Yes, yes! I know! I’ve been a very irresponsible blog keeper, especially in light of having gone to Ohio Star Ball. And, it’s coming. In the meantime, please enjoy this amazing guest post from my friend Mary Beth. She is courageous, an amazing listener, an authentic friend, and a dancer!
In June I told Stefanie my deepest, darkest secret and my whole life changed. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s rewind a bit.
For years I’ve had a very specific image of myself as a person. I am logical, rational, and very, very left-brained. I avoid feelings and emotions like the plague. My life is ruled by organization, order, and reason. I never thought that artistic or creative pursuits were available to me while all along harboring this secret dream. This dream remained a secret because I knew (or at least told myself that I knew) that I could never be what I wanted to be. I have the wrong body type; I’m not in shape enough; I don’t want people looking at and judging me. My internal critic kept my dream hidden.
But let’s get back to June. The conversation with Stefanie started out innocently enough. We had met each other the week before at a seminar. We were chatting on the phone when she asked me the question that changed my life and brought my secret out into the open, “What have you given up on because your weight?” The question caught me off guard and without thinking I blurted out, “I’ve always wanted to dance and I’ve been looking for a hip hop class but I can’t find a place I would feel comfortable.” She then asked me if I’d ever considered partner dancing to which I quickly responded No! (All the while thinking…that’s WAY too far out of my comfort zone…I had just admitted this huge secret for goodness sake…what more did she want from me!?!!!)
She persisted however and suggested that I try a ballroom studio she knew of that she thought would be a good fit. Once again, against what I thought I knew about myself, I said sure. The next day I got a text from her telling me that I had a lesson on Friday.
With significant apprehension, I showed up on Friday and three times the week after. And another three times the week after that. Before I knew it, I had signed up for lessons and dancing became the best part of my week. I wasn’t graceful or proficient or coordinated and I was having a fantastic time!
One August day, I walked into the studio. Stefanie was just finishing up her lesson and she and my instructor “informed” me that I would be doing the studio’s showcase in October. I’m not going to lie, it took some convincing and in the end I took the confidence that they had in me that I could do it and said yes. Since my secret was now out, I began telling everyone of my initial hip hop dreams and my instructor and I decided to perform a tango/hip hop mash-up.
The showcase got moved to December (thank God!) and was just a few weeks ago. It was finally our turn and to be honest with you I don’t remember too much of it. What I do clearly remember is messing up in the middle of the tango part, making a face about it and then thinking, “I bet if I hadn’t made that face few people would have noticed.” I also remember my pants almost falling down during our hip hop part, which I only discovered as my hand brushed my leg and I thought, “I should be feeling pants right now!” As the cliché goes, the show must go on, so I hiked up my pants and kept right on going.
Despite the mistakes and wardrobe malfunction, to be honest, what I remember most from that night are my feelings. I remember feeling totally caught up in the performance and having the time of my life. I remember feeling absolute love, support, and encouragement from the audience, friends and strangers alike. I remember feeling like I was completely accepted as a dancer. I remember feeling like I belonged.
Six months ago when I blurted out I want to dance, I had no idea how significantly and joyfully my life would change. It’s not all sunshine and roses and that’s ok. I really loved dancing in the beginning when I was learning the basic steps, remembering to put my left foot in one place and my right foot in the other was right up my alley. I could think and reason my way through the lessons and that was great. And then came the more expressive parts…not only does the left foot go here and the right foot go there but the arms do this and you’re supposed to smile. During those moments, I desperately have to resist listening to my internal critic when they tell me I look foolish when all the women around me look so graceful. That same internal critic goes on high alert when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or watch a video of myself. Despite (or maybe in spite of) her I keep dancing.
I keep dancing because I am a person who wants to experience and bring joy to others. I keep dancing because I have discovered and fallen in love with my creative and expressive sides. But most importantly, I keep dancing because it feeds my soul.
I thank my lucky stars every day that Stefanie signed me up for that first lesson. I am also honored that she asked me to share my experience with you. Enjoy!