Remembering the traits that defined us then, for our now
If you read my Parenting Redefined blog, I mention that my boys and I are constantly having dance parties. Sometimes the music selections are more appropriate than others, as my clever 4-year-old knows exactly how to manipulate Alexa to play songs that even the parental controls fail to detect. I never knew there were so many songs about poop...
Needless to say, she gets unplugged often.
These dance parties though are one of the few activities that bond the boys and me. It’s MY thing where they get to connect with me, and a way for them to see a different side of mommy.
Dancing is one of the core characteristics of me that quite honestly I felt defined me for the first two decades of my life. I started dancing when I was three years old and never looked back. I remember my first ballet class, even though I was three I can still picture everything about that experience. I can picture the studio, where the door, the mirror, and ballet bar were. There was a window with the stereo on a table underneath and huge old school box style speakers mounted in two corners of the room. I even remember the first feeling of, “I understand this, I’m good at this.”
One of the first skills any dancer learns is a simple chenais turn. It’s not so much about the balance, as it is about spotting with your eyes and head where you are going so you can spin across the room in a line or circle without getting dizzy. The key is to lock your eyes on an object in the direction you are going and as you turn, keeping your head and eyes connected on that spot, and then whip around and lock your eyes back to the object.
Spin, whip, lock, over, and over. Easy, right?
Well, I thought it was, but as I watched my fellow classmates dizzily fall into walls or on the ground or veer off in the wrong direction, I realized I had a special talent.
So I kept my eyes locked, and my elbows up and spun from corner to corner as instructed to The Wind Beneath my Wings by Bette Midler. To this day, every time I hear that song I remember those early memories. This was the beginning of my dance career.
Needless to say, I was hooked on dancing, and although I attempted other activities such as gymnastics, and softball, nothing ever felt as good as dancing. I even attempted a German soccer camp one summer to try to be like my older soccer star brother, but between the heat, the non-stop running, the smelly grass, and the itchy knee pads I lasted about an hour the first day and never went back. My mom loves that story.
Eventually, I dropped all other hobbies, and put all my eggs into one basket, and went full force. I basically lived at my dance studio in Missouri (HUGE shout out to Dancearts of Columbia) and would spend most weeknights and later even my weekend days there. I did my homework there, ate dinners there, and left my soul on those floors through music and movement. As a very insecure, and introverted little girl growing up, dancing was where my confidence was. It felt good to be in that safe, secure, purposeful, happy place as much as possible.
I danced competitively with my studio, taught a few classes of my own, then eventually layered in becoming Co-Captain of my high school dance team where we got to travel nationally to compete in places like San Diego and Orlando. Finally, I ended my dance career after three years on the UCF (University of Central Florida) competitive dance team and had to focus on getting a career started. It felt so odd to stop cold turkey like that. I struggled for a while to find myself, and find my identity outside of dancing. It’s probably why I dove headfirst into my career.
Every now and then when I feel inspired, or a song that captures me comes on I’m known to bust out a full blown lyrical routine in my living room. When I get the luxury of a girls night out, with my fellow college teammates, everybody better CLEAR THE FLOOR, or join the dance party because Whitney Houston is about to make us resurrect our 20’s and forget we are supposed to be respectable moms.
Regardless of the scenario though, dancing is always in my soul. The discipline, work ethic, grace, confidence, musicality, and creativity I gained through this art have been the tools I've turned to for guidance in all other areas of my life, whether I’m dancing at the moment or not. I love sharing these tools with my boys, and I hope they connect with a hobby or sport as I did to help shape them as they develop.
Dancing will always be part of my core, and what centers me, and most definitely my ROOTS.
So I ask, have you ever really reflected on the hobbies or talents you had growing up and thought about WHY you were successful or enjoyed that specific activity? I bet if you really thought about it, you'd find correlations to your present life, both personally and professionally, that makes you realize you were always meant for this phase of your life.
There are certain characteristics we have that align with each hobby/activity/sport that lives within each of us, which I think is important for us to recognize and consciously apply to our professional lives. When we reflect on this concept, let it sink in, then hopefully we can walk each day in our jobs with authenticity, passion, and knowing we are purposely connected professionally with our roots.
I'm practicing my chenais turns, elbows (and chin) up while keeping my eyes locked on the "object" or path in front of me as I determine what's next. Spin, whip, lock, spin, whip, lock.