I just celebrated my 38th birthday a few days ago and I always like to do a sort of year in review. I find that reflecting on the past year helps me set my intentions for the new year. Here’s what I’ve learned.
- Respect the seasons – We all want our ideas and projects to blossom. I’ve had to learn how to fully respect and appreciate the planting stage and the patience stage while waiting for the seeds I’ve planted to bloom. Sometimes it feels like I’m not “doing anything” and instead of sitting back comfortably and allowing for rest knowing I’ve been planting seeds, I fill up with restlessness and anxiety. It doesn’t serve me and I’ll be doing my best to cut it out.
- Empathetic and selfish – I’m very empathetic and can almost always see and understand someone else’s point of view and extend grace. However when someone’s actions directly effect me, that grace is a little harder to extend. This year I’m making it a point to not let my self absorption stand in the way of being able to empathize fully. In other words, it ain’t always about me.
- Importance of being one with what is – One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “It is what it is” and while I know that, sometimes I still let whatever it is bother me. I’m still resistant to it which is a complete waste of energy. I’m letting go of the idea of acceptance is a form of weakness. It doesn’t make me any stronger to fight against something that is already happening.
- Giving no fucks – One of the best parts of getting older for me is placing less value on others perceptions of who I am. I feel 100% confident in who I am and that allows for a certain freedom. This past year I felt like I truly stepped into that freedom.
- Understanding the value of a life partner – The combination of my independent nature and the residual feelings from a failed marriage caused me to downplay the importance of a significant other. I’m used to carrying my own weight, so to speak and have felt what it’s like to put your complete trust into another person you have formed a supposed lifelong union with only to be betrayed. I love love and give of it freely but when it comes to romantic relationships I’ve minimized the impact of just how valuable it is to have a loving and supportive partner. My life has been enhanced and acknowledging that doesn’t make me any less independent, free spirited or self-sufficient.
- having or showing a modest or low estimate of ones own importance.
No ma’am. I happen to think I am very important. I think very highly of myself and I think you should too. I’m not perfect or above reproach. I am flawed in many ways but I most certainly don’t have a low estimate of my own importance. I think we need to change the way we view being humble. I think you should feel yourself, big yourself up and not be afraid to let the world know that YOU know that you are the shit. We all have good days and bad days but to be aware of and remain in gratitude for your own light and divinity…..that goes a long way. I believe in being proud and celebrating yourself fully, even when/if nobody else does.
- My life doesn’t have any more or less value than another human being
- Be kind to all humans I come into contact with
- Understand that there is always something I can learn from someone
- Being good at something doesn’t make me the sole authority on it
- Use my gifts, skills, talents for good not to deceive or get ahead at the expense of others
These are the values I hold tight to. As long as I never lose sight of them I am perfectly comfortable telling the world how highly I think of myself, and I think you should be too.
“You are always a valuable worthwhile human being not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason”- Wayne Dyer
This past Sunday morning I woke up feeling all the familiar nervous energy of show day. In the past few years I’ve shifted my focus from performing to teaching. Honestly, I think I’m a much better instructor than I am a dancer but that’s here nor there. In any case, it’s been a very long time since I’ve taken the stage to perform choreography that wasn’t my own and I was excited. As I started to prepare and get ready to go to the venue I felt like I was 12 years old again. I was brought back to that same exact feeling of packing up my little caboodle, going over routines in my head, triple checking my dance bag and feeling full of joy, knowing that soon I would get to be on one of places most comfortable to me, the stage. This feeling has been a part of my life at so many junctures. As a little girl trying to win a trophy, as a high school student looking for respect and admiration from her peers, as a college student with a new understanding about dance composition and as a young woman in Vegas paying the bills with show gigs.
The feeling was comforting in a way that I didn’t expect and I couldn’t help but to stop and observe that despite me feeling 12 years old inside, how much my life had changed on the outside. As I prepped my face for makeup I chuckled to myself that my routine now included age renewal eye cream. Lack of flexibility has always been my weakness so I’d always give myself extra time to stretch, now I went to an actual stretch studio where trained massage therapists release my fascia and guide me through assisted stretches. Wow. I never had to go on stage carrying any real baggage. On this show day however, I discovered my 11 year old daughter had reactivated a social media account that I made her delete and I was furious. I had to set that aside for the time being.
Damn. I felt 12 inside but on the outside I was dealing with age creams, stretch studios and mommy problems. For a split second I was like damn girl you old but before that thought could even settle in I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude for my mom and dad who paid for all of these dance classes throughout the years. For shuffling me around to this practice and that rehearsal, this recital and that competition. For showing up in the audience and making sure I was supported. Gratitude that I’ve found a warm and welcoming dance community in Austin. Gratitude that 33 years after I put on my first little tutu at daycare I’m still here. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to find and hold on to the thing that keeps my spirit young and joyful. I ain’t stopping anytime soon.
Photo Credit: Earl McGehee
That when your body says rest, it’s time to rest.
That you will feel energized and spring into action when the time is right, no outside motivation needed.
That you do not need to be in constant motion to be productive.
That if you’ve been doing the work, the opportunities will present themselves.
That things are aligning in your favor that you don’t yet know about.
That authenticity will always be in demand and there is no need to alter who you are or pander to trendiness.
That your idea may not be unique but the way you execute it will be. Don’t be afraid to do what’s already being done YOUR way.
That you aren’t seeing even a sliver of your peers failures or disappointments .
That your worth is intrinsic and isn’t dependent on how many people purchase your goods, services or art.
That some seeds won’t bear fruit for quite some time. They are still growing.
That it’s ok to redefine what success looks like to you as you grow.
That you don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Don’t cling to a mistake because you spent a long time making it. It’s never too late to change course.
I was not one of those little girls who loved baby dolls. I didn’t have any younger siblings and my one attempt at “watching” my little cousin ended with him falling into the coin fountain at Marketplace Mall. I reluctantly became a Red Cross certified baby sitter at age 13 because my mom thought it made sense. I remember being worried because talking in that high pitched singsong voice people use with babies and kids didn’t come natural. When I decided to have a baby I wondered how a person like me who didn’t feel an urge to play peekaboo with infants in the grocery line and didn’t kneel down to get on eye level when speaking to toddlers would fare with motherhood. Fall in love, get married, have a baby, that’s what you’re supposed to do right? I was on the right track, or so I thought. My ego was lit up when my then husband told me he wanted a daughter who looked just like me. I now see that comment for what it really is but at the time it was fairy tale living.
We got married in June, I stopped taking birth control in December and got a positive pregnancy test in January. As I went through my pregnancy I became increasingly concerned that becoming a mother would mean saying goodbye to myself. If I’m being honest I was having a baby because it was what I viewed as the next step in the trajectory of my life, not because I had an overwhelming urge to become a mother. I wondered if I could still be a good mother without motherhood taking over my whole being . My worst nightmare was becoming one of those mothers who couldn’t hold a conversation about anything not pertaining to kids and child rearing. I decided then that I would not become that mom.
Fast forward to present day and me chaperoning my 11 year old 6th grader on her field trip. I surprised her with the news that I was coming on the field trip and while I’ve been going on her field trips in 6th grade its different. It’s no longer cool. She protested and got all dramatic about me coming but once I was there I could tell she was happy her mama was there and I was glad to be present in that moment for her. As I look at her and realize that the days of chaperoning field trips are numbered and hoping that she looks back on this period of her life fondly, it hits me that maybe by loving and caring for her while continuing to make space and time for the things that make me feel like alive, she is learning what self care looks like. I hope she holds all the memories of birthday parties, summer camps, activities and trips but it’s more important to me that she recalls fondly the way we lived and interacted with each other on a day to day basis. I hope that the stability I strive so hard to create for her empowers her to be bold and take risks.
Motherhood is hard as shit and I haven’t even hit the teenage years yet. It can shine a light on your worst character flaws and force you to examine your behavior more closely. I was so worried about being a different version of myself when in reality I’m a better version. There is delicate balance of protecting her and at the same time allowing her the space to explore and make mistakes. Of passing on knowledge without projecting my perceptions of the world onto her. Of seeing her as my reflection and honoring the individual she is. I think it would be much harder to navigate all of this if I hadn’t made a commitment to continuing to work on myself in the midst of motherhood and it’s already quite hard as it is . I still feel like I’m failing a lot of the time and I still laugh to myself like damn you really don’t know WTF you’re doing do you? I still call my mom for parenting advice. Bottom line is the shit isn’t figured out. As a mother you really just are doing the best that you can every day.
This was one of those pivotal moments I thought only happened in books or movies. An exact moment in time where you can pinpoint when something changed, when you knew that you would never look at things the same way. When I opened up that cabinet under the sink and saw boxes and boxes of S Curl texturizer my emotions went from my mouth hanging open in shock to hysterical laughter to tears . I knew then that I had been looking at things through the wrong lens and while it was initially jarring, this experience provided me with a teachable moment that has served me well as I moved forward through life. Let me walk it back…..
A few weeks earlier I had received a phone call from an unknown number that had called several times in a row before I finally picked up. An unfamiliar voice informed me that my husband was having an affair with a woman at his job,taking trips with her and bringing our 3-year-old daughter to her house. Apparently the woman calling worked there too and knew of me and felt it was her moral obligation to call me and let me know. I still think it was the woman he was seeing using a fake accent or one of her friends but I’ll never know and it really doesn’t matter. I’m skipping over a ton here but the end result was me filing for divorce. He had gotten his own “bachelor pad” and I was cleaning out any remnants that he left behind. Lucky for me the texturizer discovery came before the worst of the discoveries and believe me it got worse than a fake ass s-curl. We had had conversations in the past in which he proudly proclaimed that he had a “good grain” of hair and chuckled about it. His hair didn’t matter to me at all or have any factor in me deciding to marry him but it was something he was very proud of.
As I sat there in shock, surrounded by empty boxes of Duke and Lusters, in disbelief that this man had been lying about something so inconsequential as his hair texture it hit me that none of this was about me. Before the texturizer discovery I had been looking at this the whole situation through the lens of my ego. ” How could he do this to me? , How could this happen to me?, What did I do to deserve this?, How could I not have seen this coming, Why didn’t I ever check under his side of the sink before?” In that moment, I realized just how many prior red flags I had ignored and realized that this was who he’d always been. It was never about me. This whole thing really had nothing to do with me. That’s when the uncontrollable laughter began. I was struck by the hilarity of it all…. there was no way I was gonna let a dude who was secretly chemically altering his hair make me question myself anymore. Then the tears began because it wasn’t just about me. We had a daughter together and although things had come into focus for me, she was a little girl who loved her daddy and I was sad about the fact that everything was changing for her in ways she was too young to fully understand.
I threw out the empty boxes and got on with the planning of this new altered vision for my life with a new understanding. When subsequent discoveries came, much more troubling than texturizer, I was able to navigate with a clearer head. In no way am I saying that I never again felt pain, anger , sadness or even disbelief but I had stopped relating everything back to me. Honestly, I had little time to consider the why’s or how’s, and even less time to attend the pity party. I had a mortgage that was going unpaid, a daughter in private school, a divorce attorney charging billable hours and one income. The texturizer moment allowed me to separate myself from what was happening to me. I stopped taking things so personally and was able to move forward in a matter of fact way. I’d be lying if I said I never again took anything personally from that point forward but there was a major change in perspective from the time I sat surrounded by empty boxes of texturizer laughing and crying like a crazy person.
I’ve decided to adhere to a vegetarian diet and abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Now because this is my personal blog it makes sense to share that but much to my dismay I realized the other day that I was acting like one of those annoying people who let you know of their dietary restrictions and preferences within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. You know the type, the ones who lead with how they are currently nourishing themselves as if anyone frickin cares as much as they do. It’s almost like this badge of honor to be on something. “Oh yeah, I’m on keto and I have so much energy and can you believe it, I don’t even miss bread?” mmmmk, I didn’t ask you all that but high-five to you! ” I’m on the Whole 30 and I feel like, so connected man” Um, cool, I guess.
I was having a meeting with someone over coffee and I managed to slide in that I was abstaining from meat and alcohol for a month. It had nothing to do with anything really. We were talking about lots of interesting things and I had to be that person. I think that both the diet and the seemingly less sinister health and wellness industry has really done a number on us. It’s like nobody just eats food anymore, everybody is adhering to something – low sugar, keto, paleo , vegan ,vegetarian, gluten free, pescatarian, raw foods, the list goes on. It’s not just that most of us are adhering to some particular way of eating it’s that most of us feel it necessary for others to know. If we are going out to dinner I get it, we need to be aware of others dietary restrictions and preferences but you know that you can simply just order the vegan dish without announcing you are vegan or just decline the bread basket without announcing that you are now in full ketosis right? There are t-shirts with messages slogans like “Powered by Plants”, “Body by Keto”, “Bacon,Butter & Coffee”, “Vegan Pussy tastes Better” and “I Didn’t Choose the Gluten Free Life, It Chose Me”. Get over yourselves people.
I had to check myself after proudly revealing my personal dietary goals apropos of nothing to someone I didn’t really know that well. I refuse to be that girl. IDGAF about what people who aren’t sharing bodily fluids with me are eating and I damn sure have more interesting things to talk about than the way I choose to nourish my body.