I am sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop, looking out past the patio and over a couple of rooftops to the lake below thinking about why I have been unable to organize my thoughts to write a retirement post. Then this morning I read this blog post by Tamara Reddy and had an Oprah-sized ah ha moment.
Actually, I have had this same ah ha moment over and over and over. 🙂
Three months into my retirement and I am feeling a bit lost. Everybody I talk to and everything I read says it takes 1 – 3 years to feel settled after such a major life change. So of course, at only three months in, I have barely stuck my big toe in. Of course I feel lost. It is normal.
Phew! It’s nice to know I’m normal! It’s normal to feel a bit displaced. To be tossing around and unable to settle one’s thoughts.
I keep telling myself that.
I have been very busy trying to replicate my life in Whitehorse. I still feel that I must fill my every moment with productive work, and so I have tried to pack everything that I had planned for my retirement into these last three months.
Read dozens of books! Join community concert band! Join quilting guild! Join Fiber Arts guild! Bake bread! Try new recipes! Take quilting classes! Make friends! Lose the last of the weight! Become instantly fit!
Do do do! Produce produce produce! Time is my enemy and I am still fighting that.
I have not yet learned how to relax into a slower pace.
But I am working on it! Mornings last longer and longer as I sit with my coffee and read the blogs I follow. Walks are taken everyday, usually along the lake shore.
My advice to myself?
Dear Nita, Just as your dance students learn how to be in their bodies in a new way , you are learning how to be in a new place in your life. Breathe! Relax into the movement. Don’t force it. Allow the new you to emerge as you dance your way into a new way of living. An inspired life, like an inspired dance performance, comes from a place of relaxation, understanding and joy.
Today is Random Thursday. Since I don’t have any quilting news, I thought I would finally get around to posting this choreography. This is my former dance troupe, Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble, performing Beni wa Benak at the Yukon Arts Centre in March 2011.
I originally choreographed this piece as a tool for the advanced class to learn and practice particular movements & combinations (among other things such as being aware of facial expressions, theatricality, embellishments etc). The choreography itself is not performance art, but it has its place. As a performance piece it is best suited to an outdoor event such as a street fair or other event where the audience is milling about and stopping to watch the dancing for awhile before moving on. In this type of venue it is a perfect piece. Lots of movement, lively music, flash & glitter and the audience loves it. However, I included it in the Rockin’ the Casbah show mostly because I needed a filler piece. I adapted the dance to suit the theatre stage as best I could by having dancers join in from the wing mid-way through, adding variety and interest. Someday I’d like to revisit this piece with a troupe – I have ideas for the choreography that I simply didn’t have time to play with when getting ready for this particular show.
These costumes were well-suited to the piece and I love the way the skirts flare out when the dancers twirl. And get a load of Doug, our MC in the beginning of the piece. The audience loved him!
I have been pondering my upcoming retirement and what I want it to look like. Who do I want to be? What do I want to do?
Ironically, it was my illness that gave me the opportunity to examine these questions. It was a devastating time for me.
For a while, I couldn’t even go to work, and I had to give up every single thing in my life in order to concentrate on simply getting up in the morning and getting through the day.
Dance felt like a raggedly amputated limb, and it hurt so much to lose it that I actually packed up my gear and put it away where I didn’t have to see the dust raining down on it like tears.
Gradually, though, creativity began to clamor for an outlet and I began to quilt and knit and write and explore avenues of creative expression that I hadn’t had time for when I was dancing.
Fortunately, part of my wellness journey has been re-learning to pay attention and listen to my body and to my heart. And, happily, what my heart is telling me is that the dance is still there, just not in the same way as before.
I’ve discovered that I love quilting. I love knitting. I love baking and hiking and gardening, and I no longer want to pursue dance to the exclusion of all else. In future, dance will be only one of many ways to express myself instead of the only way.
On another happy note, I have been thinking lately that I would like to teach when we get to Salmon Arm. Did you see that coming? I didn’t.
Ideally, I’d like to focus on teaching women my own age. Middle-aged women who have “been there and done that” and have women’s bodies; luscious or lean with bellies full of life experience and stories to share simply because they have lived half their lives or more already.
Maybe I can eventually direct a little troupe of 4 or 5 women, dancing with the assaya, baskets or zills… dancing joyful, dancing our stories in the old way. A small student dance troupe like the Allspice dancers of Arabesque Academy: “dancers who celebrate the female spirit at its most glorious time in life… a group of Bellydancers who have lived a bit and revel in their wisdom, uninhibited sensuality and zest for life.”
I could also hire out to work with other troupes… teach a choreography or perhaps come into the studio and rehearse them in preparation for performance. I could do that on a charge-by-the-hour, workshop style basis.
I am very good at troupe direction, if you don’t mind my saying so. My dance troupe Saba and all the accolades we received over the years is proof of that. I’m tough but fair (and a helluva lot of fun). Just ask these gals, lol!
As far as teaching goes, my preference is to work with intermediate and advanced students. Because I don’t want to tie up my time year-round, I envision teaching occasional themed master-classes and workshops instead of on-going classes. I’d like to revive the Special Topics classes that I had started to develop before I was interrupted by illness.
It can be a tricky thing to carve out a niche in a new dance community, but I’m not a political person, and I’m generally easy-going. I’d really like to be a positive-minded contributing member of Salmon Arm’s dance community, if they want me.
I’ve also come to understand that while I will always be a student, I have also stepped out onto that first rung as a master instructor. Yes, I dare to say that out loud. My peers and my community have designated me as such, and it is time for me to acknowledge it. I am still an affiliate instructor with Arabesque International, and that means something.
As for my personal performance practice, I have come to understand that my dancing heart lies right in the roots – the very guts – of Egyptian dance. In the baladi. My mentor, Yasmina Ramzy, saw it in me when she called me “little mama baladi” and urged me to pursue that direction several years ago.
I look forward to finding myself back in the bubble of joy that always overtakes me when I am truly dancing without care.
This is Baladi. This is the rich flavor that sets my artistic taste buds on fire.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Last week Andra gave permission to upload her sword dance, and I am so happy to present it to you today! I am a very proud dance mama, and it thrills me to pieces to see how far my former students have gone.
Presenting Andrameda performing Beyond the Edge: abellydance/heavy metal fusionsword dance. Choreographed by Andrameda. Performed in Act 1: Rockin the Casbah, March 19th, 2011, Yukon Arts Centre.
One by one, I’m finally getting all of the show cuts up here for your viewing pleasure. 🙂
Visiting this show has really made me miss my troupe. This was one butt-kicking dance troupe, let me tell ya! Talk about a talented, fun group of gals. I sure wish they could have stayed together. Anyway, here is the finale to our best show ever – Rockin’ the Casbah. I choreographed the finale to New York New York, live by The Big Band. Well, the show was a fusion of Big Band and Bellydance, after all! What better way to end it? Enjoy!