Month: April 2018

Choosing Life

In a year long quest to be more open, honest, authentic, real, and other words of the like; I’m sharing something that I haven’t really discussed or care to talk about. Quite often I get asked why I’m not dancing professionally or why did I not follow up on those goals I set for myself after I graduated college. It’s a difficult question. One I loathe because it has taken me years to come to grip with the reasons and the direction my life took instead. For years I dealt with jealousy when I saw friends live out my dreams and do what I always wanted. I had thoughts of “I am more talented, yet here I am not dancing and they are getting all the attention” or “everyone thought I’d be the one dancing in a company not them”. There were also some other darker thoughts but I don’t feel like going down that road…

 

There are a few answers to this question of why I am not dancing professionally. It’s definitely not for a lack of trying. Honestly, I tried too hard. I gave my heart and soul to dance. It was all I wanted (that and to be skinnier and the most fit dancer in my college company). These are my most used answers-all valid and true:

 

*I suffered performance anxiety in every audition. Every time I auditioned I crumbled. I could not handle the pressure.
*I met my soon to be husband. I fell in love and sometimes when you love someone you change your own path. I wanted him to be successful and followed him encouraging him along the way.
*God’s plan for me changed.

 

artassignment_mkn-3

Pic by Katie Norrell

 

Then there is the answer that I don’t answer with very often. I don’t use this answer unless I am completely comfortable with someone or like now. I do feel embarrassed and ashamed of this answer. I feel that people won’t really understand or grasp it. Do you want to know the true answer to why I’m not dancing in a company?

 

I’d be dead.

 

That is not an over exaggeration. If I would have been one of the few to make it in a company I know I couldn’t handle the stress of the grueling schedule, accompanying lifestyle, and standing up to my own perfectionistic tendencies let alone the standards of a company. My dream, along with my addictions and eating disorders, would have killed me.

 

26814546_10210794564609285_8390560329881104469_n

Performing with the Moonlight Minx Parade Jan 2018. Photo by RAW Tulsa

 

I took me years to come to grips with that final reason and to be OK with choosing recovery. I know that sounds cliche, but to those who don’t know what it’s like, sometimes you think your pre-recovered life is better. It’s screwed up thinking but addicts are not known for their logic. I would try and hide this. Then I’d be dancing or performing in other endeavors and people would constantly ask my why I’m not doing more. I wasn’t comfortable telling people I chose life over my dream. I still live in the past knowing that I could’ve been more. I still sometimes see myself as that young dancer who was on top of the world–who had people loving her when she danced, who wanted to create pieces on her. That young dancer who would’ve been happily dancing in the corps because dance is life and my dream would have come true.

 

However in the deepest parts of me I know that to be dancing and performing to that high caliber you need more than talent. You need to be mentally healthy and physically en pointe. At the time I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms. I had the passion, the drive, the ambition, the talent–but abusing laxatives, compulsive exercising, and restricting caloric intake negates any of the former. I was coping with the fact that I felt inadequate about my technique/talent. In a world where there is always someone better than you, it can be difficult to stay confident. I was coping with loneliness and the isolation. I was suppressing my anger and emotions from an abusive relationship.  Pretty much I was a hot freakin’ mess.

 

While I may not have danced in a company I did dance professionally for a few years. I became a dance teacher. I was a cabaret dancer/burlesque performer. I performed in local companies on occasion. Now I just take class when I can while pursuing my passion of teaching yoga, wellness, and trying to bring dance conditioning to OKC (my way of contributing to the dance world). I am also happily married with the best furbaby on the planet. I’m living in a big(ger) city. I have some fantastic friends. Things I would have missed out on if my life was what my college self wanted. So am I sad that one part of my life is “over”? Yes. But I am happy that I chose life.

 

13607036_10206653697730201_7089241070178651100_n

Photo by Matias Cortez

Use Poetry

“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.”

-Jack Kerouac

 

Last week I had a blog post ready to go but I didn’t publish it. I liked it, and it was truthful, but it felt sorta “venty” and not in the good way. I may publish it one day but for now it is drafted and saved in my “maybe” pile. It was a post all about my frustrations with yoga and all the shit that’s going on right now, but I didn’t want to be seen as judgey or that I was following suit with all the other personalized “venty” pieces going on. I then made a commitment to make two posts in one week– at this rate it’s going to be two posts in two weeks *insert upside smiley emoji*. As I was thinking about what I wanted to write I saw an IG post that it was National Poetry Month. Voila! There is my inspiration–sharing some of my favorite poems. So here ya go! Longer poems will be excerpted and hyperlinked.

 

beverage-books-contemporary-904616

 

*Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much but they can’t see

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,

They still can’t see.

I say:

It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman

That’s me.

 

*A Poem for Trapped Things by John Wieners

The blue diamonds on your back

are too beautiful to do

away with.

I watch you

all morning

long.

With my hand over  my mouth.

 

*Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

I too am not a bit tamed…I am too untranslatable,

I sound by barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,

It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadowed wilds.

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air…I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love.

If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean.

 

pexels-photo-356372

 

*She by Theodore Roethke

We sing together; we sing mouth to mouth.

The garden is a river flowing south.

She cries out loud the soul’s own secret joy;

She dances, and the ground bears her away.

She knows the speech of light and makes it plain.

A lively thing can come to life again.

 

*Borrowed Feet by Michael McClure

LOVE ME FOR THE FOOL I AM

(the laughing angel-imbecile)

The thrill

of kissing you

is seeing me reflected

in your eyes.

We try for purity

but

still

we’re glorious

blobs

of meat.

 

*Love Song by William Carlos Williams

I lie here thinking of you…

the stain of love

is upon the world!

Yellow, yellow, yellow

it eats into the leaves,

smears with saffron.

the horned branch that lean heavily against a smooth purple sky!

There is no light

only a honey thick stain

that drips from leaf to leaf

and limb to limb.

Spoiling the colors of the whole world.

You far off there under the wine red salvage of the West!

 

pexels-photo-459791

 

*Feeling is First by e.e. cummings

since feeling is first

who pays attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

 

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

 

my blood approves,

and kisses are a far better fate

than wisdom

lady I swear by all the flowers. Don’t cry

–the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says

 

we are for each other: then

laugh leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

 

And death I think is no parenthesis

**********

What are your favorite poems? Who are your favorite poets? Do you have a style that you like more than another? I tend to favor Beat Poetry and Free Verse. I also tend to love poetry that speaks to me on a deeper level, like I can see myself in it. What do you think makes poetry special and unique?