Dancing a Pathway to Freedom

Photo by Smabs Sputzer on Flikr Creative Commons

Fiona was very clearly a dancer, or so I assumed watching her elegant figure enter the room. Her poise spoke of her obvious confidence in her movement and her natural comfort at inhabiting her body. Later on in the meeting, we were introduced to each other and I was shocked to hear that she was a ‘head-hunter, working in the centre of London.’ A self-assured voice inside my head remarked: “There you go making big assumptions about people again…”. So, my curiosity aroused, I proceeded to chat with Fiona and ask her how she was finding her job. “I hate it” she said. “I’ve come here for some breathing space and to re-think my life…”

During coaching, Fiona was keen to explore what other options there might be for earning a living with the experience and qualifications she had. She’d started her working life as a student nurse as she told me she’d always been very interested in healthcare and nurturing others, but had quit nursing soon after qualifying as she found that, living in London, she was not able to make ends meet. She was also a qualified Yoga teacher. “I love Yoga – the physical movement and the health benefits – ..” she told me “…but I’ve only ever taught a few evening classes a week as a hobby, because of course no-one can make a decent living out of that!”

Exploring further unearthed a passion in her life that was even stronger than the Yoga and with a whole host of ever greater stultifying limiting beliefs attached to it – she really loved to dance! It was what she did at home when no-one was looking. It was what she did in any moment of free time she could grab – salsa, folk, jazz, street, tap and ballet, anything that allowed her to express herself through graceful, soulful movement.

Coaching works on the premise that we only need to remove the obstacles in our path, the smoke screen of delusion about our lives and the role we play in it, for our true nature to shine through. Fiona and I set to work tackling those beliefs that were holding her back. We explored her core values and her most pressing needs. What emerged as a result was a strong urge to combine her interest in health with her love of dance. Once she allowed herself to believe that she could actually create her own vocation, rather than attempting to fit into other’s ideas of what she should do, opportunities to experiment with her new brainwaves started to arise.

Firstly, she responded to an advert offering a small, very affordable flat to rent in a town outside of London. Having reduced her living costs, she then applied to her employer to reduce her working hours and started leading a couple of dance classes close to home. Over the course of about a year, these grew in number and she reduced her head-hunting commitments even further until she was in a position to leave her paid job altogether.

Having spoken with a local residential home for the elderly about her interest in health and wellbeing, she was invited to teach some gentle but fun classes there, re-introducing music with movement and much needed physical contact to those who had fond memories of tea dances and romantic dance evenings in their youth.

She has also been invited to teach dance on a business team building course! Her willingness to be imaginative and creative and to go with her intuition with regards to who to work with are starting to show results. Her instinct at present is that there’s a special place for her in this world combining dance and movement with therapy and both personal and team development. This is the path that seems to be unfolding before her.

Fiona tells me her days are now filled with gratitude and laughter rather than anxiety and stress and that, although both her income and her material standard of living are much reduced, she has never been happier.

4 Responses to Dancing a Pathway to Freedom

  1. Richard March 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Great story: i hope it inspires others and that Fiona continues with her much better quality of life. I think the transition is hard for most people not just because of false beliefs but also because society has been organised by the rich and powerful to produce drones and keep them at the money-making machine. After gaining a computing degree i spent more than 20 years muddling along in the IT industry as a misfit – starting off as a competent developer but not morphing into a corporate type or a dedicated specialist or an entrepeneur – i returned to academia to study biology and have just completed a doctorate. Unfortunately the academic job market is very tough so it looks like early retirement for me…

  2. Sally March 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Richard – Sounds as though this piece has provoked some interesting ponderings for you. I take what you say about the money-making machine. Yes, this is not an easy society for cultivating authenticity and it can be a steep growth curve to assert oneself under these conditions. I’m wondering how happy you are with taking early retirement or whether you’re using that term as a euphemism for redundancy. It would be interesting to hear where you sense this is taking you…

  3. Richard April 2, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Hi Sally

    I’m not happy being pensioned off and i’m not using retirement as a euphemism for redundancy. I’m frustrated that there is a lack of opportunity to employ my demonstrated research capability. The job market is so small for lack of money. Public funding for health research is tiny in proportion to government support for military R&D while industry is focussed on profitable revenue streams: there is precious little for fundamental research.

    Where do i sense this is taking me? I would expect degeneration into depression and or alcoholism though, fortunately, i have a generally sunny disposition and cope quite well with being a disenfrachised, marginalised, older citizen of limited means!

  4. Sally April 2, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Hi Richard,

    Coincidentally, I was giving some thought this morning to a blog post on what it feels like to be swimming up stream. The rebel in me loves to imagine all kinds of subversive, heart-led acts of ‘doing it anyway’ in response to the mind-led, profit focussed manipulations of the state and a great many corporations.

    I trust that you will find your niche in retirement and that you will be offered the opportunities you need to use the research skills for which you have so much enthusiasm.

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