PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

DARE TO DANCE

WRITTEN BY SIMCHA NATAN

Not all of us like to dance. Some people go through all of life without ever giving it a try. Some make a lifestyle of dance and others of us pine for a time where we used to dance as a way of life. 

For me, I spent much of my life watching dance, teaching dance and dancing myself. It was when I was crippled by back pain that I started pulling back from the thing I so loved. Now if I see dances and dance movies that harken back to my previous life, I find it upsetting and saddening to think back to how my body used to feel and move. 

Recently I was really challenged to think about King David and how he danced before the Lord. It must have been quite a show to cause the level of embarrassment that we read about, to his wife Michal. But why was David dancing so extravagantly? Was he putting on a show? Was he trying to get a rise out of the people? Was he trying to irritate his wife?! Or was he making a statement about the victory he'd just watched being won? 

Clearly, David didn't drop a groove and start spinning on his head in the streets of Jerusalem, although this is what you'll find happening there today! He did something that was viewed to be undignified and shocked people because of how much he just did not care what the people thought. He danced with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14), and I think it would be fair to say that it was for an audience of One. 

It isn't recorded in scripture that David was a regular dancer, or had a profession as a dancer. Maybe he was a pioneer in the dance world, and was secretly busting a move or two to entertain King Saul! But we do know that his reaction to the ark of covenant *finally* being returned to its rightful place, was to burst forth with a dance that he could no longer contain. 

When my holocaust surviving grandma passed away, I played the song 'Heros' by Amanda Cook at her funeral, because the following line spoke of what she had done in her life; 

"You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment"

What does this mean to me as a retired, closet, wishful dancer? 

We all have disappointments in our lives, things that have let us down, or ended up being a destructive force. For me, the bitter disappointment of my back pain represented so many things and directly affected my ability to literally dance. But these things can be symbolic of so many things in life.  Disappointment in and of itself can be a debilitating thing that can dictate how we feel and easily master us without us noticing. It may not directly relate to our physical ability to dance, but it may represent a metaphorical (or literal) giving up of that joy that we see in David.  

In Luke 10:19 we are told that we have been given authority to tread, or stand on the evil one. I love this picture of being able to crush the evil one in a release of creative movement that represents a complete abandonment to the One who brings us victory. 

But David didn't accidentally stumble into a dance move (although that would explain a lot!) His dancing wasn't a mishap! It was intentional. He chose the level of energy and abandonment he put into his dance, and he chose to dance with all his might. He was intentionally choosing joy, and to press into that explosion of gratitude he felt. Years of disappointment and longing for the ark of the covenant to be returned, culminated in this beautiful expression of one man, before his God, without a care in the world. 

When we are intentional about dancing on our disappointments, we risk causing those around us offence or disgust at how we haven't held it together in the appropriate manner! But sometimes that enemy isn't going to be crushed fully or die completely unless you dance before the Lord with ALL your might. You can't tiptoe around the scorpion that is disappointment – you have to stamp and use your full body weight to land that victory on its head.

So dare to dance, dare to take back your joy and don't be afraid of how it looks! Own it! 

 
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FIVE WAYS TO BE MORE PRESENT

WRITTEN BY AMY

Learning how to be present and truly live in the moment is an ongoing process for me, but it’s one that has changed everything. I enjoy life more, my relationships are deeper and I find more meaning in every day things. It’s hard to turn off my mind but here are five simple tools I’ve picked up along the way that might help you, too. 

1. Settle in. 

Just stop. Notice your posture, sit up tall and take a deep breath. It may sound silly, but stretch it out. Roll your neck from side to side. If you’re anything like me, you’ve stored a lot of tension from trying to manage the ins and outs of everything. Let that go. 

2. Observe. 

If you want to be present, you need to know what present is. Look around. Observe without judgement. My yoga instructor, Adriene, suggests to replace judgement with curiosity. Open your eyes and really see the people around you. 

3. Check in. 

Check in with yourself. I have a bad habit of shoving everything inside and projecting whatever I think people want to see. It’s hard to be present with other people when you can’t be present with yourself. Go inward for a moment; How do you feel? What’s going on in your head? What’s truly holding you back right now?

4. Engage. 

Connect with the people around you. Check in with them the way just did with yourself. See them for who they truly are and meet them where they are. Replace judgement with curiosity. Trust me, it’s a game changer. 

5. Smile. 

Be grateful for this moment, whatever it looks like. You won’t have this moment forever, so take it for everything it’s got and be thankful that you were a part of it.

Life is short, though it might not always seem that way. There are always things that need to get done, planning that has to occur and details that need to be addressed. Let this moment be a detail you pay attention to. Balance in all things. Allow yourself the freedom to slow down and to be here now. 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Katarzyna Grabowska

PHOTO CREDIT: Katarzyna Grabowska

BUT YOU ARE SO SKINNY

WRITTEN BY JOCELYN GULLA

I have always been insecure about my weight. Growing up, I had a friend who was always tiny and skinny. She had a flat stomach and I became very jealous. I felt like I had a huge potbelly. I hated going to the beach even as a child because of my body insecurity. As I got older, things got worse. I just felt big. I saw other people who weighed more than me, but I still considered myself to be fat. I was convinced that every other girl was skinnier than me, and thus better than me.  When I started dancing, I saw all these girls who were skinny and toned, while I had a belly and my sleeves on short-sleeve shirts always felt just a little too tight. I exercised any chance I could get. I wanted to lose weight; I needed to lose weight. I downloaded apps to track my fitness and eating. 

I wasn’t eating more than 800 calories a day at some points. Yet every time I weighed myself, the number didn’t change. I was very depressed and would cry after eating even though it felt good because my body needed the food. I was lightheaded often and I got migraines because I wasn’t getting any nutrients. Soon, I started taking laxatives in the hopes of losing weight.

Even in high school, I still felt this need to lose weight. Again, my friend was smaller than me. When we went to the pool together, I would get anxious because I didn’t want to wear a bikini next to her. I became a very, very slow eater and would never eat to the point of fullness. I always had to be the last one eating and I wouldn’t let myself finish a meal. College isn’t much better.

I still have panic attacks and cry about my weight. I’ve convinced myself into believing my boyfriend is going to break up with me because I don’t have a perfect body. Looking in the mirror, I see huge arms and a pudgy belly.

As I’m older, I look back on pictures of myself as a kid. I was never as fat as I thought I was. I was actually pretty skinny my entire life. I never needed to exercise or starve myself, because I was close to the size I wanted to be. People always told me I was skinny; I just never believed them. Even looking at pictures of myself from junior year of high school, I was so confused to see a person that small was actually me. I couldn’t understand. I felt so fat? How could that be me?

Through some investigation, I discovered the concept of body dysmorphia. I can look at my body but my perception of it is altered. I see a different body than everyone else does. Eating is still hard for me. I still try to eat as little as possible. I’m not sure I’ve had three meals in one day since I started college. I have a fear of eating. My psychiatrist was going to put me on medication that could cause me to gain 2-3 lbs.

I was mortified of the concept of gaining weight in any amount. I went home and cried. I didn’t want to go on birth control because of my overwhelming fear of gaining weight. 
All of me would love to say that I’m better now. I would love to tell you guys how I learned to overcome my skewed perception and see myself as I truly am. I still cry about how I look, my weight, and my body. 

I don’t feel comfortable in anything that shows my stomach. Some days I still get dizzy and lightheaded and still refuse to eat. One day, Wednesday actually, I woke up and decided that I wasn’t going to eat that day. 
My brain just went along with it. I didn’t give it a second thought; none of this is weird to me I don’t exercise excessively anymore, partly because the depression makes me agoraphobic of anywhere that’s not my bed. I don’t take laxatives anymore, but I would if I got the opportunity. 

My habits aren’t far behind me and they look better and better as I pick apart my body in the mirror. If you have an eating disorder, you are not alone!