be off, got so much to do before I head out...keep in touch. I won't have daily internet access but will try to get on every few days or so. I will also get a Spanish SIM card for my phone so I'll post it when I get it so that you can call me!
Lots of love,
ashley xoxoxo

Monday, June 15, 2009

Londontown awaits...

June 14, 2009:

I’m sitting at YVR waiting for my call to board the plane. For the most part I am feeling relatively calm, except for a few fleeting moments of panic that keep slipping by… “What the HELL am I doing???!!!”. My kept mother asking me several times today over and over “Are you sure that you really want to do this??” Simone’s constant questioning about this trip and pointing out that my Vancouver life is indeed very full- why do I need to run away?? (I love you girl!!) have both tested my personal resolve. But I am trusting in the higher purpose of my life that I need a change and that I am open to receiving this change. I am known to be a free spirited girl with slightly flighty intentions (as well as a having firm grasp on living life to the fullest) but never have I ever surrendered to the unknown. I am usually very calculated, slightly fearful and self- deprecating when it comes to my future. And here I am now standing in a line up stepping into the most bold and brave move I have ever done. Moving away.
Its amazing to me how in the final remaining days before a major change the very things that you want to change/leave suddenly become illuminated and bearable. I have been so weary of Vancouver and have a constant unfilled desire to high- tail away from here...yet when I sat last night surrounded by friends and deeply loved ones I realized how lucky I really am. Moving away to start fresh started to feel like a bad idea. But in order for me to get this out of my system, I need to try.
So I am on a plane to London. I am going with no job, work permit, home, or family. I am indeed alone. I do have friends there and I will make new friends of course, but nothing will ever be able to replace the ones I am leaving behind. I have left a job that I have really come to adore, unconditional love and security from vigilant friends and family, left a wonderful cozy home full of memories, and contracted out my dance gigs. In a lot of ways I am crazy. But I am also crazy for adventure.
Many things have started to line up for me when I decided this trip was more than a holiday. Situations started to appear that made me think that I am really being supported externally. Moving out of my home was a really hard thing to do, and I couldn’t even think about it before. But as things played out I realized that this was one of the ways I needed to free myself and just let go. I looked at it more as a gift in the end, and was thankful for the 3 years that I was able to live there. Sometimes we need a bigger push to allow ourselves to let go. In the end I don’t want to have 1 foot here in Vancouver, and another foot in London.
I had a poster hanging on the back of my door at my apartment. It was the Dahlai Lama’s 20 famous quotes. One of them said “Great love takes great risk”. This has become my personal mantra over the past few weeks when I suddenly have a seizing panic. I am not moving to the UK for Martin, but see him as a catalyst for my decision. For years I have talked about doing this and it’s finally come down to the wire to just go and do it. I needed to find myself a nice man who inspires me to do things…not just all stick to all talk and no action. I am standing in a position where many other women have stood before. I guess this is a part of the sacrifice that women in love make for men!
I realize how hard things will be for me, and I hope that I will be able to see the bigger picture when I am feeling down. I look forward to hearing from you and keeping in touch…the feeling of love is truly overwhelming and I thank everyone who is in my life. I also thank all of you who turned to out help me move and give lots of emotional support. And to my wonderful parents who now have my entire life in their living room…I’m so sorry!
With much love and hope,
Ashley xoxoxo