Monday, October 20, 2014

Saved By The Pole

Sometimes my head spins when I think about what has transpired over the past few short years. Its been a time of many extreme ups and downs. Sometimes its hard to wrap my head around it all. Sometimes I still find myself really struggling and I have be super mindful not to beat myself up about it. When I step back and take in the big picture, I find a little more clarity and am able to be a little more understanding with myself.

I began to make huge strides in my eating disorder recovery right around the same time that I married my first husband, Simon. I was having huge break-throughs about the origins of my eating disorder and was to the point where my eating behaviors had greatly improved. In addition to therapy going in the right direction, I was well into my new nursing career. I had a wonderful guy and exciting future ahead. All this momentum had propelled me to a great place and for all intents and purposes, my life was going really damn well!

I think we can all pretty much agree, life is like one giant teeter-totter that is constantly in motion. For a time, things are up - life is good and you feel that amazing, weightless and aliveness. Then, woosh! You feel that jolt as you come falling through the air and smack your butt on the ground. The struggle in life is to try to maintain a nice balance of fluid ups and downs - taking them in stride and not letting them upset the good rhythm of your life.

For better and worse, Simon's death was a huge catalyst and turning point of change in my life. I had no idea where I would end up or how I would get there, but I knew life was going someplace completely new.

For a couple solid years, I felt utterly lost. I knew I wasn't the same version of myself as I was before but I still had no I idea who I was evolving into. The bulk of that evolution was long and truly unpleasant. During that two years, I experienced a couple more very personal losses. That was literally the sprinkles on my shit sundae. I did almost nothing but be at home. Even on days when I felt pretty good, I didn't want to be away from the house for more than a few hours unless I was going to work. I had literally cocooned myself into my life at home with Dan and our furry babies. It was the safest place on earth for me; even though part of me longed to be out in the world, social and living life the way I used to. In retrospect, I can see that I was exactly where I needed to be for my healing and transformation to take place.

As a result of this isolation, I know I have neglected other parts of my life. My social life and friendships went from 60 to zero in the blink of an eye. I didn't really go anywhere, become involved in anything and I just couldn't be around anyone outside of my cocoon. I was depressed, grieving and nurturing an amazing but crazily timed relationship. Honestly, my memories from that time are the least clear than from any other time of my life. It is such a blur to me.

I do recall a lot of feeling confused - I suppose that supplements the haze of that period nicely. While working through my grief and all that fun stuff, I could feel myself changing. I was seeing myself, life and the people around me so differently than I ever used to. It was confusing and suddenly having all these new outlooks caused a lot of internal discord. So, I guess lets be real and call it what it was: an identity crisis. Who the hell am I, who the hell was I before and WHO the hell am I becoming?? The old views I had of myself no longer fit anymore. I felt naked, exposed and vulnerable with no solid ground to stand on. I didn't feel like I quite fit in with the places and some of the people I used to.

While life in my protective cocoon was safe and comforting, it had its limitations. I knew that I couldn't stay holed up indefinitely but at the same time, I was at a loss for how to reemerge into the world again. I think that I can safely say that it was just a little over a year ago that things started to slowly change for me. I began taking pole dancing lessons and it is the first thing that made me feel like a real person again - not this hollow shell of a person who merely carried around the spark of true self with no real fan for the flame.

Dance became that fan for me. It has helped me reconnect with myself in a deeper way than ever before. It has helped me heal and work through some of the pain I've experienced. It has allowed me to access, express and then ultimately let go of some really difficult things. Dance has also given me a much deeper appreciation for my body. I am challenging myself and doing things I never imagined I could. I love the unbelievable strength and confidence it has given me. Overcoming challenges and learning this new form of art has provided me with an incredible sense of accomplishment. It's inspired my creativity and self expression. Finally, it has connected me with a new community of amazing people who have been incredibly supportive and accepting of me.

I can't express how grateful I am for this new passion I've found. It isn't everyday that you find something as an adult that gives you that child-like excitement. I love the path dance has taken me down and so excited to see where it continues to take me!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Fourth Pole Solo

It would be great if every single dance performance was spot on and went exactly how I planned it. Unfortunately, that just isn't reality. I had super high hopes for the solo I most recently did at the fall student showcase. And to be fair, the routine was far from terrible or something I was super upset about but it wasn't the everything I wanted it to be. Let me explain.

My intention with this routine was to try something completely different and outside of my comfort zone. For me, this meant two things: 1. Dance in a sexy way 2. Do it in heels. My natural style of dance is very lyrical - you can totally see it in my other solos. Basically, my hips and torso are pretty stationary while I dance. Getting that area to loosen up and actually move was a HUGE challenge for me. I literally can't stop giggling when I look back at videos from when I first learned a move called the "body wave." As for me and my body, there was no waving. It was (and still is) one of the silliest looking things I've ever seen.

I really wanted to challenge myself with this routine and I definitely achieved this. The shoes alone were a challenge. But then add being fluid AND sexy on top of that - well, you've got a recipe for disaster on your hands. I've danced in heels for group routines and that has been manageable for me. But being out there alone brings the insecurity to a new level. I really hated that hurdle being in front of me. When it comes to dancing, I want to be able to be comfortable with as many styles as possible. I want to be versatile in my dance capacity and its always been my belief that variety is the spice of life. For me, it happens to be the spice of dance too. It keeps me from getting bored and pushes me to grow in ways that I never would if I didn't try different styles.

I am really glad I chose to do this routine. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. I wanted it to be much more fluid and less fumbled than it was but it had its strengths too. The biggest thing is that I wanted to REMEMBER my damn routine! I literally forgot a huge section during the second part of my routine that I ended up just free styling my way through. The awesome part is that you can't tell too much, so I was really happy about that. I was also happy with how my tricks turned out. I didn't get set up quite right for my first trick but was able to recover it and do it well. My "Russian Layback" was right on and I was thrilled about that. And speaking of nailing tricks - I was just the right amount of "sticky." I often have a hard time sticking moves because my skin just doesn't have enough grip to it and I just slip right off. Tonight's conditions were just right for my skin's optimal stick factor. I loved the spider theme I tried to play on. It was a ton of fun trying to come up with "spidery" type movements, spins and tricks. And finally, the free styling actually lead to me doing some new stuff I had never done before. Now THAT is very cool!

I learned some really important things through this experience - one being that I really think I prefer to dance in bare feet. I would never ditch shoes all together because, HELLO! Have you seen the amazing shoes they have available?? Plus, there are some really neat things you can do in shoes. But overall, for me they feel limiting. As usual, my two main goals were to be in the moment and have fun. Both were definitely achieved. I had a lot of fun designing and performing this routine. I was in the moment for sure, even though a few of those moments were a bit freaky when my mind went blank and I totally forgot what comes next. At the end of the day, I have no regrets and feel very at peace with my fourth pole dance solo. Here it is, to the song "Spider Web" by Hailey Reinhart:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

19 Moments of a Mental Heath Worker

I love those funny posts you see all over social media that are essentially a collection of animated "gif" pictures describing a person's reaction to situations or events. In honor of my coworkers for Mental Heath Awareness Week, I put together this little collection of my own moments as a nurse working at an in patient mental health unit. I especially dedicate this post to all the incredible people I work with everyday. Even though we have a really tough job sometimes, you provide amazing care and at the end of the day, I am proud to be working along side you!

*Important Disclaimer: It is in no way my intention to bring offence to anyone with this post. I love my job and even the most difficult patients teach me something new and important. This is just simply a collection of some of those moments unique to work in mental health that I think my fellow comrades in the field can appreciate and relate to. If you are unable to read it with a measure of humor, then this post may not be for you.

19 Moments of a Mental Health Worker...

1. Reading the report on an admission you are about to get.

2. Trying to explain to other people exactly what it is you do at work.

3. Those days when you are emotionally drained and have nothing much to give...

4...and the feeling you get when you've actually successfully helped a patient through a crisis situation.

5. Every time you interact with a severely personality disordered patient.

6. The look on your face when you get to work and discover the most horrible patient has been DISCHARGED!!

7. Coming back to work the day after a double shift.

8. Arriving at work and knowing that no matter what goes down, the shift will rock because you are working with amazing people!

9. When you have a patient who is out of control and the doctor orders a medication that won't even touch them.

10. When a patient is being verbally abusive and you come back with the perfectly witty yet professional response.

11. Accidentally making eye contact with that ONE patient who is constantly asking for something and won't leave you alone.

12. Trying to follow a delusional or psychotic patient's long and incoherent story.

13. The anger you feel when you KNOW a person is malingering!

14. Charting, charting and more charting...

15. Charting when your brain is fried at the end of the shift.

16. When you have literally been so busy that you have held your bladder for hours.

17. ANYTIME you have to deal with a naked patient in mental heath, its gonna be and awkward situation.

18. When you have to start something long and involved right before your shift is about to end.

19. Seeing the next shift's crew coming through the door!

You go through so much weird shit together that you can't help but form incredibly strange but close bonds with your coworkers. Those bonds are important because they make a strange job even more entertaining. 

They don't judge you when you tell them that this is how you spent your time after work:

Most importantly, they support you because they know exactly how you feel and those people care in a way that only mental health workers do!