Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Teaching versus practice.

Sarah practising a new move during a break in class.

I've written before about my love of teaching hoopdance. I find teaching deeply satisfying. I love the delight and astonishment on a new student's face when she realises she can get that hoop spinning around her waist. I love the laughing and joking that accompanies my intermediate class. Some of my students have become good friends.

But I've realised I've fallen into what must be a common trap for teachers of all stripes: my teaching is threatening to swamp my own practice.

It seems like a long time since I had an intense hoop session on my own - so much of my hoop time now is taken up with teaching, or preparing for classes. [I've also started making and selling my own hoops, but more on that another day.] This term, I have classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and the past few weeks I've also had Saturday morning classes. This wouldn't be so bad if I was hooping full-time. But I'm not. I have a full-time job and a family who also need my time and energy.

I could, I suppose, allow myself to focus solely on my teaching, but I don't want to do that. It's important but it's more important that I keep my own practice going. I began hooping for the love of it, and it will always be my first love. Besides, how can I expect my students to learn and grow if I'm not learning and growing myself?

I've decided to cut back one class next term. And I'm saving up to rejoin the gym - having a dedicated space in which to concentrate solely on hooping was fantastic for me last year. I'm also fitting in practice where and when I can. I've started going to my classes half an hour early so I can practise before my students arrive. Sometimes I hoop while I'm watching television. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Meet Monty.

All my life I’ve wanted my own dog, the way some women want their own child.

I grew up with dogs – when I was a child my family had an Australian terrier named Syd and a beagle named Josh. But by my early teens they were both gone, and ever since then there’s been a doggie-shaped hole in my heart.

Until a couple of years ago, my lifestyle was too transient to allow me to have a dog. I have lots of canine friends, and I love them. But it’s not the same as having my own dog, one who’s there when I get up every morning and when I come home from work in the evening, who depends on me for food, walks, cuddles and visits to the vet.

John and Sona and I had been discussing adopting a dog for a while. John had even built a fence to make our property secure for a dog. But we had made no definite moves towards getting ourselves a dog until one evening I received a text message from my dog-loving friend Steve, suggesting we get ourselves down to the local pound and take a look at the male west highland terrier there.

And that’s where we found Monty. He looked like this:

He had been horribly neglected and abused. He was filthy, skinny, infested with fleas and worms. But he sat in his cage and quietly wagged his tail whenever anyone went near. He had bright, intelligent eyes and a wet button of a nose. Despite his awful condition I found him irresistible. 

After a week, we were allowed to take Monty home with us. We gave him a bath and took him to the vet, who pronounced him to be in good health apart from the obvious. He needed to put on a lot of weight - he was just over half the weight he should have been - but the only real concern the vet had about Monty was a heart murmur.

Monty’s been with us for a month now, and we can barely remember life without him. We’re all besotted with him and he has to put up with being cuddled constantly [fortunately he has a high tolerance for cuddling]. The psychological scars he had from his previous life seem to be wearing off.

He recently had another vet visit; his heart murmur is gone and he’s put on 400g [he needs at least another kilo before he’s approaching a healthy weight].

Looking at him now, you would not believe just a month ago he was a scared, timid, lethargic dog who cringed at any unexpected move or noise. He’s now bouncy, energetic and sweet-natured … he loves to beat up his toy bunny, play with his doggie friends Oscar and Zella and snuggle in bed between John and I. My days always start off with a giggle when he gallops down the hall ahead of me, snorting enthusiastically because he knows it’s nearly breakfast time.

Thank you, Monty, for making me the happiest dog-mama in the world.

And thank you for being such excellent hooping company!!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

One year of hooping.

Teaching a community hooping class at Moutoa Gardens as part of La Fiesta women's festival
Photo credit: Aydie Holland

This week marks one year since I began hooping. Like all significant events that happen in our lives, I can remember in great detail the moment I became a hooper.

I had ordered a hoop online after reading about hoopdance on several blogs. It seemed strange to me that grown women would use a hula hoop - but the idea intrigued me, too. At the time I was trying to find an exercise routine that I could stick too. I enjoyed swimming and yoga but found it hard to motivate myself to actually do them. I also felt ground down by my job and wanted some passion in my life.

One day a woman whose blog I regularly read posted an entry about the most epic hooping video of all time. I watched the video, and immediately ordered myself a hoop. Oh, how I wanted to dance, to feel that joy. But at the same time I was afraid my hoop would languish in a corner, gathering dust - like every other exercise equipment I'd bought.

The first day my hoop arrived, I hooped all day long. I was on leave from work and spent several days going through the instructional DVD that had come with the hoop. Something about the rhythmic movement of the hoop had me hooked from the first moment. And I've been hooked ever since.

It would be fair to say hooping has changed my life. I have a new way of praying, new friends, a new wardrobe [all clothes I buy must now be hoop-friendly], a new perspective on my physical self [my body is a miracle, with out it I wouldn't be able to hoop], a new self-confidence. Teaching hoop has brought me joy. Making hoops has satisfied my artistic side. I've never been the sort of person with a strong determination, but when it comes to hooping I am really driven to be the best I can.

While hooping did not prevent a bout of depression, it brought me hope and joy in the midst of that depression. And for the first time that I can remember, I went an entire year without catching a cold.

I am so grateful to God for bringing hooping into my life. I wonder what my second year of hooping will bring?