Click here to read full entry on CounterPulse Wreck Room blog.
In She-Verse, a multimedia piece inspired by drifting water, land, ancestors, bravery, and ecofeminism, I am working with a racially and culturally mixed cast. My choreography investigates intersections between traditional and contemporary dance, the earth and the female body, and the treatment of women to the treatment of land. Dancers’ stories include movement related to #metoo. The colonization of the Caribbean Islands and the survival tactics we need to exist in a world afflicted by oppression and the adverse effects of climate change are topics explored.
Click here to read full entry on CounterPulse Wreck Room blog.
Twenty-two days before my 39th birthday I find it. Laying under five locks exactly where the hair follicle meets the scalp. I tug many times and move close to the mirror, to make sure it is real. My first grey hair.
I wonder about this moment for years, watching peers' heads show shades of white. A streak here, a streak there. During challenging times, I swear I felt them coming. I would check to see if a bright silver patch had formed during stressful periods.
One day, laying on my couch, surfing Netflix, I decided to watch The Age of Adeline. The sci-fi flick revolves around Adeline Bowman, a white female protagonist who is struck by lightning on an auspicious day outside of San Francisco. From that moment, she becomes forever young. Her body never ages. Hmmmm maybe I was struck by lightning a long time ago, and I just don't remember it. Not!!!
But the truth is, I do look young. I get comments like, "How old are you? 20?" I don't mind it very much. I think about how great I will look when I'm 70. Besides, beautiful skin and healthy genes are superpowers!
So when my hands casually moved through my locks, I was surprised and not surprised it was there. The thirties! Work, work, work! Responsibility! Separations! Deaths! And if you're a dancer, be knowledgeable of at least 90% of the humanities skills that exist on this planet! This decade is filled with "growing up" pains for sure. Luckily for me, because myself, children and Kingman grow wiser and stronger, and I continue to grow in living a life of love, at the end of the day this makes the perseverance worth it. So now, four days before my #39th earth day I write with physical proof on top of my head that my body is not immortal. Such a beautiful sign of age.
*interested in reading more about dance youthful bodies? take a peek at Is Dancing the Kale of Exercise by Marilyn Friedman.
I'm trying on loads of clothes at multiple stores and nothing looks good. Nothing feels right. The voice inside my head is on my side, "What's with fashion and sizes these days?" I agree and go on my way. Then I'm standing on a scale naked at Kabuki Springs. I'm not sure what prompted me. I rarely ever weigh myself. I've never owned a scale, and since I hadn't been to the doctor's office in seven years I had no clue about my weight. I was shocked. A slow stammer of disbelief began brewing. You can't be serious. When did I start to weigh this much? I'm the heaviest I'v ever been outside of pregnancy. My breath accelerated and my mind searched for reasons. Somewhere in the thicket of life I became unaware of my physical well-being. Has this happened to you?
Okay, in all honesty I wasn't crazily out of shape or obese. I was still dancing, performing, and taking classes. But I was not woke to the changes. As I entered my late 30s my body and metabolism were changing. The idea of taking care of myself was evolving, requiring a different type of care. What to do?
I'm a gemini which means I am game for any experimental challenges that have potential to be life-changing. Since I'm a dancer I knew more exercise was needed. Not the artistic I'm so in touch with my body I'm practically leaving it kind of exercise, but good-old fashioned cardio and strength. I began to infused 10 minutes of cardio and abs each into my every other day tasks. After a couple of months I added an additional 10 mins of upper body strength (shout out to pop sugar fitness and fitness blender for the free YouTube clips). Youtube is a great alternative to joining a gym. My life is enormously busy with work, children, and art-making, so my process needed to be simple like laying my yoga mat down in my living room and watching to someone telling me what to do for 45 mins.
With this new practice I became more aware of my muscles and their use throughout the day. I shifted my posture to utilize my core more, and I held myself accountable. I still don't own a scale because for me it's not about the numbers are achieving some look. I care more about how I feel and that I am prioritizing the time and thoughts to take care of myself. When I ask, "did you do your exercises this week", and the answer is "no", I'm aware that I am denying myself the love and self-care that I deserve.
The outcome: I feel better, appear better, and have more energy. What's really special is that now I can finally wear this fantastic dress that's been hanging in my closet watching my body change from smaller to plumper, to where it is now. I'm not back to the original size I was when I first bought it, but for now at least me and my body can snuggle in!
So you dance, teach, choreograph, parent, volunteer, and advocate - the list goes on and on. 30-somethings do a lot with their increased ability to "change the world". Along with our multiple titles and tasks, we easily forget how vital taking care of us is, especially when we work to serve others.
Don't forget it! Self-care is critical, especially at this time in our lives when burnout is common. What is important is creating the time to feed your passion. Note: I said creating the time not finding the time. So what is your passion?
Mine has always been dance. But I'm no longer in my twenties or a college student with the privilege to take technique class 3-5 times a week. And now I have more responsibilities like a full-time job, two children, a small dance company and a mortgage. With many obligations, taking a dance class can easily fall off my to-do list. So what do I do? I keep it real.
I've made a pact with myself that I will never go longer than two weeks without taking class, resulting in dancing at least twice a month. I know, it sounds like hardly anything, but sticking to this reasonable plan keeps me from never saying, "OMG, it's been months since I've danced." And so much happens on a given day that having this time for myself feels incredibly nourishing, and it keeps me present in the technical dance class scene.
My other self-care duty is a massage at least every 2-3 months. I'll never forget when my grad school modern dance teacher told me he is as serious about his weekly massages as he is paying his phone bill. My budget doesn't support this frequency, but I owe it to myself to put some hard-earned cash aside to take care of my body. I mean c'mon this is our livelihood and physical instrument!
So what is important to you? Getting that mani and pedi? Taking a hike or swim in the ocean? Visiting your favorite spot or best friend. Whatever it is that makes you feel good and loved, make a commitment to complete at least one of your passions in a reasonable time frame, and don't be hard on yourself. The point of self-care is not to feel like you have failed for not keeping your promise. Set a realistic timeline and goal. Go easy at first. You can always add more. And you'll feel good that the boss in you says you have to do it. In the end you'll see it is worth it.
Do you have a self-care regimen that works for you or ideas to add? Please share in the comment box, and remember to create time for yourself!