I am rarely in competition with others, I am always in competition with myself. I try to stand to the height of my character, to create and produce work I’m proud of, to act with integrity and kindness and to admit when I’m wrong. It can be exhausting. I can be deeply unkind to myself. I have quiet and tough thoughts about my abilities and limitations.
Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about all the disappointment and hurt I need to let go of. Moments where I have felt let down in my artistic practice by myself or others. It’s important to let go of these feelings because they don’t serve me anymore. I am in different place. I am an artist. I am supported by a coterie circle of dancers and friends who see my light and want to help me shine brighter.
This is a new moment – a place of generosity and where I need to ease up on my expectations of myself. I can only do my best. And whatever that is, it’s enough, because I’m enough. I hope that where ever you are and how ever you’re pursuing your highest ambitions you’re being kind to yourself too. See you on the dance floor friends – grown and change are here.
Everyone, spring is coming. Registration for the International Lindy hop Championships has opened. I have registered (and you should too). I’m feeling particularly inspired and thought I’d leave a recent and excellent clip here for those that need some joy.
The day I quit my job at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship to move abroad, my former colleague told me “no one else will ever give you permission to take a time out”. What are you going to do when you grow? What will your future look like? We are asked these questions when we are so incapable of making thoughtful and informed answers.
I was already coming home for a visit to see my family for two weeks and it turned in almost a month of bumming around Toronto (with two weeks of working full time remote). I was in limbo waiting for some paperwork to process. My life is very full in London. I like it that way! It’s part of the energy that lifts me up and carries me. It’s a magical city (most of the time). I will admit, it’s been nice to feel myself slow down. Without a working phone, patchy daily internet access and house hopping from my parents to other friends – it’s actually felt like a forced vacation from my life in London. A time out. I feel the pangs of ‘fomo’ (fear of missing out) and yet I know that there will always be other excellent times with excellent people. It’s a stressful feeling like life is moving swiftly on and you’re standing still. But then I remember that it’s ok to be still and sit quietly. It’s good for the heart and the head.
In the meantime, what have I done while I’ve been home?
– I have gone to Choir!Choir!Choir! and sung Losing My Religion
– I drove to Stompology and saw some of my favourite people and performed a new burlesque piece
– Was interviewed for a podcast (a Nancy first)
– I saw my brothers, my sister-in-law, nephew and niece – not to mention the coolest 91 year old I know – my Zaida
– Unexpectedly got to celebrate Father’s Day with my papa/mama and Zaida
– I got my ass handed to me in a kick boxing class with my badass bestie and her husband
– I sat lakeside, poolside and parkside
– I took in some culture and saw some good art
– I hosted a Sick of Chit Chat session at Soho House Toronto
– I ate a lot of gluten free bagels (maybe to many)
– I hugged many important and wonderful people and held them very close
Heading home on Saturday. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, checking my mail (as in post) and wandering through London for a little while in my softer, calmer state. If you’re feeling burned out, make sure you give yourself some time to catch up with yourself. Do an extra workout. Give yourself the night off. Walk by the canal. It’ll do you good. See you soon!
I like to think that I’m a professional conversation starter. Whether it’s dance, rallying funding for an arts project or just connecting friends with like minded people – I like bringing people together. I’ve been spending some time thinking about what it means to build connection in person. How do you curate that first 5-7 min of conversation that could yield a potential friendship or business relationship? Why does it feel forced? Why isn’t it natural for everyone? How could you make it easier?
I’ve given a couple of workshops on the topic and try to focus on the following three ideas:
1. Decide your outcome before you get there – who are you looking to meet? Why are you there? What is success? The number of people you talk too? The number of free beers you drink. Decide the outcome and you’re more likely to feel like it was worth while. Going to a networking event out of obligation is always a recipe for disappointment.
2. Ask ‘good’ questions. Avoid ‘yes/no’ answers. Listen actively to what the other person is saying and respond to it with curiosity. A good response to someone’s statement is ‘That’s interesting, what do you think about ….’
3. Be able to identify the introvert versus the bore. Sometimes the most useful people in the room are shy. Be willing to investigate whether or not someone is an introvert or dull. You may have to put in a bit more work, but I promise if often yields a positive result.
I know it’s energetic work. There is no way for it not to be, but if you can give yourself some structure around what you want from these interactions if often makes it so much better…feeling. What are the bits you find the hardest? Let me know, I’m curious.
I’m sitting in a record shop turned coffee shop and the new James Hunter album is playing in the background. Sipping m’cuppa joe and finishing my prep and music for the Oxford Swing Festival classes this aft and I just wanted to say a heart felt thank you.
I have had so many shares, views, notes and offers since I posted my ‘Dance Partner for ILHC’ post. It’s been unexpected and greatly appreciated. I’ve been particularly moved by the followers leaders who have messaged me to say that they have often felt the same anxiety about finding/asking a potential dance partner. Why is it so difficult to find someone to hold hands with (in the dance way, not the romantic way)? Why does it feel so personal and not ‘professional’ or ‘constructive’? There are some great people who have messaged me and I’ll be sorting things out in the coming weeks – but I just wanted to say thank you all those that shared my post. I’m still open to emails/FB messages and have been touched by the kind words and support shown by my London dance partners, instructor friends and dance peers worldwide.
My packing this weekend’s teaching (can you tell I’m gluten and dairy free):
I’m going to go and teach some awesome people my thoughts on how to move on our own now. I feel inspired by this community to do my best work, bring the best out of others and to challenge our preconceived notions of what we think we’re capable of. Again, you awesome person there on the side of this screen – THANK YOU. I’ll keep you posted on the journey.
I’ve come home from performing and teaching in Edinburgh at University of Swing with Ben Cook and I am reminded of all the reasons why I dance. Finding my joy through movement, inspiring others to take to the floor, bringing people together to celebrate the spirit of lindy hop and partnered dancing.
Ben and I launched this project called ‘Why I dance’ as a vehicle to address what partnered dancing and performance offers and how its transformed our lives. Have a watch. We’ll be releasing more videos shortly and as always welcome your thoughts and impressions. I’d be really curious to know why you dance?
A dear friend owns and runs Jazz MAD dance school in London and she wrote some lovely Lindy Hop resolutions for 2016 that left me rather inspired. I thought others might like what Sharon had to say (she also runs fab courses if you’re looking for some intensive learning).
I’m really good at trying new things and meeting new people. Booking a class, or going to a meet up doesn’t scare me. Getting my ass over my head on a steel hula hoop kind of scares me – this is something that always gave me problems when I did aerial silks in Toronto. I have a whole lot of badonk (my bottom) to get up in the air compared to the other men and women in the class. I faced this fear today. I had lots of difficulties getting upside down, but I didn’t let it hurt my ego – I just kept trying and let the attendant/instructor help me when I needed it. I surprised myself. I left with worn hands and a sore body, but a happy mind and heart. I didn’t get any of the more beautiful poses/moves but I did get this photo in as the instructor was talking me into letting go with one hand. I did. I didn’t fall.
When I feel scared in new situations I say to myself: I love myself. I got this. I’m confident.
I walk up to the instructors and ask their names. I offer to take photos for classmates since they are just as scared as I am.
I accept where I am today, how flexible I am, how far I can go, how much help I need. Because it’s okay to be a beginner. It’s ok to learn and need help. It’s brave to try something new and foreign. I think it’s important as a dance teacher to feel what it feels to be a beginner and to embrace that humility. I’m a beginner at ballet (ish), at stuff where I hang in the air, at speaking French – don’t let fear stop you from trying new things, meeting new people and letting go of the proverbial hoop. It’s left me feeling rather inspired (and sore – Ow!).
In the run up to 2016, I have realised that I need a budget. Also my dad gave me this article from a Canadian Newspaper the National Post about Personal Finance. I have always believed ‘oh I’m not good with money’. Somehow this universal ‘truth’ means that I sheepishly don’t look at my bank account balance or credit card bill until I absolutely have too. I’m tired of feeling money shame. Like I’m not a ‘grown up’ or that ‘I’m always behind’. Like I mentioned in the goal setting post, I like systems. I’m good at systems. Why can’t I apply the same approach?! Again, I thought you might be interested in what I’m doing to get myself organised and saving for 2016. Some of these thing may seem obvious – but I figure I can’t be the only one who needs help in the financial literacy area.
2016 – I am good with money, have savings and am financially literate.
1. I let go of my personal money shame. I am open and honest with people who love me and ask for support from those who I perceive as ‘good with money’. I have a few gurus in my midst who already have offered their support and personalised spreadsheets. I need their sage advice and I need to listen.
2. I buy myself a fancy coffee (we are talking soya latte here) if I’m in a meeting or it’s the weekend.
3. I cook myself a meal three times a week. I love cooking. I often say it’s the way I measure how well I’m taking care of myself. Whether it’s two dinners and a Sunday brunch – it all adds up. And sometimes it is actually cheaper to eat prepared stuff then what you make…but I always feel more nourished by my own cooking.
4. I save money for travel before I spend it. I have definitely ‘found’ ways and means to make big trips happen in the past and I’m over the worry and creative approach it takes to afford it off the cuff. I travel to teach/perform/work etc., but not for leisure until May 2016). May is my 30th Birthday and I would love to do a bit of travelling but that means I have to have everything saved up.
5. I track everything. Like everything. Without judgement, without shame. I just input all my receipts into my google spreadsheet and keep an eye on my available savings. I need to make this a habit and that will take several months and some discipline.
What do you do? How do you save and stay on top of your finances? I would love to know. I often think we don’t share enough best practices in this area. It’s like mental health – we are all hush hush. Would anyone like to have a monthly meet up to review how we’re doing? I’d actually love that. Happy New Year and happy savings!
My personal mantra is to live kindly and to love boldly. I was totally struck with this poem and thought others might like it. Tell those you love that you love them. It never gets old. Brilliant words by poet Lora Mathis. More of her work here.