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Uncomfortable Truths. Part 2.

(This is a slightly rehashed post of an older post. Just had some extra thoughts I wanted to add.)

Pictures speak a thousand words but sometimes they hide a thousand more.

All the social media platforms we all use are so great in connecting us with other people travelling a similar journey or following someone who inspires you or being able to inspire others yourself.But with these social media platforms can come  the temptation to create a facade of your life because all the snap shots you post from small moments in your days combine to create a big picture that looks like you’ve got it all together.

Social comparison is not a new thing. But it’s a growing epidemic because there are so many more ways we can socially compare ourselves to others now. And I think sometimes we can use it to hide the uncomfortable truths about ourselves that either we are afraid to share, or we think others are afraid to see.

Unfortunately, there is so much shaming from society about so many parts of our lives, that it can become impossible to feel okay about ourselves.

So I’d like to start sharing my uncomfortable truths more. And here is my first…

One of my chronic health conditions causes muscle tremors. They’re always there but vary in severity. Sometimes I wake up like this and can barely hold a cup of tea, and sometimes they are milder. 
They affect my whole body. 

They are always this severe or worse about 10minutes into any physical exertion. Imagine the shaky legs you feel after an intense workout, except your muscles are actually spasming. All over your body, and rather than being a feeling but not something visible, your limbs are visibly tremoring/shaking/wobbling around. So people in your real life can see and they’re staring and wondering what’s wrong with you.

But in just a photo (that you can use on social media – that you can use to portray yourself a certain way), you can, to satisfy that extremely self conscious part of yourself, make it look like that isn’t a true part of your life — another uncomfortable truth.
That’s my first uncomfortable truth.

I was mindful about posting this. 

But fuck it. I don’t want to be seen as perfect because I’m not perfect. 

I’m far from perfect, and so is life.

Just because Mother Nature can cause intense damage, doesn’t mean you would deny that she is also overwhelmingly beautiful! 
As are we. Flawed and fabulous. πŸ˜‰ 

I may struggle and fall and fail, but I will keep trying. And it is in the trying that lay my success.  I hope I have the courage to keep posting more of these uncomfortable truths. Because I want them to become comfortable truths. 

Because it is okay that I am who I am and my body does what it does. This should not be something I feel ashamed of.
I’m going to hashtag these posts #uncomfortabletruth and #loveyourtruth

If anyone else feels like they want to share one of their uncomfortable truths, that would be awesome. I’d love to hear it, so please tag me in your post. You will not be shamed by me. 

I will support you and love you regardless, because your struggle is part of what makes you who you are, the whole you, and the whole you deserves love. Not just the social media presented you.

This post, and any future Ines like it, are not to generate pity, they are to generate solidarity among each other, that we will not be defined by social comparison any longer. And that we are strong, amazing individuals, who are living our journeys and respect the challenges that each of us face.

And if I lose followers from all this then so be it. I’d rather promote self-love and acceptance with two followers, than self-abuse with thousands.

Love (and a soft place to land) to all.
Z. Inez xxx
P.S, I leave you with one of my recent mandalas…

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Your Beautiful Glorious Self

You may think you need to be better.

But you don’t.

You may think you need to be more like someone else. 

But you don’t.

You might feel inadequate in so many areas of your being that you feel you will never be enough for anyone.

But you aren’t. And you are.

You may feel like you’ll never measure up.

But you already do.

You might look around you and only see others doing it better.

But that’s not the truth.

You may feel like you’re falling short. Losing face. 

But you’re not.

You may feel like everyone around you, everywhere you look, are on incredible trajectories towards imminent success while you’re still trying to figure out whether you’re an over or under person when it comes to your toilet paper.

But they’re probably not. And it’s okay if you’re either or both! πŸ˜‰

Those who have seen my health issues know that things have been really tough for me. 

I could easily think of myself as having a harder time than others. I could easily choose to feel that others have been dealt fantastic hands while I’ve not even been  dealt one full hand. But firstly, thinking that way serves me no purpose. It doesn’t help me at all. And secondly, it’s all relative: there are others who are facing much harder challenges than I am.

You see, I have learnt that comparison is poison. It only creates anger, contempt, jealousy and a whole lot of other negative emotions. And it’s completely unnecessary. So we can opt out.

We can opt out.

I want to hug the world right now. I want to tell you all, whatever your battles, whatever your goals, to please stop believing that other people have it miraculously easier than others.

I want to especially tell the world that your self-worth does not lie in where you measure up against the people around you. 

Your self-worth is measured purely on the value you give yourself. 

The only person who gets to decide what you’re worth is you.

Do you hear me?

YOU GET TO CHOOSE!

You! No one else. Just you.

And the true beauty of it all is that no assessment is needed.

You’re worth the fucking world, because you were born. You deserve love, because you were born. You deserve respect, because you were born.

Don’t start assessing yourself. That’s being an arsehole to yourself. Don’t do that. 

Seriously, no assessment needed. You’re awesome. Just as you are. You’re doing what you do, aiming for goals, attempting this thing called life, in your way, how you see fit. 

You can do life, the way it feels right for you. 

Because living life by someone else’s rule book sucks a bag, and is completely unnecessary.

If you start doubting your ability to just be you, remember…

Your beauty lies in your flaws. 

Your true self can only shine in your vulnerability.

You are accessible through your mistakes.

Absolutely. Every. Single. Person. On. The. Fucking. Planet. Fucks. Up. All. The. Fucking. Time.

Most people are just scrambling hard to hide their mistakes.

But they’re making them. Oh, boy, are they making them!

It’s impossible to not make mistakes, to not have flaws, to not be imperfect.

So, world, take a breath. 

Give yourself permission to be you. 

No comparisons needed.

No comparisons wanted. 

Just be your beautiful, glorious, unique self. 

xxx

P.S: photo of me, being me…

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pasΒ deΒ bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself,Β pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end.Β 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! πŸ™‚

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End The Comparison

I want to say a little something that I keep thinking about.

Ballet, being such a visual-perfection artform, is bound to have a lot of focus on body shapes.

And for ballerinas, at the moment, those qualities are necessary (I hope that changes one day.)

But our beautiful adult ballet community doesn’t need that kind of perception.

Yes, we will all still be wanting to hit the best positions we can, and we want to achieve beautiful ‘ballet lines.’

A lot of people talk about my lovely ballet feet, or my lines. And don’t get me wrong, I will never tire of hearing that my ballet poses look nice (so feel free to keep those coming πŸ˜‰), but I want to be sure everyone is seeijg this through a healthy perspective.

Let’s also be honest about how those positions and lines come about.

I hit the genetic jackpot regarding those lines and those feet. I lucked out. I then take what I was born with and apply over the top of that what my wonderful teachers teach me, and I end up with the images and lines that you see.

I did NOT always know how to strike a proper fifth in releve, for instance. My teachers could (and still do) place my feet or other body parts in the right positions to show me how it ‘should’ look. Then I practice it over and over.

So being born with my shape, doesn’t mean I easily knew how to create the shapes properly. My teachers will be testament to that. πŸ˜‰ I’ve had lots of ‘why is your arm doing that weird thing, Zoe?’comments. 

I don’t like placing a lot of focus on striking the perfect pose. And although I thoroughly enjoy Instagram pics, both my own and other dancers’ pics, I worry when I see so much focus being put on getting the perfect positions and flexibility.

I feel it’s helpful to own up to things we were naturally born with and things we have worked really hard to get to. Otherwise I think we set each other up to feel like we’re failing when we see some people doing things, seemingly easily, whilst we struggle immensely with them.

My pointed foot, whilst I work really hard at it, is like 80% just genetics. 

Flexibility, in the other hand is not a strong point for me, mostly. Well, not in the ballet related ways at least.

In the same way, I see women who dance with amazing grace and musicality, that I can only dream about, and I get totally jealous of them. In the past I felt inadequate and as if I would never attain their level of actual dance ability. I’m still not a very good dancer, I still crave being able to move like those dancers, but I don’t think it’s something wrong with me any more. 

Now, I just know that I admire that about those dancers. That I long to be able to do that. That I will work hard to be able to get there.

But I grant myself the permission to acknowledge that I was not born just naturally being able to move gracefully like that. That part takes huge effort for me.

We’re all different. I think it’s best if we love what we do and appreciate how hard we are working to achieve our goals. And stop looking at other people’s photos and belittling ourselves because we don’t match up to it perfectly, or even at all!

You’re all beautiful. Feel it. Be it.

Zoe xxx

  

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Teacher CriticismΒ 

A quick shout out to anyone who might be feeling a little disheartened by criticism their teachers give them.

Your teachers shouldn’t make cheap or nasty comments on your personality. They shouldn’t be mean to you or say degrading things to you.

HOWEVER they cannot help you improve without telling you what you need to improve on. 

Try not to get too upset when you receive criticism. 

Try not to allow yourself to believe that receiving criticism means you suck and should quit ballet and take up table tennis. 

Try not to centralise the criticism and make your whole self-worth based around it. That’s not what your teacher wants you to do with it.

I have been told that my hands were doing weird claw-like things, that I’m not pointing enough, that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not pulling up enough and that my frappes need an entire private class to correct and that I am sickling — to which I was all like, What? No way man, I don’t sickle! Alas, I was indeed sickling.

The frappe one always makes me laugh because, honestly, my frappes do always look more like floppes! Haha.

I have been in studios where I receive a lot of corrections and in studios where I receive no corrections and I would, without a doubt, prefer to receive a lot of corrections.

If a teacher is correcting you, they want you to improve.

Don’t get all egotistical and think that you are the most important person in that room to the teacher. If you think you’re more important than anyone else in the room then you will most definitely feel disappointed when the teacher doesn’t treat you as you think is appropriate (doesn’t give you extra attention or compliment you). 

Try to think of teacher criticisms as notes for improvement and try to be grateful that you’re receiving them at all. 

Don’t take it personally. 

Don’t use it as a way to beat yourself up. 

Use it positively. Use it productively. Use it as it is intended — to get better.

Love yourself. Be proud of yourself. Have FUN!

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, you deserve to be in the room.

Today, after having FUN during ballet. πŸ™‚
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Your Dreams. Your Life.

A lot of people have, hidden somewhere in their homes, a treasure box in which they collect mementos from their favourite experiences. From things that happened. From things that they did.

All over the world, there must be millions of stashes of these physical representatives of great moments that people have experienced and not wanted to ever forget.

What I have been wondering about recently, though, is how many equally important boxes there are in the world, that are full of dreams people stashed away for later, for when they had more time, better health or less responsibilities.

How many people left their dreams in a box under their bed?

I did it.  I remember the day I left my dreams in a box.

Took me more than 30 years, and a deep pit of desperation, to open the box up again.

And boy am I glad I did.

I’m not glad my daughter was sick. I would never wish that on anyone.

But I am glad that I allowed myself to acknowledge the desperation I was feeling in my heart and soul. Because it did open me up to NEEDING to reach into my box of dreams, because I needed something outside of my 24/7 to give me hope.

And that’s what our boxes of dreams are. They are hope. They are love, passion, creation, colour, happiness and joy. And by opening our boxes again, we are letting those things back into our lives.

They are us, exploding into a million pieces of our best selves and then bringing all those pieces back together again in a new, more sparkly, more alive, more fantastic person than we ever thought possible. 

Even if we don’t end up being masters of any of our dreams. Even if we suck at them all. The point is that they were things we wanted to try — and try is all we need to do.

If we keep our dreams in boxes, tucked under our beds or at the back of our closets, we are not only denying ourselves but we are denying the world.

We usually have reasons for not dragging our dreams out into the light: ‘we don’t deserve to shine’, ‘we can’t do it’, ‘we’re a loser’, we’re scared of what people will think of us, we feel too old, or not talented enough.

Most of those reasons manifest in either denial that your dreams exist at all, or fear of the dream itself.

Denial will lead to anger, resentment, depression and more…. Fear will lead to anger, resentment, depression and more….

So, denial will not serve you well in the long run.

But it’s not easy. It’s really not. Coming out of the dream closet can be fucking terrifying. People may well think you’re crazy. And they may feel they have the right to tell you that. They may look at you like you’re alien or speaking a different language — one they don’t want to even try to understand. And that’s because you are speaking a language a lot of people don’t understand.

Most people don’t track down their dreams and take a journey with them. So a lot of people won’t understand you. At first. But after a while, everything becomes normalized. And so too will your dream following.

In any case, of course, you can’t do it for anyone else anyway. 

This is your dream: Your deal. Your box. Your life.
The only right thing to do for yourself is to drag that box of dreams out of the closet, take a deep breath, open the lid, and see what’s been sitting there waiting for you to return to it.

It’s never going to feel like it’s the right time to find your dreams, but the truth us that it’s always the right time.

Happy dream finding…

zoe xxx

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Dear Dream Seekers…

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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