Yesterday we arrived at The Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF) with two lovely volunteers to find that a movie was playing in the gym during our typical Dance 2B Free class time.

I felt so discouraged.

We have had the same 2pm time slot on Sundays for over three months, to have it overlooked with something as frivolous as a movie felt so disrespectful.

I’ve been so devoted to these inmates and this program and I thought, “The bureaucracy is too heavy – this isn’t going to work.” This is not the first scheduling conflict or communication break down we have had. With each mishap I remind myself, “This is the red tape of prison…I cannot even imagine how the staff manage the quagmire of protocol and policy changes.” This oversight felt heavier.

Then I thought of Liz Gilbert’s talk at Emerging Women and her recent book, Big Magic where she talks about the “shit sandwich” of any creative endeavor. Whether you are a potter, musician or poet – there is a shit sandwich component to each creative process. When dancing with the inmates, watching them smile, clap and gasp from the music and movements -I feel the creative thrust of this mission. There is no effort in the dancing.

The effort and shit sandwich comes with the mundane nightmare of policies, scheduling glitches, and oversights! These are the waves I am going to have to learn how to ride. When imagining the red tape of each prison I want to share this program with sometimes I want to give up! That’s the rub; there will always be a counterbalance to the magic of the any creative offering.

I feel grateful to Liz Gilbert and her wise reminders of how to sustain ourselves in the mesh of the ego’s desire for certainty and security. What a challenging path I have chosen to pursue -we have to continually keep our hope alive in the most hopeless environments!