A few days ago, the management of the beautiful dance space where I have been teaching Nia for nine years gave us a week’s notice to cancel further classes and return our keys. My last class there will be Saturday morning, December 20. When I read the email notification, I immediately went into a very spiritual mode of thinking. “Ahh, everything will be okay! I wonder what’s next?” Within five minutes my mind took me to incredibly human thoughts (not so spiritual) and then I circled around to the spiritual view again. I’ve gone through shock, anger, acceptance, confusion, sadness, and denial. My grief is still present. But I am settling pretty deep into acceptance. I am keenly aware that, if this is one my biggest problems of the year, I’m very lucky.
What I want to share with you is the feeling of peace that is coming to me (in spurts) now. It’s similar to the feeling I had when we sold my parents’ home in the late 90s. My mother had died in 1996, two years later one of my younger sisters died, and then my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and could no longer live alone. It was time to sell the family home and pack up 53 years of a household.
As I wrote in chapter 25 of my Wellness Wisdom book, I vividly remember the feeling of sitting by myself in the family living room as I gazed at all that was around me. There was the family Bible on the table by my dad’s favorite chair, my mom’s music box collection, a small bust of Jackie Kennedy, family photographs on the dining room wall, and the old maple stereo console we’d had since the sixties. Anticipating the next four days of packing and removing remnants of our family’s life together in my childhood home, I began to cry. It seemed like a task I was too young to be doing and nothing seemed to make any sense. How would it feel to never come home again?
After praying for a few minutes, I felt a deep sense of peace wash over me. Spirit was clearly at work here, as I felt I was receiving a profound gift that enabled me to move through this passage with grace, strength, and trust. This gift proved to be more valuable than any household item in our lovely family home. I realized that it wasn’t the stuff, it wasn’t the dishes, and it wasn’t the doors or the walls or my old bedroom that was important at that moment. It wasn’t the living room where I stood for photos in my prom and wedding dresses or groaned when mom wanted to take one more family picture. It wasn’t the things—it was the space in between that was important. The gift was the realization that the space in between all this stuff was where I had learned to love. And that love was something I was able to safely pack with me and keep for the rest of my life. My tears stopped and I thanked God for the gift of this peaceful insight, and for the gift of such loving parents.
And now after nine precious years, I am leaving The Dance Space—unexpectedly. This space was like a home to me and to many students and teachers in our Nia Seattle community. It seems that here too, it was the space in between where we danced and laughed and played and cried and expressed joy and love. It was the space in between where we connected as dancers, friends, supported each others’ life events, and sometimes danced and donated to send healing and resources to places throughout the world.
I notice the similarities with leaving my family home and leaving The Dance Space now. It was the space in between where I found a loving Nia family that was always there for me as I celebrated birthdays and holidays without my children and grandchildren at my side. I will take all of that with me and I don’t even have to pack it!
I will take with me the feeling and energy of the love that we generated there. I offer gratitude for every student who walked through that door. I offer gratitude for each of the (over 1,000) classes that I had the honor of teaching there. I offer gratitude for all the workshops held there. I offer gratitude to each of my Nia teaching colleagues for sharing their gifts there. I offer gratitude for the experience of teaching a Nia class in April with my daughter and granddaughter in the class–three generations doing Nia together, I offer gratitude for the space and for the neighborhood. I will leave the studio free and clear to serve the next people to enter. I will clear the space and take all my personal energy with me. That will leave my body, mind, spirit, and emotions free to embrace the next dancing steps; and lead me to the perfect studio space so I can continue to share my beloved Nia practice. My wish is for my students and our Nia community to be open to doing the same.
Are you in a time of life where you can see the value of the spaces in between? I’d love to hear about it here or over on my Susan Tate Community Facebook page.