[Hooping.org's Editor Philo Hagen knows the secret of Christmas isn't the things we do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things we do all year through. Everyone at Hooping.org wishes you a holiday vacation filled with hoop joy and we will return from ours on Sunday, December 30th, to start counting down the best of 2012 and get ready for our New Year 30/30 Challenge, our 2013 Hoopie Awards and more.]
by Philo Hagen
We hoopers have our own version of holiday cheer and best of all, it can be enjoyed the whole year round. Sometimes, however, we can all lose sight of it. Over the years a particular quote has been mentioned so many times that it’s pretty much become part of our hoop community vernacular. I’m talking about the ever-so-catchy statement, “It’s impossible to hoop and not have a smile on your face.” It’s such a great little soundbite it’s no wonder so many of us have used it – and quite often it’s the truth, leaving the reporter or the friend or the family member instantly envisioning all of the joy filled happy hooping faces. Perhaps, they too, could find a smile of their own, they wonder to themselves, if only they had a plastic ring of their own to play with. Adding to our hoopiness smile factor is all of the “hoop love” being spun up in our hooping community. Hooping.org is proud to have been spreading it online since 2003 and wow – now there is this incredibly wonderful and inclusive world-wide hooping community and we’re just so chock full of hoop love we can’t help but share it – or can we? What do we do when we’re just not feeling it?
During the time I spend watching hooping videos, and I watch more than probably anyone, I have noticed in the last couple of years and with increasing frequency that not only are hoopers not smiling as much anymore, there are those who look downright unhappy to be hooping – or at least to be doing so in front of the camera. It’s as if the Grinch stole their hoop joy, cause you know that they had it at some point. And when you read the information they’ve posted about their video, it’s often a windy apology. “I’m sorry I didn’t hoop as well as I normally would, but I was tired and…” “I’m sorry this isn’t edited…” “I’m sorry I made mistakes…” “I’m sorry I suck so bad…” If all of this isn’t bad enough in and of itself, it has become increasingly rare that anyone comes along to love that hooper back into shape. They might get a comment like “Your move at 2:52 was good” – but is the commenter implying that the remainder of the four minute adventure wasn’t? Has the commenter lost sight of their own hoop joy enough that only a couple wow factor seconds felt noteworthy? It’s got me wondering what has happened to all of the beaming faces? When did hoopers start getting so down on themselves? Is our hoop community in need of a Christmas miracle? How do we get that hoop love back not only for ourselves, but for others?
For the record, there are amazingly sad hooping videos out there that are incredibly beautiful. I think we’ve all been touched by an unhappy one with someone hooping through their grief after losing a loved one, or a parent. There are those who can pack a lot of emotion into a hoop dance, even to the saddest of songs – and boy do we ever love them for it. These tributes to life’s more challenging emotions are not what I’m talking about though, primarily in that the hooper is genuinely involved in hooping with feeling, while a closer examination of what I can only refer to as the less than happy hooper trend reveals that most appear to have, well, flatlined. It’s as if they’re not feeling much of anything at all.
So what do happier hoopers appear to have in common?
1) The happier hooper tends to be much more focused on hooping for his or herself, rather than hooping for an audience. Somehow they’ve managed to divorce themselves from caring very much about what other people think. They’ve chosen music that speaks to them and their hoop dance, rather than choosing something that may or may not fly as being cool enough in the hoopersphere right now. And whether they’re a hippie or a raver or a hottie or a mother, they’ve got something going on that is authentically them.
2) There seems to be a correlation between those who spend more time hooping on the body and those who spend more time hooping off of it. Back in the day, we all spent a lot more time body rockin’ the hoop and it’s pretty awesome for the art of letting go. Off body hooping, as beautiful as it can be, does have a tendency to take us into our heads rather than out of them – particularly while you’re learning – cause that is where precision lies. Perfectionism, however, is not only a miserable way to live, it’s a miserable way to hoop. There’s no perfection in flow, there’s only the perfection you find within it. If you’re thinking about what you’re doing, chances are you are most likely no longer in flow. Flow is a gift of holiday cheer for everyone in Whoville, I mean Hoopville, and hoopers that get caught in the perfection game rarely give themselves any credit for the progress that they’re making along the way, usually because they’re too busy wishing they were somewhere else in their practice than enjoying where they are right now. They forget that the sound of the hoop hitting the floor means we’ve moved out of our comfort zone and we’re making progress.
3) While not exactly a rule, it seems to me that a higher percentage of happier hoopers, for lack of a better term, seem to have some semblance of spiritual focus – regardless of whatever their personal faith might be. They don’t tend to look like they want to be anywhere other than where they are right now, probably because that is genuinely the case, and hooping is a tremendous tool for bringing us into the moment, the now, and right now is really the most important now of all. These hoopers tend to pay attention to their spiritual condition, and by that I mean the condition of their spirit. Whether you believe in a higher power of some sort or not, I think all of us know when our spirit is on the proverbial rag. And usually what helps us refresh comes from retreat – some alone time in meditation with or without our hoop, stepping away from the critical types in favor of more loving voices, a quiet chat with that beloved friend, a trip to the spa or an hour alone with some favorite trash TV. If it gets your amusement about life and hooping back and puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step, it qualifies as inherently spiritual in my book. Often in order to find ourselves again, we need to take that step back to see exactly where we left our self somewhere along the way.
In the spirit of the holidays let’s all take a step back to recognize that not only is everyone in this community valued and important, but that we all have a wish to get some of that hoop love and validation from each other. And guess what? There’s an unlimited supply! There is a never ending source of likes and loves that can be tapped into, and paradoxically speaking, the more we like and love one another in this hoop world, the more we find the like and love in ourselves and our own hoops. It’s true, I swear.
Need a place to start? Take this dear hooper, for example. What does she want for Christmas? According to the video information for this on YouTube she says, “All I want for Christmas is to be a better, less boring hooper. Prepare yourself for an abundance of monotonous chest/shoulder hooping. I do it quite a bit lol. Also forgive me for constantly swinging this peach of a hoop out of frame. — 1yr 3mo hooping.” She may have the Christmas tree, but she’s clearly lost her hoop joy – so let’s help her Christmas wish come true by letting her know that she rocks already.
The very nature of hooping can, in and of itself, be somewhat of an isolating experience. We can get a little busy getting into the center of our own circle and our own lives, but in my individual, candid, random surveys and observations over the years, it seems that we can, in fact, get a little too self focused. We don’t see that someone new has come to the hoopjam for the first time and that nobody even said hello. Being a happier hooper means being a spreader of the hoop love. Being a spreader of the hoop love requires some time well spent focusing on others online and off. Rather than feeling sorry that only two people watched the video we posted, why not join Hooping.org’s hoop love community and keep an eye out for others that are in the same boat – sharing the love and light they need – and rightfully deserve. Getting out of ourselves and giving it away puts a smile on someone else’s face, which in turn puts a smile on our own. It allows us to keep it fresh. Giving the gift of hoop joy to someone else helps us remember our own and for some, the act of simply picking up a hoop is a tremendous thing to be celebrated in and of itself.
On Hooping.org and Facebook and YouTube and elsewhere it only takes a fraction of a second to “Like” something. It costs you nothing to do so. It only takes a minute to leave a comment and someone is really going to appreciate the minute that you spent. Every photo, every video, every news story is attached to a hooper, or two, or three. Why should we practice random acts of love and kindness when we can practice deliberate ones daily, right here where we are. We all find the joy of hooping when we start, but we all need a hoop hug from our peers from time to time to keep us in the spin. So don’t let the grinch steal your hoop joy this holiday season or let him steal it from anyone else. Spreading the hoop love is an excellent recipe for getting that hoop heart that feels like it has gotten two sizes too small to be big and bright and shiny again. It may not feel comfortable at first, but like hooping it will become increasingly so with practice. Hooping.org wishes you nothing but the hoopiest of holidays, and the happiest of healings this holiday season.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.