Being, Life Coach, Pole Dance, Presence, WonderPlay Coaching

How My First Ice-Bath Changed My Life

How My First Ice-Bath Changed My Life

A Tale in Six Chapters

(and it wasn’t even the therapeutic benefits)

Hear me out, friends.

[CW: pole dancing happens in this post.]

[I tried to capture some media to share in this post, but we did this at nighttime, and the images turned out pretty poorly. You’ll have to use your imagination…!]

TL;DR: skip to the 6 points below!
A little background: I classify myself as an athlete. 
Specifically, Pole Athlete & Artist.
Witness my only Eagle in a public performance, lessons from which I mention in my previous blog post.
Photo by Peter Yeung Photography

I am familiar with much of the wisdom readily available about common rituals and remedies that athletes of different ilks might use in their routines. I am certainly not an expert by any means, but I have gained some knowledge and some practices that I like and that have worked for me. 

  • Mindset practices
    • Meditation
    • Goal-setting
    • Success/victory mindset
    • Focus before and during training
    • Accountability
  • Nutrition practices
    • Timing (Meals, Fasting)
    • Content (Sufficiency, Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Supplements)
    • Water (Temperature, volume, frequency)
  • Body practices
    • Preparation (Smart warm-up, consistent maintenance)
    • Training (Timing, Content, Order, Balance)
    • Rest (Sleep and other constructive rest)
    • Recovery (Bodywork, smart icing to reduce inflammation)
    • Prehab or Rehab (injury prevention and treatment)
(Feel free to ask about my moderately-educated opinions on anything here. For more, I would honestly ask Ruby, at least to start.)

But I would draw the line at cold showers.

My dear husband Ryan has some very particular regular practices that he is using to stoke the fire of his discipline, and one of those is the daily cold shower. He is super curious about the teachings of the “Iceman,” Wim Hof, and one of those practices is a cold shower (with associated breath practices).
He has taught me the breathing practice he uses, and I have accomplished approximately 3 cold showers this entire quarter – and one was just because it was a stupid-hot day, not to seek any particular benefits. What can I say? I really enjoy being warm. That’s one of the reasons our company The Sacred Circus held its first retreat in Costa Rica this past March – a break from the Chicago winter? Yes please!
This month, Ryan and I conceived of some potential community events to host as The Sacred Circus, and one of his ideas was an Ice-Bath Party. I scoffed. I resisted. I was like, sure, maybe some athletes will come, but that doesn’t apply to me. I’ll go and host, but I don’t really know that anyone in my community – even the pole dancers – would be down. If my pole-athlete community is like me (and of course I assume they are, to a point), who could I get to willingly dip into a bucket of ice water? 

I eventually agreed to create the event, but remained skeptical.

A few days later, Ryan told me I was invited to go with him to one of his friends’ houses (from his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio) to take an ice bath. I resisted up until the moment I had to decide, and then reluctantly committed to meeting him after training, traveling with him to meet his friend John, and participating.

I accepted the invitation.

Even as I arrived, I had an out. John asked me if I was doing the dunk…and I could have said no.

But I said yes again. And then I did it. 

Here are the realizations that changed my life.

1. It’s not any harder than deciding to do it, and then showing up.

I had to decide in multiple ways to be there and do it. Verbally accepting the invitation…collecting bathing suit and towels…actually showing up…committing again onsite. The last bit of advice John gave to me before I stepped in was, “Take 10 deep breaths. Then just decide to get in, and get in. It takes you out of the fight or flight mode.” 
If you think about it, it’s a really small ask. What’s the cost? Some discomfort? Experiencing some fear? I was in no actual danger of death, which I knew in my head – but to convince the body is an entirely new experience. How many times have I experienced the newness of a pole trick and thought I was going to die…and then decided to do it again? (Quick shout-out to Susan Shen, currently a trainer at POW! Gym in Chicago, who was my pole instructor BACK IN THE DAY who got me into my first outside leg hang (that’s #pdgemini on IG if you feel like finding those images). I came down from the pole, crying because it hurt so much. I swore I would never do that nasty thing again.

…and then I did it a gazillion more times, to the point of having it be the start of combos like this. NOT because I was excited about doing this painful thing again. But because I eventually got curious about what could come AFTER it. Because I was more committed to continuing my learning than to avoiding pain/discomfort. (Thanks for the repost, USPDF!)

So smooth! #uspdfpro @elizabethtuazon Video Submissions now open for the 2019 US Pole Dance Championship! Video Submission Deadline December 16th 11:59pm EST. For details go to Final Stage competition held @Symphonyspace Theater in New York City on April 12-13th. Mens, Womens and Doubles Amateur Competition April 12th – 7:30pm Novice Competition Level 1 – April 13th – 9:30am Novice Competition Level 2 – April 13th – 12:00pm Pro Competition – April 13th – 7:00pm Sponsored by: @lupitpole #poledancing #poledancer #poledanceinsocks #socks #competition #nyc #spring2019 Repost from @elizabethtuazon using @RepostRegramApp – More found footage of that magic combo, especially including “how the hell do you get out of this…?” @davidpoleartistry says #pdspatchcock, but that’s not a thing I do yet. But I’d love to see it and be convinced to learn it! #pdbirdofparadise #pdbrokensplit #pdbrassbridge #spinpole @eunyou_lena @kelly_jo2418
A post shared by US Pole Dance Federation (@uspdf) on
Commitment, yo. It’s real, and you don’t need to overthink it.

2. It’s a solo experience, but you don’t have to be alone.

The jewelry my husband and I wore to our wedding, and to get our marriage license.

Thanks be to John, who was with me the whole time, as much as I needed him. He coached me on my breathing when I started to panic, gave me helpful visuals and analogies that kept me calm, and left me alone once he saw I had tapped into a zone and relaxed. He was super supportive the whole process, all the way from the very invitation to describing some of the process and the physical and mental benefits he derives (much of which is corroborated in this article), to acknowledgement of my rockstar status after I was done, to lending us his tub for our Ice-Bath Picnic in September. He is a real gem.

Speaking of our Ice-Bath Picnic, check out our event on Facebook or on our website! (John will be there too.)

3. Getting outside your comfort zone, no matter how far, is an opportunity to exercise courage.

Each time I said yes, there was a part of me that wanted to say NO. I have learned to have more compassion and gratitude for my fear than ever – it’s there for a reason, and it has kept me plenty safe, comfortable, and alive thus far. Woohoo! 

And it’s job is to continue keeping me safe. 

AND!…sometimes I want to choose outside of that. So I exercise my courage muscle by choosing past what’s comfortable or known, on purpose. I remember standing up out of that ice-bath (stumbling a little, because blood flow and sensitivity has changed) thinking to myself,

If I can do that…I can do anything.

I still might need to exercise the muscle a little more, certainly. And having courage in the face of fear is not the same thing as jumping off a cliff, flapping your wings really hard, and expecting to fly because someone told you that you could. (This image is early in the new book I’m reading in my book club, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.) But sure as anything, I’ll come up against fear again. Choosing action from courage is a practice. And I choose to practice.

To quote a line from the fantastical film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which I just rewatched with my dear friend, colleague, and fellow athlete Ellen, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Here’s a picture of Ellen kicking the Chicago Triathlon‘s ASS!

4. I get the opportunity to walk my talk as often as I choose.

My business is coaching – asking people continually to look past where they would normally stop and consider what’s possible – which sometimes sounds outrageous! If I’m not willing to choose boldly in my own life, why would someone trust me to support them doing it in theirs?

Weirdly, this ice-bath was in integrity with my business. Who knew?

Well, who the f*ck can say, darling, really?
Photo by Jess Rose Photography

5. Anybody can describe THEIR experience to you, but nobody can live YOUR experience for you.

There’s no substitute for Doing It, Being There, Showing Up.  Ever. (See my blog post on Presence.) As I remember reading in Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch, one of the reasons that individuals exist is so that God could experience [Him]self. Because humans are the masters and mistresses of experiencing the wonders of the world, right? And that’s because we’re master creators. There is a supreme gift in creating your own experience and living your own life. 

The caption of this post included the following:
🎹This was one of the early pieces I got heartily coached on, and I recall the total wonder I experienced when I realized that I, too, could be an artist, simply by deciding to interpret the work in my own unique way. 🎹That gets to KEEP being the point: it doesn’t matter who has done it before me or how; *I* am participating, here, now, and contributing my voice. 

6. You don’t have to know “how it ends” to start the story.

I wanted John to explain what would happen beforehand, so I could prepare myself for what would happen. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, certainly! We’re certainly not going to stop asking people for help or advice who have done something we’re about to do. But as a friend pointed out to me recently, NONE of us know what’s going to happen. We’re each doing this – living this life as these bodies and beings – for the first time, and we each have our own thoughts and judgments, experiences and prejudices, beliefs and values. Who can say how it will go for someone else? And who’s to say someone is “more right” in the path they choose to take? 
All I knew was, at first I was desperately interested in the procedure and the results – the “how” and the “ending.” But at the end of that experience, I have rekindled my interest in what my experiential takeaways will be, and who I will choose to Be from there. And those can only be known by me as I write (and live) my whole story.

I couldn’t leave this section without mentioning this popular Lao Tzu quote: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” (that link takes you to the Bodhi Spiritual Center, a luscious, accepting place in Chicago, where I haven’t even explored the tip of the iceberg yet!) A coach I had in WordPress said it to me recently much more colorfully: “It’s like eating an elephant; you have to do it one bite at a time.” And I’ll be darned if that isn’t true. (You can see my post on Chaos As Perfection to see more thoughts on what’s possible when we think we have our path all planned out.)

In Conclusion…

Come to our Ice-Bath Picnic.

Tell us you’re coming on Facebook or on our website.



Tell your story! Comment below or email me.

A time you exercised courage beyond your fear…
The single step you took that started your journey of 1000 miles…
When you emerged victorious on the other side…
Your personal preferences for health and wellness routines…

I’d love to hear from you!

Being, Life Coach, Pole Dance, Presence, WonderPlay Coaching

Five Lessons from My Eagle

Content Advisory: This is (another) pole dance heavy post, centered around my personal journey.

I am approaching the final competition in my season (Pole Theatre USA in Atlanta!), and upon reflection, I was struck by the fact that the delicious lessons I’ve learned from my eagle are majorly applicable to coaching. Hence, blog post.
To clarify, when I say “Eagle,” I’m not talking about the feathery one. It’s this one, where the Instagram hashtag is #pdeagle. (“pd” is for “pole dancing” for the uninitiated.) This is my very first one, and my teacher (taking this photo in the background) had to sort of shove my foot into my hands.

I had unconsciously applied this formula in a few previous competition seasons with great success, and I am inspired to share what I’ve taken away from that.

Lesson #1: Decide you want it, and believe it’s possible.

Not always the easiest part, but I certainly think it’s the most important part. In Think and Grow Rich, which I’m reading with my book club right now, this is the equivalent to the part where you “fix in your mind a burning desire.” I definitely decided what technical skill I wanted to present this season, and so I created the structure I would need to make it so. Deciding to have something is the beginning of making it yours. Would my husband and I have created 2 months of 2018 in Costa Rica if we hadn’t determined we would do it? Certainly not the same way. It got to be ours because we chose it on purpose.

Lesson #2: Ask for (and receive) help & support.

This is where a coach of any kind could come in. I definitely had to ask for specific instruction and assistance for the very first execution of the shape, as well as several future iterations. I got great feedback from pro dancers and instructors (Lara Michaels at Body and Pole and David C. Owen at Catalyst Movement Arts, my home studio, among others. This is especially useful after Lesson #1 because otherwise, I might not know what to ask for. When someone knows what you’re working on, they can give more direct and specific feedback. I had the opportunity to practice being open to instruction and growth, and also discovering what works for me (because, spoiler alert: not everything works for everyone).

Lesson #3: Balance patience and determination.

(In other words, be careful…but not too careful.)

Growth of many kinds takes time. In the physical realm of my art and sport, one aspect I’ve focused on a lot is the time and attention to training flexibility – time for the muscles to open, time for the tissues to expand. This takes Patience. This is applicable in the microcosm of a single moment, and over a whole season, even a whole lifetime. Staying in a stretched shape beyond your “norm” for even a single breath might be your limit one day. Enter Determination, so that you do more and more reps of moving into that stretched shape until you can take two breaths…until such point as you are sufficiently comfy there that it’s simply part of your body’s vocabulary. You need to spend time in a position to gain comfort there. Not that you won’t be uncomfortable in the process… How similar to any other Comfort Zone! You might only step out once, feel a little ping of discomfort, and venture back inside where it’s safe. But what could be possible if you push yourself to go there again? Anyone who has ever seriously trained in anything has gained awareness about how much discomfort is required to make changes. Growth is literally going beyond where you were before, occupying a new space. It’s going to feel different. And you need to listen and trust yourself so that you are consistent with the application of your efforts, but don’t overdo it to the point of your detriment. Acknowledge the thoughts and sensations that you experience, and decide where to put your trust. This goes back to Lesson #2: Do you need a kick in the pants, and so need someone else to provide some incentive to get the job done (like a coach or a trainer)? Would that person push you farther than you would push yourself? Do you trust that person NOT to push you TOO far? Or, do you tend to be overzealous for yourself and need help to slow down? Could you use some support in taking time off, or to be patient and gentle with yourself? Everything has its place and time.

As one of my pole idols, Heidi Coker, taught me at the final North American Pole Dance Championships this year, there are three kinds of discomfort.

1. Pain – this is hurting me and causing me damage,

2. Discomfort – this doesn’t feel super great, but is not harming me, and

3. New – this is a sensation I have not felt before, and I am unaccustomed to it.

As another one of my pole idols, Natasha Wang, put it in her workshop at the same event, “Soreness is not an injury.” It is, however, a state of being that requires attention and care so that you can not only avoid undesirable effects (injury) and create the changes you want to see (improvement in functionality, strength, mobility, balance, etc. – see Lesson #1).

Lesson #4: Do the work.

There is no substitute. Whether it’s the discipline to form a new shape or a new habit, to own something, you have to be willing to be responsible for it. Only you will be able to say what process you will choose…but any new product will take a new process. If your results matter to you (see Lesson #1), then this part doesn’t have to be hard.

Lesson #5: Celebrate!

With permission by the inimitable Leen Isabel at

Did you get to create the results you were after? BETTER CELEBRATE THAT! Even (and especially) if the end looks different than how you might have first imagined it. Can you come to yourself with appreciation and gratitude for your learning? Can you see yourself as the magnificent creature you are, growing and shifting and evolving? Can you be complete with how it went this time (however it went), and exercise the courage to powerfully choose what’s next for you, again? I assert that it’s a practice, and it’s worth it.

And with these five things in place, may your personal Eagle also fly!
Let me know your thoughts.


What lessons or gifts have you taken away from a long journey?

What next goals thrill you?

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Chaos, Life Coaching, Perfect, Perfection, Pole Dance, WonderPlay Coaching

Chaos As Perfection

I’d like to introduce you to a tiny video clip from a final dress rehearsal.
This is from my 2018 pole competition piece. Turn the sound up to hear my reaction to breaking a piece of a prop: “Sh*t. There goes that!” Unexpected result: it was one hell of a dress rehearsal run – arguably even better than the actual performance, when the props all stayed in one piece.

What is possible when our best-laid plans go awry?
BluesSHOUT! 2016, featuring myself and partner Curtis Ellis when we heard an unexpected lyric during our [blues dance] competition final. Who KNOWS what happened next. PC Mélanie Bert

I know that I can create a Win-Win situation out of seemingly impossible dichotomies. 

And so I ask:

How can life be Perfect when it seems Messy?

Where am I willing to generate Perfection within Chaos?

How could I see Chaos AS Perfection?

I’ve collected many thoughts on this in the last few years.

I was in a coaching group led by Megan Taylor Morrison and Peter Will Benjamin, who told us that they were practicing the following concept:

“Everything Is Perfect.”

Preparing to swim into a Montezuma waterfall with my husband on our 2018 Costa Rica trip. This video is 3 seconds long because our guide and videographer took this 3 second video. While not what we intended, it certainly does capture part of the spirit of the thing.

I have since changed my understanding of that word.

Perfect doesn’t necessarily imply shiny happy people. It implies that I have everything I need to facilitate my life. “Uncomfortable” does not mean “bad” or “wrong” – in the same way, “perfect” doesn’t mean “idyllic.”

  • I learned from having my bag stolen in Costa Rica how easy, freeing, and simple it can be to release physical objects and possessions, and about what what I truly value. 
  • I learned from Pascal and Belonia, Ayahuasca shamans we met on that same trip in Costa Rica, that the Madre (some would say “The Universe”) teaches and shows us exactly what we need – especially when we ask to see and know it. 
  • I learned from the leader of my training program at Accomplishment Coaching that we might consider that everything that we experience is training. 

In what ways can I see that conditions are perfect to create whatever will be next? How is this “chaos” that I have generated actually a gift, rather than something to bemoan or decry?

This dichotomy of Chaos and Perfection often shows up in creative processes.

There are creative moments that seem incredibly ordered.

Jeff Casey at the Towle Theater puts together a mean production calendar.
Even that, though, gets shifted and changed as we learn and refine the type work an ensemble will really need. You better believe that we have an inspired process with room for every actor to experience their process, and we share expectations of excellence and achievement from the very beginning. And yet, part of what brings the inspiration to that company is that it really ends up being a collaborative experience: anything the actors bring to the table gets considered, to the point of really wild moments becoming part of shows that make the role uniquely theirs.

There are also parts of a creative process wherein explosive brilliance may be unpredictable.

I think of the pole dancers I admire in the community, likeTracee Kafer, who has created an entire movement (Finding Your Freestyle) around the assertion that freedance is a way of exploring and expressing what already exists within.

To bring it back to daily life, I would ask:

how is it perfect right now?

When my housemates don’t use our house calendar the same way I do…

would it make it perfect to reflect that this experience highlights my commitment to:
*creating intentional community where everyone’s time, energy, space, and boundaries are respected and honored,
*and we create time for purposeful and meaningful interactions with each other?

I say yes!

When I have piles of notes, papers and business cards on my desk right now…

*is it actually perfect to be bringing my awareness to what information exists in the midst of transitioning to new CRM systems for my business – which I have never needed until now?*Instead of being grumpy about the look of it, can I be grateful for the symptom of growth?*It could also be a way for me to learn what I really want and need from my working space, both physical and digital.

How perfect!

How could it possibly be perfect that everything in my life is not pretty, presentable, and put together?

*I would say, I’m becoming more aligned in fulfilling commitment to my growth, development,*and being increasingly responsible for bringing my gifts fully to the table – manicured or not.

I have acknowledged that for me, Fully Expressed IS Perfect.

Consider where you stand on 

Chaos as Perfection.

I challenge you to look at what you might consider a “mess” and declare it Perfect, as it is.

I invite you, next time you experience something as a curveball or a monkey wrench (or a downright implosion), that you create gratitude for the training from the Universe as you become one step more prepared for what may be down the road for you.

What Else Is Up at WonderPlay Coaching?!

Human-Up! Workshops

You can catch exercises around this topic, and others, at my monthly Human-Up! Workshops. They’re by donation…and there are pancakes. Check them out here!

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Footnote: RE continuing from the first pole video: the first performance turned out like this. If you want to cheer on the next version, I’m performing it at NAPDC 2018 as International Elite and at Pole Theatre USA as Semi-Pro Dramatic. Woo hoo! Let’s see how perfectly messy I get. <3