The lights were off but it was mid morning so sunlight illuminated the wooden floor in thick yellow shafts through blinds. It was warm, but not hot and my task was to bend at the knees, into that position you see kids doing at roller skating rinks with their butts folded down to rest near their ankles. A position in which you could skate under your friend’s legs if you wanted. Compact. Small. Like a tight little ball of human being.
I, however, was unable to do this. Not ever in the roller skating rink as a kid nor now, at the yoga class. While everyone around me sunk two feet below my head, I continued to hover like a person not wanting to fully sit down on a public toilet.
Was I doing this right? Was there something else I should be doing? My Achilles tendon has always been tight and it was blocking me from going any further toward the earth. I was frustrated. I was hot and sweating and it was hard to hover. And I was wishing I could be in a different place with my body. I was feeling the want, the lack, the utter dissatisfaction with how I was in that moment.
I spoke up, asking the Yoga instructor, “What should I do here? I can’t seem to go any lower.”
“That is your place,” he wisely replied.
It didn’t seem like a proper answer. I didn’t like that answer. I wanted to hear a solution, a modification…something that would get me to where everyone else seemed to so easily be. But I wasn’t, and there wasn’t anything for it. I was where I was, but still I rebelled against it.
“But isn’t there something I could do?” I begged.
“That is your place,” he repeated.
And so it is in every moment, isn’t it? We are where we are, how we are, and there is nothing for it but to be at peace with what is…or not.
In that moment in that yoga class, I was not at peace with my place. I was not open to expanding my heart, being present to the joy that was available, and fulling inhabiting my body. No, my mind was racing – critiquing my sub-par performance, telling me that I should be more, better, different, and completely wound in knots over my limitation.
Never mind the fact that I hadn’t done yoga in years and had less than even 4 months total experience. Never mind that this was my third class back. I had expectations for myself and I was not living up to them.
I lived most of my life from this same space of not being enough, of feeling like I was always falling short, of comparison and lack.
Especially when it came to dancing. From having the “wrong body type” to never having my leg high enough at the barre, to struggling with double turns, to having no plie’ nor ability to jump and fly. Through the lens of dancing my faults and imperfections were magnified. I could never see any of my grace or fluidity. I could never see the beauty I did bring, however imperfect it may be, because my eyes were clouded by the thick fog of wishing I were someone different from me. It was especially cruel because at my heart I am a dancer. I couldn’t admit it to myself back then, it was so buried. I was dancing and didn’t consider myself a “real” dancer! I was someone who “did” ballet, not a ballerina. I “did” jazz, but wasn’t a bona fide jazz dancer. I did it for exercise. I did it because I didn’t play sports. But I didn’t do it because I was actually a dancer – the title was to lofty for the likes of me.
What a lie. How could I come to see myself in this way? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I loved ballerinas ever since I can remember and would stare endlessly at the one adorning my bedroom wall made of foam and linen with her pink toe shoes and a real piece of tulle for her tutu, her arms up in fifth position, her brown yarn hair fashioned in a bun atop her head. I wanted to be her. So badly. And I so wasn’t.
It is funny how life works though. You guys who’ve read the blog know the story – I quit dancing after high school because I wasn’t going to be a professional dancer and so what was the point of continuing? I got my degrees, I “grew up,” I got married, I ballooned. Although I always struggled with my weight, I took it to a new level of obesity after I stopped doing things I loved, like dancing, getting up to over 300 pounds.
And one day, I started dancing again.
This time it looked different. I’d never really been aware of ballroom dancing but DWTS was a big hit by this point and what the instructor teaching out of my gym was doing looked a hell of a lot more entertaining than the stupid treadmill. I thought I’d give it a try.
Where ballet never felt quite right, like a tuning fork of the right pitch, ballroom harmonized with my core. From its emotionality to the partnership involved, no other form of dance has ever suited me more. And though I’m still not satisfied with where I am in my dancing, physical appearance, expression, and connection, I am closer to than I was last week, last month, last year. I’m growing and changing. I’m dancing.
Interestingly, all the angst and imperfection and pressure I used to feel in dance class is no longer present in my weekly ballet and yoga classes (I’ve been going to yoga for 3 weeks now). No, in those classes I am joyful. I am where I am and it is what it is and I can totally laugh at myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to progress, improve my balance, strength, and flexibility, but it is okay to be where I am. It is somehow okay that my leg can’t get higher than 45 degrees, that I fall out of my turns, that I can’t entirely hold my turn out, that I can’t do a plank for longer than 30 seconds (yet!) or jump in properly from downward dog, that I fall short of what’s being asked for in so many ways. It’s totally okay and funny and joyful where before it would be all self-loathing and punishment. I know that next week or next month I might notice some slight improvement and it is enough. It’s enough and it is wonderful and I actually banged out a double pirouette this week, can you believe it! I am happy with my place in these experiences. I am open-hearted and alive to the joy of just being present in my body.
But in ballroom, I am not entirely happy with my place. I feel this pressure inside because I care about it so deeply. I watch videos of ballroom dancers on YouTube or television and this little whisper in my heart urges me on, believing, profoundly believing, beyond all sense or reason or the appearance of things at the moment, that I have some of Yulia or Joanna or Karina or Anna in me – that I have within my spirit and body and mind the makings of a champion. No, I’m not talking about being a professional or anything like that, but I am saying that I see something in them that I must have in me. Like I believe I could move people like they do through dancing. I will most certainly never be as technically perfect or polished as their dancing may be, but I can dance with my heart, and it just might get to a place polished enough, and I can be in a body healthy enough, that people can hear the message I’m sending. To be honest I think many can see it now, and I think of how much more powerful it will be when I am stronger, fitter, healthier, more confident, especially in light of the very broken place I’ve come from. I’m excited for that possibility. In fact, I have even had brief moments of being in a place where I am happy with my place. Like today on my lesson, my first stab at our Cha Cha routine was solid. And in our Samba routine, I can see that when I’m thinner it is going to be sexy hot!
So my mission for the next three competitions is to be satisfied with my place. To be as open-hearted and present and bold/fearless as possible, knowing that I’ve not “arrived” anywhere (nor will I ever), but that I am solidly on my journey…to a new body, to a new dancer, however much or however little it appears I have changed from the outside looking in, from the inside looking out, I will center myself in the knowingness that I am in my place. This is my place. And all there is for me to do is to be at peace with it…or not 🙂
But, well, I’m declaring here that I will be at peace with my place, especially on the days I compete. I will laugh in the face of my fallibility and imperfections. I will dance with all the energy, technique, power, expression, and connection I can muster. It will be what it is as it is in the moment. All I can do is decide to leave every ounce of it on the dance floor, to not hold anything back. So that is what I’m deciding and I will refuse to be anything but joyful while doing it.
So here we are, on my 200th blog post, can you believe it? There seems to be something etherial about the number 200 for me right now – from this 200th blog post, and I just got a WordPress badge for getting 200 likes, to being only 2 away from having 200 followers on Facebook, to being closer to 200 pounds than I’ve been in years….it seems like a big deal.
So I looked it up and here’s what I found:
Angel Number 200 is a message from your angels that your devotion, faith and trust has led you to a ‘knowing’ that you are in-line with your life purpose and soul mission. Number 200 is a message of ‘Divine Timing’. Trust the Universe is working behind the scenes, and certain factors need to fall into place before desired results can come to full fruition. Things are happening behind the scenes that will prove to be of great advantage to you in the near future. Even though you may not be experiencing these opportunities just yet, believe that they are on their way into your life right now. Stay peaceful, positive and patient in the interim. Have faith and trust in the Divine and listen to your intuition, always. At this point in time you are where you are meant to be.
Uncanny. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? In other words, be happy with your place. This is your place. Be in your place, peacefully, and know that you will soon be in your next place.
Guess that Yogi had it right.
This is my place. Thank you for meeting me here. I am grateful.