When your fire starts to burn out …

A month ago I wrote a blog about me dancing on the edge of a burn-out again; sharing that place which is so familiar to me… a place I have to pay attention to and take care of… also ten years later… still an on going dance…

I put this blog online on my website, posted it on facebook and put the first part in my newsletter with an optional link to read the rest of it…

I never before got so many responses to a blog… likes, sympathy, support, stories of recognition, people giving me advise, others saying I was brave to share this personal experience so openly, while being a teacher and last but not least more than ever before people unsubscribed from my newsletter…

Okay, this was not just a blog… this one really talked to people…

What happened to me ten years ago was that I saw a documentary on television about burn-out which annoyed me and made me feel rather sceptical: really… is that a burn-out? I know all these symptoms, I have them all, and I am still working… is this what they call a burnout? These people really are overreacting… To put in short: I was in my phase of denial…

Later I went to the GP because of an increasing amount of physical complaints… I started my list of 25 and after five minutes my GP stopped me from talking and said to me she was ready with her diagnose: total burn-out… I had to pull the plug immediately, let go of all my activities… I was totally surprised and disbelieving… it was just two weeks before my summer holidays…

I went home and called my boss – I was a coordinator, running a European exchange network at a medical university – and told him about the GP’s diagnose and that the next two weeks I would round off my work and then take a long holiday, starting with three weeks and maybe prolong them with another three… My boss was very determined and made it crystal clear to me: “Pulling the plug, is pulling the plug… I don’t want to see you at work, pulling the plug means NOW.”

I can’t say that it dawned upon me then… that only happened in the week that followed, doing nothing… my heartbeat went up to almost 200 per minute, I got really ill and scared and panicked and the only thing that seemed to keep me together turned out to be laying myself down and sleep…

I alternated panic and sleep for more than three months, three horrible months, a hard lesson that is in all my cells and that I will never forget. Sleeping, being up, going into panic again and back to sleep… After three months there was a moment I sensed in my body I really went all the way to the bottom… I was on the bottom now… I wouldn’t fall any deeper… time would come to get back on my feet again…

It was in that very moment that I sensed moving would be healing and sports were out of the question, so I started dancing the 5Rhythms. Actually, they danced me while I was lying on the floor… after three classes I knew I wanted to become a teacher and that I would quit my job at university… a crazy insight considering the situation I was in, but I never gave it any doubt. It took me three years to get back on my feet, three years of baby steps… reinventing me… discovering another world… my world… my needs and my wishes… my desires, my dreams, my qualities…

This blog is to cheer all the burnouters out there. You know you are not alone, hope you can feel it too… Take your time to rest, then turn your suffering into art, step by step transform this disaster into a huge chance… the chance to reinvent yourself, to live your life like you!


Slow dancing in chaos…

In December I noticed I was in a place again I know so well… on the edge of a burnout… Ten years ago it cost me three years to regain my life energy and it feels like once having experienced a severe burnout I’ll stay prone to exceeding my daily energy levels…

The difference is, I am more aware now… dosing my energy level is my teacher… why not fit in a kind of hibernation? So I skipped a class, went to my second home on Terschelling, had a small break ‘to reflect on my life’ (like Loretta in Moonstruck 🙂 ) and came back with the decison to slow dance in chaos for a while.

I skipped the january newsletter, I skipped writing a blog, I focused on what I tell my dancers all the time: take care of yourself, self care is the most important spiritual task one has… I have to practice what I preach… self care it is…

It’s so obviously the key to find the discipline to be a free spirit…

I sleep 10 hours a night, and in the afternoon another hour. I let go of contacts that only cost me energy, I am so much more aware of my boundaries and go for what brings energy instead of what slurps energy…

And what happens on this journey is that I connect more and more again with how precious I am, how precious my life is, how beautiful, how wonderful, how amazing it is that I breathe, that I live, that I have so many qualities to bring into this world… enveloped with self love… mildness…. warmth…

Realising all this brings back energy, tickling, aliveness, bubbles, life force… ideas coming up, plans, an urge to get back into creative action, to make dreams become alive….

Oh oh…. here I go again…

It isn’t easy… it’s a dance… slow dancing in chaos….

 

A place to just be…

A week ago we were on Terschelling, our second home, our place to recharge, to share quality time.

This beautiful isle in the north of the Netherlands offers so much, we deeply enjoy the cycle path along the Waddenzee, the wide beaches at the Noordzee, the clean air, so full of oxygen… this is a place to fully open, a place to comfortably hide, a place to move, a place to rest, a place to just be…

A place to just be… in touch with the elements… turbulent, freezing wind easily dancing with the sun still offering nurturing warmth, playfully dancing with beach grass drawing the most beautiful pictures in the sand, fiercely dancing with the sea, that deep salty water offering its magnificent sounds of endless waves and subtly dancing with the all-time composition of scents; salty, windy, oxygenated blended with fragrances of pine and heather…

A place to just be…

Just being in the centre of all these elements is a dance in itself… in this wideness, this endlessness; I feel my own dance with these elements, my own dance through the waves, through the rhythms, through life…

Being in the centre of all these elements touches me deeply, inspires me fully, brings me down on my knees, opens my heart overflowing with gratitude for this life, for my being alive and for the chance to have been on this beautiful isle of Terschelling so many, many times; this place where I can rest, this place that holds me, this place where all elements hold me; they ground me, centre me, soften me, they let me grow and expand, they let me come home… over and over again…

A place to just be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way out…

Saturday I was on the dance floor, not as a teacher, not as an assistent, not as a crew member, not even for creating a visual… I was on the dance floor as a dancer…

The last time was three months ago… such a long time…

Though the floor was cold, it felt warm to me, the ground welcomed my body, my muscles and my bones, my blood and my breath, received all that I brought, my ins and outs, my thoughts, my worries, my tender heart and my tiredness… all of it…

Being received by this floor was like being received by Mother Earth…

I rolled and wallowed myself through the space, praying, wishing, longing; my body being a begging bowl for spirit… fully ready to surrender, deeply longing for some 5Rhythms medicine…

I danced my anger when someone bluntly stepped on my foot, in the midst of a shy-feet dance… I celebrated my body dancing across the floor through all the rhythms, from flow into staccato, chaos and lyrical; in stillness I slowed down and followed the teacher’s invitation of going slower… still slower… even slower… even more slower… slowly gliding into emptiness…

Emptiness…

Wow, that is really a place I don’t want to be… there is nothing…

I felt my fear of going there, felt all the tricks I have to avoid this place, like empty=full, nothing=all, dark=light… very spiritual… yeah…

Empty is black, raven black… blacker than black… it stirrs loss, mourning, letting go, letting go endlessly, nothing to hold on to… there is nothing to do anymore in this darkness… nothing I can do… travelling into emptiness merciless shook up my fear of being powerless…

The invitation kept on going… even slower… go there… into emptiness…

I felt a twitch, a change… a tickle of courage dropping in my moving being, a sparkle from the depth of my belly, the onset of a meltdown, a profound surrender to slowing down, my body found the way in… seduced me to explore emptiness, to face endlessness, nothingness, to really be in that deep deep black universe…

Empty… empty…

It’s beyond words… I am not able to convey in words what happened… there was a shift… a shift in me of coinciding puzzle pieces… disappearing stories… a sense of dissolving… a deep sensation of awareness and insight… my mind having no clue what this all was about… my body fully taking in this new perspective… other sensitivity, new possibilities… a life changing experience…

5Rhythms medicine…

The way in, is the way out…

 

 

 

 

 

Throwing a party…

Today is a very special day… my partner just arrived home from his half years journey through Europe and it’s also exactly 25 years ago that we got married…

Reasons enough to throw a party…

We sent out our invitations for a Flower Power swing party, a swing party like 25 years ago; we even managed to track down the DJ from back then, the one who started of that dance party with September by Earth, Wind and Fire… and yes, though he’s a CEO nowadays, he’s also still in business as a DJ once in a while, only playing vinyl. He will join our party again; a party without 5Rhythms, without ET Bodywork and with soul, funk and disco dancing, swinging and celebrating!!!

Amongst all the invitees there’s one woman, who already for some time would like to dance the 5Rhythms with me, but up to now couldn’t find the courage… She has a fear of being ridiculed, when she shows her way of dancing. Once she was laughed at and since then she gets easily frozen, already from the thought of dancing…

She had been struggling with this for quite a while, not daring to participate in a 5Rhythms class and now she received this invitation for our Flower Power swing party…

Her partner was thrilled! He is totally into the sixties and the music of this hippie era. The dress code Flower Power and the prospect of dancing on hippie music all night long brought him over the moon… I teased her, saying she was his ticket to come to the party… she was the one we invited… she of course could bring her partner, but he could not come without her…

A couple of days ago she approached me, with a radiant smile: “I come to your class Sunday”.  At first I thought I misunderstood. “I come to your class. I told my partner about my fear and he invited me to dance with him in the living room. We danced and he showed me some moves and it was so safe and cosy… I come to your class and next week I come to your party”.

I was touched by her words… love and connection were so tangible and there was a huge release in her… this was a different woman standing in front of me…

And yes, Sunday she was in my class… a bit shy at the beginning, drawn into the wave bit by bit; more and more enjoying her dance …

A beautiful prelude for our Flower Power swing party!

 

What comes from listening and following your impulses…

This is one of my favourite pics from this last summer. It was taken in Paris (yeah, really? no clairvoyance needed here) and it’s me sitting on the back of Marc’s motorcycle.

In this seemingly endless summer I visited Paris to do the kick off for The Festival, which 5Rhythms teacher Marc Silvestre produced.

Marc is a dear colleague; rough, bold and beautiful, he has a vison and a mission; he listens and follows the spiritual impulses that pop up, and turns these impulses into creative actions.

The Festival is one of those creative actions: a 5Rhythms workshop on 5 consecutive evenings, 5 waves featuring 5 women who are 5 accredited 5Rhythms teachers from 5 different countries: Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Italy, all meeting in France…

Marc opened the doors for far more than 5 dancers; 70-80 each evening!

I was impressed by Marc’s way of producing… amazing flyers, awesome fridge magnets saying ‘Dance who your are!’ and fancy tickets; a different one each day, with a picture of the teacher of that evening on it. Some dancers came at least an hour early to pick up a ticket to secure a place, and with 70-80 dancers the place was full every night; Marc was simply clear with dancers coming late… no entry…

We had a wonderful week; we danced with an impressively embodied tribe, willing to lead and to follow, inquisite, ready to explore and play. Dancers were so grateful for this opportunity to meet and experience five different teachers in one week, without any travelling… what comes from listening and following your impulses…

It was great to share time with colleague teachers who I don’t meet that often, time to share lunch, time to share what was going on in our lives within and besides from the Rhythms. This heartconnection in itself was already powerful healing… what comes from listening and following your impulses…

And on top of this all, one morning I visited Musée d’Orsay to satisfy my need for art and afterwards Marc picked me up with his motorcycle! Born and raised in Paris he drove me around through his beautiful city… just watch my face to see how much I enjoyed… what comes from listening and following your impulses…

 

 

 

 

I’ll go where the Rhythms take me…

It’s already a month ago that I completed the 5Rhythms Heartbeat Training in Zagreb, Croatia. I feel blessed and honoured hat this dancing path is given to me and that I can deepen this beautiful practice day by day.

At the beginning of my dancing path I said: I’ll go where the Rhythms take me… not having a clue about what I was saying…

It’s amazing where they take me, I make journeys into the world; to the States, to Aruba, to Croatia, Spain, Germany and Greece, to Paris, to Kekerdom and Beek of all places…, meeting dancers from everywhere, of every age, gender, nationality, colour…yes… the Rhythms are everywhere and I let them take me…

Where the journeys into the world are cool, the dances of the Rhythms between my partner and me are extraordinary; these Rhythms changed us deeply, let us grow… We know each other for 37 years now, this year we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary… At the moment my partner is travelling through Europe for half a year; he’s on his Power Flour Journey, offering Eckhart Tolle teachings and I am ‘home alone’… That is an amazing experience …

I enjoy being on my own feet; having space, time and making decisions without having to tune in, is a new and liberating experience for me. Distance also brings clarity in patterns in our relationship that don’t serve us anymore, it dusts off our mirrors, brings essence, connects us deeply with why we love each other so much… beautiful journeys for my partner and me…

And of course the Rhythms also take me deep down into myself… who am I? What is true for me? What are my true colours? How does all what I lived, move in my body, my heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit? How does it breathe? Deeper and deeper I go while dancing… learning… exploring… teaching… deeper and deeper I go into my own unexplored wilderness… to find ground, center, truth, authenticity, being soft and open to the next step where the Rhythms will take me… there’s always a next step …

 

 

 

 

Deep Connection…

On my way to the 5 Rhythms weekend workshop DEEP with Andrew Holmes in Amsterdam I took the ferry behind the Central Station to Buiksloterweg. Those five minutes softly swaying on this ferry connecting Amsterdam Centre with Amsterdam North, offered me the tickling sensation of holidays; water, sunshine, gentle breeze in my hair… I was ferried into another world… on my way to follow a workshop; no teaching, no crewing, no assisting, no nothing extras… just  moving and dancing for me; my body, my dance, my life, my depth…

I looked forward to this one; never danced with Andrew Holmes before, he promised us dancing DEEP; most of all I was thrilled that Rimke, my dear colleague and precious friend would be there too… a weekend of dancing together… what a gift!

Walking through the streets of Amsterdam North, deeply absorbed in these happy thoughts, a guy on a bike asked for my attention with a question: “Are you familiar here?”

“No, clearly no, I am carrying a backpack and dragging a suitcase… no…”, I thought.

“I would like to know the way to Heggerankweg… “, he continued.

“I can look that up, I have an I-phone, what number?” I replied.

“Why do I ask for the number?”, said a voice in my head, “You’re really too helpful, Caroline… always giving more than asked… too eager… too, too, too … ”

During this head conversation the man gave me the number and Google maps found the spot. I started explaining, it was still pretty far and quite complicated. At one moment he said, “It has to be close to Mosplein. I know how to get to Mosplein.”

I looked on the map and responded: “Yes, then it’s easy, from Mosplein it’s first street at your right, and then the first street left…” He thanked me and he was off…

This was peculiar… why ask for directions, when he was not even close and he knew how to get to Mosplein, which was close… strange… I concluded he just wanted to have a chat… no problem, nice guy, nice chat… still a bit pondering about this strange meeting I continued my walk to the venue.

We had a beautiful start of the workshop, moving our bodyparts with full attention, deeply listening, following our thread of movement, bringing us deeper and deeper…

During the break I shared lunch with Rimke; it was great to do some catching up with my soulmate…

She knows that people regularly ask me for directions in places where I am not familiar and I told her some of  my strange meeting that morning…

Rimke replied, “For me it’s fairly special to dance here, while I am very familiar here…
I spent the first ten days of my life here in this neighbourhood; while my mother had to stay in hospital after giving birth, I lived at my grandmother’s on the Heggerankweg… “

“Serious? Heggerankweg? That was the street that guy asked for!”

“Really…? That’s amazing! Yeah, she lived there, at number 120…”

“I almost choked in my tasty bite of delicious food… 120? That was the number that guy was going to…”

I showed Rimke my I-phone as Google maps keeps the most recent searches for addresses… there it was: Heggerankweg 120…  where Rimke spent her first ten days of her life…

Crazy coincidence…? No!

Deep connection… YES!

 

Living in Chaos

Since my father died last month I breathe chaos, move chaos, feel chaos, live in chaos. I am fascinated by what this rhythm teaches me about letting go, grief, confusion, control, surrender, softening, change and creation…

It’s not a subtle rhythm, it comes like a tsunami… better not fight it… just keep on finding breath, ground, centre… move with, not against… be the eye of the storm…

I observe myself, witnessing all energies that run through my body… how they come and go like big waves… emotions… actions… exhaustion… tears…

Click on the photo to experience chaos…

 

Big waves rolling, rolling one over the other…

Can you imagine me in this tsunami and holding space for classes? That’s not always a smooth blend… It would be great if I could always be gentle with myself and make it myself a bit easier… but no… did not happen yesterday… in this distress I decided to offer a wave half with and half without music, to let dancers deeply experience their rhythms from within…

My plan about ‘without music’ was somewhere picked up in this universe; connecting cables and plugging in laptop, soundcard, mixer and speakers didn’t work out this time… horrible cracking sounds were the best I could get… technical failure… Two hours without music was not in my plan… no distress… there’s always plan B… there was still time to go back home, fetch my own music system and come back…

Proud that I stayed calm and efficient…

Strange… also in this new set up only horrible cracking sounds… a loose contact, but where…? For the third time I switched everything off, unplugged, recabled and restarted to finally discover that one silly plug I missed  and was not fully connected…

Relief… bit late, but still in time… go!

Group of 25 dancers picking up the invitation of starting each rhythm with music, then music fading away halfway, continuing the dance without music, meeting the rhythms from within… that was a profound teaching and amazingly beautiful!

In the silent half of Chaos my laptop was ready for a spontaneous action, it fell off its standard, from the table onto the ground… only one or two dancers noticed, all dancers were deep in their letting-go-without-music-dance…

With headphones on I checked the damage… and as you’d guessed already… not a single sound came out of my laptop anymore… no music… again…

Looooong releasing dance in Chaotic silence… I realised I had to guide the dancers further through the Wave… I started to invite dancers to ease feet and other bodyparts… explore how easiness would move…

In the meanwhile I found my I-phone, connected it to the soundcard, looked up my I-tunes playlists, chose a lyrical song and brought this one into the silence… music came back into the room again… smooth, airy, effortless… dancers lightened and brightened, danced lyrical and stillness with and without music… ending in the silence of Stillness… a vivid sacred dance,  full of breath and pause and lively movement…  movement rippling… rippling out… rippling out…

What a washing, cleansing, healing journey this wave had been… for the dancers… and for me living my chaos…

 

 

 

A last dance with my father…

Almost three weeks ago my father died. I am in turmoil; I dance, walk, meditate and write… I keep on moving, to stay in touch with my flow, my breath, my trust, my ground…

One of the things I am sad about is that I never succeeded in talking with my father about the 5Rhythms. I tried many times…

My mum was interested and curious, when she was 82 I danced a wave for her, together with eight friends, to show her what the rhythms are about and what they mean to me, to my friends, to the world.

That happened in 2012, almost three years before she died. I still feel so blessed to have shared this dance with her. She totally got it, she tapped with her foot on ‘Don’t push me, ‘cause I’m close to the edge…’ and was in tears by the time we moved into Stillness…

With my father… well, that was less easy… always when I just started to share something about ‘my work’, he would instantly change the subject or say: “I have no idea what you are doing…”  with the crystal clear intention to keep it that way.

Now, with both parents gone to the other side, me and my siblings are busy emptying and cleaning our parental home. Yesterday I found the last newsletter my father received from the Prostestant congregation he belonged to. I could not believe my eyes… the front page was about movement, about ‘why wouldn’t we dance in church?’

It said: ‘… not so long ago, we believed dance was from the devil, eliciting lust and vanity… we grew up in this Calvanistic way, which restricts us…’ The vicar who wrote this added he once was in church somewhere in Ghana, Africa, where people danced their path through the church towards the front to bring their offerings. He was deeply impressed by the spiritual power of this dance.

The vicar continued quoting Nietzsche: “I would only believe in a god who could dance.” And he ended with: “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future. Religion is the courage to dance it today.”

I know my father must have read this, though I will never know…