So, I am writing this at the new year, but it isn’t a New Year Resolution, per se. However, it has come up in my thoughts a lot because of various experiences that occurred in December, which have merged my thought bubbles into practices I am trying to incorporate in 2016.
Practices: I want to emphasize practice over resolution. A resolution means: state or quality of being resolute; firm determination: faced the situation with
resolution. Practice in this discussion means: to do something again and again in order to become better at it. Whether I resolve to do or be anything, I am not going to achieve it without incorporating it into practice. A resolution often results in what people believe is a firm determination until the person fails and then they give up. A practice means that I am not going to get it right, I am trying to get it right and I am going to keep trying and practicing and maybe I will get it right and maybe I won’t, but in the long run I am at least getting better. During my practice I am undoubtedly going to get things wrong… because that is what happens.
So, maybe I am resolving, not to achieve, but to practice… In a management class I attended recently one of the teachers said that you shouldn’t use the word “try.” But I disagree. There are things you don’t “try” to do. You don’t want to say you will “try” to read a book – unless you are learning to read or it is significantly beyond your skill level, you either will or you won’t read it. Try doesn’t work for easy do or not do tasks. But there are many things that trying is the key to improvement. I will try to be a better manager. It doesn’t mean I will succeed, but if I don’t try I will never succeed. I will try to be a better performer, a more attentive spouse, a more positive person. There are tools and tasks I can use to work towards these goals… It doesn’t mean that every day or every week they are going to work. But, I am going to practice and try to learn how to better maneuver the situations and issues impacting my life.
Practice also implies that you need to find the tools, tips, and tricks that work for you… sometimes that could take awhile. For example, I had a bad fall about 10 years ago that ended up negatively impacting my stretchiness in my legs. I have a “good” leg for flexibility and a “bad” leg for flexibility. My good leg for flexibility is my bad leg for stability and vice versa. Before my fall, my legs were not identical, but pretty close. Now – very different. I lost my splits for both right and left leg during my healing process and tried for several years to get them back. I read a lot about stretching, bought videos, practiced long stretching sessions, and took a two-hour class twice a week on stretching. I learned a lot about stretching, but made no progress. And the two-hour class wore out my legs so much that I felt like I lost ground every time I went. Last winter I took a class on stretching from Dahlia Fatale at the Great Burlesque Expo. She was good, but very low key and talked about moving around to make things feel right. It felt good. And I realized that my splits on one side were actually much closer than I thought. So, I started stretching again. In earnest. My goal was every day, which I hit most of the time – (sometimes when I have work all day and then a show or rehearsal until 11pm or later I just can’t do more of anything when I get home.) But I don’t stretch for two hours, not even an hour. I do 15 minutes to a half hour max a day – or every other day. And I have my splits with my good leg back now. My bad leg I can almost do some days (a couple of inches) and some days it hurts to get a foot off the floor. But I am trying – and I am getting better. I can now also get into a lotus position on both sides (one leg is still a bit high) – but this is something I could never do before. So, while many people told me an hour, two hours – this was not working for me. I found a practice that is helping me get better and achieve the results I need. And I still don’t have it all right and I am still learning how to do it better. I am finding new tools to use when my legs just ache which are minimizing the every day pain as well as making me more flexible. I am not going to resolve to get splits in both legs, but I am going to continue to practice and see if I can figure out how to make my bad leg better and why it is bad some days and not as bad other days. It is a process.
A process… just like anything else that takes effort and work. Like performing, like managing, like being a caring and loving spouse. I just read a book called The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. It is a great book that talks a lot about the practices surrounding a journey into possibility. I want to take that journey into possibility and I want to take my coworkers, my friends, my dancers, my husband, etc. with me on this journey into possibility. It doesn’t mean that I am going to make up wild fantasies and lose touch with reality. It does mean that I am going to give myself the opportunities to imagine, the opportunities to create, the opportunities to grow, the opportunities to be positive – and I want to take everyone else with me on this (or encourage them to have their own) journey. It is going to involve some difficult practices. Ignoring scarcity and survival instincts where they don’t really apply; thinking outside our standard measurement practices; understanding that I and others really make a difference (no, I didn’t even watch It’s a Wonderful Life this Christmas – although I did watch the Muppet version, I guess…); not setting blame on myself or others, but analyzing the problem and the situation; not getting caught in the downward spiral; letting yourself give way to passion on occasion; and creating a shared vision that others in your group can move towards and believe in. These are not easy things. I am not going to succeed at all of them – maybe none of them completely. But they are concepts that I am going to try to incorporate into my life and my management. Don’t worry, I will never become Pollyanna – and I don’t think that is the intention of this book. These practices are not designed to whitewash all bad things and fill them with disgusting smiles, overly sweet lemonade, and apple pie a la mode; these practices are designed to negate fear and replace it with inspiration and passion. I hope I can get better at that within myself and help others to get better at that as well. I would love to work (at my job and in dance and burlesque) with fearless, inspired, passionate people. What a gift that would be…. It doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days, but it means we have something to look forward to beyond the bad day that really makes it all worthwhile.
People sometimes think my job must be boring, being involved in a more corporate environment than the dance or burlesque world. But I really love my job. I think what I do is important and I think it is fascinating. I wish everyone I worked with felt the way I do. I love burlesque and dance as well. Sometimes being afraid of my ideas, afraid of my skills, afraid of how I compare with others overrides my artistic passion. I see that fear in my students. I want to take that fear away – from myself and from all of my students, performers, dancers, friends. How much more amazing could we all be if we didn’t have to spend so much time fighting ourselves to do the things we do? To do the things we actually WANT to do?
So, I do have goals for this year… but my biggest goal is to work on my practices in every day life, to try to make time for myself and for others. Yes, I want to be a better performer, but that is going to come not just from practicing my choreography, but from practicing my mind set as well.
I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that you find some areas of practice to work on that make you happy and inspired and passionate.