Dance Teacher meeting. 

It’s amazing how quickly things can progress. 

I mean, I know they could happen instantaneously and that really I’m pretty fortunate in how much I still have, but it’s all blowing my mind. I mean, this time last year I had come off a summer of dancing twice a week and was gearing up for a fall dance schedule I used to only dream of. I’d be at the studio 5 days a week, and when rehearsals started up, I’d go to the other studio one of those days as well, and then adding in another separate day, making it 6 days a week at a studio. 

But as I walked up to my dance teachers house for our annual teacher meeting before classes start, a pain started shooting in my left knee as I walked up to her porch. As I walked out later, the pain was still there. My knee popped, (like usual) and that didn’t help. I got home and walked next door to my sister house, and within two steps I thought of turning back around and driving the 400 feet it would take me to get there because I wasn’t sure if I could make it. But I did it anyway. 

I’m twenty-eight, not eighty-two. What. The. Hell. 

I’m going for an MRI for my back tomorrow, hoping it can give me some answers as to why sitting hurts now and what we can do about it. I’m assuming the knee issues has to do with whatever is happening with my back. We’ll see, I guess. My friend Andie and I leave for Florida in two weeks, and I need my body to freaking hold it together because I’m not missing that and I don’t want her to be wheeling me around the entire dang time. 

The staff meeting went really well. It’s nice to get all of us in one place and set out visions and goals for the coming year, as well as start with expectations of what we should be striving for as teachers. Having the teachers who have been there since some of the newer teachers were students is really cool. I feel like they’re just vaults of wisdom from all the years of experience. I can’t get enough. Plus everyone is so kind, I’m truly grateful. 

I was able to tell my dance teachers about my back. I hadn’t seen them since it’s acted up so I hadn’t been able to update them. They’re so great and supportive. They’re going to make sure I have an assistant in every class so they can do the demonstrating for me, which will help substantially. It would crush my heart to have to lose ballet, so my goal is to not have that happen, and having them be so supportive of keeping me on even when my body is turning against me means more than I have words for. 

They gave us these sweet, personalized, reusable bags 

Filled with lots of goodies!


Including 


Faculty shirts! How cool is that?? I’m super pumped about it. The picture is of Ms. Munro, which I absolutely LOVE. She so incredible. Her stories blow my mind and leave me in awe. We truly are lucky to have her. 

Classes start next week and I’m so excited to meet my kiddos. I even have my boss’ granddaughter in my Saturday class! It’s gonna be so much fun! 

Comparison. 

We’ve all heard people say not to compare yourself to someone else. 

For me, it’s become one of the most annoyingly stereotypical comments, especially having recovered from an eating disorder and also now being in ballet. 

I’ve heard it over and over and over and over again. It’s successfully been drilled into my head. 

So why do I still do it? 

Sure, not in the same way I used to. I successfully don’t degrade myself over the fact that someone else is the size I wish I could be. I also don’t beat myself up when people are better than or more of a natural at something I’m passionate about. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still size up my small friends and wish I could look like them, trying to figure out what I could do to logically get to my version of that. Or that I don’t subconsciously count it as a mark against me when someone else is succeeding and my life is seemingly relatively stagnant. 

If this is something I know so well, why do I still do it? 

I guess part of it is human nature. We judge people because we are human, but there is a difference between taking in your surroundings to make judgements of how you need to act, etc, and being a judge mental jerk. (For lack of saying words I may not want children to read.) in the same sense, we compare. Personally, judging and comparing are two traits that help me in my day-to-day tasks. It’s largely how I know how to act and react and what’s appropriate. Sure, sometimes I miss the mark, but “reading the room” of sorts is a key part to me functioning in society. 

Knowing such, I know I’m also prone to be way too hard on myself. To over thinking and telling myself that I don’t have what it takes or I’m not enough. None of that is healthy, so when I notice myself going down that path, I try to stop myself and remind myself who I am and what I have to offer. 

(Sometimes this is way harder than it seems or should be.)

  • It’s not a competition on if I’m “sick enough.” I don’t have to prove it to anyone, and frankly, getting a diagnosis isn’t something I can talk my way into. It’s  something proven by tests and blood work. I can’t control it more than the medical advice I’m given, realistically. I am me, this is my body and reality, this is my lot. Im not anyone else. I can only do what I can do about it. 
  • Not having a significant other does not make me less of a person. Honestly, I think this one bothers other people more than me, and the fact that they’re bothered bothers me. (Though it’d be nice to be on someone’s insurance and have a second income. Yes, I realize how shallow I sound.)
  • Amount of readers or followers or likes or anything else social media brings does not dictate my worth. I shouldn’t feel like I have to say or do certain things to reach out to people who don’t really care about me. The ones who care will be there. The new people I meet will come anyway. I can only do what I can and no more than that. Being fake to try and feel more successful isn’t worth it. 
  • My friends love me for who I am. I don’t have to prove anything to them. I shouldn’t be afraid that they may not like me if they get to know me better. Should that happen, it’s not worth the stress of trying to keep up anyway. You’ll surprise yourself by how many people actually do accept you just the way you are when you’re true to yourself. 
  • Doing what I need to take care of myself is a good thing. I shouldn’t be afraid of or feel guilty about doing that. 
  • Giving myself the time and space to figure out new complications is healthy. I shouldn’t feel bad about it or beat myself up for the need of it. 

I could go on and on, and honestly I don’t know if anyone really cares about this post. I don’t even know if you’ve read it this far, but that’s okay. This post is more for me than it is for anyone else, and if someone else gets something out of it, then that’s a plus. 

So often in life, definitely in ballet, we find ourselves comparing our lives and stories and paths to other people’s. And what’s the point? You’re the only person in the entire world to have the exact experiences you do. Other people may be able to relate to some of them, but they’ll never be exact. Therefore, comparing is stupid. It’s illogical. It’s part of human nature, but allowing ourselves to be overcome by it more than is natural isn’t wise. We have to figure out ways to fight it. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we are worth it, just as we are. We have to fight to better ourselves for no one else but ourselves. We have to fight to keep living, even on the days we don’t want to the most. 

It’s not fair to let darkness steal any more of the light than it takes before we notice it’s there. Darkness happens, but we deserve light. Let yourself feel it on your face and embrace its potential. 

“Comparison is the theif of all joy.”

Fact. 

Fight for what brings you joy, for you. 

If they, so I.

As I visited my sister, brother-in-law, and their new born son in the hospital yesterday, I was in tears.

I had just left the chiropractor, which I go to every other week at this point, having been in the worst back pain I’ve had since it really began three years ago. I told him this. He expressed concern. He’s sending me for a steroid shot to help until I can get an MRI done to hopefully see what is causing me to get worse instead of better.

While I’m grateful for the action being taken, I’m overwhelmed.

 

I don’t have “real insurance.” I can’t afford it. I am part of a co-op that helps with the big things, but most of the little things are left to me. I guess if you think about it, the difference might all come out in the wash for the rates I’d pay for actual insurance versus what I pay for the help I get. But I also don’t have a deductible to meet, so I don’t have to pay $6,000-$8,000 before expensive insurance even kicks in, and I don’t have to worry about being in network. I at least have enough connections to get me referrals to places I need to go. For that, I am grateful.

As I sat on the pull out bed my brother-in-law has been sleeping on and told my sister about my appointment, my brother-in-law asked me, “What did he say about you dancing?”

I laughed.

I laughed, and it broke my heart when I realized that was my reaction.

After the split second, I told him, “I can’t dance anymore. Not full classes. Teaching is okay, but I can’t make it through classes. And he’s okay with that.”

I’ve made an appointment for next Thursday to get the shot of steroids. My chiropractor was concerned when I told him that I’ve been getting worse, not better, and immediately suggested the referral to see what’s going on. I’m going to speak to my rhuematologist to see about an orthopedic specialist like she had originally suggested, but this way I’ll already have the MRI done and can bring them with me.

I put it off initially, thinking maybe it was just because I hadn’t been dancing. That I went from dancing so much to practically nothing so fast that maybe it caused the pain I was feeling. After all, it was around the same time. But then, going to dance didn’t help. The pain didn’t go away. So now I’m going to bite the bullet. Maybe it’ll be an expensive way of telling myself that I’m fine, but maybe it’s not. And if it’s not, if there really is something wrong, I should find out sooner rather than later. Especially since the pain is now starting to impinge on my every day life, making it harder to just ignore.

I cried when I left the chiropractor, knowing that this would be expensive, that things are getting worse. I cried when I called about the steroids to hopefully help, hearing the amount she quoted me as a self-pay patient. I’m sure I’ll cry when I get the call for the MRI referral.

I try my best to stay positive. Not because I’m this person that craps rainbows and sunshine, but really because of the opposite. I know if I let it all get to me, I’ll end up in a dark place I don’t need to be. I know it’s easier to take a moment to make myself pick out positives than it is to come back from being in a dark place. I know what I’m prone to, and I try to avoid it. But I also know the importance of embracing reality–I am sick. I am not getting better right now. Avoiding it will only make things worse later. My credit cards aren’t maxed out yet, I have some side income coming to me in the fall, I do have a co-op that should be able to help with the big MRI expense.

I try not to replay the fear I felt making that call to get the steroids. A fear that is difficult to explain unless you’ve experienced it. The unknown of how the call will turn out and if you’ll get shut down before you can even make the appointment. How I tried to convince myself I can do without it to save some money. I’m prone to reliving difficult situations, but letting myself do that won’t help the situation. I have to focus on getting through the next 8 days until I can even get the shot. Of telling myself that I can cancel up to Wednesday if I need to. That I see the chiropractor again on Tuesday. That things improving isn’t yet out of the question, and if they don’t I do have an appointment that will help me.

The whole time, I just hear this little voice in my head saying, “It’ll get worse before it gets better.” And if this is the “getting worse” then I just have to look for the “gets better” bit and hold to that with an iron grip.

Until then, I think of friends I have made through being sick. Friends that can’t walk, friends that pay thousands for each dose of medication they have to take just to stay alive, people who’s bodies are rejecting treatment. I think of the things I’m losing as paling in comparison. If they can do this, if they can endure, if they can find a way to wake up in the morning, then so can I.

If I can do it, so can you.

Cantique–A Novel

Ballet has a unique was of bringing people together–across generations and oceans and any other divide you can think of. It’s one of my favorite things about the art form, and I’m grateful to have such a great group of people I have met via Instagram that also share this love, specifically coming into it as adults.

One of these friends, Joanna Marsh, actually wrote a great novel called Cantique, inspired in part by coming into ballet as an adult beginner and the subtle ways it draws one in to itself.

Joanna has a blog she also runs that features the stories of different ballet dancers that began as adults.

While the blog is such a wonderful look into the lives of different people joined together by this common love, I take an extra, personal interest in it now. Not too long ago, Joanna asked me if I would be willing to be a part of her blog series and if she could interview me.

Oh-my-gosh-yes-are-you-serious-holy-crap-this-is-the-coolest
That’s about how it went in my head, no punctuation at all, and I’m sure actually more long-winded than I’m letting on. I was honored to be thought of, to say the least, especially in this time in my life where I can find myself feeling like I don’t really have much to offer since my life is so starkly different now with being sick and trying to navigate that. Yet, smack dab in the middle of that, comes this message asking if she could tell part of my story.

It’s something God has been teaching me recently, that being sick isn’t the end of my story but rather a part of it. And that can be the same for you, whether it’s moving or switching jobs, or family problems, or extreme loss, or whatever it is you might be facing. That doesn’t mean your story is over, it doesn’t mean that your finer days are done, it doesn’t mean you’ve done all the good you were born to do. It just means that you story is starting another chapter, for lack of less-cheesy words, and that with this you’ll see the point of all the complications. You’ll meet people you never would have otherwise and find fulfillment in life you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I also saw a video this week of a woman diagnosed with a condition that gives her a very short life expectancy, and how she keeps proving them wrong. And how she realized her diagnosis isn’t an end all, be all. It doesn’t mean you can’t do all the things you dream or hope, but rather it’s just another way to do it all, another mode of transportation to get to your destination.

I’m grateful. Truly  grateful.

Days will come that will suck and I’ll be frustrated and feel like crap, but these days in between make it worth it.

(Reminds me of super old blog posts from the beginning of this blog that have similar sentiments about beginning ballet. Oh, life. How you come full circle.)

 

You can buy Joanna’s book here

You can check the post here

 

Thanks again, Joanna. I truly appreciate your friendship!

My last summer class.

I actually made it to a class yesterday.

First time in, like, a month.

There were days I felt well enough to go before, but I was a bit nervous not knowing who the teacher is. Not that any of them could necessarily not be good teachers, but I realize that I am currently in a very fragile state and having something familiar in a place that I associate with safety is dire. It could easily sap me of any bit of optimism I have, or it could remind me that I’m going to be okay.

Summer classes start earlier since we don’t have to worry about a school schedule, so I knew if I left straight from work, I’d only be there about 15 minutes early. (Y’all may scoff at the “only,” but being that I live pretty far out it typically puts me about 30 minutes early. Which is too early in this sense. Fifteen minutes was going to be perfect.) I left the office at 5:04, class starts at 6.

I had driven the same route yesterday for my chiropractor appointment with no problem, but not even 15 minutes into the 45 minute drive, the traffic was already insane. I’m not sure if it’s due to the city’s potential and imminent growth coming early or if it’s something with summer or what, but I was tense and concerned that I wouldn’t get there on time. (The drive is a 35 minute drive that takes 47 during 5 o’clock traffic.) I looked at the clock when I was supposed to be 10 minutes away and noticed I wasn’t even half way there. I was stressed. My hair was still down, I’m not sure where in the depths of the car my shoes are, and I haven’t seen anyone in at least a month. I need those 15 minutes to center myself.

I walked in the door right as class was starting. Full of younger ones whom I love so dearly, I wanted to just hug them all and ask how their summer is going, but I had to get my hair up and they were already walking into the studio. One of the mom’s hugged me as I was half-ready, walking into the studio anyway, and said, “I love seeing you when you get to come to class.” And I knew she meant that genuinely from the depths of her heart. It made my stress melt away and air to fill my lungs again.

Thankfully I walked in to see one of my favorite teachers. She’s also one I don’t have often, but the classes of hers I have taken are ones that always left me feeling great. She challenges enough to push us past what we think we’re capable enough, while also not making it so hard we give up. I was excited.

I said hi to some of the dancers I was able to, and hugged the closest few before we got started. Barre was the challenge I expected and hoped for, and left me feeling so good. I was aware of my limitations, but also still able to do most of what I could before. I did do something to my left hip, but that used to be the norm so I wasn’t all too concerned. (And it doesn’t hurt me today.) The class is an hour and a half long, and barre was about 45 minutes. When we finished, I pulled my hand away and noticed it shaking. More than just a subtle movement, but full-on shaking. I did some quick calculating of how I felt versus the time we had left and knowing center would probably have some challenges and decided I–unfortunately–probably shouldn’t push myself. I went and told my teacher, as I didn’t want her to think I was just leaving because it was her. Turns out I hadn’t seen her or gotten to talk to her since I had gotten diagnosed (I used to see her every Wednesday between when my class ended and hers began and also at rehearsals) so I filled her in, but she has seen and known of many of my struggles, especially during Snow White rehearsals.

I didn’t think I could drive home the whole way without the threat of spacing out, so I waited in the foyer. Thankfully, two of the mom’s were still there, including the one who had hugged me before. We talked about the upcoming year and classes, my trip to Florida next month, and they gave me tips on things to make sure I see and do. As I was about to leave, another mom came in and my diagnosis came up. Turns out one of the mom’s there also has CFS and was telling me about things she tried that worked for her and ways it affects her. It was so great to have another someone there who understood it and even mentioned, “everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you, but it might be worth a shot.” It was simple and she didn’t have to say anything, but her doing so made me feel so much better.

Reality is my reality is changing. Substantially. By the looks of it, I may not be able to stay for classes, even on “good days.” I’m exhausted today and having to push through the work day anyway, which thankfully is full of things I understand, but unfortunately something I’m having to take more slowly to factor in my brain’s lag time and how heavy my chest feels. I do have Friday’s off right now, which is everything. Navigating the Fall will be something to adjust to, as well. I just have to leave myself room to be human and understand that my life isn’t what it was. I also have to give myself the time it will take to accept that in all of it’s layers.

My next doctor’s appointment is at the end of August. I’m hopeful that maybe we can figure out further depths to this thing, or even just note that it’s declining rather rapidly, and see where to go from here.

Thankfully, I write, which means most things are pretty heavily documented.

I hope to still be as active here as I can, though regrettably it will be quite a bit less from normal being that I can’t do as much. I’ll have my baby classes to keep me in the loop of the dance world, still, which means more than I have words for.

Thank you, friends, for staying along for this ride. You guys mean everything to me.

Still learning. 

I haven’t been to a class in a while. I honestly don’t remember when, but I’m sure I could look back on blogs and find out. 😂 

In my online silence, I feel I have learned much:

I’ve learned that even when I’m unable to get to class, ballet is still very much a part of my life. I may be in bed most moments I’m not at work, but what ballet has taught me finds it’s ways of helping me in most areas of my life. Most recently, it’s been in the area of communication. I remembered something a teacher had told me with a correction, “reach your arm out longer. Longer than you think it needs to go. If it’s too much, I’ll tell you.” But she never had to tell me, because what I thought was too much ended up being the perfect amount. I applied this concept to communication, and found that what I thought was a dramatic overkill was actually what was needed and helped immensely. 

I’ve learned the importance of learning my limits, and that also pushing them is equally important at times. While talking with a dear friend of mine, she mentioned making sure that I didn’t use my diagnosis as an excuse to give up. That it’s important to listen to my body and what it needs, but whenever able to make sure I push those limits. Without that, I’ll lose the very thing that makes me who I am. She’s right. So while I have to throw in the towel way more than I ever wanted or thought I would have to, I will not be defeated. There’s much that is unknown, but all hope is not lost. 

I’ve learned that even when I’m feeling my worst, even when I’m unable to to do what’s required of me, let alone anything extra, even when I feel like my life has lost its luster and everything I worked for is slipping from my fingers, like I’ve lost every bit of influence I had or any point that made me enjoy living and helped me get through the hard days, even when trying to explain the depths of what it is im trying to relay to you ends in the most run-on of run-on sentences, still people find this blog, people read my stories, people connect and find something in it that speaks to them. It shows me that even when I’m feeling my worst, I am not pointless. I am not too far gone. I am not lost for all hope. 

I’ve learned that I have some of the greatest friends one could ever hope for. Ones that help me, ones that keep up with and check in on me. Ones that still follow my Instagram account, even when I’m silent for weeks with no explanation. I’ve found friends in similar predicaments, lending their own silent waves of understanding, showing me that I’m not alone. 

I haven’t written as much because I don’t want to just be all about the illness, but I have also come to realize that the illness is part of it. Classes start again next month, where I will be teaching and at least in the studio weekly if for nothing more than that. I hope to get into some interim classes, but so far haven’t been able to yet, sadly. But still, ballet has not left me. Everything it is and brings to the dancer still lives inside of me, still encourages me to keep believing, to keep dreaming, to keep pushing myself. 

It’s funny to think of how different life is now from last year, or even six months ago. The things I could do with minimal effort that now I can’t even consider because it’s too much. But even in thinking back on what I used to be able to do, I smile. Because I did it. I didn’t wait and wish and hope that one day I might dance, I got out there and fumbled around like a baby giraffe until it started to make sense. I chased my crazy dream until it came true. And it did. Just in time, it did. And no matter what happens, no matter if I ever get well or stay sick the rest of my life, no matter if sickness comes in and takes more from me, I will always have that. I will always know I dared to dream and my dreams came true. 

And that, my friends, is more than I could ever ask for. 

What makes me any different from you? Nothing. You just have to decide in yourself that you want whatever it is more than you’re afraid of it, and remind yourself of that feeling of euphoria whenever things get difficult. Because they will. Show up anyway. Try anyway. Push your limits anyway. 

Your future self will thank you. 

Summer Baby Recap. 

As I walked into the studio this morning, I found myself comforted by the familiar smell. I tried to describe it to myself, but it’s a hard one to explain. A mix of many things, including the age of the pier and beam building, the floors, the ac unit, and everything else that goes into it all. It’s only been a week since I was last there, but it felt like a bit of peace and security in my life at a time where nothing really seems certain, even the things that should. 

As I went through the classes, I found myself noticing things I wish I could capture; little moments I wish I could remember forever. This blog post is going to be a list of those little things. You may not care, but these are the things I love to look back on. 

  • M’s immesnse ability to pick up on the finer details of moves and being able to do complex things with the different arm positions almost flawlessly. 
  • S’s brother joining in for the warm up of class and actually loving it. 
  • K asking where my assistants are, showing how much they impact the girls lives in a positive way. 
  • E being so excited about ballet that it makes you excited. 
  • The way they all insist on giving me hugs and high fives after class. 
  • A being super cuddly in the beginning circle, always leaning her little arm on my knee. And the way she says her name is stinking adorable. 
  • I always holding up three fingers and closing one eye and looking through them to show me how old she is. 
  • The twins. Oh, the twins. 
  • K not being able to say her s’s, being slightly pigeon toed, but really getting the concept of her heels being together in first position. 
  • R being brand new last week, too afraid to do anything except for freeze dance with Maddie at the end last week, but this week doing everything and focusing really well. The way she’d go on releve to the very tips of her toes, completely extending through every inch of her body. 
  • V noticing the little things like arm placement and straight knees and working on implementing them without even being corrected. 
  • K giving me a glass figure of a dragonfly and flower and naming it rainbow. Also, her brother is super man and always gives me high fives. 

This brings me the greatest joy. Even on the days that are long and I’m exhausted and struggling, they remind me why this is worth fighting for. They remind me that my life is more than just fighting to get through every day. That I have a purpose and am doing something good in the world. They teach me as much, if not more, than I teach them. I don’t think they’ll even know what they mean to me. 

I’m hoping to have a bunch of them in class next year. They were all really dedicated and focused.  It’s a good group. I’m excited for their futures. 

The studio is closed for the month of July, except for a few interim classes for the older levels and adults. Hopefully I can make a few. 

I’m excited for fall.