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Middle-Aged Ballerina

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.—Martha Graham

While watching the Beauty and the Beast ballet at Versailles on Christmas Eve Eve (12/23), I couldn’t stop thinking about pirouettes and coupés.

For nearly four decades I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with ballet—from grade school through junior high plus a few months sprinkled into my 30s and 40s. Today I completed my fifth class at The Washington Ballet and am smitten.

From the pianist who plays through the 75-minute class to taking classes at a school whose performances I’ve attended over the years, I’m delighted to be back donning a flowy ballet skirt and  slippers.

When I mentioned my interest in returning to ballet during a private online event in December, I received this detailed email from Deborah:

As I mentioned, I am also an adult “ballerina”. I have actually been dancing since I was 3 1/2 years old and currently reunited with my childhood ballet teacher… who is now 95 and is still going strong! My teacher, and our adult ballet class was recently featured on CBS news as part of a series that highlights active seniors who are following their passion (it’s only 2 1/2 minutes long):

Here are some classes and studios that you might be interested in. I am looking forward to hearing how your journey back to ballet is going!

Washington School of Ballet:

I highly recommend any classes that Irina Wunder teaches. I see on the schedule that she currently teaches Beginner Ballet classes on Fridays from 12:00-1:15pm.

Ballet NovA:

Any class that is taught by Constance Walsh is sure to be amazing! She is such a supportive and encouraging teacher, and even writes the adult ballet newsletter for this studio.  There are even adult dance performance opportunities a couple of times throughout the year. Irina Wunder also teaches at this studio on Saturdays, and I have heard good things about classes offered by Ms. Perez.

Maryland Youth Ballet:

Julie Miles has been one of my favorite teachers for years! She used to be a teacher at the Washington School of Ballet and she is very “adult friendly”. Lucy Bowen McCauley is also amazing, and she offers dance and “stretch” classes, too. There are many different opportunities for classes offered:

There are a number of really great inspiring Instagram accounts that you may like. It is so nice to see adult ballerinas all over the world continuing their love of dance and sharing it! 

I wanted to share her thoughtful email in case you, too, are local and/or interested in returning to dance. She also shared these great vegan ballet slippers. I’d already picked up a pair of pink canvas Capezio ones (vegan except for the suede soles) to replace my black leather ones, so I’ll keep Cynthia King’s in mind for my next pair. So great to know about compassionate options!

Here are some photos from my early dancing experiences. The bottom one shows the stern and loving Mrs. Ellen giving me a talking to. Can you find me in the top one? I have one word for you: blush! Clearly I applied it all by myself.

While heading home from today’s class I was discussing with a friend how different it is to take ballet now. As a child we were practiced in preparation for our annual performance. Now, it’s simply to savor the process—a completely different mindset.

Ah, there’s that reminder to appreciate the journey again. Which can be quite hard when your muscles are shaking, you keep turning in the wrong direction, and immediately forget all instructions after they’re shown. I mean, so I hear.

Who knows, maybe a recital is in my future? I’d sure love to slip my feet back into toe shoes and a big tutu again. I mean, is there anything more feminine?

Enjoy this inspiring article on middle-aged women who say ballet’s transformed their lives.

Here’s to middle-aged ballerinas (or anything you decide to pick up in your adult years)! Bisous x

And we’re off . . .

Sunday night we launched Year of Tranquility and I couldn’t be more excited about our group—open, kind, nurturing, fun!

The above shot shows the Pink Palace set up with many computers, twinkle lights, stargazer lilies, and dog beds.

The photos below were shared on social media and capture the set ups of ladies in New York, Seattle, Oklahoma, and spots in between.

We still have a few ladies trickling in so if you’d like to join us, it’s not too late. You can find all the information here.

I’m truly honored to take this yearlong journey with so many of you. Thank you for your support and love. Bisous. x

Spread Your Wings

Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.—Yvonne Woon

Annually I love sharing this piece on transitioning into a new year. I hope you enjoy . . .

The end of the year. Another completed chapter. Let’s tie a ceremonial bow around it and honor our evolution—highlights, lessons learned, struggles, dreams, experiences. Each of these played a role in the year’s unfurling.

To awaken memories, set aside time to flip through places you kept notes and dates, such as your planner, online calendar, and journal. Scroll through your photos for visual cues. Pull out cards, ticket stubs, conference swag, and/or exhibit brochures (I keep these items in a shoe box wrapped in pretty paper labeled “memories”). Collect any mementos you may have tucked away from this year and pile it on your kitchen table.

According to Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters (interviewed on Tranquility du Jour), “The end-of-year review process is very similar to sowing seeds. When you plant a garden, you don’t sit and stare at the seeds until they sprout. You know that some will germinate and some will not, but it is not up to you to make them grow. All you can do is set the conditions for their growth with good soil, adequate water, and the right amount of sun. And that’s what this exercise does—and while you are sowing seeds during this period, you can be enjoying the fruits of the previous year’s harvest at the same time.”

Grab writing tools and paper. Sip tea and list what you recall from the year in no particular order and answer the above questions. Capture big moments (e.g. started graduate school) along with tiny ones (e.g. sipped a cherry limeade at the drive-in with mom). Let the list flow.

Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  1. How did you spend your time? There are 168 hours/week and 8,760 hours/year. Where did yours go? Break it down into categories such as family, creativity, work, spirituality, etc. Compare where it went to where you’d like to see it go next year.
  2. What journeys did you take?
  3. What were your accomplishments and disappointments?
  4. What lessons did you learn?
  5. How have you grown from this time last year?
  6. How do you hope to show up this time next year?

Design a visual representation of the year by printing an assortment of photos and creating a collage. Or if you’re more techie, use an app like Collage Creator to assemble an electronic history that can be a desktop or image to share with loved ones.

Sometimes I paste a beautiful image pulled from a magazine into my art journal and list memories on it with a Sharpie. This reminds me of the year’s ups and down, allows me to express gratitude for what transpired, and honor the evolution.

After this process (which can take days, by the way), review your answers, images, hopes, and dreams. Light a candle to honor losses. Acknowledge how every experience has made your year unique. Set an intention for what you hope to see unfold next year. Allow this process to nurture who you are and who you are becoming. Sans judgment, simply observation filled with loving-kindness.

Spread your wings and fly, dear one. You are beautiful. Namaste.