It is the heart of winter in Minnesota, and I spend more time than usual stretching prior to practice, rehearsal or teaching class – just to take extra care during these cold months. But recently while I was stretching, my mind started wandering to, well, stretching. How many different ways we can stretch ourselves, and those around us?

Physically stretching can be uncomfortable, maybe even painful at times. But stretching ourselves in other ways can be equally uncomfortable and perhaps painful during the process – professionally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, the list goes on. But isn’t it through this discomfort that we give ourselves space to explore and grow? Our challenge zone, not our comfort zone, makes us better, stronger, and wiser.

I am grateful to those who help me stretch in different ways. I just performed as a guest artist in a variety show “Here Now Live” by my lovely and talented friend, Tara Weatherly (“La Tarara”) of Sendero Flamenco. I performed Bharatanatyam for the first time in a café (if you had asked me ten years ago, and I would have said it’s not a “suitable” venue for a classical art), and on an 8’ x 8’ stage (tight for a soloist, but impossible for a duet, right?). But yet there we were – and what an absolutely delightful evening it was! It was a privilege to have such a thoughtful, appreciative, intimate audience who took time to share their reflections and reactions one on one after the show. The tiny space was a challenge, but not insurmountable at all. This “stretch” proved to be such a satisfying and enriching experience for me.

Thanks, Tara, for helping me with this little stretch!