Archive for January, 2010

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On Dance Studios & Trying New Things

01/29/2010

We were sprawled across various pieces of furniture, drinking too much, laughing too hard. From the recliner, Steph thumbed through the city’s recreation guide, listing aloud the classes the five of us should join.

“How about black and white photography?” Steph posed.

“I’ve taken a black and white picture before!” Shay shouted, climbing over legs and limbs to grab her purse. We laughed when she showed us the photo, and corrected her statement to, “I mean, I’ve been in a black and white picture before..”

Steph moved on, listing everything from cooking class, to chess club. Eventually she stumbled across Street Jazz, a 16 week dance class, ending with a performance at the local theatre. Julia’s ears perked up, and within minutes, the two of them were excitedly registering online. Tamara and I wearily listed every reason under the sun as to why we couldn’t join. We claimed we were too tall. Awkward and lanky does not a good dancer make. I tried telling them I’d go running while they were at dance class, and we’d all meet up afterwards. For every excuse we made, Julia and Steph had a rebuttal.

I never used the word, but I was making excuses because I was scared. I can run, jump, and skate. I can kick a ball, swing a bat, shoot a puck. I am comfortable doing all of those activities because I’ve been doing them since I was a child. My dance experience consists of a ballet recital in a bumblebee costume at three years old, a fifteen year gap, and a few years of flailing around to Jay-Z and Lady Gaga at local clubs. I am not a dancer, and the idea of walking into a studio terrified me.

My mind raced. What if I suck? What if I embarrass myself in front of my friends?

Then? I snapped out of it. I joined Julia and Steph at the computer, and registered. And convinced Tamara to register. Because fuck it. If you can’t embarrass yourself in front of your friends, you’ve picked the wrong ones. I stopped telling myself I couldn’t, and decided that I will. I’ll go to Street Jazz every Thursday night and I will try. Even if I suck, I will try. Because life isn’t about playing it safe, and I want to move forward. I want to start living my life with reckless abandon, and if Street Jazz has to be part of my journey, then so be it.

Last night was our first class. After an hour in a dance studio with my best friends, hip hop music, and a hilarious teacher, I can officially say that I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. That I have the kind of friends who will push me, and who will laugh with me, not at me, when I miss a couple beats.

Where has stepping out of your comfort zone taken you?

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Once The Pain Is Gone

01/27/2010

Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.

On September 15th, 2007, the life I had so carefully constructed, shattered in the blink of an eye. A year ago, I would have told you that night destroyed the next two months of my life. Because for two months, I cried. I would break down, and physically shake in anger, in sadness, in fear. I struggled to get through each day, watching my heart fall to pieces, and feeling incredibly alone. The truth is, that night didn’t just destroy two months of my life. I let it affect me every day for the next two years.

I downright refused to deal with the pain. As long as I wasn’t crying, I convinced myself I was okay. Hell, I told anyone who would listen that I was okay, that I was better, that I was happy. And I was, until suddenly I wasn’t, and I would find myself back in bed, tears streaming down my face, body trembling under the covers. I wasn’t okay because I had yet to accept what happened. I refused to believe that I wouldn’t be receiving an apology. And I was unaware that an apology wasn’t even what I was looking for.

Fast forward to an ordinary evening, sometime last year when I finally realized, and accepted, that I wasn’t okay. That bottling up anger, hatred and resentment was not healthy, and not something I could continue doing. I couldn’t continue having five, ten, fifteen great days, only to have them destroyed by moments, that turned into hours, and then days, of fury.

Once I admitted that I was in pain, I wanted to run. I wanted to escape, to move, to start fresh. But life isn’t about fleeing. I wasn’t going to learn anything by packing my bags, and pretending my past didn’t exist. I needed to stay, to fight, to figure out how to deal with the pain.

I started by reading Blink and The Lucifer Effect, both of which I highly recommend. I needed to understand what happened, and I needed to learn how to move on. So I read, and I ran, and I began practicing yoga in my living room. Slowly, I started to break down the walls I had spent two years building. I learned that forgiveness is a sign of strength, not weakness, and in that, I was able to forgive the person I had grown the most angry with – myself.

It took me a very long time to get to where I am now, but I am incredibly glad I made the decision to release the anger, sadness and fear, and to feel the pain. Life isn’t a fairytale. Our bodies thrive on emotional activity. Stifling negative emotions doesn’t empower the positive ones – it only creates a roadblock of monotony.

These days, I am happier than I’ve ever been because I don’t stop myself from feeling. Pretending I am not angry or hurt, when I am, is destructive.

These days, I actively deal with the pain as it happens, so I am able to then let it go.

These days, I expect greatness, and I surround myself with people who deliver.

I encourage you to do the same.

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Dark, Twisty and Awesome.

01/25/2010

Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins? It’s not on the calendar, it’s not a birthday, it’s not a new year, it’s an event —big or small, something that changes us, ideally it gives us hope, a new way of living and looking at the world, letting go of old habits, old memories. What’s important is that we never stop believing we can have a new beginning, but it’s also important to remember amid all the crap are a few things really worth holding on to.

Nearly a year ago I made the decision to just be. To stop worrying about what others thought of me. To stop spending my days overwhelmed with stress, and the feeling of not living up to everyone’s expectations. I made a decision to focus on living in the present, to love those surrounding me, and to create a life in which I was happy living.

I am proud to say that for the most part, I have accomplished my goal. From the outside, my life today is very similar to what it was a year ago. I am employed by the same company, I am training, practicing and traveling with the same team, and I have the same core group of friends. It is internally in which I am incredibly different. I skate harder, run faster and play with a passion I didn’t know I had in me. I respect my coworkers, and have developed an adoration for my position which had previously left me unfulfilled. I have strengthened bonds with friends, let go of past grudges, and learned that to forgive is not easy, but is always worth it.

There are two things I do every night after I crawl into bed and before I drift off to sleep. First, I check Peter DeWolf’s blog. Second, I rate my day on a scale of 1 to 10. Occasionally I take productivity into account, but for the most part, it is simply a happiness scale. To both strangers and friends, was I kind? Did I walk with a skip in my step and a smile on my face? Did I stand up for what I believe in, was I lighthearted, and did I allow worries to roll off my back?

I usually give myself a 9. Occasionally a 10, and on the days where I am lured back to the stress of being a Type A personality, the number is significantly lower. I play this game every night because it reminds me. Reminds me to be present in each moment. That planning ahead is okay, but spending entire days stressed about the future is not.

It reminds me of the best friends I have chosen to spend my time and share my secrets with. That I have three of the most compassionate, charming and hilarious girls by my side, along with an incredible boy who has been my rock since kindergarten. The game reminds me to be fully invested in the long, emotional conversations, to be thankful for every 3am dance party and to cherish the laughter during the many impromptu games of Cranium we play.

I’ve learned that my dark and twisty past is not something I will allow to hold me back. That I can be quirky, awkward, stunning and awesome, and that flaws are something to be consciously worked on, not something to ever feel defeated by.

My name is Sam. Welcome to my life. Welcome to my blog.