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Dancing Through Life and Through COVID-19

What my transition from being a triple-threat performer to being a mental performance coach taught me, and how you can apply this to yourself during lockdown.

I was literally dancing through life, or at least, so I thought…before I began my transition from being a professional dancer, actor and singer to being a mental performance coach.

The truth is, many of us are now in a similar season of transition as we find ourselves in this new age of social isolation and work-from-home order, where our lives as we once knew them have been turned upside down.

You see, my professional career as a triple-threat performer was a blessing and I was able to do it for 11 years, but when the gigs began to slow down it became a little frightening for me. 

Fact. I was told by my parents that I danced before I could walk, so I have literally been dancing for over 40 YEARS!! I’m sure you can imagine that a major part of my identity had been tied to being a dancer (turned actor, singer, performer), for my entire life.

Now my path had become unclear, and I had NO contingency plan in place for what I would do instead of performing. 

What now? 

I had to figure this out and so I dug deep to rediscover all my other gifts and talents, which meant remembering that I was also gifted academically. I had initially begun my post-secondary journey 13 years prior and had failed miserably. Now the option to return to school was a definite reality and I was TOTALLY PETRIFIED! 

However, I quickly thought of my acting classes and realized that those lessons were quite relatable to what is taught in psychology.

Character analysis vs psychoanalysis?

 YES!! I had found my path!! 

I decided that despite my fears, I would do my degree in psychology, specializing in mental health studies. I mean, what did I have to lose, right?? And I would hate to have lived my life filled with regret for not at least trying.

And so, it began: my seven-year journey into completing my education. 

Once I finished my master’s degree, I genuinely thought that I had completed the transition from performer to coach. This was not at all the case. Once my master’s ended, I THEN had to grieve the LOSS of my identity as a dancer. 

All this, as I moved into accepting my new identity as a mental performance coach and speaker. These were new aspects of my life and career which I loved, but still, I missed the old me.

But was this not still me? Had I not simply transitioned and evolved into a different version of myself?

Yes, I had indeed, but we’re talking about switching from being on stage where I moved and flowed, to expressing myself through coaching and speaking which felt quite different.

Thankfully, my experience as a professional performer fed quite well into my new role as a mental performance coach. Still, somehow, I couldn’t seem to shake that feeling of wondering where the old dancer girl went.

I was so clear about that old version of me, and now I had to recreate and redefine my image and identity to match the direction in which I was headed. This was both exciting and daunting, at the same time.

Suddenly, I realized what I needed to do to honour the space between who I was and who I was becoming, while giving myself GRACE. I needed to understand that this was a process, and release any judgment and resistance that I was experiencing, to be ok with this stage of my life. Once I was able to do this, I became calmer, and while I still had to work as hard as ever, opportunities began to flow more easily.

Fast forward to today and here we are in this period of pandemic, social isolation, and a work-from/stay-at-home order. It is imperative that we give ourselves this same measure of grace at this time. 

So many of our careers depend upon being face to face with our clients, which now is especially challenging. As a result of being physically distanced, we have had to dig deep and pivot so that other ways of earning an income may show up.

For the vast majority, this has come out of left-field, and never in a million years was there a thought that such a major life change would happen so quickly. Still we must adjust, and where time and situation permit, a transition into doing something new at your own pace may be possible!

For some, this may be a completely new start and not a move from doing something else at all. 

I am reminded of the transition that I had to make not too long ago, and of what I learned as a result, which can also apply to a new endeavour!

So here are my top tips for creating, and transitioning to, something new during lockdown:

1. Be gentle with yourself. 

The last thing that you want to do is to start beating up on yourself for a situation that is beyond your control. Instead, replace your negative thoughts with thoughts of encouragement, even when it doesn’t feel like things are very positive.

2. Make a list of things that you enjoy doing.

If you have the ability to make this change or to create something new, move into something that will be fulfilling in the long run and bring joy to your life!

3. Make a list of things that you are great at doing.

This may or may not be immediately apparent. Some people have been so focused on their careers that they have forgotten their other interests, skills and gifts. Think as far back as you can to things that you may have excelled at even as a child! 

4. Identify your skills and gifts that don’t require being physically in front of your clients. 

Your new endeavour may absolutely be client-based, but the more option there is to meet with your clients online, the better off you will be for this time.

5. Start writing out what your new endeavour could look like, and by all means, DREAM BIG!!! 

Every new task starts with some big dreaming and goal-setting. Begin with your dream goals, and don’t worry about them being too big; it is YOUR dream! Then write out five realistic goals which may help with achieving your dream, and finally, write five daily goals which will bring you closer to attaining your realistic goals!

6. Identify people in your circle who are familiar with what you wish to do and reach out! 

We are connecting more than ever nowadays, so it is the perfect time to start making the connections that can guide you towards your goals. Ask for recommendations of anyone who can be of help in any way.

7. Ask for support! 

Many people are trying to maneuver through this time alone which eventually may weigh them down. Whether you speak to a career coach, a psychologist, or a mental performance coach; the key is to have someone in your corner, for guidance, who can add a fresh perspective and so that you don’t have to go it alone!

8. Show yourself some compassion! 

Remember that having to give up something that you loved and enjoyed doing before you were ready to do so, can have quite an effect on a person. How you might be feeling is valid, and this is even more reason why you need to be supported during this process.

9. Get to work!! 

If starting something new is what you feel so inclined to do at this time, then consider this moment to be a gift! It is an opportunity to get something different going and who knows, you might be able to combine it with the career you had prior to the pandemic!! Either way, it can be a win-win!! 

These are unprecedented times in which we are living, and everyone is doing their best to survive and thrive. If you are struggling with how to manage the transitions that you are facing, and you wish support, please go to my  contact page and let us connect.

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