joreth: (polyamory)
Here's why my Simple Steps workshop is so important (the workshop where I teach using lead and follow exercises to improve your relationship communication):

I went to an all-night dance event on a Friday - the day after I got fired from a gig over a medical condition. To say that I was having a bad week is an understatement. At that event, I had 2 friends there - one who dances and one who doesn't.

I met them both at roughly the same time. The dancer, I actually met a year or so ago, but only barely. He doesn't live in the US, he only visits here for a couple of months a year. So he came to a dance event once or twice last year, where I met him. I'm not sure I remembered his name until recently.

About 6 months ago, I started doing a weekly dance thing that I helped to organize with this dancer's father. Because it was his father's project, he attended the first couple of weeks even though that style of dance wasn't really his thing. Because it was a late-night sort of event, some of us night owls started staying afterwards to just chit chat. That's where I actually learned his name and set him apart from just "one of the dancers".

We didn't have any alone-time or any particularly intimate conversation, but we got to know each other well enough, and the others who stayed late to talk, that we have formed our own FB chat group to coordinate weekly get-togethers even though that weekly dance event is no longer.

At this same weekly dance event, I got to know one of the employees at the venue. Again, not very well, but we chatted a bit as I arrived and as I left every week, as did some of the other dancers. Then, when the dance event was canceled, we invited him to meet up with us after he got off work, since he really enjoyed seeing all of us dancers show up and now we weren't going to anymore. He and I have since had some *very* personal conversations and some intense alone-time, and we have gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, the day before this particular dance event is when I got fired from that gig. I realized 4 days later that I have officially slid back into my depression, complete with suicidal ideation. But on that Friday, I didn't realize I was heading towards depression, I just thought I was sad and upset over losing the gig, which is to be expected.

On Friday night (the next day), I went out dancing. The dancer friend was performing at the beginning of the event and I wanted to support him. That was enough motivation to push me through my growing depression and make myself leave the house. I fought my depression all night, and on at least 3 separate occasions, I nearly left to just go sit at home and cry. But I didn't. I pushed through and danced all night.

Dancing releases a lot of endorphins. It's a pretty strong mood elevator for me. But "mood" and "depression" are not the same thing, just ask Robin Williams. Once I started dancing, I got into a good mood. But the depression was still there, bubbling under the surface.

Here's my point...

My non-dancer friend remarked on how happy I looked. So I just smiled and mentioned the endorphins. Remember, I didn't recognize my depression yet, but I was a little surprised that the sadness wasn't showing through. I often post a "sneak peak" selfie of my outfits when I get dressed up and go out, and I think it's glaringly obvious in the picture I posted that night.

By the middle of the night after dancing for a few hours, I was feeling energetic and confident, and I was happy to see my friends. And this friend saw that.

But my dancer friend had one dance with me and knew something was wrong. And it was our best dance ever, yet he still knew.

He's a better dancer than I am, and I am new to this particular style of dance. So over the last few months, he's seen me go from unconfident, hesitant, and wooden, to relaxed and confident and trusting with him. So on Friday, we had our best dance ever. He was amazed and said we should have gotten it on video. And I mean it was a *good* dance - I looked like I had been taking lessons and practicing for months, when the reality is that I've never had a lesson in this particular style and I've really only danced it a couple handfuls of times in social settings.

But later, when we left the loud music and walked around outside in the quiet and the dark, the first thing he did was ask me what's wrong.

I was smiling, energetic, and *killing* it on the dance floor. But I was sliding into a depression. The friend who had some really intimate conversations with me couldn't see the depression. The dancer friend held me close for 3 minutes and, even though everything my body did was right, he still felt it.

This is why my workshop is important. With a dance partner, everything is out in the open, laid bare, raw, exposed, vulnerable. You can learn to read that, and honor that. Dance is one of the ways that can be learned.

And, of course, my workshop doesn't teach actual *dancing*, just the parts of dance that are relevant to that ability to communicate on such an intimate, intuitive level. No musicality or physical prowess or ability to memorize patterns necessary. Just pure, unfiltered flow of primal energy between two people.

He was able to read me that easily, in spite of not being a romantic partner and not knowing me very long or very well, because he is a Very Good Lead and I am a Very Good Follow. I can teach you the exercises that will guide you towards those leading and following skills.

But they take practice. He and I have been practicing, independently, for most of our adult lives. We did not need to practice with each other to learn how to read each other. We did, however, need to practice. A lot. For a long time.

My workshop will give you the tools to grow to this level of proficiency. But it's not a magic spell, where you whisper the incantation and move in the ritualistic movements one time and suddenly you're a good communicator. You have to practice the exercises that I will teach you after you leave my workshop.

And I promise, the amount of commitment you put into it will be proportional to the results you will get in the end.

Because he could read me with one 3-minute dance, through the endorphins brought on by physical activity, through my active processes to be pleasant and sociable and pretend like depression isn't a thing, through all the noise and distraction and other dancers, even through the sensuality and flirtatiousness of the dance and the barriers we all put up just for not knowing someone very well. 3 minutes of full body contact, and he knew.

You, too, can learn how to read the people you are close to. If you are driven enough to learn. And I can show you how.

Simple Steps For Better Relationship Communication with Joreth - available to come to your event! My next workshop will be at PolyDay North - SquiggleCon in Carlisle, England. Get your tickets now!

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