Choosing Love: Creating a Strong Nia Community

There have been many bumps along the road in creating my Sacred Livelihood over the last 10 years, but I’ve managed because of my Nia community. They have been the wind beneath my wings, full of support, generosity and loyalty.

One of these students is Angel Shepherd. When I met Angel I had been teaching Nia for 9 months. She came to my class at a new studio. Angel was looking for something to help her move through the devastating loss of her beloved partner Mike, who had been killed in an ATV accident.

One day, sensing a deep sadness, Angel approached me. She said, “I just adore you, and I want us to be friends." It didn’t take long for Angel to win my heart and for us to become Soul Sisters. Angel loved Nia and found it deeply healing in her grief journey.

In the fall of 2009, I was suffering from deep depression. The uncertainty of being self-employed in an alternative career had me feeling afraid. It was then Carlos Rosas announced his retirement. For so long I had been dreaming of taking the Blue Belt with him in Portland but it wasn’t financially feasible. I was sad that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to study with him.

One evening I got a phone call from Barb Kunz, another local Nia teacher.

When she asked for my help in organizing a Nia workshop for Winter Solstice, I was so happy. It was just what I needed to keep me going, and I was so relieved to make some money for Christmas.

We called the workshop, “Ushering in Winter Solstice.” I was so surprised at how easy it was to fill the event - we sold out in 24 hours!

The day of the workshop I arrived early to a surprise silent auction. Angel and a few others were manning it. I was shocked. This was supposed to be MY workshop with Barb. I was irritated and mad.

After the workshop as I began to make a speech Barb cut me off and drew me into the centre of the circle with her. Barb was holding a bouquet of flowers and everyone was clapping.

Next Angel announced the Nia Community had something for me. They wanted to recognize the gifts they received through my dedication to Nia. Again, I was confused and NOT impressed.

Angel had a giant scroll in her arms. She slowly began opening it while explaining the workshop was actually not for the purpose of “Ushering In Winter Solstice.” The workshop was really called “Ushering In Project Blue Belt.” The words revealed themselves on the scroll, “Ushering…in….Project….Blue…..Belt…Portland OR, April 2010.”

Everyone was clapping and cheering and my head was spinning. I fell to the floor in shock, realizing that they were sending me to Portland to do my Blue Belt with Carlos!

As I looked at everyone’s faces I saw this was bigger than me. It was about the powerful gift of giving and receiving as a Community.

Angel had arranged an after party where I was presented with two additional gift scrolls. One announced my hotel was being covered by my family and another stated my airfare would be covered by Angel’s family business.

I am so proud to be a part of such a dynamic community of people that love to love and support one another. This is a beautiful example of what makes our community strong. We have common values involving lots of LOVE and even more PLAY!

Other ways our community expresses love:

Regular social gatherings on and off the dance floor: Parties, Nia road trips to visit our broader Nia community, weekly Saturday morning after class breakfast.

Events: Together we have hosted Winalee Zeeb, produced 8 Nia Palooza weekends to gather Nia dancers from all over Canada and the US, as well as produced 3 White Belt Trainings.

Fundraising for our local community: Together, we have held fundraisers supporting many organizations.

Support and Celebration: If someone is ill, we will pray for and send Reiki energy to them. We celebrate each other’s Birthdays at Saturday morning Nia class.

Through Nia, I am grateful to be part of this magical and unexplainable coming together of special people, who offer an alchemical blend of acceptance, tolerance, support and unconditional love for each other.

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By Susan Meehan & Angelina Shepherd

Susan Meehan, a Blue Belt, is a holistic health care practitioner specializing in movement and energy therapy. She has been a Nia teacher for 10 years, is an Ageless Grace Educator and Trainer, Reiki Master Teacher, Shamanic Healing Practitioner and Soul Care provider. She founded Body Mind Medicine 10 years ago and has been passionately in service to all who seek self-healing and self-love. Email her at or find her on Facebook 

Angelina Shepherd is a Nia Blue Belt Student from London, Ontario. She has had the opportunity to travel, meet and dance with Nia Communities around the world. Angelina is very grateful for all the blessings and relationships that Nia has brought into her life and to be part of such an amazing Nia Community in London. Email her at

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