We Don’t Wear Tutus In Yoga

I watched the documentary A Ballerina’s Tale last night. It’s the story of Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer in any international ballet company. She dances for the American Ballet Theatre at the Met in New York City. It’s a pretty big deal.

Misty is a beautiful dancer, but she’s not your typical, waify, pasty white ballerina. She’s muscular, has a “big” chest (for a ballerina), and she has a few curves. And she’s brown.

When I was young, my mother asked me if I wanted to take dance lessons, but I was a tomboy and you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing a tutu. No ma’am. That is probably one of my bigger regrets in life along with quitting piano lessons after I had moved beyond my teacher’s ability to teach me. I wish I had stuck with piano and I wish I had been able to see past the tutu.

My sister was better suited to be a dancer, though. She was the petite one, the girlie girl. I didn’t become interested in it until she started dancing in the local Nutcracker performances. At first, I was forced to take her to rehearsals, but soon I began to look forward to taking her. I would watch them dance for hours and I got to the point where I knew all the steps by heart. But it wasn’t something I would ever do. That was her thing not mine.

Only once did I consider taking a ballet class and that was at West Texas State. I used to hang out a lot in the art building, because my best friend was an artist. I loved being around all different types of artists, from musicians to dancers, although I wasn’t one myself. I chickened out, though, after watching a class or two. It was too intimidating.

To this day, I love all kinds of dance from Bhangra to hip hop to ballet to clogging. I love to watch other people dance, but I don’t dance. The last time I did was at a party and this guy pulled me aside and told me I danced like a white girl. He tried to show me how I should dance, but the die had been cast. No more dancing for me.

I think that’s why I love yoga so much. Yoga is as close as I’ll get to dance. It’s not set to music and you don’t move off of your five and a half by two foot mat, but it is somewhat choreographed and particularly in vinyasa, it’s flowy and body alignment is key. And you wear about the same amount of clothing although we don’t wear tutus in yoga.

And now you know my secret passion. So, if you ever see me watching a Bollywood movie or watching a flash mob or Missy Elliot video or in my car blasting Britney Spears or at the ballet, just know that I’m dancing on the inside.

Lean In To Love

I’m feeling a bit panicky lately. I suppose it has to do with the fact that I took the first step, let go of the bowstring, and all the other analogies of letting go that I can think of. Change can be exciting and energizing. It can also be scary and uncomfortable.

It could also be the fact that tomorrow, the president-elect will be sworn in (if lightning doesn’t strike him) and this country that we all love will be fully in the hands of a small group of people who do not care in the least for the rest of us. They’ve worked for twenty years to divide us and weaken the power of the people. They’ve done an excellent job and now they’re free to enrich themselves at our expense.

Most of us are still in shock and hoping that someone will wake us from this nightmare.

We’re also embarrassed that we let this happen. We’re embarrassed that the once great United States is now the laughing stock of the world. And our government, the powers that be, have no clue. They are, after all, going to “Make America Great Again.” Was it ever really that great? Really?

I’m just as scared as the next person, but I do believe that this is the change we needed. We allowed the fear and frustration of a great many people to go on for far too long. We got comfortable, thinking that if we just elected the right people, they’d fix it all for us. The only ones that can fix this is us. We, The People.

Just like I allowed my misery to become comfortable and keep me stuck, the US has been stuck for a long time. And just like it took me getting fired, it took the election of a two-bit reality show, pseudo-celeb to the highest office in the country to shake us out of our complacency.

We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We have to do things differently. We have to start talking to each other and really listening, instead of yelling at each other behind the safety of our computer monitors and phones. We need to stop relying on the old way of doing things and find a better way to take care of each other.

There’s a reason this man got elected and we need to figure out why.

The country is in a free fall right now. We don’t know if there is going to be a net to catch us or if we’ll grow wings and fly or if we’ll hit the ground with an earth-shattering thud. The only thing I know is that I’m not giving up. I believe that the people of this country are basically loving and caring. There’s only a tiny percentage that really do hate. The power of hate is no match to the power of love. We just have to lean in to the love and it will be okay.

The Time I Jumped Off A Bridge

I spent a summer in Alaska at the end of the eighties. I had been semi-dared by my brother to go with these two guys I kind of knew. He said, “You won’t go. You’ll chicken out” or something to that effect. Gauntlet thrown, I sold my car and hopped in a van spray painted with Grateful Dead art and a giant bulls-eye painted in red and white on the roof. We were a rolling target with a pot-head driving the van most of the way, yet we never got pulled over.

It was the year of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the idea had been to go to Valdez to help with the clean up, but we never made it that far. Stinky Kevin–the pot-head driver who never wore deodorant–had his own agenda. He wanted help getting to Petersburg, Alaska, because he had gone there the previous year and he already had a job lined up. Not being to0 ambitious, I decided to stay there too.

I met some very interesting people up there. Petersberg is on Mitkof island on the Inside Passage in southeast Alaska. It’s a town of around 3000 that grows to about 10,000 during the summer fishing seasons and most of the 7000 visitors are young twent-somethings, up for an adventure and trying to make a lot of money in a hurry.

I quickly found my own group of friends after we first got to Petersburg. One day, on a warm day by Alaska standards (it was in the 70’s) and the sun was out (it had pretty much rained nonstop up to that point), we decided to go swimming. I was skeptical. I thought the water would be too cold and if you know me, I’m not a fan of the cold. However, one this particular day, it was surprisingly comfortable.

We swam and played and at some point the boys started to jump off the bridge. I don’t know how high it was, but it looked really high to me. I’m also not a huge fan of heights, especially jumping off of them. Somehow, though, they convinced me to jump off the bridge, too.

We climbed up to the bridge and looked over the side. It was so high, I thought I’d never be able to do it. I am not one to back down from a challenge, however, (which, as you recall, is how I ended up in Alaska to begin with) and as the boys teased me and double dog dared me, I couldn’t say no. Two of my best guy friends even offered to jump with me. There was no backing down.

We climbed up on the railing, each of us on our own pillar and decided to jump on the count of three. One, two…three. I looked at them as I started to jump and realized they weren’t jumping with me. I could have backed out, but I thought, “What the hell” and jumped anyway.

When I came up for air, I heard them screaming and hollering for me. I felt so proud of myself, although I was a bit pissed at them for tricking me. Jumping off that bridge came to represent my way of coping with things that are scary for me.

Blinders are the screens attached to a horse’s bridle that only allows them to see what’s right in front of them, so they won’t get spooked by things happening off to the side. When I’m particularly scared to do something that I really want to do, I put my blinders on, so I won’t be distracted by the fears and buts and shoulds that surround me. I focus on the goal in front of me.

The goal now is to do things differently. I don’t want to keep creating the same situation over and over again. I don’t want to keep resisting my own life. I want to move out of this town that no longer serves me and start over, for real this time.

Yesterday, I decided to give up my last attachment to my old way of doing things: my call center job. And just like that, I’m set myself free. No more resisting. No more undervaluing. I’ll stay vigilant for the moments when I start to head down an old path and gently guide myself back onto the path of least resistance.

Once again, I’ve put my blinders on and said, “What the hell,” just like that day on the bridge. There’s no going back now.

 

 

 

Shooting Arrows

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Image via Pinterest

I know you’ve all seen this one before. I know I’ve seen it a hundred times too, but I feel like this analogy is fitting for how I feel right now.

You may or may not know that I’ve never had a job I’ve liked and I’ve tried almost everything. I enjoy learning new jobs, but once they become repetitive and routine, I get bored. I get so bored that I feel like gnawing my leg off just to get away. I start to feel like, every day I’m going back to prison to fulfill a life sentence for the crime of not knowing what I want to do when I grow up.

The job I have now is everything I dislike in a job all wrapped up in an ugly, low-wage package. I’m working in a call center, which if you don’t know, is a big room with cubicles, old computers, and headsets where I talk to upset customers all day long and attempt to fix their problems. I’m tethered to my phone all day like a dog with a choke chain around its neck. I can stand up and move a couple of steps, but if I try to make a run for it, it yanks me back violently by the neck.

I’m judged on the quality of my phone calls, but more importantly to the powers that be, by the quantity of calls I take, which calls for a lot of multi-tasking. I do not multi-task well. I also have to account for every minute I’m away from the phone and I’m docked for anything more than a quick potty break. The never ending beep of the next call coming in makes me want to bash my head into desk and one can often find me gesticulating like a crazy lady while dripping sugary sweetness through the phone. This is the lie I have to live.

To add insult to injury, I have to drive 15 miles to get to the office, which is in the suburbs. The suburbs! I hate the suburbs. The building is sandwiched between a cornfield-this is Nebraska after all-and the bland brown/beige/gray houses of some quaintly named housing division.

The worst part is that, as a believer in the Law of Attraction, I know that I created this job. Why would I do this to me? Again?

I’ve spent a lot of the last two years focused on figuring that out. Why do I create these things I do not like? Part of it is that I haven’t believed I deserved better and the other part is that I get so focused on the agony of what I’ve already created that I create more of the same. Like attracts like. This job is actually the wake-up call I needed.

I’m done with torturing myself for whatever I think I may have done wrong in my past or trying to make up for being me. I deserve better than this. I’m ready to create something entirely different now. The plan for a big move is underway and my time at this horrible little job in a town I’ve never liked is almost done.

However, I’m having trouble letting go of the old. The old is comfortable in an uncomfortable way. I’m used to the misery, after all this is the way I’ve always done things. There is certainty in the old, but I don’t want certain anymore. I want to walk boldly into uncertainty (that’s my 2017 mantra). It’s the only way I can create anything new.

I feel stressed out and pulled taut like an arrow on a bowstring. My arm is pulling against the string, my eyes are focused on a hazy, but distinguishable target, my foundation is rock solid, and my fingers are ready to release.  All I need to do is let go of the damn string and I’ll fly straight towards my new way of doing things.

Uncertainty has me hesitant to let go. Uncertainty brings up a panic in me that says “What if I miss my target? What if the arrow doesn’t fly, but drops in front of my feet because I didn’t hold it right? What if the target I’ve got a bead on is the wrong target and I end up with something worse?”

The only thing that’s sure in life is that there are no guarantees, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. Letting go of the bowstring and trusting that no matter what target my arrow hits, it will be the right one. It’s the risk I’ll have to take, because giving up and putting the arrow back in my quiver is not an option.

Who Am I Going To Be?

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This is me. Well, the shadow me. Behind the shadow me is a jumble of wood pieces. Think of them as pieces of my past that I’ve stacked up until I can figure out what to do with them. They can be useful. Each piece of wood is a piece of my life that’s vital to who I’ve become, yet they’re also pieces I can choose to leave behind or save to be used at a future date. Or I can put them all on the fire and be done with them forever.

I’ve learned to be on the lookout for synchronicity. Today, I came across the same idea twice within a couple of hours and when that happens, I feel like the Universe is trying to tell me something. When the Universe speaks, I listen.

Garance Doré is one of my favorite people. She’s a blogger who came to New York by way of Corsica ten years ago and built a fabulous career as an illustrator, street photographer, blogger, and now podcaster and author. While I came to her for her street photography and illustrations, I stay with her for her blog posts that are so intimate they make you feel as if you’re a treasured confidante.

Garance and her fiancée have recently moved to Los Angeles, because like me, she’s done a lot of good work in New York, but wants the opportunity to grow in a different way. Like anyone who relocates, her goals are to find a home, some new friends, a way of working between LA and New York, “and well, find who I am going to be here.”

I found that an interesting thing to say, but when Marie Forleo said virtually the same thing, “Who do you want to become in 2017?” in her Setting Goals video, I knew I should pay attention.

Like Garance, I’ll be moving soon. I’ve been in the same city for twenty years and while I’ve grown immensely here, it’s time to try something new. I need new opportunities to expand and grow. However, I never thought of it as a chance to become a new person. I can be whoever I want to be and no one will be the wiser (except my sister and she won’t tell) .

So, who do I want to be when I get to Colorado? Who will I become when the fog of who I am now clears? I’ll let you know when I find out.

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