Give me containers for expansion
start and end the week dancing
The past year-ish, I’ve been dissolving dualistic thinking around structure and freedom.
To get here (where am I??), I had to rage against a lot of the discipline and structure of my past. Rage might be a strong word. There’s always a more extreme and bold version of myself inside, and it’s just slowly that I let her out. But there’s been some serious shedding of rigidity. I look back rather impressed and astounded at my teenage self’s schedule of school, ballet, homework, sleep, repeat. It kept me out of trouble, and I enjoyed those years as far as I recall, but damn… I’m tired just thinking about them.
Fast forward to now, my late-pandemic self is much more wily. The tendency to do too much in a given day is still in my body, but more and more I indulge in lingering and taking my time. With the affirmation of teachers and subversive meme accounts I lay on the ground, I do less.
In the beginning of 2020, I decided to not work full-time. I wanted to experiment with part-time work, teaching yoga, and making art. It was an intimidating leap at the time. But the container of a full time job was draining me, tiring me out before I could get to the teaching and art making I really wanted to do.
The past three years have been filled with shift after shift – set aside personal employment choices for a moment – the world has been shifting, a lot of people have died, we have been navigating a global health crisis. This has changed all of our lives in one way or the other. In my little world, I’ve jumped around part-time jobs, contract work, weekly teaching, community building and art making. It’s been an experiment around scheduling, money making, health insurance and balance. It’s been messy, fun, stressful, frustrating, and creative.
At times it’s been draining and overwhelming. So, damn, I land in a similar conundrum of being too tired, anxious, and stressed out to do the creative work and play I set out to do. Except that Iam responsible for my schedule. I dug myself into this container.
I have romanticized the wide open, ambiguous path. I have mistakenly thought of art making as an activity outside of job and labor. What I am learning is that actually I need structure to bring creative visions to life. I need some systems in place, so I can relax into the wide open space.
What containers do I need to thrive creatively? How can I create nourishing containers in community?
I’d like to think of the containers of my life as a community garden. Let my days be filled with tending seedlings, pruning mature growth, planting, watering, and talking to the creatures making home in here. It’s organic and it’s all here right now. The vision - maybe a big juicy tomato plant - starts in the dirt. I can’t buy my way into a full harvest or fast forward through difficult seasons. Nothing happens without Mother Earth and community.
Since landing back home after my Italian+ travels, the urge to shed and get clear has been strong. Live out of a suitcase for two months and what you need starts to feel much smaller. I feel raw, present to my life right now as it is and the pleasures of simplicity. I relish in moments where I know what I want or don’t want (not easy!).
I feel something growing and am actively working towards a next leap. This requires me to nurture loving, spacious containers right now. The garden must be tended to now, not just in the summer harvest.
Lately, just about every week, I start and end my week dancing. “Start” and “end” referring respectively to Monday mornings and Friday nights, in an otherwise arbitrarily demarcated span of time. Here are a few garden bed containers in my community garden life that are fueling the future and giving me joy right now [ ] [ ] [ ]
[Monday morning 8am is disco time.] One of my dearest M. started hosting these online this fall, and I’ve been an eager early adopter. The container is 45 minutes, ingredients include dance music and groovy visuals. My engagement varies between waking up and making coffee, eating yogurt, and sometimes off the walls twerking in my kitchen.
[Friday nights are contact improvisation community jam] This fall, our community has been growing and a rhythm is forming. We’re learning together and sharing a movement form that invites us to build trust and play.
[Mid-week meditation & movement] with another dear friend M. We meet early morning in a neighborhood church community space. We do the same thing every week, or at least the structure is the same each week. The movement and exploration inside the container is spacious and free.
I’m not sure how these containers will shapeshift in the coming months. But I do know that community and friendship are essential ingredients. I do nothing alone.
May our containers be expansive. May they grow with us. And when they crack, may we feel brave enough to leap into the next one or float around in the in-between for sometime.
I love writing here. For me and for you.
IN DEEP SHIFT is a labor of love. It has been an expansive container, a garden I will continue to tend to.
In an effort to practice good labor practices with myself, I will be turning on paid subscriptions here on Substack. Commenting and certain essays will only be available to paid subscribers, while some posts will remain free and available to all. I want to keep writing and sharing (and dancing), and your support will help make that happen.
Thank you for being here. Every response and conversation that has sparked from this corner of the internet has warmed and filled me up.
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Till next Friday ♥️
with peace & so much gratitude,
I am an accumulation. The norms and expectations of society and culture are inside me. Shedding, shapeshifting, and nurturing new patterns takes time and practice.