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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Work, work, work, smile…

It’s that time of year. Work gets crazy. I’m filed with inspiration for new programs and/or ideas  for evolving my current program, but implementing them by next season demands I organize & promote now. I’m making important decisions about next year’s dance schedule, planning a year in advance for my yoga trainings, and considering summer programs too.  I’m trying to get a new corporate program off the ground, and an outreach program to put yoga classes in the schools.  At the same time, I’m producing a recital, evaluating my current students, and finishing up the labor intensive project of closing this season to begin anew.

I’m not complaining. I love my work – I love the creativity involved and the diversity of projects and tasks. I love the people and the promise I feel in this diversified school where I get to interact with children and adult students, yoga and dance. I enjoy the offshoot projects too…. I love all the new things I’m learning. I just wish there were more hours in the day, because I have more inspiration and ideas than I have time to manifest.
I get up every morning at 5:00 or sooner to begin my day. I’m excited by many of the things I’m doing and, considering how hard it was to face my personal demons to reenter this business and the two years of humbling frustration that ensued, I’m deeply proud and appreciative of how my professional life is unfolding at last. It’s been a long, painful two years,  so to say I’m looking forward to a short break after the recital and before diving into my summer yoga training is an understatement.  I could give you a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t take a week off – everything from not being able to afford it, to the opportunity costs of stopping the momementum at this pivotal time…. but I have always believed the key to happiness is balancing work and a rich private life. I never felt able to pace my world to live true to this belief before because I was pressed by influences beyond my control.  Now, for the first time ever, I can tune in to my instincts and personal beliefs and act accordingly. I can work hard without having to appoligise for it, rest hard because I’ve earned it, and feel good about both.
    Yesterday, I woke with the sun and worked on defining a detailed syllabus for yoga training. I knew I had to teach from 3:00 till 9:00, so at noon, I decided to put work aside and take an afternoon break. I asked Neva what she’d like to do and she said, “I want to get some sun.”
So I purchased us both subs and we took them to the beach. We picked up slurpies (her favorite) and had lunch sitting on a yoga blanket in the sand. After taking a half hour nap and marveling at the brilliant rainbow glow around the sun (part of an eclipse thing going on) we took an hour long walk  (part of our new health kick) discussing bathing suits and body types, school, boys, my yoga course and plans for dance next year, and a host of other average girl conversational subjects. It was a simple afternoon, easy and sweet, like a mini vacation. And I felt revived and ready to face more engaging work when I got home. 
Driving home, Neva complained about the freckles that emerge when she is in the sun, but admitted she loved the afternoon, so we  vowed to go to the beach at least two times a week. I know we may not follow through to that extent, but I’m guessing we will put in more beach time than I ever bothered to enjoy when I lived here last. I have come to truly appreciate the beauty living in a place like Sarasota offers.   
Working hard doesn’t have to be a drag, or a sacrifice, or something to resent…. and David is a huge help and supporter. Never complaining or acting put out by my being busy or needing a hand, he contributes with a smile, enthusiastic and filled with creativity. I guess since his worklife is more academic and corporate, he has a great appreciation for the artistry and freedom that comes with running a business that rolls yoga and dance into one blend of entertainment and education, health and personal expression.
On Monday I told him I really needed a T-shirt design for recital shirts for the finale and I wondered if he might work on Correll draw to help me with an idea. He asked me what I wanted and I told him that since we have a nature theme, I would love some kind of tree of life. 
“Wish it could be made of dancers…. ” I said in passing.
That evening I came home from work at 9, somewhat spent from endless rehearsals, and a bit cranky because I was tired beyond measure. He had dinner on the table, an incredible vegetarian stir fry (that Neva claims is the best thing she’s ever had, adding “Sorry Mom, but David is such a better cook than you. He’s the best I’ve ever known.” (I didn’t take offense because I agree.)  And on the floor in the living room were a dozen variations of T-shirt designs for me to consider. I have no idea how the man finds the time to do so much (and do it all so well) but I was thrilled, relieved and deeply grateful. 
We picked a design and discussed some alterations over dinner (there I was, scribbling on his nice copies – but thankfully, he did not take offense) and this is what we came up with.


 I said, “We could always say “The root of dance in Sarasota” at the bottom too, since that is rather true if you consider that almost everyone teaching in the area is a former student of FLEX. But I was kidding. I’m delighed with the students I have and I have no interest or concern with what other schools and people are doing in the area. I feel rather content with the integrity of my new program as it unfolds. No reason or need to lay claim to being the origin of others in this field, and frankly, I rather not have people make connections because, as time goes on, it will become ever more obvious how different this school is from the others. But the root comment did lead to some possible quotes to laugh about (in a very non-yogic way…I confess.) and that made dinner pass with smiles.

But dance is only one element of my world now – my true dharma, but one that leaves room for other connected interests. A few months ago, I decided to offer a summer yoga teacher’s training just to see if anyone might be interested. Summer is a quiet time at the studio, and a training program would be a great help in keeping things productive.  I doubted it would go, and yet, the fact that certification would be offered in an immersion format, completed in only 7 weeks, and the fact that I priced it lower than any other RYT training around, resulted in the biggest enrollment I’ve had yet. I’m shocked and delighted and fully charged. Each time I offer a training (this is my third session) I get more organized, defined and the program gets better. I’ve spent a month planning and reorganizing the material to provide a more suscinct and poignant unfolding of yoga. I can’t wait to begin, because I feel so prepared and excited by the new offerings and angles…

Yesterday, my office manager told me to stop telling people about my upcoming aerial training in July because so many people have enrolled that she’s closing the course.  I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll add another…” 
e laughed and said “When? From midnight to 8Am? Our schedule is full!”
She’s right of course. But wow, it is nice to see those programs, all of which began as a weak, limping obgligation, are now picking up steam, gaining a good reputation and supporting the school. 
So, I am working harder than ever, and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going. But I’m deeply proud of the way my hard work and ongoing training is finally coming together to support my desire to live a creative life. Sure, I would have liked to stay retired, and still be living on 50 acres with the time and the opportunity to write seriously. That was my dream come true, one I’d been aspiring to all my life, and I left my business believing I’d finally earned the opportunity to pusue that dream and see what I could do with my fondest artistic desires…. but circumstances made that dream fizzle before it planted a single root. 
Owning a business in the arts isn’t easy, and it can be a financial nightmare, but I recognize and honor the personal growth that comes with problem solving so I know that returning to the world of dance and runing a small business is, in many ways, a very, very good thing. My current circumstances may not have been my first choice as a lifestyle, but it is a good choice given my options, and I recognize the gifts that lie in my challanges.
Meanwhile, yoga has taught me about balance and how to take mental breaks – to meditate and breathe and note my blessings, so every day feels poignant and filled with an abundance of opportunity to feel grateful. 
The fact is, I have allot on my plate.. yet I can still go to the beach for lunch. Or blog ….. There is always time for living if you make living expansively a priority and don’t put the “good stuff” on hold… The harder you work, the more “living” (your time off to pursue you personal hopes, pleasures and down time) feels vibrant and meaningful. The juxtaposition of the two make the contrast all that more dramatic.

Speaking of which… Hey – I’m late for work. I have a yoga class to teach this morning in 15 minutes! Ha. Leave it to me to be blogging about work so much I miss a class…….
Well, I said I am in balance, not that I am organized! Namaste, ya’all.

My Feet on the Ground

    A few mornings ago, I had my coffee on the roof of my house. The morning began as usual, with David handing me coffee on the porch and our enjoying the peaceful privacy of our jungle-like backyard before facing the day. We were discussing the progress we’ve made in planting, weeding and restructuring the front yard, and now, looking at the wild, overgrown back yard (which we haven’t had the time or resources to attend to, and won’t for a while) we started discussing options for what we will do someday. We both agreed that the best thing was probably going to be to clear out the mass of bromeliads and overgrown plants (since they obviously will never bloom and are way out of proportion) and start from scratch. We threw out ideas for stone patios verses more rustic mulched pathways filled with patches of Irish moss (his favorite), and whether we could and should create sculpted tiers, remove the awkward “extra” tree that cuts out the sun to make room for a covered arbor, and what we might want to plant in the shade under our favored, huge tree even now, just to make the back yard somewhat presentable until we can do a major overhaul.
   And all of a sudden, David turned to me and said, “Let’s go have coffee on the roof so we can get a better view of things.” 
   I thought he was kidding until he added, “I’ve got the ladder all set up. Put on some shoes and let’s go.”
    Far be it from me to say no to an adventure. I put on my shoes while he refilled our coffee cups and followed him outside. He zipped up the ladder with one hand balancing his coffee as if it was nothing and gestured for me to follow him.
   I took a step or two up the ladder, but wobbled and paused. Before I could voice my nervous-nelly concerns, he came down, took my coffee and led the way, now holding two cups, and thus climbing the ladder with no hands for support at all. I slowly followed, shaky and wimpy. I put my knees on the gravely surface of the roof and crawled forward as he walked upright, reaching his free hand out to support me to give me confidence. (He maneuvered with such ease and comfort you’d think he was a goat in his previous life. That or having size 13 feet and a history of flying is key to ultimate comfort high up in the air.)  He took a few pictures with his phone and gestured grandly, no worries about balance.  
    I said, “Be careful. People fall off of roofs, ya know and the gravely feel of these singles makes me think a person could easy to slip.”
     He chuckled. “Please. This roof is only 5 and 11. Not steep.”
     “How do you know this roof is 5 and 11. It might be 6 and 12… what do the numbers mean anyway…..”
     He explained how the numbers define the slant when roofs are measured then said, “I’ve been on plenty of roofs. So many that I can tell pitch of any roof by looking at it, but even if I couldn’t, I did the building inspection for this house and measured this roof when I checked everything else. So I know this roof is average, 5 and 11, and a very safe, sturdy roof. Remember, I’ve been up here to clean gutters, sweep leaves and to check out our tree more than once. I couldn’t fall off a roof this flat even if it was windy and wet and and today is beautiful.”
     Since it was obvious his lecture wasn’t enough to get me to stand upright, he came and sat next to me. We sat a few minutes in silence admiring the blue sky, the gentle breeze and the way the sun glinted through the branches of our massive, beloved oak, and he gave me my daily nature lesson.
    David is forever teaching me about plants and gardening. He is not only deeply intellectual with a bottomless reserve of information about how the world works, but he is a master gardener, having received his certification while living in North Carolina. (Becoming a master gardener involves 6 months of 16 hours a week of classroom training as well as home reading and study, and a year of public service. David designed and implemented a public garden for handicapped individuals – wheelchair assessable – and then worked as a free consultant helping people & businesses maintain successful gardens.)
   To say David knows more about gardening than I is the understatement of the century. Nevertheless, David continually holds back from taking over the planning and planting in our yard, inviting me to take pleasure in the artistic process and encouraging me to learn as I go – even though this means a less perfect result than we’d have if he took over the landscaping project himself (and let me remind you that he dearly loves gardening, so I am humbled by his sacrifice in forfeiting the pleasures of outdoor artistry to share the process with me).
   Anyway, I am endlessly amazed at his lack of ego or effort to control our home, money, ME, work, family situations, our garden, and life in general…. He is active and involved, doing his part and beyond, but he doesn’t need credit or attention, and he has no need to be controlling and it would never occur to him to cut me out of decisions or input….  Yet at the same time, he is not without opinion or advice or a sincere interest (and appreciation) in how our landscaping evolves. He is readily available with answers if I have questions, is there to do any of the work I may not want to do myself, and he is never, ever critical of my experiments or choices, however amateur they may be. He has taught me about plants and soil and pruning and more and I’ve discovered gardening is such a pleasure this way, when you share the work and the joy.
  The first time I went out and planted a dozen plants without waiting for his advice (he was at work) he came home and simply said, “You planted the avocado tree you gave me for valentine’s day? I don’t suppose you thought to prune the root ball … the preparation is really important for a tree that size to be healthy and get established for long term stability and production… and that particular plant was rather special to me…..”
    I was like, “Um… you want to know if I pruned the root ball? I would have if I knew what a root ball was. I guess I shouldn’t have planted your tree. I just dug a hold and stuck it in the ground. I thought I was saving you the trouble, and trust me, digging a hold that big wasn’t easy. I’m sorry…..are you annoyed?”
    He smiled and said, “How can I get annoyed at you for being outside in the hot sun, working hard on our yard. I know how much you’ve missed your land in Georgia and you are trying to do some of the grunt work around here so I don’t have to . . . But, well…. next time, perhaps you’ll wait for me to do the big plants just to be sure they’ll take…. Especially when they are a gift …..”
   I got the respectful message he was trying to share loud and clear. Hands off David’s special plants….because he is too giving and supportive to ever voice objection, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t disappointed when I cross certain boundaries…
    Anyway, there we were on the roof. David carefully pointed out four different types of clinging vines weaving through the heavy branches of the tree, explaining their origins and unique qualities. He guessed the age of the vines and how prehistoric they looked and talked about perserving them when we got around to building our future tree house
. He discussed how we might want to design levels for the base of the structure or keep it one room, and  showed me places where the big limbs of the tree branch apart and create stress joints.
    He ointed out a redheaded woodpecker in the distance and a lizard up on a limb 20 feet above the ground. We discussed views and hopes for the long term for our home and life. We moved on to talk about his work and my studio and the boat he is trying to sell and whether or not I should throw out our lovebird’s eggs since they don’t seem as if they are going to hatch.
   We sat long after our coffee cups were empty. Our hearts and minds were full… full of ideas and lofty plans and inspiration and problem solving in regards to how and when we might act on all the things we discussed, because every good idea needs a bit of muscle, discipline and commitment to make a reality ….. talk is inspirational and fun, but we both know talk and action are two very different things…
      Anyway, now hungry for breakfast, we climbed off the roof. David gracefully zipped down the ladder with ease; I moseyed along awkwardly after him, like a manatee swimming in Jell-O. And as I touched my toes back to the back porch, I thought, it is nice to have my feet firmly planted on the ground again…
     And that, my friend, had nothing to do with the fact that I had coffee up on the roof….