I’ve almost managed to make it through the first month of the year.
Which blows my mind, honestly. How have we already been in 2017 for almost 31 days?

It’s been quite the feat. This month has been full of ups and downs, survived by sheer will power and endurance. But honestly, I’m proud of myself. Though there were days that absolutely sucked, I didn’t let myself get as overwhelmed as I’m prone to. I’m learning and growing and I’m gonna make it after all.  (RIP Mary Tyler Moore.)

I actually had a solid week and a half where I felt pretty alright, health wise. Wednesday was rough because it was long. I stayed for the pointe class instead of going into adult, and found myself rather discouraged. A large part of it is probably due to the fact that my shoes weren’t 100% how I usually dance in them, so I struggled. Then I realized how much I truly do suck at rolling up onto pointe, which is in our spring show dances often. Then we did some ab work before all this, and I managed to hold a plank for a solid minute, largely due to stubbornness and willpower (though I crapped out on the further ab work after. I just couldn’t do it) but then afterwards found myself driving the struggle bus.

Apparently using my core so much really shook me up. My brain couldn’t seem to handle much else afterwards, and my stomach felt pretty rough. It’s so infuriating to have this happen, especially when I know I’m capable of more. And to not really have a reason for it… UGH.

Yesterday’s rehearsal for Hoffraulein went well. By the end of it, my knee was hurting pretty badly. Both of my roles have quite a bit of kneeling, but on top of that, there were many jumps, and most of the ones I do have my bad leg in front. It’s the long leg, so it doesn’t get to plie in correct alignment. I don’t think it’ll be a problem during shows, but while doing the same part over and over while learning it, it took its toll. By the end of rehearsal, I was pretty tired, but it was a good day.

I woke up this morning and got sick. Nothing contagious, just the normal whatever makes me sick sometimes thing. I thought our rehearsal wasn’t until later in the day, so I was taking the morning easy. At 1:28, I fired up my laptop to write this here post and decided to double check the schedule. And a good thing, too, because I then saw that rehearsal began at 2, not 4:30. It takes me 27 minutes to get to the downtown studio, and I didn’t even have tights on. I got dressed as quickly as I could and left the house at 1:33. I didn’t get to eat, and I’m not sure if that made things better or worse. I tried to pump myself up and tell myself I could get through this rehearsal, that I would be fine. I get inside at 1:57, having done my hair in the car (I do not recommend this) and put my shoes on.

No sooner we began, I realized I couldn’t do much of anything that involved my core at all. I struggled with simple things. Of course, our studio owner was doing the warm up, and she was watching us all closely. I kept myself from panicking as my brain criticized the fact I couldn’t do things I should be able to and tried to push through anyway. I looked terrible and couldn’t do it all. When it came to jumps, she had us stretch a little before (we had just finished grand battements) so I used that moment to find our director to let her know what was going on. While I waited for her to finish speaking to our seamstress, I ended up getting pulled in to try on the Weiss Frauen costume again since they had made some adjustments. (It’s going to be so great!) I got to tell my director, who at first thought I had caught whatever flu is going around, but then I was able to explain that this is just what happens sometimes, and you can’t really predict it. (Was it because I ate chili and I’m not really supposed to? Was it further repercussions from that dang plank? Was it exhaustion from the rehearsal the day before? Am I over-extended already?) I told her I didn’t want to sit out, especially since having people in the spots is so vital for these roles as they have many specific patterns, but that I probably wouldn’t be able to handle doing things full out. She understood and said she was glad I was there, it helps having everyone so we can figure out the visual of it and what’s going to work.

Honestly, I probably shouldn’t have been around people today. As I drove home, I felt absolutely terrible for how I handled myself. I was rather negative and complained quite a bit. My friends are so patient with me, I can’t express how much I appreciate it. Especially when trying to figure out new steps that can get kind of confusing. But we worked it out and they had such patience with me. They are invaluable. Seriously, they should get an award for not hating me at the end of shows. Sometimes I can’t even stand myself, I don’t know how they do it.

If you’re one of the girls in the dance with me today thank you so much for being patient with me, listening to me complain, helping me understand dance steps even when they are supposed to be simple, and for not hating me when I get kinda snappy. Y’all are serious God-sends.

If you know the spoon analogy, I have no spoons left. I still have to do dishes and pick up a little around my house, so I have to find some spoons, which means I’ll probably be borrowing from tomorrow’s supply. Not sure I’ll make it to class tomorrow, if I don’t start feeling better. I’m hoping I can get the dishes washed in one go instead of having to split it up so I can sit for a bit in between. If I can get them all done at once then maybe I can get to bed early.

The struggle.

Upside; only 18 days til my specialist appointment. Hopefully it gives us some sort of lead.

I was also able to video chat with one of my fellow adult ballet dancer friends this weekend. It did my heart so much good. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone and having someone who understands where you are makes all the difference. I appreciate my friends so much.

I’m hoping to do a giveaway soon on my instagram. For a pair of feat socks. Maybe I’ll give away multiple things. I haven’t decided yet. But it’s in the works!

We have pictures on February 11, so I’ll have some pictures of costumes for you guys. I’m excited. I’m working with some friends to hopefully get my pointe work up to par so I don’t look like a derp on stage with everyone else. I don’t want to just get through the steps, I want to be able to actually look like I belong in the role, ya know? I hope my body can keep up so I can do the extra work. I’m so grateful to have these opportunities I do, and I want to make the most of them, because reality is my days are numbered.

Hope y’all have a great week!



Rehearsals and Health. 

What a time it has been here these last couple weeks. 

I am officially an Hoffraulein, which is the role for which I was cast as the cover. Last week was when I heard of my “promotion” of sorts, and since then even, we’ve had to replace my spot as cover, and then replace her spot as cover. 

So many dancers have been dropping out, for this reason on that, it has made things rather complicated. Thankfully, it hasn’t required complete reblocking of things as far as I know, just simply getting new people up to speed with where we are. 

Last weekend, as I left the rehearsal for hoffraulein, I was driving to meet up at one of the dancer’s houses while another dancer was following me. As i approached the stop light, midway through a green light, I slowed down a little as I checked my mirror as I checked to see if my friend was close enough to also make the light or if I risked losing her if I went through. I’m that moment of hesitation, a car barreled through their red light right as I would have been passing through the intersection. They were at such a speed that I actually second guessed myself seeing the colors correctly, thinking maybe I was mistaken and really I was about to run the light. Nope. Their light was redder than red and ours was greener than green. Thankfully, I had that moment of hesitation and wasn’t where I would have been which would have lead to a truly terrible accident. The car would have hit my side, at my door or a little behind. Had I survived, I would have been livid to have to start a car payment all over again right when this one is almost paid off. But none of that happened. It was just another moment that I drove away from unscathed. I’ve known many not to be so lucky, and I am grateful to be okay, and especially grateful to still have functioning legs in which to dance this dance. 

My pointe shoes came in the mail Thursday. They came with elastic, so I sewed those on, but the ribbon didn’t come in until late. I found some ribbon I could use, but I didn’t have the new toe padding. That mixed with new shoes and not having been en pointe since nutcracker made for a rough bit of rehearsing. But I’m glad I had them. It helped shine better light on what exactly I need to focus on improving. I know there is much work to be done, but I know that if I work now, I’ll see improvement by April. I can’t let myself get overwhelmed at where I am or at the things that hinder me on certain days. I have to do my best and believe in myself. 

We tried on costumes, which is always exciting. For the Weiss Frauen, we are in white romantic tutus, with these detailed head pieces that have long pieces of fabric. In playing with the head pieces to see what worked best, I learned that my dance teachers mom was taught by Mother Theresa, and my mind was blown. 

Anyway. They’re going to look really nice. For the Hoffraulein, we’re all in different color dresses. The colors are absolutely beautiful, I can’t even get over it. I’m so excited. I know this role is a little out of my league, but I am truly honored to get to be a part of it. It’s a dream come true, really. To be included among the numbers of the advanced dancers, even if it was merely by chance that I actually get to dance it. Also with the Weiss Frauen. The last time we did a show from this director, I wasn’t in any of the pointe roles. But now my level is. And it’s just really cool to have gotten to go from the point of dreaming to be that person, and then getting to be that person. 

Now I just have to dedicate myself to working hard, and really being confident in the choreography so I don’t space out when I do it in pointe shoes. I need to be one step ahead of myself so I can attack the choreography with confidence. I need to take the trouble spots and really focus on executing them with correct technique to get the right imagry. I don’t want to be the one that sticks out as the least talented. I want to blend. 

The new girl we had in adult a few weeks back is going to be in the show now, too. I’m really excited about this. She studied at a few different prestigious studios and was dancing professionally, then moved here for a year with her significant other. It makes me nervous to know I’ll be dancing alongside her, but I’m thrilled to know we will have her talent in our show. Plus she’s nice, and an adult, so that’s always a plus. 

Health update: I finally got my rheumatologist referral and appointment set! I had to cal my doctors office today to find out about it. They told me the rheumatologist office said they had called me, but I never received it. I’m glad I called, seeing that the appointment is February 16th! I wasn’t expecting to get in that quickly at all and it’s pretty perfect for tax season. Had it been any later I would have had to reschedule, which I’ve heard is a nightmare. 

I’m nervous beyond all reason, but hopeful all the same. My lymph nodes were rather tender yesterday and my joints have been aching, so this was a nice light at the end of the dark tunnel. I just hope it’s finally the answers I’ve been searching for all these years, and that they aren’t hard to find. 

In retrospect, I’m very grateful to be alive. To have the opportunities I have right now. To have the support of my friends and loved ones. To get to live this life I love so much and have it filled with so many lovely people. 

I hope you get to feel the same. ❤


That back story post had me feeling all sorts of feels after I posted it. 

I had an outpouring of love from those in this incredible adult ballet community I have found since making my blog more public. It touched my heart in ways I didn’t know was possible. 

But then I had the stark realization that most of my story was out there. In public. For literally anyone to read. 

This made me panic. What was I thinking? How could I divulge all these details about myself for everyone to see? After all, usually I go about my day trying to pretend they don’t exist. I do my best to not let my health and all of its complications get the best of me. I fight the demons of my past daily, sometimes it seems to be a fight moment to moment. There’s even more that I didn’t write about, that only those in my inner circle really know. What the hell was i thinking?! 

But then I see posts, like one from a dear friend I’ve known for over a decade now, who saw my post and found the boldness to post about her own struggles. My heart went out to her as she endures such intense health battles, and yet my heart was strengthened. Not because she has it worse than me, (though she does) that’s the part that breaks my heart. To know she has to deal with this day in and day out with no end in sight. But it was strengthened in knowing that someone i know and respect is fighting a fight sort of like mine. Knowing that I’m not alone. So many things I don’t have words for. Having her in my life means more than words can say. 

Tax season is upon us, making the days long and stressful (and it’s only January.) this, mixed with everything else leaves me feeling pretty drained. It was a wonderful surprise yesterday when I saw a notification on Instagram that Hindsfeetballet had taken a line drawing she had done of me this summer and turned it into an exquisite water color. 

You see, I’m usually the one that takes the pictures. I’m rarely the one in them. Harder still is it to find one that seems to capture things the way I see them in my head (since I’m the only me, ya know. Kinda makes it impossible.) I’m 28 and know that my ballet days are probably numbered, at least when it comes to performances and stuff. (I hope to always dance.) In the back of my mind there’s always this wish that there would be someone who could somehow catch those shots of me (or any, really) to have for when I’m older. Those prized shots to look back on. These are my golden years. I want to remember them. I have a few staged ones, and some polaroids I love, and a handful of artist-y types, but they’re very few and far between. Seeing this touched my heart in ways I don’t have words for. 

Lindsey is one of my favorite fellow Instagram adult ballet gang girls. I’ve always felt that we’d be good friends if we lived close to each other, but I largely kept it to myself to hopefully not come off as a creep. Turns out the feeling is mutual, and she had some really kind words to say about me that turned me into a complete puddle. 

Then she busted out this. 

My absolute favorite picture I have of me dancing. It was taken by one of my favorite dance moms at our studio and means the world to me. It’s in my favorite costume I’ve ever worn in one of my favorite dances I’ve ever done. It’s actually a picture I’m proud of, not one I pick apart. 

For Lindsey to take that picture, on her own, and turn it into this incredible piece of art. Y’all, I literally couldn’t even. There aren’t words. But since this is a blog, I have to try. 

These pictures from Lindsey rounded out a beautiful lesson this week has taught me. I know that I’m unique, and that I matter, and that people love me and stuff, but I also know that I’m just an ordinary person. There’s nothing I have that the average person on the street couldn’t obtain. I’m not super privileged, though I do recognize the privileges I do have as such, and there are many. But I wasn’t born into a name that has rank, I wasn’t born into money, I wasn’t born into favor. I was born into an ordinary family that struggled quite a bit, but was headed by a father who held a good reputation as something of worth. I do recognize this to be one of my greatest privileges. My parents raised me in truth, which was one of the greatest gifts they could give me. Because even when they failed because they’re human and that’s what humans do, I recognized this and knew to seek out truth and let myself be guided by it. In this, I’ve followed my heart to the world of dance. Even when it was hard, even when it seemed impossible, even when people look at me and tell my Im stupid, when they think it’s a frivolous child thing, when I’m asked how much longer I’m going to do this like it’s a phase. Even when I feel too weak to walk a straight line, let alone attend a class or rehearsal. When my stomach hurts too much to hold my core. When I feel emotional pain more deeply than I feel physical pain. My heart leads me to dance. 

I began this blog as a sort of life lessons I’ve learned in dance sort of thing, and I’ve found no shortage of the like. And in it, I’ve also found these incredible friends. 

Friends that remind me, like I was this week by so many, but especially these two dear and cherished friends, that I am not alone in this life. That enduring is not foolish. That pursuing this crazy dream of mine that doesn’t really have rhyme or reason is something I should be proud of. 

I can’t explain what that truly means to me. It’s breath in my gasping lungs, it’s beats to my weary heart, it’s a balm on my stinging spirit. It’s the rope I’m holding on to as I navigate my way through this tense and uncertain season. 

These pictures gave me the impossible. The one thing I wished for more than anything, but that I saw no way of happening. She took a moment snapped in this season of my life and made it eternal. For that, I am beyond grateful. 

If you find yourself feeling like you aren’t very important, dismiss those thoughts right now. This week is absolute proof that you are more than enough right in the middle of your ordinary.  Your single, solitary life influences more people around you than you realize. It’s in your hands whether that will be a good thing or a bad thing. 

Make it a good thing. 

Chin up, darling. You are valued and loved. You matter, oh, how you matter. Days will be brighter soon, but until then, these things help you get through. 

Keep your eyes open for them. They come when you least expect it. 

(Thank you, Lindsey and Carrie. Y’all mean more to me than I have words for and I cherish your friendships.)

Snow White rehearsals. 

We had our first rehearsals for the role I am as well as the role I’m covering this weekend. 

Since this is a new production, we haven’t really known what to expect or how things were gonna go. It’s not something we do every year and has now become predictable and it’s not something that half the cast has been in or had siblings that were in it or whatever. 

I didn’t even know how to pronounce the names of the roles I am, let alone what to expect for the role. I was looking forward to this weekend to find out details about it and really get a feel for how the show is going to be. 

First was the Weisse Frauen, which our director explained as (correct me if I’m wrong) being from German folklore. They were a type of guiding spirits of good fortune. So in our scene, Snow Whites mom has died and she is seeing her as a sort of ghost or whatever. Sheis our queen and we are sort of guiding Snow White to what she is to do next (which is where the dwarves come in.) 

I’m so excited for this role. The more we learned the more I loved it. It has such beautiful imagery and the costumes are going to be beautiful and everything about it makes me so grateful to be a part of it. It’s en pointe, and has a few moves I’m not super confident in as well as a lot of lunges and kneeling. 

Now typically, i would sort of mildly panic and just sort of give up on trying to even attempt these things, especially on my bad knee. But, this is my role. The director thinks I am capable and I trust her, so I have to push myself. I am really excited to see how I do with being pushed to a little past what I’m capable of and seeing myself rise to it. There are things I never thought I’d really be able to do but there I was doing it. Granted, yesterday we ran it all in flat shoes, so obviously that’s gonna mostly be easier than when in our pointe shoes. There is a lot of adagio with a section of petit allegro. I love adagio. I’m so excited. 

My muscles already feel it from rehearsal, but I’m so excited about it all. 

I’m trying not to let myself think about how crazy my schedule is, but instead just take everything one day at a time. Let today’s worries be today’s worries and tomorrow’s will be there tomorrow. 

Today we had rehearsal for the role I cover, Hoffraulein. One of the girls was missing so I was able to learn it in her place. 

Covering for this is so much easier than covering for Swan Lake. Most of these different sections are just repeats or different directions of what the other groups do. If you know one place, it’s just a matter of switching direction or timing of what you already know. 

This role is that of the Ladies in Waiting, so it’s largely around the time after Snow White wakes up and they’re decorating for her wedding to the prince. We’ve learned a good chunk of it, and it’s a lot of fun. There are bits that are a bit confusing or difficult to get on the right foot, but it’s definitely possible. We just have to think about it and work on it. 

It was such a fun dance to do. I’m really excited to see the whole thing come together. I’m really excited to be a part of it. In light of everything I wrote about yesterday, I just kept thinking of how much of an honor it really is to be in this show. I get to be in the dance that’s en pointe. Last show with this director that wasn’t the case. It feels great to know you’ve grown since last time and have found yourself in the same caliber as these other dancers you saw last time and wanted to be like them. 

It feels good. 

I’m determining to work hard on strengthening my ankles, even when I’m exhausted and don’t feel well. 

For some reason I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, which makes things complicated since I get sick if I don’t eat enough or often enough. I got sick four times this morning and was a bit concerned I’d get sick during rehearsal, but thankfully it waited until I got home. 

Now I’m switching gears to thinking with my work hat on instead of my dance hat. I’m confident I’ll be able to retain the choreography we learned when we run it next weekend. 

I’m excited. 

The back story. 

In the years now that I have been blogging, I’ve found that what I say often times depends on how I’m writing. For example, I may have one thought or idea that will come out one way if I blog from my computer and a different way if I blog from my phone. These all come out entirely different ways if I type anything up in advance and transfer it over, which is why I typically don’t do that. It’s common among bloggers, but just isn’t my style. 

This is the type of post I feel I would rather write from a computer, but seeing that my phone is the only current option, I’m hopeful I’ll get everything out in a way that makes sense and goes the direction I’m really intending it to. Though, I must be honest, I don’t really know what all I truly want to divulge yet and how I truly want this post to go. 

But that’s what this post is about–honesty. It’s about letting you in on the details I don’t know that I’ve really fully spoken on. Maybe sprinkled here or there, or spoken about in private messages or among close friends, but I don’t think I’ve really fully detailed all of this in writing. (Save for my journals, obviously. But, like, no one reads those. So.) 

I’ve debated a bit on if I even really wanted to write this post. How deep I wanted to go. Because once something is out there, you can’t get it back. Once it’s said, it can’t be unsaid. How do I know who really reads this? People surprise me all the time. I am the type that tends to feel more comfortable divulging details to a stranger rather than someone I know, simply because strangers have no expectations. They’re here then gone. They get you in the moment they have you, then ways are parted again. Or whatever. You get my point. But to have people I know know this part of my life in such detail, I guess I’m afraid that I just don’t have control over it using this medium. Vulnerability is hard for me. I often feel stupid or make a fool of myself. I’m pretty open, but even in that I’m selective. 

But since I’ve made this blog a .com, I have come to find these incredible people. These stranger/friends that I’ve never met but have become a force of strength I’ve really found myself leaning on. They’ve become an inspiration to me. Recently I posted a video of my pirouettes that I knew was terrible, but I posted halfway because of how hilarious it was, but also for the good moments it had. I figured there may be some hate, but I didn’t expect the caliber of hate this particular post received. I ended up removing it, which I’ve never done before. Usually I just block the person and move on, but this time it just hurt a little deeper. 

Because I knew my people–my beautiful group of friends I have come to know and love–wouldn’t say those things. They wouldn’t think what these people said when seeing my video. Their comments were nothing but encouragement and finding it relatable (and a shout out to my holey shoes. Hehe) but I knew as I saw the view count rising and the likes staying average that the people seeing it weren’t friends, but people there to laugh at it. I’ve had pirouette videos get far more views with a bit of hate, but this was just a new level of hate. I posted a picture explaining I took it down because of some comments and carried on. 

What I didn’t expect was the influx of love and encouragement I received. Probably my post with the most comments. Some from friends I’ve grown to know and follow and love and recognize, and some names that were new to me. Telling me tales of how I have encouraged and inspired them to follow their own dreams even when it’s scary. That if I can do it, so can they. It warmed my heart and even brought a few tears. I don’t even have adequate words to express my gratitude. 

But this post is for you–those that encouraged me in a moment I really needed it. I feel I owe it to you to give you the option of knowing my story. Where I came from, what I fight against. Maybe not owe it to you, but you’ve really earned it. So I’ll risk some people perceiving me as weak, or foolish, or fake, or a risk, or just out for attention, or pity, or any other of the many words and phrases fear tries to tells me people think about me. Who gives a crap. This is me. I can’t help it. And, honestly, I like it. 

(If you’ve read this far, kudos! That’s just the introduction. 😂 Here begins the real post! And if you’ve gotten this far, that means you’re probably among the bunch I actually feel comfortable telling all this to. Or you’re a creeper. Please don’t be a creeper…)

My name is Emilee. I’m twenty-eight years old. I took a few ballet classes as a kid, but was taught incorrectly, so it really didn’t do me any good. I had always dreamed of dancing en pointe, and when I graduated, I went to a Bible school where I was given the opportunity to join a dance team. Riddled with insecurity, the leader of our team was so patient and kind with me, and this lit a spark in me that hey, maybe I can do this. Maybe I’m not too old or too far gone. Maybe it’s not too late. I was eighteen. 

When I was fourteen, I slowly started limiting what I ate. It was a slow fade that formed into full blown anorexia by the time I was eighteen and in that dance group at bible school. But February 7, 2007 I decided that what I was doing was stupid and pointless and would kill me if I didn’t do something, so I began to eat again. (shout out to the people who were so selfless in helping me get to that point. Like. Seriously. There were many people who stuck with me and never gave up. I’d be nothing without them.) 

By that summer, I was having trouble. I couldn’t seem to eat without hurting. It wasn’t too bad until that fall, when I found that eating left me feeling sick for up to four hours. By the next summer, I couldn’t eat anything without being curled up in pain until my stomach digested and was growling again to be fed. It was so disheartening because here I finally wanted to eat, and I couldn’t. 

The school I went to was only a two year school, so after I graduated, I went back home. I didn’t want to go back home. I was full of dreams and hopes and I didn’t think going back was the way to go forward. But I had a lot of learning and growing to do. They were some hard years. In those years, i seemed to still be getting sick. So much so that I actually saw a doctor about it. She ran me for some tests where the tech would comment on how “you’re so young. You’re just a baby, you shouldn’t have to be here.” But there i was. At nineteen, she told me I had stomach ulcers, so I began to be careful with eating anything acidic. She put me on some medication which helped until it didn’t. The pain was still too much, my doctor was out of ideas. After all, my blood work was perfect. 

That doctor moved practices, so I got a new one. Told her the story, which is when I found out colon cancer ran in my family. (My grandma died of it, apparently. She, too, had an eating disorder. And lung cancer. Smoked like a chimney.) This doctor seemed fresh and full of hope, but as I kept trying what she told me and coming back with the same problems, I began to notice her falling into the same rut doctors fall into in this small town. Where they treat the same things so much, it must be what I have. 

I was sent to an abdominal specialist, who ran tests and did an upper endoscopy. I have GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) but my stomach lining looked good. (Which I found impressive from all the acid in my stomach from not eating.) I also had acid reflux, which I’ve known since I was nine.  Medications don’t do anything for it, so I just deal. 

The upper endoscopy wasn’t a pleasant experience. I remember the procedure, though I was supposed to be asleep, and “woke up” really stressed out. I began to forget the more time went on, which made me stress out even more. The whole thing was a mess. 

When I met with my doctor to go over my results, he told me he didn’t know what else to tell me. He couldn’t find anything wrong with me. 

I saw my doctor to ask about another specialist since this one literally told me he couldn’t do anything else for me. She sent me to another specialist who perscribed me anxiety medication. He said they give it to diabetics to help rewire their brains to think that what they feel as pain isn’t pain. Like. Okay cool. That doesn’t sound scary at all. It was a sedative and I was working a night shift job. I took the lowest dosage and just went with it to see if it did anything. It helped my anxiety in the sense that it helped me determine the difference between things I struggled to handle because of anxiety they i could learn to ignore and dismiss and things that were actual issues, so that was nice I guess. But I was still in pain. When I asked my doctor about this, they just suggested upping the dosage. Nah, bro. I don’t want to become dependent on something that is essentially a bandage because you don’t know what else to do. I cried when I left his office that day. 

At this point, I’m in dance classes. I began taking dance classes after just turning twenty-three. I had moved out of my parents house in the country and gotten an apartment then house then a different house then a different house then another apartment with various friends. I started at a beginner/intermediate class for adults and teens at a studio my friends suggested after I posted on Facebook asking if someone would take a super beginner. 

Flashback to when I was nineteen and took three months of dance at a tiny studio a girl from my church went to. They needed more people to make their numbers to keep the class so I joined. That’s where I learned I was taught wrong because my teacher there was the teacher of my teacher I had growing up. She also was the one to correct my alignment, which caused my stomach to react and I almost passed out from it. But it was good. I felt okay for a few months, then got sick again. So badly that I couldn’t eat anything without pain. I remember crying myself to sleep because I didn’t know what to do and doctors werent helping. I am a Christian, and though I don’t really consider myself religious, I am very into my faith. I felt like I could hear God reminding me of the scripture that says “man shall not live by bread alone” as a reminder that He had it all under control and He wouldn’t let me die from this. I just had to keep enduring and keep trusting. 

Back to where we were, I’m enduring and I’m dancing. I was super terrible at first, but I wanted to dance more than I was afraid of the embarrassment of how much of a beginner I was compared to everyone else. No one really spoke to me there, and I was very nervous, though the girls were kind. One was even gracious enough to pull me out of the corner when I panicked over something I couldn’t fully grasp and was paralyzed in fear to attempt for fear of failure. She would run over and do it with me so I could get through. I appreciate that more than she will ever know. (Ps. Now I’m friends with the girls from that studio. Just took some time for them to warm up to me.)

While I was dancing there, my doctor tried me on medications for a few different things, including pancreatitis. Which helped, but wasn’t the full issue. The cost of my medication became unaffordable so I went back to my doctor since it clearly wasn’t the full solution. During this time, I also found myself getting hurt for no reason. My feet would bruise up (this was before i was en pointe) and my ankles would swell to various degrees. I found myself sitting out quite often. It was so frustrating. Then, just as I was starting to take more classes and really get rolling, I found that any time I engaged my core, I became useless. The pain was too much. One of the teachers even noticed it and commented “you were doing so well, keeping up, then all of a sudden you were down.” This was a more contemporary class. Two months later they took out my gallbladder.  (Which is when I quit taking the anxiety mess. Figured I’d let my body adjust to it all at once.)

After that happened, I was substantially better. That pain was gone, though I did still have random sharp pains on my right side. They didn’t have any real rhyme or reason, but sometimes I would feel it. Still, it was nothing in comparison. When you have your gallbladder out, your liver is supposed to take over it’s function. Usually, patients will have to alter their diet for a bit until they reintroduce foods and are fine and back to normal. I was told my surgery was textbook, so I was hopeful. 

It’s been three years now, and I still can’t eat anything high in natural fat. I couldn’t eat salads for a year and still can’t eat spinach, avocado, nuts, pork, etc etc. I two years after the surgery I found I also can’t eat most fruits or vegetables without some sort of weird reaction. This makes things rather complex, especially as a dancer. 

My dance studio closed down the year after my gallbladder came out, and I moved to a new studio that does two shows a year, as well as recital. This season marked my third Nutcracker and will be my third spring show with them. First was Wizard of Oz, second was Swan Lake, and now we are working on Snow White. 

I got my pointe shoes my last year at my old studio, right before my twenty-fifth birthday. I struggled to find shoes that fit, and finally found something that worked after I came to the new studio. Even still, I didn’t find the perfect shoe until this past summer, which I just killed and actually softened the box. Usually I break the shank, so this was quite the accomplishment for me and also showed me that I was in a better shoe and breaking it in correctly. 

I have since also found a new doctor. My first Nutcracker, I tried to do an elimination diet to see if it was something I was eating causing a flare up. This nearly sent me to the er on opening weekend, but thankfully I was able to regain enough strength and get my stomach to cooperate to get through show weekends. My new doctor is wonderful and actually listens to and believes me. This is now my fourteenth year being sick (including the anorexic years) making it half of my life. 

We ran bloodwork last year which came back so perfect that my doctor joked about framing it as an example in the hallway. This surprised me. I had never had perfect bloodwork. She also informed me that I had been treated for things I never had before and didn’t need to be treated for. (H. Pylori) I brought in my drawer full of previous medications I had taken, and half of them didn’t even make sense to her on why I would have been given them, and the other half just didn’t do anything for me. She tried me on some medication for irritable bowel syndrome, which everyone has told me I have, which worked but didn’t. When I came back after that round of blood work, the only thing she could find was that there were elevated levels of protein in my urine. So she gave me antibiotics. We also discovered the source for the random sharp pains is due to a cyst on my right ovary. Not big enough to remove, but big enough to keep a watchful eye on. 

I wasn’t able to go back to her until this fall, when I asked her what she thought about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She flat out told me she didn’t think I had it but asked me to tell her what made me think I did. I had a list of symptoms that seemed to coincide, and she looked at them then a lightbulb seemed to click. She told me she definitely thinks it’s autoimmune. 

I sat on the table and she looked at my wrists. She asked which was my dominant hand and asked if I had noticed the swelling. I told her I had not. She asked if I had any joint pain and I told her how I was told at twenty-four that I had arthritis in my right knee and found out last year that my hips are uneven, making my left leg shorter and I have two slight curves in my back as well as inverted vertebrae. She felt my ankles and knees and spine and sent me with blood work orders. I did the blood work and prayed something would be on it. I got my results in the mail, which had every single test coming back as normal–except one. 

The initial Lupus test. 

She has referred me to a rheumatologist, which I am still waiting to hear back about, but feel so hopeful to have some sort of lead and a smudge of understanding. A reason why I get so tired all the time. Why I seem to have good days and bad days. Why my joints seem to be in so much pain and why I bruise like a peach even though I’m not anemic. Why sometimes it hurts to breathe. Why I have had this weird butterfly rash on my face for as long as I can remember that comes and goes and why my stomach gets so nauseated all. The. Flipping. Time. It’s also why I can get hit with such immense waves of depression. So many answers lay on this one potential diagnosis. 

I don’t know how long it will take me to get in, but just knowing that something finally showed up, that this isn’t all in my head. That I’m not just making this up or being dramatic. That there is a reason for all these things happening to me and that there may be something that can help me. That is everything to me. 

This year has been one of the worst. Usually I can push through pretty well, but I haven’t seemed to have been able to catch up like I usually do since Swan Lake. I even felt it during Nutcracker. This made me so mad, since I know I can do better than I was able to. So many emotions still come up when I think of that. And now we have begun rehearsals for our spring show. I work at an accounting office, putting this right at the peak of our season. Trying to get through tax season alone is exhausting, but adding on rehearsals every weekend (so far Saturday and Sunday) as well as teaching three baby classes and doing their recital pieces–it’s a lot to take on. I’ve had people suggest that maybe I should cut back, which is what has been on my plate recently. 

It’s what’s been in the back of my head. How am I gonna manage? Why does it have to be this hard now? It shouldn’t be. But I love shows and performing and dancing on stage. I was hoping to be able to do this in some facet until if I get married one day or like, just get too old to handle it. That shouldn’t be now. But even if it was, I at least wanted this spring show. I was just fine this summer. Relatively normal. I didn’t see this coming and all and feel a little blindsided. 

So what do I do? Do I stop dancing? Do I quit the show? Do I still take classes? Is teaching too much? I don’t know that I have all the answers to those questions now. But I’m gonna stick out this year and go from there. 

I won’t quit dancing as it is the one thing that is keeping me as healthy as I am. But the reality that my shows and even days en pointe may be numbered is a sad thing to think about. I try not to too much. 

And really, this fuels another fire in me. To make sure I don’t take any moment for granted, but instead soak up every moment I am able to. Not just in dance, but in life as a whole. I don’t fight for front parking at the grocery store because I’m still able to walk in, and some people aren’t well enough to do that. I take the stairs because I’m still well enough to. I’m thankful that I’m still able to work and take dance and teach the babies. I’m thankful that I can do things we forget are even things we get to do unless they’re taken away. I do my best to be grateful for what I have, even if I can’t grand plie or do most petit allegro. At least I can come to class. My hip may hurt in regular plies, but at least I can do them. I’m still able. And I don’t want to waste that. 

I’ve been blogging my ballet story since 2012, so much of what I spoke about is somewhere on here or at least referenced somewhere. Feel free to dig as much as your heart desires. This is a long post, but before you can really judge someone, it helps to get to know them–see where they’ve come from and what they’re up against. Sometimes I forget that what I’m up against is actually quite a bit since it’s my reality. 

I thank y’all for taking the time to get to know a glimpse of the back story to all of this. I know people have it worse, but I also know that mine is the “worse” to somebody else. I can’t deny that it’s rough but it doesn’t have to make me just give up. Maybe I’m just stubborn. 

I’ll have an update on rehearsals after tomorrow, that way I have both roles to write about. I promise it won’t be as long as this. 😂 but I am quite excited for this show. Stay tuned on that. 

For those of you who actually got this far, HOLY CRAP YOURE INCREDIBLE. for those of you who commented such kindness on my Instagram these past few days, I can’t thank you enough. My world is better because you are in it, and honestly part of why I keep pushing myself to keep dancing isn’t only because it’s so engrained in my heart and good for my health, but also because losing dance would mean not having blog posts to write about dance and therefore not having all of you. That would make my heart saddest of all. 

Keep fighting. Keep chasing your dreams. Keep doing hard things. Cherish the things you do have even if someone has more than you. That’s okay. Do what you can with what you have and play the cards you’re dealt. In doing so, you will live a successful life. 

I’m just a nobody from a tiny town no one has heard of. I am honestly nobody special. I live alone with my dog in my parents backyard. I don’t really have any special talents. And if my life can be one that people look at and say, “you inspire me.” Than yours can be, too. Stay true to yourself, and people will follow. It’s as simple as that. Set the example, make it a good one. You only get this one life. Please, please don’t waste it. 

I love you. 

First class of spring semester. 

I’m blogging from my chiropractors office, currently. I came in on Tuesday for my first appointment since Nutcracker and apparently my back is so tight and messed up that he had me come back in again today. He’s never had me come in twice in the same week, so dang. I feel it though, but mainly in my upper back/base of the neck at the moment. (Usually it’s the lower back.) Part of that is probably because I’ve been sleeping weird. Now that I’m all sorts of congested, being so propped up is helping so I haven’t adjusted my pillows yet. Hopefully soon. Ugh. 

I went to class yesterday for the first time since break. We had class Monday, but I wasn’t feeling all too well still. I had left work early on Thursday, and we had Monday off as well. I had intended to go, but figured it’d probably be for the best if I didn’t push it. 

I woke up yesterday morning before my alarm, but was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of how long my day was going to be. It’s a lot to begin with, and was really taking its toll end of last semester, so to face such a long day not feeling well took a lot of willpower. Plus, tax season has begun, so we’re rather busy at work. Ahhhh. Anyway. I walked in to work, got everything rolling, and went in to ask my boss a question when she got in and first thing she said was, “you look like you don’t feel all that well.” I had made it through the day before alright, and it wasn’t anymore than that, really, but I told her I really wasn’t. (Because I really wasn’t.) She told me to finish the payroll I was working on and go home. That it’s early in the season and I have to be well for it, so to take the time when I can. 

Reluctantly, I went home and stayed in bed, (even making myself not finish up on my list of things to do around the house that I didn’t get done with all the down time I made myself take this weekend to try and be well enough by the start of the week) drinking lots of water and making the perfect cup of tea and just letting myself enjoy it. My stomach started hurting, unrelated to whatever this is, right before I had to leave to teach. I powered through, not feeling that my mental clarity was compromised at all, which is usually a good sign that something is off, and being that I wasn’t showing any signs of being contagious. I get to the studio and was told by one of my favorite dance moms that I didn’t look like I felt too well. Apparently my eyes were telling more than I was accepting in myself. Then again when I got into the studio, one of my good friends made a similar comment. I guess I really wasn’t okay. 

I taught my babies, whom I hadn’t seen in so long. I missed them so much and was excited to try some things on them to see how I wanted to go with recital. They were super chatty (not all, about half actually) and the ones that were focused were really getting the moves I was trying to see if they could handle. The others were super over it so I may just cut it out. I did play the song for them, which they’re super excited about being that it’s from Frozen. (I know so many in that class love Frozen so I did it on purpose. They’re pumped.) I think it helped them focus, even. 

After class, I went to sit in the office before the V’s barre I take, like usual. I must have spaced out or something, because the class starts at 7:15, and usually I hear the one class leaving before ours goes in. I completely missed it this time, and didn’t notice until 7:36. I peaked in through the window, where my role buddy, Hannah, saw me and mouthed, “why aren’t you here?” I mouthed back “I spaced out” and she laughed with me. She told me to come in anyway but I didn’t want to interrupt and cause a scene, so I just waited. We made faces through the mirror until I was afraid is get her in trouble. It was pretty funny. My teacher friend caught me through the window and made a face like, “wait…what?” To which I shrugged with a “dude I don’t even know” and we laughed as well. I text her so she would know after class how I completely spaced and that maybe I’m not completely myself after all. 

I stayed for Adult, and since I wasn’t pre-worked from the barre before, I actually made it through pretty decently. I was very prone to space out, but I find that I have my best classes when we first come back from a break. I think it’s mainly because I don’t overthink as much. It made me feel good, though. I got a few compliments from my teacher, and even a few corrections I was able to implement and get affirmation on afterwards. 

Then we did a simple jump combination (simple in steps, that is.) so I decided to go ahead and try it. Turns out the timing was a little funny, with a double time that was sort of odd at the end. I was able to keep up, so my teacher put me in the front for others to follow. She was watching me often during class (which, honestly, wasn’t hard since there were only 5 of us) and the positive affirmation from it really made me feel good. 

My knees starts to hurt a bit, but it wasn’t anything too bad. I was trying to focus on plieing more, since I tend to cut myself short, and keeping the leg alignment correct as I did so. I also tried to focus on not letting my standing knee bend when I come through first in rond de jambs. (Did I spell that right? Whatevs.) I also got a correction on my pique turns to the right. I tend to dip my left shoulder for whatever reason. 

Thankfully, there were so few of us we were able to do combinations a few times each. So we were able to get corrections and implement them on both sides. So often I get corrections and only have the left side to try to fix it, but the left is my good side. 

Overall it was a good day. 

I have a bunch of thoughts on things I want to blog about, but I gotta try and make them into like, words and sentences and ideas that make sense. If I could do anything as my job, I would write. I wish I could do this full time somehow. Stay tuned, and hopefully I’ll have more blog posts and pictures and goodness coming up soon. 

Thanks for sticking around with me, loves. Y’all are among some of my greatest encouragements when things get rough. I appreciate it more than words can say. 

Snow White Cast List 

The cast list came out yesterday for our spring show, Snow White. 

None of us really knew anything of what to expect since it’s a brand new production for us, so–besides the obvious dwarves–we won’t really know what the roles entail until we get to rehearsal and start working hard. 

I was cast as a Weisse Frauen and am the cover for the Hoffraulein. 

Once again, absolutely no clue what any of this means, except that I’m cast with my level which is all I really hoped for. 

(Lies. I wanted to be a tree. But I’ve wanted to be a tree in literally any production and there’s hasn’t been the part of “tree” in anything. So back on the bucket list that goes.) (hehe)

I was a little taken back to see that I’m a cover again at first, but, I mean, I get it. It’s not something I’ll talk about here cause too many people read this, but I have a bonus of coming into this as an adult and therefore understanding how these sort of dynamics work more than others may. All in all, I’m content. 

I am a little nervous, though, since being a cover means you essentially have to work harder to make sure you can jump in for anyone. Spring is already rather busy and complex for me as it is, but I’m doing everything I can do be my best at everything I have on my plate. That means that basically if it’s not work or dance, it’s probably not going to happen. If I were in high school, or lived at home still, or somehow didn’t have a home to have to stay on top of, it would be a different story. But my reality is different than most people’s reality, so I have to do what I can however I can. 

I am excited to see how the show is going to go, and to know that I’m trusted enough to be a cover. The other two spring shows I’ve been in I’ve also covered, and ended up dancing, though I have a feeling if any year is the one I don’t go in, it’ll be this one. And that’s okay. The experience is what it’s really all about. I get to be a part of a brand new show. I get to be in a show. I’m living a life some people only dream of, and if I’m foolish enough to not realize how incredible that is, then do I really deserve to be in it? This is a gift. And I choose to see it as such. 

I’m very excited for the people I’m dancing with. There are a few of the younger girls that are in the role I am and I’m very proud that they are. Once again, I have no clue yet what the role will be like, but these girls work really hard and are growing so much every class. And plus I’m just excited to dance with them again. And excited to dance a role with them! I haven’t gotten to yet, though we were all in Waltz of the Flowers. We were different parts, though. This time we’re the same, so I’m excited. They make me better. They challenge and encourage me. I count it an honor to have them in my tribe. 

Rehearsals begin this weekend, and Saturdays rehearsals are ones I’ll actually be late to due to teaching, but there’s only so much that can be done to avoid that. It’s not intentionally against me, there’s just really no way around it, which I totally get. And the good thing is our director knows that too so I won’t get faulted for missing the warm up that’s during my class and coming in late. I know I don’t have to be afraid of something that isn’t my fault. (Not that I’ve ever had to feel that way here, but I have in previous jobs. And it’s so nice knowing that’s not the case here.)

I’ll update more after this weekend when we’ve begun the process. Stay tuned!