One of the most valuable lessons I learned in life is "Can't" is not a word.
In life it is easy to have a defeatist attitude when we face difficulties and hardships. It is sometimes easier to tell ones self "I can't" rather than "I can".
For me, this was especially easy when I grew up at one of the top dance studios in America. I have always felt privileged to have opportunities to learn and train with the best, but to quote Ben Folds, "there is always someone cooler than you". When I would look out on that dance floor I would see way cooler people than me- especially when it came to pirouettes.
Jumps were my thing, in fact, I invented and perfected a few unique jumps that others strived for, but that just came easy to me, so it felt like no big deal and nothing to be proud of. Pirouettes, fouettés, arabesque turns, and basically anything that spun in a circle on one foot was (and still is) the bane of my existence, because it requires work.
It was beyond frustrating to perfect five pirouettes on Monday, only to return to the studio on Tuesday and barely turn three times. The more I tried, the more frustrated I became, the less rotations I could complete, and the more I left my peers sympathetic eyes fall upon me.
Eventually I would look at my instructor, Terry Tansey Schulke, and the word's "I can't" would spill out of my mouth as tears of frustration welled up in my eyes.
She would merely respond, "Can't is not a word. Repeat after me, "I can"... Now go back to the basics."
Such simple words, but the older I get, the more I realise just how wise and caring Terry was and I am certain still is.
Going back to the basics reminded me "I can", because often the reason we "can't" is because there is something not quite right at the foundation of our learning and practice.
So back to the basics I would go.
"Touch-out, sit-down, relevé, and hold... 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, and down".
And then I would have this "Ah-ha" moment.
At times I was leaning my upper body too much to the right (which would cause me to fall to the left), other times I was not tightening my core enough (which would cause me to fall forward or backwards).
But you see, it was going back to the basics, back to the foundational principles where I realised I "can".
When I returned to the basics, to the foundation, it became so clear to me where the "cracks" were in my posture that made my turn, my structure, weak.
You see, often we never realise a foundation is cracked until we open the wall up and explore what is inside, but it's those steps of going back to the basics which allow us to see what is broken, repair it, and make the structure stronger than it was before.
What do you need to say "I can" to in your own life?
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