I have always admired the grace and expressive beauty of Hoop Dancing! After having surgery three summers ago I decided that it was finally time to fulfill my dream of learning how to hula hoop. Having the ileostomy and external pouch was just one more reason to prove to myself that I could do it. I signed up for a Beginner Hoop Dance Series with Alley at Sideshow Studios in Vancouver this past spring. It was super inspiring to also hear Alley’s story, how she almost lost her hand in a boating accident and hula hooping reignited her passion for life. Alley is an amazing teacher and the girls I met in class were also super fun and supportive. We had a small group of only 4 of us and we were all able to learn at our own pace. We ended up doing a hoop dance performance at the end of our 8 week series which was incredibly terrifying and exciting all at the same time. What a growth opportunity and learning experience performing was for me! I noticed how harshly I judge myself and the perfectionist part of me expects me to be “great” at things right from the start, it was a real exercise in letting go and just having fun! I remember Alley saying that last thing people want to see when they come to a performance is you “hating yourself” on stage so if you make a mistake just keep going WITH a smile on your face. Needless to say this advice came in handy when I dropped my hoop on stage, in front of a crowd of 30-40 people. I remember smiling to myself and thinking what a great opportunity to practice self-love and acceptance while turning down the volume on my inner-critic. I must say I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and empowerment for courageously stepping outside of my comfort zone, for making mistakes and not judging myself for them…AND for still being able to rock a cute flapper girl dress (ileostomy and all)!