The Second New Year

If you have kids (I don’t), work with kids (nope, not that either) or work with an academic school year (BAM! right there) you know about the Second New Year. We all get New Years Day, Day One of the year, but when the new school year comes about, usually August or September for most folks, it’s like a Second New Year.

Welcome to the 2018-2019 School Year!

I’m one of the later starters with my new semester not starting until almost October but I like to begin preparing in August, it makes me feel organized. That is, of course, before the whole thing comes off the tracks and I’m just huffing and puffing to catch up, wondering what the heck happened and why do I still have a pile of papers to grade (There is always a pile of papers to grade, they self-multiple, seriously)! It’s inevitable. I think maybe I actually like the excitement of the chase, I dunno.

One of the reasons that I like to get an early start on my Second New Year is that I enjoy doing a midyear review of my life. Often times I get to the middle of the year and just stop with a thud… wha’ what happened?! Half the year is over! How did that happen? I mean, we all know how it happens, time goes by, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and we just don’t grab on to the minutes and hours and days. I squander so much time trying to get over things, trying to get through things and get on to the next thing.

A midyear review of my life helps me recenter on all those things that I wanted for the year. Sometimes I have to prune those thoughts and plans and change directions or focus. It’s a process, but I always feel like it’s a great time to regroup and take charge of the rest of the year because let’s face it, once we get to Halloween is a quick ride on a slick slope to Christmas and the end of the year.

Sophie's Christmas Tree

HOW MANY DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS???

So what’s involved in my midyear review? I know you are itching to know, ha! Well, basically I go back to the beginning of the year. I don’t make resolutions, I create goals. Goal setting is really far different because it’s about writing down with specificity those things that I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. It’s also about taking the time to figure out why I want to do those things and how I’m going to do those things. What is my plan? What are my barriers and how do I plan on breaking thru those challenges? What do I get, what’s my reward for attaining my goals? What are my first steps and what are my milestones? I write all this stuff down and because I’m an MBA and a Ph.D., I create a spreadsheet. Hey, what can I say, I put almost everything on a spreadsheet. It’s what we do. I actually have a sheet for each month, so I can track progress and see how I’m doing – mentally, emotionally, and physically too, not just work. Now is the time that I review what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been doing over the past seven months and make adjustments. I know it sounds really regimented, but it’s not so horrible that there isn’t room for creativity and flexibility. It’s just an exercise that helps me feel better about how I use my time.

einstein

This is not my office, this was Einstein’s office. This is the office in my head but with more spreadsheets.

Time is life. The years are passing by, more of my hair needs hair dye (and you can pretend that you don’t notice, thank you very much), I’m using far more anti-wrinkle cream, squandering time seems more and more senseless, almost sinful. It’s not that I want to stuff my life with things and work. The opposite actually, I find the more that I look at what I’m doing I realize that I spend a lot of time on things that do not matter and that is something I don’t want. I want to fill my time with so much joy, contentment, laughter, hugs, dancing, silliness, mischief, experiences, adventures, and love.

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REPEAT AFTER ME… I CAN DO THIS! And then let amazing things unfold.

A little bit ago I was able to have a phone call with a friend who lives on the other side of the country. I’ll tell you more about her in soon to come blog posts because she is my hero and I’m learning so much about being a better human being from her. Have you ever had someone in your life that inspires you to constantly be better without ever making you feel bad about yourself? If you don’t, that is my wish for you because it’s the most amazing friendship. If you do, hang on to that person because they are a GEM. At any rate, this is what dear friend said:

“I am greedy for life, for all the things in life, the experiences, the friendship, the time with (husband), with (dog), for trees and the beach, for walks in the woods, and reading books, and drinking coffee, and the tingle of being alive. I am greedy for every minute. I want more and more.”

I started crying when I was listening to her because, my gosh, what a way to live! And I cry again as I write it because I don’t have this. I think I have moments of it. I am greedy for those minutes in the darkened theater when I never want the dance to end. I am greedy for life when I’m walking along the Seine hand in hand with Carboy and the light is perfect and everything is perfect. I am greedy for the life of my dog when we were at the vet because he collapsed and couldn’t walk. I was greedy for him to have more time, for me to be able to take him home and hold him close and feed him treats. In those moments, I am greedy for life. But I want to be more greedy. I want to be greedy for all of my minutes, every breath because it can all be beautiful and sacred and important.  I want that, I want the greed for life, for love and laughter, to live every day and every minute so fully that I bring myself to tears over it all. It’s a Second New Year and I’m ready to give it a better try. I want more.

All will be well,

~Lorry, Bead109

How to get back into​ the studio (if it’s been a while)

There are so many issues that come into play after an injury or a break from training.  Whatever the reason for the break – school, work, family – whether the reason was positive or negative, after a long break, it can be super hard to get back to the barre. Weight gain, fear of lost skills, calendars that quickly fill up and over those hours that we once spent dancing, muscles tighten, and injuries that still hurt.

But muscles do have memory, more than we give them credit. Weight will come back off over time. Our schedule will open up to fit a class and then another and then another. We learn to work with the changes after an injury, and sometimes it even makes us better if we give it enough room and effort. But we do have to figure out how to self-motivate and self-inspire a grand return.

Calendar, calendar, calendar. Schedule the class and put it on your calendar. It’s truly half the battle because once you’ve booked the class, everything else is just follow through. I like to pay for a package, schedule my classes, write it on my calendar a month or more ahead. Once I’ve paid for it and made the commitment, even when I’m not feeling it, I’m much more likely to follow through. Especially if I book classes with a friend, you never want to let a ballet pal down.

Go shopping! New dance gear inspires and encourages. I do love a new leotard, dance skirt, maybe some new warmers to make me excited to get to class. Something pretty drives me right to the barre. I also love to shop for ballet gear when I travel so having a dance-related souvenir is not only special in class but brings back all those great vacation feels.

Be real and realistic. If you’ve been out of class for a length of time, especially for an injury, it’s a really good idea to let your teacher know. When I first went back after my foot injury, I had to be really careful and couldn’t do everything every class. It was important for my teacher to know so that he could keep an eye on me and adjust the exercises here and there. Also just letting him know that I hadn’t really worked out much so I was feeling tight and slow and chubby helped him help me set the pace wisely and move back well and not push too much or too hard. Discouragement from expecting too much too soon isn’t a good thing.

Set a good and reasonable (reachable) pace. When I went out due to injury, I was taking multiple classes almost every day of the week. It was great. But I was out for years and a lot changed during that time. Even though I wanted to jump back in with both feet and start signing up classes left and right, I couldn’t. That was HARD. I wanted to dance, but it was really important that I paced myself carefully at first and then increased the pace slowly but surely so that I can keep dancing… forever.

Depending on the injury, go back to the basics. I had a foot injury so even though I could almost start back where I had left off in terms of the level of difficulty of my classes, I started over. From the beginning. It worked for the best because I had to learn how to dance on the damaged foot in a new way and since you use both feet for ballet, I had to learn how to deal with both feet in a new way.  Sometimes starting over is a great opportunity to work deeper and develop stronger.

Call in your people. There is nothing like your ballet gang whether it’s there in class or on social media, ballet peeps are the best. Let them know what you’re going through, and you can bet that you will get some serious and much-needed encouragement and accountability. A great come back will almost always be accompanied by a great group of friends. Let your people be there for you, it will mean the world to you.

“Even if you did nothing for months, you can return to peak fitness eventually. It might take longer, but that’s okay.  Your sanity and life enjoyment are more important than a couple of weeks of missed training here or there.”

~Laura Fleshman

All will be well. Let’s dance!