The influence of our beliefs.

 “Not many people achieve their dreams from around here, fair play to ya.” — my taxi driver today from my home town as I was heading back to the States.

This statement saddened me and also got me thinking.

If that’s the kind of belief you have(a belief I used to hold, so there’s no judgement here) then you’ll attach yourself to it, identify with those beliefs and never allow yourself any opportunity!

If I had stayed attached to the belief that nobody from the small town I grew up in achieves their dreams – which means I can’t possibly either – then of course I’d have taken very little action. I didn’t take action throughout my teens, in fact, for that very reason: my belief system!

Before I had the opportunity to audition for Riverdance, I spent my late teens doing pretty much nothing. I quit everything during a time of life that was supposed to be fun and exciting. I was depressed and agoraphobic for a long period of time. Luckily I had some support.

Of course, those who are given more of a chance from the very beginning and have a healthy, loving upbringing, a supportive family that help to enhance your self esteem and help to open doors of opportunity for you are lucky. But not having those things doesn’t mean that that’s it, that you don’t matter, you’re not worthy, that you must settle or give up!

Anything to do with the mind is complex and it’s never a case of ‘just do this and just do that.’ A multitude of factors can play a role in a person achieving goals and dreams. It’s also certainly not a case of some people ‘just have it’ and are given opportunities, and some people don’t and aren’t. The truth is that we are all born with the capability to achieve anything we want (within reason—I’m definitely a few brain cells short of being a brain surgeon or an astronaut), but for the most part we really do have unlimited potential.

Without delving deeply into the nature vs nurture debate, generally we aren’t born with such inhibiting, negative self-beliefs. We are born with confidence. We couldn’t care less if we were seen to fall over as a little child or if we drew something messy, painted over the lines, got the answers wrong, made massive mistakes, looked silly dancing, etc. No matter who we were, where we grew up and with whom, none of that mattered for, until…

Seemingly, a huge cause of our suffering as humans is not allowing ourselves to reach our potential: not having a passion, a greater purpose but instead staying within the confines of limiting beliefs that are simply not true. We can hold onto those beliefs for dear life. Such mentality ends up becoming the habitual norm and can be very hard to relinquish.

If you’re petrified of what you might consider to be seen to “fail” then it can be debilitating and you’ll stay within your comfort zone, although the paradox is that it’s not actually very comfortable at all in that zone, you’re still suffering!

Understandably, change can be super uncomfortable. Our nervous systems can be hardwired to keep us feeling safe and comfortable – however, change is inevitable. One of the most helpful things I’m learning through my study of ancient texts is to be more comfortable with the inevitable: Change!

A couple of questions I’ve found to be helpful to ask in this life at any stage, but especially when feeling stuck, lost and/or unsatisfied are: “What do I really want?” Behind the noise, the crappy, outdated, unhelpful beliefs you’ve picked up, the lies that your mind comes to believe, what is it that you really want and need? Not, “What is everybody else doing?, What ‘should’ I be doing? What would others like for and expect of me?”

But, what do I want? “What will I have to let go of for this to happen?” “What is the next action/step that I can take?” Even just a teeny tiny little step or habit change can be built upon.

There’s truth in the cliché, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

I’ve found it helpful to drop into the body first as you try to dig deeper, to help to still the mind a little – although not an easy task for the over thinker – it can take some practice to quieten down a negative mind. Try taking a few deep breaths & just move your body. Aim to let go of judgements (the mind [ego] likes to judge) and get a little more curious!

At least give it a go! Give life a go!

You might just make mistakes, in-fact, you almost certainly will. You could also completely fail and head right back to square one, but isn’t doing nothing, taking no action at all also failing?

As Adam Grant reminded us in a podcast episode with Steven Bartlett – “If you look at regret, psychologists find that our biggest regrets in the long run are not our failures, they are our failures to try. It’s the actions not taken that we wish we could re do the most.”

I honestly believe that this world rewards the resilient folk in the end. The ones who persevere despite a tough upbringing, a lack of family care and support, mental disruptions, trauma of any kind, etc.

Imagine how boring the book or movie would be if it went something like: Child born, happy, loving family, was smart, high self-esteem, went to college, got the job and partner of their dreams, two children, lived in a big house by the sea, no challenges or adversity whatsoever… BORING!

For most, it just doesn’t work like that. One is reminded of the book “The Hero’s Journey.” A highly inspiring and recommended read.

Deeper and further motivation for finding and/or pursuing your passion is to master and own it to the best of your ability, so that you may then share your gifts with the world, to be of service and perhaps, eventually, pass along your experience, expertise, knowledge & wisdom to the subsequent generations. What greater fulfillment and purpose than the passing down of your passion to others, to ensure the existence of your thing?

I don’t believe I’ve yet reached my fullest potential and, maybe, I never will, but I will certainly persist in that endeavor. I still come face-to-face with old beliefs quite often—that feeling of not enoughness is exhausting.

I also have become aware of what triggers these thoughts and beliefs to arise, which allows me to more easily work through them. Being compassionate towards myself has been a huge part of my healing and growth.

This life can seem like a battle for sure, but so far we’ve won every battle!

I’ll leave you with this: One of the great things about being human is that we have the power to make choices.

Choose to let go of limiting beliefs.

Choose to regulate that nervous system—get unstuck from old patterns.

Choose to surround yourself with helpful, kind people.

Choose to set boundaries with those who aren’t those things!

Choose to ditch comparisons.

Choose to stay in your own lane.

Choose whatever YOU want.

Choose yourself!

– Go easy on yourselves.

 

Chloey xx

Valentines Blog – Cultivating Self Love For Dancers.

We are coming into Valentine’s week — A holiday where the first things we think about are loved-up couples, dinner dates, giving gifts, and showing love and kindness towards others. I walked into a store earlier, and it was full of love heart balloons, flowers (I brought myself some, of course…cue Miley Cyrus “Flowers” please), chocolates, little trinkets, and cards to share with the special people in our lives.

Expressing love and kindness towards others is a beautiful thing, but equally important is showing love and kindness toward ourselves. This is what I plan to focus most of my energy on this Valentine’s week.

This may not be the scientific definition of self-love, but to me, as someone on a journey toward it and actively practicing it, self-love is an overall acceptance of myself; it’s an appreciation for all parts of myself. Being an understanding, forgiving, compassionate friend to myself no matter what is going on in life. Ultimately, treating myself in the same way that I treat others is all part of the process.

Is this easy? Have I always treated myself with love and kindness? Nope! Do I still struggle with this self-love stuff from time to time? Absolutely!

As a former competitive and professional dancer and now a proud “forever student” and educator, I’ve heard all the negative self-talk in the world — between my own two ears and amongst thousands of other dancers. We can be pretty hard on ourselves! Perfectionism, unhelpful self-talk, and self-criticism are rife in the dance world. When consumed by unhelpful,  judgmental thoughts and limiting beliefs, it can be very difficult to treat ourselves with the love and kindness that we so deserve.

We know that berating ourselves when we make mistakes or fall short of our goals doesn’t do us any good and won’t make us any better at dance; it’s simply unproductive and exhausting. Yet, for many, this self-deprecating mindset is the norm for them, and it’s really not very loving at all. It can be hard to break out of those habitual inner thoughts and train your brain to speak differently to you.

It’s during tough times that it can be the most challenging to offer ourselves love and kindness, which is strange because when a loved one or close friend is struggling, we tend to respond with care.

The good news is that we can practice, just like we practice dance, technique, and getting physically strong.

As you begin to practice positive self-talk, you might start to find yourself celebrating yourself more often, paying more attention to your strengths, and taking time to listen to yourself and your own needs. You might begin to worry less about external validation and ultimately enjoy life and dance a whole lot more.

If that sounds good to you, then read on as I share a couple of the main things I’ve learned and adopted in my journey towards a more loving, respectful relationship with myself so far.

While I love a good self-care activity (a bubble bath, a face mask, and a green smoothie), I’ve come to realize that none of that makes a great deal of difference to my well-being if my thoughts and beliefs about myself are not very nice.

Cultivating self-love for me starts with Awareness. Being mindful of my self-talk.

It’s not about trying to fight the inner critic and pushing it away; it’s about sitting with it and developing a different relationship with that voice. I’ve learned to accept and even appreciate the fact that the mind is just doing its job by thinking! That’s its one and only constant job. And sometimes the thoughts are a little unhelpful, so I’ll pause, breathe, and say, “Okay, I hear you. You’re trying to keep me safe, but you’re not helpful at this time.”

Yes, I quite literally talk to it. When I do this, I find that I am not those thoughts. I am not that inner voice. I can observe it and choose not to get swept up in that narrative. It gets easier to let go as I remind myself that these are just thoughts, not facts.

So the next time that inner critic shows up, try to sit with it, befriend it even. That’s the hard part — that pause before we allow it to run wild and affect our behaviors and actions in an unhelpful way. Then, see if you can replace it with a kinder, more compassionate voice. That leads me to the topic of compassion towards yourself.

I’m a huge fan of the work of Dr. Kristin Neff. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research. Google her and look into her work; she’s just wonderful. But in essence, Kristin Neff asks us to imagine how we would interact with a friend who is struggling. What would we say to them? Imagine saying, “You suck at dancing,” “You still can’t get that Reel step,” or “Your turnout is awful.” I can’t imagine having a single friend if we spoke to them that way. It’s actually funny to think about saying that to someone else because we never would!

Neff invites us to think about how we speak to ourselves compared to how we would talk to a friend. The difference can be quite shocking!

So the next time you’re having a tough time, ask yourself, how can I comfort myself in this moment? What would I say to my best friend if they were in my position?

Finally, I highly recommend using mindfulness and meditation techniques to cultivate love and kindness towards yourself, especially if it is something you struggle with. Mindfulness, simply put, is a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. It can help us learn how to quiet our inner chatter.

Mindfulness often embodies several attitudes, which I share in my Beginners Guide to Mindfulness Meditation eBook. You can click the link below to download.

We also have some lovely guided mindfulness meditations in the Academy’s on-demand library for you if you’d like to create a bit of internal space surrounding your thoughts this week.

Take care of yourselves, lovely dancers. Embrace your unique self, and make sure to show yourselves love this week and beyond.

With love & gratitude,

Chloey 🙂

Beginners Guide to Mindfulness Meditation eBook: https://chloeyturner.com/get-a-free-e-book-here/

School, A levels, leaving certs and grades etc.

Some of my thoughts on School, A levels, leaving certs and grades etc, because I’m back in the UK and I’m hearing about it everywhere..

I imagine there are many different emotional responses with A level results out across the country – ranging from pure joy and relief to disappointment and fear.
For those that are celebrating results, after the last couple of years we’ve had, it’s incredible – Huge congratulations, enjoy the celebrations and whatever career path you choose. I always admired the students getting those grades 😅🙌🏻

For those of you that are upset with your grades and left feeling a little defeated – I’d really just love to remind you from experience that poor grades are nothing to do with your capabilities, your worth & value as a human and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t go on to achieve your dreams and make a difference in this world.

Maybe you’re not even sure at this young age what it is that you want to do and where you want to go. It can be a confusing time. But that’s ok, clarity will come to you soon 🙏🏻 confusion is normal.

To say I was unengaged at school would be an understatement, I was struggling to learn and had very little support.
A maths teacher of mine told me I was living in a fantasy world wishing to be either a dancer or an Olympic running athlete 🤔

“What’s wrong with living in a fantasy world” I would ask.
Oh how It would be lovely to meet this teacher again now!


My hope is that the school system will make some changes and encourage the creatives and not just the academic. As of now I don’t believe this is happening, certainly not where I grew up anyway.

This blog post isn’t me suggesting that school, education and grades aren’t important- of course they are. Colleges will look at your grades, many employers will also look at grades, what I’m saying is that there are still plenty of opportunities for the non academics, like myself.
I certainly appreciate those that are academics, I mean, where would we be without them. The doctors, the scientists etc 🙌🏻 bless you all!

One of the biggest, most important lessons I’ve learnt is that the shitty, disappointing, confusing times are an opportunity to look inwards, reflect & learn from the experience and as cliché as this sounds now – these times are an opportunity for growth.
I didn’t learn this at school!

My school troubles stuck with me for many many years, in fact today, I still have to do a great deal of ‘unlearning’. The words, “I’m not a smart person”, for example stuck with me and would go on to affect me in many ways, it became a limiting belief that I held on to and that would often hold me back. This came from my early life at school and me looking at my lack of grades and education and believing that only the top students became successful.

Not all learning is done in school. I learn, I learn all the time – I learn what I want to learn, what brings me joy, what I’m passionate about and what is a aligned with my purpose.
Really, we are forever learning – it’s not just something that you do until your 20’s at school. Educating yourself is a lifelong pursuit and this world is full of hope and opportunities now, for those with and without top grades from school, it really is!

A lot of the people that I admire and learn from through the books I read, podcasts I listen to and the courses I take on are by people that have overcome all sorts in their lives. Many of them were school drop outs and experienced lots of adversity throughout life, but they’ve ended up being the most remarkable people and with such beautiful values.
There are many many success stories of people who “failed” at school.

As an insecure young girl who skipped A Levels, got ungraded in maths and was told I wouldn’t amount to much, but who presses on and continues to learn to live a life that is authentic and aligned with my values, I’ve come to truly believe that the world rewards not only the A* students, but the passionate, the persistent, the humble & the kind hearted.

I just wasn’t an academic and no matter how hard I could have tried, I did not have a maths brain or a passion for math. To have been told back then that that was ok and to be encouraged to head down a path that would suit me more as an individual, I may not have suffered as much as I did with my mental health and wellbeing. It certainly didn’t help.

I’ll leave you with this..

Your grades do not define you and your future. The real world will reward you for your kind, giving heart more.

And as the lovely Steven Bartlett says, “Your life is a result of your actions, not what mark you score on a test when you’re 18.

Thanks for reading.


With love and gratitude,

Chloey x

A letter to my body

“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional depending on the size of our bodies, we’ll never be happy.
The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly as they once were, they simply weren’t designed that way. And if we base our self-worth on our bodies we will forever be on an emotional roller coaster of obsession, guilt, and shame.”
– @iamchrisyking


I like to journal frequently and recently took the time to write a letter to my body, because honestly, since I retired from professional dance my body has naturally changed. I’m no longer doing 8 2 hour shows every week for months on end. My work and training life is a very different now. I’ve spoken to many other retired dancers and their own bodies changing has been a real challenge for them. I get it!


Over the years I have made not very kind judgements towards my body. This topic could be a novel all of its own, but throughout my career as a dancer exercise was mostly about how I looked. I’d look in the mirror each morning to make sure the six pack was still there. It’s no longer there and truly, I no longer strive for it. I’m learning to love this home of mine (my body) and appreciate everything it has done and continues to do for me.⁣⁣⁣
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I have set some training goals, but I am dropping the “I’ll be happy when” story because quite simply it’s a silly story as I’ll not be happier when I’m 20 pounds lighter, that’s not how it works. I’m going to enjoy the process and be kind to my body along the way.⁣⁣⁣
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In my mind and heart, I’m happier and more content now than I’ve ever been and I do hope that if you struggle with your own body image that you can find some gratitude in all the good your beautiful body does for you!⁣⁣⁣
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What would you write to your body?


Dear body,


Thank you. You are my home and the first part of taking care of you is by truly loving you ♥️ I realise this now, it took some time!
You have gifted me with the ability to hear, to see, to touch, to speak, to laugh, to cry. You allow me to feel – to feel happiness, sadness, fear, love, desire, confusion, joy,
muscle aches (lol) .
You’ve enabled me to breathe, to walk, to run, to dance, to live!
You’ve allowed me to experience this world in so many ways and you continue to do so,
And in-spite of the abuse I often give you, you’ve always held me up.
I certainly owe you a few apologies.


I’m sorry for the times that I exercised so incredibly hard and with little fuel in me. The times that I believed my face and you were what gave me value and that in order to be liked, to be loved, accepted and even employed, that you must look a certain way. I decided that if you didn’t look a certain way that you were not good enough.
My complex mind does like to take over 🙃
and I recognise that you would struggle to help and communicate with my mind when it was harming you so much – even though you are connected , you have often felt extremely disconnected.


The overwhelming emotions that showed up throughout the years I now realise were trying to tell me something, YOU tried to tell me things and so often I wasn’t in a position to listen my head only loved to take over and wasn’t great at connecting with you.. But it certainly tries now!
Although, not an easy task, I will do my very best from now on to not compare you to others, I promise to listen to you more and to treat you better. I exercise now not to punish you but to make you feel good.
In spite of everything, you haven’t given up on me and for that I’m immensely grateful.
Although this society is screaming at me to have you look a certain way, I’ll do my very best not to fall into these new “norms” that we so often witness and are told is what real beauty is!


This is for certain, I will not take you for granted again. My mind is healing and learning to treat you from a place of love and health.
I hope that you’ll allow this complex mind of ours (we are connected and now communicating) to continue to heal, to un learn and to love!
Without you, I wouldn’t be me and for that I am Extremely grateful.


Thank you for being my forever home.



Chloey 💕

2021 Challenges & Lessons

As many share their highlights of 2021, I’ll share some of my personal challenges & lessons learned from this year. Perhaps some might resonate with some of you.

I thought this year would bring clarity as to where on this lovely Earth I wish to settle, however, I still have no idea. Some days I feel free, lucky & excited by this – as many of my posts have shown – but other days a little scared with a sense of unease.

The lesson/reminder: Surrender & trust. Leap & the net will appear. When it’s meant to happen, I will figure it out, but also, maybe it’s ok to be a bit of a nomad!

I’ve often looked back at old photos of myself in the height of my Riverdance career. Currently, I am 20 pounds heavier. I am by no means over weight &, in general, A LOT happier & healthier.  That doesn’t mean I don’t long for the time when I could eat whatever I wanted, had two hour shows every night, traveled & didn’t have to worry too much about staying lean! It’s a lot harder now.

The lesson: Being 20 pounds lighter & having a six pack didn’t bring happiness! I must continue to remind myself of this.

I have popped onto Instagram far too often & compared myself, my work, my love life (or lack thereof), amongst other things, to others, & not once has it made me feel good. I’ve wasted a lot of time. I could have been studying a little more, working on my book, focusing on myself, strumming the guitar I said I’d challenge myself to learn, but, instead, at times, I found myself here just scrolling away.

The lesson & actions that can be taken here are self-evident!

I am aware when old conditioned narratives and habits pop up (which in itself is great–awareness is huge!), but it takes a lot of work & skill to be able let go of attachments from the past. I meditate often & practice yoga both on & off of the matt, but I am also a human being & by no means enlightened. I am still very much working on all of those chakras being aligned.
It will be a continuous practice for the rest of my life! A practice the whole world would benefit from.

The lesson: Continue to create space to observe & be curious when dipping into old habits, & when the inner critic creeps in, take time to observe it, manage it with compassion and kindness.. I ask myself “What would be the most helpful thing for me right now” and “what do I need.”
I try to speak to myself as I would a child or a friend when the critic shows up. Again, it takes consistent practice.
At times, I can be reactive & exacerbate a tough moment into something much worse. I remind myself that everything is impermanent & this too shall pass!

Sometimes this year, as I reached for my anti depressant in the morning, I’d judge myself. I’d tell myself I shouldn’t need medication, a pill . Then I’d remember how hard I’ve fought for better mental health & would feel a sense of pride and gratitude. I mean, I’m still here, I’m alive, I’m well, & for the most part, I’m content .

The lesson/reminder: I am not weak, broken or crazy for taking medication. Not everyone will understand & that is ok!

Far too often, I feel & think that I’m not doing enough. I know this comes from comparison—really that’s what most of us are doing when aimlessly scrolling social media.

The lesson: Stay in my own lane! It doesn’t matter how others are doing it. There’s only one me.

Overall, as each year passes, the relationship I have with myself does get much better &, therefore, I’m getting better at showing up for others too, which is wonderful because I feel the best version of me when of service to others;  for this I’m so grateful. I find life a whole lot better when I accept & embrace the challenges life throws at me, when I don’t judge myself for every tiny blip—like my relationship with technology, for example. I’ve almost thrown my laptop many times!

I hope you can begin this year with peace & not worry if every goal you had set for 2021 wasn’t reached or if you’re not in the place you hoped to be. It’s been a tough couple years for most, just getting through it is huge! Cut yourself some slack. May we remind ourselves that we cannot change the past. We can choose to let go & move forward with a little more awareness from the lessons we have learned & with new actions.

Concluding with a gentle reminder that the relationship you have with yourself is the foundation of wellness, keep that with you this year!

Have a beautiful New Year all! x

Toxic Positivity

      • Positive vibes only.
      • #Goodvibesonly
      • Stay positive.
      • Don’t worry, be happy.
      • Get out of your head.
      • Just go for a walk.
      • Stay motivated.
      • It could be worse.
      • What do you have to worry about?
      • Just be grateful.
      • Just do “this,” just do “that…”
      • Well, that happened to me too.
      • Look on the bright side.
      • Everything happens for a reason.

     

 

 

Certainly, most people don’t intend any harm with these kinds of comments and suggestions, but they very much smack of gaslighting in their absence of genuine empathy. They invalidate, minimize and oversimplify the harsh realities of real, human experience, whether directed outwardly to others or inwardly to oneself. It’s the emotional equivalent of watching someone badly fracture their leg and saying, “Eh… just walk it off!”
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it might be that invisible/unseen threats – germs, viruses and, yes, emotional experiences and states – shouldn’t be discredited, downplayed, minimized and/or oversimplified. Emotional & psychological injury, pain and trauma are every bit as real, serious and severe as a visibly broken leg. Toxic positivity is apathetic, forced, insincere and can lead people to further anxiety, isolation, pain and unease. Sometimes, it can take everything in someone’s power to express how they feel. Often, we simply need a compassionate and PASSIVE ear to which to vent without all the excessive “positivity,” solutions and suggestions.

 

Toxic positivity seems to be something of a pandemic, especially during an actual, deadly pandemic in which social media and its insidious, obligatory ideal to “live your best life” (or, to pretend to) is our main, if not ONLY connection to others. Social media fosters the projection of a constantly, disingenuously and unnaturally happy, high-achieving, productive, successful facade. Nobody is all of these things all of the time, nor should they feel compelled to pretend to be. The human experience is BOTH the yin AND the yang. How could one know happiness without sadness, let alone the very human nuance of bittersweet-ness?

 

I recently had a conversation with a dancer who opened up about the negative emotions she was feeling, yet her Instagram told a very different story. If you’re posting to social media frequently, look at your last few posts. Are they authentic or are you projecting a disingenuous image of your life and self to mask anxiety, discontent, pain, etc? Are you looking for a dopamine rush from “Likes” & “reactions,“ even unwittingly, perhaps? It’s important to bear in mind that “Likes” & ❤️-reactions are NOT the currency of a fulfilling, genuine life! We all deal with stress and various emotions differently. If you haven’t kept up the “positive vibes,” kept smiling, redecorated the house, started a thriving business, got your front splits, done a handstand, counted calories and gotten ripped abs in this last year, that’s OKAY!

 

Full disclosure:

– I have put on a little more weight than I would have liked.

– I look at my phone too much and also compare myself to others.

– I make mistakes most days.

– I spend far too long finding a filter for an image or video to post and I overthink EVERY word I say online.

– I am an expert procrastinator.

– My monkey mind likes to worry about the future more often than not.

– I struggle with loneliness at times.

– I am desperately trying to grow my business. I am certainly not thriving financially, however, many people tell me that I am “smashing it” during lockdown. I have my doubts as to the accuracy of such statements, but, like you, I am simply doing my best. I AM a Human Being!

 

I am, however, not embarrassed by any of that and now able to sit with all emotions (the good, the “bad” and the ugly ones) and not pretend that I have my shit together at all times! To pretend, to suppress —this is just unnecessarily exhausting. I wore the “positive” mask for far too long. Putting on “positive vibes only” will ultimately lead to more distress. Trust me, it’ll catch up with you!

 

My continuing journey and fascination with eastern philosophy, yoga and meditation has taught me far more than the physical postures involved. It’s being aware of my thoughts and feelings—mindfully sitting with them. Being able to accept all parts of myself is literally liberating. I truly believe that we can all find more peace and ease when we connect with ALL parts of ourselves—managing every part of you with compassion, even the dark parts that we try so desperately to hide. The very foundation of wellness is the relationship that you have with yourself.

 

I encourage you to be authentic, mindful and okay with vulnerability, and to not need to constantly portray yourself as ecstatically happy and 100% all of the time, whether in person or online. We humans ALL have our up-days and down-days, just like waves have both crests and troughs; respectively, both states are essential and intrinsic parts of human-ing & wave-ing.

I find the occasional digital detox to better assist in achieving mindfulness by shutting out all of the distractions and “noise” of social media. I highly recommend it!

 

 

-Chloey x

Retiring as a competitive and professional Irish dancer

If you have dedicated your life to competitive and/or professional dance, then what happens when your career ends? If you’re no longer a dancer, who are you?

Many dancers begin their career as toddlers and go on to compete for several years, putting in copious hours of vigorous training a week. In addition to school and social lives, entire weekends are often dominated by competitions. Some may then have the opportunity to tour the world as a professional.

Dancers often personally sacrifice so much in order to pursue their dreams. We leave our families for extended periods of time and miss out on cherished events and time with loved ones. Some of us leave school for a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour. Some of us give up relationships.

There is very little that can compare to the feeling of being on stage every night, receiving standing ovations, being in the best shape of your life (and being able to guiltlessly eat an insane amount of calories), traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world and meeting great friends from all different backgrounds who become your family. It truly is the Good Life!

But what happens when that comes to an end? For most of us, this occurs more or less around the age of 30, or, perhaps you were forced to retire due to an injury at an earlier or later age. Maybe you were ‘let go’ from a professional show. Ultimately, we all will have to face the difficult questions: What do you want to do now? What is your plan?

People would often ask, “Wow, how do you perform that many shows a week for that many months at a time?” They marvelled at the dedication and time that HAD to go into our training. Dancing athletes tend to be considered strong both physically and mentally, as we no doubt are, but, we’re also human beings. This stereotype can make it even harder to admit when we need some support.

If this is a worry and you feel you’re struggling then it’s very important to seek support. It’s ok and more than understandable to feel a bit lost. It’s an extreme lifestyle change and you’re likely to feel as if you’re starting over again. It can be overwhelming and very tough to adapt to ”normal life.”

I’ve dealt with this myself and have seen it in so many others. It can be a time that can make us vulnerable and susceptible to anxiety and depression. It’s a loss, and can, therefore, be a time of grief.

Sadly, I have been the witness of many a dancer being ‘let go’ by a touring show, taking the professional dancer by surprise. In fact many people don’t get the option to leave on their terms. The majority of people in show businesses must face the fact that one day their employer(s) will move on, whether you’re ready to or not and this can leave you questioning yourself. “What did I do wrong? Was I not good enough? Is it my height? Weight? Look? Or is it all of those things?” Unfortunately, I’ve seen this many times.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a psychologist or therapist, but as a former professional athlete with the experience, knowledge and wisdom I acquired on my journey, I feel more than qualifies me to give some advice:

  • It’s important not to have your ego & sense of identity solely based on your role as a dancer. It is essential to have other interests and plans in place.

  • It’s natural to want to give back to dance after having lived and breathed it for so long. Determine how you may do so, whether it’s teaching, choreography, strength and conditioning, etc. There are many ways to remain involved in an art form that you love and cherish. Giving back to the next generation can be extremely rewarding!

  • Ask for advice. A sports psychologist, occupational therapist, your family and friends, they’re all people that could help!

More and more, athletes in all kinds of sports are talking about their struggles after retiring. Please know that these feelings are normal. Let us collectively abolish any stigma related to the end of our beautiful, professional dancing careers and support everyone as best we can.

If your dream is a career in professional dance, as mine once was, it can be the most incredible experience of your life.  Just be mindful that in this industry you’re on top one minute and the next you could find yourself without a contract. Drop all expectations, be present and thankful for the opportunities.

Ride the wave!

Chloey Turner ♥️

Managing challenging times as a dancer

No matter how much you plan ahead, practice and prepare, sometimes things just won’t go according to expectation & plan. I have often witnessed dancers seeing their ‘disappointments’ as evidence that they are not good enough.

Some of the most stressful incidents in life and dance are those that are unexpected and uncontrollable. We have no control over the judges, start numbers, the results or another competitor’s performance. However, we can control our reactions. The way you handle a setback or disappointment today affects your level of confidence and resiliency in future competitions.

Here are a few tips I recommend to be able to overcome disappointments and build resilience:

  • Take time to reflect. It’s ok to be upset after a disappointment, but the quicker you can process it, the quicker you can get back to work.

  • Never allow a loss to define you or how you feel about yourself.

  • Look for the lesson—you should review the event and determine what you need to do to improve for future competitions.

  • Keep your expectations realistic and allow for change & the unexpected.

If you are genuinely interested in growing and improving as a competitor and performer, regardless of the outcome, try looking inward instead of outward. We have all been guilty of shifting blame onto external factors, typically when things don’t go our way. As we cannot control chance, in order to protect our mental health and wellbeing, focus solely and quite simply on ourselves. There is always room to improve and the more time and energy you spend looking outwards is time away from achieving your true potential.

After introspection, take action. You must commit to action. What will you do to perform better next time?

If you can begin to see your setbacks and times of adversity differently, in a more positive light and productive way, these times can teach you more significant lessons than any of your successes.

Try these journalling prompts:

  • What happened? Write about your performance day
  • What did I do well? acknowledge your efforts and all you did well.
  • Where can I improve? Listen and ask for feedback. Watch yourself back if you can.
  • What action will I take going forward? This is important, because remember “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”

 

– Chloey ♥️

Letting go of fear of judgement

My struggle with anxiety caused me to have a fear of judgement for most of my life. I’ve always  been a massive over-thinker and had the desperate need to be liked. This can make putting yourself out there and sharing your work and experiences quite scary. I’d often think, “What if people don’t like what I’m doing? What if I’m seen to fail? What if no one shows up to my events and workshops?” Etc.

My anxiety and fear hasn’t gone away completely. I’ve come to accept that it may never. I have also come to realise the following:

If you’re feeling vulnerable or fearful, it means you care. Personally, I’ve never done anything of value that I wasn’t terrified of doing.

Being brave doesn’t mean that you’re not scared and that you don’t have fears. Being brave is about being afraid and going for it anyway. I’ve come to embrace my vulnerability and am happy to share it.

Once you can finally let go of your fears and realise that judgment is unavoidable, you have great intentions and a kind heart—you can do wonderful things.

Why is it that we could have 99 people love us and one person that doesn’t and we focus on the one person and let it upset us? That one person can take away your power; don’t let them, ever! The only opinion of you that really matters is your own, truly. As the great Jim Carrey said, “When you truly don’t care what anyone thinks of you, you’ve reached a dangerous level of freedom.”

People will always judge. So be it. Let them. It concerns us not! We’re too busy daring greatly in our respective arenas.

Chloey ♥️

The benefits of Yoga for Irish dancers

I’ve been an Irish dancer for 25 years and like so many other dancers I grew up searching for the best ways to improve my physical fitness and technical ability, to be able to remain injury free and, ultimately, to become the best Irish dancing athlete I could be.

I discovered yoga just a few years ago. My ego used to trick me into believing that yoga wasn’t enough of a workout, “It’s too slow paced for me”, I’d say. I’d also write it off because I thought you had to be super flexible and be able to do handstands, etc. As for meditation – I quite honestly thought it was for monks wearing orange robes!

I can say, wholeheartedly, that by practicing yoga and meditation consistently over the last few years that it has changed my life in many, many wonderful ways. It was the piece of wellness that I had been missing. I’m now a certified yoga teacher and love every minute of educating dancers on the many benefits.

I was able to go into my twelfth year as a professional dancer with a stronger, more flexible body and a calmer, more peaceful mind – which allowed me to enjoy every performance, stress free and without any negative thought patterns.

Below, I’ve listed a few reasons why I encourage you to start practicing also:

• Meditation for Self – Awareness.

The purpose of yoga goes far beyond just the physical practice.

We have thousands of thoughts going on all day long as the mind swings back-and-forth from thinking about the past to the future. Yoga allows you to be present, to slow down and check in with yourself and to learn a little more about who you are. Through meditation you can shine some light on your thoughts and feelings, without judgement.

Personally, I am now able to be the witness of my thoughts and no longer identify with them, because of this I also no longer believe everything I tell myself. I’m able to look at my thoughts with love and kindness and then just let them go.

A tip is to see your mind as a blue sky and your thoughts like clouds – you can use meditation to watch those thoughts float on by.

This has taken practice, through daily meditation and has had the most profound effect on my mindset.

• Breathing

Many performers deal with mental and emotional stress, most of which generates from anxiety and nerves surrounding competitions and performances, whilst often finding school, practice, home study and other aspects of life a challenge to balance.

Proper breathing is often an overlooked component of training. By learning various ‘Pranayama’ (control of breath) techniques to slow your breath, you can decrease your demand for oxygen, allowing you to use less effort and energy to breathe.

Quite often when nerves and anxiety show up, our breath will be shallow and restricted – activating our bodys’ stress response, which can cause fatigue if not controlled & leave you feeling exhausted before you’ve even performed. Since the mind and body are connected your muscles will also become tense!

Studies have shown that breathing properly can decrease stress and muscle tension, calm your nerves, sharpen your focus, minimize negative thoughts and promote stamina.

• A Balance of Mobility/Flexibility, Strength and Stability

We all admire those dancers who have that gorgeous balance of effortless front clicks, each move executed with sharpness, speed and precision.

The various Yoga ‘asanas’ (body postures) will help to make your dancing look and feel more relaxed and effortless by improving both the range of motion around your joints and overall body strength, creating that perfect balance of flexibility, strength and control.

As you can see, yoga is not only beneficial to Irish dancers because of the physical challenges it presents, but also because it is a discipline of the mind. Personally, I always leave my yoga practice with a calmer, peaceful mind and a relaxed body with less tension.

As with anything, you’ll get the most benefit if you practice yoga consistently. Overtime, I promise you’ll reap the benefits!

Chloey ♥️