Gratefulness Challenge Day 13

What a busy, busy Wednesday! Lots of trekking around town to then spend time in various studios either rehearsing, teaching or taking class. Pretty much a dancers dream day. Therefore lots of inspiration for things to write about in today’s Gratefulness Challenge post came from travelling to new places and meeting new people.

1. Tea: This is the first inanimate object I have put on the list so far. It’s really quite silly, but a great cup of tea is one of my favourite things after a long day. Plus I’m still battling a bit of a cold this week so tea has been extra comforting.

I think that I got my love of tea from my mom. She is an even bigger tea enthousiast than myself. I can remember having real tea parties with her and my grandma from a very young age. I even had my very own fancy mini tea cups to drink out of. When I got older I then got to pick from my mom’s tea cup collection. What kid wouldn’t fall in love with drinking tea when it was made into such a fun and special event.

I can spend hours in a good quality tea shop sampling the hundreds of varieties of tea out there. I mean I love all hot beverages, but none of them have the same number of flavour options as loose leaf teas. Plus a great cup of tea always makes me feel cleansed and refreshed, where as other drinks like coffee or hot chocolate feel much heavier. I still drink them, but not on quite as consistent a basis.

No matter what my mood there is a tea to fit it. Whether I need a caffeine boost in the morning, a heat up after being outside or a late night fill up to avoid snacking on cookies, tea does the trick. Add in the various health benefits of tea and you have this girl sold!

2. Feedback: One of the biggest changes I have noticed in my life since no longer being in any form of educational program is how infrequently feedback is a part of my life. Whether the feedback is positive reinforcement of what I am doing or constructive commentary on what I still need to work on, it is very infrequent. I have noticed this in every aspect of my life from my technical training, my performance and creative projects, my teaching and my various other activities. I don’t even remember the last time I had a progress review at a job.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t received praise or guidance at all lately, but for the most part these comments have been things I have had to seek out on my own. I have had to ask for people’s opinions of my work. Being able to take control of your own learning and development is a great skill to learn. It is important as an independent artist to cultivate self discipline and drive. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great though to get feedback without having to request it.

I think sometimes others think that they will appear rude if they offer advise without being asked to give it. It takes time to build a relationship with people which allows for that kind of exchange. I am grateful to have a few colleagues who I know I can ask and they will give me an honest opinion of what I am working on. Still though, it is nice to get feedback from people who don’t know you well and therefore can remain objective.

Today I had two instances where I unexpectedly received feedback and I was overjoyed to get it. First, I was guest teaching the EXPRESS DANCE system, on behalf of Kaeja d’Dance, at a public school this afternoon. I had a few teachers come up to me and commend me on my ability to engage their students and to pass on information effectively and enthusiastically. Considering how challenging of a teaching day I had on Tuesday I really needed that positive reinforcement. Then tonight I went to yoga and received both positive and constructive feedback. I felt like I found a new understanding and level of ease with the poses because of this guidance. I love feedback that helps me delve deeper into what I am doing.

3. Living in an urban neighbourhood: I would like to prefix this item on the list by saying that there is nothing wrong with living in any kind of neighbourhood (urban, suburban, rural). My gratefulness for living where I do simply comes down to a personal preference of lifestyle. As I mentioned earlier I did a lot of travelling around town today. Some of this travelling took me to places in Toronto that I don’t visit very often since they are far away from where I live. This city is so huge.

As I was on my way back home from the East end (I am a die hard West ender) I started to think about how different my life would be if I lived in some of the neighbourhoods I had visited that day. I thought about how much more time I would spend commuting, and how I probably would need a car. I thought about how impossible it would be to ever get to sleep in if I wanted to still work where I currently do and how some of the things I like to do with my time off would have change a lot.

I love that I walk out of my building and public transit is right in front of my door. I love that I can walk down the street and within ten minutes find a grocery store, bank, hairdresser, dry cleaner, gym, hardware store and any other service I could possibly need. I love that the people at the coffee shop across the street know me by name and that the sushi place knows my order before I even walk in the door. I also love that 90% of the shops in my area aren’t big box stores, but local business run by my neighbours. I could literally never leave my two block radius and have everything I need. I love the diversity I see in my community as I walk down the street. Young, old, rich, poor, and every ethnicity imaginable make up my neighbourhood. I also love that I always feel safe. Even when I venture outside of my immediate community to other parts of Toronto I know that if worst comes to worst I can jump in a cab and be back at home quickly and without breaking the bank. And I love that if I hear of some last minute event that I really want to attend getting there in time is actually possible.

I realize that living where I do comes with it’s sacrifices. My apartment is small in comparison to what I would get somewhere else. I don’t have a balcony or backyard and there is no parking where I live. There is always some amount of street noise no matter what time it is and though there are parks, the number of buildings far outnumber the trees. I can fully understand why to some people living like this would seem absolutely horrendous. Personally, I think it is all worth it. Loving where you live involves much more than just the four walls that house your belongings and I am glad to say that I love what is outside my front door as much as what is inside. My neighbourhood helps me live the lifestyle that is so important to me.

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