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Dear Dream Seekers

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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Ballet-Physio Update

A few supine leg stretches. Feels great to be moving again.

Hope everyone is treating themselves fairly, cause you know, unfair treatment of yourself will likely lead you to a place you don’t want to visit.

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Love Your Life

I find this quote both natural and confusing.

Having had pain as part of my life, for my whole life thus far, I adjusted to my pain. Adjusting to my pain doesn’t mean I got use to it and it no longer bothers me. 

Sometimes I am a moaning mess because of my pain.

Sometimes I go to sleep at night, tears rolling, because of the impossible amount of pain I’m in.

So when I say adjusted, that doesn’t mean my pain is gone gone, it means I have have managed to train myself to look passed it so that I can still see whatever I need to see/do to get my day done.

But when this quote popped up this morning on Instagram, it got me thinking.

Yes, I was well versed in adjusting to my pain. And yes, I excelled in not letting my pain stop my day from continuing. But there had been something missing, and this morning I was remembering how a couple of months ago I began to recognise that something was missing. I began to turn inward to my body to try and feel where the missing part might lie. I began to think about the theory behind this quote: 

Love your life more than you hate your pain.”

I knew I had been half doing it all my life, by default, but I wanted to feel better about myself, so I kept thinking. And then I realised…

The difference between sort of living the theory of this quote, and fully living the theory of this quote is overly simple: when you’re sort of living this quote, you’re managing your pain so that you get all your to-dos crossed off each day’s list. 

When you’re fully living what this quote is suggesting, you’re not just managing pain to feel as little of it as you can. You have a list of things you WANT to do and who you want to do them with. You give thought to how you want to feel emotionally, while/or after, you’ve done those things. You make a note of what memories you want to make for your family.

And you’re managing your pain … to actively seek those things. Those feelings, memories, thoughts you’ll have forever, and more importantly, if you have children — the feelings, memories and thoughts that they will have forever — rather than just managing your pain for the relief you might get.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down playing what effective pain relief can do for a person. 

I’m just saying I think you can do both. Not all the time, sometimes pain sends you round the bend and it takes a lot of management — and that’s your day or night.

But a lot of times, you can think about your life, that day/week/year and what you want to get out of it. And then think about managing your pain levels so that you get those things done!

Before, I was thinking about my pain, how much of it I was in (how it was even possible to endure that much pain for such an extended period of time, and how I could manage my pain that day/week, whatever.

But these days, for instance, I might wake up in the morning, and instead of just allowing thoughts about my pain to begin my day, I will think to myself that I want to go to the beach with my family that day, and then I will think about what pain strategies I might need to employ, in order to make that day at the beach as successful as possible.

These days, I’ll start my day’s thoughts off with whatever it is that I’m wanting to get done, or experience, or whatever — and THEN I’m thinking about my pain and pain strategies from that angle.

My point is that before I was thinking more about my pain, than my life.

Now, I think more about what I want to do in life, than my pain.

These days things are much different for me. Allow me to be super clear. I do not feel less pain because of this. But I do think more about how much life I want to live, in spite of my pain.

And this shift in thinking has been life changing for me. I can’t achieve it all the time, but I will continue to try.

Hope this helps someone out there not feel so alone.

P.S: apologies in advance for the brain fogged moments that are bound to have snuck into this post. 😉 

P.P.S: the reason I also find this quote confusing is because I’m not sure you can’t love your life AND hate your pain at the same time?

Zoe xxx

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Affordable Ballet Gear!

I’ve been on the hunt for ballet stuff to upgrade my gear due to filthiness and going up in size, and I’ve been searching high and low for everything from tights to leotards and flats.

It’s a little extra tricky to find bargains online from Australia as most of the big discount suppliers are the U.S.

But I HAVE found a couple of bargains and thought I’d share them here with you because there are so many of us getting either ourselves or our littlies ready for another year of dancing.

So my two favourite bargains have been:

1) Leotards at Capezio Australia that have been reduced. I found one for $5 and one for $10 and I bought them both!

2) And AMAZON! OMG go check it out dancers and dance mums, if you haven’t already! There are women’s tights for around $15AUD including shipping! I’m sure you could get even cheaper prices if you hunted around longer.

Here is the link to the adult tights I think are a bargain: Ballet tights

And here is Capezio Australia’s site address if you wanna go check out their sale items: Capezio Australia

I’ve never hunted for sale items before. It’s a real hoot!

Oh, and I am in no way affiliated with those organisations. Just passing on the info.

Happy hunting!

Zoe

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pas de bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself, pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end. 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂

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End The Comparison

I want to say a little something that I keep thinking about.

Ballet, being such a visual-perfection artform, is bound to have a lot of focus on body shapes.

And for ballerinas, at the moment, those qualities are necessary (I hope that changes one day.)

But our beautiful adult ballet community doesn’t need that kind of perception.

Yes, we will all still be wanting to hit the best positions we can, and we want to achieve beautiful ‘ballet lines.’

A lot of people talk about my lovely ballet feet, or my lines. And don’t get me wrong, I will never tire of hearing that my ballet poses look nice (so feel free to keep those coming 😉), but I want to be sure everyone is seeijg this through a healthy perspective.

Let’s also be honest about how those positions and lines come about.

I hit the genetic jackpot regarding those lines and those feet. I lucked out. I then take what I was born with and apply over the top of that what my wonderful teachers teach me, and I end up with the images and lines that you see.

I did NOT always know how to strike a proper fifth in releve, for instance. My teachers could (and still do) place my feet or other body parts in the right positions to show me how it ‘should’ look. Then I practice it over and over.

So being born with my shape, doesn’t mean I easily knew how to create the shapes properly. My teachers will be testament to that. 😉 I’ve had lots of ‘why is your arm doing that weird thing, Zoe?’comments. 

I don’t like placing a lot of focus on striking the perfect pose. And although I thoroughly enjoy Instagram pics, both my own and other dancers’ pics, I worry when I see so much focus being put on getting the perfect positions and flexibility.

I feel it’s helpful to own up to things we were naturally born with and things we have worked really hard to get to. Otherwise I think we set each other up to feel like we’re failing when we see some people doing things, seemingly easily, whilst we struggle immensely with them.

My pointed foot, whilst I work really hard at it, is like 80% just genetics. 

Flexibility, in the other hand is not a strong point for me, mostly. Well, not in the ballet related ways at least.

In the same way, I see women who dance with amazing grace and musicality, that I can only dream about, and I get totally jealous of them. In the past I felt inadequate and as if I would never attain their level of actual dance ability. I’m still not a very good dancer, I still crave being able to move like those dancers, but I don’t think it’s something wrong with me any more. 

Now, I just know that I admire that about those dancers. That I long to be able to do that. That I will work hard to be able to get there.

But I grant myself the permission to acknowledge that I was not born just naturally being able to move gracefully like that. That part takes huge effort for me.

We’re all different. I think it’s best if we love what we do and appreciate how hard we are working to achieve our goals. And stop looking at other people’s photos and belittling ourselves because we don’t match up to it perfectly, or even at all!

You’re all beautiful. Feel it. Be it.

Zoe xxx

  

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Teacher Criticism 

A quick shout out to anyone who might be feeling a little disheartened by criticism their teachers give them.

Your teachers shouldn’t make cheap or nasty comments on your personality. They shouldn’t be mean to you or say degrading things to you.

HOWEVER they cannot help you improve without telling you what you need to improve on. 

Try not to get too upset when you receive criticism. 

Try not to allow yourself to believe that receiving criticism means you suck and should quit ballet and take up table tennis. 

Try not to centralise the criticism and make your whole self-worth based around it. That’s not what your teacher wants you to do with it.

I have been told that my hands were doing weird claw-like things, that I’m not pointing enough, that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not pulling up enough and that my frappes need an entire private class to correct and that I am sickling — to which I was all like, What? No way man, I don’t sickle! Alas, I was indeed sickling.

The frappe one always makes me laugh because, honestly, my frappes do always look more like floppes! Haha.

I have been in studios where I receive a lot of corrections and in studios where I receive no corrections and I would, without a doubt, prefer to receive a lot of corrections.

If a teacher is correcting you, they want you to improve.

Don’t get all egotistical and think that you are the most important person in that room to the teacher. If you think you’re more important than anyone else in the room then you will most definitely feel disappointed when the teacher doesn’t treat you as you think is appropriate (doesn’t give you extra attention or compliment you). 

Try to think of teacher criticisms as notes for improvement and try to be grateful that you’re receiving them at all. 

Don’t take it personally. 

Don’t use it as a way to beat yourself up. 

Use it positively. Use it productively. Use it as it is intended — to get better.

Love yourself. Be proud of yourself. Have FUN!

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, you deserve to be in the room.

Today, after having FUN during ballet. 🙂