Shimmy Mob Memphis 2015 – How Threads Tie Us Together All Around the World

Shimmy Mob Memphis – How Threads Tie Us Together All Around The World

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Shimmy Mob. This year marks our 5th year.

What is Shimmy Mob?

Shimmy Mob is an event created 5 years ago by Sabeya, also known as Francesca Sabeya Anastasi, an international dance instructor, choreographer and performer based in Canada. In her words, “Shimmy Mob is a choreographed and planned “Flash Mob” type event, aimed to be the largest event of its kind by having a huge geographical territory covered in one day to raise funds for local shelters protecting women and children.”

We dance in cities all around the world on world belly dance day to the same music and choreography wearing Shimmy Mob t-shirts. Proceeds go to our local domestic abuse shelters.

This year marks our 5th year with 181 cities and 2,3870 dancers around the world. I am the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis and I am proud of the work our local group has done to help the victims of domestic violence in our city as well as the work of my dance sisters all across our beautiful earth.

Let me tell you a little about domestic violence here where I live.

Domestic violence rates for Memphis and Tennessee are high. Rates of domestic violence are higher in Tennessee than in many other states. Georgia reports 602 incidents per 100,000 and Tennessee’s rate 1,323 per 100,000 is 120% greater. In Memphis the rate of domestic violence is higher than that of many other TN cities. 2,949 per 100,000 compared to 2,015 for Nashville. Compared to statewide trends Memphians involved in domestic violence then to be younger. Across TN victims as well as offenders tend to be between 24 and 44; in Memphis both are more likely to be between 18 and 34 years of age.

The Memphis YWCA shelter is a 27-bed shelter that provides the only 24 hr 7 day a week emergency shelter to abused women and their children. 901- 725-4277.

When I formed Shimmy Mob Memphis, the shelter was the only one in the area. Only the worst cases could get in and there was great need.

As founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis I worked with the director of the shelter. I have been to its location many times delivering donations. Few people know the location for safety reasons. The building has tight security; you must call ahead and be buzzed in. There is an enclosed porch, the only place to be in the fresh air while they are in hiding. The children play on that porch. Often the shelter was full. For the first few years our fundraising efforts went directly to support the shelter.

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When I signed up to be team leader for Shimmy Mob Memphis that first year, I was motivated by the desire to help and to give. I had no idea how much the experience would give back to me. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life and one of my greatest challenges.

In 2011 I signed our city up and we had little time to get ready. No one had heard of Shimmy Mob. Within a short period of time I had 35 dancers signed up and two assistant team leaders, Brenda Canady and Cymbeline Rois. We had 25 days to learn the choreography and find a location. We had to learn the dance from a video. A dance that merged three styles, which meant new moves for many of the dancers. It wasn’t an easy choreography. I thought finding a location was the largest challenge. Our first venue fell through. There had been a destructive flash mob at the Wolfchase Mall and no one was willing take a chance on an unknown group despite our purpose. Then Center City Commission came through and allowed us to dance downtown on the trolley line.

I did not know when I signed up for this job that adapt and adjust would become my mantra. None could have predicted Memphis would battle flooding with the Mississippi River rising, or the many tornados, which ran through our city. That month was one challenge after another. Many of my dancers were having difficulties with flooding, trees from tornados falling on ones house and another’s car. We pressed on through. The big day came. So did the tornadoes.

On May 1st, we gathered on the Mid America Mall on the corner of Main Street and Peabody to perform the dance and heighten awareness of issues while raising funds.

Today if you go to ShimmyMob.com you will see our Memphis team was the honored city for persevering and pushing on through. You can also find video from our event Here on the acknowledgements page. 

What you won’t see or hear are the multiple starts and stops, the tornado sirens and the many times we moved back beneath shelter to get out of the rain. It took several attempts to get all the way through a dance, which was less than five minutes. We didn’t give up. We were tenacious. We kept on until we got the job done.

As I drove away, my phone rang. It was the photographer from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wanting to know if he’d missed us. He had because of the tornados and other extreme stories the news media was following. Not one reporter was there to take notice of what we’d done and report it to our fellow Memphians. They did not run a story. We were a small blip which didn’t even show on the news radar that day, as they passed us by for bigger stories.

There were over a dozen lightning rods dancing in downtown Memphis that day dancing in between tornados though few were there to see us and I am proud to call them my Shimmy Mob sisters.

Our efforts did not go unnoticed. Sabeya of international shimmy mob, acknowledged Shimmy Mob Memphis by awarding us honorable mention for enduring perseverance in the face of danger and potential harm. None of what we did was reported by local news and only a handful of people showed up to see us dance. Sabeya gave us special recognition but locally things remained silent. Still we raised $1,00.00 and this helped the shelter have the air conditioning fixed in the heat of summer. Imagine staying in a building where you can’t go outside and open windows because that wouldn’t be safe for you or your children. Often there has been great need for one thing or another and Shimmy Mob Memphis has helped with our donations.

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What I learned from my experiences leading this event in 2011 goes beyond what I can put fully into words. I learned about being tenacious, how to adapt and adjust sometimes quickly and somewhat frequently. I learned how people will rise to a challenge if you ask the best of them, if you encourage them. I learned it is not our difficulties that define our experiences but how we respond to those difficulties. I learned how deep people can reach into their hearts and their wallets to help people who aren’t currently able to help themselves. These are lessons to carry for a lifetime.

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When I think of all the woman and children that benefit and how this event unites us with our sisters all around the world, it makes my heart glad. We are in our fifth year now and I m proud of my Shimmy Mob Sisters and the work they do to continue this program. After last year I stepped down officially retiring from organizing to focus on my books, but I will return each year to dance with my sisters and support the cause in other smaller ways.

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What has this to do with threads? Why did I start this article talking about threads that connect us? It is because each year when I dance, I feel those invisible threads and that connection. Knowing that my dance sisters who do not speak the same language as I do are dancing in their neighborhoods to the same music, the same choreographies and for the same reasons and cause connects us in a way I cannot put into words. Each year when I dance, I feel these threads and goose bumps spread. It is a feeling beyond words. We share these threads without words, through the music, through the dance, through the hearts united in a cause. Through our loving and our giving. These are the threads that connect us.

We danced on May the 9th and we are continuing to accept donations.10009278_1837531029805288_5074710928209866596_n 11010568_10155575787445241_4161924435831333338_n

Often when there are issues and problems there are discussions of how to combat or to correct the problems. Sometimes a discussion of domestic abuse focuses on the woman (or man) being abused and why she should leave and why she doesn’t. Judgments place blame and find fault but do nothing toward solutions. To that discussion I have one response.

Babies with broken bones.

I do not wish to live in a world where babies have broken bones because we as a society have failed to protect them.

One in ten children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence and the majority are under 6 yrs old. Often the women feel they have nowhere to go, nowhere safe.

So what can we do about that? What can you do about that? You can help.

You can donate today at our You Caring link Here.

100% of the proceeds go directly to The Family Safety Center and are tax deductable.

Together we can make a difference.

If you have trouble with the link and finding how to donate, go to YouCaring.com then in the box in the top right type in shimmy mob Memphis.

My infinite love and gratitude to all those who have donated time and money, heart and soul to supporting this cause.

Here is one of the videos from this year and you can find many others from the past five years on my Youtube page.  Enjoy!

 

 

Threading the Web – Word of the Day – Obsession

Tonight at my Toastmasters group, the word of the day was obsession.

Merriam Webster defines obsession as:

: a state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently especially in a way that is not normal

: someone or something that a person thinks about constantly or frequently

: an activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing

Often we view the word obsession in a bad way, but let’s look at that third section in Merriam Webster’s definition. An activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing.

Obsessions are those things we are drawn to again and again. These are things we can write about and if you start writing about your obsessions, the writing can get very juicy. The flow could become more like a waterfall and less like a trickle.

The things that call to you, the things that drive you, the things you return to again and again, these are worth writing about.

What do you love?

What is the thing you can never walk away from?

What is the subject of the book you wouldn’t want to put down? The subject you could spend hours watching documentaries about?

What do you collect?

What are your hobbies?

What do you spend your spare time doing? What do you like to do on your vacations?

What are your obsessions?

Start writing about them. Let them trickle into your work. Share the hours of accumulated knowledge on the page so others can learn from and enjoy your obsessions too.

What are you waiting for? Start now. Pick an obsession, start writing and see how juicy your writing can be.

Writing During Difficult Times

Writing during difficult times can be a blessing but it can also create stress. I experienced this during 2014 when my father was on hospice for eight months and then in June when he passed. This was a time when I put into practice much of what I teach my writing students.

To write is to release words we carry inside of us. Thoughts and emotions but also the words themselves. Words that we do not speak or write will lodge in the body. So it can be cathartic to write about the difficult times. This is why it can feel so good to write in a journal.

It can also be cathartic to block everything about your current reality and escape to your fictional world for a while. The tricky part is that stress can make it hard to focus on that fictional world.

So how do we move through difficult times when we want to be writing? How do we navigate a writing life when the river currents have shifted and nothing is as it was?

First, you must always take care of yourself. You come first and the writing second.
If you need to take time off then do so. If you need help, then ask for it. You might not want to write. You might not want to get up in the morning. You might feel you are the only one in the world with this problem. You might feel that no one understands. But the fact is, this is a common problem. It’s just that not many writers talk about it. We tend to go into our writing caves and remain silent. This I believe is a mistake.

Take time off from the pressure to write and don’t be hard on yourself about it. Do what you must do. You are allowed a long lunch break during these times. You are allowed a vacation. Taking a break does not mean you have failed any more than taking a vacation from a day job means you are not doing a good job. Be kinder toward yourself, not hard on yourself. Remember that you are more important than the writing. The writing will be there when you return. Your life matters and your health and happiness matter. Without you, your writings would never exist.

This is not the time to disappear into your writers cave like some mysterious author who never communicates what is going on with anyone. If you have an editor, an agent, a publicist, or anyone else that you work with to produce or promote your writing, let them know what is going on. You might be surprised how supportive they can be.

Come to the page and write something, anything. Getting the words out will help you to move through whatever you are dealing with. The something you write may not be the story you’ve been working on. It may be the thing which is bothering you today. Sometimes we need to get those words out first, before we can move on to working on that story. But write something. Five minutes a day. Set the egg timer. It may seem like an insurmountable task making yourself sit there for five minutes to write, but once you manage it, you might be surprised at the feelings of relief you will have. Give yourself small manageable goals so you can succeed instead of tackling a long project which could leave you with a feeling of failure.

It is okay to write something you never intend anyone to read. You are doing this first for yourself. Whether anyone will read it is a secondary issue. Your task is to get those words out. It is okay to write something and then delete it later. It is okay to put it into a drawer and not look at it for a year.

It is okay to only write for that five minutes a day when you are used to writing pages and pages. It is okay if you cannot produce as many pages as you are used to. You may be tired, you may be distracted, you may have interruptions you would not normally allow. Avoid putting pressure on yourself about your writing.

Are you full of emotion? If so, good. Let that flow out onto the page. If you are working on fiction or poetry let it flow into your work. Emotions are one of the ways we connect with our readers.

Allow your writing to bring you joy. Everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their lives. But you have been blessed with the urge to write and it’s there for a reason. Your writing is something that will always be yours. You take it with you wherever you go and you can write through anything if you teach yourself how. Let your writing give back to you as you give to it.

Writing through difficult times has taught me so much. I am thankful for those lessons, just as I am thankful to be nearing the end of these current difficulties. I am thankful to know that just as I have moved through this trying period of my life, I could move through the next if need be and emerge stronger and wiser on the other side. I will emerge stronger, wiser and ready to write.

A Writing Exercise – Dedicated to My Father

Two weeks ago, on my birthday, I treated myself to a Writing and Yoga Workshop taught by Valentine Leonard at Delta Groove Yoga in Memphis. It’s been a long time since I took a writing workshop. Usually I am busy writing my novels, short stories and poetry and teaching and coaching my writing students. So this was a nice treat for me, to be on the other side of teaching and to be a student once again.

One of the exercises given was to make two lists, one of places we knew well and the other of things we no longer did. Then we were to match the unlikely ones together, to pick one and to write about it. From those lists I chose my fathers house and escorting  travelers overseas.

This is what I wrote:

I no longer escort travelers overseas on long trips to my father’s house.

He is on hospice now and mostly sleeps. So I would not have time now for travelers who need escorts because they don’t know how to get their passport or what to pack and who have never stepped beyond the borders of their own country.

I used to have so much time and patience for so many people and never minded helping. They simply needed someone to go beyond pointing the way and saying this is how you do it.

Sometimes a person just needs another hand to hold and for them to say come on, it’s going to be okay. I wonder who is holding my fathers hand now and if he will be escorted in a group to the other side. He does not seem afraid, merely confused. Perhaps this is why he is lingering so long.

It’s harder to be the watcher when you are used to escorting people. I have no road map for where he must go. I do not know these border crossings. I can only stand on the shoreline waving goodbye and sending my love.

For me, this is a journey of sitting when I am used to being in movement. I should not complain. He is the one confined to a bed, never going outside to breathe the fresh air. No wonder he sleeps so much. I would sleep too if my gaze could not reach up to touch the sky. I would close my eyes and travel in my mind. Perhaps this is what he is doing. It is impossible for me to know.

Perhaps he is waiting on a slow VISA to the place he has never gone before. I hope and pray his passage is smooth, his escort kind and firm of hand. I hope his new country welcomes him like a long lost son and celebrates his coming home.

Dedicated to John (Jack) Bishop

Oct. 15, 1933 to June 20, 2014

 

Friday Poem – Easy

Easy

 

He bleeds so easily now.

The smallest cut will seep

like the Cumberland River below

as dark bruising spreads beneath

his loosened skin.

The river is forty foot low this year

because the damn is cracked

and repairs are estimated to take five years.

The path down to the dock is steep

and rocky slate shifts beneath our feet

but he will fall

before he lets me hold his elbow.

There is a line between

dignity and helplessness –

his words “not helpless” –

as if any aid implies

complete loss.

But perhaps he knows something I don’t.

How slippery the slope

and this is how he avoids

a Humpty Dumpty tumble –

I wash away the blood, clean the cuts

before covering them

with antibiotic cream and bandage

which must be replaced again

and again like a finger in the dike.

I run his shirt under cold water

so the blood won’t stain

and it runs red down

the drain, which flows into the septic

I’ve been told might overflow,

so many liquids threatening

like the darkest rain clouds outside

and oh how I used to be afraid of

thunder and lightning.

If I could wash away one thing

I would erase all trace of worry

from his mind

so he would be at ease and know

the letting go is fine,

his daughter strong enough

to catch, to hold

to release when it is time.

 

– Debra Parmley

Published in Twilight Dips.

http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Dips-Debra-Parmley/dp/1482556057

 

Friday Poem – Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

 

The wind was blowing

Strong

Fine particles of sand

We were covered in it.

Dust of the ages

From layers way down

Gritty and soft.

The sun was shining

Warm

Casting shadows of light

Over all of us.

Sun of the ages

Illumination of all things

Comfort and discomfort

I had forgotten that I depend

On you for life.

The canyon was layered

Color upon color

Shades of red and orange.

Layers of the ages

Story of the earth

Birth and death

Contained within these lines

Indians came here.

The Great Spirit

Would speak to them

Spirit of the ages

Creator of all

Containing us

I had forgotten until

I came here

To be reminded.

 

– Debra Parmley

Published in the poetry anthology Twilight Dips

http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Dips-Debra-Parmley/dp/1482556057

Wednesday Poem – After My Father Visits

After My Father Visits

 

After my father visits

he leaves behind

the scent of his cologne

which lingers on the towels

of the guest bath

where his false teeth rested

with his travel pill case counting out

the days he can’t remember.

The scent lingers in the guest bedroom

where he sleeps under the quilt

his mother made, which holds

pieces of his old pajamas,

blue teddy bears

which I sometimes run my fingers across

with a smile.

 

– Debra Parmley

Published in the poetry anthology Twilight Dips

 

http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Dips-Debra-Parmley/dp/1482556057