Grounding

After running hot for 6 months – the last month especially – I feel like I’ve clothes-lined myself.  I was pushing myself as hard as I could, determined to get as much as possible out of this adventure.  I had to achieve a certain amount of physical success, create these amazing pieces that would define the rest of my career, and experience all the joys of friendships that I could.  I hosted friends for the past 5 weeks.  One weekend I went back to Wisconsin to spend time with my family as we mourned the loss of one of our own.  Writing, knitting, “me-time” all lay by the side of the road, forgotten, despite recognizing the necessity of making room in my busy schedule for them.  These are not things I can go long without, but I did.

The past week, I struggled to find the energy to care anymore.  I was drained.  Yet I was still pushing myself.  I started feeling sick on Monday, and still I “sucked it up” and worked out for four hours.  My body had other plans.  I woke up Tuesday morning with a sore throat and a slight fever.  I dragged myself to class, where I spent the day laying down on the couch observing and taking notes.  I’ve had to observe before, when I thought my body was on the verge of a break and I didn’t want to push so hard, and I was impatient and frustrated with my inability to participate.  But this time, I was grateful for the respite.  Today, I didn’t even bother going to the studio.  I’ve stayed home, making cup after cup of tea, miso soup, and laying around not worrying about doing anything.  (For the first time in a long time, I’m looking around at the mess of my living space and don’t even care.  I could rally myself to clean.  I could.  But I think I need the mental break knitting and sipping my tea is providing just as much as I need the physical break of laying in bed all day.)

I let myself get a bit shaken and uprooted lately.  It has been so easy to keep pushing, going through the motions.  So easy to convince myself that I need to take full advantage of what’s being offered to me.  I made my mantra “can’t stop, won’t stop”.  Slowing down wasn’t an option.  It’s taken my body pushing hard on the brakes and a few insightful questions posed by the people in my life for me to realize I need to ground myself again.  I can fly as high as I want, but I have to remember what it feels like to have the ground beneath my feet.  I’m going to hang out here for a minute, lounging on the grass and finding pictures in the clouds.

2014: The Year I Learned to Love Myself

The first week of 2015 is almost over, and i realized I haven’t even attempted my yearly update.  I have been doing my annual posts since before I started this blog – first, when I was in high school and had a Livejournal (mmhmm, I was one of those kids), and then when I was in college and traveling I would send out a mass email.  In comparison, this year’s update has me the most excited.  I have seen the most personal growth in 2014 than I accomplished throughout most of my childhood/adulthood.  Something, a lot of things, happened in 2014 that challenged me, inspired me, and ultimately changed me.

At the start of 2014, I posted a video about this Circus that produced a knitting show, declaring hopefully that my year would be based on that video.  I started 2014 with bright eyes and a plan.  Firstly, I wanted to minimize my possessions, and the start of the year (as well as several times throughout) saw a great purge of unnecessary belongings.  Secondly, I knew I was going to be leaving Chicago, and had set a pretty fool-proof plan to make that happen.  Third, I was in (what I thought at the time was) a fantastic relationship that had a solid future.  Over the year, I watched and facilitated the great purge, taking the good and the bad that accompanied it.

So, in recap:

I wrapped up my last semester teaching my kids at the Brookfield Dance Academy.  I knew it was going to be my last one, our last recital, the last group of students.  I was teaching 5 classes and 35 students, and loved every single one.  After two years of teaching, I felt like i was a fully functioning member of the BDA family, and a worthy mentor of my students.  This opportunity with BDA was what showed me that I needed to leave to do intensive training.  I was a competent teacher, but I wanted to be more than that.  I wanted to be inspiring and knowledgeable.  I wanted to be at the top of the game, to be able to provide the best possible instruction.  (I love you girls, and I miss you every day!)

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I knit.  A lot. A heckuva lot.  It has indeed been interesting watching my posts transform from craft dominated to circus and reflection dominant.

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Ellette turned 9!  And we surprised her with a trip to Seattle to visit her best friend.

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In April, I hosted the last Aerial Dance Recital at the Brookfield Dance Academy.  It went fantastically, and I was the proud teacher in the back of the room crying because the girls never cease to amaze me, and I was about to leave them.

It was about this time that something clicked in my attitude and I decided I was finished “putting up with” things that made me unhappy.  I was done worrying over everything and everyone.  A casual conversation with a friend led me there (and I have since thanked him for his unwitting insight.  He continues to be a source of positive energy and inspiration.  Thank you, Colin!).  I started doing things for me more, taking more time to myself.  I also learned how to talk to strangers again, and was surprised by the way they touched my life.  I shouldn’t have been, but it was further evidence that I had become too stagnant and introverted.

May and June were the hardest months for me.  It was in this time that I had reached the edge of the cliff that could call my bluff.  I grew more and more agitated and nervous.  The “What ifs” crept in and wrapped their poisonous tendrils around my relationships.  I felt like everything was starting to fall apart as I stood on the cliff edge, trying to convince myself that I did in fact want to leap.  I was scared my wings weren’t strong enough, scared that I’d forget something I couldn’t go back for, scared of what was actually on the other side.  I was frightened of uprooting my child, worried I would be a terrible parent.  I felt like I had support, but not solidly – no one was there to help pick up the pieces if I should actually fail.  For the first time in my life, this was a decision that I had made for me; no one was coming with (unlike the move to Chicago), and everyone was going to be so far away.

And then I jumped.  It didn’t take long to realize that it was the best decision I could have made.  I quit my job, I packed up my apartment.  I said goodbye to my friends.  My boyfriend dumped me.  I sent my daughter to live with my parents for a couple months while I finished the work that remained.  I was alone for the first time in a long time.  I was homeless, and learning to depend on the kindness of strangers.  And I was filled with so much hope.

The first stop was Austin, TX, where I met up with a lovely group of people to build an art car for Burning Man.

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It was only 3 days, but the work was pretty constant.  I spent the entire time on the roof of the bus, using my fiber knowledge to lash the railing into place.  Even with heavy gloves, my hands ended up rubbed raw, blistered and bleeding, and it hurt to hold anything at the end.  But it was a fair price to pay for so much laughter and camaraderie.  it was a wonderful way to kick off my adventure.

Immediately following my return, I simultaneously packed up my apartment and put my life into a shipping container, and prepped for Lakes of Fire (which, looking back now, I somehow failed to write about).  I was so caught up in the group that I didn’t take many pictures.  The only ones i have me were taken by others.  I spent a good deal of the weekend wandering around with the 8 foot squid I had made for the occassion, putting him in different camps.  He was a hit!  Everyone loved him and wanted a picture with him.

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When the weekend was over, I made my way to Milwaukee to teach the 4 weeks of summer camp.  I loved it, but also realize that general summer camp is not my forte.  I can teach aerial arts to kids, but ask me to manage anything beyond that makes my head spin and my patience run thin.

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I auditioned for the training program, biting my nails through the whole process.  This was it – the thing that I wanted most, and all I could do was dance my little heart away and hope the company accepted it.  By the end of July, I received an email inviting me into the training program, and phase 3 of my adventure began.  I once again packed up – fitting everything I needed immediately into a mini cooper, and drove to Boulder – my new home.

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I attended the Aerial Dance Festival for two weeks, taking classes in Cyr, Invented Apparatus, low flying trapeze, handstands, and traveling rings.  I started pushing hard, and risked re-injuring my shoulder.  It was hard to admit that I needed to slow down and take care of my body, but a necessary lesson indeed.

Immediately following the festival, my daughter and a friend flew out to Colorado, and we began a roadtrip to Burning Man, and the last piece of my transient adventure.

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I had never felt more free than when we were driving across the Southwest with nothing but time to kill.  I was breathing deep and laughing often.  I could hardly sit in the car long enough – I wanted to run, to fly.

The drive back to Colorado was more frantic.  I had two days and a really high fever to get back before orientation. I was the only one that knew how to drive manual transmission, so I was knocking back energy drinks, electrolytes, and coffee like crazy, trying to kick the fever and maintain the energy for the intense drive home.

And then the program started, and my free time went out the window.  It has pushed me incredibly, and every day I am grateful to be living this adventure.  I see what I think are my limits, and then this program says “Nope, push harder.  You can do more” – and with a deep breath and a little faith, I push harder.  Ballet made me cry (and that really hasn’t changed), trapeze made me excited.  And my classmates make me feel loved and supported.

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Through this program, I have been luxuriating in much needed self-reflection, questioning everything I think I am and want to be.  My ability to blog has quite gone out the window as I work every day and train to the point of exhaustion, but there are still so many things i want to say.

And now i look back on the blur that was 2014, trying to bring it into focus.  What was it?  What happened?  What changed?

I did.

My friends that new me before look at me now like they do not recognize me.  And I do not feel at all like the girl I was – she got left in Chicago, along with the remnants of the cocoon I tried to hide safely inside.  I do not quite feel like a butterfly yet, there are still a lot of things I’m trying to figure out.  That knot that lingers in my core is loosening, but I still feel it resting there some times.  I’m still scared of failure, scared of wasting time, and I think perhaps most days i push myself too hard in an attempt to take advantage of what I have at my disposal right now.  I’m learning how to cry and not feel embarrassed, I am learning how to work in a team and trust them.  I am learning how to take chances.  I am finding a solid strength in being me – being alone, being surrounded, being pushed and pulled by everyone.  I feel grounded, yet light, as though the decision to fly away is entirely mine.  What I do has a purpose, and it doesn’t matter exactly what that purpose is, so long as there is intention.

Most importantly, I wake up every day, knowing that it is going to be hard, just as hard as the day before, if not more so.  And still, I wake up excited to take on the challenge.

2014 was amazing – filled with fear and tears and hope and growth.

So, 2015 – what are you bringing to the table?

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