[Hooping.org wishes everyone the happiest of holidays and we will return from our holiday vacation on Monday, December 30th, to countdown the best of 2013, get ready for our New Year 30/30 Hooping Challenge, our 2014 Hoopie Awards and a whole lot more. Hoopy Holidays!]
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 it’s pretty much become part of our hoop community vernacular. I’m talking about the ever-so-catchy – “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. And adding to our hoopiness smile factor is all the “hoop love” being spun up in our hooping community. Hooping.org is happy and proud that we have been spreading it online since 2003 and wow – now there is this incredibly wonderful and inclusive world-wide hooping community that we dreamed of when we launched, and we’re just so chock full of hoop love as a result that we just can’t help but share it – but what do we do when we’re really just not feeling it?
Hooping.org’s video team watches lots of hooping videos, more than probably anyone, and we’ve noticed in recent 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 a 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 sad enough in and of itself, it has become increasingly rare that anyone comes along to love that hooper back into shape too. They might get a comment like “Your move at 2:52 was good” – but is the reader to imply that the remainder of their five 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 had me wondering what 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? And, how do we get that hoop love back not only for ourselves, but for others everywhere?
For the record, I know 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 really what I’m talking about here though, primarily in that the hooper is genuinely involved in hooping with feeling. I’m more curious about what I can only refer to as the less than happy hooper trend, those who appear to have, well, flatlined. It’s not that they’re feeling down. It’s as if they’re not really feeling much of anything at all. So, what characteristics do our happier hoopers appear to all have in common? Let’s take a look:
1) Authenticity: 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, whether it flies as being cool in the hoopersphere right now or not. 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) Flow: Happier hoopers also seem to have found what we like to call “flow”. Where did they find it? That’s a good question, because we tend to find it most when we have lost all thought of even looking for it. Not thinking, just being and connecting with your hoop, the sound, the moment. There also seems to be a correlation between those who spend more time hooping on the body vs those who spend more time hooping off of it. Back in the day, we all spent a lot more time body rockin’ that hoop and it’s pretty powerful tool when you do in the art of letting go. Off body hooping, as beautiful as it can be, can have a tendency to take us into our heads, rather than out of them – particularly while learning – cause that is where our quest for precision lies. But here’s the news flash: Perfectionism is not only a miserable way to live, it’s a miserable way to hoop, and the only perfection there is in flow is the feeling you get when you find yourself in it. There’s nowhere else you’d rather be doing anything else other than being right here, right now. If you’re thinking about what you’re doing, chances are you are most likely no longer in flow. I think Flow is a gift of joy and holiday cheer that is available to everyone in Whoville, I mean Hoopville. Hoopers that get caught in the perfection game rarely give themselves any credit for the progress that they’re making along the way too, usually because they’re so busy wishing they were somewhere else in their practice than where they are. They forget that the joy is in the journey. They forget that the sound of the hoop hitting the floor means we are growing. We’ve stepped out of our comfort zone and we’re on our way.
3) Spirit: While not exactly a rule, it does seems to me that a higher percentage of happier hoopers also have some semblance of spiritual focus – regardless of what their personal faith might be. These hoopers tend to pay some attention to their spiritual condition, and by that I guess I really mean the condition of their spirit. Whether you believe in a higher power of some sort or not, I think we all know when our spirit is on the proverbial rag. And usually the needed refresh comes from retreat – some alone time in meditation, with or without our hoop, stepping away from the critical types in favor of loving voices. We might need a quiet chat with that beloved friend, a trip to the spa, or an hour alone with some favorite trash TV. Whatever it is, if it gets our amusement about life and hooping back and puts a smile on our face and a spring in our step, I think it qualifies as inherently spiritual in my book. Often in order to find ourselves again, we need to take that step back and see exactly where we may have left our self somewhere along the way.
4) Generosity: The last characteristic of the happier hoopers I’ve noticed is that they seem to be generous. They’re generous with their time and energy. They bring the sound system and/or extra hoops to the hoop jam. They’re the ons teaching someone how to do something cool that they were asked about. They’re posting a free tutorial just because. They’re also generous with their love and support of other hoopers. They “Like” a lot of stuff, leave comments, and share a lot of hoop joy. They know everyone in this community is valued and important, that we all need a little validation from time to time, and that Liking doesn’t cost a dime. And guess what? There’s an unlimited supply of it available! Paradoxically speaking, the more we like and love one another too, it seems the more we find the like and love in ourselves and our own hooping. It’s true, I swear! So why practice random acts of love and kindness when we can practice deliberate ones daily right here in this awesome hooping community that we are all so lucky to be a part of.
Getting out of ourselves and giving it away not only puts a smile on someone else’s face, it’s also the secret ingredient when it comes to keeping it fresh. Giving the gift of hoop joy helps us remember what it was like when we showed up at the hoop event and didn’t know anybody. What it was like when we wanted to learn that move. It helps us remember that even simply picking up a hoop for some is major cause for celebration and when you think of where that simple act may take them, don’t be surprised if a smile appears on your face as well.
So don’t let the grinch steal your hoop joy this holiday season. Being ourselves, turning off our heads and opening our hearts, taking good care of ourselves and wpreading the hoop love make for 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. You might not even feel the impact right away, but like hooping it is progressive and simple acts build increasingly with practice until one day you forget that it was ever an issue at all.
Hooping.org wishes you nothing but the hoopiest of holidays everybody, and the happiest of healings and joyful hooping celebrations 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.