Yeah, but.

The studio has been on a break since recital. We’ll reopen next week when I’ll be teaching 8 classes a week ranging in age from 3-8 years old. To say I am excited is a major understatement. I love these kids, and I’m looking forward to being around them all again.

In these weeks, I have been doing quite a bit of reevaluation. Summer means earlier class times, which means if I try to stay for adult ballet I can get home way earlier than 10 pm. A few of the mom’s of my students from this last year are going to be taking the Monday class and asked if I would be there. I want to at least try. Plus, there’s a class I’ll be taking in June that I want to be prepared for as much as I can. (I know I can’t control what my body does and how my energy levels are more than I’m already doing, but I can at least know where I am currently and know what I’m getting myself into.)


I miss being in ballet. I miss that rejuvenating exhaustion that comes from a long and exhausting class. I miss seeing little bits of progress. I miss making goals and reaching them. I miss being with my friends and seeing them improve. I miss challenging myself. I miss having goals to strive to achieve. I miss working to progress towards this silly little dream of mine, and feeling that sense of pride in myself that came in facing the fear of something new to make it happen.

I used to tell my mom when she would ask me how long I was going to do this ballet thing that I would dance until my legs fell off, and then find a way to keep dancing. To me, the worst thing I could think of was losing my legs. You can’t dance without legs, right? But I’ve heard of people making it happen with a prosthesis. I’ve seen people attend artEmotion’s adult ballet intensive in a wheelchair. Surely I could find a way to do this forever. But what happens when you don’t have the energy? What happens when your body works against you and makes it difficult to get out of bed? What happens when you get out of bed, but standing hurts? Or when you get tired so fast that by the time barre is over you can hardly form a sentence together and have to sit for 45 minutes before you can even think of driving home?

I’ve done my best to take time to really rest and reevaluate since quitting my job. To do a sort of trial and error to see how much I can tolerate and how much rest I need to function.

Obviously, I haven’t gotten to fully test this out with ballet yet, but I feel I can get a pretty good gauge of what it would cost me to stay for a class. But can I really? Will I ever get back to who I was before? Will I ever be able to stay for a full class again? Is this just the beginning of this illness as I know it? Is this the best I’ll ever be again?

The overwhelming fears began to creep in, as they’re so good at doing, accompanied by all the questions I nor anyone else have any answers to. How in the heck am I supposed to know what to do or how to do it? And what’s the point in trying if trying could potentially just make me worse off faster? Why try if success might not even be possible?

Since I don’t have work to report to, it’s made me more available for dog sitting. Memorial Day Weekend is notably a popular one for this and this year I have found myself in an absolutely wonderful home with the sweetest dogs. It’s been a good, safe place for me to really practice the things I need to do for myself to try and take care of myself the best I can. While being here, it’s safe to say I’ve watched a good amount of movies, one of them being Soul Surfer, a movie about the life of Bethany Hamilton, a girl my age who lost her arm in a shark attack. This seemed like an all but certain end to her budding surfing career, but she found a way to make a comeback as a pro surfer. I’ve seen this movie, I own it, I appreciate Bethany’s story and have even heard her speak before when she came to town, an experience I learned much from and greatly appreciate. I almost didn’t watch the movie, feeling like it would be such a stereotypical thing to do. I tried watching something else, but ended up back on it shortly.

And I’m so glad I did.

Seeing the movie takes me back to 2003, when surfer brands were a trend in our house, especially after I had just come back from a missions trip to Hawaii that summer. This was also the last “normal year,” the official end of my childhood as I knew it. Nostalgia was almost overwhelming, perhaps one more reason I was hesitant to watching it, especially given that I’m dog sitting for a family from Hawaii who are currently in Hawaii. As I revisited Bethany’s story, I watched as the familiar points were made: She has her normal life, she gets bit by a shark, she figures out how to come to terms with it, she learns how to handle her new normal. As I watched, I began to see everything in a new light, I realized that having ME/CFS and whatever else I don’t have a diagnosis for is my “shark bite”, that I’m in the phase of having to learn how to handle my new normal. I am at the point where I decide if I will let this diagnosis hold me back. I get to decide where I go from here.

I found myself thinking,
“Yeah, but, she lost an arm and mine has to do with energy. It’s kind of hard to dance when it’s hard to get out of bed.”

“Yeah, but, she had the immense support of her family.”

“Yeah, but, she was younger, she still believed anything was possible then.”

“Yeah, but, my life is hard, I’m up against so much. I do most of life on my own.”

“Yeah, but, if I try and fail then it costs me dearly. It can cause me to not be able to do the things I’m relying on for income now. This could sink me.”

“Yeah, but.” “Yeah, but.” “Yeah, but.”

When I realized all the excuses I was making in my head, it was all I could do to keep from shaking myself until I snapped out of it. Do I seriously think that losing a freaking arm in a shark attack is “easy”? Am I really that thick? She was thirteen when she lost her arm and was back in the water within a month, having to completely relearn absolutely everything she knew about surfing. Nothing about losing an arm is “easy” by any standards. She had to decide for herself if she was going to let this keep her from what she loved, if she was going to let this dictate her life, or if she was going to do everything in her power to fight through it. She made the decision to fight, and not only that, but to realize the unique position she was now in. That losing an arm didn’t mean her story was over, it meant it took a different turn, and it was up to her to decide if she wanted to make the most of that turn or let the story subsequently end there.

My life has taken an unexpected and undefined turn. I’m at the point where I have to decide if I’m going to let it end here or if I’m going to do what I can to make the most of this. I’m not the only one rowing this boat, and even if I were I know that there are people out there also rowing similar boats that could see my story and apply it to their own lives, just like I did with Bethany.

I had brunch with a dance friend from my old studio today, and she made a really good point. She told me, “I used to read your blog and empathize, and I’d like to think I knew what you were writing about, but now that I’ve experienced it, I understand.

I feel this way towards the movie. I’ve seen it, and I knew the story, I know that the details of the movie aren’t “Hollywood-ified” but stay rather true to the actual events, I’ve even heard it from her own mouth. But I’m in a different place now. The story means more to me now. I understand on a level deeper than before.

If it wasn’t obvious by my recent blog posts, and how much I’ve been writing about coming to terms with illness and all that, I’ve been trying to figure out where my place is in the ballet world now. And I find it fitting that it all seems to have come full circle. I now find myself having to begin again. Obviously, not from the very beginning, but from enough of it to have to rebuild strength and find where I can realistically go from here.

This summer marks the start of beginning again. Of fighting to find my balance and where ballet truly fits into that. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend more classes and have more here to report, but we’ll see how it goes.

I’m nervous, but excited. I really don’t have any idea what to expect, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about whatever ends up happening. I hope y’all will still be around to read about it. Thank you for being here. ❤


Recital 2018

I taught four ballet classes this year. I taught ages spanning from 3-9, and it was my first year teaching over the age of 6. This brings in a bit of depth in their training you don’t necessarily see with the younger ones. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but now that the year is officially over, reflecting back on it leaves my heart feeling full.

My Wednesday class of 5-6 year olds was my only dance I had on the Friday recital night. Fifteen excited dancers in one small dressing room found a way to jump start my tired heart with their giggles and hugs, excitement absolutely soaking in to my bloodstream just from laying eyes on their lit up faces. They were in the middle of the first half, and they did absolutely wonderfully. I was a bit nervous about the beginning since their piece started with the first faint start of the music, but they heard it and did so great. They wanted to go out and do it again, which was so precious.

Saturday I had my older girls, the 6-8 year old class, first. They were the second dance, and I was grateful. My brain can get full of movements and theirs seems to be the one I space on, even though I know I know it. Thankfully, this only happened in rehearsal and not during the performance. I took a bit of a risk with this class, giving them things that were just a bit out of their depth, but they all rose to it, and I couldn’t be more proud. Even my one dancer who couldn’t possible care less about Ballet and seemed to love to make sure we knew it got out there and did the dance, not getting in anyone’s way as she did it. I’m sad that many of the girls are aging out of the class range I teach, but I am so beyond proud of how much they have grown. Their hunger for more lights a fire in me I forgot to be there. This entire class holds a special place in my heart.

Next we’re my tiny little nuggets, my 3-4 year olds. This is the class that filled me with such joy as they just were unapologetically themselves. The tiniest one, I absolutely couldn’t watch her without having a smile break across my face. They are just so stinking cute and their love and light that spilled out of their tiny bodies filled the room, soaking into the pores of my skin, filling chambers of my heart I didn’t even know were suffocating. I hope I’m able to keep that memory alive in my heart forever. They also did really well, remembering their dance and doing it well while simultaneously just being so adorable I don’t know how the audience didn’t melt all over the place.

My last class was my Friday 5-6 year olds. Many of these girls were my students last year and had already captured my heart. Having them again was a peace and comfort I didn’t know id need this year. Familiar faces looking up at me with smiles now losing teeth as they excitedly told me about it before class. Kids new to me this year quickly joining their ranks of winning my heart over, their dreams and determination to be everything their heart hopes to be inspiring me every week. They got out there and nailed their dance, including the ones that we weren’t too sure how they’d do that day. They all rose and I’m so proud of their hard work.

I was given more flowers this recital than I think I ever received dancing in them, and seeing them has encouraged my heart more than I knew possible. Little reminders telling me that I matter, and that what I do is significant, even if there are days that tell me otherwise. One of the students I had last year gave me this candle, and the scent of it ended up becoming such a comfort to me after the hurricane changed so much of what I knew. I was sad as I watched the wax burn lower and lower, knowing soon I wouldn’t have it anymore. She caught wind and gave me another one this year, and there aren’t words to express my gratitude. It’s the little things, the sweet cards and the hugs around my legs cause they can’t reach any higher. It’s them hugging my neck so tightly when I reach down as they tell me how much their going to miss me or that I’m their favorite. It’s their faces lighting up when I say hello to them as they walk into the theatre, or hearing them whisper, “that’s my teacher!” As I walk by. It’s seeing their bond with my assistants who love them so dearly and genuinely care about their growth as dancers, perhaps seeing themselves in these pint sized ballerinas and recognizing the dreams in their hearts.

I saw some of my students from last year that weren’t in my class this year, which also melted me. Seeing them recognize me, hearing their mom’s excited tones, watching them side stage and seeing their improvement.

These kids are the light that shines through the darkness that can so quickly creep in. I cherish every day I’m able to teach them, and am so grateful to have the opportunity to do so.

I’m still here.

“I miss the joy of dancing.”

Reading those words on a notecard attached to pointe shoes was the moment the documentary “Unrest” had me crying.


Even now, I’m held up in bed, not allowing myself to do anything today besides recital this evening because I have done too much this week and next week begins it all again, and I’m weeping as my fingers stroke the keys of my laptop, trying to find words for this post that has been sitting on my heart with the weight of an elephant for a while now.

I’ve known about this documentary. I’ve had friends watch it and message me about it. But, until now, I’ve avoided watching it. I guess partially because I’m a bit afraid to accept that this is my reality. I thought I had, I thought I was doing well at processing it and what it means to have this diagnosis and the uncertainties that come with it. I thought I was doing well. But I’m not. I have a long road ahead of me, full of uncertainties and bound to be lonely, and frankly that is terrifying.

But, today is ME/CFS Awareness day, which stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is the only thing my blood work has ever shown without a doubt, which lead to the first time a doctor believed me that something is wrong here. Today, I chose to finally watch this documentary, done by someone I could never thank enough for her bravery to put on blast a condition that more people are dealing with than those with MS by double. Try googling “Cases of MS in US” and see how quickly you get an answer. Now, try googling “Cases of ME in the US” and you’ll struggle. Change it from ME to CFS, and you finally start getting somewhere, but it’s not hard to realize that it is under researched and under funded. We have the lowest amount of funding from the NIH, largely due to the fact that we aren’t believed.

Ever heard stories from back in the day when women had hysteria? They were locked up in mental institutions and labeled as mentally unfit because of the very same condition I struggle with. And it’s hindering everything.

I’ll save you from a soap box of how wrong this is and instead encourage you to watch Unrest on Netflix, as Jennifer Brea so perfectly captures what living with this is like in such a raw and real way it leaves no room for doubt at all. It goes through Jen’s story, as well as the stories of people she has met and the struggles they face as people with ME/CFS, or those with loved ones struggling. It’s a beautiful representation of the millions of voices that go unheard, fading into the void of the condition, ignored by those not forced to see it. It shines light on many of the facets that play into the stigma of this condition and why there is such a struggle to learn anything about it at all. It’s incredible, whether you know someone with ME/CFS or not.

Today is ME/CFS Awareness Day, and I am aware that I have this condition, and that it is slowly whittling away at who I am. If you read my last post you’ll know that I had to quit my full time job due to this illness. It’s been a week, and I thought I knew what to expect going into this, and maybe I knew as much as I could, but what I am learning as I go has left me emotional, to say the least. My entire world is changing. Everything I knew about it is different now, and everything I could hope for in the future is uncertain.

Most people got ME/CFS after some sort of terrible fever. They recovered from the fever, but were never quite the same. As far as I remember, I never got a fever, and even my rheumatologist couldn’t explain how I could come down with ME/CFS without exposure to mono, but really that’s all sort of relative anyway to the fact that so little is known about this disease. She’s the same doctor I saw last month that wrote me off as a hopeless cause she can’t do anything else for. My Primary Care Physician moved to Houston, as is common for this area if we ever have a doctor that actually cares and is worth anything much, so now I’m back to square one. I have to find a new PCP to go any further with anything, but it’s not that simple. I have to find one that will believe me. And if I say too much, they’ll write me off as someone with mental deficiencies causing it all, and if I say too little they won’t see the severity of it all. After all, I look just fine. Not to mention that I also do not have insurance, so all of this is done out of pocket, which is fabulous for someone who lives alone, without a full time job, and who has blown through her savings on all the specialists she’s already seen.

ME/CFS is a spectrum disorder, which means everyone is different in how they handle it and what their bodies can tolerate. It also means that just because you’re one way now doesn’t mean you won’t be something completely different in a year, a month, an hour, or even the next minute.

So while I have had to quit my full time job, as of right now I can still teach. It helps that classes are in small bursts, which makes it more manageable and easier to tolerate. What I don’t know is if this will be the case forever. I have seen such a rapid decline since diagnosis, and even in the six months before that when I first began noticing symptoms that I know better than to expect to be back to what I used to be. And honestly, if I were able to just stay where I am currently, I would count that a massive win, but even that seems unlikely. It’s hard to know what to expect, not only because of how little is known about this disease, but also due to the fact that we literally have no clue how I contracted it. I’ve never had mono, I rarely get “normal people sick,” the only thing I can actuate it to is a genetic condition that doctors also don’t know much about and are too afraid of how little they know about it to diagnose me with. Except for my chiropractor. He is 100% certain I have hEDS, but I don’t believe he has the diagnostic authority to say so. What he does have is the power to sign off on a disability parking placard, and right now that is everything. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself as best I can for the inevitable people who will tell me I shouldn’t be taking up the spot from someone “who actually needs it” and if I’ll just walk away or if it’ll be worth trying to explain to them that I am one of those people even if I don’t look it and that this is actually mine, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.

One thing I am absolutely incredibly grateful for is the fact that I didn’t hesitate in taking those first steps that lead me on this path of dance back before I was sick. I accomplished more in those five and a half years than I ever thought would be possible. And even if I never improve past where I am today, those memories are real. They stay with me. I know I did that and nothing can take that away from me. I won’t move forward in regret of all the chances I didn’t take, but have pride in my heart that I faced the fear of the unknown and rejection and took the literal steps to make my dreams of dancing come true.

I am also grateful for the people I do have in my life. Having a chronic illness is a freaking lonely road that no one can prepare you for, especially when you’re in the phases of coming to terms with the fact that this is now your reality, whether it’s in the beginning, or you’re deep in the trenches and another wave of it washes over you. It makes you feel guilty as hell that you’re not who you used to be, as well as a whole heap of other emotions I’m still a little too proud to admit. Maybe I’ll lose some of that pride as this goes on, but just know that it freaking sucks and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I have friends that are forgiving and understanding. Friends that offer to help me with absolutely trivial tasks I can no longer do on my own. Friends that don’t hold it against me when I have to cancel plans again. Friends that are in the same boat and act as a support as we navigate these rough seas together.

Quite uniquely to this generation, I have friends online, and these have to be some of the dearest of all. On specifically has a whole laundry list of chronic illnesses of her own, in and out of hospitals, and still finds ways to dance when she’s able. To say she inspires me is the least of words I could find, but I don’t know if there are any adequate enough to express what having her in my life means. She’s the one who most recently told me about what watching UnRest meant to her and how she empathized with me. Honestly, I felt unworthy, as I am truly so fortunate to have as much health as I do. I can still get out of bed most day, I can still teach, I can still live alone, I’ve never been hospitalized for this, I’m still able to pay my bills and lead a mostly normal life. But the greatest gift she gives me is that of her story. She shows me that even in the darkest of times, we can still find hope. That our story still matters, that we still matter. That we have a voice and it’s our choice whether or not we use it.

I’ve been so hesitant to write as much as I do about my health issues. I don’t want to disinterest my audience that came for the dancing and now find themselves with this person who isn’t what they signed up for. But instead what I’ve found is my readers have increased. I’ve found other dancers also dealing with the same or similar illnesses, as well as the struggles that come with it. I’ve found this entire network of people out there navigating the waters as I am. And that is truly a gift I never expected, one I can never repay.

I still struggle to believe that this is my reality. Ever day it seems to become a little more clear, and I know I still have much to discover and process with it all. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still weeping as I’m writing this, and I never used to be a crier. But this is my reality. This is my story now. This is who I am and the lot I’ve drawn and it’s up to me how I choose to handle it.

I choose to use the voice I have. I choose to make the most of it. I choose to feel everything that comes with this, to push through and be as raw and real as I can about what this new reality is like. If not for myself, then for the person out there finding themselves in a similar boat, weeping over the dreams they’ll never get to achieve, struggling to find the strength to begin thinking about forming new dreams. I choose to do my best to be to someone else what these incredible women have been to me.

Jennifer, Bailey, thank you for being shining examples in such a freaking dark world. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

If you’d like more information on what you can do to help the #millionsmissing as they seemingly disappear into the void this illness creates, please check out the website here.

If you’d like to know about my friend Bailey and her story, please see her instagram here.

And please, take a moment to look around you. Notice those simple things you have, those day to day moments, and cherish them. Then, take a look at your life. See it for the beautiful story it is, even if it’s nothing like you expected it would turn out. It’s your story. The pen is in your hands. Please, please, find the courage to keep writing. Your story is great, and it’s up to you to write it.

You matter. You are seen. You are cherished.



I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, knowing it was one I would have to write but having no clue how I would actually do it.

It feels like such a big and heavy thing, but also nonchalant. Do I really need to write about it? Does this really matter in the grand scheme of this ballet story of mine?

It does. And I do.

As y’all know, I have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as a list of other ailments. It’s caused me to have to slow down most everything in my life, including quite a bit at dance. I did my best to give up everything I could so that I could somehow muster enough energy to get through the work days required of me. It was a slow fade, one that took a little more of myself with each inch it required me to give. One less class here, then no shows, then no classes at all. While all this was happening, I was subconsciously sacrificing things in my personal life as well. Dishes would pile up for weeks, laundry would stack, before I knew it I couldn’t see the surfaces of my house and I didn’t have any bit of strength in me to do anything about it. I found myself hiring kids from dance saving up for summer intensives just to do my dishes. This became my reality; commonplace.

When I slowed down long enough to truly evaluate my life and where it had ended up, I realized I hadn’t been to a grocery store in three months. The thought of walking in, going through and getting what I needed, walking back to the car, driving home, and putting it all away left me almost in a panic at how exhausting it was, let alone the thought of cooking and having to clean up afterwards.

I couldn’t do it all.

But this isn’t stuff I can sacrifice. These aren’t the things people judge me for, by saying it’s not necessary, or it’s frivolous and I should give it up to better myself in this way or that. These are the basic needs of life.

And this isn’t working out.

I knew I had to stick it out through our busy season at the office, and told myself once it was over I would reevaluate and see what my doctor had to say at the appointment I had scheduled the day after tax season ended. (that was a nightmare I don’t feel like reliving, so we’ll just get to the point here.)

I am no longer physically able to work a 9-5 job.

In fact, the worst thing someone with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can do is push through on “good days,” and even worse on the bad ones. The best thing to do is things in small bursts, with lots of rest in between, and to let yourself sleep when you’re tired, even if it’s in the middle of the day. I have to strategically eat smaller meals, and do what I can to conserve energy when I can. Coincidentally, lack of physical activity makes it all worse. The fact that I’m not dancing is only dramatizing what is already in sharp decline.

My last day was today, which is exactly two weeks from the day I told my boss what my doctor said. I wasn’t sure if I’d leave this soon or if they’d keep me on part time for a bit, but this seems to be the best case for everyone.

It’s bitter sweet, and terrifying to say the least, but I’m truly hopeful it will be beneficial.

And honestly, I have no choice. When I listened to my dear friends who encouraged me to stop long enough to see where my life was and where it was heading, reality screamed at me. This isn’t normal. I should be able to walk through a grocery store, I should be able to handle washing some dishes or doing a load of laundry without passing out, I should be able to eat food without feeling so incredibly nauseous and exhausted, as though my body was using every ounce of energy just to try to digest, I should be able to get through a day without feeling like I could close my eyes at any given moment and sleep for a couple hours. My life isn’t normal anymore, and I can’t fool myself into thinking I can keep going as if it were.

The hardest part of all this is going against the expectations I feel have been placed on me. This isn’t something I really ever thought I struggled with, but the deeper I’ve gone in myself to fully grasp and understand what I’m doing and why it’s necessary, the more I’ve realized how much I’ve let people’s opinions of me and my life hold me back. I’ve known that I struggle with fear, but this was more than I had let myself realize before.

It’s taken quite a bit of soul searching to be even remotely sort of okay with it all, but I can’t help but feel hopeful at the prospects I have ahead, even if they don’t all seem to make sense or have a place yet. I know this is something I need to do, and that the pieces will come together as they need to, I just have to make myself keep walking in the direction of what my heart is telling me and where peace is leading. God has never lead me wrong before, why would He now?

I’m an ambassador for LIVE and we have weekly challenges. Last week’s was to create a “Life List.” It’s like a bucket list, but instead of big and drastic far-off things, its a list of things you want to do with your life right now, or small things you can do to get you closer to the big goals. I’m posting mine a little late realizing that so much of what was on my list isn’t what would have been on a list a year ago. These are things that I’ve lost ground on due to illness and that I’m hoping to get back with all these changes I’m making to better myself.

I’m hopeful that these changes will allow me to be able to take classes again. My hope is to be able to teach more classes of tiny baby nuggets, as the layout of teaching is actually ideal for everything I’m dealing with.

I saw my chiropractor last week and let him know everything that was going on. He agreed to sign off on a disability parking placard for me to help with going to the grocery store and other things that involve sometimes having to park in the back of parking lots, which drains energy I already only have in limited supply. This has caused me to have to do a lot of reevaluating of mindsets I have and how I will inevitably deal with people who are of the opinion that my issues aren’t good enough if I don’t fit the mold of what they think someone should look like to be able to use disability parking spaces. We’re going to start with a short-term placard and see if all these changes help me eventually not need it, but if not he’ll issue a permanent one. He also suggested scooters for me to look into getting to help me not have to walk around stores and venues, which also lets me sit instead of stand. Being that I won’t be working a full-time job, I’ll obviously have to save for one, and in doing so if I find I’m well enough to not need one before I have enough saved up, then I’ll just have all that money set aside for something else instead, but if I do need it I’ll get it.

It took me a second to get past the irony of how someone could be a ballet teacher, but also need handicap parking permits and scooters to get around, and I can’t expect everyone to understand it, but this is my reality. I have limited amounts of energy, and any way that helps me conserve that to use it where I most need to, like teaching ballet, I want to use to my advantage instead of wasting the limited amounts I have on something like having to walk from the back part of the parking lot.

Thankfully, I have met some of the most incredible people through social media that have helped me realize that this is something I need to do. That I’m not crazy or being dramatic, and that putting myself first is not only okay, but necessary. It has made all the difference in the world to have their examples to follow, and their stories to hear that help me see mine for what it truly is instead of what people have told me it should be.

This has been a hard post to write, not necessarily because I’m uncomfortable about talking about all this, but rather it’s just so much to say in such few words. Still, I wanted to give y’all a sort of reference point to come back to when stories inevitably come out of this change. I’m nervous as heck to make such a huge leap, but I’m excited and hopeful to see where I land.


As I sit on my bed, Giselle now behind me and the post-show-blues clearly evident, I figured now is as good a time as any to post a show recap.

Buckle in, kids, this one is going to be all over the place.

This was my first spring show not being able to dance in the corps. Nutcracker was my first show with this new chapter, so naturally i thought the worst of it was over since I had already been through a round of all the emotions that comes from such a drastic, uncontrollable change. Boy was I wrong.

The role of the Wilis is one I’ve always wanted to dance. I’m rather morbid, and being a dead spirit was always appealing to me. (Explaining this would take far longer than the attention span of a blog post. If you want that, you’ll have to meet me for coffee or something.) Getting to do such a deep and meaningful role was a dream, one that I realistically won’t have the opportunity to do again. I never thought when I started this whole Ballet thing that I would ever even have the opportunity, but I did, and my health made it a different story.

I can put all the optimistic spins on it I want, but what it comes down to is: this sucks. Having something completely out of my control come in and slowly start taking things from me isn’t my favorite thing. I try to stay positive and look at the bright side, until it gets so drastic that my life isn’t even one I recognize anymore. Starkly different from what it was even a year ago, I now find myself not being surprised by the impairments I’m dealing with. Not having full answers to go with my awkward explanations of why I’m “not really dancing” in the ballet and going from my students seeming me dance roles they could aspire to, to ones that don’t even require dance shoes. It brings on waves of emotions that one doesn’t really expect until you find yourself trying to navigate them, often with some well-meaning person staring at you as you mumble through.


What I have also found is a slew of positive things I didn’t expect, and ones I may not have had if I had been the roles I most likely would have been if I weren’t sick.

I was able to watch one of the most beautiful and gripping scenes in all of Ballet, portrayed by incredibly talented friends of mine. It perfectly displayed what it was that drew me to Ballet in the first place, gripping my heart and making me want to do whatever it took to express things like I was seeing. This is what Ballet is all about. This is why we do what we do. This.

I was able to capture moments of friends of mine I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Nothing fancy, nothing extreme. Just simple, off guard moments that you want to hold on to after a show becomes a memory.

I was able to get to know some of my friends better, something that has meant more to my heart than I have words for.

I was able to help some of these dear friends in ways that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible, and by doing so, meet a need that otherwise would have been left unmet.

One of the most difficult things of being sick is not being able to help. I have to slow myself down and instead be the one accepting help from others, or worse, asking for it. It’s infuriating. But with this show, I was able to do simple things, and I mean sometimes it was super simple, to help these people I love so much.

I am so ridiculously grateful to have been able to be a part of this show, and in such a fun way. My role was that of the Huntspeople, where we came on with dogs in Act I. Having those dogs lightened everything around us, and the handlers were really nice.

Being surrounded by such incredible people, especially when this all could have so easily been snatched from me completely, is something I cherish. My directors are truly one of a kind women that I aspire to be like in my own life. I’ll never know how I managed to end up involved in such a wonderful company, but I’ll try my hardest to never take it for granted. Not to mention the friends I’ve made through Ballet. Incredible people I’m honored to call friends, and so many of them. Who am I to find myself in a place where I know I will feel so incredibly loved any time I step foot there? People go their entire lives trying to find a place like this, and here I’ve found it so early on.

Grateful doesn’t begin to cut it.

And now, here are a few of my favorite pictures of all the Giselle shenanigans, as well as a few of my favorite people.

I always think I’m taking SO MANY PICTURES but then show ends and there’s so many I missed. Sigh. But I am incredibly grateful for the ones I have, and for the people I have in my life.

Beautiful Grief.

Grief is a powerful, confusing, painful emotion to have to endure. Unrelenting, it shows up uninvited at the most inopportune times possible, leaving the bearer to have to figure out how to navigate around it.

It doesn’t care if it’s show week, you’re out of understudies, surrounded by scores of well-intending people. It will hit you square in the jaw, shatter your world to pieces, and leave you to figure out how to put it back together again. What’s more, it keeps some of those pieces, so your picture is never truly whole again.

You eventually mend, learn to avoid the holes left where the pieces once fit, and find a way to love your picture just as it is. But you still remember those places where things used to be different, where people used to be.

But there’s a beauty in it.

And if you’ve never seen someone who was dancing through grief, you’ve never witnessed that beauty.

It’s show week, we’re doing Giselle, and a dear friend of mine just lost one of the closest people in her life. Yet, she’s here. She’s dancing. She’s living.

It may seem unfair. Why is she alive while her friend is not? Why does her story get to have more chapters when her friends ended so quickly after beginning? How does she figure out her life and her story with such a giant piece of it now gone?

But, here’s the thing, her friends story isn’t over. Not truly. It carries on in my friend. It carries on in her memories of her, in things she does in her honor, in stories she tells and pictures she has. As long as she is living, a part of her friend does, too.

If you’ve never seen someone dancing through their grief, you’ve never seen beauty.

Maybe part of it is the irony of the Ballet we’re performing this week, one of love and loss, but watching my friend in warm up yesterday and on stage today, I find it hard to explain. The raw passion; a passion for living, one that has every nerve exposed, one that hurts like hell right now, it doesn’t display the pain and the suffering expectantly happening inside my friend–it shows hope. It shows me that even when the loss is insurmountable, when the pain is too much, when the world as you know it is gone, life carries on. The things that sit at the core of your being come to the surface, and that is where your beauty is found.

My friend, she is the epitome of beauty. My life is better having her in it. She is kindness and light. She’s the type of person that makes you feel better just by being around her, and seeing her grieving reminds me that I still have her light and kindness in my life, undoubtedly carrying pieces of her friend in her heart as I do pieces of her in mine.

When everything in your life seems to be crumbling around you, remember the darkness can’t last forever. Find the light and cling to it.

You are so very loved.


It was recently the birthday of a friend of mine I met when I first began dancing. I text her birthday wishes after going through my TimeHop app and seeing all the many birthday greetings throughout the 7 years (woah) that I’ve known her.

I told her I was glad she was born, she replied with, “…I’m glad you were born too, and that we both took ballet.”

That got me thinking.

About life and the last 7.5 (how) years since I threw caution to the wind and took that first ballet class. About how many people I met through dance that are still in my life. How many are among my dearest friends. About opportunities I’ve had in my personal life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

So. Many. Things.

When I made the decision to take that first class, I wasn’t merely beginning ballet classes. I was unknowingly setting myself up to be on the greatest life path I could have asked for, surrounded by some of the most incredible people.

I was giving myself the basis I needed to be able to compare the progression of my illness day-to-day.

I was making connections I never would have pursued otherwise.

When I think of my inner circle of friends, all but maybe 4 of them are from dance. Especially now that my illnesses are progressing, the kindness of my dance friends has been astronomical, filling voids I didn’t know I even had. Even being an ambassador for LIVE wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t for my dance friends. And that is currently pretty detrimental in my life course right now. (More on that later.)

I’ve learned more about myself in the last 7.5 years than I ever thought possible.

My life may be unconventional, but it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

And the students.

The students I’ve gotten to meet and teach have changed my life in was I never imagined.

A friend of mine made a comment (hey, Emily) that even if I’m having the worst day imaginable going in to the studio to teach–you know, those days when it’s so bad that it’s written all over my face–I always leave looking like someone breathed fresh life into me. These kids give me life. They put air back in my lungs and blood in my veins. They remind me why I’m here. They inspire me.

One of my kids in my first class today was celebrating her ninth birthday. She was apologizing to me for having to leave early last class because of her head hurting (precious little nugget, apologizing for being sick) and how she had been crying before class, but she couldn’t remember why. She didn’t think it was because of her mom, but whatever the reason she had been crying, which made her stomach hurt, so she thought the headache was from that. Turns out she ended up getting really sick, fever and all.

And it made me realize something I can forget when I get wrapped up in the selfishness of my own world. These kids are living their own lives, they’re facing their own struggles. There are things that make them feel happy or sad, and sometimes they can happen right before class. Sometimes they make them feel things deeply, and sometimes they don’t always show when it’s bothering them. As this little one told me of her health issues from that weekend in a way most nine year olds wouldn’t know (she’s had more than her share of illnesses) I realized the depth these kids souls are capable of having. I realized the power of influence we as teachers truly hold, and how it’s up to us to use it to leave them feeling better or worse.

When one of my kids in my last class was exceptionally quiet, sitting a little closer to me than usual at the beginning circle, I held her four-year-old hand as the other kids went around the circle sharing about their Easter holiday, hoping that she would associate that place with safety, that something so simple would help soothe whatever in her little heart was battling to surface.

These kids mean the world to me. I love them more than I have words to express. I didn’t get to where I am alone. I got here due to the people I’ve met since I’ve danced. I got here from the people in my life who’ve believed in me. People who’ve held my hand as I struggled to simply remain. People who have set the example for me to follow of how to love simply and love well. I stay here because of the assistants in my class who help me avoid things that make my body hurt worse than normal.

We’re in this together.

And I am so grateful.

(Here’s some pictures of Annabelle and I. Happy birthday (week) friend, I’m glad to know you.)

One year.

One year.

That’s how long it’s been since my feet have danced in pointe shoes.

One year since the last performance of our spring show of 2017.

Deep down, I was aware that it would be my last. That I would have to dial back and slow it down. I knew I wouldn’t be in pointe shoes again for a while, or dance in the corps, or have warm up on stage.

I didn’t realize that I would essentially have to stop dancing all together. That my back would get more messed up than it already was. That I would be so tired that I can’t really do anything outside of what is absolutely necessary. (Don’t assume what you think is necessary is the same as what I’m able to do. Dishes? Putting laundry away? Cooking, let alone eating 3 times a day? None of these are necessity right now. I digress.)

One year ago I pushed through all the pain and exhaustion and made it through my last show of Snow White which ended up having some of my favorite roles I’ve ever done. I don’t think there’s words to describe how it left me feeling, or what the memories of dancing in that show mean to me. Or even dancing at all. To think, I almost didn’t begin dancing. Fear tried to hold me back until I wanted it more than i was afraid of it. Until sheer determination and lots of hope lead me to figuring out how to begin.

Remembering the feeling of my hair pulled back right into a bun, or in this case braided into a crown around my head by my friend Lauren. The costume fastened tight around my torso like I like it, the sound the costume makes when you’re walking backstage, or trying to keep your pointe shoes quiet while also trying to get to the other side of the stage in time. The rush before your music cue, and the cheers after the curtain closes. Smiling so hard your cheeks hurt. The fake eyelashes that never seemed to stay on properly, largely because I suck at putting them on. The preparation and last-ditch-effort prayers that go in to putting on pointe shoes, hoping you’ve wrapped or taped or padded your toes enough. The split toenails. Moreso, that liberating feeling taking your shoes off. Hearing your friends next to you gasping for breath as much as you are, and watching the rise and fall of their chest in the moments of stillness, pretending like everything we just did was super easy and casual.

One of our regulars came in to work today and asked if we did anything for Easter with Ballet. We didn’t, and I told her about Giselle coming up. She asked if I was dancing, and I said not really. That I’m involved but not dancing. She made a comment of how I must be facing the burn out, which happens to all of us.

But that’s the thing, I’m not. I’d be out there if I could. And while it’s nice to have weekends without extensive rehearsals, I miss feeling that sense of purpose.

My life is slowing down, and I hope to utilize it as much as possible. There’s much still up in the air and things I’ll be weighing out in the near future, but it’s not anything I can say yet.

Amazing the difference a year can make.

Ironically, it’s also been 3 years since I first had to go to the chiropractor and found out about all my back issues. (Here’s the blog post.)

It’s also 4 years since my house fell, which ended up being a good thing so we could build it stronger, and probably why it was able to withstand the hurricane.

It’s also my sisters birthday

A day for reflection.

Here’s some of my favorite pictures from last year’s performances

(Last picture compliments of Alex Treviño)

(Second and third picture compliments of my dear Elizabeth.)

(Also. Apparently I had ooooone more show, which was at a different location. But for all intents and purposes this was my last “real” show. I don’t wanna re write this post. 😂)

It’s the final countdown.

We have two weekends of rehearsals left before “Selena Week” when we rehearse at the theater. It’s exciting to see Act I come together like it has, and I’m anxious to get to see Act II. I wanted to sneak in to a rehearsal, but they happen while I’m teaching on Saturdays so I haven’t had a chance. I’ve heard great things, and seeing all the girls at photo day made it exciting.

We were off last weekend for Spring Break, and we’ll be off next weekend for Easter. The weekend after, we’re hoping to have the dogs at rehearsal to work with, which I’m super excited about. Last rehearsal, we had a fill in dog which was really fun. It’ll be great having all the dogs on stage and I hope to get loads of pictures with them. Stay tuned 😊

I felt terrible today, thought about texting our director and staying home, but I really wanted to be around everyone and I hate missing rehearsal. I figured i could handle it since all I do is walk on stage, react, walk off stage, then do it again. Simple, right? Apparently it was still too much. I’m still very much so learning the boundaries of my new realities, and the extent of how far it goes. I hope to post a formal, lengthy update in maybe the next month to fill y’all in on everything in more detail, but I’m still waiting for some of those details.

I made the decision to go home after one run through today. I was dizzy and nauseated and knew it would be better for me in the long run if I were in bed. It’s infuriating, but it is what it is.

My classes were surprisingly great this week. I was very grateful. I love being in the studio and surrounded by the atmosphere, and I try not to take any of it for granted. I know each moment truly is a gift.

Also, I have some pretty incredible people in my life that I’ve met through dance. That is a gift a can never repay.

Short update, but thank y’all for sticking with me. ❤️

Giselle rehearsals.

We’re in the last month of rehearsals before Giselle in April here at my home studio.

I knew it would be different not being as involved as usual, but I don’t know that you can really prepare yourself for all the emotions that come with it. Some days I just want to dance. The fact that that is nowhere near an option can be heart breaking, even if it’s something I’ve known for a few months.

I was going through my Instagram timeline yesterday, curious to see what kind of fade has really happened since I’m not in a studio 6 days a week anymore. It was fascinating. Even now, I’m early to rehearsal, watching the warm up class I used to take, remember what it felt like to retain the combinations, work your body to try to meet the expectations, and figure out new things with movements you’ve done daily for years now. I miss the “good sore” feeling. I miss the sweat breaking on my forehead. I miss the pressure of the pointe shoe against my foot and toes. Is that weird? Maybe.

Since we had program pictures yesterday, I wore my contacts. I was also late to my picture time since it started 15 minutes before my class across town ended. It was fine, though, they understood and worked with me with no problem. This is the first group of kids I’ve had that have never seen me without my glasses. Some of them were really taken back by it, not sure if it was me at first. Most figured out that I was wearing make up and my hair was in a bun and I wasn’t wearing glasses. Even some of the parents commented and asked what the occasion was. Which is kinda funny. You don’t really realize how different things are when it’s a slow fade until you look back and see all the changes.

It was spring break so many of my students in my first class were missing. It worked out, though, because I was able to really go over the transitions with them. When I have all of them back, it’ll help to have half the class already know what’s going on.

It’s been fun being able to be at rehearsals with my friends again, even if I’m not dancing with them this time. The atmosphere is the same, and it’s comforting. I try not to take for granted every opportunity I have to be in the studio and around this art form, even if it’s different than before.

The studio is closed this next week for spring break. I’ll miss my little nuggets, but will be excited when we’re all back together.