Lame ducks!

Right I may sound like a bit of a martyr here but stay with me on this one as my thoughts unravel. Also to clarify this is not about one specific person and is so is not about you! I am just attempting to make changes in my life for the better and reflecting on events past. I am hoping that by expressing this in an open and honest blog that other women could relate to it and I would then perhaps not feel so mad and alone!

I love humankind. I have always had lots of friends. I have a big social circle of friends in many areas of life. I talk to people. I am interested in other human beings. I have always worked in social care and have always said this is because I am nosey about other folk’s lives. In the dance world I love the big social networks it gives you. Social networking like Facebook just gives me a virtual world to befriend and chat to folks. Yes in general I love people.

I offer support to friends when needed and have many lovely friends who offer it back when I ask for support too. Lots of beautiful, wonderful, intelligent women and indeed some wonderful men surround me always happy to listen, debate and offer words of wisdom and support.

Now here is the thing I am a problem solver. Especially other peoples! Nothing seems to suit me more than sorting out a problem.  The more I reflect on my life and relationships I seem to have recurring theme.  I like to support the underdog!  Falling out with others and feel the world has done you wrong and I will be your friend and stand up for your injustice! Lonely and isolated I will introduce to my world and find you friends!  Folk who are distressed, hurt lack social skills just hang around with me and I will give you support and strength!

Just writing this is exhausting me! I am wondering why at the moment I seem to be like a magnet for the needy? There I have said it. I do it constantly. My mother used to call them my little lame ducks!

I need to work this out in order to move forward to make change.  So let me try and clarify what it is:

-Folk with needs are drawn to me as to start with I think I have an open heart and am very open handed.

– I am not convinced that I do know how to say No and often when I try to it is way too late.

– I believe I have a lack of personal boundaries

-My life experience has made me strong. I am not as strong as some folk think but I do give off an aura of confidence and strong woman behaviour. Some folk seem to tap into this. They want the strong friend to hold them up and meet their needs.

Despite being an intelligent reasonably savvy woman I never see what is happening until it is too late. I start to feel   used and confused. Generally the pattern is I get very distressed and end up pouring out my woes to my fabulous lovely friends who quite frankly I feel have probably had enough of me and my constant stream of needy friends!

I am very open hearted and what I give out I seek in return. I am often having an open dialogue about how I am feeling, seeking help with a problem or indeed just pondering my woes. Good close friends know this about me and will share the dialogue offering support and wise guidance. But this can be misguided and result in my distress. I do this with my “new close friend”.   Reflecting now as I write I realise this generally follows the same pattern.  I share my thoughts and feelings and the “new close friend” recoil from me and my “neediness”.  It seems that we have a role to play in this friendship and mine is to be the happy strong woman who helps them. This friendship is not a two way street.

Also something else happens. It is always the same.  This friend starts getting pissy with me and my life. The very reason they were drawn to me in first place my strengths , my friendly nature, my social networks , mu successes all seem to become a point of bitterness and resentment.

Gosh writing this down this is really not very nice stuff. I do it over and over again. I am fifty next year and it has got to stop. I thought I had improved over time. Having children has helped as my overwhelming protection towards them has stopped me from pulling in the extreme needy.  What I am wondering is why I feel this compulsion to rescue folk or indeed why I have so little boundaries?  Mind you waking up to this realisation and this moment of reflection I am beginning to think the compulsion is over. I do not want to do it anymore.

So having got that put of my system how to move on and make change?  Ideally I would like to stop attracting these folk to me but this is a bit of an unknown to me. So what I am considering is:

–          Working hard on personal boundaries.

–          Saying No

So time to look around at my lovely close friends and spot the ones that do both these things well.   I need to observe how they do it without being hard nasty and hard hearted. I can say No without being a Meany can’t I?

Anah x

Between the shimmy and the belly roll getting value for my money and my time!

 

Deciding to dance for three weekends in a row seemed like a good idea at the time. Never one to be given the opportunity to “Put on a show” and to dance more that is what I did. Naturally there were highs and lows of such a mad dance schedule whilst running a home, working and being a Mum. The last two weekends was spent in London dancing with Sara Farouk. Being part of “Sara’s Last stand” for me was not without its’ challenges but I enjoyed putting on the makeup and sequins and doing a turn in my old haunt Hackney. I loved dancing , being back in Hackney where I lived for so many years and catching up with old friends and making new ones but it did indeed cost me an absolute fortune and got me thinking about value for my money and my time.

As an event organiser I love creating dance events for folk. Organising something that is close to home allows many women who cannot travel to access a little bit of the fun and study that I have had the opportunity to do by travelling around the UK. It becomes affordable, value for money and achievable for local dancers. It also means I am able to support good quality teaching and dancers I believe have a lot to offer the dance community. Therefore I need to clarify when I mean value for money I am not costing out how much individual teachers cost , or cost of workshop is or indeed saying stuff is too expensive  but more about reflecting on how to be more discerning about what I choose to spend my dance money and time on.

Having been belly dancing now for about fifteen years and teaching for over eight years I feel I am one of the “old girls on the belly dancing block” and have indeed in this time watched lots of folk shimmy and go! Most of us who have been around this long remember how few events and belly experiences there were back in the nineties and early noughties. With no internet, iTunes or YouTube music was shared by tape and events by fliers and we watched videos! These days it seems by looking at Facebook you could be away every weekend dancing. Infact where I live I could probably travel to an event every weekend!

If I added up how much money I had spent on dancing over the years it would probably come to thousands of pounds. The opportunity to dance and study more and indeed to spend time with like-minded dancers means I am often at events dancing away. But you know what? I am getting belly weary! I can hear myself thinking at yet another workshop “I know this; I have done this before”, or becoming bored and drifting off. As an older dancer my progression to the next “shiny” professional level is not going to happen so I am feeling in a rut as an older experienced dancer. I may not be Randa but over these fifteen years as an intelligent woman I would like to think that my skills, knowledge and experience in belly dance have grown. I certainly see that in my friends and contemporaries.

It strikes me I and possibly others are between the shimmy and the belly roll. We’re not deemed experienced enough to be one of the Grand dames of dance world, and not nearly as sexy or indeed young enough to be part of the new world. Only close dance friends have any recognition of the hours dedication and indeed thoughtfulness and integrity I apply to my dance. I came like many western women to belly dance as it made me feel visible as a woman.  Yet these days I am increasingly feeling   invisible as a dancer and beginning to wonder if I am only seen as a regular punter who is happy to pay a few quid?

Returning to last weekend. Side-lined in the group dances which meant little challenge for me as a dancer or performer   my perspective was to take all that I got from a fantastic private lesson from Sara and work on my solo dance. So for three and half minutes last Sunday in a community centre in east London I did feel visible as a woman, my skill, knowledge and integrity as a dancer appreciated by the audience. So perhaps these last two weekends was worth the money and time?

Looking at my bank balance I need to stop spending money!   No let me rephrase that. I need to be more discerning about what I choose to spend my dance money and time on. My passion for dancing often has me leaping in with my cheque book. Generally a happy  punter I will pay, turn up, dance, smile, hang out and spend more money.  It ends up being a bit win some /lose some and these days my passion ends up with me losing more than I gain. I am now going to stop and think “What is in it for me?”

So here is my new criteria for dance events and my  value for my time and my money:

It has to be yes to at least one of these:

–          Is it going to be fun and give me joy?

–          Will it fulfil my creative yearnings?

–          Will it give me a new skill or knowledge that I could not find elsewhere?

–          Will I feel visible as a woman and dancer?

–          Can I really afford it?

Then I shall consider:

–          Could I create the same /similar experience elsewhere for less time and/or money?

On a positive note I can already think of some events which would always give a loud Yes from me!

It will be interesting to see how I get on!

Off now to dance for free in my conservatory

Anah x