Hi! I am Larissa.
Do you worry about your kids’ confidence, their potential, the way they view themselves? Will they grow up strong and resilient? Will they have what it takes to succeed at whatever it is they want to do?
I know I do. As a parent you do your best and hope it is enough. But what if it isn’t?
As a parent to four kids, these questions and more plague me in the wee hours of the morning. Let me tell you a little about me – I have four kids, three boys and a girl. We are a blended family. I have been a single mum (and I know how tough that can be – right?) . I am a stepmum (the good kind I hope). Now, I have a supportive partner and we are raising our two younger kids together as best we can. Our kids range from eight to twenty years. And over the years I have picked up a few parenting skills on the fly!
I live on King Island, a small island in the Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania. I love the isolation (and hate it too). We have beautiful scenery and a close connection with nature. We also live in a really small community, around 1500 people at the last census in 2016. My family moved here four years ago from Western Australia and it has been quite a sea change.
Prior to moving to our island home, I worked as an Early Childhood Teacher in Western Australia. I have worked in large schools and small schools and taught children of all ages, from Kindy (3 1/2 years) to Year Twelve (18 years). I am a Level 3 Classroom Teacher (peer mentor) and was a finalist for the Premier’s Teacher Awards in 2007 for my role in whole school Literacy support and working with boys in education. Since moving to King Island I have been active in our local school as a relief teacher and worked as a project co-ordinator for Neighbourhood Houses of Tasmania. With the situation around Covid-19, my husband and I decided to take our younger children out of school earlier this year and I am currently homeschooling them.
I am also a dance teacher. I teach Global Caravan Tribal Bellydance. I love to dance. I began teaching and started the King Island Gypsies troupe in July 2017. Along the way I have deepened my commitment to Tribal Bellydance and have done intensive study with Paulette Rees-Denis to attain GCTB® Collective Soul and Teacher Training Certifications.
Here on King Island, there are few extra-curricular activities for kids. When we first came to the island there was a ballet teacher but she has since retired. I really wanted my kids to experience the joy that comes from moving your body to music and so I stepped up to teach. One of the things I love about the Global Caravan Dance format is the sense of tribe. The dance format is based on group improvisation, connection, the sacred feminine and original steps which have all been inspired by ethnic, folkloric and contemporary dance. We celebrate our circles around the globe!
As a teacher and a dancer, I am inspired by this format. I love the improvisation that allows a dance to be both unique and dynamic, created spontaneously by the dancers in unity. I love the positive body messages – all shapes are beautiful. In dancing this format you learn to trust one another, to take turns leading and following and developing the responsibilities that come with both roles. I wanted to share this with girls, with my daughter. I wanted to create a supportive circle for her, a tribe, that would lift her up the way my global circles uplift and support me . In 2019, I started my first kids GC classes. In March of 2020, they performed for the first time at the King Island Show with the King Island Gypsies and so our tribe grew, connecting women and girls aged seven to seventy. Then Australia was impacted by Covid19 and there was no dancing for a time while we were on lockdown.
It was this time of social disconnection which led to the formation of GirlPower Tribe. I wanted to build on the idea of tribe for my daughter, Selene. I started to think about how to build a sense of belonging for the ten girls (aged 7-11 years) that were taking GC classes from me, so that it could become more than just a dance class.
I experienced a difficult break up in my first marriage. From that I learnt the power of internal dialogue – the messages we tell ourselves. When we latch onto the negative thinking patterns that result from telling ourselves we are useless, fat, ugly etc., our self confidence suffers and we make poor life choices. I began to reflect on this and my daughter. I don’t want that for her or her friends. I want them to grow up as strong resilient young women who reach their potential by lifting up those around them and inspiring others. I wanted to change to voices in their heads and so I began to search for affirmations with messages that spoke to me.
When dance classes resumed, I created GirlPower Tribe. We still danced and learned new steps, but now I also took time for talk. Each week, I presented an affirmation statement or two to the group for discussion. We unpacked its meaning together. We did team building and creative activities together. We looked at how these positive statements fit with their lives and learning the skills we needed for our dance. The girls absolutely loved it and so did their mums. My adult dancers were also really interested.
From this, I created the GirlPower Tribe Affirmation cards and an accompanying guidebook of 70+ activities for using the affirmation in daily life. You can buy them here.
GirlPower Tribe is a space for women and girls to be a part of a circle. We are committed to raising up ourselves and others through discussion and friendship. With positive affirmation, movement, and fun, together let’s develop inner strength and resilience!