Commitment can be scary. 365 days of handstands, however, may just be an upside-down perspective worth seeking.
From the first handstand of her yearlong journey (in standstill traffic, on her way back from Mexico, after six months of sailing), Deidre Norman discovered that when she challenged herself to stay committed to daily documented handstands, she had determined strength and the responsibility to cultivate her own happiness. As she has shared the images of her inversions, she is part of an inspired movement that is growing.
Doing handstands in various locations around the globe has its ups and downs. Like the time Deidre was doing hand-stands at several visually stunning sites around the Taj Mahal and was asked to leave. She admits, “Somehow this made the challenge of capturing the photo of the day even more fun and exciting.”
Over the course of one year, Norman posted her daily photo on Facebook and Instagram. Others have done the same. The act of posting on social media held her accountable to her daily practice. Deidre recalls, “I learned that people really love handstands and when you do handstands in the middle of the street or anywhere out of the ordinary; people think are you are either really strange or really cool.” She’s done handstands with friends and strangers on three continents: with a notable Bollywood film star, yoga gurus, and one of her personal favorites- next to a supine cow surrounded by locals on the streets of Rishikesh, India, in Alaska, and in European airports.
In the beginning, Deidre took on handstands with the goal of achieving commitment to her evolution. As the year progressed she was faced with unexpected challenges. A bulging disc in her back reminded her to “take support from friends or a wall, or a tree.” Her 15-second self-timer gave her limited time to get in position.
Asking for help became an adventure in itself. Even though Norman has had a long relationship with handstands and remembers always being able to kick up with ease, her inversions gradually got easier to hold for longer and longer periods of time.
Inspired by a friend who’d taken on the handstand challenge before her, Norman has paid her inspiration forward. After a yoga festival in Joshua Tree, California with friend Julie Kling, another handstand crusade was born. Since May, Julie has inspired many unsuspecting souls to invert. She creates a momentary community every time she asks someone, “Would you like to do a handstand with me?” From the soccer fields of Jackson to the beaches on the north shore of Boston, Julie’s handstands have been contagious.
As parents, we seek and negotiate common ground with our kids. Julie smiles broadly as she talks about her two children being in on the fun – encouraging, emulating and holding the camera. Her son loves to edit her images. And on a walk up The Old Pass Road with her soon-to-be teenage daughter, Kling found an ordinary day was made memorable when her daughter became interested in being the photographer – documenting her mom’s antics all the way up the ‘hill.’
Everyone’s handstand challenge journey is a little different. Julie solicits others to take her photos for her. “I like to think it gives people the giggles and lightens their day,” Kling says. She makes her own rules when it comes to documenting and encourages bystanders’ participation. If she forgets to do a handstand throughout the day, she admits, she’ll do a quick handstand on her bed before retiring. Sometimes her handstands are photographed. Sometimes they’re not. What’s become important to her is the intention to continually shapeshift her perspective.
As children, most of us stood or walked on our hands with ease. A playful gesture of unbridled fun and freedom, the handstand represented a chance to dance on the clouds, to laugh and fall down. Deidre concludes, “I’m not sure if it was the handstands, the commitment, or what exactly, but the challenge shook me up. I learned that I was not fully taking charge of my life. This small challenge of doing one handstand every day, helped me realize that I’m responsible for how I feel and that gave me the strength to follow my heart once again.” Deidre realized on her journey, “everything has to do with constant states of change and nothing is really permanent.”
In an era of fast-paced living, we can all fall into a pattern of life that feels stagnant, separate or disconnected from others. The handstand project creates a body language that people recognize and relate to bridging age, societal and cultural boundaries. If we can choose our reality, then handstands become a metaphor for deciding every day how reality will look.
Human consciousness could use a few more topsy-turvy shifters: people who inspire us to view ourselves from a different vantage point; to see our lives from new and an altogether different perspective. Perhaps commitment isn’t so scary after all. In the words of Kling, “Life is what you make it. Have fun!”
To watch Norman’s video of her 365 days go to www.vimeo.com/102853768 and the Instagram callout is #handstand365