I don’t have a pair of shoes that are of any significance to me. My bare feet though, have been through quite a lot in the past 6 years. The foot IS, by nature, a sensory organ of the body. Native Americans and primitive cultures walk toe heel, instead of heel toe – This is in order to ‘sense’ the earth they walk on and to better find BALANCE with each step that they take. Learning to Bellydance brought BALANCE to my feet, and also to my life.
The Autism Year
The Year 2005 for me is one that stands out for me as our most difficult ever. It began with a difficult pregnancy requiring bedrest, and a move, and ended in a frenzy of driving everywhere. Two days after our fourth was child was born, the diagnosis was in for our oldest son: It was Autism.
In the middle of new baby fatigue, and juggling now FOUR kids, I spent EVERY waking hour of my spare time trying to fight his disorder. Neurologists, specialists of all kinds, hours and hours of internet research, and the best of the best kept telling me, 14 hours of therapy per week or MORE in early childhood was producing the best results. So I drove him everywhere: Behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and so on. I dragged a new nursing baby along and the other kids. I sat in a conference room with a two week old baby while they were trying to explain this therapy stuff to me, and I nodded along, too tired to catch anything, and MUCH of that year is a blur……..
In the mood for something different
As my baby hit his first birthday we were on a bit of a roll, and I was getting used to this crazy life. Our son was making slow progress, even telling me ‘it was blue’ after school one day, which was the most he had ever communicated in his life. I was STILL immersed in this world of being an Autism Mommy, but my close friend, living now in Colorado had done something quite unique with hers, she had learned to bellydance!! I thought she was very interesting, but maybe a little crazy. I didn’t even know what it was, and had never seen anyone bellydance in my life.
However, I was going crazy myself. And one day I thought, I’m in the mood for something different – What the heck, and on a whim, just like that, I decided to take a class. BTW, I have the most supportive amazing husband in the world, who almost KICKED me out of the house once a week, and said ‘GO’.
So, I showed up for class. My first day I stood next to two, I’ll say very large Poly ladies who had quite the moves! I tripped over my feet, got dizzy, bumped into people, and felt very plain Jane. But there was something in this that sucked me in – first it was the music – I’m a music geek, but this music sounded strange and then beautiful and very expressive. Then it was my teachers, who seemed to know everything about Egypt and Turkey and gypsies, and lets face it this was getting to be like taking a fine arts course – it was fascinating, like taking a visit to another country.
The surprise: Finding my balance!
But it was HARD! It was so challenging! I had to learn control over every muscle group in my body, and then get them to move in ‘isolation’. It required ALL OF MY FOCUS, and ALL of my concentration, and then I noticed something remarkable: My mind stopped worrying. I stopped thinking about all the things that I had no control over and couldn’t make go away. I stopped thinking about Autism. And the music took over and my brain just stopped thinking about that stuff. There was no way I could do both at the same time and it forced me to rest.
I found my balance! While my feet were literally learning to balance, I came home realizing that sometimes it’s ok to let go. Sometimes it’s ok to let others help you, and to take some time for yourself and grow in a totally different way than you might have thought possible.
I don’t take classes every week now, but our family is in a totally different place than we were then, and I still enjoy a quiet moment every few days to swirl around the room and enjoy this amazing art. It allows me to express through dance, things that I don’t always have the words to say. My home and family are my foundation, and let’s face it they come first. The whole airplane analogy of taking care of yourself first, doesn’t always hold up in the real world. But while you may not come first, you still have to make time for your needs, and find something in your life that restores peace to your mind and health to your soul. It’s doesn’t always have to be about who’s first, sometimes it’s just about finding the right balance.
So for me, that’s starting off on the right foot, um, quite literally. Even if you are like me, and might have been given two left ones.