7th Week – I’m Pregnant and feeling it!

So, I peed on the stick, it was positive, and we are super excited! I interviewed several midwives with the intent of having a home birth, but ended up going with the midwife who delivers in the hospital. It came down to insurance, costs, and safety. If everything goes well the first time around, I hope to have my second at home. I also chose a different midwife to do the placenta encapsulation separately because the delivery midwife does not offer the service. What’s placenta encapsulation you ask? Well it’s a bit of chinese medicine, so you may get grossed out. Within 24 hours the midwife takes the placenta and cleans it, then steams it with some herbs, and dehydrates it. She then powders the dried placenta and puts it into capsules. The mother can then take the capsules if she develops PPD. It is quite effective and she will feel relief within the hour as compared to prescribed medicine which can take weeks. Also, if she has any left over, she can use the capsules to help with hormone levels during menopause. I am in my 8th week as of today. For the past 2 months I have done a good job of limiting the sugar in my diet to only grapefruit and berries, no bread, no potatoes, but this week, I started craving carbs and sugar like crazy. As you can see by my food journal below, I’m a sucker for cake. It being the week before our derby guests arriving on the farm, we have been catering a lunch for the managers everyday and cleaning out all the pantries in the houses. That equals a lot of free and tempting food tickling my will power… ugh.

Saturday, April 25, 2015
Mood: good
Energy: low
Appetite: low
Morning Sickness: tired, slept all day
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Frosted mini wheats and almond milk. 
Grapefruit. Beans and cornbread. Cesear salad. 
Blue spicy chips and salsa. Carrots & celery. 
Steak, quinoa, avocado. Lemon water. Vitamins:
2 prenatal & Reishi

Friday, April 24, 2015
Mood: good
Energy: high
Appetite: medium
Morning Sickness: tummy trouble, too much sugar!
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Bowl of frosted mini wheats with 
almond milk. Steak, loaded baked potato. 
6 pieces crab Rangoon sushi. 1 California roll, 
miso soup. Vitamins: 2 prenatal, Reishi. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015
Mood: happy
Energy: high
Appetite: medium
Morning Sickness: none
Cravings: none
Other Notes: 2 yeast rolls. Rice and steak. 
Salad with turkey deli meat and cinn swirl 
coffee cake. Grapefruit. BBQ nachos w/ tomatoes, 
carrots, jalapeños and bacon. Gluten free Choco cake. 
Vitamins: butter /cod liver oil, Reishi, 
2 prenatal raw in morning. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Mood: grumpy
Energy: low
Appetite: med
Morning Sickness: none
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Bowl of frosted mini wheats w/ almond 
milk and boiled egg. Greek salad, grilled chicken, 
grilled veggies, yeast roll, mixed fruits. Rice, steak, 
Greek salad. Vitamins: folic acid and Reishi in morning. 
Excercise: 1.5 hr gypsy skirt dancing

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Mood: good
Energy: high
Appetite: high
Morning Sickness: none
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Bacon /tomato soba noodles. 
Choco chip granola bar, bag of mixed nuts. 
Tuna salad sandwich w/ spicy blue chips. 
Bowl of frosted mini wheats w/ whole milk. 
Baked chicken w/ siracha sauce, kale, quinoa. 
Excercise 30 min of salsa dance. Vitamins: butter/
cod liver oil, Reishi. 

Monday, April 20, 2015
Mood: fair
Energy: low- sleepy
Appetite: none
Morning Sickness: nausea
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Handful of mixed nuts, boiled egg, 
four pettifours. Tuna egg salad sandwich with pickles 
and spicy blue chips. Five pettifours. Fried chicken 
with bacon/ tomato soba noodles. Two pettifours. 
Morning Vitamins: folic acid, Reishi mushroom, butter/
oil/cod liver oil. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015
Mood: good
Energy: high
Appetite: good
Morning Sickness: none
Cravings: none
Other Notes: Two fried eggs and four cherry turnovers. 
Glass of lemon water. Cesear salad. Mango pork roast 
potatoes rice. Start to gettig up to pee twice at night.

Prenatal Massage, Planting Your Placenta, and Japanese Bento box lunches: Interview with Shawna Conner

Shawna Interview

I met Shawna in my first belly dance class. I was immediately drawn to her, with her inviting smile and warm demeanor, it’s no wonder she has been a successful massage therapist for 20 years. We joined Ariel’s student troupe and danced together until our members began having babies and our troupe dwindled down to just the three of us: Abby, Shawna, and Anderia. Then one day, Shawna announced that she was pregnant, something we knew Shawna wanted very much. Our adventures did not end there; I rented my first home from Shawna, we met for morning meditations, I helped her design her business cards, and even shot a video to help her meet Prince.

Get to know Shawna in 5 important Facts

  • She thoroughly enjoys being a household executive, mother of one child, and a part-time healer.
  • She can always find a 4 or 5 leaf clover, and once found a 7 leaf clover without even looking at the clover before she randomly picked it.
  • She craves spending time in nature.
  • She has been a motivated recycler for half of her life.
  • She would like to meet the artist Prince!

Was this pregnancy a pleasant surprise or planned birth?

My pregnancy with Lee was not a surprise to me. Not only was my body very open to creating a baby, I had finally found the perfect husband and father.

How did you know you were pregnant?

While making love, I had a moment of awareness where I thought to myself “I am ready to be pregnant”, and then I was pregnant. My friend Anderia had a dream that I was of pregnant, which caused me to buy the test and find out. We told some of our family one on one, and others in group settings.

Please tell your birth story?

My pregnancy was great, other than not getting to drink wine, and feeling bloated and unable to breathe easily. I was able to continue lifting weights, walking a lot, dancing, and massaging thru my 8th month. I was disciplined and was able to enjoy an all natural childbirth. My routine was mostly massages, weekly yoga, belly dance, and hypno-birthing meditations.

Long, hot showers on my aching low back while performing hip circles and role playing what the labor could look like allowed me to practice lots of deep breathing and deep grunting. When my water broke at 9pm on 4/10/07, the contractions did not start. I was able to sleep thru the night and wake up refreshed and eat breakfast. At 9am 4/11/07 my contractions still had not started. I took a long walk around MTSU, and was feeling fearful of a C-section. I began inducing myself with castor oil. My body released all its waste efficiently and was having severe low back pain. I rubbed tigers balm on it, and began to do yoga poses that helped with the pain. My husband and I decided it was time to go see the midwife at the clinic. On the way there, I realized that every other minute I was having to lift my bottom from the car seat to get thru the pain. It was then that I declared “take me to Vanderbilt, I’m in labor!” Even after assisting a dozen other women in attempting natural childbirth it took me awhile in my altered state to realize how quickly the labor was going. As we pulled into the ER there were lots of construction and it was delaying us. Thank goodness Adam had brought a trashcan, because I began throwing up in the car. The nurse rolled me into room 11 at 11am on the 11th, and I thought to myself, “Is this girl going to be born at 11:11am?!” Well, it was more like 1:27pm, but still fast enough! I got in the shower and began my hip circles with the hot water helping my low back pain. I had a scary moment when I thought “This is excruciating, and I am a prisoner of my body. How could I ever encourage natural childbirth again!?!” I then remembered my hypno-birthing training. I imagined my opening as a rose blooming and I talked to Lee and told her it was safe to come into this world, and I needed her help to spiral on out towards the light. After that I went through transition and was completely dialated before the midwife thought was possible, I pushed for 20-30 minutes while the midwife used oil to massage my opening. I was not cut, and I did not tear. It was an ideal natural birth, and I am very grateful for that experience. She immediately latched onto my breast and I continued to feed her for 15 months. We spent that first night awake the entire night staring at each other in wonderful amazement. Eight years later, I still feel the reverence of our mother-daughter team connection.

Did you keep the placenta?

I kept the placenta in my freezer for 1 year. On her birthday we buried it in the Front yard and planted a magnolia star tree on top of it at our home on Elrod Street.

Did you have any postpartum depression?

No PPD, no cravings other than increased libido.

Do you see your daughter dancing?

I’ve not been surprised by her natural instincts towards dancing.

What type of dance do you practice? Did you perform while pregnant?

In recent years I have been taking Zumba dance classes and West Coast Swing dance classes with my husband. I did my first solo bellydance performance while I was pregnant, before I even knew I was pregnant. I had a bellydance shower when I was 9 months pregnant. My friends danced around me as my big belly was being painted as a flower. (see Shawn’s baby shower video below)

Describe the week after you baby was born.

The week after Lee was born was a sleep deprived blur of bliss.

How did you manage child care in the beginning?

Because I am a self employed Massage Therapist I have been able to control my work schedule and find a good balance working part time. I have minimal childcare, and some of it is with family. I love being able to take her to school and pick her up, and still have a part time career that I love.

When you lived in Japan, What was your schedule like as a mother in a different country?

In Japan she went to a Montessori preschool from 9-2 M-F. This allowed her to play with other kids, and learn a lot. They performed a song show at X-mas, and she sang Twinkle little star in Japanese. It was a 3 minute walk for us to get her to school. I pack her lunch for her.

Excerpt from Shawna’s blog: This is Hannah’s lunch today. This morning I cooked one cup of the sticky rice in a Japanese double boiler type pot on the stove. After it cooled, I used a Hello Kitty mold, and then cut out the seaweed for the face. The bow and circShawnaBentole face are made out of cheddar cheese, and the “Cherry’s” are Cherry tomatoes on a bed of salad. I threw in some cookies since this was her first time for this kind of lunch. There has been some anticipation build up around the lunch box, so hopefully with that and the peer pressure of her teachers and classmates, it will come home empty and she will have earned her afternoon sweet. I used the remaining rice to make myself a traditional triangle shape with tuna in the middle, and wrapped with seaweed. It is a good, filling, nutritious meal. I bought one at the grocery store this morning to compare the two, and even though there’s is very fresh, mine tasted better!

To read more about Shawna’s Japan adventures, check our her Blog. Don’t miss her post on escaping the March 2011 Japan earthquake!

Did you discover any tricks for helping pregnancy to be more comfortable?

I was able to make pregnancy comfortable by receiving monthly massage, exercising, and resting a lot.

Tips for soon to be mommy dancers?

I encourage new Mom’s to dance with their baby. My child and I loved that special time together. When we dance it is spontaneous to music that “moves” us. When she was small enough to hold, I would hold her, now we hold hands and I spin her as we shake our booties.

How long did it take you to get back to dancing?

It did not take long for me to get back into dancing after childbirth, but it significantly slowed down the time I had available to dance because of my new responsibilities.

Any favorite recipe for pregnancy cravings you’d like to share?

I ate as healthy as I could make myself during pregnancy. I would eat air popped popcorn with nutritional yeast before I went to bed, to reduce morning nausea.

How did you choose your medical practitioner?

I chose Vanderbilt midwives because I had worked with them while I was a doula, and Adam wanted a hospital birth.

Did you have a doula at your delivery? If so, how did she help?

My doula arrived as I was pushing, and then helped me take a shower afterwards. She could have helped more if I had called her to arrive earlier, but my labor was pretty fast.

What has been the best moment of motherhood?

The best moments of motherhood are when her and I snuggle before bedtime.

What was your favorite part of being pregnant?

My favorite part of being pregnant was rubbing my belly and her moving her body in response to my touch.

Did you have any issues with body confidence during your pregnancy? After? How did you deal with it?

After childbirth my belly skin was like a deflated balloon. After 8 weeks I was able to exercise, and get my body back to a form that was comfortable of me. Breast feeding helped me lose the extra baby weight.

Explain how prenatal massage helped you while pregnant.

Massage helps to release stress and gain more body awareness. Massage increases circulation, and boosts the immune system. Massage reduces knots of tension in the muscles, and it feels GREAT!!! You need to find an LMT that has prenatal massage training. After 6 months pregnant I massage my clients on their side.


Early Labor, PKU diet Woahs, and How to have a gentle C-section: Interview with Danielle Hamilton


I first met Danielle at the MTSU Performing Arts Club. A fellow dancer Allison Gibbs was co-choreographing a piece for the upcoming show and invited me to dance with her and Danielle. We kept meeting that way, dancing together through the years. Danielle and Allison later formed Umbra Fusion Belly dance and I decided one day to audition. We went on to perform around the south in festivals, conventions, with live bands, and of course haflas together. Things I know about Danielle: she has a large scary doll collection, she is a fierce gamer, she has mad party throwing skills, and she can spot a missed hip drop at 200 yards with her eyes closed while eating queso/chips and braiding her hair. Here is my interview with Danielle.

Was this pregnancy a pleasant surprise or planned birth?

Danielle: This pregnancy was planned. My next one wasn’t though! I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now. Fyi, after you’ve had your 1st baby it’s super easy to get pregnant again in the following months… Be warned. Lol.

Tell us your birth story?

Danielle: Well… I, honestly, had a horrible experience my 1st pregnancy with Isabella. (Thankfully, she’s been the best baby though!)

I was all about having a natural birth, and that’s what I’d always dreamed of. Didn’t happen that way… Not at all. At about 23 weeks I had a scare. I came home from teaching my beginner belly dance class, as well as several ballroom lessons prior to that, and I was having cramps. I just thought they were growing cramps or Braxton hicks. But after an hour or so… They were excruciating, and I couldn’t walk anymore.

We headed to the hospital. I was still thinking that it wasn’t anything to worry about, until the nurse told me I was having contractions 10 minutes apart. That was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was there for about 7 days while they pumped me full of magnesium sulfate and I, literally, felt like I’d been hit by a semi truck. I was poked and prodded at… But finally I was sent home with Isabella safe in my womb. Thank God. But then I was on bedrest.

Some of the most depressing months of my life followed. No more dancing… I didn’t see my friends a lot. I felt utterly alone most of the time. All I had left to do was sit around and worry and wait.

The cherry on the top was bed rest kept Isabella from being able to flip, so then I had a scheduled C-section. I was terrified. The day rolled around and it was scary, but exciting. Thinking about that needle digging around in my spine still makes me feel queasy. (And I have to get another C-section in about 4 months!) Everything ended up going smoothly. The operation room is one of the coldest rooms though, and the entire time they kept telling me to stay still, but I was shaking from being so cold. Isabella came out looking all weird with her feet sticking up in the air (happens to breech babies).

They took her away as soon as I was able to just touch her for a second. It was sad. It took me a while to be able to bond with her, which I’ve heard is normal for C-section mommies. I became depressed after my C-section, because it wasn’t the experience I had always dreamt of. It was disheartening, and I still feel a little sad about having another C-section coming up.

I’ll never get to have a natural birth, and experience being a mother who actually brings her own baby into the world. I’m working on setting up a “gentle C-section” though, so if anyone else finds themselves in my predicament… Know that a loveless, cold C-section isn’t your only option! I wish I’d known that my first time around. It could have saved me a lot of heartache.

How has she been the best baby?

Danielle: Isabella has been the best baby because she’s so well behaved. She stops when we tell her “no”, she only cries when there’s something wrong and her personality is the sweetest. It could all change at 2 though!! (Terrible twos)…

What did you do to pass the time when on bed rest?

Danielle: I think I’ve really tried to block it out of my mind.. But I remember sleeping, eating, watching dance shows and being on the Internet a lot. I was very depressed, unfortunately.

Describe the moment when you first felt bonded to your baby.

Danielle: I always liked my baby and loved holding her and being around her… But I think I finally felt like I bonded with her when I allowed myself to forget about how life used to be, and how life in the now was different but amazing.

When I accepted my new life, everything became simpler and I was able to enjoy my time with Isabella more. Sadly, it took about 5 months.

What is a gentle C-section?

Danielle: A gentle C-section is more family orientated. You can watch your baby be born, hold her, breast feed and be more apart of the birth.

With normal C-sections, sometimes your tied down and you don’t get to hold your baby until after the procedure is over. It’s nearly a 40 min separation from your baby after birth, and it can really affect the mother, child bond. As well as mess with the ease of breastfeeding and make it more difficult.

Did you choose to breast feed or bottle feed?

Danielle: I chose to breastfeed, because it’s cheaper and healthier for both the mom and baby. I only was able to breastfeed for 2 months though. Isabella’s system reacted very badly with breast milk.

It was most likely because of my metabolic disorder, PKU. I couldn’t eat meat or dairy the entire time I was pregnant. Instead my doctors gave me a broken down version of proteins.

After the birth, what was the first thing you ate to break your PKU diet?

Danielle: a hamburger and milkshake! All American.

Any funny mommy/prego/dancer stories?

Danielle: Hm. Well, maybe this bad, but when Isabella is eating in her high chair I turn on dance shows to brain wash her. Lol. She loves Dancing With The Stars and will clap after the dancers finish dancing.

How did you think having children would affect your dance?

Danielle: I kind of thought I’d just bounce back and go right back to dancing as much as I used to. Also, I had no idea how hard it would be to dance and keep my balance the bigger I got.

After I had Isabella I did get back to dancing with in 6 weeks, but it was incredibly hard. I was exhausted and my stamina was awful. I would sweat bullets, which is something that I never did before. I felt incredibly out of shape and sometimes it was tough to find someone to watch Isabella.

I found out that my idea of bouncing back and dancing as hard as I used to would never be my reality again. I’m slowly building my students back up though. I will just have to be more self conscience about my time management and not over doing it, since I’m pregnant again.

Describe the week after your baby was born.

Danielle: The week after my baby was born is a blur. I stayed at the hospital for 3 days and was on pain meds the entire time. I remember talking about dogs dancing the chacha and other crazy things. Lol.

When I got home everything moved fast, and Jeremy and I were lacking sleep in a way we’d never anticipated. Everyone will tell you how tired you’re going to be, but until you have that 1st baby -YOU HAVE NO IDEA- how tired you’re actually going to be! It’s insane.

Every time Isabella cried we’d go into “freak out” mode and we’d both be trying to dress her, change her diaper or feed her at the same time. Our knuckles would be knocking together. I’m excited to actually know what I’m doing the second time around. I bet it’s nice.

How do you manage child care?

Danielle: In the beginning Jeremy’s Mom stayed with me a lot during the day. After Jeremy went back to work, I was terrified to be alone much. I thought Isabella’s head would fall off or something!

I’m a lot calmer now and pretty much spend most of my days with just Isabella and me. When I need to teach dance lessons my Mom usually is the one who watches her. After Kyrielle, my newest baby, is born I’ll be hiring a nanny two days a week

Did you discover any tricks for helping pregnancy to be more comfortable?

A: Yea. Don’t get pregnant. Lol. Pillows come in handy. Use -all- of the pillows all of the time. Take baths regularly and just lay there. Also, don’t over eat. It’s horrible and you’ll feel like you’re going to explode.

Do you experience mommy guilt?

Danielle: Nope. I’m pretty confident in my mommying skills. The only thing that gets to me sometimes is not being able to give birth naturally. But it is what it is, and doesn’t make me any less of a mommy. Isabella still likes me all the same!

Tips for soon to be mommy dancers?

Danielle: I think the best tip I can give any dancer is to listen to your body. I’m a hardcore dancer, and I was flying through the air with my West Coast Swing dance partner. And still shimmying like there was no tomorrow. If I could do it all over again, I would have taken it easy and not danced as hard as I did before pregnancy. I feel like it could’ve saved me from pre-term labor and saved me a lot of pain. Hindsight is 20″20!

Also, when you are healing don’t expect it to be a quick thing. Getting back into dance full swing took me 8 months! I had to get used to my body all over again. It was a hard task.

How long did it take you to get back to dancing?

Danielle: I got back to dancing at 6 weeks. My csection healed quickly and I had no problems bouncing back. However, because of my time spent on bedrest, I had gained a lot of weight that I wasn’t used to. My main problem was being able to move quickly and support all of the extra weight I had gained.

My stamina was horrible, and, as I stated before, I was sweating bullets when I danced or did anything active. It felt like I was lugging around an extra person. With that said, I didn’t feel like myself dancing again until about 8 months later.

I finally started to shed off the weight. Just in time to get pregnant again!

How did having a baby change the way you danced?

Danielle: I’m not entirely sure that it’s changed the way I dance. More than anything it’s changed the way I feel about myself dancing, and made me more aware of things that hurt. When I first got back to dance I had a really low self esteem while dancing. Mainly because I didn’t like the way my body looked, and my movements weren’t as controlled and quick as they used to be.

I’m feeling more confident though, and surprisingly, my ballroom, latin and swing dancing has improved since I’ve bounced back! My technique has gotten much better, and I think I have a better connection with my body now because I’m listening to it.

What has been the best moment of motherhood?

Danielle: The best moments for me are when I get to relive my childhood. I get to do everything for the 2nd time through Isabella’s eyes. It’s made me excited about the small things again. Adulthood can take that away from you, but Isabella brought back little happinesses in my life.

What are some of your favorite moments to relive.

Danielle: Christmas is more exciting… Easter, all of the holidays. I also look forward to trips to the park and even having a picnic, because I know that Isabella is going to have so much fun. It brings some childlike-ness back inside of me and it’s wonderful.

Do you see your kids dancing or did they pick up dancing?

Danielle: I do. Isabella loves music and when ever it’s on she bounces around and “dances”. Her favorite type of music seems to be West Coast Swing music. I’m totally okay with that! It’s my favorite dance.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mommy dancer? Easiest?

Danielle: The hardest thing for me was people not taking my job seriously, just because it wasn’t a mainstream job. At first it was hard to find a reliable person to watch Isabella. My Mom had just started a brand new job, but now that her schedule has evened out, it’s much less hectic.

As a financial analyst, Jeremy, obviously, makes much more money than I do… But I needed to go back to work too. It was very rough at first. Juggling my private social dance lessons with everyone else’s schedules was stressful, and it was looking like I’d never be able to go back to work. Infants are -very- demanding, but now that Isabella is older, it’s much easier for me to leave her with someone.

The best part of being a dance mommy is the excitement you feel when your baby dances! You always have this hope that she’ll love dancing as much as you do. *fingers crossed*

How did you get started in dance?

Danielle: I’m a Belly Dance instructor, and I’ve been dancing it the longest. I’m also a Ballroom, Latin and Competitive Swing instructor.

I started Belly Dancing when I was 16. I was inspired by a performance troupe, Lubabah, performing at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. I started taking lessons with their lead dancer, Ariel Norwood, and I’m still dancing, performing and teaching to this day! I’m the troupe founder of Umbra Fusion Bellydance, as well as the instructor for my student troupe, Umbriel.

I became interested in Ballroom, Latin and Swing dance when I began teaching Belly Dance lessons at Dance Murfreesboro. Becky Lanham and Justin Ward started training me as an instructor, and I’ve been in love ever since. West Coast Swing is my niche though. I’m a competitive West Coast Swing dancer, and much like Belly Dance, it has taken over my life. (I blame Justin Ward, my dance partner, for that!)

And, side note, I would have never met Jeremy, my fiancé, if it wasn’t for Ballroom dance! He came to me as a student, and one of his New Year resolutions was to learn how to dance.

What was your morning routine before your first child?

Danielle: Sleep off my hangover! Lol.

What was your morning routine during your pregnancy?

Danielle: During my 1st pregnancy all I did was lay around and sleep. I felt awful and depressed most of the time. My pku diet was very strict and I felt like I was starving. I have more of a handle on it this time and have not been feeling as upset. I guess I got used to starvation!

What is your morning routine as of today?

Danielle: Today my days are pretty full. I wake up, make a bottle, change a diaper and lay in bed with Isabella while she eats. Sometimes she falls back asleep and I get to sleep in, but sometimes she’s ready to play.

What would be your ideal morning routine?

Danielle: Sleeping off a hangover? Lol. Really though, I’m pretty okay with my routine. I’m looking forward to cartoons when she gets older though!

Did your dance help with childbirth?

Danielle: I wouldn’t know. I wish I did! I know it helped with my recovery! A lot of women just give up after childbirth, but I think dance kept me working toward something. Being a great dancer takes a lot of work, and it kept me happy and motivated. Also, it helped me start getting back into shape quickly.

Did you continue taking/teaching classes during your pregnancy?

Danielle: I was dancing like a superstar until my pre-term labor happened at 23 weeks, and, like I said, I don’t recommend that.

Instead, take it easy and dance hard less often. But don’t stop dancing hard! As I learned, our muscle memory is easily lost, unfortunately, and you have to start from the beginning again. It’s not fun.

Did you have to modify how you participated in dance class?

Danielle: I didn’t, but should have. The second time around I move my hips less during Latin dancing. I also keep my belly dance movements nice and easy. No back bends!

I’m trying to be much more conscious of what’s going on in my body, and I think it’s helping this time.

How are you managing your dance time now on your second pregnancy?

Danielle: I’m teaching just as much as I was before I was pregnant. Theoretically, anything your body was used to doing before you were pregnant, you should be able to keep doing.

But I really have to manage my time juggling when I can take on new students because now my time schedule works around when I have someone to watch Isabella. I’m also rehearsing with my dance partner and belly dance troupe less.

Basically, if I’m not dancing for the money right now, I’m doing it a little less. It’s sad, but something that has to be done.

Any funny dance class stories?

Danielle: Like, during pregnant? Oh god. Near the end of my 2nd trimester, before bedrest, I had to leave my students every 10 minutes to pee! And pregnancy gas. That’s all I’m saying about that one. Lol.

Did you perform during pregnancy?

Danielle: I did. I performed in our dance studio’s showcase West Coast Swing and Belly Dance. I also performed at TribalCon pregnant, twice now!

Danielle performing 5 months after her C-section

What was your favorite part of being pregnant?

Danielle: I, honestly, despise being pregnant, but it’s not easy for me. I’m on a crazy diet and had a lot of bad things happen to me last time.

But I do enjoy being catered to… Who doesn’t like that?! A lot of people will let you cut them in line at the restrooms. It’s nice, and sometimes necessary, because if you don’t cut someone they’re going to see a grown woman wet herself.

Any recommendations for mommy dancers?

Danielle: I’m not sure about “for dancers”, but talking to other women on http://www.babycenter.com has kept me sane.

What tips did you pick up to make your second time around go easier?

Danielle: I don’t think there’s anything that will make it easier, to be honest. I’m actually dreading the transition from having one baby to two. I’m also dreading the lack of sleep and crankiness from being exhausted. But I know what to expect this time, and I know that it’s not going to be the end of the world whenever my baby cries.

Knowing what to expect and how hard it’s going to be makes things… Calmer, not easier! Like I said, I’ll know what I’m doing and that will be nice. Hopefully less small heart attacks will happen!

Did you have any issues with body confidence during your pregnancy?

Danielle: Yes! When I was put on bed rest I gained an excessive amount of weight, for me, anyway. My body confidence has been horrible ever since. I was -finally- losing weight and now I’m pregnant again!

I haven’t really found a great way to cope yet. I’m still struggling, but I’ve found that wearing the right clothes can help.

How can we find you online?

Danielle Hamilton on facebook & Google. Also, http://www.dancemurfreesboro.com/

all the beautiful things

Jealousy as Inspiration


My first memory of jealousy was when my Aunt took 13 year old me to Tucker theater on the MTSU campus to see a dance theater production. There was ballet, modern, jazz, and even a hint of belly dance in the show. I was mesmerized but when the show was over I did not feel satisfied. There was a knot in the pit of my stomach. I wanted that, I wanted to wear those costumes and float across the stage. But I did not tell my Aunt I was jealous. I was silently scolding myself for feeling that way.

Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbor to have them through envy.


Over the years, my way to deal with jealousy would be to ignore it, hide it, push it away. I proclaimed that I was not a jealous person. I did not wish to take away or demean the accomplishments and possessions of others, said the logical side of my brain. When I enrolled in college at MTSU, I attended several times the dance performances put on by MPAC (MTSU Performing Arts Club) and longed to be apart of it. I would imagine choreographies in my head and sketch the costumes in my Art History notes during class. In my senior year, I finally joined the club and went to my first meeting alone. We were asked to do leaps across the floor, something I had never mastered. I ducked to the back of the line and slipped out the door never to return.

After college, when my belly dance instructor moved away, the students banned together to continue our study and perform. One day we were discussing places we could perform. I suggested joining MPAC (open to both college students and the community) and audition for their upcoming show. I was terrified but thanks to the other bold and outgoing ladies in my group, we auditioned and were invited to teach our piece to club members and perform in the show. Since then, I have participated in 7 shows, choreographing two pieces, and putting those costume sketches finally to good use.

The day we were accepted into that first show, my jealousy disappeared and I made note of it. I realized that jealousy is simply an emotional marker set to alert me that what I am seeing/hearing is something that I want for myself. I hear people all the time talking about how unfulfilled they are in their life or job, but they don’t know what they want. They are not passionate about anything. For those people, I would suggest looking at what they are jealousy of and then taking these steps to turn it into inspiration.

These steps are inspired by Grace Bonney from her Podcast: After the Jump

1. Acknowledge- Admit to yourself or friend what you are jealous of and allow the feelings of jealousy to consume your body.

2. Investigate the reality of the jealousy- How did that person accomplish that feat or gain that item or award? What lead up to their success?

3. Take a look at yourself- Write down your accomplishments for the year. Big or small, appreciate what you have done.

4. Make a Plan- Write down 5 actionable steps that you can do in the next 3 months. If you have no idea where to start, surround yourself in the subject. Read books and blogs, listen to podcasts, follow people in social media, make a pinterest board on the topic. In scientific terms this is called entrainment, a term coined by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens in 1665. It can be seen in pendulum-type grandfather clocks. Set the motion of the pendulums at different times and in a day they will all be swinging at the same rate. When you align yourself with a topic in this way you begin to take on characteristics of your study unlocking inspiration for your next step.

5. Turn jealousy into friendship- Make friends or network with that person or subject that you are feeling jealousy towards. Take classes from them, intern at their company, volunteer at their festival. By proximity you will gain insights into there success.

6. Be flexible- Thru this process you may inspire yourself to a whole new direction to take what will fulfill your original need. Your jealousy could completely vanish. Allow it to leave. Don’t hold on to it. It will come back again, when you are searching for inspiration.

So, next time you watch an amazing dance video or see your friend post a gorgeous dress that she made for her daughter, don’t let that pang in your stomach trigger a stream of negative thoughts or turn you into an internet troll. Let it remind you, that their is inspiration waiting for you to unpack it.

More happy thoughts on jealousy:

4 Reasons to Let Go of Jealousy and Celebrate Your Greatness

Be Happier with Your Life: 6 Ways to Let Jealousy Guide You

4 Ways to Use Jealousy for Growth and Personal Gain

The Happiness Project

About BellyArtist

Ever since I was a little girl, I studied and read books on how to be a good parent. Pregnant women fascinated and both scared me. Whenever I was in earshot of a group of women talking about being pregnant or the birthing process, I was all ears and would make notes to add to my collection of magazine articles I kept in a binder in my room. I never thought about or planned my wedding day, the way the media says we are suppose to do. And when they came out with a Barbie that had an inflatable stomach you could insert a newborn into, I made sure to put her on the top of my Christmas list.

Then in my teens, I discovered dance. My family couldn’t afford to send me to classes, so when I turned 16 and got a job, dance classes were the first thing I purchased. Fast forward to college, blaa, blaa, blaa…. I discovered belly dance, then irish step dancing , then hooping, then aerials, now latin dance.

It is safe to say, dance will always be apart of my life, but how does it change, evolve, and fuse when you add motherhood to the mix. I hope to explore these issue in this blog titled, BellyArtist, a nod to my belly dance background and the true artists, Mothers.


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A Tennessee Girl in a Kentucky Flow World

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     Have you seen those t-shirt ads in your Facebook feed that fit so perfectly with your life? I find them creepy and intrusive, but I thought it was good  inspiration for a blog post.
     So, I’ve moved to Kentucky, the horse capital of the world. It even says so in a gorgeous mural on the water tower. I moved here to marry my boyfriend. He was in town for the horse racing season and we decided to stay. I love it in Lexington except for the winters. The snow piles up on the ground and you have to shovel your driveway if you want to go anywhere. In TN, we would just wait for the snow to melt before getting in the car. Shovels were for digging a garden or a hole. I have been here for about a year and have wasted no time getting involved in the dance community.
     – Mecca Live Studio, the best place for belly dance classes. Teresa is a Riot.
     – The Salsa Center, learn cuban rueda with Reena and Abel.
     – Defiance Studio, I met Siobhan Atomica, burlesque performer/teacher and Rikki Little, pole fitness instructor and owner of Defiance Studio at the local flow arts festival, Flow Camp. I also sell my footies at Defiance. Together they have formed the Kentucky Burlesque Society and put on The Bluegrass Burlexpo.
     With all this talent in town there is no shortage of performance opportunities and shows to feast your eyes upon. The dance community here works well together but back in Nashville, TN, we struggled. There is the need for community and someone will poke their head up every now and then and lead the movement but not enough support follows and they collapse back down into the sea of possibilities. Asheville and Atlanta are two other power dance communities that I’ve heard about collaborating well locally.
     What makes a community work? People? Environment? Education? Opportunity? My answer is FLOW. Around Lexington, KY there are two annual flow festivals: Flow Camp Festival and PlayThink, Asheville, NC- Mountain Flow Fest and Hoop Convergance, Atlanta-FLAME Festival, Nashville- ZERO. So what is a Flow Festival? First let’s start with what does a flow artist do or perform. Usually it begins with a prop: poi, staff, or hoop. Those are the popular ones. Really anything can be a prop. The oddest one I’ve seen was a shopping cart, speckled with wicks and set a fire. It was during an initiation performance where the initate was given all sorts of objects by their elders and told to Flow. Flow/dance- perform a continuous series of movements that seamlessly transitions into the next series of movements. At the beginning, we have a spinning prop and some dancing or posing, on the next level you add lights to the prop or if you are feeling froggy, just set the whole thing on fire and make sure you have someone spotting you.
Glowing Hoop Mural, Flow Camp Festival, KY

Great, we have defined the flow artist, now let’s put them in a group of other artists and see what happens. At a flow festival the majority of attendees will camp out during the duration. There will be a couple of venders selling handmade props and clothing. Classes will be available instructing attendees in a variety of prop manipulation, dancing, drumming, clowning, fire eating, yoga, and meditation. At night all will gather by a raging bonfire watching props whirl and flicker in the night. While DJs and musicians keep the music spinning to the early hours of the morning. Their is no competition here, no top dog, as long as you breathe and took the fire safety class, you’re welcome. Also the barrier to entry is quite low-almost non existent.

With in the fire circle, Flow Camp Festival, KY
     I first happened onto this world after meeting a troupe of fire performers at a Shriner’s party we were both hired to entertain at. Jordan Duvall is the organizer of FLOW Camp and owner of SwanBerry Farm. She invited my troupe to teach. Admittedly we didn’t know how we would be accepted. Yes, we danced with props but ours didn’t glow or could be set on fire. We arrived early and that night a bonfire was set ablaze and the instructors gathered around. We sat by the fire watching in amazement. The field was alight with drawings of glowing patterns constantly recreating themselves
Umbra Bellydance
Umbra at Flow Camp

and evolving into new shapes while the makers were cloaked in mystery and darkness. I had tried to pick up hooping in preparation for the event but I was not a natural. One of the instructors saw us watching and offered up a bag of hoops to play with. We took them and ventured out into the field. I did not whirl the hoop around my waist as my other troupe mates did, I chose to just dance around with it as if I was a rhythmic gymnast. It was so much fun and we stayed romping and whirling for 3 hours that night. As the years have passed attending these past four years, the troupe picked up different props to play with and we experimented with different concepts in our teaching, all in the wonderful community of FLOW. When I began going to Flow Camp I lived in Tennessee and was amazed with the love and support of the festival goers. Now that I live in Kentucky I see how they function and overlap their talents locally in shows at the local dives, annual festivals, and pop up flow jams/haflas throughout the year. One of my favorite events that combines all of Lexington’s talent, is the annual Thriller parade organized by Mecca Live Studio. Each year a mob of zombies parade thru downtown Lexington led by a recreated Michael Jackson. The mob has grown so large that they provide 5 sets of MJ to perform the opening scene of the Thriller video for the local onlookers. After the parade a showcase provides Halloween themed pieces to the mob of zombies and locals. You can see everything from ballet, salsa, and MJ impersonators to burlesque and belly dance. This year, The Breeders Cup (a big stakes horse race) will be held in Lexington and the Board of Tourism has asked for the parade to be scheduled during that weekend for the expected on slot of tourists.

thriller lexington
Thriller Downton Lexington

In conclusion, I think it best for Nashville to organize a FLOW Festival. Who’s going to step up?

This is a post from my other blog: LeoToes a vending/sewing adventure blog. I did this interview my first year at Flow Camp Festival. She talks about the hooping community. This is one of my favorite interviews.