My flow arts journey

I’ve been wanting to get back into the flow arts lately – hoop dance flow and rope darting. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s actually really cool. There are a lot of great videos on YouTube and Instagram where people post their flow videos and tutorials. What is “flow”, you may ask? It’s essentially a state where you feel connected to your prop (your hoop, your rope dart, etc), and you creatively dance through your moves. Often many people use music to get into the “flow state”. The movement is generally organic and raw, but other people prefer a more polished approach in which they practice a sequence of moves to create their flow. They practice until they have their sequence until they are satisfied, then post their video. It can be a breathtaking and wildly cathartic experience to flow.

I have not been able to achieve the natural flow state too much in the past, but when I did it felt incredible. It was so cathartic I actually cried joyful tears. I also happen to be a klutz, and this doesn’t change when I attempt to flow, which can interrupt the flow mindset for me quite a bit – due to dropping the hoop, whacking myself in the face with it, or nailing myself in the head with my 7.5 ounce rope dart. It has happened a lot, many more times than I can count, and I usually laugh it off rather than getting too frustrated with myself. To be clear, I do get frustrated with myself at times. That’s when I know it’s time to put my flow toy down for a bit.

I started hula hoop dancing last year, in April I believe. I used a 36″ polypro (polypropylene) hoop that is a nice teal sort of color. It was too small and lightweight for the beginner hooper that was me, so I eventually went with a much larger hoop and bought it from a lovely hoop shop on Etsy. When I started my hooping journey, I had no idea the amount of things I could learn to do with a hula hoop. My eyes were soon opened, and I was hooked. After I got the basics down with my large 40″ monster hoop, I gradually graduated down to a 30″ hoop. I can do mostly off-body moves with my 30″ hoop, and I like it that way. I’ve never been great at on-body hooping (when your body is inside the hoop and it is spinning around you; on your waist, chest, hips, knees, etc). I had so much motivation to hoop even though I was startlingly uncoordinated for a long while. I practiced daily, often multiple times per day. Even though I was far from good at it, I loved it.

Me with my silk dart and homemade petals on the end. Photo taken by my husband.

Eventually, earlier this year, I also came to love spinning poi, for a short time, which evolved further into rope darting. A rope dart is a weighted “head” of some sort, which is attached to a long tether made of sturdy fabric or rope – usually around nine to eleven feet in length. The length depends of the dartist’ physical height as well as their preference. I made my very first rope dart by weighing a tennis ball with some loose change, and attaching it to a 10′ length of rope we had laying around. I watched instructional videos on YouTube and tried my hand at it. I was instantly in love. I soon upgraded to a silk dart, and I’ll never go back to my old rope dart. Poi and hooping fell by the wayside, but not forever.

Suddenly, I stopped flowing around April/May of this year. I was getting into other things like gardening, epoxy resin, continuing to knit and crochet, and other activities. I felt I didn’t have room in my heart anymore for flow. This has bothered me and has made me uncomfortable. Flow arts became such a big part of life for me for about a year, and then out of the blue it changed. Another thing that happened is my madness started getting to me again around the time I stopped flowing. I went through a few medication adjustments and additions (then subtractions) and I lost interest in being physically active. I was consumed by intrusive thoughts and massively bothered by voices and paranoia. It was all quite distracting, to say the least.

When I stopped flowing I felt guilty. I had acquired an impressive little stack of hoops over the last year of my journey, including a fancy LED hoop. I also got some fairly decent LED poi for my birthday from my husband, which I ended up not using a whole lot. Then I bought my silk dart with some birthday money. I felt like it was all going to waste. My therapist reminded me that I can always go back to flowing – it doesn’t have to completely end just because I don’t feel like doing it right now. This made me feel slightly better about the whole thing, but I also became impatient with myself and got down on myself.

Now that I’m getting stable and more used to the level of medication in my system, I feel some desire to flow again. I really hope I can follow through with this. I remember being so excited for the weather to change so I could flow outside in the sunshine. Sadly once the weather did change, I lost all interest. Funny how that happens. Luckily the weather will be nice for a few more months, so I still have time. I can also practice certain things indoors, when it gets too frigid and snowy outside.

I have a couple of issues that I’m facing with starting up flow again. One is I’m gonna suck, again, for a while. I’ll probably need to relearn most things, especially with my rope dart. Two is that I’m paranoid about going outside a lot lately…you know, the whole “cameras in the trees in my backyard” thing. Three is I still don’t have much energy these days, so I probably won’t be able to practice for very long in one time.

I have a very simple solution to these issues, and I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing: I just need to start again. Start from the bottom, build up the practice again, work up to practicing longer and longer, and face my fears. I can do this.

Hope you are all having a good day!

Stay insane, friends


3 thoughts on “My flow arts journey

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