Three weeks in. It’s been interesting to reflect on how each week of staying home has brought something different. The first week was full of stress and anxiety. The second week was full of motivation and determination to not sit and wait for things to “get back to normal” and instead, accept this new reality and figure out how I was going to thrive in it. Week 3 unfortunately had me paying for some of that enthusiasm.
But as I always say, it’s all part of the journey!
I’ve been one of the lucky ones in that I can easily do my full-time job at home, so there hasn’t been a disruption of my income (yet). I did start to run out of actual projects to work on at the end of last week, but so far the company has committed to continuing to pay its employees their normal salaries even if they don’t have work to do. Again, I find myself one of the lucky ones.
I think I mentioned before that I think it’s been amazing to see so many dancers jump online to offer virtual classes, workshops, dance parties, etc., but at the same time, it’s been overwhelming for me. I used to train at one studio and now it’s like I’m getting offers to take classes at 50 studios. Too much for this introvert, so aside from a few Zumba classes and a conditioning class with Teacher and his wife, I’ve held off.
I was more motivated to take the Zumba classes than anything else because of my focus shift on my dance training. I wanted to work on my physical fitness and maintain or improve my strength, flexibility and stamina during this time. Unfortunately, as I noted above, I’m now paying for my enthusiasm in that direction.
My apartment is entirely carpeted aside from the tiny kitchen and bathroom areas. So I would go barefoot or just wear socks to go through my Open Smooth routines or to attend virtual Zumba. By the end of Week 2, my knees were not happy. They flared up and have been complaining all through Week 3. Even going through basic movements in a conditioning class on Tuesday had them aching afterward.
I know I’m not the only one stuck in a carpeted apartment, dealing with this issue. Even healthy knees will start to complain from dancing on carpet after awhile. Twists, turns, slides, and glides all become injury risks when there is so much friction between you and the floor.
So instead of dancing, I’ve been watching a lot of movies, icing and heating my knees, foam rolling to keep the blood flowing, and taking short walks with my dogs. I’m lucky a third time because I at least know what to do for my knees. I’ve already been through PT, so I know the routine. I just have to get back into it.
I’m remembering the struggle that I went through with other new realities I’ve entered in the last year or two. Having to pull back from dance when I first injured my knees and adopt a new routine so they could recover was a major challenge. Even after my physical therapist declared me fit enough to continue on my own without regular PT visits, I couldn’t go back to how Life was before. I had to make permanent changes to continue forward on my journey.
Moving up to the Open level was another significant reality change that challenged me for a long time. As I advanced on my dance journey, I also felt like I was back at the beginning. Working hard the way I did in the Closed levels wasn’t as effective anymore. I had to change how I thought and how I practiced.
The whole world is experiencing a reality change right now with a list of challenges as long as the Cheesecake Factory’s dinner menu. While Week 2 helped me consider how to live in this new reality, Week 3 reminded me that I need to go at my own pace. I didn’t go to Zumba three or four times a week before this pandemic because I knew it’d be too much for my knees, so why did I think I could manage that much now with less than hospitable flooring?
It’s going to take awhile to adjust and find balance, especially when Life is still in the process of turning upside down and the final version of our new reality is still developing.
So what am I doing in the meantime?
Obviously, my first step is getting my knees to calm down. I went too hard, too fast, and am paying for it now. So I will slow down and take things a little easier.
I have to admit – even as I wrote last week that it was perfectly fine if you didn’t feel like dancing with everything going on, I still felt some pressure or guilt to show up and participate. Like if I wasn’t dancing in any way I could, then I wasn’t really a dancer. But I know that’s total nonsense.
I know I’m a dancer and will always be a dancer. I had to grapple with this a bit last year during my PT because I didn’t know how things would look on the other side of that challenge. What if I couldn’t be the dancer I envisioned becoming because I would be limited by my knees? What would I be instead?
How I define myself as a dancer becomes even more important in the current climate because the typical markers aren’t available anymore. I don’t have a studio to practice in or take lessons. I don’t have a dance competition coming up. It’s just me and my carpeted apartment.
So how do I define myself as a dancer in this environment?
I don’t have a clear answer yet, but I do intend to reflect on this question more in Week 4. I’m feeling like I need to be clear on that before I’ll be ready to take more online classes or develop a purposeful solo practice routine.
At the same time, I found that a little of the old normal can help me adjust to the new normal. Yesterday marked the first workshop in the Girl with the Tree Tattoo online workshop series and I’m happy to say it was a great success! I didn’t participate too much because of my knees, but even just listening to the familiar coaching about posture, energy, arm position, etc. sparked some of the old motivation in me to work on my dancing.
So my dear dancers, as we continue to move through this new reality, pace yourself. Without pressure or guilt, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. If that means filling your free time with online workshops, do that. The replay of yesterday’s Styling workshop is available to order through this coming week, so that’s one for you. If you need a complete break from dance while you find balance in the rest of your life, do that. If you’re not sure what you need, take it slow and try things out. Try just one class, live or prerecorded, this week. If possible, make it one taught by someone you’re familiar with, so you can have the comfort of something from the old normal.
I’m here for you if you need me. The shop is still open. While I may be less active on social media these days, I’m still reachable via direct message or email.
It’s cliche to say at this point, but we will get through this together.
Happy and healthy dancing!