[Hooping.org Assistant Editor Bonnie MacDougall spins her way through life.]
If you’re anything like me your mind is a virtual hooping vortex sometimes, constantly spinning all things into a hooping metaphor, example, or way of being. I can be in the most mundane setting and find a way to turn my thoughts about the situation into a hooping scenario. Do you find driving boring or a space full of endless frustration? My alone time in the car is inevitably spent becoming fully immersed in the music playing through my iPod and imagining myself hooping to the rhythms. I literally feel my adrenal rush as the music changes, knowing how I would fly my arms and hands during that moment in the song, feeling my legs want to bend and groove with each beat, all the while fully engaged with my ever spinning dance partner. And then whoosh, the song ends. Where there once was just a deep love of music, now is an enhanced, deeper fuller appreciation of movement, of dance, even if it is sometimes just in my mind. Are you hooping your way through life as well? One friend says she does the same thing. Another thinks I’ve fallen off the proverbial “hoop” rocker. Just wait until I tell you more.
Now my hoop roots are grounded deeply in the HoopPath, a teaching model created by Jonathan Baxter using mythological methodology to teach skills such as Touch or Samurai style hooping. While Baxter’s myths stay close to my heart, the method of hooping comes out in, well, odd ways at times. For example, I’m out shopping – a task I abhor. Sometimes I imagine myself as a Warrior Hooper in the store, fiercely battling my way through the isles, dodging carts, hopping with magnificence across cans or clothes that have fallen in my path, my hoop always my partner in an epic war to get out quickly, with thrift, all the while maintaining quality. Despite the looks from other customers, it gets me through and I really think I am a better hooper for it.
Still don’t believe me? Last summer while I trained for my second triathlon, hooping was still on my brain even as I moved through each sequence of events. While running I often found my arms inadvertently practicing breaks, paddles and reverses with an imaginary hoop. I’m sure I looked more like a dancer than a biker during my rides, and as a life long swimmer, the refuge in the water also became a place to find circles in each movement that I made.
In my every day life (aka, the most important part) I am a single mother of two energetic, astounding boys. Their creativity and thirst for life inspires me. At our last dwelling we had regular “dance parties” in the evenings, usually including hoops. The dancing was always a source of never ending laughter as we would attempt to see which of us could be the absolute silliest, causing belly flops and chortling from the others. Hooping was a lesson in patience, humor, fine and gross motor skills, and ultimately fun.
While we are now in a new setting, the antics continue, the form has just varied. My love for hooping and dance influences how I move around the house and interact with it and with them. Yesterday my youngest son, still in preschool, began telling a story in a whacky voice and my body moved wildly to his intonation. In my mind, I was flying my hands and dipping my legs as if in my hoop. To them I just was being their crazy mom. To all of us, it was hysterical fun. Whether we all know it or not my hooping bonds us in so many ways.
Yet it is even more deep-seated than simple musings in the car, wild dashings through a store or the beloved time with my children. What hooping has taught me, and what I still have to learn in its spinning lull, relate to most of my core beliefs about life. The hoop itself provides a natural physical boundary. It represents safety in the world. When I hoop, my thoughts, my dance, create a sacred space for me within that boundary. Represented in the hoop is wholeness, unity, a place to step in and begin to look for peace, internal and external. In my conversations with those not in the flow know I find myself holding back sometimes in conversation, from commenting in ways like, “Yes, the presidential election is just like hooping…” I know they will not always understand while my clothing choices alone usually let people know that I am a bit different from the mainstream. They know this without my going off on a philosophical tangent on the sacredness of circles.
For me hooping is engrained in almost every aspect of my life. Even when I am not in an active practice, hooping is actively in my life. Since my journey in the spin my hooping passion has helped me think outside the box, making every day life more interesting, making learning easier and making my teaching more efficient. It may not be normal for the rest of the world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bonnie MacDougall of HavenHoopDance has been in the spin since 2002. She’s an Assistant Editor here at Hooping.org and she lives in Detroit, Michigan, USA, with her two boys. When she’s not dancing madly with her kids, she sells custom made hoops and teaches local and regional hoop dance classes and workshops.