Points to everybody...

I have been teaching a modern dance workshop at DanceStation in O’Fallon, IL this week. Three levels, ages about 8-18. It’s been a really good week so far (today was the day the kids finally hit the wall, so I took it a little easy on them and had some brief Q&A sessions with them to allow them to recover from their cumulative injuries/aches.)

I’d like to share a moment from today though - a moment that EVERY teacher wants to have happen to them…just once in a while.

I am also setting a piece on the youngest group. Their attitude has been absolutely amazing - always present, always engaged, always giving consistent effort. Sure, they’re not at the same level technically as the older groups (because, obviously, they’re younger) but they are PRESENT.

I walked into the studio today for my class with them…and found them already rehearsing the piece on their own, counting out the beats, communicating positively about notes I had given, and having fun.

A huge smile on my face, I walked into the classroom and they stopped rehearsing. As they walked (or skipped, or jumped) over to me, I said to them “This is exactly what every instructor wants to see - the whole class, working together, preparing the material from the day before. I’m so proud of all of you, and I’m awarding POINTS to everybody!”

(There is no points system in place. There is no reward, unless you count the Ghirardelli chocolates I brought for them after rehearsal. But they understood.)

What better reason to look forward to the next day (the final day of the workshop) than a group that clearly is invested in being present. Well done, everyone. Well done.

Good. Lord.

After all the times I’ve watched, rewatched, and reenacted Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I have never once correctly heard a specific lyric in Sir Robin’s minstrel song, Brave Sir Robin Ran Away

(bravely ran away, away!)

For all of my life up until this exact moment in time, I always thought it was,

“…and his linsel hacked and mangled, Brave Sir Robin…”

I had no idea what a “LINSEL” was. My brain just sort of assumed it would be some sort of antiquated name for a body part, probably the testicles or something amusing (the sort of joke I could see them making.)

Tonight, as I’m watching it, I hear it as clear as day:

“…and his LIMBS all hacked and mangled…”

Good. Lord.

a moment in time at the studio

Everyone needs a safe space.

A space where you can go to rest, rejuvenate, relax, restore. A place where you can take risks; a place where you can contemplate the “mysteries of the universe.”

A place that’s special to you.

My safe space at the moment is the studio. After everyone has departed for the day (usually around 10 pm), I head inside to work. I leave the lights off (my eyes adjust quickly to the available light) - which also helps with my comfort level. I bring my own speaker.

Most nights, I practice singing (my karaoke favorites playlist includes Chet Faker, Amy Winehouse, Cat Stevens, SOHN, Bill Withers, Flight of the Concords, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, and admittedly, some songs that most would consider guilty pleasures. Sometimes I stretch and do exercises, sometimes I meditate and work on my energy.

It’s kind of been accepted that the studio is haunted. Many have reported feelings of unease, the sensation that you’re being watched, or in my case, the sense that a strongly negative energy is present. Because of this, most tend to avoid the older part of the building (the large studio is a new addition) - especially the upstairs. I’ve felt it on many occasions - expecting at some point to see someone watching from an upstairs window, feeling like I’m not welcome and that I should leave.

For a while, I decided that the best course of action would be to challenge this energy - come in, focus my energy, and basically tell whatever entity resides in the older section that the new studio is my space, and you are not allowed inside. Demarcation and a bit of arrogance, honestly. To be frank, this method seemed to work for a bit, but it was always something that needed to be done every time, or I’d get the feeling something was rushing towards me in the main studio while I was working. I’d get the feeling that something was following me around, or screaming at me. I know, you already think I’m nuts - but as I have said before, others have felt the same way in the building.

A few months ago, as I was focusing on a silvery white and blue/green aura of healing energy (in the buildup to setting the boundary) - I had the thought:

“What if, instead of shunning this energy/spirit, I focused my energy on attempting to heal it? What if it is in pain, or needs forgiveness, or something similar?”

It’s kind of an odd feeling (as a sane person) to decide to attempt to heal a negative energy or spirit or ghost - something that exists in the area of “things that might very well exist, but for the moment exist purely in a folklore / unexplained world.” But clearly the first method wasn’t fixing the problem, it was just avoiding it, putting it off. So I focused. I attempted to clear my thoughts of anything negative, judgmental, or aggressive, and then I invited this energy to be healed, to be understood, forgiven, loved, freed from whatever pain it might be suffering.

You know in a story, where the “evil” character turns out to be someone good who has been hurt, misunderstood, sequestered and labeled unfairly, or is being punished for some past act of unkindness - and ends up embracing that persona (might as well find strength in something once you aren’t accepted) - that’s kind of the impression I got.

So I tried to surround whatever this was in positive energy, healing energy, forgiveness, love, and acceptance. I tried to say that, whatever it was, it had the choice now to go and be whatever it needed to be - to explore, to learn, to be healthy. You’re going to say I’m crazy, but honestly…I felt something shift. I felt a change in the energy of the building, in the air. From that point forward, I’ve not felt the same sense of negativity, pain, loneliness, anger, hostility - not even close. So, maybe it worked, I thought. Cool.

Let’s fast forward to last night. I’m at the studio stretching and watching an episode of Mr. Robot, and something just dawned on me - if I were to pass away, and spirits/ghosts were real, I might very well choose to come live at the studio. I would watch over it, keep it and everyone in it safe, be able to listen to music, dance, investigate, contemplate…and then I suddenly realized:

The negative energy, the unwelcoming spirit was me.

I was in pain. I was lonely, hurt, angry, trapped, unhappy.

I had healed myself.

I had given myself permission to let go of past mistakes, past errors in judgment, all the baggage that we carry around with us like times we have acted in a way we now see as shameful. I had told myself it was okay to be loved, to be appreciated, to be accepted for who I choose to be. It was okay to have my good days and bad days (and still be trending toward my goal of being a kind, loving, inquisitive, creative person who has a lot to offer still.

My feelings of discomfort in the studio were a reflection of my feelings of discomfort with my own character flaws, my own history of mistakes (not any that serious, don’t worry; I’m talking about stuff like being unkind to someone I broke up with in a careless manner, failing to complete a task, etc.) I had been carrying the weight of all my shortcomings around with me, and I’d given myself permission to let all that go. All the decisions in my past (which I’d made with my past level of experience, knowledge, ignorance and insight) that I’d judged as incorrect - as my current self, along a new path, with new information, new experience, saw as mistakes…well, it was okay to realize that I was doing the best I could at the time, just like I do now.

It was honestly one of those moments where you just see something that has been staring you in the face for a long time. Plainly evident, waiting for you to be ready and willing to see. I’m still processing everything that goes along with a revelation like this,, but I have to admit - it makes sense.