Be the Shining Star that you Are

I’ve got a few blog posts in me today, but a bunch of other tasks that really need my energy. It’s funny because the one post that is going to get written is not the one that I would have thought would be written. And as I wrote that sentence, I realized that actually there is a common thread through it all, so maybe, it will all get written. In the next few minutes.


A special thanks to Tara for posting a link on FB to this fabulous TED talk. That was a while back, but today, over breakfast, I actually took the time to watch. I’m particularly intrigued by the topic because I have seen how Pilates changes lives. Starting with my own. If you give enough energy to developing your Pilates practice, you will grow more confident and more aligned with your own power to contribute in a positive way to the world that we share. I have had that experience with Pilates and I love facilitating that change in others.


I had a secret dream of being a dancer as a kid. This dream went completely unacknowledged by anyone in my life until I had a dance professor in college, who said that if I wanted to be a dancer, I should be a dancer. Simple. That was all the acknowledgement that I needed to pick a coast and get to work. I found a job working with kids that gave me income and health insurance, and nearly every day of the week I would dance, or train capoiera, or t’ai chi, or some other movement form. In dance class it wasn’t long before I became aware of an incredibly persistent voice in my head which was shooting me down before I even got moving. I would watch my teacher demonstrate the moves, and as I watched, I would tell myself that there was no way I’d be able to do that. Not surprisingly, I usually turned out to be correct. Until I realized that my inner voice was not helping and I learned how to first ignore it and then quiet it completely. That and a healthy dose of encouragement from my wonderful teacher got me moving in some semblance of competency (she later told me that when I first turned up in her class, she was dubious of my eventual success – I was that shut down). I enjoyed many years dancing in class, but I had too many other interests and ambitions to put the requisite time and energy into dance to really become a dancer. Over time, my dreams of being a dancer matured into what seems to be the most appropriate plan for me: to have a life long passion of dance training sprinkled with the occasional performance opportunity. Mostly, I am grateful that I honored myself in following my dream and I am grateful for every person who supported me along the way. Because while I didn’t get to where I thought I’d get when I first began, I got somewhere that feels right for me.


Last night, my husband mentioned the resurgence of stunt that our local kids are keen to pull. As is typical for my husband who takes consideration for others to a highly honorable degree, he was incensed by this sort of activity. While clearly, this sort of thing is not what we want our kids doing, it seems to me that we have no one but ourselves to blame for the fact that our kids are putting their energy into dangerous and publicly disruptive activities.


Next story. When I was working at a school I witnessed a degeneration of spirit in a particular group of children that I worked with. In my opinion, their experience was the logical result of a dramatic and complete failure of the school staff to serve them in an honorable and respectful way. And we all paid the price. I knew these kids in the fourth grade. I saw their performance in the classroom with their dedicated and inspired teacher. I saw them actively and passionately engaged in their school work. They had been with the same teacher for two years and they were preparing for their fifth grade year with a new teacher. I also, by some strange stroke of coincidence, saw them in their first weeks of their fifth grade teacher. Sadly, we were all subjected to the whims of an uninspired, deeply self-absorbed person. I was in the classroom to assist, the children were in the classroom to learn, and presumably the teacher was in the classroom to lead us all in our pursuits. I sat at the front along side her, looking at the faces of thirty bright-eyed and eager children, all sitting alert with pencils poised. She talked, and talked, and talked. She said nothing relevant to anyone with respect to the tasks at hand. It was incredibly boring for all of us. Lucky for me, I was reassigned soon. Because the sad truth is that I was powerless to affect any change upon the situation. About halfway through the school year, a good friend of mine was substituting for the class and because we would often lunch together, I went to meet him as he and the students were headed toward the cafeteria. What I witnessed was crazy. The thirty kids were completely out of control. He struggled at every moment to keep them corralled. There was absolutely no learning going on, just crowd control.


Now, this is all up for interpretation, of course. But I have my own opinion about what happened to those kids. Eight months ago, I had seen them completely engaged in their school work, all their energy directed toward a productive end. And now, with a simple, and yet completely infuriating, change of one circumstance (have you ever had to sit captive to somebody who does not stop talking and expects you to pay attention for hours on end, day in day out? Not fun.), these kids had lost control. Or rather they were wielding what little control they had. I have no idea what happened to each of those kids, I hope that that year was the last of disappointment any of them ever had with a bad teacher. There are so many amazing teachers in the world, and those kids, like every kid, deserved to have one year after year. But I know what happened to my friend. He lost his job, because one of the kids accused him of attacking her and attempting to push her down the stairs. Not that his job loss is the most significant loss that happened as a result of a bad situation, it’s just the one that I actually know about. My overall point is that we failed those kids. And they in turn failed us.


So back to today. While I am not in anyway speaking in a voice of encouragement to acts that put the general populace in danger. It seems to me that when we are thinking about situations such as the 880 sideshows that are coming back into fashion, we ought to be considering what people who have enough wherewithal to execute such a stunt could be doing with their energy were they given the respect and support that they deserve as our fellow citizens of humanity.


When I look back over the years of my youth and the challenges that I faced against myself in the dance studio and socially amongst peers who, like me, were struggling to find their place in the world, I realize that I was incredibly lucky to have found enough support to set me on a positive track. And like many who have received enough support in order to become enough of who they are, rather than to self-destructively implode, I am keen to pay my blessings forward.


When I watched Amy Cuddy’s talk, I was reminded of the power of the work that I do with Pilates. And reminded about the power that we each possess to support each other in being more of who we are. So that together we each and collectively can be better that who we are. That is, in my opinion, the whole point.


And from now on, I know my favorite way to end a Pilates work out. Because, according to Romana, every workout needs a good ending, and according to Amy Cuddy, everybody can use a power boost, in my studio, we’ll be finishing with the standing twist from now on.


Shine brightly upon your day! Be the star that you are!

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