As I wake up to the sound of hundreds of birds chirping, I have to remember that the foreign smells of flowers and the warm breeze isn’t home. I close my eyes tightly, willing myself not to forget the sound of the pacific edge crashing outside my window and the smell of sea breeze pouring through the curtains that Laguna Beach brought, which was the first leg of this business trip: recovery.
Last week I spent days trying to heal my body and get some “down time” which was mainly spent pouring over Michael E. Gerber’s amazing book about small businesses, the E Myth Revisited, and on the phone with my Marketing Director and co-creator of Power Performance, Lee Parent, working on ironing out tweaks of the new website. After a nine month haul of intense rehearsals, 20 hour work days, studio rehearsals with my beloved students, personal training, physical therapy on my injuries, and production of the materials for my major Dance and Short Film Event: Power Performance, Legacy Rising held April 4th and 5th, my exhaustion and fatigue finally won out the day after our successful show and cast party for all the amazing dancers. I missed my students back home in Camden, Maine; I always want to hug them and celebrate their success a million times again after the curtains close.
As I reminisce about the happy faces back stage as we packed up the last of the costumes and wishing a fun vacation before classes start again, I brush the sand out of the pages I’m writing in, squint up at the fading sun, and hurry to finish the work I started. I’m recalculating the numbers from the show to create the analyses of how many seats were sold, if the advertisement did it’s job and how I could do better for 2015. Hamster on a wheel….non-stop.
I sigh, now it is time to heal my body, mind and soul. To breathe and bask in the success that comes from producing my second major show for my company (which has been alive and running for four years), that the brand Lee Parent and I have been building is now solid (Power Performance), that I have just concluded 12 years of teaching consecutively in the Midcoast Area of Maine (Camden is and will always be my home), and that I am living my dreams – dancing for life. It’s hard to celebrate your successes when you have so much work yet to finish, so many more goals to accomplish, but hey, that’s an entrepreneur. “Yeah, I am not complaining,” I mutter to myself as I will myself to close my notes and look on down the beach. “Gratitude…” slips out of my mouth with a breath of relief and I recite the familiar list of the things I am grateful for. My healthy child, family, my students, the safe community I live in, health, and (I look down at my feet) “these old things that carry me across the stage – and the country.” I chuckle and shake my head…
By now the last rays of the sun are twinkling across the ocean, the cliffs far off in the distance forming grand silhouettes, and leaving the last specs of sun to dance upon the crest of waves like touches of goddess-gold everywhere the eye tries to follow. I push myself up from the beach chair I’ve camped on, to my feet which feel like pegs on spikes, and take a minute to wrap my sweater around my shoulders, gaining me time to steady myself. It’s now only been one week since the curtains closed and I didn’t stop and rest…I had to keep teaching for the next local fundraiser coming up, Dancing With the Local Stars in Camden May 9th.
Now is my time to recover though, before next week begins. I slowly take a few timid steps, reaching down to massage my quads and hams a bit…then begin the walk down the beach – if I could run, I’d chase the sunset for a never ending summer – even though it’s April. My body begins to feel a bit better so I pick up my pace to a natural walk, feeling every ache and pain, every joint that’s over worked, muscle that’s strained, and bone that’s bruised – but I have to keep walking. So many thoughts are attacking my mind. That’s how it works with me; I put down a book, and I get 20 more ideas I wish to write about; I finish choreographing 20 numbers, and 40 more ideas for dances pile up the space between my ears. It’s non-stop and the only medicine that can calm me down, the only thing that stands between brilliant ideas and having a mental breakdown – is the ocean. Maybe it’s because when I’m here, the waves never stop – so it gives me permission to stop. Perhaps it holds the memories of my most beloved time with my family when I was a little girl and my father was still here and when life was simpler then. Maybe it’s because I can see the waves and want to be riding them – to be pulled to the present and forced to focus on one thing and one thing only – staying alive. When you’re out there surfing, you don’t have the luxury to worry about money, family, love and relationships, trials and tribulations, obstacles to overcome – you have to just BE present…just live in that one moment….one moment at a time.
I exhale deeply and look back. I’m much further than I intended to walk. Damn – now I have to walk back. I turn begrudgingly away from the sunset, away from relief and the oxygen I need to pause my brain from spinning, and begin the slow walk back to the hotel. My body starts giving out on me and it’s hard to stand up straight, what with sprained ribs, just breathing is a chore. It’s like clockwork though, at least it’s something I can rely on. My back turns from the water and the work starts up again in my mind. I begin to think about what I have to prepare for. I don’t have time to cry over booboos, I need to get my stuff together and get ready to teach and perform for over 2000 kids next week in Palm Springs….the mist fades and the chirping birds return.
* * *
My eyes open and I’m laying in the foreign bed almost at the end of the second week of this trip. Laguna beach seems so far away, so much has happened since that walk on the beach…man how time flies.
I stand up excited to finish this trip with a Bang! I thrust open the curtains, mindful of my sunburn, and the swelling in my right knee, and do a safe, little skip to my luggage to get ready.
Palm Springs. What a glorious place. Sun. Food. Music. Pools. But most importantly – children who need me. Who need dance. Who NEED Power Performance. This week has been a duel effort; here on my own mission with Power Performance at a middle school, but also with Dunk the Junk, a non-profit organization I have traveled out here with before to teach kids in elementary and middle schools about healthy eating and replacing soda with water. The 6 schools for my Dunk the Junk presentations are complete and now it’s time to focus on on my third and final visit to Nelly Caughman Middle School in Desert Hot Springs.
The kids there are precious. Young and innocent – but with an edge in their stares that proves that a lot of their innocence has been tested already by age 11. On day one, when asked about what their dreams were, (a vital step in the Power Performance 6-step method), they look up to me confused, only to answer my deepest fears with actual words strung together out of wonder and fear combined…”Dreams? What do you mean dreams?” I respond, “a fantasy, what you picture for yourself that is greater than anyone can imagine for you…the dream of the life you desire..?” Again, they look confused, they look at one another then the same girl responds, “We don’t have dreams.” Another boy follows her up, “I don’t know what to dream about. I know this is my life and will never get better. Why would I dream about something I can’t have?” I siphon what feels like the last oxygen in the room to try to steady myself…I look at their brown eyes, mostly a latino-hispanic population with a few exceptions, and try to imagine myself in their shoes, living their lives, drinking their water, seeing what they see… of course they don’t dream – they don’t believe that there is anything in the world for them and if they do dream, it only leaves them open to being vulnerable and failing at whatever they try to achieve – and who will help them to achieve their wildest dreams – no one – because no one else dreams…
Well not today – today they will finish their program and go out into the world changed and prepared to dream – and to believe in themselves. I have one more shot with them and then I head back to Maine. One more chance to make a difference.
The magnitude of day one and two are greater than anything I could try to squeeze into this already long post, so stay tuned to hear the detailed description of the break thoughs, barriers and obstacles the children over came and the amazing dance they created in my next post.
Please send your prayers and thoughts as these young children voyage into the unknown with me and attempt to change their way of thinking forever.
Kinetic Energy Alive Productions and Power Performance