Tag Archives: How To

From Timid to Confident

For some time now, I’ve wanted to share with you readers just how much of an impact belly dancing has had on my life. As I look back over the more than twenty years of my professional dance career and time spent teaching my students, I can’t help but smile while thinking how changed I am from the timid, insecure person I was in the very beginning. Not just in dance, but in every aspect of my life, and I’d like you to imagine my words as an analogy for most any career.

Those who knew me as a beginning dancer probably wouldn’t say I was timid and insecure from their observations, because I was also enthusiastic and very much taken with the mystique of the dance. I, like most of us, suffered silently. I didn’t know many dance steps or how to transition from one to another. I felt my figure wasn’t ideal. I had no idea how to put a costume together or where to find the resources for costumes.  What about hair and makeup? There were so many things I didn’t know, and I couldn’t help feeling intimidated by all those dancers who were so good at their craft. Does this sound familiar?

Take heart. Perhaps if I tell you what I did, you may have similar results.

First of all, you must learn that it is all right to be timid in the beginning. In fact, that trait is helpful. It makes you try harder, want to learn more. If you live in an area where lessons are taught, take as many lessons as you can. Subscribe to publications, read articles and order catalogs that offer supplies. Attend seminars and conventions that give you the whole picture of what you have learned in the classes, and more.

As in any endeavor, networking helps. When I first started going to seminars, I took the time to write to the teacher or guest of honor, ahead of time, letting her/ him know how excited I was that they were going to be teaching and/or performing. That way, when I got to the seminar, there would be at least one person whom I knew, and it’s so easy these days with e-mail. I was always surprised when they remembered that I had written them, but you see, people love to be appreciated. Many famous dancers, I believe, are friends now, because I took the time to make their acquaintance. And the wonderful thing is that belly dancers are really great people. They are eager to teach you the things they have learned and to share their experiences and ideas. So there is really no reason to feel intimidated. Make friends with other students and with vendors, too. After all, your interests are the same.

The more you learn the more confident you become. The more confident you become, the more relaxed you are and the more you can enjoy this beautiful art form. I’ll always remember taking a seminar with the famous performer and teacher, Bert Balladine when he held his head high and told us that each one of us was a gift of God’s and we needed to dance as though we believed it. In the beginning, you may need to pretend you feel that way, (I certainly did), but as you master each challenge, it becomes easier to feel the beauty of the dance and feel beautiful performing it.

When you feel confident and beautiful in one area of your life, it’s amazing how that bleeds into other aspects of it. Because of my experiences in the world of dance and the wonderful people I have met through the years, I feel I have become more interesting, confident, sharing, and even disciplined than I would have been had I not had the courage to enter in with love, enthusiasm, and a willingness to try. So put on that smile, lift yourself up and start on your journey. You, too, can go from timid to confident.

With that said, see how you can take this “dance lesson” and translate it into advice for writing, or for artwork, or for music or science, or whatever your interests are. And have fun!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

 

 

 

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Filed under How To, musings, writing

Time for Bubbles-Champagne-That Is

Exactly seven months ago today, I signed the contract for my master bath remodel and I can proudly say it is finally done, as of yesterday! Yeaaaaay!! And in my humble opinion, it is gorgeous!

Before I get to the photos, I’d like to share what I have learned about remodeling, since this was my first major one. I was told by the company I hired, that my remodel was quite different than most, because I designed the project and researched and bought most of the supplies myself: sinks, toilet, shower and sink fixtures, medicine cabinet, ceiling tin, wall and ceiling light fixtures, columns, and all the tile. And I faux finished the ceiling and the Greek columns. Usually the remodeling company handles all that and the customer just pays for it all.

Regardless of how it is done, I suggest that impeccable records be kept of everything. Period. A diary is ideal if it includes how much things cost, but also when items were installed. It was more complicated for me because I had to keep track of my own costs for sinks, for instance, and also costs regarding the company I hired, mainly demo, installation and extras. Take pictures before the project starts and periodically along the way. They will be fun to see later.

I learned that remodeling costs more than you plan for. If you want anything out of the ordinary, like Champagne Bronze plumbing fixtures, you will have to pay an “up-charge,” sometimes called a “change order.” That will be in addition to the estimate you initially received from the contractor.

Also, the estimated time for completion is likely to be longer than expected. In my case, a lot longer. That actually worked in my favor, because it gave me additional time to save money to cover those unexpected extra costs.

At tally-up time, since I kept impeccable records, I even found a couple discounts my contractor forgot. That saved me money and made me happy. One of my discounts came through Angie’s List, so I recommend it.

And now, without further ado…here are the photos I promised. Want to share some bubbly with me? (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Before-Window Seat

Before-Window Seat

 

 

 

 

 

Before Vanity

Before Vanity

 

 

 

 

After-Window Seat

After-Window Seat

 

 

 

 

 

After-Vanity

After-Vanity

 

 

 

 

After - Shower

After – Shower

 

 

 

 

After - Column Capital

After – Column Capital

 

 

 

 

 

After - Column Base

After – Column Base

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Book Trailer Experience by Coco Ihle

My son, Rob, was visiting recently and I asked him if he would like to help me put together the trailer for my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW. He was enthusiastic, but busy with work, so I did the preliminaries. I watched dozens of book trailers on the Internet and came to two conclusions. The perfect length seemed to be a little over one minute, and eerie music and a British voice over would really help set the mood for the Gothic feel I wanted.

At my piano I experimented with notes that would create an eerie tune. When satisfied with the music, I developed a script. The hard part was keeping both simple.

Many of the trailers I’d seen had too much unnecessary information in the overall content, too much text per frame, hard to read text, too many pictures or ones that moved too fast. I needed: the one sentence TV Guide version of my book, in video.

The basic elements of my book contain a premonitory dream, one sister searching for her birth family, a castle, secrets, an ancient treasure, danger, a murderer.

Now to decide what pictures to use. First, I needed a title page and a background graphic. I had painted a faux rock wall in my sunroom a couple of years ago and thought that would make a perfect backdrop for the text of my book title, so I took a photo of a portion of the wall.

The next would logically be from the dream—a hand coming from a grave. On a night with a full moon, Rob, and I went out in the front yard and set up a floor lamp in front of a gnarled tree. The lamp highlighted his arm, but was hidden from view as I positioned my camera in front of Rob. Just as the camera started shooting, he blew cigarette smoke toward his hand and the resulting video looked like a hand reaching upward on a foggy night with the gnarled tree silhouetted in the background.

We didn’t count on my neighbor walking his dog about this time. Can you believe we scared him? He uttered a strange nonverbal sound, and to cover it, said, “What is this? Halloween?” Rob and I were still laughing when we went back inside.

The next pictures needed were of a man in a kilt and a picture of a young woman (family). That was easy enough. I used photos on hand.

Then, we needed a castle at night. I went searching on istockphoto.com and Fotolia.com and finally found a black and white video that was perfect. I purchased it and downloaded it to my computer.

For the “secrets” shot, I went hunting again on the Internet and found the tunnel video.

For the “treasure” shot, I gathered all the things around my house that could possibly be used to represent a treasure and took a photo.

For the “danger” shot, I went to the Internet again and found the wonderful eyeball. For the last shot, Rob and I videoed my arm falling. Next was the book cover and credits.

Using a program I had on my computer for doing family slide shows called, Magix PhotosStory on CD & DVD 9 deluxe, we lined up the photos and videos in order and added the music I had composed and recorded on an organ at my son’s store (complete with sound effects embedded.) The next step was adding the text to some of the frames.

I convinced a British friend of mine to do the voice over. That comprised the second sound track. All I had to do then was add the credits and send the video to Youtube. I also made a DVD of it, just for me, and I asked my web maven to put it on my website.

Some of you may want to hire a professional to do your book trailer, but I really wanted to try one on my own. It gave me a wonderful bonding experience with my son and memories I’ll never forget. If anyone has questions about how to put a trailer together yourself, I’d be glad to help if I can. If you’d like to see my trailer, go to  www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS_L0wQ7Zws  note: that’s a zero after the L. Any comments? Your own ideas?

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Filed under fun, marketing, music, photographs, writing