Howdy! You might be wondering what this January Challenge Awakening thing is and how it relates to my blog. Well, here’s the deal. I love ballroom, as you know, but there’s more to me! I have other interests and aspects of my life. One of which is my own personal growth and spirituality. So I decided, since there are so few ballroom blogs, not nearly enough to keep me entertained, that I would look for other blogs that are about my other interests.
So I found this blog, Me, My Magnificent Self by Barbara and decided to follow it and see what it was all about. Barbara followed me back and invited me to participate in a project she’s spearheading. I agreed. So here you go, this is the challenge. It’s to write about your Awakening experience. I’m thinking that this can mean different things for different people. For me, here’s my thought on it.
I feel like we come into this world as newborn babies, usually soft and split open, our hearts splayed wide, as authentic human beings and partly as untamed animals. We grow. We develop. We absorb. We are shaped by our environment, our parents, our DNA. We are who we are, inside, and we are who we have to be – to survive, to be accepted in society, to get what we need. To a certain degree we are trained and tamed and in part it is for our own good. It keeps us safe in some ways. But it is a double-edged sword. To a certain extent we are also taught to squelch and ignore our intuition, we are taught to mistrust our impulses, we are taught to “control” our emotions, usually by trapping them in tension patterns in our bodies.
And then there is the trauma. It’s kind of a given for the human experience. It can look a lot of different ways but we all experience it in some form or another. We all experience pain and fear and we learn to protect ourselves from being so wide open. Unfortunately, not many of us learn effective means of processing or coping with our traumas and instead of being resolved they tend to haunt us until we are forced to deal with them and heal them…nor not
So to me, our natural state of being is to be Awakened. I think we come into the world this way. But then many of us undergo a process of being covered up, buried, molded, hurt, scarred, and masked. We hide our true selves so deeply inside we hardly know who we are anymore because we are running the automatic scripts we have been given. Some of them work great for us, others not so much.
So I had my fair share of “programming” from society as well as trauma and I ended up literally covering myself up. By the age of 30 or so I was at my highest weight of 313 pounds and supremely unhappy with my life and myself.
I think I’ve always been sensitive and intuitive but I didn’t really know how to walk confidently in the world with these gifts. Indeed, I suffered from extreme lack of confidence all through high school and was a classic overachiever. I never felt good enough and tortured myself about my body and my weight. I danced, ballet and jazz and tap, and I just didn’t have the right body type. I could never be the dancer I wanted to be so desperately. In my mind at 140 pounds and a size 8, I was as huge as I became in real life years later wearing a woman’s 2X. It didn’t surprise me how big I was because I’d always felt that big. In fact, now the outward reality matched the inner reality.
And I gave up dancing. I did nothing creative, nothing that nourished my soul. I worked and I thought that “ought” to be enough. Why was I so unhappy? What the hell was wrong with me? Why was so much wrong with me?
I would say that “Awakening” for me has been a process rather than one single “Aha!” moment. I feel like I am continuing to awaken every day, coming more and more to life with each day I eat on my plan, do my workouts, each dance lesson I take, each new friend I make. I’m expanding into other creative areas as well – besides writing on the blog, I am also discovering a penchant for poetry. It is as if as I continue to uncover myself, dig myself out from under the mountains of fat, I am also releasing creative potentials that had been blocked. I feel safer and safer to be more “me” and to explore all of me, all my potentiality.
But there are two poignant moments that come to mind when thinking about Awakening.
The first was a mundane moment walking from my car into a building. It was extremely taxing. It was so difficult to just plain walk that I was startled by it. I thought to myself, “This just isn’t right! I’m a dancer! It shouldn’t be this hard to walk.” It was very disconcerting.
The other moment was on a cruise with my husband. There was lots of eating and lots of drinking and I just didn’t feel well. I had these dull pains in the region of my liver and I thought to myself, no joke, “I need to change things or I am going to die. It’s time to make a decision about this – because either I am going to change and get better, or I am going to kill myself living like this.” And it scared me.
Hmmm. Not very mushy or happy lol. But sometimes life has to hit us in the head with a 2 x 4 for us to get the message. It’s not always pleasant. But I still think it’s loving, in our best interests. It’s a call to awareness of what exactly is going on, of what we are doing to ourselves. Spirituality doesn’t always feel good. Because we are incarnated as humans right now we must embrace both the esoteric and the practical. I try to live my life at the intersection of spirituality and pragmatism.
Anyways, so there I was fat, unhappy, a little bit scared, and knowing I had to do something, anything, and my previous efforts had failed miserably. I had done all these personal growth and mastery workshops and they were great and I learned a lot and implemented a lot of what I’d learned, but still I was struggling, far from a life of my dreams – in fact, far from a life that I could even really tolerate.
I think a big turning point for me was rediscovering dance. I’d never heard of ballroom dancing as a kid but life is funny. I took my first lesson out of a gym because I saw a guy teaching in the rec room and it looked more fun than the stupid treadmill that I was on. I bought 5 lessons and I was hooked. My previous dancing as a kid had prepared me quite well to take on the challenges of ballroom. And, even better, ballroom dancing resonated with my being in a way no other dance form had. There is something about the connection, being in a partnership, being responsible for my own self but also to be present for another human being, that gives me confidence in myself, helps me to stretch outside my comfort zone and grow, and has empowered me to dance my spirit. Ballroom has allowed me to show my authentic self in ways not available to me in my previous life. Indeed, dancing is as much a spiritual pursuit as it is a physical one. I believe dancing requires one’s entire being, and that includes the energetic and unseen realms.
During my first lessons all I did was basically cry. I cried rivers moving my hips! I had so much pain to process and it was all coming out. But I knew I wanted to dance from this deep place inside. It kept me going when I had horrible blisters on my toes that I had to tape over, when my feet hurt so badly every morning that I’d hobble out of bed like an old woman, when I was exhausted and sweating and everything hurt. And you know what? Eventually it got better.
Now I move my hips with joy! In fact, they are probably one of my best dance features! And I can dance in heels, I’m working on getting into 3 inch heels now! And I used to not be able to make it through one basic Samba and now I can make it through 3 times in a row. I dance in competitions and win. I’ve shed 85 pounds and 6 sizes. I’ve been healing myself this entire time. There have been innumerable insights and awarenesses and awakenings along the way. Many lessons, many self-realizations. Many moments of being pushed out of my comfort zone. And I like to write about them on the blog. It’s pretty therapeutic and an amazing record of the journey I’ve been on thus far.
And not only is my dancing better, I’m better, my life is better. I’m happier. I have passion, a light in my eyes. I’m reconnecting with my authentic self, the wild, untamed woman within, the goddess who dances with complete abandon and sensuality, the divine creative self who gives birth to new art. I’m pretty excited to see what’s going to unfold in the coming year.
So for me, Awakening is a process I’m continuing to undergo, and hopefully will until my last breath. Am I “Awakened?” Yes. And No. I think I’m more whole than I’ve ever been, more aware of more parts of me, parts that I’d completely killed or forgotten or disowned. I think our natural state is to be “Awakened” and I feel like dancing is a space in which my Awakened self has a chance to show up. Also, I’m a real person moving around in the real world with bills and a job and grocery shopping. I also go on automatic pilot a lot, I’m not 100% present. But I think the Awakened self is always available to some extent. She just becomes more and more so the more of my work I do. She is present more and more of the time as I continue to engage in my process. Dancing has been an excellent portal for me to actively bring myself back to life, to a more Awakened state.
Moving forward I will continue to do my process, mold my body into a finely tuned instrument for my art, and go after my big dreams.
Thank you to Barbara for hosting this wonderful community blogging activity. If you liked this post, you can follow the project along the rest of the the month through the links to the other blog participants below.
1st Barbara – http://memymagnificentself.wordpress.com
2nd Paddy – http://paddypicasso.wordpress.com
3rd Emanuel- http://emantable.com/musings-of-a-table/
6th Julianne – http://juliannevictoria.com
7th Sarah – http://theskycladwriter.wordpress.com
8th Shree – http://heartsongsblog.wordpress.com
9th Dace – http://mywaytotruth.wordpress.com
10th Korinn – http://www.korinn.com
11th Sindy – http://bluebutterfliesandme.wordpress.com
12th Stefanie – http://dancingwithstefanie.com
13th Mick – http://meticulousmick.wordpress.com
14th Joss – http://ccwow.wordpress.com
15th Megan – http://mychroniclifejourney.wordpress.com
16th Pat – http://patinspire.org
17th Marga – http://lifeasimprov.com
18th Kimberley – http://kimberlyharding.wordpress.com
19th Becki – http://isurvivedamurderattackmyfamilydidnt.com
20th Serena – http://beingmefromatoz.com
21st Heather – http://wildflowerwomen.wordpress.com
22nd PurpleRay – http://purplerays.wordpress.com
23rd Sue – http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com
24th M… – http://seeingm.wordpress.com
25th Brian G – http://middlepane.com
26th Dotta – http://dottaraphels.wordpress.com
27th CW – http://sunflowerrosecw.wordpress.com
28th Laurie – http://lauriesnotes.wordpress.com
29th Debra – http://ptero9.com
30th Linda – http://lindalitebeing.wordpress.com
31th Michael – http://navigator1965.wordpress.com
Learning to move toward clarity, authenticity, balance, and happiness — and realizing there will be ebb and flow. It seems to be the way to the “better life” and it is actually what my thoughts, prayers, meditations, and mantras are about. I am so happy for you Stef!
Hi Nena! I am happy for me too! And for you. I miss you. Let’s connect soon.
I totally loved your post. You write so beautifully and gracefully. Perhaps your dancing is imbued in your writing! I wish you the best in your continuing transformation.
Thank you lindalitebeing! I am glad you liked it.
Hi litebeing! I am glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the well wishes.
Hi Stef,thank you for sharing yourself with us 🙂
I felt your spirit soar as you edged further into yourself. Yours is a beautiful and inspiring journey; it warms the spirit.
May your feet keep happy still 🙂
Hi Dotta! Thanks so Much!
Oh Stef… thank you so much for sharing… you truly poured your heart and soul into this post… I felt and connected with you totally… to the point of tears swelling up in my eyes… A beautiful journey of a beautiful lady… continuing until the last step and breath… Barbara x
Hi Barbara! It was my pleasure to participate. Thanks for creating the challenge and for your kind comment.
I love this post! Very inspiring! I just signed up for 8 weeks of ballet. I start tomorrow. I have lost my creative side and my goal is to get it back. I love your description of ballroom dancing and how you are synergistic with another person. I really like that idea. Sounds great to connect while you dance. I relate to this post so much in so many ways! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi Jenny! Yay for you! I hope ballet nourishes your soul and helps you to reconnect with your creative self. I’m pleased the post resonated with you.
Okay, wow!! Have you taken residency in my head? Your raw, beautiful perspective resonates so deeply with me. I was moved when you said that during this process of loving change you were healing yourself the entire time. I truly relate to that because I have been in pain and struggle for WAY too long. This will be the year I will finally “take over”. A sense of urgency has come over me, your post couldnt have been more timely. I understand about how you talk of your authentic self. Don’t we always strive to be the most true to ourselves? Some, are closer to it then others. I want to live as authentically as I can in this short life of mine. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your honest, sincere feelings. You have inspired me to “go for it” NOW, not next week, not next month, not next year (when I look better on the dance floor), but right NOW!! I am very excited to continue witnessing you on your incredible journey (you ROCK!!) and for me to, well, just get started.
Hi Anna! Thank you for your lovely comment. I am so pleased you are feeling fired up to take on your life like no kidding with urgency! Go for it!
Very brave of you to tell us these things! And you can really see that you’re being honest with yourself. Inspiration! Good for you!! 🙂
Wow, so loved your post .. and your story.. and so love that you are now a new you… .
“And not only is my dancing better, I’m better, my life is better. I’m happier. I have passion, a light in my eyes. I’m reconnecting with my authentic self, the wild, untamed woman within, the goddess who dances with complete abandon and sensuality, the divine creative self who gives birth to new art. ”
Awakening is all about discovery Self.. we are given so many ‘Signs’ along our journey, some never open their eyes to see them, others see them not knowing what they are.. and others see them but ignore them.. But when we follow our intuition what our Gut tells us is right.. when we follow our passion, our Heart.. then we begin to wake up to who we really are..
Once we do, the Signs keep coming, and we take heed of them.. Awakening is learning so many different things.. and for each of us its a different journey.. for we each need various lessons .. Once we learn we also learn its easier to Move on, ..
Thank you so much.. I so enjoyed your experience..
Hi Sue! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
Thank you for sharing your story with such courage, and how wonderful that you have found dancing once again in your life! Wishing you much joyful dancing and heart opening!
Thank you Wildflower Women. I am so pleased I am dancing! Its such a blessing in my life. Thanks for the well wishes.
I loved loved your post! Very authentic and inspiring!
I totally get you, no passion no life… When I feel passion-less I sing and dance my way back to life and myself. Moving your body moving your spirit.
You go Girl 🙂 xox
P.s. Check out my favorite Shaman-Dancer Girl’s blog at http://www.wisewildfree.com – you ought to love her! She also offers many free videos combining dance, yoga and sensual movement. If ever you have a chance to attend one of her Qoya classes, I promise it will the best dance class you will ever do