Happy Day 1 of 2023, dancers!
I kicked off the last day of 2022 with my regular Saturday morning Zumba class. All of my new friends here have come from that studio, which makes it a special place for me. Like my ballroom studio in California, it feels like a home away from home. A place where I can go and let my dance freak flag fly without fear of judgment or rejection. The final Zumba class of 2022 was no exception. I left with a tired body and a full heart.
I continued my tradition of baking fresh challah bread on New Year’s Eve, which helped with the staying up past my bedtime to ring in the new year because the process takes hooooours. The initial sponge was mixed at 5pm, and the bread came out of the oven just before midnight. I would have started earlier, but I had to make a last minute run to the grocery store for instant yeast. The other challenge is the first floor of the house is only heated to 65 degrees F in the winter. So when the recipe says the dough needs to rest at room temperature until it’s doubled in size and claims that it usually takes about 20 minutes, I’m waiting an hour. “Room temperature” is a relative term.
I watched the Night at the Museum movies while waiting for the challah dough to rest after every step in the recipe (I wish I could get so many naps during my day!). The two loaves came out of the oven just before midnight, giving me time to tune into the Times Square ball drop, just because? I know it’s an iconic annual event, but there’s no way you’d ever get me there in person. I much prefer my couch and my kitchen filled with the smell of fresh bread. Still, I guess I wanted to witness some sort of countdown to the new year.
New Year’s Day started out like any other day, except that it started about an hour later than usual (that was the most my boys would let me sleep in). After I’m awake and dressed, the dogs are walked and fed, and then Mama gets to have her tea and breakfast. Side note: fresh challah bread for breakfast is AMAZING.
That leads me to sitting here, writing to you. A fellow dancer/blogger, Facing Diagonal Wall, recently shared his doubts about continuing to share his thoughts online. Maintaining an active blog isn’t easy and eventually, publishing new blog posts can start to feel more like an obligation to your readers rather than a personally fulfilling activity. Blogging weekly or more is a serious time commitment. When it’s blogging about a passion that’s also a serious time commitment on top of “normal” Life, it’s no wonder that the majority of the ballroom dancers who formed the original Ballroom Village have stopped blogging.
Finding new or different topics to share each week is another challenge that only gets more difficult with time because the reality is our dance journeys don’t evolve that quickly. We struggle with the same issues we blogged about two months ago, or even two years ago. New people may find your blog, and to them, the topics wouldn’t sound like repeats. For me as the author though, I start to feel like a broken record. Oh, she’s having another anxiety attack about another competition? Her knees flared up again and she’s again frustrated about not being able to dance full-out during practice?
Haven’t I written this story already?
My lack of skill and interest in online marketing shows in my year-over-year blog statistics too. Since starting The Girl with the Tree Tattoo in 2015, my best year in terms of views was 2016. Yup, it’s been all down hill from there. But that first year, I worked really hard to get my new blog out there on the internet landscape. I blogged multiple times a week and posted on social media every single day. I wrote guest posts for other dance websites. The Ballroom Village was new and thriving and we were actively supporting each other. I published my first Dance Diaries books.
It was a pace I couldn’t maintain, especially when I took on more commitments in entrepreneurship coaching programs, developing my third book, The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing, and getting more serious about my competitive dance path. Not to mention working full time, going through personal upheavals, doing my best to be a good Mama to my fur babies, and trying to get to the grocery store before the refrigerator was completely empty.
It was an incredible ride filled with plenty of ups and downs. Then Covid-19 showed up and Life would never be the same again. I finally had time to slow down and consider what I wanted, while sitting alone in my apartment without the distraction of others’ expectations or desires. That time alone ultimately led to my move to Maine and the discovery of a truly magical plot of 60 acres of forests and fields that welcomed me home.
I made the conscious decision months ago to slow down and only publish when I feel inspired to share something. My writing would not be an obligation or an added pressure I put on myself. I applied the same rule to social media, and while you can catch photos or reels of sunrises, sunsets, and forest walks on my Instagram stories almost every day, regular posts with thoughtful captions are far less frequent. I called this time period my season of BEing, as opposed to DOing. I wanted to spend more time being present with the natural world around me, rather than online.
The ironic thing is I did a LOT in 2022 for it to be a year when I intended to slow down. The house projects alone – wow. The roof and the wood trim around the roof line were replaced. The driveway was re-stoned, and drainage work was done to prevent the driveway from turning into an ice rink during the winter months. The old furnace, ductwork, and oil tanks were removed and everything was replaced with a heat pump system. A new electrical panel and a whole-house generator were installed at the same time. The property’s forest management plan was updated. We learned about the local soil and water conservation district’s conservation program for residential properties and began steps to enroll.
As if that weren’t enough, I enrolled in a year-long leadership training program at work, on top of my regular duties. I travelled back West for a weeklong retreat with a dear friend and coach. One of my fur babies developed an autoimmune disease in 2022 and the other one required minor surgery. At one point, we had vet appointments every week. Before the vet bills got crazy, I briefly restarted ballroom dance lessons and explored the lead side of the dance partnership. After reintroducing myself to Ballet as an adult in 2021, I also tried a brand new dance style to me in 2022 – Modern.
I don’t know if I did “being” right, but despite everything I did and dealt with in 2022, I ended the year feeling more grounded and at peace than I have in a long time. I credit the land around me with providing an easy escape into natural peace and harmony. Even when Life felt chaotic, all I had to do was walk outside and take a deep breath to get my bearings and re-center. I never had that available to me in any of the apartment complexes I lived in in California. There were too many other humans, too much noise, and too much concrete and asphalt. As I tell people when they ask why I moved to Maine – here, there are more trees and less people.
The typical thing to do now would be to set goals or resolutions for the new year. There is the never-ending list of house projects, of course. I’m going to skip the personal resolution setting for today though. Just because the calendar says it’s January 1 doesn’t mean I need to radically change how I’ve been living my life. Especially not when the way I’ve been living has made me happy! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
I suppose my resolution could be to not change a damn thing unless I find that I’m no longer happy. Then something would need to change. But for now, I’m good walking through the woods, dancing for the joy of it, and writing when I feel inspired.
Case in point: I would have finished this post sooner, but Shivers by Ed Sheeran came on my internet radio and I had to get up and dance.
Share in the comments – are you a resolution-setter or set in your ways because your ways are already awesome? 🙂
And don’t forget! If you enjoy reading The Girl with the Tree Tattoo, please show your support.