Down Time?

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E working with her pilates instructor

“I have 2 weeks of rest after school and recital time is over.”  This was a quote from E the day after her end of year performance. So where were we just a few days later? At a pilates studios one day, and her physical therapist another.  Not so much for a specific injury, although her ankle and bunions have been bothering her, but more to keep in shape and work on her “weaknesses” before her big intensive in July.  I have tried to encourage E not to work out too much, just keep up her cardio and stretching. But try and talk logic to a 16 year old dancer.  Yes, she is relaxing, sleeping in and spending quality time with friends. But I think like most committed athletes and dancers, they are always thinking about the next step. Even before the grade 7 exams were wrapped up, E was talking about what the Cecchetti major exams (grades 8-10) might be like starting for her next year. Before school finals were even occurring, she was talking about her workload for her junior year of high school.  Before her recital, she was talking about how tough her summer intensive is going to be.

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E’s point of view during a typical PT session

So I do wonder, what is her definition of “down time”?  Mine is sitting on a beach for a week  with a good book, good friends & family and doing absolutely nothing.  (This will probably not happen any time soon, but I can dream, can’t I?)  I don’t think a dancer’s brain or body works that way.  Down time is important  – rest and recuperation is important – turning off the “what’s next” mode in our brains is important.

So how do I instill that into E’s life? Yes, try to live by my words (easy to say, not so easy to do).  Our business doesn’t tend to allow us the time off that we so desperately need and want. We are working on it, but being small business owners with a limited staff, 1 in college and 1 to go, working, saving money, and keeping our sanity is about all we can manage right now.  I never hope the readers of this blog (if there are any) think I have my life all together – far from it.  This is a place for me to bring up issues in the life of a ballet mom/family.  I wish I could go back in time to an earlier me and talk to her (me) – share with her the experiences, the emotions and the outcomes of some of E’s ballet life.  Would I do anything different?  Yes! But do I have any regrets? I try to never look at life and my past that way.  If we live in our past, we miss the present & the future. But I would tell the younger me this – don’t take some things too seriously, laugh a lot, eat a little more ice cream and yes, take some down time.

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