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Return to Balance ~A Tale of Two Kitties

For those of you who have been wondering where I’ve been for the past six months and why this blog about the hoop dance that I love so much, has lain dormant, I have a story to tell…

Last August, my eleven year old kitty, Winston, who had been more child than pet to me, started losing weight and energy at an alarming rate. Six weeks later he was gone. Rob and I were beside ourselves with a grief unlike anything we’d ever known. For the eleven years of our relationship Winston had been there. His energy was woven through every day of our lives. Losing him felt like the end of the world. It was certainly the final curtain on the way we had lived until then.

Day by day, week by week the loss became a little more bearable. It became possible to take a deep breath without crying. The heaviness lifted a little bit. We talked about him, what we loved about him, what we missed about him, the adorable things he’d done, how smart he was, how lucky we were to have had him share our lives and how, though we knew we would have another cat, we didn’t know when we’d really be ready for one.

A little more time passed. There was another cat who needed a home. A cat we both knew and had grown fond of over the years. She’d been found as a kitten, six years ago, eating from a dumpster and one of the guys had brought her to the office. Though everyone loved having her at work, no one was in a position to give her a home, so she became the office cat. When I returned to work there in July of last year (after a few years of doing other things) she would curl up in a basket someone had put on my desk for her and nap and watch me while I worked. We bonded a little. And before I knew it, she’d gotten to me. Pretty soon people started telling me that she was only happy when I was around. (I was working a limited schedule of part-time hours, a few days a week, at the time.) After Winston passed one person after another started asking if Rob and I were going to take the kitty home. “She deserves a good home,” they would say. “She really misses you when you aren’t here.” “Obviously, you both really like her. She’d be a great cat for you guys.”

And though it seemed like it was too soon and I thought long and hard and had a few long conversations with Rob–were we ready for another cat so soon after losing Winston and, if so, was she the one–it became harder and harder to watch her get upset as I packed up my laptop for the day to go home. Before I knew it, the idea of leaving her there alone for yet another weekend seemed crazy. So we packed her up in her little kennel and brought her home. It took a little while for all of us to adjust to this new arrangement. Sweet kitty had a new home, a new schedule, new food, two people instead of twenty, and a new name. They called her Cat 5 at the office. I called her Fancy, short for Fancy Pants, the name I’d given her when I first met her in 2007 because the fur on her legs was ruffly and when she walked away she looked to me like she was wearing old-fashioned white, frilly pantaloons.

What does this have to do with hoop dance? Well, the hoop dance practice that had seen me through many different ups and downs no longer did it for me. When Winston became increasingly ill I no longer had any desire to hoop. For some time after he passed, the grief took me to a place where I didn’t care about anything. Eventually, I did start to hoop again, just a few minutes here and there. It didn’t transform my mood like it had before but it helped me to be more connected to my body. It helped me to start finding my rhythm again. It started waking up something in me that had gone into hibernation. When I hoop now I am a different person than I was before. I’m easier with myself. I don’t need to push myself when I practice. I give myself space to breathe and be perfectly imperfect.

I don’t hoop for the same reasons today that I did last year or the year before. The joy has come back into my life by allowing myself to experience life’s richness of emotions. If we open to it, hoop dance can be an avenue for creativity, expression and embodying our essence. At the beginning of my love affair with the hoop I thought I needed to learn all of the tricks and be able to keep up with everyone in the hoop dance community. I had great expectations for myself as a hoop dancer. Today, I realize that what I really want from the hoop is that place to reconnect with the magic it allows me to access, whether I am hooping well or total crap. These past six months have shown me that it really is possible to come back from even the darkest times. The hoop is just one path through which rising from the ashes, but it has sure worked for me.

To all of you wondering I’m still teaching the Saturday morning classes, the answer is yes. Though the blog went dormant for a while, I’ve taught just about every Saturday morning from 8:45 to 9:45. If you are in the area, I hope you can join us one day soon. Until then, I thank you for visiting and wish you all a good measure of balance in your day to day.

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