Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)

Dance

Tuesday my son sent me a text message and asked if I would be performing anywhere this year. I texted back, “probably not.” And then, “maybe”.

Depression took this away from me. Can I take it back?

Yesterday I went to the physiotherapist for back, hip & knee issues, only to unpleasantly realize that this is what happens to a body that stops dancing. Her prescription? Start dancing again.

Today while doing homework over lunch, I had a panic thought. It hit me in the middle of my chest: I have stopped dancing! A tear ran down my cheek as I realized what I had done.

My heart, oh my heart!

 

The Biggest Thing

Today  I’m linking up with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary. She hosts Just Write, the goal being to write about what is happening around you, freely and without editing or censure, what you see, hear, feel, think. I’m nervous because I’m not a writer, and yet I’m linking to a writing blog. Go figure. And also, I didn’t exactly follow the rules – I didn’t write about things going on around me. I wrote about things going on inside of me. I guess these words just needed to come out.

2012 was a horrendous year for me. I broke down. Like an old car, or an old horse that has walked beyond its last step and can now only stand with head hanging low over the fence rail. Unable to move forward or back. I found myself hitched to a wagon, some rusty old thing with sticky brakes and loaded up with chunks of old concrete and rebar. That’s what it felt like. Depression. My body forgot how to dance.  My body and my brain forgot what it was to experience joy. I  remember watching the partly frozen river flowing by and wondering what it would be like to go under the ice. Cold at first. But then warm again.

That was exactly one year ago.

I couldn’t work and was granted a 6-week leave of absence. I saw a doctor. I saw a therapist. I got a diagnosis. I started taking citalopram. I started sharing my story on my blog. I asked my friends for help. I started to get better.

One year later, today, I consider myself recovered. Healed, but with scars that still ache once in a while. Like old bones that have been fractured but still occasionally twinge and complain even after they have closed. I am careful with myself. I am frightened of returning to that state. I am chary of becoming overwhelmed, and have been ginger about putting things on my plate. I’ve taken it slow. I started off by committing to sewing one quilt block a month on an on-line quilting bee. Then last term I enrolled in a course simply because I was interested in the subject, but I worried about my ability to juggle it all. A full-time job, a college course and a quilting commitment? Was I well enough? Would I break down again?  I was. And I didn’t! I successfully did it all – and enjoyed myself, too!  and so this term I have enrolled in another interesting course and have taken on a 2nd quilting commitment (two on-line quilting bees). Though I am nervous, I know it will be okay.

Recently, my body has remembered how to dance.

I haven’t done any formal practice, but not because I can’t…because I don’t feel like it. (Oh how I love being able to say that! I don’t do something “because I don’t feel like it”. How freeing! How empowering!)  Instead, I wiggle around the kitchen to whatever strikes me to move at the moment. I realize that I am still a dancer. Yes I am. Just because I’m not practicing at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dancer. Any less a dance artist. And miracle of miracles…I am starting to miss teaching dance, too. Just because I’m not teaching at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dance teacher!

Do I have a goal for next year? Are you kidding? The biggest thing I learned during my year of illness and recuperation is that my worth isn’t measured by how much I produce or how much I accomplish. I have intrinsic value. I matter.

What began as a curse has turned into a blessing.