[Hooping.org columnist Shannon Herrington looks back on a year of change, celebrating her first hoopiversary.]
After I graduated from high school I tried to let go of the fear of ridicule. While I partially succeeded, in the back of my mind it was still there. Then one day a hoop rolled into my life. After only a few months of hooping I realized just how much I was still holding myself back. The hoop was allowing me freedom in ways that I never would have imagined. I no longer cared if I looked dorky and I was doing something with my body. During the summer, a thunderstorm erupted over my head as I was spinning in my backyard. I didn’t stop moving until I realized that I hadn’t played in the rain for years. The feeling of the rain as I spun around in my circle was so gratifying. The rain was washing my fears and pain away as I tossed my hoop around. It seems I had slowly lost myself and my personality was coming back.
I have never been a dancer. Growing up, I dreamed of being a prima ballerina – but couldn’t take any classes. I was told I was too old or too fat. Growing up I never went out dancing or to many concerts either. I thought I couldn’t dance, but apparently I was wrong. Lara Eastburn was right that the hoop gives adults permission to dance. As a result of dancing within the hoop I’ve started dancing throughout my life. I walk through the hallways of the nursing home practicing hand movements that I can translate to my hooping practice. I dance when I drive my car and even when I’m bored walking through a store. I don’t want to stand anymore. I want to move. Now, I can say that I am a hoopdancer.
When I got my first digital camera back in high school I learned how to be a pro at MySpace angles. Cameras have never been my friend. Knowing that I had to learn to love my motions in the hoop, however, I posted a video to see if these random people on the internet could help me. Since that first video, I’ve grown in so many ways. Looking through my digital camera was a good thing. I discovered the poses and positions I’d hoop in were powerful and beautiful. I was posting videos and pictures of my entire body. Even at my lowest weight I’d never posted a full body picture before. I started wearing sleeveless shirts this summer which I never did because I was ashamed of my arms. Hooping gave me courage for the first time in my life.
Some days when work is getting on my nerves, the only thing I look forward to is hooping. I can spin around till my stomach flips like it used to when I was a kid. Even though I never could hoop as a child, I’m reconnecting to the feeling of being a child again. During a Lexington Hoop Jam this past fall a seven-year-old told me as she cocked her head to the side, “You’re too good [at hooping] to be 23.” With every trick and movement we learn, we arrive, closer to our childhood and being free.
Hooping hasn’t become just a way to exercise or meet people. Hooping has helped me find myself for the first time in my life. My hooping practice has helped me in so many ways. If there was one thing that I could change, I’d go back in time and give myself a hoop. The lonely, depressed teenager that I was needed help loosening up and the hoop could have helped her. In the year that I’ve been hooping, I’ve changed. I’ve really changed. This past year has meant so much to me. Today I’m dancing through life instead of drifting through it.