chosen attention

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I hate my birthday.

No one ever really believes that when I say I hate my birthday, I actually mean I hate my birthday. Generally, people assume its a passive aggressive way of saying that you better make my birthday awesome.

But no, I hate my birthday.

I have a lot of wonderful, caring, and sometimes sensitive people in my life that I love and cherish and care for. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to react to things as they happen. Specifically, I don’t know how to react to things when people are paying attention to me.

And this is why I hate my birthday.

I appreciate gifts and gestures and all these things, but I barely know how to react when someone in the grocery store says “How are you?” without retracting into my shell, much less opening a present that happens to be something that I’ve wanted or going somewhere I’ve really wanted to go. Opening presents is like negotiating a hostage for me. I can’t even express how much less stress I feel when a box comes in the mail and I get to open it in my room by myself and then call the sender and thank them genuinely.

It’s not that I mind attention, I could speak to an audience of a thousand about Flash mobs, I’ve danced in front of several hundred. But those are situations in which I have chosen the attention, practiced to near-perfection, and am ready to give a performance. Birthdays are not performances, and therefore I am not adequately prepared for them.

Birthdays are really hard. I don’t know how to react to gifts or parties and then seem unappreciative and ungrateful, and then in the aftermath people are upset with me. This happens every year that someone else plans something wonderful for me. I love the things that are planned, I appreciate it, I try to be excited but there’s a fine line between under-reacting and having fireworks shooting out of your ass in excitement. I have not been able to find that line.

I am grateful for the love and affection and support of people, but rather than bringing me joy (as they really should) it’s a source of stress and worry that ends up in backlash that really hurts my heart.

And so, birthdays are hard, and I hate my birthday. And this has been the longest Monday I’ve ever experienced.

Love,

B

unnerved

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Have you ever met someone that completely unnerves you in the best way possible? I don’t mean unnerves in the sense of demoralizing, but rather the definition that refers to being thrown off balance. And thrown off balance in such a way that you’re actually finding a new balance.

I feel like I’m finding a place of balance I’ve never known before, and it’s exciting and scary and unnerving and I love it. 

October is here, and I’ve always loved the Fall, and the changing season, and sweater weather, but this October feels different.

It feels more alive. And I think it feels more alive because of who I choose to spend my time with. I don’t think that people can change other people, but I do think that sometimes you will meet people who will bring out the best that is already in you.

Yesterday, I had a beautiful drive in the cool morning air, and spent a few hours in a pumpkin patch, choosing pumpkins, watching kids play. I spent the rest of the day carving pumpkins, baking, and eating food I had created and when I was still awake at 4:15 this morning, chatting about nothing at all, I didn’t feel exhausted and broken. I felt tired (of course) but like I had found the sweetness of Fall.

Finding this place in grad school is hard — in this place we must work to our limits sometimes to accomplish that which is asked of us, and because it is my thesis year (and I want to survive and still be whole) I love seeking during my favourite season.

I just feel happy.

love, b

 

warrior

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Dancers have a very different relationship with their body. I’ve always known this but I’m coming to understand it more these days.

Last Monday something popped in my knee during ballet class and despite the pain of it, I continued to dance on it. On Tuesday I told my cubicle-mate (who also is one of the conditioners/assistants in the conditioning studio) that something in my knee popped but I didn’t want to be a baby about it. She told me to not be that kind of person and make an appointment with the physical therapist that we have in the dance department every Wednesday.

I wasn’t sure I’d get in to see her (or even that I wanted to), but I’m really glad I did. I explained to her what happened and she said she’s not positive, but she suspects an injury that I need to see an orthopedist for. And that’s when I started thinking about how as a dancer, I have a very different relationship with my body than most people.

I started doing physical therapy on Thursday and by Friday morning, I was having trouble just walking up the stairs, much less actually taking dance class.

Friday morning I made an appointment with the orthopedist at school for Tuesday, and I felt stuck. I didn’t know what was wrong and couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t take class, and sitting and observing class when you’re injured is a little demoralizing because you can’t do the thing you love, and you have to sit there watching other people do it. I couldn’t explain to my professors exactly why I’m not dancing because I don’t know except that it hurts.

This is when the PT I was working with and I had a really interesting conversation. First, she read me a Pema Chodron quote about trusting your inner warrior. We then began talking about the way dancers view their bodies.

It’s not just that I might need to do physical therapy and observe dance classes for a little while, it’s that when a doctor says to you that you can’t do the thing that you love, your heart breaks a little bit. Your livelihood is taken away. In some cases, your bread and butter is taken away. Our bodies function as our instrument, and an instrument that we are constantly working to perfect in our craft.

We’re raised in dance culture to believe that we are expendable because there are a million other dancers out there, so when we’re injured we should keep dancing because if we don’t, someone else will. And right now I’m struggling with that mentality because I do feel inept for not taking class full out, or dancing in rehearsal full out, or for having to say to my professors/choreographers that I can’t do it right now.

So, after a few tears, a bonfire with smores, and an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, I’m trying to take it one step at a time because I need to remember this poignant question: do you want to dance today, or do you want to get healthy and dance forever?

real beauty.

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The last two weeks of the semester are happening, and being the person that I am, I’m running out of things to complete. This means that I should blog about things. But what things? School is school, and I don’t have much else to say about that. I’m socially active these days, but if you know anything about me, you know that that isn’t unusual…and instead of talking about the acts of hate we saw in Boston this week (mostly because I can’t think about it without getting teary), let’s instead look at something else that’s made me cry today.

 

 

My darling sisterbear posted this on The Facebook this morning and I was amazed. I was sitting in my office eating lunch and before I even knew it I was tearing up.

How many of us see ourselves in a distorted light, and can’t get past that to see what other people see? How many of us know people who we see as so light, and beautiful, and glowing, who can’t see that in themselves?

I think the most telling moment of the video is when you see the comparison of the woman saying “My mother told me I had a big jaw” and the people who were describing others saying things such as “Her eyes lit up when she spoke.”

What are we missing when we look in the mirror? What beauty can you not see in yourself, and will you start to look for that now?

We should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like. 

You are beautiful.

Love, B

Busy buzzy bizzing bees

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I don’t know what that title means, but what I’m getting at is my love of being occupied. This semester is totally kicking me in the pants, but in the best way possible. I am dancing, I’m reading about dance, I’m writing about dance, I’m sleeping, eating, breathing, metabolising dance. You know why?

BECAUSE IT’S MY TRUE LOVE

true story.

true story.

Glad we got that straightened out. What I mean is that I have between 12 and 14 hour days 6 days a week, and I spend almost no time in my apartment (awake), and I’m the tiredest of tired lions and yet I don’t feel worn out. I don’t feel exhausted. I don’t feel bad.

I feel amazing.

I remember once in modern in undergrad we had to go around and say all the reasons we danced, and when everyone had gone around I turned to whoever was sitting next to me and said “Huh, I guess we’re all junkies…of adrenaline.” and I think it’s true.

Dancers/performers/artists, we thrive off of this sense of accomplishing something, and I really do think that because the reward is so great (that sense of accomplishment) it doesn’t feel like work.

Maybe that’s how I know that I’m doing what I love.

Love, B

rather than malice

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First, I want to apologize for how long it’s taken me to write something new. I went on vacation and then school went from zero to ninety in less than twelve seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it, I’ve just been extremely occupied with class, rehearsals, and work!

Apologies aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and what it really means to forgive someone. I have to decide if I’m ready to do that. I’ve been wondering a lot about the nature of forgiveness and what it takes in the forgiver to actually do it. Why do we hold on? What are the benefits of holding on (because all I see are the disadvantages)?

“Forgiveness requires a sense that bad behaviour is a sign of suffering rather than malice.” — Alain de Botton

In addition to a sense that poor behaviour is a means of expressing suffering, I think it also takes a realization that forgiveness have more to do with the forgiver than the forgive, or the recipient of the forgiveness.

Bad behaviour isn’t a sign of malice. Bad behaviour isn’t a sign of malice. Is there anyone you’ve been waiting to forgive? What do you think it’ll take?

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Love, B

a year in review

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The semester is over, and as such I feel like I’m just a hop, skip, and a jump from 2013. I’m so excited to be spending my new year with some of my favourite people — vacation can’t come soon enough!

I’ve had a hell of a year. I realized this when I mentioned it to someone a couple of days ago: I have been waiting for the year 2012 since about elementary school. My idealistic 9-year old self mathematically figured out that I’d be done with college in 2012 and that that would be the greatest accomplishment of my life (no, my 9-year old self didn’t even have an inkling of the notion of grad school).

So I decided, why not take a look at the last year (mostly in pictures) and relish in what an amazing roller coaster of a year this has been?

Join me?

The year got off to a great start. In January I got back to school, auditioned for grad school, danced in a flash mob, baked like crazy, and had some rough times that the best friends I’ve ever known got me through. The year continued on this fantastic path with February and my birthday being perfect (dancing, Twyla, sangria). This month I rode in my first ambulance, which was terrifying and traumatic, but I can look back on the awkward medic who showed me and Emily his mouth tattoo fondly. Also, doing downward dog in the ER.

My foxy lady sisters received their rings in February. It doesn’t matter how many other red classes or blue classes there are, you guys will always be first in my heart

JanFeb

March rolled around and spring break was an adventure in Atlanta, with making pizza, exploring the city, and doing photo shoots in the park. The last weekend of March, Studio Dance Theatre travelled to the illustrious city of Albany, Georgia for some good ole dancing and horse metaphors. (Sugar cubes, anyone?)

In April I celebrated Bertha’s birthday with some furious scrap booking and I performed in my last ever concert at my undergrad. It was bittersweet. I was so privileged and blessed to have had four years of performing with such dedicated and artistically vital people. This month FLEW by.

MarchApril

May was probably one of the hardest months for me. Not only did I get myself into ridiculous situations that I should have had better sense than to have done, but I graduated from the place I’d known as home for four years.

Graduation always seemed like this elusive far-off dream until it actually happened. I couldn’t have been more joyed than to spend this day with my family, friends, and Agnes Community. The morning of graduation someone told me they’d light some fireworks in my honor, I couldn’t have been happier.

May

The whole summer was a whirlwind of travelling and exploring the world and figuring out who I am! I wrote about this last month I think so I don’t really need to indulge you anymore on that. I made some mistakes, I did some awesome things, I grew up. (Even though there’s still a lot of that to be done…) If you missed it, check it out in my thanksgiving post!

JuneJuly

The final leg of my summer was August — the month to challenge all months. I was in four different time zones, and six different airports over the course of the month. My sisterbear got engaged, I visited Seattle, I bought a car, and I started graduate school. Seriously, I don’t remember being still for more than a few hours over the course of this whole month, and I absolutely loved it.

Lucky for me, September was a month of recuperating and readjusting to the workload of grad school. I spent most of my free time in the library.

AugustSeptember

October and November blend together in my brain. I was in Atlanta, I was in Orlando, I was at school, and I was at J’s apartment.

I got to see both of my sisterbears this month and  Sandy ruined the family reunion that was meant to happen. I voted for the second time in November and had severe anxiety the entire week before the election, and I was moved and proud of all of the people that got out there and rocked the vote. It was a beautiful display of nationalism for the democracy in which we live.

In Atlanta I was graced with beautiful dancing, in Orlando I was checking out wedding venues for my sisterbear! In any other time I had free I was writing papers and doing all the research in the world. (and hanging out with my BFF Evie)

UseNovemberOctober

And now we’re here. December. We’re twelve days in and every day is a new adventure. I’m growing to love the bhum-thai that I am becoming, and I am learning more and more about dance, about the world, about politics, and about the connectedness of human beings.

This blog is a means to connect to human beings. Of course it doesn’t make up for getting out there and talking to people (which, let’s be real, if I get started, I never stop) but it’s a means to share and communicate with those around us (geographically, or on the internet).

DECEMBER

Thank you, all: the ones who are here, the ones who have gone, the ones I’ve just met, and the ones that have stuck by my side through everything.

You all have made this year beautiful, and amazing, and sometimes heartbreaking, and most of the time absolutely joyous.

I’m looking forward to the next year of adventuring and seeing the world!

Love, B