I looked back at my “Welcome to 2020” post and asked myself, “have I taken the time to reflect and/or have gone after what I want?” Well, er…kind of. I was lucky to have had a winter session with my wonderful dance students and just as we were excited for the Spring session, the COVID-19 pandemic really threw a wrench into the gears of everything. We were shut down, public spaces were closed, hours for grocery stores were cut dramatically and new social rules were put in place to minimize the spread of the virus that crosses all borders.
The streets had next to no cars on them and the sidewalks were clear except for those that might be walking their dogs or needing to travel to the grocery store. Everything was eerily silent and many panicked, to rush to stockpile whatever they thought was essential to survive a lock down, where our homes were the immediate bubble of safety. I managed to go to the grocery store once before the restrictions really kicked in, but I went with gloves on and a mask, not really caring what I looked like; the media reported that the virus was airborne and could last many hours on surfaces. The virus didn’t really phase me, as there would be a high chance I would be okay even if I contracted it, but it was how it mentally affected everyone that crept up on me.
I could feel the anxiety of those I passed from a distance and I could feel the anxiety of the posts from news stations and/or social media online. Then the job loss numbers added to the anxiety. Over the last few years, I have realized that I had inherited my mom’s workaholic tendencies and poured myself into my day job and kept my head down. I just started a new position in January so my need to excel at my job was heightened. I was one of the lucky ones; I managed not be put on temporary leave, but I did accept a 10% pay cut with 99% the rest of my colleagues at my level; management took a 20% pay cut to ensure we had a company to last through and past this pandemic. So the anxiety continued to simmer below the surface as well as popped above over the last several months. Like many we could not visit senior aged family members if they didn’t live with us and so I didn’t see my dad until about June, but I talked with him, as always on the phone every day. At home, even though my husband and cat got to see me physically all the time, they really only got a few hours a day of my undivided attention, as working was made the priority.
As the anxiety simmered and I threw myself into work, many of my dance goals were pushed aside. I felt for my professional dance friends, teachers and/or mentors who could not teach in-person, locally and/or even travel to teach abroad. I wanted to support each and everyone of them, but having taken a pay cut I had to be careful not to spread myself too thin either, as we are an one income family for the foreseeable future right now.
The pandemic changed how we interacted, that is for sure, but it also pushed us forward and to look for different ways to connect. Online shows became abundant and all that was asked of those watching, were donations, if we could, to pay the artists that performed for us. More teachers moved to teaching online for groups instead of just coaching and/or private lessons. We got to see dancers we love and learn from, to being exposed to new dancers. For the most part, pushing us more online allowed us to meet and learn from new people. I made donations where I could and when I could take classes, and/or workshops, the teachers allowed me, to pay in installments when needed. I was lucky to manage my money and take a dance business course with Lisa Zahiya, rhythm workshops with Nada El-Masriya and weekly courses with Raksanna over the last three months.
As for teaching myself? Well, I received a lovely request from one of my students that I’ve taught on and off over the last decade; she asked if I would be interested in teaching a private class to her and her two daughters. By then, I was already familiar with Zoom and the general idea of what to expect with the video conferencing program, but I hadn’t really thought about teaching yet. I usually take the summers off to recharge and learn new things, that I can pass on to my students. However, I am a teacher who loves to try new things and I have a soft spot for teaching mom and daughters together. So, I agreed and when the timing worked I scheduled Zoom classes with them. Teaching them made me really happy and gave me a break from work.
As the the summer weather heated up and the restrictions lessened, I met up with my dad and worked on the family cottage property that nature reclaimed fervently with tall grass and shrubs. Getting outside was great and it is here where I started to realize that I had kept my head down so long, that for most of 2020 I was deep into surviving rather than living. Each time I took a moment to spend time with family and/or dance I felt guilty. I loved spending time with them but my workaholic side kept piping up, telling me, that I needed to work more, to make more, save more. I was collapsing into myself because I felt overwhelmed and shallow.
Overwhelmed, because life is short and it could be gone in a blink of an eye, be it through someone else’s violent act or through sickness; you don’t have control about your death, you can just ask “not today”.
Shallow, because social media presence is important for businesses to grow, thrive and survive; money is required to pay for the increasing cost of basic living and we keep on needing more.
So where does this leave me now that September is upon us? RAW. The work-life-dance balance is on block to be refashioned/reworked. I am laid open and ready to live and enjoy the moments I have and hopefully many years of moments. I will open myself to teaching a full set of classes online for many of my wonderful returning students that are yearning to dance after the months we’ve had. I will enjoy seeing new faces and meeting new people who choose they want to learn from me. I am honoured to have the opportunity to teach each and everyone one of you. Thank you for being part of my dance journey and letting me be a part of yours.
Wishing you a safe, bright and happy fall and future. May you find your inner dancer and let them shine!