Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How do we know we grow?

It was easy when all we had to do was stand with our backs against the kitchen wall where our mother or father would mark our height and date.  But, what happens after you max out?  In my case, at a hearty 5’11”!

Years blend into each other, and we often find ourselves time and time again in what seems like the same place or the same situation over and over again. How can we know we have changed? Grown? Learned?

Each year I attend the National Dance Educators Organization conference.  I have presented each year for the past 6 or so years—or more. I can’t really remember! But, what I do know is that each year I process through the conference ritual and each year I can see how I have changed and if I have changed over the past 12 months. 

The conference becomes a marker for me, an opportunity to notice what is different in me and in my approach to what I do and to those around me.  This year I find myself with a deep centeredness that I don’t recall in past years.  Often the conference is such a whirlwind. The preparation leaves us wind blown like leaves as we are swept into the official fours days of meetings, sessions, classes and panels.  Each day is packed full of events and there are always more people in attendance than one person could ever try to talk to.  This year over 700!

So, with such a large group in attendance and with countless opportunities for learning and conversing, it is tough to stay connected to oneself and avoid the hustle and bustle all around you.  So many wonderful dance education minds come together to share their stories during these grand conferences, yet we must trust that we will get what we need from this massive event. It will come to us just as we need it. In the package we need and at the time and place in which we are ready to receive it. My goal is to let the conference come to me as it may.  I want to soak in the experience without feeling flustered or overwhelmed as I have in the past. Most importantly I want to be fully present in the experiences and in the conversations. 

Personal growth means we get to revisit something familiar and do it “better.”  We get to be more mindful of our words and our actions, more compassionate for others and more patient with ourselves.  As we experience this we can feel ourselves growing, getting a little taller in spirit.

What annual rituals do you practice and how do you approach them each year?  Do you ever feel stuck in a rut or perhaps tired of running after new experiences?  How do you measure your growth? The holidays of course are right around the corner and they are always a chance for practicing balance. What are your plans for growth and change? How tall do you hope to grow this year?