Learning to feel comfortable with discomfort

As I continue to adjust to life as a full-time working mother, wife, model, speaker, and stroke survivor, I’m amazed by the discomfort I feel with my fatigue and feelings of being spread too thin. As Alexei approaches his 6 month birthday, I finally realize that one of the sacrifices of being a parent for me is the need to create an at-home yoga practice. I so much prefer the community and spirit of practicing at Wild Lotus Yoga www.wildlotusyoga.com, but am inspired by Damien’s at-home practice, not to mention Alexei’s perfect ananda balasana and supta baddha konasana (he gets it from me!) and the severe jones for serenity that I’m feeling now, I am compelled to cultivate a more regular practice that does not pull we away from Alexei and my house for such a large chunk of time as I would like. Clearly this is a small sacrifice with an obvious and easy solution. I will practice for 30-45 minutes after work today and will allow future practices to blossom from there. When Damien and I bought our house almost 2 years ago, I was vigilant about choosing a home that has plenty of natural light and many obvious “yoga spaces”. I look forward to the joys and serenity that my at home practice will bring!

Many women and men will identify with this inevitable juggling act. It is difficult to balance work duties, being a mother, a wife, while maintaining a home, mind, body, and spirit that reflects optimal cleanliness and minimal chaos!  I am struck by how uncomfortable discomfort is to me now.  On first glance, this sentence seems so painfully obvious!  When I was dancing, I had become accustomed to feeling physically tired, sore, and stressed, not to mention emotionally drained.  I would have imagined  that the physical and emotional fatigue that I now feel would pale in comparison to my dancing days!  It does not, however, and I’m truly shocked by how uneasy I feel when I’m tired, am spread too thin, or am stressed and overscheduled.  I spent so many years feeling just this way.  I accepted those feelings of discomfort as “normal” and acceptable.   Clearly I stuffed away the negativity associated with such feelings and made my life work for me regardless of my happiness, or lack there of at that time in my life.  I would not have been able to live my dancing lifestyle if I had acknowledged how spiritually uncomfortable it was.  Living authentically is, for me, learning to feel comfortable with discomfort.  I turn to yogic philosophy of allowing the spirit and body to recognize what doesn’t feel comfortable ,aknowledge it and breathe through it.

why did you become a dancer?

Whenever I am asked, Why did you become a dancer? My stock answer is that at age 3, when I began to study dance, my body type and temperament were perfectly suited to the rigors of ballet. I must also mention that world-class dance training that finds its roots in L’Opera de Paris via New Orleans’ Grande Dame of Ballet, Lelia Haller. Many dancers answer that they simply loved music, and by dancing, they found a way to “become” the music. I now realize that music is indelibly linked emotionally and spiritually to so many experiences in my life.

I cannot hear Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” without being transported to Ellen Hardeman’s Dance studio on Elysian Fields Avenue in Gentilly, New Orleans circa 1981. Because I was the tallest and the most likely to remember the sequence of steps I was leading a line of pink leotard and pink tights clad 3 year olds. Each of us pinched the imaginary edge of a tutu between index finger and thumb as we learned “ballet walks” moving in time to “The Entertainer” we walked right, left (leading with our toes, of course!) point right foot to the side, continue, riight, left point left foot to the side across the room. After enjoying Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre’s fantastic production of “A Chorus Line”,  I now recall the following lyrics:

Music and the Mirror-A Chorus Line

Give me somebody to dance for,
Give me somebody to show.
Let me wake up in the morning to find
I have somewhere exciting to go.

To have something that I can believe in.
To have someone to be.
Use me… Choose me.

God, I’m a dancer,
A dancer dances!

Give me somebody to dance with.
Give me a place to fit in.
Help me return to the world of the living
By showing me how to begin.

Play the music.
Give me the chance to come through.
All I ever needed was the music, and the mirror,
And the chance to dance for you.

Give me a job and you instantly get me involved.
If you give me a job,
Then the rest of the crap will get solved.
Put me to work,
You would think that by now I’m allowed.
I’ll do you proud.

Throw me a rope to grab on to.
Help me to prove that I’m strong.
Give me the chance to look forward to sayin’:
“Hey. listen, they’re playing my song.”

Play me the music.
Give me the chance to come through.
All I ever needed was the music, and the mirror,
And the chance… to dance…

Play me the music,
Play me the music,
Play me the music.
Give me the chance to come through.
All I ever needed was the music, and the mirror,
And the chance to dance….

I so vividly remember the moments when my soul was first stirred at age 5 by “Every Breath You Take”. In 1983, this marriage of music and the visual medium of video was very new. I’ll never forget the opening scene of an ashtray fading into Stewart Copeland’s snare drum. I fell in love with Sting on first sight, and began a preference for blond men that lasted until 1988, when I discovered the French Canadian, darkly handsome looks of New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight. My parents recognized how transfixed I was by “Every Breath YouTake” and offered to buy the record, Synchronicity, for me!

In my family, money was never scarce, but was never frittered away mindlessly. I grew up knowing, however that no expense would be spared regarding music and books!

Even as a little girl I was very critical of music and felt that my musical choices were superior to others’. I am, after all, a retired performer who has never fit the mold of “Broadway Baby”.I sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at my kindergarten graduation immediately following Michelle Roche’s belting rendition of “Tomorrow”. This contrast is just what I mean when I say I was never a “Broadway Baby”. I remember feeling indignant during the 1988 Grammy’s as Biobby MFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” won Song of the Year as opposed to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”.

As the daughter of Flower Children, not hippies, because as my mama says, “Flower Children wore make-up, hippies did not!” I vividly recall peeking into my parents bedroom as a young girl to see my mama weeping openly as she listened to Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills. I felt confused, and couldn’t imagine that I also would find my heart so gripped by the power of music that, I, too would be at many phases of life so transported back to periods of time so missed and so emotionally embedded n my spirit that I ,too, would weep uncontrollably because of the sense memory that music dredges up!

Nothing can compare, though to the impact of choreography perfectly married to music. I immediately think of Mishkyetyonok and Dmitriev’s 1994 Olympic Free Skate in the pairs’ division.

I also think Camille Saint-Saens’ “Dying Swan”. I cannot hear this piece without my throat closing up as I choke back sobs.

Now, I find myself, a 36 year old mother realizing that I am a closet fan of Katy Perry’s lyrics! I’m certain that many listeners identify her lyrics to their own feelings of a broken heart, but I apply her lyrics to my stroke and recovery experience.

Katy Perry-Part Of Me

Days like this,

I want to drive away

Pack my bags

And watch your shadow fade

You chewed me up

And spit me out

Like I was poison in your mouth

You took my light

You drained me down

But that was then

And this is now

Now look at me!

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

Throw your sticks and stones,

Throw your bombs and bones,

But you’re not gonna break my soul.

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

I just wanna throw my phone away

Find out who is really there for me

You ripped me off,

Your love was cheap

It was always tearing at the seams,

I fell deep, you let me down,

But that was then and this is now

Now look at me!

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

Throw your sticks and stones,

Throw your bombs and bones,

But you’re not gonna break my soul.

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no!

Now look at me I’m sparkling,

A firework, a dancing’ flame

You won’t ever put me out again

I’m glowing’, oh woah,

So you can keep the diamond ring,

It don’t mean nothing anyway,

In fact you can keep everything, yeah, yeah, yeah

Except for me!

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

Throw your sticks and stones,

Throw your bombs and bones,

But you’re not gonna break my soul

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

Throw your sticks and stones,

Throw your bombs and bones,

But you’re not gonna break my

Soul

This is the part of me

That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no, no, noSongwriters PERRY, KATY/GOTTWALD, LUKASZ/MARTIN, MAX/MCKEE, BONNIE LEIGH

“Firework” Katy Perry

Do you ever feel

Like a plastic bag

Drifting through the wind

Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel

Feel so paper-thin

Like a house of cards

One blow from caving in

Do you ever feel

Already buried deep

Six feet under

Screams but no one seems to hear a thing

Do you know that there’s

Still a chance for you

‘Cause there’s a spark in you

You just gotta

Ignite the light

And let it shine

Just own the night

Like the Fourth of July

‘Cause baby, you’re a firework

Come on show them what you’re worth

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on let your colors burst

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

You’re gonna leave them all in awe

You don’t have to feel

Like a waste of space

You’re original

Cannot be replaced

If you only knew

What the future holds

After a hurricane

Comes a rainbow

Maybe the reason why

All the doors are closed

So you could open one

That leads you to the perfect road

Like a lightning bolt

Your heart will glow

And when it’s time you know

You just gotta Ignite the light And let it shine

Just own the night

Like the Fourth of July

‘Cause baby, you’re a firework

Come on show them what you’re worth

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on let your colors burst

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

You’re gonna leave them all in awe

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

It’s always been inside of you, you, you

And now it’s time to let it through

‘Cause baby, you’re a firework

Come on show them what you’re worth

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on let your colors burst

Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”

You’re gonna leave them all in awe

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Although my dominant dosha is vata, I love her use of fire imagery. maybe my soul is more

Dreaming of Cemeteries

Ever since I suffered my stroke, I have dreamed frequently about St. Louis no. 1 Cemetery. I’m not in the cemetery, but I see it from the outside with its crumbling tombs, hopeful sprouts of greenery popping up among the dying grasses. Cemeteries are a very important aspect of New Orleans culture, and St. Louis No. 1 is the oldest cemetery in the city and the site of eternal rest for the greatest number of historical figures, including Marie Laveau, the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans”.

I read in a dream interpretation book that to dream of a cemetery offers insight into the way we view ourselves. In my dreams of St. Louis no. 1, I recognize the elegance, history, beauty and grandeur of this place, yet acknowledge the damaged quality that it presents as well, due to age, weather, and the inevitable passage of time. St. Louis No. 1 is majestic, yet a touch damaged.

The other night I dreamed that I was an angel statue in St. Louis No. 3 for the first time. My parents have been thinking of moving our family plot from St. Vincent de Paul cemetery to St. Louis No. 3 for safety reasons. I have mixed feelings about this move, as St. Vincent de Paul is located on Louisa St. between Piety and Desire Streets. How fabulous is it to spend eternity “between Piety and Desire”? St. Louis no. 3 is located on Esdplanade Avenue, very near to Bayou St. John. The photographer E.J. Bellocq (who photographed Catholic schoolgirls by day, and Storyville prostitutes by night) is buried there as are many Yugoslavian and Greek families who first migrated to New Orleans seeking work as fishermen, oystermen, and shrimpers. St. Louis no. 3 is in much better condition than St. Louis no. 1, is much fresher and has not been as neglected over the years. As a statue in my dream, I was freshly whitewashed and very serene with a gently beautific smile and my palms outstretched. There was a party going on in the cemetery, as it is possible to host events in St. Louis no.3. I was speaking in very soothing tones to party goers.

Evolution

3 July 2014

I am a perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the ballet studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in those initial hellish phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my  wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of my soul and tranquil nature of my spirit.  This realization has swirled around in my head for several weeks, so it was with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus so much energy on  looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self-worth, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kinder to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such joy and hope swells in my heart today!

3 July 20143 July 2014

A perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in the initial phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my then wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of and tranquility of my spirit.  This realization has swirled around in my head for a few weeks, so it was with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus a lot of energy on not looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kinder to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such hope swells in my heart today!

A perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in the initial phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my then wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of and tranquility of my spirit.  This realization has swirled around in my head for a few weeks, so it waJune 2014

3 July 2014

A perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in the initial phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my then wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of and tranquility of my spirit.  This realization has swirled around in my head for a few weeks, so it was with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus a lot of energy on not looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kin3 July 2014

A perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in the initial phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my then wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of and tranquility of my spirit.  This3 July 2014

A perpetual work in progress

When I suffered my stroke I was overworked and unhappy with my dance career.  After 26 years in the studio, my spirit felt worn out and shattered.  Interestingly, in the initial phases of my stroke recovery, as difficult as they were, I felt that my then imperfect exterior more accurately matched my then wounded interior.  As my spirit has become whole and joyful over the past 6.5 years of physical and emotional recovery (not to mention the birth of Alexei)! I now feel as though the still unsmooth nature of my movement doesn’t match the wholeness of and tranquility of my spirit.  This realization has swirled around in my head for a few weeks, so it was with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus a lot of energy on not looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kinder to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such hope swells in my heart today!

realization has swirled around in my head for a few weeks, so it was with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus a lot of energy on not looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kinder to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such hope swells in my heart today!

der to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such hope swells in my heart today!

s with great surprise that I have been asked in an upcoming speech to focus more on the once terrible condition of my movement, because “to look at you now, it would be hard to imagine you having to fight back from being half paralyzed”.  What a surprise to hear such a comment!  I focus a lot of energy on not looking only within, not outside myself for validation or sense of self, I’m always a work in progress.  I can’t deny that those words put a smile on my face, or that I wasn’t a bit kinder to myself today regarding my movement.  I have, in fact, come such a long way, and have a lifetime to continue improving body, mind, and spirit!  Such hope swells in my heart today!

A Pain in the Third Eye

4 July 2014

Yesterday, I watched old videos of myself dancing for the first time in many years. I also cried for the first time in years about losing fluidity in my movement. I never enjoyed taking class or rehearsing when I was a dancing, as there was so much criticism at these times. Of course I realize that the criticism is a tool to refine one’s performance, but that criticism never seemed to be balanced by praise as it was due also. As such, I only felt truly free on stage. I was truly in the moment on stage and felt completely free of criticism, completely free to speak my truth with my movement. I was completely uninhibited and free to be me! As I watched myself dance, I felt such a sadness that my instrument does not right now express that same fluid freedom that I used to be able to show to myself and to the world. I was also struck by the contrast of the graceful freedom that my body expressed, knowing that my spirit felt so tethered at that time. Ironically, my soul feels as fluid and free at all times now as I did only on stage when I was dancing. All of these realizations and their accompanying emotions caused tears to flow freely yesterday, for the first time in years. These tears had sadness, but were also a great release. I was still crying when Alexei woke up from a nap. My instinct was to wipe away the tears and force myself to stop crying, as I didn’t want to scare him. But Alexei greeted me with his beautiful open, natural, loving smile with his typical spontaneity that I began to cry yet more. I was completely overwhelmed with his pure and natural display of love and affection, as well as my own awareness of God’s and the Universe’s blessings that I could only react naturally also!

Today I awakened with a sensitive feeling in my Third Eye.

The third eye (also known as the inner eye) is a mystical and esoteric concept referring to a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight.[1] In certain dharmic spiritual traditions such as Hinduism, the third eye refers to the ajna, or brow, chakra.[2] In Theosophy it is related to the pineal gland.[3] The third eye refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In New Age spirituality, the third eye often symbolizes a state of enlightenment or the evocation of mental images having deeply personal spiritual or psychological significance. The third eye is often associated with religious visions, clairvoyance, the ability to observe chakras and auras,[4] precognition, and out-of-body experiences. People who are claimed to have the capacity to utilize their third eyes are sometimes known as seers.

In some traditions such as Hinduism, the third eye is said to be located around the middle of the forehead, slightly above the junction of the eyebrows. In other traditions, as in Theosophy, it is believed to be connected with the pineal gland. According to this theory, humans had in far ancient times an actual third eye in the back of the head with a physical and spiritual function. Over time, as humans evolved, this eye atrophied and sunk into what today is known as the pineal gland. Dr. Rick Strassman has hypothesized that the pineal gland, which maintains light sensitivity, is responsible for the production and release of DMT (dimethyltryptamine), an entheogen which he believes possibly could be excreted in large quantities at the moments of birth and death.

I have read that such a tingling or feeling of expansion that I sense today can be due to the release of old stress. I can’t help but believe that this release has been triggered by my watching videos and crying yesterday.  I welcome the release of old stress.  Bring it on, Universe!

I also am amused that the phrase, “You really are a pain in my third eye”, sounds so much more classy and more comfortable to me than, “God, you’re a pain in my ass!”