Five stages of moving beyond the fear of speaking up

Why are you so quiet? Probably, because it is scary to speak up.

But here's the thing: what if the world needs you to speak up?

We are in a world where, it seems, many kind, subtle, creative, loving, intelligent, connecting people are...quiet.

If the spiritual, thoughtful, loving, generous, creative, compassionate people like you stay quiet and just keep their opinions to themselves - I think we won't see much changes.

Your voice gets stronger with practice

But what if you started practicing speaking up, using your voice? What if you started saying what you think and believe every now and then, at dinner, on social media, anywhere? What if you started your blog, what if you wrote and practiced sharing your ideas? Sure, you'll post some things that are maybe a little raw, you'll learn from each experience too. You'll distill the essence of what you want to say more and more, make it clearer; you'll understand who out there needs to hear from you; you'll eventually stop having a general malaise about "what people think," as you focus more of your attention on how to extend and expand the new world you now envision more and more clearly and to share this vision with the people who are ready to hear about it.

Using your voice is like using a muscle. It gets stronger with practice.

It's easy to be shy, to be picky. To be scared and threatened by the ole Facebook. To belabor your mini decision to "Like" some acquaintance's post, or "Share" your friend's thing, or "Post" that you're "feeling grateful" or whatever, or just click out and leave it off for another day. This the boring way. There's no time anymore to leave it off for another day. What if all that's missing in the world is YOUR voice?

Do you know your power?

Do you know the power of your voice?

If you did how would you use it today? 

We live in a world where, just by touching something you could actually trigger a landslide of butterfly actions that can transform the world entirely. What if all that's missing in this world is your voice - your touch? 

My 5 phases of developing my voice

I write a newsletter for my school and I blog. It has been hard to do this. I went through a lot of phases in getting used to sharing myself publicly.

 Photo at Weller House Inn by  SubbusClicks

Photo at Weller House Inn by SubbusClicks

  • First there was the anonymous phase where I wrote under a secret identity.
  • Then there was the crazy phase when I wrote as myself, but in such an obscure way that nobody would be able to understand, let alone take issue with my perspectives.
  • After that there was the closely related elaborately colorful phase where I started to say things that were intelligible and made some sense but again only those who really loved me would take the time to sift the meaning from the verbiage. 
  • It gave way to a corporate phase where I started to express my meanings more succinct, more direct, maybe kinda flat.
  • I am finding again my authentic voice, past acres and acres of words, again rediscovering cheerfully twisted metaphor; may it be reborn in a way that can be helpful.

This last phase was made possible by a gradual crystallization of what I want to impart; immersion in a life-activity that provides continuous sources of challenge that inspire sharing and learning; clarification of the medium I'm writing in; getting to better know who I'm writing for; and with the help of trusted friends who share editorial perspective on my drafts.

Speak up! And may we all shine together. 

It Takes Books To Tango: "Love 2.0" by Barbara Fredrickson

 A handbook for improving your health by kindling more love throughout your life

A handbook for improving your health by kindling more love throughout your life

What if we lived our whole lives in a continuous flow of love? 

There is a research scientist out there, Barbara Fredrickson, who has written a book explaining to us exactly how to cultivate loving, open-hearted, joy-soaked micro-moments of connection throughout every single day - alone, or with others. 

And, furthermore, she points out that if we do this it will probably, or rather, uh, definitely, like for sure according to science, be good for our immune system and a lot of other aspects of our health too. 

The word "love" is so fraught and it doesn't need to be. Reading this book I realized how sane it is to look at love through the lens of physiology. And, naturally, I got even MORE reasons why I have to dance a LOT of Tango. For my health and everybody else's. Read the book and tell me what you think!


Mitra Martin

Mitra Martin is Program Director at the Oxygen Tango where her focus is developing an interconnected community learning experience, and facilitating conversation around excellence in Tango as a portal to personal and social transformation.

Ways That Women Help Women In Tango

“Strong women help other women.” - Brigitta Winkler
 With Brigitta Winkler, who sets an inspiring standard for me as a strong, powerful, loving woman in tango

With Brigitta Winkler, who sets an inspiring standard for me as a strong, powerful, loving woman in tango

When I started learning Tango I was shy and really scared of everyone. And I didn’t think it was safe to talk with women about my relationships or feelings about men. I felt like I was competing with every other woman for a scarce resource - men.

Where I started learning to Tango, women danced only with men. Women followed, men led. Since I love dancing with men, and since I love following, I was happy and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.  

If I had had more real, true, mutually caring bonds with fellow Tango women earlier I probably would have been safer overall in my early vulnerable years, and made some better decisions. As a community builder today, I want to contribute to a culture that supports safe, strong, creative women and powerful sisterhood.

How my experience of tango sisterhood emerged

Slowly, through socializing and lots of creative projects with other women in the community,  I started to discover how much loving, caring attunement, hilarity and fun there can be in women's friendships. How worthy of trust these women were.

It was probably eight years of obsessive Tangoing before I ever danced with a woman. I remember hours of laughter, perplexity and joy with my first girl practice partner as we both helped each other learn to lead.

I sincerely hope that women in Tango find and support each other, commit to care for each other and to developing and strengthening the deep strong bonds that are the bedrock of connection, on and off the dance floor.

Here are some very supporting forms of women-to-women love we can extend to our tango sisters

  • Plan something together

Planning a little outing is a very wonderful way to begin to explore friendship and share great conversation! There are so many adorable cupcake spots, ice creameries, or happy-hours - all it takes is an idea and an invitation.  

  • Give a little gift

I used to freak out a little every time I'd go to a festival. Mostly it was because I was scared of what would happen with the boys. Once I decided to just focus on the women at the festival, and I actually brought little tiny gifts for each of the women I like who I knew would be there. I had a great time ! 

  • Open up, share and listen

Sharing has to start somewhere. If you want to create a trusting space, you can invite that by sharing about your own personal struggles - and triumphs - in the Tango world. Ask them how their Tango is going. It's very important to be sure your friends know when you want them to "keep it under your hat" - as one of my girlfriends says. 

  • Be there when times are tough

Just having those 1 or 2 or 3 or more friends who you can reach out to - call or text or chat - when things feel really hard...this is an immense gift. Treasure these friends, and be there for them when they need you too, being able to contribute to their lives is part of the gift. 

  • Help your girlfriends find the tandas they seek

This is how we become sisters in knowing who our Tango sisters looove to dance with and with exquisite subtlety helping those dances to happen. Exquisite. Subtlety. 

  • Practice together, dance together, perform together

It might go without saying but an awesome way to explore/deepen/cement/extend women friendships is through DANCING ! 

  • Commit to non-disposable friendships

Change is always happening, and Tango cycles of popularity are constantly cycling around. For me what feels great is to commit to non-disposable friendships. Friendships you keep investing positive energy and thought and time into, that you intend to cultivate and nourish through both of your lives. How many friendships do you have room for ?


Mitra Martin

Mitra Martin is Program Director at the Oxygen Tango where her focus is developing an interconnected community learning experience, and facilitating conversation around excellence in Tango as a portal to personal and social transformation.

A Question For This Messy Interconnected World



I see some of us spiritually-oriented people trying to express spirit in our work - but not always consistently daring to believe, risk, and trust in the messy world that the spirit truly guides.

Are we trying to express our work of deep connection from a foundation built on smallness, fear, selfness? When we're struggling it's easy to get focused on ourselves. Which can make it more difficult to emerge out of the struggle! 

What if, when we're stuck, we choose to direct our focus outward instead and open up? I think the old system, the 'every-man-for-himself' road doesn't work anymore. Tit for tat, time for money - it's over. We have to strongly, fiercely imagine a completely new way. 

These words have been my guide through my messiest times: 

"You can rest assured that if you devote your time and attention to the highest advantage of others, the Universe will support you, always and only in the nick of time." - R. Buckminster Fuller

If this were true (and, it is)...what would you do differently today? 

Four questions about Oxygen's social experiment in donation-based Tango

In November, we changed our approach to pricing at Oxygen Tango. Instead of asking people to “pay” for our “services,” we now offer our full weekly Tango community schedule to all. We request a donation - a gift of any size - from participants and supporters.

Here are four challenges we are tackling as we collectively give birth to this new model:

  • How can we get everyone on the same page?
  • How can we find the right backend technology to support a donation-based school?
  • What if people don’t donate?
  • What if events become too full?

How can we get everyone on the same page?

Anything new requires more communication. It is hard for people to believe that we are really donation-centric, since “fee-for-services” is more common in the “dance” world. It takes a lot of dialogue for people to start to see their new role in the community not as passive “consumer” - but rather involved co-creator.

Possible Solution:
If you understand and are passionate about this model, take the time to help others understand the benefits and the values behind those benefits. Our newcomers need your help to make friends with this idea. So do dancers who are returning after a long time away from the school. Compare it to healthy, familiar models like donation-based Yoga or dana-based Buddhism.

How can we find the right backend technology to support a donation-based school?

All the dance/fitness/yoga type customer databases are optimized to do one thing: carve time up into tiny pieces, and then exchange those little pieces for money, and track that. It is very hard to kindle community with that kind of focus.

Possible Solution:
We are exploring a variety of options for technology that is simple, affordable, unified, expresses our values and enables our members to connect with the school and each other. Our current software frankenstein is a dead end. We are looking for a better way forward and would be excited to discuss possible solutions with our tech-savvy community members!

What if people don’t donate?

Currently, we have recurring donations from $5/month to $120/month and I sincerely celebrate every single one as a true gift that powers connectedness. Everyone donates something. 

Possible Solution: 
As long as participants observe our Community Agreements, they are genuinely welcome at O2. And as long as the community makes available ample financial resources to express Oxygen’s mission in the world, we’ll continue to do that. If we can’t, we’ll share challenges we’re facing, and trust in the generosity, largeheartedness, and respectfulness that powers O2.

What if events become too full?

Our practicas have become quite full lately. But I am also aware that Tango has its cycles and there is an ebb and flow as dancers cycle between novelty and nostalgia. So I’m not sure yet if our visitor numbers right now is directly tied to our new model.

Possible Solution:
If we notice that group classes and practicas are uncomfortably full, we will:

  • Request people to RSVP before coming
  • Add classes and practicas to the schedule

In summary: the change is in all of us

You are part of this transformation, and your thoughts, words, actions, and gifting are what will make it work. 

Although it’s still too early to tell whether this is a durable solution, I can say that the initial results are pretty exciting. Since the switch, our membership has grown every month; we can pay the the bills; and the community is rich and diverse, respectful and generous.

Got an idea or a question? Share in the comments or email us! 


Mitra Martin

Mitra Martin is Program Director at the Oxygen Tango where her focus is developing an interconnected community learning experience, and facilitating conversation around excellence in Tango as a portal to personal and social transformation.