in the depths of my cells

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been consciously withholding this information– but just recently uncovered it somewhere in the depths of my cells.

I have spent years being ANGRY. Horribly, Defiantly, ANGRY.

At myself.

What I have realized is this anger (that I have managed bury to the depths of my being) has been holding me hostage from moving forward and becoming the biggest, baddest ME I can possibly be.

FLASHBACK 25 YEARS:

My parents announced their divorce to me when I was fifteen. I was bewildered. My foundation began to crumble.

While intuitively I understood the cracks had been there for years, and intellectually I knew it was not my fault– the carefully crafted story of my family began to disintegrate. It was then that I began to assume an unreasonable amount of responsibility for things that were beyond my control. It was then that my anger at myself began to take root.

I had a great childhood– one that I easily romanticize. I was raised with immense love and support by two incredible human beings. I grew up feeling certain of myself and my abilities.  I don’t have any horror stories or blaring reasons for deeply rooted psychological trauma. But that division down the middle of my foundation at the age of fifteen struck me deeply. And with it an came an immense amount of shame and self-blame which I am just beginning to acknowledge.

My self-critical voice formed at the age of 15 out of necessity for the brave face that I donned. I have been living with that same critical voice (and brave face) ever since without realizing where they came from. My angry, fifteen year old critic has been tough on me for years and her voice has carried a lot of weight.

Yesterday, with the help of my healer, I was able to both listen and talk to my fifteen year old self. What she told me was that she wanted to make herself as small as possible, she didn’t want to bother anyone or for anyone to think something was her fault, and what she needed from me was support and a context for understanding herself.

I told her first that she was beautiful and that it was okay for her to give her love to the world and to herself. I let her know that the things that she perceived were real– and that she was bigger than she could possibly imagine. I also told her that making herself small was impossible–  so she should stop trying. And that she deserved to take up as much space as she possibly could. (and the world deserved it too).

I have never felt a more profound gratitude than the gratitude my fifteen year old felt for my forty year old yesterday. And that gratitude is like a circle that I get to continuously experience. I’ve also never felt a more profound empathy for another human being than the empathy my forty year old felt for my fifteen year old. I no longer fear the critical voice of my younger self. My anger is gone. It has been replaced with love.

I feel my timidity and the power behind my fear. I feel my desire to please the whole world coupled with the wisdom that I can’t possibly do that. The weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I have got MY OWN back like no one else has ever had it. (And that seems appropriate). I understand in the depths of my cells a vibration of gratitude the likes of which I have never experienced– and it is for MYSELF. I am beautiful, self-reliant and powerful beyond anything I could possibly imagine. And I’m finally beginning to understand at my foundation how to to love myself first.

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sometimes…

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moving forward is hard.

and standing in one place feels like I’m being shoved backwards.

there are days when I want to stay in bed with my head under the covers.

or I wish I were my cat.

and my strength feels buried under too many layers to access.

and it’s easier to acknowledge other people’s angels.

Sometimes

it’s hard to get out of my own way.

and being a healer feels like the hardest job on the planet.

and holding space for others is exhausting.

and holding up a mirror to myself is a daunting task for which i feel ill-prepared.

these are the times I need to remember that I am HELD.

and that allowing myself to be held propels me forward.

and my vulnerability is my greatest strength.

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dancing past my edges

I seem to be pushing up against my edges at the moment. My brain feels as if it’s spread across three separate continents and my body feels as if I just ran a marathon every day for the last week, on my hands. On top of that I flew to Las Vegas last night with my son for a basketball tournament leaving behind my amazing and slightly bewildered partner to handle the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, our unmade bed, piles of dirty laundry and a ten year old little girl. (He’s racking up the karma points as we speak). I am seven days away from the opening of my dance company’s latest show, In My Own Space, and you could say I’m dealing with a bit of stress.

I began the process of making this piece as a practicality more than anything else. POV Dance hit a couple of walls in the last year. We failed to secure a space we were hoping to make a dance in, and therefore we didn’t receive funding. But despite those walls, I desperately wanted to be engaged in a creative process. Enter: Body Mechanics, my Pilates studio. It was already paid for, I didn’t need anyone’s permission, and it’s MY SPACE. What could be easier?

From the outset of this process I found myself stumbling in places where usually I feel solid. My co-director was upfront about the fact that he couldn’t be very involved, so I found myself having to navigate roles that I was unaccustomed to handling, he’s the yang to my creative yin. I had a hard time envisioning the overall structure of the piece– which is something that usually comes to me very clearly when I enter a new building. Being so intertwined with the studio made it difficult for me to find time to connect to it in envisioning the piece. (It’s hard to imagine a dance when you’ve got ten other things crying out for your attention the moment you enter a space). I also found myself having a harder time than usual creating movement as rehearsals began.

There’s an anonymity that dancing in a space separate from yourself affords you. It’s what I’ve always done– and up until this process I hadn’t realized that anonymity equaled freedom. Being in my own space in the beginning made me feel like I was under scrutiny simply because I was a known quantity within the studio. Usually I’m climbing over ledges and bouncing off of walls in spaces where no one knows anything about me beyond the spectacle I’m creating. Creating a spectacle of yourself when people know who you are and have certain expectations of you is a very different thing. It was challenging for me to take ownership of the space as a dancer because I was so worried about the experience that clients were having when they entered the studio, I couldn’t concentrate on having my own experience as an artist. The necessity of connecting to the studio creatively allowed me to redefine and expand my role within it. It forced me to stop holding the space continuously and let me begin to be held by it.

Body Mechanics is the most conscious and concrete outer reflection of myself that exists (other than my own physical body). It’s my public face in building form. I have spent more time and energy setting intentions and clearing energy in that space than any other. It is my sanctuary and is intended as a sanctuary to all who walk through the door. Introducing the chaos of my company’s creative process into my sanctuary opened my eyes to the importance and power of expectations.

As human beings we have a certain number of programmed expectations that we carry with us–  many of them not consciously. We generally don’t expect people to be dancing on desks and railings. My idea of other people’s expectations when walking into my business created an interesting conundrum for me when beginning the crafting of this piece. I had to release my fear of judgement from others. In releasing that fear I realized in that I create the reality of others’ expectations. People may be surprised by dancers on desks– but they’re also incredibly curious about them. As a known quantity within the space I was able to put them at ease easily with what was happening. When we let go of others’ expectations of us, we allow ourselves to be bigger than we can possibly imagine.

Engaging in a creative process in my own space, fulfilling my roles as business owner, healer, teacher, dancer and choreographer at one time, in one space, has been massively liberating for me. It has allowed me to move beyond my own self-imposed limitations and stories I have created for myself. I have been able to de-compartmentalize myself and truly OWN myself and my space in a way I’ve never conceived of before.

There is an immense amount of magic present within Body Mechanics. It is a place where people are given the freedom and permission to release whatever is no longer serving them, where people redefine their connection to their bodies, and strengthen themselves from within,  and where they realize their capacity is much greater than they may have believed it to be. As the company brings the dance out of the floors and walls and ledges, Body Mechanics is given a reprieve from holding all that it is used to containing. POV Dance is allowing Body Mechanics to be seen as more than a Pilates studio. We are redefining and expanding the capacity of what is expected in the studio, allowing its magic to be seen in an entirely different light. And I am allowing myself to be seen within my space in a way that pushes me right up against the edges of myself– and just a little bit beyond. I realize that despite my discomfort, despite my fears, and stress and vulnerabilities– right now my own space is exactly where I’m meant to be dancing. (And the laundry can wait).

 

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weaver of words,

kill your old stories

slash and burn them to the ground…

narrate something new.

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Valencia

grateful to have walked

down this street with you before,

our fingers entwined… 

 

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in retrospect

from the first moment

i saw you, i knew you were

indelibly mine.

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cocreation

unfolding into

our shared space– envisioning

with fluidity…

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