Hot Pink Learning

I think I’ve discovered a miracle.

After dancing for almost 40 years, I have learned something completely new.
Something I REALLY wish I knew before when I was dancing professionally and dealing with injuries, pain, discomfort and frustration.

Because that’s the stuff that is no fun in our industry!

Pain, discomfort and frustration…no thank you!

Do you ever feel like this?

I mean, I imagine you come to your Art because you love it!  It makes you feel amazing, right?

This isn’t a 9 to 5 for you, I imagine it’s a deep calling.  You want to create, and there is a deep fulfillment that occurs in your music, your words, your art, your images…that just doesn’t arise anywhere else.

I get it.

This is how I feel about dancing, this is how I feel about writing and speaking.

So, when I’m dealing with situations that keep me from dancing, it’s heartbreaking.  As I did for the last three months…until last week, when I was able to return from a strained tendon and be back in dance class.

And the real saving grace?

Well…it turned out to be something bright pink.  Something I had NEVER used before.

And something I actually knew about, but had looked at and said,
“Nah, that’s not for me”

Have you ever said this?

My husband is an Occupational Therapist.  Literally the universe has brought the perfect man into my life.  Every day I am so grateful for him, but with my calf injury I was beyond thankful.  This injury was entirely new to me, and I was a total student asking him,
What do I need to do?

In the second month of recover,y he recommended I wear his compression socks.  I had heard of compression socks before having several runners in my family, and had always looked at the socks and said,
Oh, that’s for runners…not for me as a dancer.

And now, here I was being handed these socks to put on, even though I had made a strong decision they didn’t apply to me.

What’s really interesting here is I NEVER wore them before.  I actually had no direct experience with compression socks.  I had just decided they didn’t apply to my body and needs.

So, being the good patient, I put them on…and the effect was miraculous.  My calf instantly felt better.  So much of the achiness was gone.  When I asked my husband to explain them, he shared they actually help with blood flow and are really important post injury or post an intensive workout to keep swelling down.

Wait….in adequate blood flow and swelling are BOTH things I have dealt with my whole life.

In fact, they were issues I had as a professional dancer and performer that I was approaching in other ways that didn’t always help or work.

Maybe I had made a hasty decision…or maybe I had made a decision based on nothing…..

The day before I was going back to dance class, my husband surprised me with a gift…hot pink compression socks.  Pink is my favorite color and I immediately put them on.  I loved them!  He instructed I wear them all day before I take my first class and then make sure to put them on right after class to help with any possible trauma or swelling.

So, I went to class.  It was ups and downs, and my calf was definitely talking!  Right after class I put the socks on and even felt a very strong heat at the injury site.

I was worried, and even more, was convinced I was going to be SUPER sore for at least 2-3 days.  This was my first dance class in 3 months!

And then, I woke up the next day with no soreness.

I was flabbergasted.

Wow…turns out compression socks actually were completely FOR me.

I felt so good that within five days I was back in class and that went even better.  The compression socks went on right after class and again, the next day, no soreness.

Total education.
So grateful…
Now I had an actual experience with something that was a HUGE help to my art.

So, what is causing you pain, discomfort and frustration in your work?

What have you looked at and said,
Nah, that’s not for me…

What solutions or help have you walked away from, even though they have been presented to you, maybe more than once?

Have you actually had a direct experience WITH it?

What do you really need HELP with right now?

I can’t tell you how many times I have made a decision on something to later find out it was exactly what I needed to grow, and it’s hilarious that compression socks were presented to be so many times over the years through my brother and my nephew who were both competitive runners.

Even more, I can look at the four years leading up to my divorce, and my deep desire to ask for help.

Yet, for years I would look at therapy or coaching and say,
Nah, that’s not for me

Nah, that’s not for me

And yet, these three things saved my life.  And it was only when I had the actual experience of DOING them, of trying if FOR myself that I was able to really understand WHY I needed them so badly.

Pain, discomfort and frustration?  Now, I had tools to deal with these, and even more so, NOT be taken out or stop doing the work I loved because of them.
Check in…..what has been nagging at you?

What has been working for others around you that you are refusing?
Have you tried it

There is wisdom there.

What are your compression socks?

The answers to your pain may be right in front of your face….open your eyes and your heart, and step into a new experience.

You may learn something that will change your life.

Ending the Setback Cycle

Have you struggled to come back from a setback in your career?
Has it taken WAY longer than you thought?

We deal with a LOT of rejection in the creative fields, and sometimes it can be really hard to pick ourselves back up.

In the face of the setback, it can feel like we will never return, and that is deeply discouraging.  You may feel injured.

And this setback may have been an illness, family emergency, a job or gig falling through….sometimes it can feel like we are climbing a mountain to be in that place we deeply want…which is everything FLOWING! 

I imagine you love what you do, so you want to actually enjoy the process!
Because, nothing beats that feeling, does it?

The pure JOY of creation, of being full time doing the work you know you are meant to do, expressing your heart and being cherished and adored by your audience!

I’m smiling just typing it.

So, what do you do when you are in the middle of the setback?
How do you get back into the flow and not let the setback take you out?

Last night was a really big night for me.

I went back to dance class for the first time in three months.  Right after the New Year, I strained a tendon in my right calf and hobbled out of Steps on Broadway barely able to put weight on my right leg.

It was very scary.

It was very scary because I’ve never injured my calf before.  I’ve been dancing my whole life and I think I’ve injured just about everything in my body…except the calf, so when it happened, I really tensed up.

My husband is an Occupational Therapist, and dove into incredible care.  He first said,
7 to 10 days

I thought,
Well..that’s not so bad!

And then those 7 to 10 days turned into weeks, and then those weeks turned into months.  I had to keep changing my expectations, and release my timelines, which was a huge challenge as I LOVE to dance.  In fact, dance is a an incredible stress relief and my main source of expression next to writing.

To not have it for three months felt like a part of me was cut off.

Have you ever felt this?

But during those three months, I kept asking for help.  My husband gave me a huge education on calf injuries, and I followed his guidance.  I first returned to movement with an incumbent bike, then yoga…lots of yoga.

And I kept checking in with my body.

I wanted to return to dance SO badly.  For three weeks, I would quietly sit and check in with my body, asking
Can I return to dance?

For weeks, the answer was a solid NO.
And then last week, the answer was mixed…almost like a 50/50.

And I noticed something was creeping in….fear OF returning.

I was feeling amazing on the yoga mat, had taken a month of classes with no tension and my body was saying I was ready to return.

Where was the joy?
Why was I feeling trepidation upon this return I had wanted so badly?

Even my husband, after massaging my calf, on Monday night said,
You’re ready

So, why was I feeling so scared?
I’ve come back from injuries time and time again…what was different here?

Have you ever felt this; the fear of returning after the setback?

Waiting to go into class last night, I was greeted by a friend I haven’t seen since the injury.  She smiled with joy to see me and said,
Take it easy

I stood in the back of the class, feeling vulnerable and foreign as I always stand in the front.  My dance teacher came up to me and gave me the deepest hug saying how happy she was to see me and also said,
Take it easy

And class began.

It was a whirlwind…..I found my mind was working overtime, managing my weight and checking in with my calf.  Warm up was ok, I opted out of leaps and pique turns, and started to actually feel some flow when we got to the combination.

My calf was tight, and my balance was off….and I walked out of class feeling a little shell shocked.

I was ok…but still feeling uneasy.
There wasn’t the relief I was hoping for, or the great release.

And it wasn’t until this morning I began to have some clarity.  I woke up feeling really good actually.  I had prepared myself that I would be VERY sore.  My husband iced my calf last night, and we both agreed I should take a day off of any exercise.

And then I put my leg down on the floor this morning upon waking, and it was a little tender…no searing pain….no incredible soreness.

Maybe I was better than I thought.

And my fear of returning began to open.

I’ve never injured my calf before and the recovery was a HUGE learning experience for me.  I felt like what I knew before with other injuries didn’t apply here.  So, even though I have returned to dance class from injuries MANY times, and known it’s always a process….this felt new.

More to the point, it felt unknown.
And that was scary.

I’ve injured my back a few times, so when I came back to class, I had experience to draw upon.
I’ve injured my ankles more times than I can count, so when I came back to class, I had experience to draw upon.

Where I was disconnected, was thinking the calf was different.

In fact, what applied WITH my ankles and back all applied WITH my calf.

The steps were the same.

* Get help from a professional who KNOWS the injury or setback
* Educate yourself on what will be most helpful to return
* Check in with your body, listen to those messages, not your limiting thoughts

And most importantly,
Take it easy upon your return.

In every career, there will be setbacks.

In fact, the most important work you can do FOR your career, is learn how to face them.

And it’s so vital that the setbacks are not swept under the rug.

Every year I take my clients through a powerful Wheel of Reflection and ask them to list their failures.  After that they then list their wisdom.

Wisdom doesn’t come when everything is going great.
We never question anything when things are going well.

It’s only when we are challenged, we question.
And when we question, we have an incredible opportunity to LEARN.

You have an opportunity to learn you are actually FAR better than you think.

You actually have all you need within you, and this setback is here to show you your strength and give you the opportunity to learn what you need to take your career TO the next level.

What if the setback is here FOR you to point your towards your inner strength?
What if it’s your purpose to stand strong?
What if your setback has a hidden gift you’ve been waiting for?

You are not alone, and there is a gift waiting for you.

Ask for help, educate yourself, and learn to connect with your whole body, not just your whirling mind.

Maybe you never left at all…..
Maybe this is just the next step on your glorious path.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography