I’d like to talk to you a little bit about anxiety…

I am, and always have been a pretty anxious person. When I look back on any chunk of my life, the overwhelming characteristic of any piece of it was a sense of Herculean effort that it not go spiraling out of control and fall apart. High School: Must make All the Grades to get Scholarship and be A Perfect Big Sister to Not FAIL. College: Must Do Best Work on Hardest Classes and Work All the Job to Not FAIL. Post College: Must Figure Out Life Plan and Make Best Choices to not FAIL. Motherhood: Must be Patient, Firm, Consistent and Present At All Times and Not FAIL. The list goes on and on. I spent the first year and a half of my daughter’s life being terrified that she was literally going to stop breathing in the middle of the night and die. I think a huge part of that was hormones, but clearly, the hormones exacerbated a portion of myself that was already pretty strong.

I find myself now in a life circumstance, that if I can allow myself to enjoy it, is pretty much everything I want in life. I am resisting the urge to catch up on everything that has happened in the last four months, but, in short, the big change is that I am now co-owner of a circus studio here in Albuquerque, ABQ Circus Arts. While everything is more complex than it is in daydreams, this is still a huge positive in my life. So to take a step back:

  1. It is the cusp of Fall in New Mexico, which is one of the most beautiful times and places to be in the world. The air is crisp and chill in the morning, and almost every morning there are hot air balloons floating through the sky. For Real. The afternoons are warm, without being hot, and we’ve been privileged to a late monsoon and resulting beautiful clouds and rainbows.
  2. I have three healthy, (reasonably) happy kidlets and a husband who is a supportive spouse, parent, and business sounding board.
  3. My body, while not the same as before baby(ies), is strong and allowing me to continue to grow and progress as an aerialist.
  4. My “contract” jobs, both as a graphic designer and as an aerial instructor, allow me to supplement my income while we start this new business venture and give me the flexibility to still be there for my children.

I would like to be able to look back at this time and remember how happy I was, how fulfilled, and in order to that, I need to make the conscious decision to interact with my own life in a way that is different from the way I always have. Clichéd sayings like, “Life’s a Journey and not a Destination,” keep peppering my thoughts. It is so easy, to feel like I am one step away from failure, and like that must be controlled and managed at all times. In the bigger picture though, I cannot Be A Good Parent or Run A Successful Business or Make Meaningful Art in my day to day life. It’s impossible. I don’t have the perspective to know or control that destination.

Instead, it feels to me like a giant knot that needs to be untied. (I like untying knots by the way). This whole jumble of how to be a good parent, while running a new business, and not allowing my relationship with my spouse to suffer, and finding time for my own creative pursuits, is all part of the same string.  Some sections pull out smoothly, and sometimes you hit a fiddly bit that you have to sit and work on, and sometimes it feels like you are never going to get the whole thing sorted. In the end though, the knot is just the knot. You can enjoy the process, or you can get frustrated, but the knot is still there.

It is surprisingly freeing to try to change my perspective, to realize that this is something that I can start to have the tiniest tendrils of control over, and not so much, the things I have always tried to control. That I have the luxury of deciding how to approach each day in my life, and deciding from day to day what elements of my life to prioritize. It’s sorting the knot. Determining what needs my attention that day, and consciously allowing the other things to NOT get that attention for that particular moment of time.

I share these thoughts with you for two reasons.

The first, is as a preface to saying that I don’t think this blog is going to be able Aerial Acrobatics after Recovering from A C-Section anymore. My journey as an aerialist is, at this point, influenced by my children and their deliveries, but no more so than other people’s journeys are influenced by their own lives. Circus is hard, guys. I will continue to talk about my experiences and research and thoughts, but I no longer feel like the incision in my abdomen is a defining characteristic of that journey. I remember reading other non-Cesaerian moms saying that it took the better part of a year for them to start progressing in aerial acrobatics again, and crying and crying. It seemed like so long since I had been able to train like I loved, and pregnancy and childbirth were so hard, and it all seemed insurmountable. Now, from the other side of a year, I will say that I am just now starting to be able to feel like I am advancing from where I was pre-pregnancy but that I did not feel “stuck” before now. There were certainly periods of frustration, but just going in and being able to get on that bar and focus on doing a thing was immeasurably more positive in my life than it was negative.

The other reason, is that in my interactions with aerialists, it seems that as a bunch, we can tend to be on the perfectionistic (neurotic, anxious, overachieving ahem) side of things. Let’s work together to make space for one another to take a deep breath, to feel supported, to trust the process of day to day work instead of Lifetime Achievement. Whether these are your struggles in circus, in parenting, or in another part of your life, I want encourage to ourselves to work in our own communities and our own selves to find that room.

What things or habits have helped yourself find presence in your lives? What work can we do in the culture of circus to promote supportiveness, of not only parenthood but whole personhood?