Christopher Columbus believed the world was round. He was determined to show that he could get to the East–by sailing West. Finding a water route to Asia was important because spices were incredibly valuable, so Queen Isabella gave him permission (and money) to find it. Columbus was right about the roundness, but wrong about the route. Instead, he famously found the New World, America. He proceeded to destroy its inhabitants, but that’s another story. My summer has been like Columbus’ journey, minus the boats, scurvy, etc. I thought I would get a lot a work done by visiting friends.
The visiting has been great, but the work part was a disaster.
I got even less work done than while caring for my Mom, and that is saying something. It’s made me think a lot about time; how I use it, abuse it, and give it away. It’s also made me think about boundaries–and how few I have in the face of other people’s comfort.
For example, I avoid eating a lot of things for a lot of reasons. Some I don’t care for, others don’t agree with me. But if anyone asks me what I don’t eat, I do not list those things. I say that I eat anything. Why? I don’t want to be that picky, annoying buzzkill constantly talking about their picky, annoying diet.
This means I sometimes get served things that I know will damage me, and often I eat them, to be agreeable, because I like the person serving them, or because I am too damn tired or hungry to care.
This is exactly what happens with my time, too.
When visiting, you exist to some degree at the whim of your host. You do what they want to do, because you are a guest. Now, that’s not always true, and my friends would happily let me do whatever I wanted, even if that meant we did not hang out. But I am visiting to see them. I mean, I bought a plane ticket. I could have stayed home and had all the time in the world (I am off Mom duty for the summer). But no.
I somehow naively imagined that my carefully-constructed work habit would continue unabated in the face of visits. That, in fact, I would have more time to work while visiting friends. Ha, ha, and ha.
Not only could I not work most of the time, I did I not work when I could have, and I tried to work when I shouldn’t have. Then, just to add to the confusion, I got the most work done when I thought it would be impossible. What’s really annoying is that if I had stayed home, I would have been too distracted by the other things that need to doing, and just as little would have been accomplished.
The problem is boundaries. How do we keep things in their places?
Do I have a suggestion? No. Honestly, I have been so exhausted that it’s a wonder I have accomplished anything at all for the last three years (and I have accomplished a lot). I am only now realizing this. I kept thinking all I need is time to myself and I will bounce right back. Sorry, no. Bounce is broken. It’s taken two months to begin to feel like doing anything.
Am I making excuses? Kind of, yes. I’ve been out of touch for the last two months. I apologize for the long spaces in between these newsletters. The registration for Focus on the Feeling should have opened a month ago. Pretty much everything dance has fallen off the table. (I have ben working on the book, though. Slowly but surely. That is good.)
But here’s the really important thing.
- Taking time off is vital. Make a decision and stick to it. My problem is not my work, it’s the anxiety about how much I work, the nagging feeling of not doing enough. That’s deadly. Think about an undulation. You have to relax the muscles between the contractions. If there is no release, it’s all contraction. And that hurts.
- Listen to your inner wisdom. I’m at my brother’s house atm, back to caring for my mom while he and his family have a break. Having had some time off from the boiling water, I can see some changes I need in my life. Focusing on those changes is a goal. It’s nice to have goals. Especially when they entail a brighter future.
If all goes well, I have maybe another month of “summer vacation.” Some of that is designated work time, some is designated play time. In the last 25 years, I have rarely given myself permission to just hang out, to not have an agenda, to not feel guilty about anything. I’m hereby giving myself that permission now. Columbus wishes he had it so good ; )
To kick off the work time, I’ve opened registration for Focus on the Feeling.
So many dancers experience useless feedback: empty, generic praise, or niggling, negative shame. We become so unhappy with our own dance we can’t even watch a video without wanting to die. It’s time for that to end.
Focus on the Feeling uses tried and true critique strategies to
- Sort out what’s important (and what’s not)
- Help dancers step back from their own work to view it with fresh eyes
- Give constructive, useful feedback to other dancers
- Be honest AND kind
- Get good feedback for their own work
There are new methods each week, lots of hands-on practice in applying those methods, and instructor feedback on the process. If you never know what to say when someone asks you about their dance, if you hate your own dance, if you can’t get god help, or if you just want to have a better toolkit, this class is for you.
Registration is open now. There are only 25 seats. The price goes up on Wednesday, August 17th and again on Wednesday, Sept 10th. Please take a look right away.
Here’s the link: https://aliathabit.com/dancers/focus-on-the-feeling/