Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I am dancing

I went dancing last night. Let my body move as it desired. Let myself be free of right steps/wrong moves and expectations. I simply moved. In the opening music my body whispered to me, 'be gentle', and I was. Gentle with it. And my body responded and began to move freely. For two hours as the music stirred my soul and my spirit took wings I was immersed in the wonder of being free to express myself through dance. It was heavenly.

Years ago, (1996ish) I took a four day workshop on Gabrielle Roth's five wave movement work. For years afterwards, whenever possible, I actively engaged in The 5 Waves by joining in dance groups whenever I could.

And then, I started to work at the shelter and found myself mired in the pain of so many lives in turmoil, of so much drama and trauma. For some reason, I let go of movement. I let go of dancing and convinced myself -- I didn't have time. I was too busy. The shelter needed me more.

And I became stuck in the pain and lost sight of the promise of all that is possible in our world.

It is the challenge of working at a place like a homeless shelter. When so many lives filled with pain come together in one place, there is little room to breathe freely. I think one of the things that happened inside me was I felt that to move freely would take me away from that place, and I didn't want to do that. I loved my work. I loved being there. The people. The possibilities for change. The idea of creating it.  I loved the feeling of making a difference everyday.

And so, I stopped dancing. Except for when my daughters and I went to the Choices Saturday night dance during seminar. Then. I danced. We danced. Moved. Spun and twirled and bent forward and backwards and under and around. We danced and I felt alive and free and oh so powerful.

I stopped dancing with my group though because somewhere within me was the belief/fear that to dance would open me up to the world beyond the shelter. And I wasn't ready, yet, for that to happen. I found my home at the shelter. I didn't want to leave it.

And now I have, left, and now I'm finding myself beyond the pain and sorrow and trauma of a homeless shelter. I still believe I can make a difference in that world. I still believe it's important work. I just know that being immersed in the daily workings of a shelter is an invitation to shut down the bigger perspective of the world beyond its doors. I believe there's a time limit on how long one should stay at a shelter -- whether client or staff.. And if one does stay in the shelter/work, it is imperative that one keep moving, keep doing things, everyday, to create emotional, spiritual and physical well-being -- and that's what I had quit doing to a degree. I opted for the myopic view that I could take care of others without first taking care of me.

It's easy to become isolated and insulated in a shelter. It's easy to lose contact with the promise beyond its doors.

And now, moving again, I know how important it is that I move the pain out and connect back to the promise of the more that awaits when I free myself from the belief -- this is all I can do.

There's so much I more I can do when I set myself free to move.

I am dancing again.

I am happy!



Maureen said...

We've all experienced burnout in one degree or another. Being able to recognize it and know when it it time to move on, not just in work but in other situations in life, is so important. And that feeling, which you describe here, of being free of what's pulled you too far from the edge, is going to make such a difference to what you do next.

It's inspirational.

Anonymous said...

dancing sounds good.
one can live in a shelter...almost anywhere.
you are right...it's good to dance.

David C said...

Our capacity to become mired in darkness is alarming! I too was unable to observe my subtle descent into the mire during my tenure at the shelter. My body, mind and soul instinctively created walls to protect myself from the humanity that surrounded me.

Darkness tends to wrap & envelop while light tends to pierce & penetrate. In my own journey, I tend to instinctively accept and surrender to the darkness both internally and externally. I continue to learn that movement towards the light requires diligence discipline and, most importantly, my acceptance of un-ease..

As I reflect I realize that my avoidance of un-ease has, often-times has led to states of dis-ease.


Louise Gallagher said...

It is important to recognize that moment Maureen -- I think the challenge for me as I look back on that last year of knowing it was time to leave and believing I had to stay to do 'one more thing' is that in staying, I held myself in that place of pain.

and when I set myself free -- I truly am free.

Love that feeling.

Love that you feel it too my friend.

Louise Gallagher said...

It is good to dance Nance -- and it is good to be still.

It's finding the balance that I sometimes struggle with. :)

Louise Gallagher said...

Lovely to see you here Dave!

I really like how you describe the difference between darkness and light -- engulfment versus embrace.

And what awesome insight - to know avoidance of un-ease has oftentimes lead to dis-ease.

Avoidance strengthens fear.

Thanks for joining in the conversation.

CZBZ said...

The really great thing? YOU noticed you weren't dancing. The sad thing is that you might only notice it once you START dancing again.

I agree with Maureen about 'burnout'. You want to be an endless supply of empathy and compassion. But you come up against the problem of being limited, finite, a mere mortal. ha!

I am so happy that you are happy, Louise!

(I am giggling about the word verification to post my comment: awkingr )

Yes, you are awakinger and awakinger. And it IS inspiring!


Louise Gallagher said...

CZ! What???? I am a mere mortal. Seriously? when did that happen? I thought I was SuperWoman :)

awakinger that's me. :)


S. Etole said...

So much here in both what you have shared and in the comments.

Fi said...

We all think you're Superwoman but even Superwomen needs to make time to dance.

Dance, and then dance some more :-)

Louise Gallagher said...

it is part of the joy I find here Susan -- your comments and the comments of others cast a beautiful light on my path.


Louise Gallagher said...

Tee hee Fi -- Superwoman definitely needs to take time to dance! :)

I hope you'll dance with me. Nothing more powerful and contagious than two superwomen dancing together!

Megan Willome said...

This makes me want to dance again. Years ago, I danced, and it was a destructive thing in my life. I let it go almost 20 years ago. Just once since then, at a wedding. Hmm...must write about that.