I love when people ask me what I do. It pulls back the curtain for an incredible story to be shared. I have a very unique profession. At some point in their life, every girl dreams of becoming what I profess as my vocation. Before I go into that, let me start from the very beginning.
It was a very warm day, although in Florida it is almost always warm if not exquisitely hot. My family had just moved to a new town and my mother had enrolled me in a ballet lesson. Not because she thought I was bursting with talent, but because she thought it would help the twelve year old, home-schooled kid meet new people and feel more secure. I was a tiny blonde girl with a big heart and a ton of life lessons still to learn. I was always healthy, rarely sick throughout childhood, but for some reason I had a raging stomach bug on opening day of my first ballet lesson. Summoning all the remaining strength I could muster, I decided that sickness was not going to close the curtain on my first ballet class. Little did I know this single decision set in motion a series of events that would set the stage for the rest of my life.
I looked on as the class moved and flowed across the floor and at the barre with grace and passion. The teacher was a young woman with so much zeal for life it overflowed and filled the room. It was electrifying to be in the presence of a group of people that loved what they did and had such sentiments for it. Artistic people are passionate people and it can be very contagious. I was hooked. I never stopped dancing after watching that initial class. I fell in love with music and movement. It became the undertone to my life, and was a place I could express myself and feel complete. It was home for my heart.
Three years and hundreds of ballet lessons later, my teacher convinced me I was ready for the next level. I began commuting long distance to a more renowned studio. I worked especially hard as I played catch up to my dream career. Most girls in the dance industry start very young and I was years behind. I went to the library and bought books on the history of dance and studied up on terms like coupe, passé, pirouette, and glissade.
Six years pass by. After the experience of performing in New York City and dancing in numerous competitions and ballets, I received a scholarship to college. I was living and breathing the dance culture and realizing my dreams. As a senior member, of a prestigious young company, I began teaching a summer class to a little private school off the beach.
I love one thing and one thing only more than dance and that would be the beach. On a particular Friday in June, I made another decision intertwined with fate. I decided to take the afternoon off to enjoy the white sands and crystal waters with my sister. I was heading off to private dance school the next month and I wanted to feel the sun seep into my skin and penetrate my soul with courage and warmth for the future. I did not know it at the time but I would meet the love of my life and the partner to my dance that day. Right there between the jetties and the gazebo we smiled at one another. At six feet and with a smile that melts anyone, he is GQ in the flesh.
Two years later I married him. I continued to teach dance as we built a life together in suburbia. The little girls I was teaching at the time started to change in front of me. Instead of just girls that I taught, they were a dream. One day, “It will be my daughter” I thought as I recalled my very first dance class. I looked into hundreds of little girls’ faces weekly and the natural thoughts of my own daughter “one day” evolved into wanting to make it a reality. Six months turned into a year, which turned into a year-and-a-half, and the little protégés that I saw daily became a constant reminder of what I was unable to create. Dancers create; it is what drew me into that first ballet class and for an unknown reason I could not create a baby. Dancing became a living dichotomy: my prison and my passion.
The struggle in my heart was something you cannot explain or describe. The ache of infertility is unbearable, confining, and rattling. You never forget that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the emptiness that invades every emotion. The simple fact you cannot have a baby through any amount of willpower and the fear that life-long dreams of motherhood may be unfulfilled causes an insurmountable dilemma in the mind. Despite what people tell you or say, getting pregnant can be hard. What if I could never have children?
It turned out my problem was not just that I was a teeny, tiny athlete that danced all the time, but that I had a rare autoimmune disease as well. This condition would give me problems trying to conceive and it was something they could not fix. On Christmas Eve almost two years later we received the greatest gift: The second little pink line showed up. I was finally pregnant and one month before seeing the specialists.
I was monitored throughout my pregnancy and deemed high-risk. I held my breath the whole way through and had nightmares, too. And yet, I not only got my very own tiny Ballerina, but a little Muscle Man followed her 19 months later. I received two beautiful miracles in fewer than three years.
So when people ask me what I do, I smile and remember my decision to attend my very first ballet class, and the roller coaster ride of life that has ensued. I’m what almost every little girl dreams of being. I’m a ballerina. I’m a teacher. I’m married to my prince charming. But most of all, I’m a mom.
None of it would have happened if I had not walked into that dance class. I would have never become a teacher and taught those classes that summer or gone to the beach at that exact time and spot. I never would have seen the love of my life that day and I would not have the winsome reflections of us that will continue on once I am gone from this world. This is a series of events that’s pretty incredible, a profusion of moments of a life created. It is never just one moment that defines the entirety of your being. It can, however, shape the rest of life in some pretty powerful ways. Mine was simply a ballet class.