About two and a half years ago, I purchased a Living Social deal for Aerial CLT for a six week Intro to Aerial Silks course. I had seen performers on the aerial silks several times due to my love of Cirque du Soleil. I remember the first time seeing aerial silks in person and thinking, “that’s amazing, I’d love to try that.” I never actually thought I’d have the opportunity to follow through with this. Aerial silks did not seem to be something that average people like myself learned. It seemed like you had to be a super human circus performer to have this kind of opportunity. I have loved gymnastics since I was a young child and had done it intermittently until I finished graduate school in 2007. Aerial silks seemed to include so many of the aspects of gymnastics that I loved including acrobatics, flexibility, and athleticism, but took these elements into the air.
I took the introduction course and I liked it. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight. It challenged me. It was hard to learn the basics, not so much physically but more so mentally. Wrapping the silks around your foot to make a footlock, following directions that made little sense to me, learning to climb the silks (you have to use both your hands and feet to climb? Huh?), etc. I am horrible with following directions- I easily get confused, distracted and frustrated. My short term memory sucks, as well as my processing speed for novel information, especially when it comes to movements. I get anxious when others are watching me and often forget what I’m supposed to do or rush through skills in hopes no one will notice that I have made a mistake. (Can you tell I’m a psychologist? I know what ALL of my short comings are.) I have been fortunate to have some extremely patient teachers who showed me everything a zillion times, broke down skills for me into understandable chunks, answered my often asinine questions (Lauren: why do we have to wrap the silk around your foot like that? Teacher: So you don’t fall out and die!!”) and have gently called me out when I’m not paying attention (what do you mean that I shouldn’t be planning my grocery list when you are teaching me to hang by my ankles?).
Time went on and I learned more skills. I learned to make shapes in the air. I learned to spin! I learned to drop! I became stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I felt like I was beginning to learn to fly. I fell head over heels in love with the aerial arts. I tried the static trapeze and loved it. When visiting New York City, I took flying trapeze lessons. If I was younger and didn’t have 3 kids, I would run away and join the circus.
In November, I overcame stage fright by challenging myself to perform in front of an audience for the first time. It was an amazing, empowering experience. I really never liked people looking at me. Aerial has helped me face this fear. I had been making strides personally as well – I felt more confident & had more self esteem. Due to aerial, I was beginning to open up to others and have the people around me see the real me.
Aerial has become my “thing.” It has made me a better parent. I can manage the stress of my life, knowing I’ll have the opportunity to get some relief and a reprieve from the challenges of parenting. It has cleared my mind , so I can return home from a class or practice and cope with whatever chaos is going on at home. There is plenty of chaos with 3 kids- fighting, messes, tantrums, issues with peers, extracurricular activities, homework, fighting, messes, etc. Yes, I am intentionally repeating myself. It has helped me take all of this in stride. It was a built in break for me from my life. I went from attending class once per week to taking classes or practicing almost everyday. I loved everything about it! The challenge, the thrill, and the camaraderie. I felt like I was beginning to be a part of this aerial “tribe.”
Of course, things were going too well with all of this. I started planning future performances and making plans to test into the next level of classes. I was excited for what was in store, when it all came to a halt. I am now struggling with a shoulder injury from a ninja warrior mishap (it’s not as exciting as it sounds) that is taking longer to heal than I expected. My almost 40 year old body is not shaking this off as quickly as I thought it would. This injury has had more of an impact on my mood than anything else. I have always hated being left out (who doesn’t?) and in this world of social media, it has been hard for me to avoid the gorgeous pictures of my friends learning the skills I have to sit out of. I am finding myself feeling depressed. The patience I have had for my kids is diminished. I am yelling more. The outlet I had is gone for the time being.
I am trying to remind myself that this time in my life is ephemeral. I also remind myself that I am fortunate that this is not anything too debilitating. I will not lose all my strength and the skills I worked so hard to learn, (even though they are painfully out of reach for the time being). I will regain my patience for my children, by learning to be patient with myself. I will not rush this and go back too soon and risk further injury. I am hopeful in due time, I will recover from this and fly again! In the meantime, I may need to search for a new “thing.” Everyone, especially parents, needs a “thing.” It is vital to find something that inspires you, something that takes the edge off of life and most importantly gives you that much needed break from your kids.