Introductions + Pleasantries vol. 1 ep. 1


So! Welcome to the original
the first ever

Ebony + Ivory Podcast

it was just exactly 2 weeks ago
in this very spot x2
that we had this brilliant idea
actually i can’t say it an idea
i definitely feel like it was meant to be… a prophetic happening

i don’t even remember how we got there
it was like all of a sudden, PODCAST: “the things we say are great, let’s record them”

I mean yeah i feel like thats the thing
its not talking about the things that
especially as artists, as believers in Christ
there are things we don’t talk about well… as a community
as diverse people of different races, backgrounds, growing up in different places

how do we tackle the things that are inherently going on in the back of our minds that we don’t realize we don’t have the answers to, and how do we fortify one another to find those answers…

so this is why we’re here


Introductions

E:

Who am I?

I am an artist who does not always primarily work as an artist. But I think that’s the language my soul speaks, and what I get very excited about within the church is where the arts… I’ve grown up in church my whole life… but in the past 4-5 yrs have started to very much question, what is the church? Why? How do we do church? and who decided this is the way that we’re doing it? Because a lot of times, what i see in the churhc is not waht i see in the Gospels… I’m usually convinced we’re doing it wrong. I went to a private liberal arts college in W. Michigan. Extremely White. Extremely churched area. I loved college… college was the best. Moving out to the west coast, bay area specifically, I think a lot of the things that started to churn around in my head, started to ferment a little bit more…

germinated

I’m trying to see within… where the arts, culture, multi-cultural diversity, actually the gospel plain and simple, what does community actually look like? Where are the ways that we’re actually doing that wrong?

I work with middle schoolers in EPA (East Palo Alto). I have just fallen in love with this community and these kids. they are just amazing…

You’re gonna be a great mom of boys!


I:

This is Ebony the Extrovert, I’m Ivory the Introvert

… and I am very cerebral. This is gonna be a good exercise of getting my thoughts outside of my brain. when I first met Ebony, we very quickly had a connection. People didn’t know what to do with the two of us. I call her my disciple. partly because we break rules together. Our brains think mischievously below the surface in a way that usually gets us in trouble, but I love that about us! We ask questions and we don’t have a problem with being controversial in the midst of it. We are not conformists at all. which is awesome. anywho! I’m an educator, advocate, artist, choreographer, worshipper… I’m an empath (that’s a weird one… we’ll come back to on a different day) I’m extremely extremely intuitive, intercessor, discerning. So if you can imagine, I’m extremely emotional. I get swayed by many things… a lot of things affect me in ways that I can’t always communicate. I am working on being able to communicate things better because I believe God made me this way for a reason. (we’re gonna talk a LOT about this type stuff)

He made me the way that He made me because He makes things by design.

And if He made me this way, instead of just trying to change all these things that I’m uncomfortable with about myself, I want to master the person He has made me to be. That’s a new found discovery for me in my old age.


Why did we start this?

I think that this is going to be liberating for the two of us, but also, we both have encouraging hearts and I think there is nothing like being able to share things with other people. Especially in an “I Society” where everyone wants to be heard, be seen, (*parody*) I don’t actually care about any of that, I don’t think that’s our heart at all. We want to tackle real issues. So we’ll see where that goes…


Let’s Dig In…

E: I like… The Church… what does that look like… Both of us are people that feel very at home in church and very isolated and not at home. I think as artists and as dancers that is one of THE most isolating and debilitating place to be is in the Body of Christ.

I: One thing I’ve had a really hard time with and have struggled with my whole life is people saying “it’s such a shame, you’re so gifted, but you give your gift to the world, you don’t give it to God.”

To some degree I understand where the intention is coming from. People always assume that my dance is something that’s to be seen on a Sunday morning and not seen on a Sunday night. It’s only supposed to be seen in church. the reason I used to battle with them was partly because I knew God created me to create work that was His mouthpiece, an extension of His arms, whatever… whatever I was delivering was specific to the audience that was watching. And He said very clearly to me when I was young (I def had more zeal and didn’t understand the weight of what I was saying) He said,

I came to seek and save the lost. And your gifting is for the world because it’s through your gift that you’re being able to speak to people in ways that they’ve  not been able to hear before.”

You talk about our culture when it comes to the body of Christ, the church means so many things: it means judgement, it means I’m not allowed, I’m not accepted, I’m not LOVED. But #art is a tangible manifestation of our Creator. I feel artists have a different understanding of the value and the weight of what it means to be connected to God. It’s creating something from nothing! And really enjoying the process… the spiritual experience of creating movement… not knowing what it means… and then watching God translate it to me over time… it is just as much for me as it is for any and everyone to watch it. It’s hard, but I’ve come to accept it… I can share my work inside the church. I can show my work outside of the church. Just like… I’m a missionary. I can minister inside of my community. I can minister outside of my community. Neither of these are right or wrong.

F O O D B R E A K !

There is a whole episode in there about definitions of sacred and secular. There is a whole episode in there about… [That book… Culture Care (Makoto Fujimura, 2017)] He talks about that role we play in-between communities… he calls it “border stockers” … we see the communities around us and reflect and interpret those communities back on each other… we’re bridges between cultures that don’t understand one another. Which within that there’s just this inherent understanding that beauty has a value in and of itself. God created a world that is not simply utilitarian or simply practical or simply necessary. It is also just beautiful just because He felt like it!

look at the sunset fool, let’s just be real!

Look at the freaking ocean! which is why there’s oceans in heaven!
(that’s another episode)

… there is so much there in the soul of an artist. I think that extends beyond even just the arts as we think of them… that’s just the people who understand that creating something is the way that you more fully know yourself as someone in the image of God, who is the Ultimate Creator. What I have seen so much, in between the communities of artists and believers… I’ve seen artists who are SO good at opening their arms to one another… some of the most loving welcoming places I’ve been in have been [with] other artists, who probably are not also lovers of Jesus, but they have this inherent understanding of the beauty in me sees the beauty in you, and that needs to be welcome…

but pause… is that not an image of their Creator ultimately
that they may not have fully realized…
how are we missing the gap

exactly… there is something so beautiful that I’m missing in the church. You have the way the truth and the life but you’re not glowing in it. The church is missing out because they have ex-communicated so many artists, who then say, “that’s not where I want to be.” The church is missing this beautiful, important, necessary part of the body of Christ that we need. And the artists are missing the home that they should have. They should be most welcomed, most supported, most enabled…

and creating…
not just living in their church but creating exactly how God made them to be.
I mean I honestly (not to brag) LOVE my church for that exact reason. I’ve never been amongst so many artists in one church… and so many people who are not artists but appreciate that art is a part… it’s an extension of my worship. I’m not worshiping the devil when I’m dancing and then worshiping God when I’m singing.
No, there is no separation. 

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My Eagle Eye View

Though not as eloquent as my last post, and not quite my part II, I must share my intermission… downloaded from the sky. #milehighBLOGclub


Clouds (trials) provide the conditioning of the ground (our hearts) to receive the blessing of life through the Sun (Son). Without that conditioning, the ground will be ill equipped to receive that life. It is not that the Sun threatened the ground with death, but in fact the ground was never open to receive life. Trials open our hearts to the potential of our full purposes. Do not neglect the rainy seasons, for out of them SPRINGS of living water produce great fruit.

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Let’s Break This Down…


Clouds provide the conditioning of the ground to receive the blessing of life through the Sun.

[Let me rephrase…]

2002

The trials and hard times we face in our lives provide the “Miracle Gro” for our hearts to receive the blessing of abundant life in Christ.


Without that conditioning, the ground will be ill-equipped to receive that life

Maturity is only produced in the S T R E T C H. Regardless of how we want to accept that fact, no strength is produced without a fight. The same goes for us when we aspire for the purposes of God in our lives. There is a reason why Jesus was sent into the desert and tempted immediately after being called out and blessed as the Son of God. (Matt 3:17-4:11) Even after being recognized by GOD HIMSELF, Jesus did not preach a WORD until AFTER He proclaimed Who and Who’s He was. It’s funny how quickly we forget that Christ Jesus was first just Jesus… the man, with dreams and aspirations for “something great.” He didn’t come into this world with the Limited 1st Edition Bible packed with commentary and complimentary maps of the region! He was a spitting image example of trusting the God of heaven to direct Him in His carnal blindness. If Jesus did not take on the flesh of man… how would we ever believe a God truly understands our sufferings?


It is not that the Sun threatened the ground with death, but in fact the ground was never open to receive life.

The Sower never stops giving… Even when we don’t deserve the gifts given. Let’s be real… not ONE of us deserves the gift of Life through Christ… so let’s stop trying to qualify/disqualify, quantify, pontificate the posture of privilege that is our salvation! It was a gift FREELY given… kinda like the streusel samples given out at COSTCO… 2003nobody is paying for that… but if you want it, TAKE IT. You have not because you ASK not!

Let’s be real, we’ve all been exposed to (or an active participant in) the story of the Prodigal Son(s)*because BOTH had an issue of the heart* In one season or another, we have been in one of the three character’s roles… Father (hoping and yearning for the return of your beloved), Home Son (feeling neglected, unloved, unchosen, invisible), or Gone Son (feeling damned, ambitious, rebellious, failure, naked, embarrassed, ashamed…). Personally, I believe these parables are given to us as mirrors to examine the inwards of our own hearts. All that being said, it’s too easy to see the Father as an embittered resentful parent, filled with I told you so’s and good-riddance’s. But we see the Father as the complete opposite depiction… More like a Disney Movie #happilyeverafter#isthisreallife??? Truth is… it is. Because God has promised us that His arms are ALWAYS open and though He is ALWAYS there, WE have to fall into His arms… He ain’t gonna snatch us up like your grandmama’s-en-dem would do! He wants you to know that You are His BeLOVED, and HE will NEVER leave you nor forsake you… It’s more than just a phrase read at weddings. This love is REAL and ACTIVE… and more than that… it is PERFECT. Best part about that?

PERFECT LOVE CAST OUT FEAR!


Trials open our hearts to the potential of our full purposes. Do not neglect the rainy seasons, for out of them, the SPRINGS of living water produce great fruit.

Open heart surgery right???

yeah… I’m aware.

But if growth were easy, wouldn’t everyone be fulfilled? Wouldn’t the world be an easier place? Wouldn’t we ALL prosper??? Or perhaps… maybe our #Fear of growth (more on this later!) stunts our potential, not by default, but by happenstance? Maybe, like the man with ONE talent, we just bury that buck under the mattress rather than invest it into Facebook or Google (better yet the Kingdom!)? Or like the 10 Virgins, how many of us push that gas gauge to RIGHT past E, because… we can always “fill up in the morning?” (YA RIGHT!) Time comes and goes, and we missed our opportunity… to step into the greatness of our destiny… all because we thought we had time… ” Come on, don’t leave me hanging on this one… Realistically speaking… write them down… How many Talents (or Resources) have you been given? and to what percent are you actively engaging those gifts? Are your muscles atrophied? Do you even know what your muscles are called?!

Take at least 10 minutes and do this… write them down.
You’ll surely need these for Part II.


Finally, you can never neglect the purpose of trials. Let me just tell you a little story…

I’ve got this friend… 2004I referred to him in Find Peace… as my new Fitness Guru. Let me just say… it’s been a WEEK and I’m still INCREDIBLY SORE from, what would be considered, an easy intro into kicking this well-endowed bod back in shape! All pain aside… I straight up said, I can’t start this up on a sporadic schedule, I need a regimen! I can’t be living in the valley of indecision! I need change, and I only know one way to get it… THROUGH PAIN. It is not that pain is fun or enjoyable, but when your perspective is shifted to knowing that pain will produce fruit, your approach to that thing that once gripped you with FEAR will be restorative and invigorating rather than depressing and debilitating. I want THAT level of resilience in my walk… like PERIOD… no ifs ands buts hmms or whatevers. I want it to be written that I was all in… NO MATTER the Cost… 

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This is what happens when He speaks in the wee hours #sleepless

I mean… look at Jesus.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

#nuffsaid.

p.s. this is MUCH longer than I expected it would be!!!!!

Imani Tahira
#TahiraSpeaks

Find Peace…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Be Anxious For Nothing…

These 4 words could be enough to make or break your stride mid-step. I’m going to cut this statement in half and focus on the inevitable path-of-logic that ensues my brain…

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Be Anxious.

Whew… if I could fully articulate how much of an expert I am at this simple statement.

Be anxious. I’ve got that covered. Maybe it’s the type A (for Anxious), perfectionist, detail oriented, OCD mentality that I’ve inherited, more or less from my father’s side? Or maybe it’s just the infinite possibilities from within my imagination take precedent when it comes to my thinking? [#catastrophizing] Either way, it is the thorn in my flesh, crippling my every step [almost as much as my new fitness guru AJ].

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Honestly, I don’t know when the worrying began, but I know that worry is one of the old friends from my past. You know the ones… Who shared some good and bad times, but always seemed to get you in trouble? Ya that’s the one. Despite my distain, I know her very well. She accompanies me as I approach every decision, every problem, every relationship, every risk, every plan… every day.

[I guess you could say she’s that friend that calls too many times and you’re not in a place where you feel like talking to her but you feel bad that she has no one else to talk to…] That sucks to say. But it’s the truth.

200Checking is a term used as a symptom to general anxiety. A person who may often check to make sure the car is locked, or return back home fearing that the stove was left on from mornings eggs, or changes passwords frequently to be sure that their accounts are secure… These people (and I) are checkers, and just like any game, I came to win.

I frankly don’t know when my checking got out of order. But before I knew it, my worries and anxieties overly consumed my life. Overthinking and self-criticism crippl(ed) me in social settings with not only strangers, but friends I’ve known my whole life. As I’ve told my students many times, English is my second language… dance is my first. More frequently I can communicate the depths of my soul through movement, long before I can articulate them clearly with my words. So it’s no surprise that, when worrying about a situation, the dialogue occurring in my head is not easily resolved, but instead continues to churn like butter or broken record, over and over again.

giphy2Be anxious.

Yup I got that.


Lately I’ve been doing my best to take care of my anxieties more aggressively. The summer is a teacher’s playground to rebuild what’s been lost in the grueling school year. I desperately needed this summer to rebuild and I took it upon myself to focus on filling the gaps in my thinking in regards to my everyday life and my relationships. But still even with a clearer perspective, I struggled with keeping my anxiety under control. Though I had become hyper aware of its existence, I struggled to maintain a clear understanding of what was truth and what was untruth. Leading up to this weekend, I was consumed with negative thoughts bombarding my mind. I did my part to not keep those thoughts to myself. I spoke to people that I know, love and trust to try to conceptually get to the bottom of those thoughts. After much discussions (and much shared wisdom), I really felt more equipped to break down the barriers that have entrapped my mind and kept me bound by the bondage of anxiety. giphy3Still, even with the motivation, I stood looking at the feat before me and felt as if I lacked the tools necessary in order to accomplish the task at hand. Though therapy is something I’ve stood behind, maintaining relationships with mentors and accountability, and even having to resort to medication to regulate the imbalances within me, I still felt ill-equipped to tackle this beast that is been present in my life for so long.

But God.

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For nothing…

Let’s just brew on that for a minute.

How on earth can you be anxious for nothing?

These four words have haunted me for most of my life. That sounds super overdramatic but I’m speaking the truth or at least MY truth, from my own experience. It seems the way of Christ is perplexed with juxtapositions  and oxymorons if you will. What seems naturally impossible for us, is then supernaturally asked of us to pursue and acquire as everyday ways of life.

The last shall be first [Matthew 20:16]… That one definitely came in handy with two hungry brothers, getting in line for dinner. Being at the back of the line gave me free pass to jump in front! LOL.

But really, what does nothingness truly encompass? Realistically speaking I have to first decipher what makes me anxious.

  • Financial stability.
  • Companionship (or lack thereof).
  • Maturing in wisdom of Christ.
  • Fully maturing in the destiny and purposes of Christ for my life.
  • Loneliness.
  • Fear of being unknown.
  • Division and discord in my family.
  • Dissatisfaction with the injustices in this world.
  • Lack of understanding of hard times.
  • Not understanding the darkest places in my heart or why I have had so much pain.
  • Holding the pain of others.

This one I really struggle with… My heart aches for others more than I truly realize. I find myself bearing the burden that I know I was never meant to carry. And yet I know that that is part of the calling God has given to me. …To mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Like Hannah, I intercede with moanings and groaning, but my understanding of the depth of intercession has been skewed by the context of clinical anxiety and depression. I would never say that I have not struggled from these things, but I definitely understand more and more each day that these struggles are carnal, and my spirit man has experienced different aspects of the broken heart of God. If I cry for the wounded and murdered individuals scattered around the world due to injustice, how much more does God ache for that brokenness in humanity? If I am filled with so much love for the wisdom, knowledge and guidance of mentors, pastors and friends around me, how much more is God delighted in their trustworthiness and faith?

So rather than looking at what I should worry about, how about I seek to see what God is revealing within me. The truth is I have no control over the things that are around me, I only have control over how I choose to see it.

Be anxious for no thing.

If compassion and empathy are gifts that Christ has given to me, then what I feel is only a glimpse of what He feels for His people and His creation. How much more does He plan to take care of the hurting, the wounded, the broken? And if it means He is giving me this heart just so I can be the hands and feet of His love to others, then what better way to walk this road and share that love with you?

Thoughts of worry and stress were never meant to be held within us. In fact anxiety is a trigger meant to help us. When we have worry or thoughts of danger or concerns, ARISE, for power is attained when we give those concerns to God. Be anxious for nothing, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

And only then will we find true peace that surpasses all understanding.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

#BeAnxiousForNothing #ThinkOnIt #FindPeace

Imani Tahira

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p.s. Stay Tuned for Pt. II

 

Best Nine : Best29

It’s days like today that I can’t help but be introspective and contemplative. It’s been nice just being by myself, sitting in the silence of my place just soaking life all in… Pondering on all that has transpired in this last trip around the sun… It’s got me thankful for so much. Tbh I don’t care for all the hoopla of New Years. I’ve honestly never really had a good time today… It’s always been filled with much anticipation and shaded with much disappointment. 

The big one this year is #bestnine. I love photos so I followed suit. Immediately, I wish I recanted that decision, because my best 9 was filled with a lot of great moments I guess… But definitely not my best 9… I realized in that moment how “not so best” this 2015 has been for me, but also just how important it has been. I have grown in so many ways, and when faced with life’s challenges, I have pushed toward finding the better person I was made to become. It was NOT easy… But, I am very grateful for the lessons that have been learned, and are still yet to come in this journey. 

This year, I turned 29. A year that, no lie, scared me. It felt like I was letting go of a part of me I didn’t feel I fully lived… My adolescence. Friends past and present have been well acquainted with my colloquial phrase “I’m old.” Sadly, I’ve said it for most of my life actually. Whether it was schooling the youngins in between dance classes at MDPA, or trying to keep up with the youngins while taking class at Shawl-Anderson, I have had a hard time with feeling too old. I know now it was more about these 2 things: 1) experience 2) energy. #1 makes sense right? Obviously when speaking to someone without experience, it makes you feel immediately old and the internal monologue sounds vaguely like “what the hell am I doing here?!” But let me unpack this a little more. 

Experience:

… like the voice of C3P0 in my Waze, guiding me along the path toward a place I’ve never been… 

Seeing my younger self in the face of an eager artist, trying to be her best self… 

Crossing the stones of remembrance that lay next to the site(s) of my deepest broken self, remembering that life is worth living for… 

Watching the face of young students explode with humble pride, when they have made connections within themselves they thought unimaginable… 

Learning that relationships changing is a good thing, it proves it is alive and active… 

Recognizing that we all just want to be loved, even when it hurts…

This really has been a long year, filled with much doubt and accomplishment. I have learned that wisdom is like the rear view mirror in your car. Like Waze, it allows you to give the heads up to those behind you of what is to come. *hint hint* I may be young (as I am constantly reminded), but I have always been eager to share with others, with discernment, about the road ahead.

Funny sidebar: as I’m writing this section I’m literally being interrupted by a friend who just started a game that I started last year (and will admit, I am lightweight addicted to!). Our short text convo is as followed:

 

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… Hence the rear view mirror effect.

I digress.

Energy… Let me tell you a thing about energy! You will never have enough! At least from my perspective… Let me explain. Unless you are a unilateral person who only desires to eat Kraft macaroni and cheese and play Minecraft every 6 days, energy is a source that is hard to contain and distribute effectively. For those who know me, I do a lot. Actually, that would likely be an understatement. I am the Queen of doing #TOOMUCH. As my dear friend from college says of me… “There she go…” It applies in almost all scenarios! I’m not going to stand on my soapbox and say “What do I want? MORE! When do I want it? NOW!” 

Actually… #1 says… #2 is sacred…

 I’d like it to be spent wisely and with intention. Intention to me looks like more ME time, more CREATIVE time, and more REJUVENATING time. It’s hard to carve that out, but it’s harder to accept dying inside… So little by little, I make it my focus. Don’t ever get it twisted. I LOVE. all that I do… The main problem is… I’m a dreamer, a visionary, an artist… I planned the dynasty of my world before I positioned the steps it takes to get there. Energy is only a problem for the out of the box thinker… The one never satisfied with the ordinary. 

Reaching for the stars will eventually leave you atmospherically shocked and covered in stardust. 

That is… Especially, if you are assuming your dreams are only made for one person. God through LIFE has taught me to open my arms and let others in… I would have never had enough energy to withstand that vision alone.

Coming back to my Best 9 of 2015, I chose to write about them versus get caught up in the likes game. These do not only encompass the good experiences, but the defining experiences that have shaped the growth in my life this year.

 image1. Desert(ed) (f)Tears: Creating Site Specific Video project with my dancers at Dance Affair. That experience was so invigorating and inspirational to me. I loved their work and I loved our collaboration together. I felt so alive working with them on this special project, later performing live with them in San Francisco months later.

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2. If You Say Go: Putting (literally) everything on the line and trusting God to go to Malaysia. There is so much to be said about this experience, that I will refrain from mentioning here. Nonetheless, it was an extremely powerful and formative trip in my life.

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3. June 1st of this year, I got my own place. Like literally… For the first time living by myself. No roommates, no siblings, just me. With it came a lot of clearing in my life. My safety net-chosen family moved away, and I was saying goodbye to some really close dancers, some of which were my first students in San Jose post-grad. June was filled with extreme highs and lows, and marked with loss. But for once, I was coming home to a place that I could call my own.

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4. My brother, Jon, invited my family and I to his church one particular Sunday. He made a point that we would all be there. New to this split family dynamic, I really had forgotten that both of my parents had asked me about it until the day of. That day was the first day that my whole family was in the same building, since my parents split. I inwardly really struggled with sitting in the same row with them. But I hold it as a blessing now. That was also my first time at #c3sv, my now church home. All I can think of is, if I had bailed on him, I wouldn’t have found c3, and that moment of love that Jon wanted to give and receive, by having us all there, would have been missed.

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5. Love Vacation + Puppy: My dear friend and I had a MUCH needed stay/vacation, after the mayhem of jobs ended and life for both of us needed a breath of fresh air. Just keeping perspective of the Ride or Die’s in your circle, reminds you (real quick) how important it is to continue fueling fruitful relationships. Just before she left, my brother got a new puppy and I was eager to hold her. I’ve been afraid of dogs my whole life. My mom was so funny while snapping the picture of me holding her so close to me. Instant therapy.

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6. School is starting soon: busiest most dreaded time of year!!! But MY BEST FRIEND IS GETTING MARRIED! I had plenty to be thankful for, and not a lot of time to think about it! Around the same time, I auditioned for #SVdance at #c3sv. First big gig? #SVwomen conference… That’s when I met these new folks who have been integral to my life ever since. One special moment that was not captured in photos was when one of the visiting ministers gave a Word about a person called to missions. Hands outstretched, she prayed a prayer so powerful directly to my spirit. Though downtrodden, I grabbed hold of it and believed I would come out of this wilderness unscathed. That was a real turning point in my heart.

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7. I was ready to give up… But then she asked me to impart on her company… What?! Me?! Don’t you know I’m old? Busted? Bruised? Well… Ok then. I taught my first master class (in a long long while), began choreographing a new work on her company… And the rest is history. The creative desert had found an oasis. Life was dripping into my bloodstream.

  
8. BirthMonth: I had the best most love filled birthday in a long time. Chill vibes. Full bellies. Wonderful. I had a sleepover?! It was great. But one of the most fulfilling things I was able to do was go down to LA to see Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s performance of Rosas Danst Rosas, one of my all time favorite works. I never thought I’d be able to see the work live. And it was more marvelous than I could have ever imagined. That 16 hour mini-vacay, plus dinner with my dearest friends and hostel staying on the beach on a Thursday?! Come on… I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I was grinning ear to ear with my early morning Lyft to LAX and my casual stroll in to work the next morning, feeling so inspired and energized. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.

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9. The Anniversary: Dancing with #LīVDanceCollective at #c3sv and hosting our collaboration at Christmas in the Park was such a wonderful day but such a wonderful day for more than one reason. On this day, just one shallow year before, I was at my lowest place ever. I didn’t think I would ever make it out of that pit. I was broken and without any energy to lift up my head. That began the journey to today, through 2015, rebuilding, renewing, refreshing my heart mind and spirit to seek life above all else. Dancing that day with a smile on my face was the best way to say, I made it. I made it to the other side of that valley. Though deep dark and desperate, I’m not giving up on my destiny. Truly truly important day for me.

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10. (BONUS) Last but not least This Christmas: such an odd holiday in this new phase in life, I get worried with how it will turn out. For the first time since I can remember, I was happy to spend my days with my family. The despair of not “acting” like a family is gone. We just are who we are. My dad’s quiches are freaking amazing, my Black Santa of a brother is still crazy, my mom cooked (over the course of 3 days) and nobody was mad at her for that! We just kept eating!!! My baby Bro slept on the couch with his bigger than baby Pup. It looks different but if feels better. A room filled with love is all that we need.

So now, we are left with just a few hours of 2015. Nope, I’m not at the club or even watching my mom cook gumbo… I’m in my place, by myself, collecting life’s lessons from this year. I’d say, though challenging, I’ve had a LEAP year of growth in these short 365. I am thankful for the gift of life. With that, I am looking forward to 2016, not for my “best 9” but calling forth my Best29. I am taking my life back and stepping forward into the destined purposes of God in my life. May vision continue to be the focus of my woken eyes and may love be the comfort of my resting self.

May God bless you and keep you as today ends and tomorrow begins…

Happy New Year.

Imani Tahira