An antiquated method of communication to some, a meaningful gesture for others, letters carry much more than pieces of paper with handwritten words. They capture specific moments of our lives-micro stories-only shared with their recipients.
Initially, I wanted to create Project Love Letters for my own selfish reasons. I wanted to see how people would react when they are given a letter with a simple motivational quote. I hoped that it would bring them, well, motivation. But the more I talked to a few other people about my idea, the more I saw that doing that lost the very essence of why we used to write letters. Sure, it was probably the only form of communication back then, but we also did it to share our stories and love. I’m a bit of a romantic if you didn’t know already. Perhaps, that’s why this project may not come as a surprise for some close friends.
So, I changed the project. Each letter would still be handwritten, but instead of given out to strangers, the letters are written for specific people and prompted to write letters of their own to whomever they like. Bring on the inside jokes, poetry, and intimate micro stories because if we can’t even write letters to our friends and loved ones, who can we write letters for? No texts, emails, tweets, or Facebook message. Actual pen-to-paper letters with guess what? Stamps! (If needed, hand delivered when possible of course!)
Let’s see how this goes, shall we? 😉 Feel free to send me an email if you would like to receive a letter as well 🙂 email@example.com
P.S. When was the last time you wrote a letter? Christmas? Valentine’s Day? Share with us by leaving a comment below.
It was my second Forró dance class when my fellow beginner dance partner and I learned how to spin. After practicing the basics a few more times, it suddenly occurred to me that learning how to dance is closely similar to learning how to be in a harmonious relationship. You need open communication, trust, intimacy and confidence in yourself and each other to gracefully move around the dance floor. Granted, you may step on each other’s feet once or twice, literally, but that’s totally fine because it’s far more important to follow the same rhythm.
Before realizing this, I knew my own shortcomings when it comes to being in a romantic relationship. Though I must say, there were four key aspects that I clearly need to work on as a dancer and partner.
The Value of Taking a Pause
In Forró, the beat goes like this: 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE. The pause may not seem like a significant thing when it’s written like this but it is. I learned this the hard way by not taking a pause and setting a pace that was faster than my dance partner’s. Our instructor says that, “you fall into the pause, it has a heavier weight while the other steps/beats are lighter.” Not taking that important pause made it more difficult for my partner and I to mirror each other’s steps, and since my pace was faster, I inevitably messed up our rhythm. I needed to slow down instead of anticipating my next step because my partner is supposed to be leading me not the other way around.
Relationships are similar in a sense that we fall in love with our partners slowly.
All of that attraction and desire is present within the first few months, but if we don’t slow down and take our time enjoying each other’s company and learning about one another beyond superficialities, that fire burns relatively quickly. Leaving thinking about what could have been instead of what is.
Letting Someone Else Take Control
Growing up I was taught to be self-sufficient and independent. If I was hungry, I’ll go get something to eat or cook for myself. If there’s an assignment that I need to get done, I’ll to do it myself. I hope you can immediately see how this can be a problem in a partner dance where the control is not entirely mine.
In Forró, the man is responsible for taking the lead, guiding the woman between bases and spins. There’s an unspoken communication between each other, a sort of letting go that I was initially reluctant to do. Part of it is learning to rely on someone else, trusting him. Both of which, I have a problem doing easily outside of dance. Thing is, the moment I let my dance partner take the lead was the exact moment I started to enjoy myself. It wasn’t just about learning how to dance anymore, I was dancing.
In a relationship, at times it may be difficult to trust your partner because trust is such a fragile thing. We’re emotionally invested and hopeful that the person we are choosing to trust will not take that gesture for granted. After all, we do not only trust them to take care of our toes, our hearts too.
Stop Thinking Too Much!
While the instructors were teaching us more complicated spins and steps, I found myself thinking too much about where my feet should go or if I’m spinning in the right direction or whether I was off beat again. Doing so made it more difficult for my body to actually learn the steps and spins.
Similarly, we can get so caught up with what’s in our heads instead of what’s in our hearts sometimes that soon enough we end up in a downward spiral. Questioning every little detail that may or may not matter as much as we think it does. If only we took the time to pause and recognize that all of the thoughts in our head are mere thoughts. They only stop being thoughts when we act on them.
Intimacy isn’t just a physical thing it’s a transcendent connection.
My dance partner and I would sway for a minute or so to get a sense of the rhythm of the song. Often times, you’ll see dancers close their eyes to feel the music and to let intimacy build with their partner. Creating this connection to the music and your partner keeps you in synch as you dance around the dance floor.
It’s a culmination of letting go of your inhibitions, trust, being receptive of open communication and building a connection.
By all means, I won’t be a great Forró dancer right away. It takes practice and changing habits to have the skill level I want to have. I’m also not shy to admit that I haven’t been the greatest girlfriend/partner either, but I’m working on it.
P.S. My apologies for the photos, our dance social kept going as it rained.
I have a very distinct memory of my grade 10 Civic & Careers class taking a career test to figure out which profession would suit our personality, skill sets and interests. I recall getting assigned as a judge or a mediator of some sort. Back then I actually had no interest in pursuing a career in law. Though soon enough, when it was time for us to fill out our university applications in grade 12, I applied for an honours BA program specifically in criminal justice. Now, somewhere in between a friend and I had a casual conversation at lunch. While sitting on the floor with our friends I remember asking her, “What do you see me doing?” Without a sign of hesitation on her face she said, “a CEO.” That’s a tall order for a 16-17 year old!
See, I think I changed my mind about which career path I wanted to go into about 8-9 times. I’m including professions I told my parents I wanted to be in while I was a kid of course. As a kid, it was cute to play dress up and pretend to be a doctor, firefighter or a veterinarian. As a young adult, not so much (according to my parents anyway). When it comes down to it, there were a lot of professions that I can see myself in but only a couple that I know I could consistently do and loved doing.
I set very high expectations for myself at an early age. Yes, there were external factors like my parents, teachers and sometimes peers. Anything less was considered a failure or a disappointment; that’s a lot to put on a young person. And if I’m being completely honest with all of you and myself, I felt very anxious and often stressed because I needed to ‘perform’. I needed to do it by myself for myself.
But, here’s the thing, everyone needs help in some shape or form. Everyone needs a person or people not necessarily to do the work for us, but to help and support us. We’re not robots. We’re humans and we’re stronger together than alone. So for all of you feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, please know that I’m here if you need a friend 🙂
Keep exploring what makes your heart sing.
P.S. Couldn’t resist the Grey’s Anatomy reference! :p
Capping off this tiresome week with a lingering thought. Yoga, kickboxing and Forro. These are the three activities that I have been doing (and will continue to do) the past week. Varying in intensities, I deliberately chose to practice and participate in these activities. Here’s why: because I want to.
I wish I can give you a better reason but really I don’t have one. I’ve always wanted to take kickboxing and have prolonged it over the years. The restorative aspect of practicing yoga is something that I absolutely need right now. Learning Forro helped me realize my forgotten love affair with dance and how much of a liberating experience it is. These are the parts of me that I have been missing lately.
Now, to do each of these activities I really need to put myself in different mindsets. For kickboxing, it’s essential for me to hone in controlled physical strength and endurance. Repeatedly practicing my jabs, push kicks and mid kicks isn’t a walk in the park. I can definitely tell you that my thighs were on fire two days after my lesson. For yoga, it’s essential for me to focus on my body and how it’s interacting with my inner self. Yes, it definitely pushes your physical strength and you do need to have a good stamina, but for me yoga was about getting in touch with my inner thoughts and letting my body slow down. Sometimes we get so caught up with what’s happening all around us that we forget to take a step back and listen to what’s happening within us. For Forro, surprisingly the more difficult out of the three, it’s essential for me to let myself lose control and embrace my femininity. Quite the challenge for someone like me!
Nonetheless, I think I found a really good thing here. Of course, I have a day job and work in between but I genuinely feel like doing all of these together is helping me become a much more well-rounded person. I will always have time for writing and blogging. It would be cruel for me to take away a medium that continuously saves my sanity!
My thoughts are incomplete, perhaps because I’m still navigating my way around it. But I do hope that you all explore your interests purely because you want to. Even if other people have opinions about it or you’re scared to take the plunge. I’ll be here, cheering you on every step of the way. 🙂
P.S. I swear I’ll be doing my usual lifestyle blog posts soon! 🙂