End of summer. 

Recently a friend asked if posting on his Facebook wall about his cancer diagnosis was selfish. 

To which I replied that it’s his wall and something he is going through. How in the world was that selfish? 

Yet, I find myself doing it with my blog. I tell myself not to write about being sick so much because people don’t want to read about that. They want to read about ballet, about my journey with it, about all the cool things I get to do and the things I learn through this medium of expression. 

And then I realized that they are one in the same. 

I see my chiropractor every to every other week. I’ve been seeing him about two years now, and he is also an RN and rather invested in my whole health story. On Tuesday he asked me about some updates, then looked me in the eye and asked, “are you depressed?” 

It was a rather direct question, which would have really thrown me coming from my father. My dad and my chiropractor are friends, and I sort of view him as a father figure, but it wasn’t something I found invasive, just not what I expected. I responded, “definitely.” Then he asked, “are you beginning the grieving process? For your diagnosis? You were so active in dance and always doing something. This has put the brakes on.” 

It’s summer. Official summer classes end tomorrow, the last adult class was Wednesday. Out of the 8 potential classes, I made it to two. I was hoping to make it this past week, but I ended up too sick. 

From what? What could have possibly made me too sick to power through? I don’t get “normal people” sick very often at all. But apparently, I pushed myself too hard in cleaning my house on Friday, and that mixed with life stress kicked my butt even through the next week. A week later, I’m still struggling. 

I miss it. I miss class. I miss dance. 

I miss having time to get everything done that life requires. I miss being able to be busy, which makes me forget about all the hard things in life I can’t change. 

I miss seeing my friends and challenging myself. I miss learning new things and striving to perfect things I know. 

I wish I was able to tell you about all the cool stuff I’m learning and working on. That I could fill my blog with all the ballet things all the time. I wish I had weekly updates like I used to, trying to hold myself back on all the things I wanted to say to not make too many posts at once. 

But reality is, life is a thief that’s stealing the things I love. And I have to find ways to handle that. Thankfully, ballet isn’t out of the question entirely, and I am at a wonderful studio that will let me make a class schedule to whatever I can manage. If it’s making it to adult class, wonderful. But if it’s making it to a leveled class barre here and there, that’s okay too. 

I’m grateful to know that all hope isn’t lost. That I can still dance when I’m able, and there’s no pressure to do more than that. I’m extremely grateful that I can still teach, which helps me stay motivated to make the drive to the studio and fight for the thing I love. Not to mention the kids jump start my heart to remember why life is still beautiful, even when things are so very ugly. 

Dance has given me so many things I have in life that I treasure. Most of them are people, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Even if it has slowed down, I’m so very glad that I get to be a part of this ballet world. Even more so that I decided to take those first terrifying steps to pursuing this crazy dream. 

Keep dreaming. Keep fighting. Do the things that scare you. Find the thing that makes you feel alive and chase it with everything you have. 

Thank you so much for being patient with me. For sticking around, even when my life isn’t as “glamorous” as it used to be. Y’all are part of my heart. 

This.

There are some days that are simple and light and could be described as “pleasant.”

And then there are days that are complicated and dark and can be described using expletives that make your mom angry to hear them, causing you even more frustration.

(No? Just me? Okay.)

Sometimes those days turn in to weeks, or longer, and it can wear pretty rough on your soul.

Sometimes it piles on top of everything else you already deal with every day, making it feel hard to breathe.

So you debate even going to ballet, although it’s been a while and having days where you actually don’t feel exhausted are way fewer and farther between than they used to be and in spite of everything you’re still semi-alive enough to go.

You get in your car, get caught in traffic, cut off more times to count.

You finally get there right when your favorite song comes on the radio, so you wait it out before going inside.

The familiarity of the place begins to seep into your pores, saturating your skin, making it’s way deeper until it hits your blood stream.

You change into your ballet clothes, realizing your tights are still in your car. You get said tights, then finish actually getting dressed. Then realize your shoes are in your car, too, so you go back out and get your shoes, thankful that you haven’t cleaned out your car yet and that you check these things before class, and also that you get here early enough to take all these things into account.

You find the studio full, half with new faces. It’s a bit intimidating, until class begins, and one of your favorite teachers leads you through combinations that challenge your brain and body and you help the new girl next to you know which direction to turn in a soutenu.

And for that glorious hour, all your mind can allow to take in is ballet; the steps, the execution, the timing, the corrections. There’s no room for the stress you walked in with, the pending whatevers that leave you anxious or the fear of the unknown.

For the first time in what seems like forever, you’re finally in a place that’s familiar, a place that feels like home.

All those fears and anxieties and stresses will be there when you leave, but you leave a little lighter, knowing that you had an entire hour where you could leave it and just breathe.

This is why you dance.

This is why you fight.

This is why you refuse to give up.

 

Never quit fighting.

Summer classes 2017. 

At our studio, we have a month we’re we do summer intensive classes. The levels aren’t broken up so extensively, due to the smaller size, but the kids who attend take classes for a greater part of the day, having a variety of different types of classes, special teachers brought in, and really good hands on instruction. 

For the younger ones, we have continuing classes, depending on size and median age range for each level, some are able to get intense in their own right. 

I teach two of the classes on Saturday: 3-5 year old ballet and 6-8 year old ballet. 

The classes only last one month, which we are halfway through, and it seems to be the freaking summer of prodigies, at least for my classes. There’s a couple in each class, it seems, and even then the rest seem way above their peers for the most part. 

It’s an exciting thing for a teacher. To have kids in class that are excited to learn and grow. To teach them things a bit above where they should be and for them to soak it up and blow your mind. 

My favorite class is the 6-8 ballet. They’re all around the same age, though a few are technically 5 1/2, but none are older than 6. And they’re all doing things that I would give to the 8 year olds, and they’re doing really well with it. It’s exciting to be able to introduce things to them that are a bit complex and really get to work with them on it, knowing that in the gal they’ll be so very prepared to handle anything that comes their way. 

The 3-5 ballet is good, too. The struggle there is the class is split, 3 year olds and 5 year olds. Some of the 3 year olds are brand new and struggle to focus a little. Some of them do just fine and work really hard. It’s still a good class, especially considering 3 year olds are just that–three. years. old. 

I love these ages so much. The kids are so happy and so excited. They’re full of dreams and light. They remind me that life is worth fighting for and that there are good things in the world, even when so much is bad. 

There’s one girl I had last week who was brand new to our studio. I gave her complex explanations of things and she just jumped right to it with incredible technique. She is a natural, in every sense of the word. She takes it slow if she needs to to make sure she’s doing it exactly right, which even at 5 1/2 can be hard to come by. So often they just want to get through the work to the “fun stuff.” When you find one who finds the work fun, it’s a recipe for immense success. She’s so happy and excited and loves hugs. 

Her mom told me that she’s never seen her like this. That usually she is a reserved child. That she’s never been so excited about a class or a teacher or an activity like this. Her schedule is sort of complicated, as they live out of town and she’s pretty active in different things, but hopefully we can work with her and have her stay with us in the fall. 

I’ve heard of students you see and as soon as you meet them they’re excited about them and their potential. She’s one of them. And then this past week another one walked in the door. It’s blowing my mind. 

I get to be a part of these kids lives. How cool is that? Every single one of these kids I teach, I have a part in who they become, even if they forget me and who I am completely. 

I try not to take that lightly. 

And, for sure, their impact on my life will resound for years to come. 

That time I saw the Houston Ballet.*

*but really this time. 

If you’ve been following for a while, you remember the first time I tried to see the Houston Ballet.

This time, we went as sort of a make-shift studio field trip. There were over 20 of us all together, and we all found people to drive and ride with, got directions on how to get there, and what time we wanted to meet at the theatre. 

My car had the potential of being full, but ended up being only me and one other girl. I was just grateful to have someone to go with me. From where I live, Houston is about a 3 hour drive, (used to be 4 before the speed limit went to 75-80 half the way there) and I knew, especially coming home, that it would be a bit of a risk for me to make that solo. This weekend was packed already and my body was pretty pooped, but I was super pumped and it all worked out pretty well. Kara was great company, which made the journey to and from half the fun! 

If you’re not from Texas, you may not know what Buc-ee’s is, or understand our obsession with a certain beaver, but here it’s a sort of tradition that we must stop at the gas station with the cleanest bathrooms in the land and stock up on beaver nuggets. (Which sadly hurt my teeth now, but we stop just the same.) 


My arms weren’t long enough, so his nose just got in it. 

We got to the theatre early, found parking, and followed a sweet couple, who were ballet aficionados, into the theatre as the husband cracked jokes with kara and they talked about school districts. (He’s a teacher.) 

We got to the theatre, picked up our tickets at will call, (“there’s about 10 of your people up there already!”) and got our tickets scanned. 

That was the part I never got to before. 

Kara and I rode the escalator up (she, in an arabesque, me putting everything on my Instagram story) and took in the wonder of the lobby, all decorated in larger-than-life portraits of dancers and videos projected onto high walls. 

Our seats were up in the balcony, which, for La Bayadère, i was actually quite excited for. I don’t know much about the different classical ballets, (yet) but I did know Shades was in this one, and I was excited to be able to see the shapes and lines. 

I was also super excited, because the principal dancer dancing Nikiya was one of the first dancers I ever learned of when I first got into ballet and started learning all about this world. I didn’t know she would be dancing this part that day until we got our programs, when I obviously freaked out. 

We took the elevator to our seats, which Ms Munro pointed out the elevators actually worked here. She has stories of having to take elevators to the stage and one getting stuck between floors while she was in it and she could hear her music playing, and another when all the floors were in German, so she couldn’t figure out which one meant “stage.” (Though now she can still tell you.)

The stairs to your seats were steep, making for great, unobstructed viewing. I also loved that you could see the Orchestra from where we were. There’s something about a live, professional orchestra that just does something to my soul. 


The set design and costumes were absolutely divine. It’s also cool to know that some of the costumes we use now were once used by the Houston Ballet. 

Ms Munro had a pair of binoculars we passed around, where you could really see their faces and the articulation of their feet. 


Plus the set design. Don’t worry, I took this during intermission. 

I was blown away by how into it every person was. From the young dancers that were brought in for certain scenes, to the side characters, everyone was 100% on, 100% of the time. Plus, you could really see how each and every one of them pointed through their feet any dang time they moved them, something that comes with loads of training and hard work. 

The men overall were insanely impressive, with their flawless and complex jumps and turns. To say I was in awe would be an understatement. 

Sarah Webb was a brilliant Nikiya, so fluid and light in all of her movements. Like there wasn’t a possibility at all that this took an effort, or could possibly go differently than planned or rehearsed. It was artistry like I’d never seen. 

The chemistry between her and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama was quite convincing and very well done. I was shocked to learn later that this was his premier as Solor. 

Gamzatti, Soo Youn Cho, was also absolutely incredible. There was this moment where she held this balance so long that I didn’t even know I would want to count but I was mad I didn’t cause she was there forever. 

Also of note was Ajah, who freaking killed (pun intended) her role, which was danced by Jessica Collado. 

I was really impressed with how well the story came across to someone who knew nothing of the story line before walking into the theatre that day. I want to write more about how impressive it all was, but I truly just can’t find the words. 

Shades was absolutely enchanting. Their formations and lines were near flawless, and that first girl who came down that slanted part of the stage and had to do the same combination so many times to allow for the other girls to all get on stage in succession, (24 of them) and also to keep the path so perfectly as it weaved across the stage–ah! It was a sight to behold. 

If someone asked me what my favorite part was, I think it was Shades, because it is the one I relate to the most. Obviously, I could never be Houston Ballet corps caliber, that’s just not in the cards for me, but I was Corpus Christi Ballet corps caliber, so I brought to mind the struggles of putting on Swan Lake and how difficult it can be to learn to get the timing right and all that goes into it. I appreciated how much these 24 girls work their butts off, especially there three with the added solos (shout out Tyler Donatelli) for how much really goes into being able to make a corps role look good as a whole. They all knocked it out of the park. The straight lines and the different shapes and the transitions were all so incredible that my mind couldn’t keep up with trying to figure it all out, which is how it should be. 

The endurance all of the dancers in this production have is something that should definitely be noted. The hard work and training and time and energy that goes into putting on a production like this is not something to be taken lightly or scoffed at. 

The ending scene was also so impressive. The gods were so freaking still before (spoiler alert) the temple comes crashing down that had I not read the cast list, I would have thought they were actual statues. The stabbings were well done to look as realistic as possible without actually shoving a dagger into a dancer. Like. Woah. 

I had the binoculars during moments with each of the principals, as well as the shades and some of the Gamzatti sisters, and I found it hard to believe that Sara Webb and Soo Youn Cho weren’t actually their characters. That they weren’t angry like the parts I saw of their faces, hardened towards each other. The acting was as impressive as the dancing. 

Some of my favorite moments I want to remember: 

  • The way the pointe shoes sound when they hit the stage floor just right–so light
  • The way it sounded when the guys all landed huge jumps in perfect synchronization. 
  • The live snakes. 
  • The way the girls next to me were marking with their hands the variation of shades they had just learned in class the week before. 
  • The way the orchestra played and how it seemed to transport me to another moment in time. 

Watching the dancers and realizing that I knew the names for each step they were doing was an indescribable feeling. Knowing that we are all part of the same world, though very different levels of it. It’s cool to know that the same things I do in class are the same things they’re doing on stage, just in a different order and with was better technique and execution. Knowing, also, that these are the same things that generations of dancers have done before us is one of my favorite things about ballet. 

After the show, we got to go into the green room and meet a few of the dancers. We got there kind of late and I was bummed I didn’t get to meet Tyler Donatelli who was in there but slipped out before I could meet her. I have followed her on Instagram for quite some time and posted a comment afterwards that’s slightly awkward and embarrassing because I’m slightly fangirling but seriously I loved Shades and she killed her solo. 

I did get to meet Sara Webb. We took a group picture and got her autograph and I am proud to say that she is so very nice and not as tall as I imagined, which is actually good because it means her dancing makes her appear taller and her limbs longer which is what we all strive for. I can officially die happy now, though I hope I don’t actually die soon. Even still, this is a moment i won’t soon forget. 


I’m the awkwardly tall one, hi. 

We also got to meet Soo Youn Cho and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama right as they were starting to kick us out. They were also so very kind and didn’t hate the fact that there were a bajillion of us. 

I swear, I was on cloud nine. I know I’m freaking almost 30, but still. This was a dream come true. More than I ever imagined when I set out to follow this silly dream of dancing ballet that had planted in my heart as a young girl and was denied me for so many years. 


I snuck up to Charles to get the third autograph because we were supposed to be leaving, but I have no regrets. 

Here are a few more pictures 

The couple we followed 

Complete creeper shot of Sara Webb’s tutu


(In case she ever sees this blog, i included this picture of her and her friend. Excited post-show hugs are the best)

This is an experience I’ll never forget. 

Side note. 

Sometimes I go back on super old blog posts, just to see where I’ve been. To remember. 

I would catch myself walking backstage during shows, costume swishing as I walked, pointe shoes off my heels causing me to walk awkwardly, and a thought would pop into my head: 

“This is your reality. This is right now. It’s not a dream or some distant hope. This is you; your life. Soak up every detail while you have it.”

I’m well aware of how life can change in an instant, but even so I’m prone to take things for granted. To get caught up in the drama or emotions of a moment and forget to step back and realize the gifts the day gives me. 

This October will be six years since I started ballet. I’ve written about it before and reflected different times throughout, but passing that number five seems to be hitting me. 

I was a different person then. Not completely, but in many ways. There were decisions I made then that could have completely changed my path of life, causing me to never pursue dance in the slightest. 

Looking back, this blows my mind, because most of everything I do is based on dance in  some way. 

I remember the beginning days. Being absolutely terrified, but being more afraid of regret. I remember the panic. I remember the kindness shown me by other dancers. And looking back now, I’m so glad I started this thing, to have the stories and pictures and memories to look back on. 

Sometimes I wonder why I every started a blog. I mean, having a “legit” blog was on my bucket list, though I don’t really know why now. I mean, obviously writing is my jam, but I’m not really sure what the draw of a blog was. Maybe it was an 2010’s thing. (Is that what we call this decade? Ugh this is hard.) 

But I think of the things I’ve learned, having this. The people I’ve met. (Some from the blog, some just from dance.) it’s been a year since I began my ballet Instagram, and since then I’ve gained over 1,500 followers and countless dear friends to boot. Cherished friends from all over the world. I’ve met people that have reached out to me and helped me with my health, helped me with my technique, helped me with learning bits of other languages, so many incredible things. 

Ballet has introduced me to some of my very most cherished friends. Thosetypes that   you know you could call if it’s 3am and you’re stranded on the highway, or need help moving, or–in recent days–organizing your tiny house that seems to be freaking Mary Poppins carpet bag because how can it hold so much?! 

They’re the people you call or text when life gives you more than you know what to do with. The ones that encourage you on your dark days and remind you of the light inside of you and the future you still have ahead. 

They’re the friends that go to movies with you, or freaking fly to Florida for a Harry Potter day of perfection. 

These are the people living out my many-faceted dreams with me. They encourage me in ways I didn’t know people could. They teach me so much about life and people and kindness. They show me how to treat people. They make me better. 

Without them, I wouldn’t be half the person I’ve grown to be in the past 6 years. 

So this ones for you, my friends. 

You know who you are. 

And you’ll never be able to know how much you truly mean to me. There just aren’t words. 

Thank you, truly. 

Summer classes 

This weekend ended up taking more out of me than I originally anticipated. 

Trying to find the balance in my life while not feeling like I’m nothing but a mass taking up space is a hard feat, it turns out. I was exhausted, but I went to class anyway. 

When I got there I highly considered curling up in my car and sleeping instead, but I didn’t. 

Class was great. There was a new girl, which was refreshing. She has some serious skill, too, and I really hope she comes back! 

I got a couple of “good!”‘s from the teacher, which made me feel, well, good. I was at the barre farther from the mirror, so you can actually see yourself in the mirror, and I stole a few glances here and there. I’m not really one to look at myself in the mirror since I’m prone to self criticism, but this time I was glad I did. It reminded me that my body is shaped the way it is largely due to the work I’ve put in to this art craft to make it work the best for what I do and to create the lines I want. I’m not perfect by a long shot, but I have put 5.5 years into this, and that long into anything shows some sort of results. 

Dancing made me feel alive. It also reminded me of all the reasons I dance for my health. It also brought a harsh reminder of all the ways my body can’t keep up like it used to. I was out of breath sooner, my heart pounded harder, and by the end of it I was ready to sleep for 12 hours. But I had to wake up and go to work. Exhausted. Like I said, still trying to find the balance. 

I did manage some really solid turns. Probably the cleanest turns I’ve had, maybe ever. Including inside turns, which are my demise. Granted, they weren’t en pointe, but I implemented what the teacher said in class on Wednesday about putting your weight onto the standing leg to help with the balance and-bam-I balanced. Imagine that, right? 

I want to go to class tomorrow, and I think I could manage it, except for the fact that this weekend how now become incredibly full. This past weekend was also full, and if I want to be of any use at work I have to cut back. This is all beyond frustrating, but in trying to do what I can while I can and make the most of what I’m given, yet not over do it. 

I got to wear my new skirt! Which was the best part. I’m obsessed, y’all. 


Don’t mind my derp face. I forgot to think about it… oops… 

but isn’t the skirt so pretty? 

Hope y’all are well! 

Interim. 

I made it to a class on Wednesday

And cried most of the way home.

I don’t say this for pity. Honestly, I’d prefer not to say anything. To just keep to myself and fake that everything is okay while I’m around people. I’m good at that. I’ve done it for years, now. It’s easier than trying to explain to people why someone so happy would be unhappy, or whatever terms you want to insert there. I still write here because I feel I owe it to the people who have been following along for years. Those friends I’ve made through social media. The ones who have reached out to me out of their own experiences and helped me get answers. I write for the ones still struggling to find their own, to show them that they’re not alone and that everything they’re going through is allowed and okay.

Sometimes I forget I’m sick. The reminders are subtle and with a low-impact day I can get through somewhat unphased. I start feeling good, and subsequently take on more than I can handle and end up worn out by simple things.

Being sick is still an adjustment. Having a diagnosis is new to me, and I’m still having to adjust my life to what this means.

I overdid it on Tuesday, causing me to really feel it on Wednesday. But I was determined to make it to a class, especially since my favorite teacher was teaching and summer classes are always the best classes. There were five of us, which was perfect, honestly. 

It had been a while since I’d been in a class, and I was given really good corrections. Things I’ve been struggling with for a while and need to think about. The hard part was filtering through all the things my brain was telling me. It became quite the chore, trying to decide between what was a correct thought and what was self criticism. More infuriating still, knowing that I had been able to do this and more even just last year.  Knowing that I’m not able to progress, but instead falling behind, and knowing that this is to be my new normal. It was the struggle of how much to fight and when to accept defeat. 

My entire dance story has been riddled with struggle. I could hardly go a month without getting injured in some way or having something happen to me causing me to miss or sit out. But even among all the criticism, and being asked “how long are you going to do this dance thing?” I always knew that I could fight. I could fight and work hard and progress. In my life, even, if there’s something I don’t like I know I have the power to change it. This is something I’ve learned over the years, but now I know that avoiding or procrastinating or just sitting back and complaining won’t do anything to alleviate the problem. Dance helped teach me that. You want change? Work for it. Go in the direction of where you want to be and you’ll get there.

 I’ve tasted the sweet victory of working hard and knowing that in time the work will pay off. I’ve seen the pay off. I’ve felt that indescribable feeling that comes with it. And now I’m faced with the one change I never saw coming; an illness that takes away the ability to do the one thing I’ve learned causes change. I’ve lost the ability to push through, the energy to fight for what I’m working for. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that the one thing that’s gotten me to where I am the last 28.5 years is the thing I can no longer do or count on. 

Being in the studio felt like home. It felt right, where I’m supposed to be. Why is it, then, that the place that felt so comforting in my current world of chaos found its own way of being chaotic if only between my ears? 

I felt defeated, when really even being there is a triumph these days. Making it through the entire class is something I should be celebrating. 

I’m still trying to figure everything out. Trying to adjust and accept and learn my new reality. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, but being sick is a lonely place to be, and I have the advantage of being an introvert. 

Proper summer classes begin this next week. Adult ballet is, thankfully, earlier, and even then still late for me to get through my entire day now–an enfuriation on its own. 

I’m hopeful that all hope isn’t loss. That maybe there’s something ahead that I can’t see that will help all of this. But I also know that this isn’t typically my life. And even though I can’t fight like I used to, I have to figure out a new way to fight. That my story isn’t over. That dance will be possible in some way. Right now it all might seem overwhelming, but that maybe it won’t always be that way.