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By Renée Tillotson

Dayl sees her life as one big journey with a huge learning curve, and she appreciates every step of the way. As you read through her life-story in brief, you’ll find a strong, capable, very adaptable human being who has met adversity with humor and love, and ill health with art and dance.

As a sign of her adaptability, Dayl will be moving house this Saturday, the same day she starts her series of American Tribal Style belly dance classes at Still & Moving!

Born in New Zealand, no stranger to difficulty, Dayl survived abandonment by her mother who left when Dayl was 6 and her brother 4. From about 10 years old on, Dayl lived in Australia. She remained estranged from her mother for almost 30 years.

Adventure called Dayl away to work in a summer camp in Maine, where she was a counsellor, appeared in a Disney reality show, headed the theatre program and taught improv comedy, the first thread we see of the humor with which Dayl stitches her life together.

Dayl entered the travel industry in 1984 working her way up the ranks in a travel agency. She enjoyed lots of travel opportunities, which she otherwise could not have afforded. She finds that travel broadens our minds, helps us be present in the moment, helps us to appreciate what we have at home.

Working in Tulsa, Oklahoma Dayl discovered belly dance – what? Belly dance in Tulsa?!? That’s what she says! She fell in love with American Tribal Style belly dance (ATS®) during her first class in 1999 and has been performing and teaching ever since. She thinks of Belly Dance as one of the only constants in her fluidly shifting life. Dayls appreciates that in each performance, there’s an alchemy with other dancers that you can’t ever repeat. Dayl’s dance goal is to create community where people can dress up, dance and have fun!

Fun was not always a big part of her everyday life. Dayl’s first marriage was a terribly stressful relationship after which she suffered adrenal fatigue. She had warrior symptoms, with adrenaline levels way too high, for more than three years. Imagine drinking 100 shots of espresso – she had terrible jitters, as well as severe anxiety and other un-diagnosable symptoms, 27 out of 30 days a month. Now that’s down to only about once a month.

Her husband Russell, from England with a British-Texan accent, is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines – Intriguingly, Russell served as a groomsman in Dayl’s first wedding. She finally recognized Russell as her soulmate and they married 9 years ago. They most enjoy travelling together – they just got back from Egypt, frequently visiting England, New Zealand and Australia. The two lived in different countries from each other for 2 years after they got married, so it’s a relief to live on the same rock now.

Dayl delights in serving as a marriage celebrant/officiant for other people’s weddings. She fell in love with rituals during her transpersonal studies. At weddings, she has the skills and energy to hold space for people in the “bubble of love” – which gives her great joy. Always a fan of costuming, Dayl performs all kinds of ceremonies, from bellydance to steam-punk weddings. See Celebrationsbydayl.com

Love heals. And Dayl is still healing wounds from her past…

On a game show in Australia, Dayl won enough money to get a diploma in transpersonal art therapy, learning a lot about herself and how other people operate. She does expressive art journals, painting, mask-making, plus Soul Collage, bringing images forth for healing, and she hopes to become an official facilitator of Soul Collage. She likes helping people to find what inspires them and to create art from that place. She also hopes to get her art therapy counseling certificate here in Hawaii. 



Happily, Dayl and her mom eventually found a way to bridge their gap as they both matured, and her mom became a Buddhist nun, putting her life into better perspective. Dayl spent precious time with her mother in New Zealand during the last couple years of her life.

Dayl’s motto is to always stay in the moment. The past and future do not exist. The only thing that is important – the only thing that actually exists – is now. How else would Dayl have been able to forgive if she did not live in the present moment, letting the past go?

She also does self-healing through dancing and through Nia. She teamed up with a kinesiologist in Australia who does forensic healing on a cellular level, and with local practitioner, Dr. Linda Fickes. As an empath, Dayl is learning techniques for grounding and for not taking on other people’s emotions. Large crowds can drain her, unless she is performing and can energetically separate herself from the crowd.

Anyone who attended our 2016 Diwali performance of the Ramayana will recognize Dayl as the detestably alluring demon princess Shurpanaka! In 2017’s performance she poured herself into playing the jealous stepmother Kaikei. In 2018 she played no less than the furious demon king himself, Ravana! This woman knows how to enter a character, explore it, and seek its soul message.

Dayl now works remotely for an IT company in Miami as a business analyst helping airlines to ‘get presence’ and to present data correctly, which satisfies the left, analytical side of her brain. All her other pursuits are the exact opposite, working her right, creative hemisphere.

Dayl named her local dance troupe Sahara Spirit. They perform a lot at Center Stage in Ala Moana and will appear at the Gleam festival at Foster Botanicals Gardens on the 20th of July.

MEDAH, the Middle Eastern Dance Artists of Hawaii, wisely elected Dayl as their Vice President for 2019.

In Nia, she loves the freedom of expression, which provides a path to healing in a non-judgemental space. It’s a great work out for every part of the body. By the end of class she feels more connected, more switched on. Even if she arrives in a bad mood or not feeling great, she always leaves transformed. Inspired, she earned her White Belt this year with Nia trainer Winalee Zeeb.

As a teacher, Dayl creates a great space in which to learn, injecting humor and encouragement into the class environment. She believes that creativity is a vehicle for good health, and what better way to express it than through the art of dance!

Dayl has always applied humor in the workplace to help people relax, finding that it makes them more receptive to learning. For 3 months in India one time, Dayl taught employees how to code travel data, using laughter every day with them. She found the employees to be quite stoic and threatened by their bosses. So Dayl brought humor in, which they could not quite understand at first, but which eventually brought down barriers.

On the first day of teaching the Indian workers, she told them where she was from and about her family, mentioning that she had a half-brother and a half-sister. Differences in culture confused the Indians greatly, until the bravest one got up the nerve to ask her, “Ms. Workman, we do not understand this half-brother and half-sister you have… is this in one body?” As she explained that “half-siblings” only share one parent in common, they all got a good laugh together.

People here on island don’t always understand Dayl’s sarcastic Australian sense of humor. Recently at the spa she was asked: “Ms. Workman, how was your massage today?” Dayl instantly replied as any good Aussie would: “Oh it was terrible!”

Seeing the horrified faces of the receptionists, fluttering their silky, extended eyelashes furiously, Dayl relented. “Just kidding! It was wonderful.”


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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)