Monday inspiration: I’m just going to leave this here

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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.

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Update: Partner for ILHC

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Many people read and shared my post about my search for a partner for the International Lindy Hop Championships. I was slightly overwhelmed by the response.

I had dozens of followers email me to say that would never have the courage to ask publicly for a dance partner. I received the most thoughtful emails and Facebook messages from male and female leaders wanting to push their dancing and declaring their willingness to train and put some art out there in August. Some sounded like job applications (which was surprising) and some caused me to tear up from their thoughtfulness and kindness.

And where did I get too…
1. I had several offers from some leads I LOVE dancing with and some good conversations about working together.
2. I thought about pursuing a Pro-Am because it would challenge me to work on my own dancing and get expert input.
3. I thought really long and hard about what I want to offer the lindy hop community and what my strengths are in the short to medium term and beyond.

But it looks like I may not going to go to ILHC this year and even if I did, I’d probably only do the Jack and Jill and Strictly.

The money, the time and the resources I would have put into ILHC this year went into securing my future in a country and city I love.

When you want to live somewhere and don’t have the legal grounds to stay beyond are a certain time in that place you feel constantly ill at ease. Unsettled. In flux. I spent many hours trying for a goal that seemed wild and somewhat unrealistic. I spent more money then I expected, more time then I expected and missed a flight or two in the process (talk about #lindyhoplife).

I earned an Exceptional Talent (Promise, really) visa and it was for lindy hop. It gives me 5 years here in England and counts towards residency, if I want that. It gives me options and choices. It also solidified how much I love this community and the sense of ownership I feel to challenge my personal dance practice, to build my skills as a dancer and teacher and to create a pathway that suits me.

If I make it to ILHC this year, it will be a year of reflection and celebration. If I don’t, you better believe I’ll be there with bells on next year with a posse of my best friends and most inspiring colleagues from London. I just thought an update was in order especially since I felt so very supported. Thank you friends for supporting dreams I didn’t even dream for myself. I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing. I hope you are too.

Time out

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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!

Sick of Chit Chat

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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.

How to be a good ‘contest’ audience member

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Competition season has kicked off with the newest kid to the block, the Savoy Cup. I wanted to cover a couple of ideas around what it means (to me) to be a good competitor and audience member.

People enter competitions for all sorts of reasons. It might be a personal goal to focus on improving their dancing, it might be that they love to perform and we don’t have enough opportunities to do that in lindy hop, or it might be that it scares them and they want to push through that fear.

Whatever the reason they are competing, be supportive.

As an audience member – for the love of all that is holy – CLAP! CHEER! GIVE THEM ENERGY! Whether or not you know them. Whether or not it’s perfect. It’s part of the audience/performer contract. If people are nervous, having the crowd behind them can be so uplifting.
Be aware that sometimes we are so moved by a performance, or so distracted by watching that it’s hard to clap along, but do your best.
Smile at the performers, if feels so much nicer to perform for people who are interested and supportive.
Acknowledge them after the performance and congratulate them, or ask how it felt. When you see them in the hallway, at the nearby restaurant or on the dance floor. Competitions bring up all sorts of emotions – a kind word goes a long way.

If you’ve never competed before, try it sometime (it is often fun) and decide what success means for you going in. Often, ‘winning’ is just having the courage to share something you love with a group of people who also love that thing. It can be such a thrill. Best of luck to those competing at events across Europe this summer and to those hitting up ILHC and Camp Hollywood last this summer.

 

Weekend Inspiration: be you

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Full disclosure that I don’t know James Clear (who’s post this is) from a hole in the ground and I cannot attest to the rest of his blog, but I can tell you that I read this post just when I needed it.
Martha Graham has this to say about comparing yourself to others: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

http://jamesclear.com/quality-comparison 

I often think that quality and competition are related. I’m not competitive with others, I am however highly competitive with myself. What can I accomplish? What am I capable of? What I love about this quote and post is that it talks about allowing things to flow rather than judge or stop. Something that I think could apply to a variety of experiences in our professional lives. Have a read, have a think and I hope you feel like you’re being your best self today. Happy Saturday.

Wow: what a response!?

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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):

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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.