One of the most special things about starting this blog is that I’ve connected with amazing, powerful, beautiful people. One such person is Chomsky, who can also be found on DanceForums.com. She reached out to me early on and has been an amazing support during my journey.
Chomsky agreed to write a guest post for my blog, here, and I am so grateful. Her story is nothing short of miraculous and I am so honored she chose to share it with me and with you readers as well. As you will see, she has innate tenacity that bewilders me. I have to ask myself, would I have continued to show up if I had started in her condition? I’m not sure I would. She is an inspiration. Her journey thus far has sincerely moved me profoundly. I can’t wait to hear more from this strong, determined, persistent, brave, precious woman. -Stefanie
Dancing for me is like a prayer. I used to be a devout orthodox. Before I met my hubby everyone thought I was going to be a nun; I have changed since then, but deep down, I haven’t changed much. All this change is due to dance, at least on the surface it is.
When my wonderful friend and teacher started teaching me I was something that looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I was clinically obese, and couldn’t straighten up my back from the excruciating pain. I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t lie down, sit down, sneeze or cough; the pain was unbearable and non-stop.
So, someone told me to join this ballroom class ’cause the teacher is nice. During that first month, I kept attending even though I couldn’t stand up straight. And then, out of the blue, during the class, I got myself into such a state because of the pain that I left the classroom, went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out: I couldn’t believe how bad the pain was. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t move to music at the age of 37. I was handicapped and felt my youth was gone for good, no way to get it back.
I didn’t give up; I went back to class. The teacher asked me to do the samba figure he was showing but I refused because I couldn’t stand the pain. He said it didn’t matter, I could always sit and watch him do it with the other student.
After class he chatted with me (not such a talkative person, but there you go, he must have felt how badly I was [doing]). He told me it didn’t matter I was in pain; I would get better; I would dance the figure if not in a week, in a month or in two months time. The the main thing was that I would. No matter what the doctors had told me, I would get better. Afterall, I was learning even if I was watching and not doing. He even said I was a slow learner but it didn’t matter; he was a slow learner too.
All this made me believe in myself. I wanted to prove him right. Guess what? I did. I lost one-third of my weight. I am standing up straight. I even run after four years of not being able to walk quickly not to miss the bus to go to work.
To me it is a miracle. I am not in a wheelchair as I was told I would be. I am not in excruciating pain and can sleep at nights. Now, what I wish for is not to wake up from this dream I am living; to grow old and still dance. I can and will never forget I have a herniated disk that badly needs an operation. If I do, I might prove the doctors right and lose the quality of life I now have. I never want to forget ’cause I will harm myself if I do.
So, obviously dancing for me is like a prayer. Still, the physical miracle is not the reason behind it. It is the emotional and social aspect of it. I am now a different person. I started changing from the inside.
I used to be, and still am in a way, someone you can easily manipulate. Dance has changed that. I still have problems saying no to people just like I told my counselor. Not as much as before, however. I still feel I am guilty for the sins of the whole world. I still am unable to put myself in front of others. I still cannot love myself if it is not through other people’s eyes. I don’t feel good with myself, I can’t just love myself if others don’t love me first.
Yes, but all this has changed; if not radically, it still has. And all this is due to dance. Dance makes me love myself, my hands, my head, my legs. I love my body and in the end I am sure I will grow to love myself too.
Your post is so inspiring and such a gift! Thank you!
If I may be so bold, I would offer you this in return – add one word to the end of these sentences (I still am unable to put myself in front of others. I still cannot love myself if it is not through other people’s eyes. I don’t feel good with myself, I can’t just love myself if others don’t love me first) – and that word is “YET!” because it WILL happen – you have shown that you create your reality and there is no doubt you will change these things as well! It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, in time!
One of our studios came across this blog and shared it on their Facebook- we’re thankful they did. There are three things we found compelling about Chomsky’s story-
One: Dance can change a person. The physical act of dance and the mental discipline it takes to master the steps can transform any person.
Two: Dancers can can change a person. As Chomsky put so well- it wasn’t just the dance, it was the people in the class, the teachers and students who supported her during the hardest times.
Three: One changes oneself- Chomsky may have used dance to start her journey, and relied on the help of dancers along the way, but she’s the one who gave herself permission to grow. She’s the one that gritted through the tough times. She’s the one who, in the end, gets the applause.
Thank you both Stefanie and Chomsky for this touching blog.