Moving Like I Used To

Besides writing a bunch of nonsense in my journal from a young age, there are two things I did without fail.

Dancing and swimming.

I first learned how to dance by watching Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul music videos when I was seven.

I mimicked every move they made and forced my poor dad to video tape solo performances I would choreograph in my bedroom.

Dressing as shitty as possible was the cool thing in ballet class.
Dressing as shitty as possible was the cool thing in ballet class.

Until finally, even though we totally couldn’t afford it, my dad asked me if I wanted to learn how to dance for real.

I was a complete disaster in class, out of control with no technique unlike the other girls who started dancing when they were five.

But, starting dance class was one of the happiest moments of my life. My enthusiasm was unstoppable.

I worked hard with my “bad feet” and “bad turnout” and used my non-dancer’s body to my advantage, often dancing with the boys because I could jump as high as they could.

I performed in every imaginable place—in parking lots, on football fields, in parks, in classrooms, on stages, on the Queen Mary, a Lakers game, some hotels, gyms, classrooms…I know I’m forgetting plenty.

I wore leotards that always rode up my butt and I was probably the buffest ballerina to ever wear a tutu.

The reason why I hate Nutcracker music.
The reason why I hate Nutcracker music.

Dancing was something I did while working through all of the bullshit of growing up.

I danced forever and taught for a decade until two years ago, when I got so burnt out that I stopped.

I got really into Yoga, got certified and taught quite a bit. It was an incredible experience, but along the way, I felt like something was missing.

I missed moving my hips to a gorgeous rhythm. I missed moving my feet faster than I ever thought possible. I missed moving my arms through the air like they were my special wings.

No, I didn’t get back into my pink tights and pointe shoes. About a month ago I started taking Zumba again.

What I love about Zumba is simply this…you just shut up and dance.

There isn’t a post-mortem after every combination, you’re allowed to laugh at yourself for messing up, and you get to shake your ass non-stop.

I don’t feel the negative effects I knew intimately in the dancing world, like perfectionism or an unhealthy body image.

I didn’t want that. I just wanted to effing move.

Since I starting dancing again, I’ve been overjoyed. I returned to a part of me that I tried to ignore, but I couldn’t.

I know, this dive is worthy of an Olympic medal.
I know, this dive is worthy of an Olympic medal.

I was one of the few Southern California kids who struggled with swimming.

Near-drowning moments and claustrophobia made me fear swimming. Hey, when you’re under water, you can’t breathe.

Kids made fun of me for being a bad swimmer and wearing my floaties well past the acceptable age.

More than anything, I was determined to swim, because I loved the feeling of moving through water.

Swimming was like dancing to me. It was tough and beautiful.

And, just like dancing, I threw every part of myself into swimming. I got over my fears and swam like an ambitious fish.

Then, I got busy with being an adult. Then, I moved to places where swimming was hard to come by.

Portland proved to be challenging as well, except for the gym by my work, which (cue angel singing) has a salt water lap pool. So, I bought a bathing suit, a goofy swim cap, and goggles.

I went swimming on my lunch break yesterday. I got water up my nose and felt like I’d been hit by a car after ten consecutive laps. But for the rest of the day I was serene.

Now I have it down. I’m moving like I used to.

Rockin' the velour and Dorothy Hamill haircut. So stylish.
Rockin’ the velour and Dorothy Hamill haircut. So stylish.

What about you guys? Are there activities/passions you used to do as a kid that you’ve revisited as an adult?

In Celebration of 500 Followers…A Happy Dance!

Some of you have known me to be a performer of thank you happy dances on this blog.

There was the very first happy dance, which I definitely feel is one of the most embarrassing videos I’ve ever posted. In this happy dance, I channeled some sort of globe-loving Vanna White character. It was odd, but you all continued to like me despite the weirdness at play.

Next there was the second happy dance, when I reached 100 followers and went all out with “The Artist” inspired rendition. I began to discover a strange love for video editing around this time, so it’s pretty fancy. This was also Hazel the cat’s first video appearance. I know, I know…she totally steals the show.

It’s been a while, almost two years, since I’ve done such a goofy thing. While I was moving across the country a few weeks ago, something truly awesome happened.

I reached 500 followers on my teeny blog!!!

I wanted to thank you all properly for your incredible support and encouragement. Blogging isn’t an easy thing to keep up with, but you all keep me going with your fun-loving selves.

Every day I have the privilege of connecting with beautiful people from all over the world. This community that we share continues to astound me with its loveliness. I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Again, thank you so much! Here’s my gift to you…


The Fork in the Road

Photo by Adrian Palomo
Photo by Adrian Palomo

A few years ago, another dancer and I were driving back home, in the kind of beat-up car you’d expect a starving artist to cruise around in. Almost an exact replica of the one from Wayne’s World, but without the sweet licorice dispenser.

It was one of those odd days right before fall. Fog and mist became strangely smitten with one another, only to be broken up by a sunny afternoon floozy that appeared, then disappeared, until it was easily forgotten beneath a resurgence of damp and dreary fervor.

I remember this day well, because it was damn grueling.

It was a long drive after an even longer day spent shooting a short film. This short film “Missed Connections” was a bit of a retro musical, with me as one of the Busby girls, while my driving dancer buddy was the choreographer. It was shown at the Milwaukee Film Festival, as well as many other festivals around the States. 

(Despite the silly story that follows, being a part of this film was an incredible experience.)

Anywho, on set one of the spirited hair stylists thought, despite my incessant warnings, that some retro finger waves would work on me. They didn’t.

And every time we stopped filming, she came dashing over to blind me with hairspray and stab me with bobby pins.

After ten or so hours of filming, running the dance sequences over and over again – here, there, and everywhere – my failed chic style had been gelled and sprayed so many times that it looked like I was sporting a large slug on my head.

On top of all that, I was in a skimpy leotard that I barely squeezed my ass into and wore borrowed heels which were too small. Every time they changed that camera lens, it was the kiss of death…do it all again, from the top.

For crying out loud! Somebody put me, my feet, my hair, and my uniboob out of our misery!

Photo by Adrian Palomo
Photo by Adrian Palomo

So, you get the picture. I was exhausted in a car with a slimy slug on my head.

It’s funny the things that we think about when we’re so tired, the kind of internal state that matches the thick haze outside. This uninvited calm often makes us reckless, in a good way.

That day in the car we had a conversation that stayed with me.

Both with day jobs, I was a dancer/writer and she was a dancer/visual artist, so we started talking about how we juggled it all.

Interestingly enough, we two go-getters came to an alarming conclusion. You can’t.

If your creativity is split in half, the fork in the road, neither direction will fulfill you. And, how in the hell can this lead to any sort of success?

Each road will be there and you may drive and drive and drive without stopping, but then you’ll run out of gas. And your desperate ass will be hitchhiking, wondering where it all went wrong.

Around this time last year, after a lifetime of dancing, I stopped. It wasn’t even a planned thing, it just happened. I became deeply involved with my Yoga practice and completed my teacher training last summer.

Then, in my usual Britt fashion, I took that too far.

I started a wellness/Yoga blog, accompanying social media channels, and taught like crazy…four days a week. All this time I was trying to squeeze in my day job, keep up with this blog and my third book, and eat, sleep, and live.

Where was my free time? That beautiful time to decompress and enjoy, to reflect and be open to inspiration. There wasn’t much, sometimes there wasn’t any.

The last half of 2013 I debated between a Yoga career and a writing career.

Sure, I wanted both. Did I have the time and energy to give both my full attention in my minimal spare time? No.

Naturally I tried my hardest, but it drained me.

By December I knew I had to choose. And, quite frankly, the choice surprised me.

Technically, a Yoga career would be the easier option. Wellness and health are in demand as they are a service, one where the cost can be validated.

Fiction writers struggle to make ends meet and it takes a long time to get your name out there. Art is subjective, difficult to put a price on, and bloody hell…there’s just so much of it out there!

But in the end, I chose writing.

After a month without posting, I decided to shut down my All the Way Yoga blog and social media, as well as free up my schedule by giving up two of the Yoga classes I was teaching each week.

It was hard, but it wasn’t painfully difficult. So, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

I had become just like that hairstylist on set, determined to make the retro finger waves work on stubborn hair, putting more product, more pins, and more effort into all of it.

Photo by Adrian Palomo
Photo by Adrian Palomo

I went back to that conversation I had in the beat-up car after that long day of filming, with a slug on my head and a leotard hiked up my butt.

When I came face to face with exhaustion once more, I was taken down a notch. There I was again, idling at that damn fork in the road.

It’s not about limitations. It’s also not about going for something and failing.

Creativity is a beautiful gift, one which should be handled with great care. That’s what it’s about.

To all who supported my six month stint in the wellness world, thank you. For all who continue to encourage me to be a writer, thank you.

I’m lucky to have such an awesome community to keep me going. You are all necessary and lovely. Again, thank you.

The Urge to Dance

Once upon a time I called myself a dancer. I danced my whole life until the end of last year when quite suddenly…I stopped.

No more teaching, no more leotards, no more performances. Just like that.

Such a monumental transition in my life was very hard for me to swallow, and most of 2013 was spent figuring out who I was beyond the dancer. When you’ve been doing something for over twenty years, it has a way of becoming a part of you.

I wrote I Found Some Change, which some of you may remember, when it all happened.

Recently Mr. H was out of town and I had this crazy urge to dance.

It was dark, the cats were asleep, and uncharacteristically I felt  lonely. So I threw on jeans and a tank top, some music, and filmed this in one shot.

It wasn’t about choreography or perfection, it was simply about moving.

Mr. H threw in some nifty video effects after he saw it. So even though we were apart when it started, we came together to create something in the end.

The video is silent, due to music rights mumbo jumbo that I didn’t want to mess with on YouTube. But I realized that the silence itself was beautiful, because when I move everything becomes still and quiet. The music, even the sound of my own breath.

This project taught me that entirely letting go of something isn’t always the right thing to do. The dancer is still inside and I’m OK with it being right there.

I Found Some Change

parking meter
Photo by Rachelle Dale

We lose change all the time: between the car seat and the console, next to a tattered gum wrapper; underneath the worn couch cushion, next to a congregation of pet hair and crumbs; upon the cracked sidewalk, next to a discarded cigarette stained with lipstick.

It’s an elusive being, almost obsolete in this age of plastic money. Yet, it’s still poignant enough for us to need it in our high tech, modern lives.

But we trudge on, forgetting that we ever lost it, and settle into this billing cycle. The days turn into nights, the nights turn into days – time passes like currency, switching from hand to hand, traveling far and wide.

You know something needs to give, but your mind clings onto every last cent of stubborn greed. Even though you would think this mind would be wealthy, rich even, alas it is penniless – it is broke.

In a way I was like the change, rolling and rolling until I hit a wall and was forced to stop. 

A month ago, at the beginning of 2013 to be exact, my life became unexpectedly different.

Officially, I am no longer a dance teacher, and no longer a dancer. Gone are my days of barres, mirrors, leotards, and constant perfectionism. Truth be told, I never had the enviable turn out, the prized high arches, or the skin and bones physique.

Without going into a lengthy conversation, let’s just say my direction was intercepted by change. I’ve been a dancer for 23 years, a dance instructor for 10 of those.

And, call it the end of an era if you want, but maybe it’s more simple than that…I found some change.

Being a dancer often comes with a strange responsibility, where others view you as that – and only that. Perhaps it is the beauty of movement which makes people respond this way, but there was always this image associated with me and I often felt stuck in it.

A few years ago, Yoga nestled into my life quite purposefully, and brought so much healthy wealth to my life that I even decided to pursue my teaching certification this year.

After all, teaching is my heart.

Yoga teaches us to accept who we are just as we are, rather than forcing us to be something we’re not…to move exactly like someone else– and in the dancing world of costumes, hair, and make-up – to even look exactly like someone else.

If you’re not skinny enough, get skinnier. If your leg doesn’t go that high, get it higher.

And, it is that nourishment of the uniqueness I craved so deeply which finally settled what I owed myself. It slowly moved me away from the way I had always moved, as a dancer.

Truthfully my catchy little tagline – writer. dancer. life enthusiast – has been staring me in the face for several months now, perhaps since its inception. Now that I am moving on from that lifelong part of me, it doesn’t make sense to identify myself in the same way.


Writer. Yes, I am that.

Dancer. Yes, I once was that.

Life enthusiast. Yes, I will always be that.

I don’t know if I found change or if it found me. Either way I am truly humbled by this profound pirouette in my life.

I stand here with my pockets turned inside out – empty, but open and full of grace – and ready to be filled with change.

I’ll start with this…writer. yogi. life enthusiast.

The buck stops here.