I celebrated my birthday recently. For as long as I can remember I have loved and joyfully anticipated my own special day. The past few years, though, I’ve found myself more inclined to want to forget it than celebrate. The numbers just keep getting bigger. This year I decided to quit counting and focus not on getting older but on living long and well. Hoop dance is helping to make that possibility a reality for me.
One’s birthday is their own personal New Year’s Day, when the sun once again crosses the point in the sky where it was when they took their first breath. I have found great value in taking some time around my birthday to contemplate what is and what might be. I review where I’ve been and clarify which of the things I’m doing and the themes I’m focusing on still feel valuable and inspiring. Hoop dance has expanded from being something I do to something that is an integral part of my life.
Since I started hooping in August 2009 so many things in my world have changed for the better. Stepping into the hoop, from the first, has opened my perceptions, helped me to become more grounded and centered in my body, mind and life, and expanded my reality in countless ways I would never have imagined possible.
I started hooping not because I had any expectations of what I thought I’d gain (or lose–like the excess flab I was carrying around my middle). I hooped because once I’d seen my first hooping video I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After finally breaking down and watching a few more, I was convinced I’d never be able to do what those young women could do. And then I encountered Christabel Zamor’s book Hooping and couldn’t resist buying it. It makes me laugh now, to remember how much I struggled with whether I should buy the book or not–it was a real turning point for me and I remember standing in Borders, spotting it, picking it up, putting it back and repeating several times before I finally took it to the check out counter–and that it felt a bit like a thrilling, yet shameful secret to me at the time. (It had been a long time since I’d had one of those…) Really! I was coloring waaaaaay outside the lines. It was another two weeks before I was able to lay my hands on a real grown-up hoop. And from that point on, a whole stinking pile of old definitions of who I thought I was and what I had previously believed possible for myself went right out the window. Can I get an ‘Amen, sister!’?
Once I started learning some basic hoop dance moves I was all in. Never mind that I dropped my hoop so many times I was proabaly getting more exercise from the bending to pick it up than from the actual hooping. For once in my life it didn’t matter and I didn’t feel inclined to judge myself as I have for other things that didn’t come easily. Hooping tapped me into my unconditional Joy and nothing was going to stop me. I wasn’t hooping for anyone but me and I just loved every moment of it. All of the bruises that I got in the process of learning new moves or pushing too hard and smacking myself with the hoop when I lost control didn’t deter me either. I wore those bruises like badges of honor–they were my personal rites of passage. I was in the process of being renewed and a few black and blue marks were a small price to pay.
I discovered something in myself that I’d always hoped was there but had never before been able to access. I found the me that is alive, awake, responsive and aware. The me that is sassy, silly, funky and sometimes sexy. The me that has rhythm and music surging through my veins. The me that lives in the moment, from my heart with a giant smile on my face.
This is just the start of a much, much longer story. For now, though, I’m going to leave it here.
I feel the greatest gift that hoop dance has given me is the fanning of the heart flame that was I beginning to lose hope would ever find expression. My heart light is on again and I am very much at home in my own skin. And that, my friends, is the gift of birthday presence.