Aerial Silks – Week 6 – Defying Gravity

I’m going to go off script a little bit.

Since this is my last week… I can do that.

I want to tell you all the most important thing I’ve gotten out of these last six weeks of aerial silks.  I’ll warn you right now, this post won’t be nearly as fun/funny as my others, but I think it’s vital that I share this with you.

When Angela first asked me about taking the class and blogging about it, of course I thought it would be a hoot and a half. I’m always up for an adventure. Deep down inside, there was a small part of me that was very excited because I genuinely wanted to float gently like a feather on a breeze. That small part stays locked up with Doubt and Fear standing guard.

It was all fine and well to do this as an experiment, or something to make people laugh. But, I’m a grown ass woman. I’m not going to get hired by Cirque du Soleil anytime soon, so what business do I have seriously taking a 6 week silks class?!

EVERY @#$%&* BUSINESS!

Let me tell you. Every one of you with that small, deep down part; that part that speaks very softly, and often gets ignored. Start listening to it. Start respecting it. Start honoring it.

Life is TOO short, and we spend TOO much time doing so many things we don’t WANT to do, or feel like we HAVE to do. Sometimes, you need to pursue floating like a feather, or galloping like a majestic gazelle. Because, I’m here to tell you, there’s something so beautiful on the other side of it! There’s going to be so many things you gain that you would have never expected.

I honestly ran through every single reason why I would NOT be good at this. My height, my weight, my age, my job, my time, my money. Whenever I ran out of negative things to say, my body was ready to chime in (as you’ve noticed). At the end of this session, I realize that I’ve done things in this class that I never thought possible. I’ve done things at week 6 that actually WERE impossible when I first started.

I gained knowledge and understanding that had to do with much more than circus arts.

On my first day, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I sat on the gym mat, excited and nervous at the same time. As my classmates piled in, I did what I always do in these situations.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others. I think most people (especially women) have this same problem. And, yes, it is a problem. Every person that came in, I immediately assessed them.

“She’s going to do great because she’s a lot younger than me.”

“This will be easy for her because she’s a lot thinner than me.”

Before long, you’ve already started discouraging yourself before you’ve even TRIED anything.

Women get a bad rep for being catty and generally shady in a group setting. I’ve seen it myself many times. There’s so much pressure to be the best, that it gets very easy to act/think negatively of people you think have an advantage over you. And it all starts with that initial comparison. “She’s younger than me.” “She’s thinner than me.” “She’s taller than me.” “She’s prettier than me.”

Getting a group of strangers together, in a setting where it’s entirely possible that they’ll make a fool of themselves, is sometimes just asking for trouble. My class this time happened to be all women. I went in with my pre-conceived notions about everyone’s aptitude (including my own). The first class, everyone was understandably hesitant. Flopping around in fabric is not the most flattering of impressions you want to make.

When I started writing these blog posts, of course I wanted to make it entertaining, and fun. What I didn’t expect was for it to be a bridge to common ground. I started having people coming up to me and saying “I read your blog… I swear I’m thinking the SAME thing when we’re in class!”

My immediate thought is

“But you’re so tiny! You can’t understand my fat girl struggles!”

But the more I talked to people, the more I realized that we all have the same insecurities, the same pains, the same conversations with our bodies. It helped me to look at people objectively, and when I did, it was like I was seeing them for the first time.

All of us had areas where we struggled in class, and we all had areas where we excelled.

Ashley is like the tiniest most perfect little ginger elven princess… and she discovered that she would like a tiny roll of fat to protect her little hip bones…

I’ve totally GOT one of those! And it’s WONDERFUL (thin girl struggles… WHO KNEW?!)

Alex is this tall, graceful willow of the forest and there were things she struggled with… BECAUSE she’s so tall! She had to adjust her approach with things in a way I didn’t have to with my stumpy legs!

I actually started to really get to know these women, and of course, they became well acquainted with my smart mouth. But the great thing about it is, they knew they could speak their minds, they knew there was someone there that understood and could commiserate. Next thing I know, classes started getting really fun!

Once we climbed out of our bubbles and really looked at each other, we started having a good time together. Then, something amazing happened.

We started helping each other!

I had no problem going up to someone and saying “You’re having trouble because you’re doing this… because that’s what I was doing at first too!”

I couldn’t climb, no matter how hard I tried. Kathy showed me The Hip Thing (trademark pending on that name) and now I’m defying gravity! All of us hated the dead hang, but then Deeeeeee came up with the “not really” cheat code for it to psych us into making it easier.

When all I wanted to do was to float gently like a feather on the breeze, I instead found myself part of a community, filled with some pretty amazing women. We laughed together, we shared our pain, we plotted to lock Sara up in the closet…

It was great!

The first time I climbed more than six inches off the ground, these women all clapped for me. I hadn’t even known they were watching. For a moment, I forgot to be self conscious, I forgot that I’m supposed to always be “on”, that I was supposed to be perfect, or at least not let anyone see my imperfection.

For that moment, it was just me and my silks… and I just tried my best. I was rewarded with unwavering support from people that had only known me a couple of weeks. (I actually teared up writing that)

At this point, I’m further away from being a feather than I was that first day, and I couldn’t care less.

I don’t have to be a feather… I’ve been an airplane, a kite, a lotus… I’ve been the Dreamworks Pictures guy…

I’ve been a phoenix, and I’ve damn sure been a majestic #$@%*! gazelle.

I don’t need to float, because I learned to climb.

I’ve learned to fly.

I’ve learned to let go.

I’ve learned to hold on.

… okay funny story about holding on….

So… We’re in the last class, and Sara is showing us how to do some lovely hanging poses. Well, I get my foot up into my knot, I pull up strong and…

I don’t know WHAT the hell happened, but my foot just went

Now, I’m up pretty high, so I saw my whole life flash before my eyes (it was like the boat scene from Willy Wonka)

But, somehow, some way, my body went into survivor mode. I can’t tell you WHAT I did, all I know is it felt like a Spiderman move, and when I opened my eyes, one foot was out in front, the other was behind me somewhere, both arms were behind my head and gripping that silk for all I was worth!

Apparently, the mechanics of how to make the silks taut had been drilled into my head so much, that I was able to save myself from sudden death.

Me:  What the HELL happened, guys?!

Body:  WHAT?! oh sorry… we were… sorry…

Sara: That…. WAS AWESOME! You know that’s an actual pose you’re doing, right?!

Me:

I couldn’t go 6 weeks without almost busting my ass!

But, that happens sometimes. And, for a moment, once I figured out where my body was and how to get it down, I didn’t really want to try again. It was scary, the thought of falling flat on my face. Had it happened the first week, I may have never continued.

Sara wouldn’t let me quit. She saw me standing on the ground, staring at the silks. She saw it.

“Uh-uh!… put some rosin on your feet, and get back up here. You’re fine. You did great.”

And I did.

I’d gained a certain amount of confidence in my own skills and abilities, so I put some rosin on my feet… and I got back up there.

I may be far from being a feather, but I’m also far from the girl who screamed at her first inversion.

I’m far from the girl who could only get up to her calf when she did tree pose

(I now can do UPPER calf…. )

I’m far from the girl who could only get 6 inches off the ground.

My hands don’t hurt as much.

My body doesn’t complain as often.

I let go easier.

I hold on tighter.

I defy gravity.

By no means was it easy, or simple…

Yes, actually; on several occasions.

But it was worth it! It’s worth it to listen to that little excited part of yourself. You have every business following your dreams, your passions, or even just trying something out because you think you might enjoy it. Never underestimate what you might learn from something you just did for a laugh. Never underestimate yourself.

So… when my new friends ask me if I’m going to sign up for the next class…

I automatically say…

Are you KIDDING me?! A chance to float gently in the air like a glorious feather on a breeze, draped in miles of shimmery soft fabric?!

Sign Me UP!

Inverted Smiles,

RCB

Here’s some of the things we’ve learned in class ?

Check out Rassy at www.rassy.me