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The Blog is Back!

It’s been a long time since my last blog post, over a year, and that’s partly because I felt there hadn’t really been much new to write about. Work, life, goals, everything seemed to be in a holding pattern while I waited for the next phase. I’ve continued working out of my tiny basement studio as I wait, and wait, for my new studio to be built behind our house. First it was Covid delays, then it was supply chain issues, then it was our contractor having to go in for heart surgery.

But while the circumstances of my work haven’t changed as much as I expected during this past year, It’s clear that all along I myself have been changing and growing within the boundaries of my continued situation.

Nearly a year ago my beloved uncle died. He’d been undergoing cancer treatment, but his death at 65 came suddenly and unexpectedly. He’d lived with my parents and me when I was little and, even though he’d spent the past few decades living out of state, we’d always had close relationship. I ended up being executor for his estate, another reason blogging fell to the bottom of my priority list.

My uncle was an amazingly talented textile artist and had recently retired from teaching art at the University of Kansas. He’d spent his life, teaching, making art, and spending time with a close knit group of friends. When he retired he dedicated the extra time to making more art and having more time with friends. His life was short, but better fulfilled than just about anyone else I know.

As I packed up immense piles of the most beautiful artwork you can imagine (with the very appreciated assistance of my husband and two of my cousins) and as his lovely circle of bereaved friends gathered in around to support us as we cleared out his cozy home in Lawrence, some spark deep within myself surged up to change everything.

That initial surge made it instantly clear to me that I needed to make some changes. I’d let my “work” drown out my art. Before I became a GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer I was spending nearly as much time making dances, performing, and producing dance concerts and showings as I was teaching and running my studio. But shortly after finishing the Master Trainer program I gave birth to my son, and then had not only a studio to run and a full-to-bursting calendar of teacher training courses (I was also a Stott Pilates Instructor Trainer then), but also now had a baby. My husband at the time wasn’t very supportive of my dance career and it all became too much to fight to maintain.

It had been the most important aspect of my self for so long, and then under the pressures of life I just let it go.

In looking over my Uncle’s life I realized how true he’d stayed to himself in setting his priorities. It was clear to him what was important and he lived his life accordingly. His only extravagant purchases were supplies and equipment for his art, and these he utilized to the fullest. I had to accept this realization as one last gift from him.

But a lightening bolt of epiphany comes much more instantaneously than the incremental and consistent changes needed to implement such inspiration. How can I apply these lessons, and do so on a daily basis, to live a life I feel is in keeping with my true self?

The anguish of losing my uncle had already driven me back to the dance studio to work on a piece for him, and I decided I needed to make that choreographic time and space a regular part of my routine. I reserved the studio space for an ongoing twice weekly rental. I began working on dances for video and tapped into resources, such a knowledgable friends, an online course, and I found a digital videography program at the local community college where I’ll start classes in the winter.

I love teaching the GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® work, especially the teacher training courses and online group classes, but I realized with my weekly schedule now including dance classes most days, rehearsal time, my own workouts, parenting, seeing clients and teaching classes, administrative/social media work, with frequent teacher training courses often thrown into the mix, I have to prioritize.

So what’s the plan going forward? One key element of my new approach is my On Demand class videos and Unlimited On Demand Membership. When I teach my classes I record them and then make them available for rent through my website or through a subscription based membership that allows subscribers unlimited access to class videos. This allows for more revenue to come in for each class I teach, even well after the class is over. On the downside this requires a certain degree of promotion, because it only works if people are signing up, but it is a really nice way to bring in some passive revenue while I’m working on other things that are important to me.

I also like that my online and On Demand option allows me to offer my services for much less money and to a wider audience. It’s never sat right with me that only fairly well off people could afford classes and sessions with me. I feel the work is important for everyone to do, but how could I make a living while charging prices that are manageable for most people? Because of the unlimited audience that I can reach now online, I can offer classes for as low as $10, and with the membership people could take classes every day if they’d like for just $35 a month. It’s a win/win situation. I get a steady revenue source and more people get access to affordable, healthy movement. This feels more true to my ideals while also creating the opportunity for more space in my days.

My long term intention has been that once the new studio space is finished I’ll cut back on my private client hours and focus more on teacher training courses, or on blocking in two to three hour privates sessions for trainers coming in to do more focused work. I find this type of teaching more energizing than keeping up with a daily grind of regular clients, as well as feeling less confining in my weekly schedule. Times that I don’t have a course or anyone booked in for a special session will be open for my other pursuits, such as editing my dance videos. Currently I can only do very small courses out of my temporary space, or I have to travel to a host studio for larger courses, but even now while I wait for the new studio I have already stopped taking on any new clients, or even previous clients who want to return. This is a huge accomplishment for me, as I’ve always had difficulty making strong boundaries around my time.

I realize I’m fortunate to be able to make these choices. When I was a studio owner with ten employees and massive overhead, and when I was a single mother trying to keep everything afloat, I didn’t have the luxury of turning down work. Now, with a supportive partner with a solid job, and with basically no overhead for my teaching space, I still have to talk myself through my choices about what work to take, reminding myself not to fall into that old pattern of taking on too much out of a fear of scarcity, or a habit of constant hustle. I know I’m lucky to be able to make decisions based on what’s best for me and my family in the long term, rather than just what’s going to get us through the month.

The luxury of a little more space in my day has allowed me to reinstitute and old habit, my daily walk. I manage to carve out an hour for my walk most days, but even 25-30 minutes is better than nothing on an over-packed day. I know the time seems like a great luxury, and it is, but it more than pays for itself in productively and focus. We have a wooded area a couple of blocks from our house (again, yes, I know this is very fortunate and not everyone has this kind of opportunity). I turn off my podcasts and listen for a change to just the thoughts in my own head. Sometimes I’ll listen to music I’m using for a choreographic project, but often times it’s just quiet. I’ll think through projects, social media ideas

, or visualize all I want to do and how that might fit into life in a reasonable way. The fresh air, nature time, movement, and break from my home/work environment help me process the cacophony of my seemingly disparate thoughts into a cohesive plan for the rest of my day.

But all of this, the studio, teaching, dance, getting my social media work done, all has to be done in a balance that allows for time with my family and with my friends. Losing my uncle reminded me not only of how suddenly someone who has always been there can be gone, but also illustrated how deeply connected he was with his community and friends.

So with that in mind I’m starting up this blog again. I have a list of topics I’m planning to cover, but I also want to know your thoughts. What questions do you have about working with clients, starting out or maintaining a long term career in the movement industry, or working through any obstacles to thriving on this admittedly quirky career path? Let me know and it could be a future blog post!

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