When I was 5 years old, I took ballet and tap classes. I was (and still am) knock kneed, uncoordinated, and I had trouble getting into some of the more difficult ballet positions. My ballet teacher, Miss Liz, called me “THE PRETZEL.” At that moment, I decided, on a deep level that I would not have been able to explain then, that I was simply not graceful.
My movements were jerky. I got confused by the 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. How was I supposed to do math AND move at the same time? Shortly after, I dropped out of dance class feeling like I would never be able to float and flit around like some of the girls in my class. For years after, I felt disconnected from my body and remained self-conscious about how I moved.
In my late teens and early twenties, I decided to take charge of my graceless body and started to exercise. My coordination improved, I had better balance, and I felt more confident living and moving in my body, even around other people. I went out dancing with friends. I was uninhibited in my body. Was I graceful? Maybe.
As I moved into adulthood, I began to see grace differently. There is grace in nature – in the tide, in the wind blowing though the trees. I saw grace in my grandmother who, in her 90’s, wore beautiful jewelry to match her outfits and who had strong confident posture even at her advanced age.
I saw grace in the way my curly hair did whatever it wanted and still managed to look just right. I saw grace in people helping other people. I saw grace in my severely mentally ill clients’ artwork and words. Grace became, to me, about moving in one’s own truth, with love, with compassion with ease.
One of the most powerful ways I have created grace is through my Conscious Connect Breathwork training and practice. Breath can be a subtle movement or a big movement. Breath knows what to do when you are excited, nervous, scared, blissful, or at peace. The connected breath is rhythmic and graceful, automatic and continues even when we aren’t thinking about it.
Now I am 48 years old. Just before I turned 42, I stepped onto the stage to perform in my first burlesque show. I was nervous and that darn Miss Liz was in my head. I told her to buzz off and did my routine. Was it graceful? Not really. I moved so fast, a picture could barely be taken.
In one of my first personal breathwork sessions, my Coach gave me the affirmation, “I move through life with grace and ease.” What I learned from my first adult dancing experience is that grace can simply come from confronting fear with as much poise as you can muster.
Main blog photo courtesy of Walker Studios, LLC.
Lydia Mandell is a coach, breathworker, artist, and performer working with people seeking to overcome personal and creative blocks. Lydia offers tools to close the disconnects between mind, body, and spirit and to connect clients with their true selves as whole and complete human beings through coaching, art, movement, and breathwork. When she is not in the healing realm, you can find her blogging at Fearlessoverforty.com, on the burlesque stage, or taking a walk around her neighborhood and enjoying the sunshine with a good cup of coffee.