The Finding Your Freestyle Podcast – Episode 2 – Meditation with Dr. Linick

Thank you for tuning in to our second episode of our brand new series: The Finding Your Freestyle Podcast!

The #FYFpodcast will marinate with our blog and current #freestyledtips and the ongoing #fyfchallenge offerings, but now adding an immersive discussion format to bring in new voices. This podcast is inspired to start a larger dialogue on the art of freestyle (beyond modality and form), and tangential topics of mindfulness, awareness, intention, intuition, creativity, self-expression, and collaboration with interesting folks who are doing their thing in their own way! This podcast will continue to touch back on movement and freestyle practice, but includes the connection between freestyle, in moving form, and the way we can access that freedom in many other life experiences.

Dr. Jess Linick, psychologist and somatic therapist, is our second guest here to talk about meditation, and mindfulness. What is it? What is it not? How do we get started and where else can it go? There were so many fantastic talking points here, I highly suggest you listen – start to finish!

Dr. Jess Linick is a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment and resolution of trauma, meditation, mindfulness, and body-oriented psychotherapy. She received her PhD from Columbia University, and currently practices in juvenile detention in New York City. Dr. Jess has danced her whole life, but began pole dancing while living in Los Angeles at BeSpun in 2011. Upon moving back to NYC in 2012, she started dancing at Body & Pole. Along with Tracee Kafer, she is the co-creator of Pole Speak. She is in the process of becoming a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, which is a body-oriented, trauma-focused healing modality. She completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at the WOOM Center in NYC, which combined elements of sound meditation with Vinyasa yoga, and is also Reiki Level 2 attuned.


The Finding Your Freestyle Podcast – Episode 1 – The Conscious Chef

Thank you for tuning in to our first episode of our brand new series: The Finding Your Freestyle Podcast (now in iTunes)! I’ve been inspired to start a dialogue online (for years, really) on the art of freestyle, and tangential topics of mindfulness, creativity, and expression with interesting folks who are doing their thing in their own way!

I aspire for this ongoing dialogue to be a nourishing spot for inspiring our diverse, daily practices. When awareness, curiosity, and intention collide, we find more freedom and ownership in each of our actions, and evolve how we feel about ourselves and our lives. Join me!

The #FYFpodcast will marinate with our blog and current #freestyledtips and the ongoing #fyfchallenge offerings, but I’m excited to now enjoy a discussion format and invite in other voices, and I brought up one of my best friends Kiele Turrini, the official chef of our Retreats, The Conscious Chef, to be my first guest.

You guys really enjoyed her infographic on mindful eating vs. dieting that we shared, and Kiele really explores instinct, intuition, harmony, and sensory awareness in her craft – what better person to inspire us in whatever our practice is! In this podcast we discuss intuitive cooking, instinct, flavor profiles, cravings, and more!

Kiele is a Natural Foods Chef, Intuitive Cooking Coach, and the founder of Conscious Chef in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She has a background in Food & Healing and whole food learning. Her goal is to open up people’s minds, hearts, and souls through learning about whole food nourishment, healing, making conscious choices, and living an exceptional, holistic, fulfilled lifestyle. Conscious Chef is a food & wellness company with a focus on eating Whole Foods, nutrient-rich living, and making conscious lifestyle choices to be your best self.


FYF December 2017 Playlist: Smooth Beats

Some of my favorite music to put on in a daily practice is more “neutral” in tone – there is a good, solid beat, a smooth quality over and under, a tone that I can massage and manipulate to more source from where I am at that day, rather than be led by the songs whims. This playlist is inspired by that, just usable music for whatever you are focusing in your movement. And sure, there are a few secrets in there that may drag you down somewhere deeper, or lift you up. 🙂 Playlist link.

Happy End of 2017, ya’ll!!!! Can’t wait to move into 2018 with you.

FYF Freestyle’d Tip #11 – The Three Voices

We have many voices in this world. Whether we speak, write, or move, we are always talking. What do we say well? How do we say it? In this discussion is the invitation to observe your different voices, learn from them, and find the opportunities to grow in awareness and even choice within them. Do we find authenticity by becoming more consistent through these different mediums, or is it more about honing what we are strongest at and backing that with intention, intimacy, and even vulnerability?

I’d love to know what you learn from your own voice, or the voices of those you love to listen to. And to use your own voice with more clarity, power, truth, and even passion.

FYF Freestyle’d Tip #10 – Permission

Permission. Do you wait for it? Do you seek it? Do you give it? What is this preoccupation (usually unconscious) with getting permission to do things, to create things, to experience things? Please tune in to this Freestyle’d Tips where I discuss this topic, inspired by not only FYF class, but also a book I’m enjoying entitled BIG MAGIC, I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

In this tip I reference a guided meditation, which I have completed and published for you to enjoy for less than a dollar! Download link is below:

Move Your Meditation Session #3: Before You Move Today (Only $.99!)

FYF Freestyle’d Tip #9 – Purifying your Movement

Hey ya’ll! I really love this discussion on slowing the F down. Please give it a listen, and as always, remember these Freestyle’d Tips are impromptu, there is no rehearsing and something I go on tangents. But inside that pure freestyle energy, is where interesting things come up, so please excuse any verbal hiccups. 🙂 In this chat I give you some tips on how to create movement sessions where you can structure in the genuine potentiality of letting your movement teach you.

FYF Freestyle’d Tip #8 – Stimulation vs. Nourishment

“What is the fitness industry, but a way to divorce the aesthetics from the function.” – Rafe Kelley

Hey guys! I know it’s been awhile, thanks for your patience. I got inspired today to have a little chat about this concept that I first heard from Rafe Kelley. Within this little ditty, is a short guided exploration so you can start to grow more aware of what your practice brings to you. Do you spend time investing in movement that is truly nourishing? Do you drive your movement practice based on what is just stimulating for the moment? Do they feel different, and in what way? Take a listen…

What Are Your 2017 Movement Intentions?

2017 MOVEMENT INTENTIONS… What are yours?

Now is as great a time as any to put thought to word, and start manifesting the intentions we have for our movement practice this year. This isn’t necessarily the place to write that laundry list of tricks you want to check off the list, or to claim long-term tangible goals like a competition entry or more concrete skill set. But maybe looking more objectively at that bigger picture, those subtle and powerful desires we have to find worthiness and fulfillment in our movement. The stuff past your identity-driven image or egoic mind (And yes, it’s VERY hard to discern sometimes, or even detach from that aspect of ourselves when we dance).

FYF-ResolutionsWhat sensations, freedom, knowledge, and experience do you want this year? What do you want MORE of when you step on that floor, put on that song, or grab that pole to start moving? What do you want to FEEL? What do you want to SEE in yourself? Do you want to move more often? Love it more deeply? Respect and care for your body and spirit more lovingly? Gain freedom? Strength? Patience? Lose those habits that keep you restricted, stagnant, and judging? What about comparisons, and imitation? What about inspiration? How do we nurture that?

Let’s set some clear, simple, and powerful intentions for our year. The more you can get down to the roots of what your REALLY need and want, the more effective this can be. This takes time. Write it down and put it in your space, leave it as a wallpaper on your phone, set it as a monthly alarm to check in with it. Are you making consistent decisions to honor this intention? What holds you back, what patterns do you fall into to disrespect and disregard these wishes? We all have them! The sooner we can awaken and identify when we get in our own way, the better. It isn’t a linear path.

And I hope this online space, and even our events, can help you unlock and blossom these intentions.

Mine? I want to feel more STRONG and POWERFUL when I move. I want to continue to commit to moving in some way, every day. So… moving often, cultivating strength with patience, working through fear without discrediting or judging it.

Consider Posting Longer Videos…Here’s Why.

Question: What are we doing to our journey, to ourselves, and each other, if we only encourage and actively engage videos for 15 seconds or less, on a daily basis?

By now most of you are probably aware that Instagram has increased it’s video length maximum to one minute! And yes, this change may be motivated by algorithms, celebrities, and sponsors, but I am so excited and grateful for what it may encourage long-term in our own movement and pole community. I have been meaning to write this for awhile now, so I’m glad to finally sit down with some coffee and tap these keys out. Please know this rumination may go on a few tangents along the way. (Insert joke about time limits and shortened attention spans.)

I began sharing and consuming pole videos online in 2009 (I had been poling for about a year by that time, but didn’t have the studio space to record anything). The sharing and watching of pole videos, let’s face it, is the bread and butter of our modality and community expansion. But the whole landscape was entirely different then. There were less pole tricks, less complex combinations, less pole vocabulary (and a lot more repetition), less pole dancers, less ‘ebrities, less videos, a lot less quality instruction. Many people were figuring it out as they went along, and it was an exciting time of magic and intimacy and novelty. We would watch and re-watch videos for inspiration (almost to an unhealthy obsession), and sharing was a huge part of the growth of everyone (which is still true today). Those original pole video years for me consisted of tons of recorded long-form freestyles and edited mash-ups of current tricks I was working on. I would edit out numerous pole wipes (sweaty hands) and disastrous aerial faux pas (although many are still in there, oh lord my inverts!), or paste together multiple songs, but I hardly felt encumbered or worried by a time limit, or the limits of someone else’s attention. Many of us watched every single second of everyone else’s videos we loved (6 minute freestyle? No problem.), and we shared a lot more of other peoples movement than our own in our social feeds. The smaller, fledging community was paired with a much larger attention span, and now, the direct opposite is true.

I would watch videos like this over and over….

and this…

and this…

and for fun, here’s an oldie from my own library…

I loved this part of my journey, so very much. I can literally use my YouTube channel as a visual timeline of my movement evolution (and if you want to go back even further, and into more embarrassing territory, I still have even older stuff on Studio Veena). I can see the parts where I began by imitating my instructors. I can see the parts where I was so obsessed with a move I would treat it like a track on repeat (shirt tug and hair toss, anyone?). I can see the parts where I struggled to finesse pole fluidity and transition. I can see the parts where I forced myself to do things I thought were important. that later I could care less about. I can see the parts where I realized I felt truly sexy. I can see the parts where I realized I was strong, and where I was weak and my body had had enough. I can review bad and inconsistent form, and visually asses my alignment and engagement, something truly invaluable about personal video. I can see the parts where I tapped into emotional awareness, emotional validity, catharsis, and then later emotional intelligence and integration. I can remember those specific videos that would permanently unlock style expansion, musicality refinement, strength, confidence, flow, freedom. I am so grateful to have these videos, with timestamps, and music, and mistakes, and friendships that surrounded it. I remember who filmed them, how I felt when I would watch them for the first time (“Oh, the horror! Oh, that’s not so bad. Oh, that was kind of awesome! Ooh that is new for me!”). I remember the anticipation of uploading and sharing them. The fear and excitement of realizing I was starting to embrace who I was, flaws and all. I remember the first time I decided to use my real name in the title of a freestyle video. (Yikes, there goes my google search corporate America!) The apprehension, then relief when others recognized or embraced my movement. I remember the encouragement, the generosity in compliments and sharing, and the moment when others started asking for advice about their own movement journey. Then the moments later on when I realized I continued to share for my own reasons, whether that was encouraging myself or others. Sometimes it was about connection, sometimes it was just about following my own freestyle-obsessed bliss, and being able to refer back to it for my own reasons. There was nothing else in my entire life that I had invested in that amount of self-care, personal cultivation, and contribution to community. Instagram, and Youtube, after all these years, is really just my visual journal of my life as a pole dancer.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

As time passed, and sheer numbers grew, I feel video exploration and process in our community seemed to be replaced, slowly, by results-driven creation, competition, and finally, intentional branding. A inevitable sweet-meets-sour place where the dreams of pursuing career and entrepreneurship became a beautifully attainable opportunity for those that loved to pole, and perfectionism, idealism, and compartmentalism shot an impending fog into our collective midst. I believe, as those dreams grew for so many of us, the landscape just had to change to meet it. (I am glad, though, that I still kept recording and posting many of my freestyles through all of it. I remember having conversations with people who would intentionally not post as much exploration for marketing reasons, and encouraged me to do the same. But I guess I realized it was a part of what I loved about pole, so I did it anyway. And I still do, even when I’m not moving at “my best”.)

Then, one of the biggest contributors to our current video sharing landscape came to the scene. INSTAGRAM.

Since the birth of video sharing on Instagram, we have now been exposed to hundreds of thousands of small bursts of bad-ass moments in polers’s personal pole trainings. I think one of it’s incredible uses is as an archival, sharing, melting pot of emerging pole trick vocabulary. A place where people can get their daily stimulation of what they may want to work on when they get in the studio, and vice versa, when they share what they did in the studio (usually it becomes this orgy timeline of ideas where everyone is sharing and borrowing and sharing, and growing and molding and modifying, very cool). But the points I make in this blog are not about those short clips that fully encase a trick/combo/move idea, but what it is doing to movement itself. A very important difference for me.

Tangent. In 2012 when I started Finding Your Freestyle and it’s subsequent YouTube Challenges and freestyle perspectives, I started turning my own process into a productive one for encouraging others on this path I was subconsciously fighting to create and keep valid. With all this pole industry acceleration I asked myself, “Where is the growth in self-progressing exploration? When does someone get the chance to turn inward? How can I develop tools and methods for molding a healthy and fulfilling practice? Can freestyle be embraced and further developed as the powerful creative process and training method that it is? And can others benefit from what is a vital life practice for me?” Movement doesn’t have to be inherently competitive, comparative, even complacent. We don’t have do it exactly the way we are taught, are used to, or the way we think others like it, or the way your friend or teacher or idol does it. We can learn the rules, enjoy the rules, and then enjoy breaking them. And then we can share our findings, contributing new ideas to the melting pot. Movement is a tool of personal evolution, and expansion, and a video account of that process is highly important for growth, and the benefits of sharing our process/journey are amazing and connective.

Originally, my YouTube FYF videos were loooooooong. Each one having an intro, deeper explanations, longer examples…videos were 4, 5, 6, 7 and more minutes long! I talked “too much”, maybe, danced for “too long”. I loved doing these videos, I really cared about them. I loved feeling like I had ample time to explain and demo an idea or creative concept. However, participation on a larger scale for these challenges didn’t really pick up and build momentum until Instagram allowed those short video clips. You had 15 seconds to share you and your freestyle in all your glory! I started adapting my freestyle challenges to IG (This was March 2014), and sh*t just took off running. I remember my first IG challenge was about movement through three different levels in 15 seconds, the time limit became part of the fun! 15 seconds became a safety net of accessibility and accountability, and more people, it seems, threw on a song and danced. Maybe it felt like less of a burden, or risk, or time commitment to post just a clip. You could freestyle for an entire song, but only share what you liked. You could freestyle for just the chorus of a song, and get your exploration training done faster than a commercial break. (AMAZING!) It gave people, who were hesitant to share, a platform that felt comfortable in it’s low-time-commitment. (And the filters! Oooh!) I feel this platform did help validate freestyle as a means to enjoy pole practice and to be proud of it, even if it was only one clip at a time.

Posting on Instagram can be incredibly fun and sometimes, even rewarding. We have gotten infinitely creative with our little rapidly-digestable squares. We can speed up, slow down, morph ourselves into these perfect-looking morsels of movement. Over the years we have seen an explosion of sharing, borrowing, gazing, following, leading in this 15 second format. But here is where I see a shift in our pole community’s collective consciousness. Growth happened so rapidly this way, and dancers are more consistently and constantly sharing in shorter and shorter bursts than those many years ago, but at a cost. And this is what brings me back to the core reason I write this. What are we doing to our journey, and to ourselves and EACH OTHER, if we only encourage and actively engage with 15 seconds or less, on a daily basis? (Actually, did you know that you have more like four seconds to engage someone with your video before they decide to move on?)

Instagram has birthed an entire movement of short-form, marketing-rich content where everyone can see and share the quickest, most succinct, best version of themselves and others. Realistically, it has far surpassed YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook as the dominant video sharing network for our industry (Most of our FB videos are direct IG shares, anyway!). I’ve seen the social feeds grow full and fat with chopped-up content, while those >3 minute YouTube videos keep getting fewer, growing shorter, and are less engaged with view counts (Of course FB and their video engagement allowances play a major role, too). It’s like because we can clip out our most dynamic, highest peak or most interesting moments in our training, explorations, or choreography/performance, we never see the entire picture, of anything. I mean, there are highly visible pole people in our community whom I’ve never seen move for longer than 15 seconds! Real talk. In this process, directly and indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, we deny huge aspects of our practice. We can collectively glorify those few seconds of seeming pole/movement mastery, and we can hide and ignore anything we don’t feel like owning. And I say this as a passive process, I understand this isn’t necessarily an intentional act. In the selection and sharing of “clips”, we are editing ourselves, and only seeing the edited versions of our peers, and that has to have a profound psychological impact.

My concerns are not only just about the way we integrate and acknowledge all aspects of our own movement process, but what we give to others. In giving ourselves less attention, we ultimately give others less, too. It’s a vicious cycle.

But through being energetically aware, responsible, and generous, we can create inclusiveness, warmth, and learning!

Already I’ve seen people get super pumped about their one minute new clip lengths. So many longer movement ideas are already being shared, climbs and descents start and finish in-video before the inevitable TA-DO moments, and it makes me heart sing every time. I find myself quite easily watching these clips entirely, even though it is FOUR times longer than the previous time limit. This is a huge increase if you think about it! We have already started adjusting to the lengthened format…and I look forward to the balance these longer movement moments in our feeds may create.

Ultimately, I wish social media continued to be a tool for our community where you can still be encouraged to integrate the many aspects of our movement journey, not just function as a super spliced-up, un-mindful, sensationalist, denial-filled world where everyone attempts to attain virtual bad-ass-status. There are incredible experiences that we can have with each other and ourselves when we nurture generosity, curiosity, perspective, kindness, authenticity, compassion, laughter, reality. We are worthy before we even start moving, and we are worthy in those moments between our biggest leaps and bendiest shapes. I love watching someone else’s experience of growth. I can roll through my mind a dozen people who I have watched over the years, from video to video, change and grow into incredible artists and movers. And I have also seen their movement explorations inspire movement qualities of numberless others over time.

Now that we can post one minute clips on Instagram, all of my freestyle clips have been that length. I like my own video record this way so much better, as seeing a full minute is way more fulfilling for me to see what ideas and sensations were happening for me that day, than the previous 15 seconds. I looked back at my own video library, outside of Instagram time limits, and realized that I have continually done this. Majority of my videos are still pretty long. There is definitely a smaller community of freestylers out there that also continue to post long-form, and I love watching them! I love sharing freestyle in entirety, and will continue to do this, even if little to no one watches them! I still learn a lot from them, I hope it will still connect me to those people who may get inspired to move in their lives, and I enjoy seeing how I change as a whole.

So, if you made it this far….

Let’s get our Freestyle One Minute Movement going strong! I had been thinking of hashtags for awhile and I like the idea of using #oneminutemovement. (Please continue to use #findingyourfreestyle as well so I can find you easily!)

This movement challenge (for lack of a better word…) is a focus on duration AND task. I suggest creating freestyle sessions that last at least 10 minutes. It takes me on average about three songs to fall into my flow state. You should allow the full arc of experience in a session, first warming up the mind and body (don’t forget meditation and stillness), then maybe a song or sensation or breath cycle may spark an emotional or physical reaction inside your movement, and the juicy stuff that happens during and after this can also be quite special and useful. (Has a freestyle that happens when you are physically tired, been especially beautiful or honest?) True creativity is gifted through the power of time and attention. Think about the things in your movement that genuinely improved when you didn’t rely on denial and selective attention? A creative process that drags you both through the mud, and into bliss. In these longer formats, we experience integration of all parts, and we become more whole.

Post your #oneminutemovement both for yourself, and your peers. When we train our eyes and perspectives daily to look for more beauty, we inevitable find it. Look past the single beat, the single moment, the 4 seconds of dopeness. Embrace the subtle genius of your smaller or still moments, allow the build up, allow the aftermath.

I encourage you be inspired to create your own long-form prompts within the #oneminutemovement. Create your own hashtags and challenge your friends! The more people we can encourage to share, the more confidence and support you may bring to their practice, and your own. I have a few I thought could be great, and will be playing with them as well:

#oneminuteflight (one minute up the pole, woohoo!)
#oneminutefloorwork (oneminutefloorfuck?)
#oneminuteslowmotion (yessssss)

Don’t forget to share your journey with us, #findingyourfreestyle.

Happy moving. Happy grooving

– Tracee