Celebrate your victories.

Like much of the world, I’ve been watching the Olympics when I can. Not as much as I’d like to since I don’t have the channels, but I’ve conveniently been dog-sitting at the opening and closing, so I’ve been able to catch a few of my favorite events.

I don’t remember watching all of figure skating before. And by that I mean all four of the final groupings. I don’t recall what programming was like growing up in the 90s, but this time I was able to watch from group 1 all the way to the end of the 4th and final group.

You see these skaters from all over the world, doing their best, handling the pressure in their own ways. Some fall victim to the lights and weight of expectation, disappointed–and often rightfully–when they don’t place higher, whether they were in the medal contention or not.

Then you see these skaters, going out there and doing their best, knowing that even if they’re in the top three for the moment they won’t stay there when it’s all said and done. And you see their scores come up, and they’re celebrating. Not because they’ll be getting a medal, but because they far surpassed their personal best records.

To them, that’s as good as gold.

And, no matter their placement, each and everyone can call themselves Olympians. No matter their placement on the final score sheet, no matter the color of medal or if there’s a medal at all, they all are still Olympians. They are all there, having that mutual experience in their own way.

I feel like these dancers in the ballet world. I’ll never be a dancer that’s known, I’ll never be pro, I’ll never be a “ballerina” in the technical sense of the term, but i am a ballet dancer. I get to have that title. I have my own experiences in this journey.

I’m here, I’m doing my best with the opportunities I’ve been given, and it’s my decision on whether I let myself feel crushed by the fact I’m not better or can’t be better or if I let myself celebrate my victories, my personal bests. Even if no one else is celebrating with me, will I choose to do this for me and what I can get out of it? Or will i let myself be bothered by if I fall short of where I feel I’m expected to be, or if I am never known, even locally, or if I just blend in as nothing spectacular.

Some of these kids are American, competing for other countries through heritage allowances. As Americans, they’d never even be seen, but going this other route they get an Olympic experience they wouldn’t otherwise have. And they’re out there, living their best lives, working their tails off, skating as though they were the greatest there, even if no one remembers them after the closing ceremony is broadcast.

I’m human. Emotions are things that exist and we all have to deal with them. It’s nice when they’re excited and happy emotions, but all too often they’re ones of sadness and disappointment, even anger. It’s my choice whether I let myself wallow in the negative emotions, or if I choose to enjoy this life I’ve been given and celebrate my victories as I achieve them.

I’m still adjusting to my reality that illness is part of my story. I think back on my accomplishments to this point and I smile.

I began. I took that step and faced my fears. I signed up for class and fumbled through until it started to make sense. I started taking more classes, practicing at home when I could, studying up on what terms meant and the technicality behind them to better understand. I started staying to watch the advanced classes. I pushed myself to earn pointe shoes after asking my teacher what to focus on to help me get there. I started working on understanding dancing ballet with this new apparatus strapped onto my feet, fumbling through and struggling to find shoes that worked for me. My studio closed, so I found another. Nervous as heck, I began again, adjusting to the new way of doing things and figuring out where I fit. I took class with kids half my age. I took a huge leap and auditioned for The Nutcracker. I danced my first pointe performance, even though I struggled. That spring, I did my first character and jazz dance in a performance. I never expected that. I continued on, doing Nutcracker and spring shows. I advanced into the highest level ballet class. I danced the role I set out to achieve, Lilac in Waltz of the Flowers–a role that most feel entitled to dance once they hit a certain level, but for me it was a crowning achievement. Even further, I danced in the highest level Ballet role in our spring show, another personal achievement.

I did all these things, I celebrated, I took the moment to appreciate where I was when I was there.

Now I try to find the grace to extend myself that those things, in just a year, have become an unachievable memory. I find enjoyment in being able to still be surrounded by the Ballet environment. To be involved in any way I can. That I get to teach. That I’m given roles I can do in shows, even if they’re nothing like what I used to do.

But this is my life. My story is being written every day. This is my reality, and I take it as it comes. It’s up to me to let emotions make me bitter that I’m not what I used to be, that I can’t fight to be better than I am anymore, or I can celebrate the little victories I achieve every day. They may not be victories the calibre of what they used to be, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of celebration.

Today, I choose to celebrate my ability to still be able to be in productions. To attend rehearsals, to be involved. To wear costumes and be on stage and be involved in something bigger than me.

My story isn’t finished just because I’m sick. I’m just writing a different chapter. Life handed me a plot twist I wasn’t expecting in the slightest. But the pen is still in my hand, and as long as there’s ink in it I’m going to keep writing.

Blogging awards.

Over the past month and a half, I have been nominated for a blogging award by two different, extremely kind fellow-blogger friends. I rarely have time to get on my laptop, so it’s taken me a bit to actually get around to “accepting” this aware (Read: posting this blog) but I ask you please forgive my delay and enjoy this blog post anyway.

MBA

Mystery Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award both by Anna “The Dork” as well as May, two people I absolutely adore and appreciate beyond what words are capable of expressing. This award, should you choose to accept it, is intended to be a way of betting wonderful, often not-well-known blogs out there and seen. (as well as appreciated.) If I’ve nominated you, you don’t have to “accept” it and do the post if you don’t want to, but it’s definitely a fun thing to be a part of!

Here’s the rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

 

Anna and May have been some of my greatest supporters. It’s been 2 year (today!) since this blog made the jump to wordpress and really started gaining some traction. Without people like Anna and May, I would more than likely be writing to a void. Which, I mean, I’d do it anyway, but it’s really nice to have support and feedback from people.

Anna is a fellow ballet lover who writes about the ins and outs of her experiences in the ballet world, whether it’s classes, recitals, realizations, you name it! She also has a great instagram account that’s candid and real. I love it.

May recently made the switch from a ballet-specific blog to one more about the beauty in life every day. (Don’t worry, it still heavily features ballet!) A kindred spirit, for sure, I greatly appreciate her posts and honesty.

Three random things:

  1. I have what some may consider and unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter. The muggles just don’t understand.
  2. I’ve journaled consistently since I was about 12. I have since filled over 60 journals, all of which I still have. (2011 went missing for 6 years, but was uncovered after Hurricane Harvey destroyed a storage unit of ours. Don’t worry, they made it!)
  3. I take a polaroid every day. I started this after reading a story of a man who did the same until the day he died of cancer, making it 18 years of polaroids. I began in March of 2015.  It’s one of the coolest projects I’ve ever taken on.

The Questions.

(I’ll have 10 since I was nominated by 2 different people. Here we go!)

Anna’s questions

  1. If you were a soup, which flavour of soup would you be?
    I’d be a good ol’ bowl of broccoli and cheese soup. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know.
  2. What causes you to doubt yourself?
    Other people’s opinions; namely, if I can’t get them to understand something, and they’re in a position in my life where I hold their opinion in high regard, I begin to doubt myself.
  3. If time, money, distance, relationships and education were not an issue, what would be your dream job?
    I’d write. Not sure if it’d be being paid to blog, or books, or articles, or what. But, dang it, I just love writing.
  4. What does your dream house look like?
    Like the one I’m in. I live in a tiny house my Dad built me. It’s perfection.
  5. What dance move or style would you like to master?
    I would love to be able to do multiple clean pirouettes.

May’s questions

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
    If you’d asked me this five years ago, you’d have a very different answer to the current reality. I never expected this. But I’m gonna ride it out and see what happens. That being said, I see myself happy, whatever I’m doing, and hopefully not any worse physically than I am now.
  2. What is your favourite place on earth?
    Four-way tie between Rome, Amsterdam, the Bayside, TX cemetery, and my Aunt’s farm in Kansas.
  3. Why is your passion your passion?
    I feel too much. It begs to be expressed. I’ll never be satisfied that it is fully and completely expressed, but I’ll do my darnedest to try and get there.
  4. Where (a place) does your heart draw you to?
    Europe.
  5. What is the wildest dream you ever dreamed?
    I really want to be in a movie. Don’t know that I’ll get to that one. The whole ballet thing doesn’t seem to wild of a dream to have had since I actually accomplished it, but had you told me I’d do everything I did when I first began I never would have believed you.

 

Questions for my nominees:

  1. What is the one thing for which you are most proud of yourself?
  2. What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
  3. Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
  4. What your favorite song lyric you can think of?
  5. What’s something you didn’t expect to end up as wonderful as it did?

My Nominees:

Chronicles of Grace: A fellow adult dancer who writes about her experiences, most recently including dealing with an unexpected (and heart-wrenching) injury.

imitationballerina: Originally began as a weekly ballet blog to track her progress in her return to ballet in 2014, but has become a Chaptered chronicle of her experiences in dance. Often candid and real, I super appreciate her writing style and honesty.

Zoe Inez : My friend from The Bush, she began writing about her experiences in ballet, and now writes as an invisible illness advocate and how that affects her life. Zoe was one of the main people to reach out to me about my own health issues and shed light onto what it might actually be. She’s been my inspiration to seek out answers and help. I owe her so much. Check out her story, she’s inspirational to say the least.

Dancing Recklessly : One of my absolute favorite dance blogs to follow. Her stories of her experiences in dance are incredible as well as inspiring. Let her blogs speak for themselves.

Right Here At The Barre: Alicia is another one of my longest dance friends and readers. She is a fellow adult ballet dancer that also dabbles in yoga and pole dancing. She writes about her ballet experiences and accomplishments.

 

I only have 5, instead of 10, but whatever.

Y’all don’t have to do this, but it definitely is a fun thing to be a part of. Thank you for writing and for following along. I appreciate having y’all in my life and the way technology brings us all together!

 

(Note: Upon finishing this post, I realize I was actually nominated for two different blogging awards. But I’m just gonna go with the one and roll with it. Six in one hand, half a dozen in another, right?)

 

As previously mentioned, today marks 2 years since I’ve been on WordPress. I’ve been blogging since 2012, but largely to an empty audience. My blog has grown and evolved as I have, and it’s pretty cool to see where I am now, what I’ve accomplished, and have hope for what’s ahead. Thank you all for being along for the ride.

Dreams.

I used to dream of one day dancing ballet. Of working hard and earning pointe shoes and dancing on stage in beautiful costumes.

Then I decided to start classes and work towards that dream.

Slowly, I started progressing. Slowly, I started taking more classes. Two years in, I earned pointe shoes and started the work of improvement in this new area of ballet.

My studio closed, I found a new one. Before I knew it, I was in shows, on stage in beautiful costumes. There were moments when my breath would leave me realizing I was the person walking backstage in such a way to try to not make a lot of noise in my pointe shoes or move the backdrop with my beautiful costume.

I dreamed, I fought, I saw them happen.

Life was literally a dream come true.

These days, I dream of waking up and not already feeling exhausted. I dream of being able to go grocery shopping by myself because it means i won’t need someone to help me lift things. I dream of being able to stay up past 9 without repercussions for the next week from not sleeping enough. I dream of being able to be put in stressful situations, handle them, and not pay for it for the next however long. I dream of being able to eat, lay down, and not have it come back up simply because of the position I’m in. I dream of being able to sit up without my hips hurting or feeling like it’s taking too much energy if I’m sitting on a chair without a back to lean against. I dream of standing for longer than 30 minutes without being in pain. I dream of muscles and joints that don’t cause me pain in my sleep, or because I stayed in one position too long, or because of who knows what else. I dream of not having to choose between things most people can accomplish in a day because washing dishes is too exhausting to also try to put away laundry.

I dream of taking ballet classes again, of doing shows and wearing pointe shoes and beautiful costumes. I dream of getting through barre without feeling like my brain won’t work anymore. I dream of doing arabesques without risking nerve damage in my back. I dream of hearing music and moving to it simply because I can.

There isn’t much I can do to work towards these dreams like before, but I still dream them. At the same time, I take time to be incredibly grateful for the things I can still do. I can still drive, I can still live by myself. I can still work and make money to pay my bills. I can still teach tiny baby ballet dancers and be inspired by them. I still have breath in my lungs that I can breathe in and out without pain. I can still sleep most nights.

And I can always, always, look back and remember all the things I was able to accomplish because I dared to dream in the first place. And not just passively, but chasing them in the face of fear until they were my reality.

I made my dreams come true once.

I sincerely hope they will come true again.