As a kid, I did ballet and tap, but I wasn’t one of those girls who wore a bun at school or who did pliés while waiting for class to start. Back then, ballet and tap didn’t feel hard at all. I loved the once-a-year recitals because of the costumes, makeup, hair and bright lights, and probably would have loved participating in more performances. Irish dancing is more demanding because of more frequent opportunities to perform and I really love that about this sport/hobby. You need to be solid on your old stuff, while still open to learning new steps. Gee, that sounds a lot like life.
But sometimes we don’t want to learn new stuff because it’s painful. Or we keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. Why? Because it’s hard to crawl out of our comfort zone and sometimes being in constant pain or playing the victim role is easier than submitting yourself to some necessary change.
Through taking Irish dance, I can clearly see where being stubborn can stop me from dancing to my potential. How about you—are you getting in your own way?
Are you blaming other people or your personal technology?
I once had this boyfriend who had acid reflux, but he continued to eat the wrong things and then would blame me when his tummy was upset. Really. Like I was supposed to stop him from drinking beer or eating cheese. He never remembered his pain points, or else, he was like Dory from Finding Nemo. He also forgot his wallet, his keys, forgot to maintain his sailboat so we had serious mechanical failures…and on and on. You guessed it…he blamed his boat. I broke up with him after that because the fool was his own personal train wreck.
In Irish dance I didn’t blame other people when I wore the wrong shoes that later led me to my stress fracture in 2015—I got new running shoes, new ghillies (the soft shoes that Irish dancers wear) and new black dance shoes when the floor is too hard to us to jump on. I knew where I had to fix my own technology and not play the victim.
Are you letting your ego run the show?
You know which direction you’re supposed to go to thanks to your GPS—but why do you sometimes ignore it? You’re an expert at giving a 10-minute talk before a networking group, so you can just wing it, even though you know you should include some updated facts. You know you should practice your guitar before the show, but you decide you don’t need to take the time. Stop letting your ego run the show! Practice, ask questions, and stop assuming!
In Irish dance we’re encouraged to take notes when our steps change or when the teacher corrects our form. I’ve learned that if I don’t ask Dan, my teacher, about what I’m missing on a step, I’ll keep making the same mistakes. In fact this happened today. Because of all of our St. Patrick’s Day performances last week at various assisted living centers I performed my reel multiple times. But I knew I wasn’t doing it right. I knew I was missing something crucial since I was always off time when I danced with others. So I asked Dan to show me the step again, I learned I was forgetting to do a crucial hop before the click-down. Yay! I got it now, but wished I had asked him that question before my performance week.
Are you rushing too much and making mistakes?
We all live in a very fast-paced world, but are you taking on too much so you look busy or needed? Are you afraid of having downtime because it causes you to think? Are you using busyness so you don’t have the time to tackle your own creative projects?
Without taking time out to breathe and allow in some downtime, you’re setting yourself up to get a bad cold or something much worse.
In Irish dance, injury will occur if you don’t stretch and rush straight into your difficult steps. I got a stress fracture because I hadn’t warmed my calves enough AND I was also emotionally stressed. It may help to anticipate when you might be emotionally stressed and give yourself more of a cushion. For instance, I know that I’ll always be more stressed during my husband’s tax time which runs from February 10 to April 15 and August 29 to October 15 every year.
Yes, I’ve experienced a lot of pain from Irish dancing that has included a stress fracture, but like a healed stress fracture leads to stronger bones, a reset/rested mind can let you get out of your own way.
Can you be brutally honest with yourself, while at the same time, be gentle with yourself so you can more forward and grow? Change ain’t easy, but the results are certainly worth working for.