Blogger Recognition Award

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I am excited and honored to have been nominated for The Blogger Recognition Award! Fleur de Flamenco is a labor of love so it is very gratifying to be recognized. Thank you so much for nominating me, One Flawsome Momma. Please check out her blog and enjoy reading about her reflections on single-parenting and embracing confidence, flaws and all! https://oneflawsomemomma.wordpress.com

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Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

 

Story of how I started:

I am blossoming and learning and growing and unfolding; opening my soul to flamenco. And Louisville, Kentucky is where I found and am nurturing this art. As I progressed on my flamenco journey, I wanted to do more to express how profoundly it touched my life, so I started my blog. Combining my love of writing and dance allows me to share my flamenco experiences with others, to walk with me as I laugh, cry, celebrate, struggle and fall deeper in love with this passionate cultural art form.

Advice to new bloggers:
1. Write what you are passionate about and focus on quality content. Then, your blog will be great, no matter what it’s about. Let your heart pour out.
2. Use photos or images. I did not do that in the beginning but now, when I do, it always draws more attention to the posts and gives a more realistic sense to the topic.
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I have been blessed to come in contact with, network and read so many great blogs. Here are a few of my favorites.
I nominate:

The family I chose

My flamenco family… I was not born into this family, in fact, none of us were, but it is a family I chose. There are healthy doses of beautiful hearts, sincere moments, and loving gestures mixed affectionately with quirky personalities, a little bit of crazy, and a dash of dysfunction. Sounds like a family to me! And it only makes us love each other more.

Who else will stay out till 3 am with you when you spontaneously find yourselves at a ‘quaint’ local nightclub with amazing shows and dance music? Who else runs through the streets of Sevilla with you, trying to get to the flamenco store on time, but realizing you are caught smack dab in the middle of crowded streets for a coronation ceremony processional? Who else will laugh and giggle over inappropriate things with you in the middle of the night? Who else laughs so hard they cry when you accidentally hit the waiter in the face with your backpack which happens to be carrying all your ceramics from Spain? Who else laughs with you, not at you, when your mantón ends up on the floor instead of still in your hands at the end of a number? Who else pulls together the best flash mob ever for your birthday? And who else makes you the most outrageously awesome birthday cake ever? This family, that’s who!

This family also comes to your aid when you are sick, consoles you when grief strikes, stands in the rain crying with you, listens to your troubles over one (or five) glasses of wine, and sends you messages of hope and encouragement just when you need it. Most importantly, the arms of this family are always open for a wordless hug, just because, sometimes, that’s all a person needs.

My flamenco family goes beyond flamenco. Yes, that is what brought us together and that is the common thread running through each of us, but I share just as much with them outside the studio.

Take my trip to Spain last year, for example. There were 12 of us staying in a house together for 10 days, coming and going at all different times, with different agendas, and yet we found the time to come together at least once a day to share our stories. Stories of hilarity, stories of excitement, stories of discovery, and stories of awe filled the late nights as we sat together on the rooftop terrace, breathing in the Sevilla air. Not one grumpy word was uttered…ok, well, maybe one or two, bourne out of pure exhaustion, but at the end of the day, there was nothing but camaraderie and genuine interest in each others adventures. What’s more, we had NO bathroom sharing issues!! Tell me how often that happens in a family this big!?

Another moment that I hold near and dear is my recent birthday party. I turned 50 and was determined to throw a crazy-fun party, and I did. But it was the involvement, the energy, and the surprises of my flamenco family who made it so much more than I expected. They made sure it was a party I would never forget and that meant the world to me. Two other people had a very large part in this event, as well; my daughters.

I know I said earlier this is a family I chose but I would be remiss if I didn’t include them in this wonderfully talented and committed bunch. Although they are my blood family, they are also part of my flamenco family. We have danced together for over four years now and they have been such a big part of my flamenco journey. Seeing them flourish in the art of flamenco has brought me so much pride. With them by my side, as fellow dancers, as encouragers, and as participants in so much fun, it brings this family full circle. I love sharing this experience with them, even when they make a rule about “no flamenco talk” on the way home from class when mom can’t shut up about her mess-ups. It’s all good, I just lace up my castanets for a hearty round of practice, and watch them hastily flee the house. 🙂

This tribe of misfit toys (a term I use with the utmost affection and respect and as a nod to a recent funny conversation) has made me feel at home on their island. They opened their lair to me (and my daughters) and welcomed us in. I can honestly say, in all of my 50 years on this earth, I have never felt more like I belong somewhere than I do with these people.

Added note 2/16/17- recently found out who the artist is of the beautiful and meaningful painting below; Judith Shaw. Check her out!  http://judithshawart.com/

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Dancing through my first year of blogging

Happy blogiversary! I have made it through one year of blogging about my flamenco journey and what an amazing first year it has been! I had no idea when I got this harebrained idea a year ago that it would turn out to be such great fun!

During its inaugural year, Fleur de Flamenco has reached 46 different countries across the globe with visitors/views in the thousands. In addition, its Twitter and Facebook pages have a combined following of almost 400! That’s crazy to me!

Statistics aside – starting this blog is one of the best things I have ever done. I am thoroughly enjoying writing about and sharing my flamenco adventures, combining two of my passions in life.

I have written about what I am learning, people who have influenced and inspired me, my dreams (literally and metaphorically), making new friends, dancing as a family, being older and more physically mature, my struggles and high points of this demanding art form, and more recently, my amazing excursion to Sevilla.

One of the most satisfying, and unexpected, elements of this blog has been the feedback I received from complete strangers. It was an indescribable feeling to read the comments or emails from others on their flamenco path who tell me that something I said resonated with them. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to let me know that by sharing my own journey, I have given you hope and encouragement, or even just a good laugh.

And thank you to all my friends and family closer to home that read my posts and continue to offer support. A special thank you to my teachers and mentors at Flamenco Louisville, my home studio, for always being there for me. It means the world to me.

Something that started out as a simple creative outlet for me has blossomed into a beautiful realization of the universal love of flamenco. May 2017 find us all a little further along on our paths and may we all continue to share a common appreciation and respect for the wonderful art of flamenco.

To summarize the year, I include links below of my top five posts from 2016. I hope you enjoy reading them again or for the first time.

https://fleurdeflamenco.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/flamenco-anytime-anyplace/

https://fleurdeflamenco.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/becoming-the-dance/

https://fleurdeflamenco.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/i-danced-in-sevilla-last-night/

https://fleurdeflamenco.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/my-flamenco-kryptonite/

https://fleurdeflamenco.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/dreaming-flamenco/

 I am super excited to see what 2017 brings! Ole and keep dancing! 

 

A Taste of Spain- Savouring Sevilla

La comida de España—a treat to both the eye and palate. Of the many beautiful things I experienced in Sevilla, the food was no exception. From a simple breakfast to a hearty round of tapas or home-cooked meal with fresh market ingredients, the food of Spain is a delight to all the senses!

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Starting out the day with a cheese filled croissant and cafe con leche

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Afternoon tapas: fried squid, ensalada russa, croquettas, and braised pollo with mushrooms and white wine sauce

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You cannot go to Spain without having paella!

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Cured meat and cheese plate. Love me some jamon!

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Triana Mercado- lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, so much color!

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Triana Mercado- fresh fish stand

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Triana Mercado- oh, all the meat!!!

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gambas al ajillo- one of my favorites

 

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churros y chocolate

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family dinner cooked by one of my teachers using fresh chicken and spinach from one of the many markets in Sevilla

Getting ‘lost’ in Sevilla

Directionally challenged. Look it up. My picture will be next to the definition. I am hopelessly and consistently getting lost.

It was one of my biggest worries when planning my trip to Spain. Yes, there were 10 other people going, but I was going to have to get myself around at some point and that petrified me. I had images in my head of getting on a bus and ending up in France. Or telling a taxi driver the wrong address and finding myself in Portugal. I speak so-so Spanish and reading a map? Well, let’s just say the invention of a device in your car that speaks to you, telling you where to go, still gets me lost (like the time I ended up in Indiana coming home from my downtown Louisville workplace). I wasn’t holding out much hope for the laminated map my dear flamenca friend got for me.

Getting up and heading out early in the morning to my flamenco class, before some of my group had even fluttered and eye, had me knee-deep in finding my way alone almost right away. The streets in Sevilla are narrow and winding, some with very little signage, so my handwritten notes were invaluable on the first day. After a 20-25 minute walk through our corner of the historic center of Sevilla, El Centro, and then through the bordering district of El Arena, over the Isabel II bridge to Triana, and through a few more winding streets, I arrived at my class. Easy, peasy. Wait, I also had to get back home. That meant reversing the directions in my head. Ugh! This meant trouble.

So, I did something daring. After my first day of class, I walked around Triana, looked in shops, stopped and ate some lunch at a cute little outdoor cafe, and leisurely made my way back to our villa. And I didn’t use my notes. I figured if I got lost, I would simply ask for directions, reciting from my pre-made cheat sheet of things I thought I may need to say in Spanish; “estoy perdido.”

Or, I could just enjoy getting lost. Yes! I would enjoy stumbling upon a hidden gem of a shop, landmark, or restaurant. I would enjoy sitting by the river and watching all the activity around me. I decided to take it all in, no matter what. I decided if I was going to lose time in Spain, I would lose it happily. And I did.

Along my path, I met lovely people. One day, when I stopped to have a solo meal at a restaurant near the foot of the Triana bridge, the man who waited on me very politely picked up my bags and shoved them under the table, uttering something in Spanish I could only half guess was that I should keep my belongings secure from being taken.

Another day, I stopped by the churros y chocolate stand I had passed several times before. I was in the mood to linger, but was given the news they only accept cash~ and I didn’t have enough. The very friendly, elderly owner and his son told me, in Spanish, to take the churros, enjoy eating them, and bring the money back to him afterwards. Really? Wow! That would never happen in the United States! So I lingered a little while, taking in all the people that passed and all the conversations floating around, before I walked 15 minutes out of my way to an ATM for some euros and brought it directly back to this wonderful example of Sevilla.

Each day, as I went to and from class, I took time to notice all the beauty around me. Sevilla is full of color and vibrance in its landscape and its people. The architecture was amazing, so historic and old, and I was in awe. I was beginning to feel like I belonged here. I went shopping for food, wine, clothes and toiletries, I bought flowers in the mercado, and gifts in the ceramica store. I conversed in Spanish as best I could. I ate the most incredible food. Alone. I was doing it! I was exploring this wonderful city and making lifetime memories…I was, indeed, getting lost, not in direction but in adventure!

By the end of the trip, when some of my fellow travelers who had not ventured to Triana yet, asked me to accompany them to show them the way, I just smiled. No one EVER asks ME for directions.

 

Lori & The Flamenco Factory

Let’s face it – four years of flamenco training here in the United States is equivalent to a toddler in Spain learning Sevillanas before they can walk. So, when on my very first excursion to Andalucia in September, I humbly placed myself in a beginner level class.

Walking to class the first day, I was both very excited and nervous. This was my first flamenco lesson outside of Louisville, KY. I definitely wanted to make the most of it. But, the little creepy crawler inside my head had me worried if I was in too deep. This was going to be WAY MORE than I was accustomed to. Could I keep up? Would I remember any of it? I resolved myself to being content if I could simply not pass out in front of a room full of non-English speakers and if my feet didn’t look like I had just walked barefoot through a mine field of desert cactus by the last day of class.

It was painfully clear by the second day, I was not in a beginner class. The bulerias choreography was very footwork intensive and filled with precise, sharp movements….the perfect thing for me since these are two elements I have been working on at home…but this was the real deal. This was the Oompa-Loompa’s dancing and singing in the garden filled with strange candies. This was the Wonka Bar with the winning foil ticket. This was the Everlasting Gobstopper of flamenco. This must have been how Charlie felt when embarking on his tour of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

As the week progressed, I went through a myriad of emotions. I was exhausted and tired, I was confident and eager, I was challenged and challenged some more. Some days I wondered if I’d make it out alive. Soothing river of chocolate, where are you?

The final day was a double-edged sword; I was sad it would soon be over and my plane ride home looming in the near distance but my tired, aching body was rejoicing. The blisters could heal and my “flamenco ass” back pain could relax. (fla-men-co ass \fl∋-‘men-kö\ ‘as\ noun: the malady resulting from vigorous flamenco dancing activity; also: dancing my ass off).

For all that I put my poor, aged body through that week, I am not sorry one bit. You know why? Because I loved it and had so much fun! I persevered and I did it! I successfully got through 1 1/2 hour classes for five days without breaking, pulling or twisting anything, without falling out on the dance floor into a flamenco coma, without having a desperate, exhaustion-induced tantrum during the more difficult moments, without completely losing my brain capacity for remembering the choreography, and without blowing up like a giant blueberry.

I was, and am, so proud of myself! It was hard and I wasn’t the fastest learner in class. But I did something way more important – I had this amazing experience and I did great! Sometimes I do not give myself enough credit, especially in flamenco, so this was greatly beneficial for my dancing and my confidence. My Louisville teachers prepared me very well and I am grateful for that. They have been feeding me little bites of a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar all along!

Next time the little critter in my head moans about 20 minutes straight of zapateado, I will recall the fact that I have made it through flamenco in Spain!!  This will be my lifetime supply of candy. I think, quite possibly, I found the Golden ticket, after all.untitled

 

 

 

Reflections from the Terrace

Ever since my return from Spain two weeks ago, I have been trying to let everything settle in. I have been trying to put into words what the experience meant to me. I finally decided that my journal entry from my last day in Sevilla said it better than anything I could pen today. That is proven especially true by the fact that, even now, I cry as I sit here and re-write it for this blog post…

“Saturday, October 1, 2016

This is my last day in Sevilla. Every morning I wake up here, I still can’t believe I’m in Spain. I am breathing in all of Sevilla I can. On my terrace, I reflect on the past week. The morning has just begun, birds are chirping, and the sun is starting to bathe the bougainvillea and jasmine-draped wall. I gaze upon all of it, hear all of it, smell all of it, feel the warmth from all of it, and commit it to memory. I can’t help but cry as I attempt to process this trip. It wasn’t just a vacation- it was a life changing experience. It wasn’t just an adventure- it was a giant leap across an ocean into blissful calmness and comfort. It wasn’t just an avenue to learn and see flamenco- it was a culmination of moments so fabulous and ones that filled the abyss of my soul. I do not want to leave. I end every day saying, ‘I love this day,’ but it keeps getting better and better. I feel, very profoundly, that I am a different dancer now. This trip allowed me to really ‘feel’ flamenco. I feel different as a person too… renewed and awake. This trip has changed me.

Everyone is sleeping in today, with no classes to get up for. I cannot. Spain is at my doorstep…”

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