Friday, October 3, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Last night, I heard a woman share how she sees herself through recovery, and how she maintains her commitment despite life's challenges and adversity. She spoke for about 20minutes. I think she spoke of spiritual awakenings and creativity, and abstinence from harmful behavior. I say, "I think" because I don't remember much of what she said – she kept jumping from topic to topic and rambled a little. What stuck with me was how she was continuously amazed - even surprised - by the beautiful things that her recovery had opened her up to. The ability to taste food, the ability to get through a stressful moment without feeling anxious, the stamina to work in her garden, love, strength, health -not having as much fear. Every time she named one, her eyes would open up wide with light and she would clap her hands with glee, letting out a small,high-pitched, "OH!" .
I've never really thought of my complexity - my struggle - as beautiful.I've always just thought of it as hard, terrible, unfair, and why can't I just be normal? Depression is a constant state of despair. The existence of a depressed person is perpetual smog where life is muffled by your own inner voice's reminders of how un-beautiful you are, of how un-worthy you are, of how much you deserve your pain. Regardless of how much light is in the person's life: their talents, achievements, and virtues; or how much support exists for them, all of it gets filtered out by a stubborn and morose gatekeeper. When I am depressed, when I find myself again with the"not good enough" voice's volume set to MAXIMUM, I can't see beauty.It may be all around me, in me, through me - but I am blind to it. It's too good to be true, too big for me, it doesn't make sense. Recovery -healing - is learning to see the beauty through this haze, to truly recognize moments of pain and dysfunction as essential to discovering your own beauty. The battle is to shove through the gatekeeper and allow the self to see these moments as beautiful.
I say that beauty, and not "happiness" is the opposite of depression because it is the only light that is as ubiquitous as struggle. Happiness is subjective - and a fleeting state. It passes, just as despair. Beauty, however,is eternal. There is struggle everywhere. There is also beauty everywhere. To truly see beauty outside of us, we have to be able to allow it to exist within us. To do this, we become vulnerable. When we let the world hear our “I need help”, we open ourselves up – our desires, our fears, our shames – so that light, and beauty can seep in. There cannot be change or healing without vulnerability. To heal a wound, we must first see that there is one there.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I decided to share this experience today because Edmee - who quickly noticed that i wasn't in "full" form - embraced my strange modification with a truly accepting energy.I felt really weird - like I wasn't fully part of the class - but I felt safe enough to stay and integrate as much as I could. At first, I started just with the feet movements - feeling like I had gone back to the basics. Gradually, I allowed my left arm to participate. it's not in every class that i can feel safe enough to do this - to step in with full knowledge of what could happen in my body and allow myself the space and patience to tend to it. So I had my hand in my pocket and I felt aware and present in my body. The pain is a ride - it's a powerful lesson - it's a doorway into parts of myself that I haven't yet explored and healed. From this, will come healing, will come awareness....and creativity, writing - and perhaps more....but for now, I still dance, and I am still thankful every day for the chance and space to strengthen myself.
Love and light.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Friday November 8, 2013:
Zumba with Irina Peschan at Alvin Ailey
"What happened to your blogs? no more?"
Her question was simple. In a moment, it cracked me open. I search her face - my friend - another incredible woman that I've met through Zumba classes. Her expression is kind, her words are supportive - and yet my heart aches.
"I will start again. It's just been....a tough time."
A tough time.
Right now, these three tiny words hold more sadness than I'd ever expect to have put on them. I haven't written a blog post for almost a month - and every time, my excuse was - I can't, I'm having a tough time. The truth is, I just didn't have the words. Not only haven't I written blog posts in the last month, I haven't written anything at all. I was taking classes though - I took some classes that were very powerful for me because they were my only escapes from days of sadness, worry, pain, frustration, anger, and stress. Danielle, Irina, Sarah, Edmee stood in front of me and lead classes on days where I couldn't feel my body from how disconnected I felt from myself. They encouraged me to move - at my own pace and comfort - on days where I was so deeply tired. The classes I didn't write about are what enabled me to make it here - and to start writing again.
I can't go into details of why I haven't written - just that it was a sad and difficult time and that energy I had outside of class and teaching was spoken for. I didn't write about what I was witnessing and going through, because I couldn't. Why have I come back now? The biggest part of it is behind me - and every day I am now working to let go, to move forward, and to recharge myself, my life, my health. I won't lie - because I can't here - my health suffered during this time of sadness and stress. Nights without sleep, days filled with stress - I was tested. I went back to my old coping mechanisms a couple of times. Thankfully, not fully - I found that I have the strength to remember myself, to stop - to also heal.
Irina's class on Friday was the first one I went to after the storm passed - but before I began to survey the debris in my life. There is one song she plays in her class that I was afraid to hear - it links directly to where the sadness comes from right now.
What if she plays it? - I'm going to have to leave. I don't want to start crying in class - and I will.
I was worried - afraid - nervous - tired.
I chose Irina's class as the first one to go back to because no matter how I feel, it has a positive effect on me. Her positive energy charms the room and embraces it for the duration of the class. It's amazing, it's fortunate - it's a privilege to take her class. Wow - I felt so oddly out of place. The last class I'd take before that was...Wednesday, but it wasn't really a class. It was a goodbye - it was sad. It was...hard. I thought that I'd never be able to do Zumba again - that it would be too hard for me to deal with the emotional upheaval that certain dance moves would cause for me.
I have too much to process.
It will be too hard.
I don't want to even try...
So, of course I went. Irina never teaches on Fridays and I've never been to Alvin Ailey. There was no question I'd be there. Well, no - there were about 27 questions of whether I'd be there, but I was. I was awake from Wednesday at 7am until Thursday at 11:30pm. Without a night of sleep, I knew I wouldn't be allowed into this class. I slept some....I still felt tired. Earlier in the day, I had gone to Yoga and began to open up the places in my body where I was storing the pain, the sadness - I started to release. The day wasn't easy - the situation wasn't willing to leave me yet. Just before class, I had to deal with something again. The voices in my head threw themselves at each other even as I sat and tried to answer the question about whether I'd ever write posts again. Until the very last second, I wondered if I dared leave before class began. I stayed - of course - I don't tend to run from something because I know it will be hard.
I struggled to stay in the moment in class - my mind kept taking me back to the moments of the few days before. I kept seeing, hearing, feeling moments where I was tested and where I had to swallow my own emotion for the sake of someone else's safety. We did songs from Afro Fusion Burn and I was thrilled - that music takes me away from my thoughts completely and allows me to be free.
I love Alingo - love that she played it - and love all the styles that I can't name but that my feet start to tap at and my heart starts to breathe with. I was free. For a blissful few minutes in the class -I was free - and I could let go. I could move. I could smile.
"Move over so you can see yourself in the mirror."
This wasn't a suggestion. Irina came over to me and physically moved me so I would no longer hide from myself. I didn't want to see me - I realized that I hadn't actually seen me for so many weeks - I was so focused on...other things. There I was - in the mirror - wearing all black and trying to understand how my body was moving when I felt so disconnected from it. I watched my eyes then allowed myself to watch my body.
I'm not bad...
It always comes as a surprise to me. After more than a year of Zumba, Afro Fusion, Aqua Zumba, some Hip Hop, an Instructor Training ...I'm actually, well, good at it. Every time I found myself behind someone, I moved back to the mirror - it became a game. When my thoughts drifted and I missed steps, I looked at myself and checked in.
It will be okay.
I watched the people in the class a lot more than I usually do - I only knew a couple of them. This was a different studio, a different crowd, and such a beautiful moment. I felt the pain in my body shaking as I moved around. I felt my muscles exhaling as they released tension and sadness. I felt oddly free. Oddly, I felt. There was no clock in the room and I was so happy. I wanted it to keep going, I wanted to watch myself move through my pain and see that I can still do it. I walked out of class with my heart still racing. Yet, it wasn't from the exercise. It was from the relief -from the knowledge that I have healing in my life and that little by little, I will get back to myself and I will still continue to dance, and more importantly - to also write.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tuesday October 15, 2013:
Zumba with Irena Meletiou at Reebok Sports Club
I feel connected.
This was such an incongruous thought for me yesterday. There I was, about five songs into class, and these words swept through my mind and my body like a welcome sip of tea on a bitter morning. In that moment, it was like the rest of the day hadn't existed. I was THERE - in class, connected, present - and most of all, felling good in myself. It was incredible because a mere hour before I felt as though the weight of the day was threatening to crush me into a puddle of mush and self-hate. One of my biggest challenges in healing is learning to treat myself with kindness and compassion when I'm feeling tired, weak, vulnerable - when I'm the one in need of healing and the tools I teach my students. Learning to accept that I struggle has actually been easier than learning to be kind to myself during it.
I sometimes have some trouble understanding my space in class and I tend to move around more than I intend to. Yesterday, I started the class in the second row, but in every song kept edging forward and finding myself in the front row. There was definitely space for me there, but I was reluctant to step into it - to have nothing but air and energy between me in the mirror, between me and Irena. I kept moving back because I was scared - I kept coming up on my fears and I didn't want to see them. When I looked in the mirror, it scared me to think -
I'm actually doing okay.
Have you ever experienced that? Being afraid of being yourself - of being okay with being yourself? That's what I was going through yesterday. It was a really tough day. I felt lonely, I felt frustrated, I felt anxious - I did not, at all, feel connected. The irony is that what brought this up for me was having to write a paragraph about my curriculum and how I develop my tools through my recovery. There are some days where I feel the weight of my life sitting on my neck and my shoulders, where my mind isn't quiet and I can't always find the ways to be nice to me. Yesterday, I struggled through most of the day. I got very little sleep and had to continuously check in and encourage myself to make it through the day. I wanted to slip - I wanted to just give into the that habit that makes me feel so comforted - for a moment - and then floods me with murky waters of shame for many, many moments afterwards.
I wasn't even sure that I wanted to go to class.
Why put myself through an hour of having to stare at myself looking ridiculous?
Why even pretend like I'll enjoy it?
Why even subject other people to me right now?
What's the point anyway?
Yeah, I went there yesterday. Those days are hard - and we all have them - where we just feel low, unworthy, incapable - tired and sick of everything. Yet, there is still, thankfully, that part of me that wants me to be better - to heal - to grow. It's the part of me that packed my Zumba clothes into my bag that morning, knowing that I could go to this class tonight. There are some days that merely knowing that I have a class I can go to later helps me get through - and yesterday was one of those. I walked to the gym with leaden steps. Even after I'd changed, I wasn't sure.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday October 14, 2013:
Irena Dance Training
There was a nostalgic breeze rustling down 26th st as I walked towards what was to be final session of Summer Irena Dance Training. I've been debating with myself for the last week about whether or not to attend this session. The weeks of IDT were so tumultuous - I struggled with injury, exhaustion, intense emotional overwhelm, and most of all how to be nice to myself during all of that. Even through I've practiced, my body still associated some of the dance moves with a time of struggle.
We haven't practiced the IDT songs for three weeks - two of them I missed entirely. The last session of IDT is typing the one where we perform for Irena and she rewards the best performers out all of us. Yeah, I was pretty nervous - especially since in the last IDT, I had burst through my own expectations of myself to come out in the "top 3". Funnily enough, it wasn't even the fact that I didn't know the songs that worried me so much, it was my own fear of not doing well - of failing - and how I would ever manage to be kind to myself knowing that I could have done better.
I'm going to be disastrous...
Imagine thinking that about yourself on a loop before you are set to perform. If I ever entertained that thought before teaching a workshop, I would be frozen in place, horrified by a classroom of eyes focused on me, needing me to lead them.
Where is this thought coming from?
Who are you afraid of disappointing?
Who are you trying to please?
What can you let go of now?...
Funnily enough, the answer had little to do with "pleasing" anyone - Irena herself walked into this class with an open and accepting energy - "we are going to do this one for fun, for review, maybe for the future. Nobody wins today, but everybody who is here already won."
It is so easy for me to get caught up in my thoughts and forget that if I'm nervous, at least one other person in the class probably is too. As we started, my heart was definitely beating a little bit faster and my body began tool remember the lessons where I learned these moves. Suddenly, it was no longer October 15, but the middle of August and I was afraid that my tendon would fully tear while learning Janet Jackson's "If"...My muscles began to remember and hold the energy of fear and sadness into my body and here, now, in class, my task was to finally release it. Somehow, I was...I felt okay and safe while all this noise fizzed around in my mind.
How am I supposed to access this compassion for myself while being so ashamed and afraid?
How can I forgive myself?
let it go...it's okay, really, I promise...
In a moment where I was desperately trying to figure out how to Get Jiggy With It while staying on rhythm, I looked over at Irena who was trying to hold back her laughter, and we both just let it go...and laughed. I looked in the mirror and laughed at myself, and then, with myself. At that moment, I realized - I'm having fun. While my mind was running in circles, my body was happily enjoying the opportunity to dance to different songs and to practice routines that are still challenging.
Laughing helped me connect my mind and body and let go of the talk that was holding me back. Instead, I allowed myself to hear the joy that dancing brings for me. Strangely, I felt alive - connected to a part of me that absorbed the strength to heal and practiced it in such a raw way in Irena's class. There are a lot of moments in life - some that we love, some that we would rather forget. Each and every one of them feeds our life with a different energy. In last night's IDT, I allowed a moment of struggle to become a moment of strength by allowing myself to join in the spirit of the class, rather than sinking into my anxiety.
Let yourself feel...
In every moment, feel the powerful dance that is your life...