After almost a year off from teaching Irish dance, I dabbled in teaching a few free lessons at my sons' school in Bucyrus, KS. I thought it'd just be a nice way to gear up for St. Patrick's day, give back to the absolutely AMAZING school community we are so blessed to be a part of (Queen of the Holy Rosary-Wea), and give the students who participate some volunteer and performance opportunities at local nursing homes in Louisburg, KS.
Well, I accomplished all three of those goals (check, check and check!) which is great! There's nothing like accomplishing all the things you set out to do :-) But what I didn't expect was the fire for teaching Irish dance to reignite inside me...
When I "retired" from teaching last spring I felt like I made it to the end of a long road. I danced, performed, competed, or taught Irish dance for nearly 25 years of my life and it was time for me to focus on my family and my other professional endeavors. Irish dance provided me with a sense of being grounded and rooted when I felt like my life was often spinning out of control. It was the rock in my life when I tackled the many obstacles thrown at me... losing loved ones, moving away, growing up, getting married, having kids, moving again :-) It gave me a way to connect more deeply with people who I cared for and who cared for me. People who weren't family by blood but family through this community of dancers and families.
But all good things come to an end and so I thought "it's time to move on".
And I did... or so I thought!
Over this past year that I was away from teaching Irish dance, I kept in touch with many of my former dancers and their families (well, the ones who like me the most!!) and I kept tabs on how my good friend was doing carrying on the torch of teaching in KC. The torch that my dance teacher handed to me in 2010 when she moved back to Ireland and I shared with him for a few years before entrusting him wholly with the job. I gradually phased myself out from teaching... five days a week, down to two days a week, then just one day a week, and finally none. It was hard to finally leave and walk away. But it was so freeing to have that time away to focus on my family and my health.
I also needed this time to realize the things I missed about Irish dance... "ceilis" (also known as Irish dance parties), parades, summer camps, theatrical Irish dance, traditions, community, friends... The break also allowed me to pinpoint the things that pushed me away from this activity that I once loved so much... political community junk, pushy participants, and cut throat business tactics.
Having figured this all out, I was better able to appreciate my time back in the teaching hot seat this past St. Patrick's day season at my sons' school. I saw that it was in fact possible to have a group of dancers and families that come together in this shared activity of Irish dance not because of some competitive goal or cultural community status but because they want to try something new with friends. The pressure was off. The kids were trying their best... I was trying my best... And the parents were sitting back- simply proud of the effort and commitment of their kids. Nothing more, nothing less.
And just like that, the smoke turned to embers, and with some encouragement it's now a full flame!
I'm ready to teach again... this time on my terms and with my own style!