A Chance to Dance


I have always been a dancer deep down in my soul.

Dance lessons as a young girl were always my happy place, and soon became an integral part of my identity.

It was an outward expression of my creative spirit, and a way to connect with myself as I grew into a young lady.

I danced with reckless abandon.

With the entirety of my being.

Like my pants were on fire….

I was a dancer.

And I just wanted to dance.

Even while I was in high school, I joined the dance team. But due to a specific set of standards, even back then, I was considered the “fat girl”. I was “muscular”, and “big-boned”. It was just an unfortunate circumstance, that compared to the other girls, I was the heaviest. And once I had begun to see myself that way, I was never really able to “unsee” it.

Eventually, that altered version of myself became an integral part of my newly evolving identity…and that was when things began to change.

There were always two alternates on the team, and there was an “unofficial” weight contract. A weight limit that made the determination of which two girls would sit out. Anyone north of 130 pounds was on the bench. I only weighed 131 pounds back then, but it was one pound to many. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t really “fat”, because all of the other girls on the team were under that limit, so it was always me .

I still practiced with all of the other girls, and I knew all of the routines. I danced my heart out. But most of the time during the halftime performances, I would watch from the sidelines.

I just wanted to dance.

Unfortunately, in those days, I was naive and desperate enough to entertain some rather extreme measures in order to try to lose a couple of extra pounds. I starved myself intermittently while also living on meal replacement shakes, taking laxatives and downing diet pills. It was a vicious cycle that always had me swinging from one extreme to the other.

Of course none of that worked long term, and I always ended up right back where I started.

I only participated on the dance team during my sophomore year, and by the time I hit 135 lbs I grew weary of the struggle, felt the futility of my efforts, and eventually gave up on my dancing aspirations.

I just wanted to dance.

My weight steadily crept up through high school, until around the age of 20, while when I was in college, when I finally crossed over the 200 lb mark.

I tried to be the girl with the “great personality”, and pretend to not be self conscious. But going out dancing on the weekends with my friends, and still being the one watching from the sidelines, eventually became more than I could bear.

I just wanted to dance.

After that, the dancing slowed to a crawl. And by the time I was in my mid 20’s, I was married, and a mom. It was easier, by then, to shove that part of me down deep into a hole, and cover it with Doritos. So, I just put my head down, and left it all behind, and after a while, I had all but forgotten what it felt like to dance.

To feel my body move in time with the music-

To feel at one with myself and embrace the rhythm-

To feel graceful and coordinated-

To feel beauty in my movement-

To surrender to the roots of a most primal and basic expression.

To know myself that way again, as I did when I was a young girl.

To just dance again, with reckless abandon, with the entirety of my being, like my pants were on fire.

I did cautiously attempt to recapture it once, while in my early 30s, when I took a tribal belly dancing class where I had met a new friend.

I was recently divorced, and I had decided to go out of my comfort zone. I had even put together an outfit that I felt fairly comfortable wearing, with lots of skirts and layers to hide under.

But when it came time to dance in a featured performance, all of those old insecurities ultimately arose. I just couldn’t allow myself to let go, to let it in, and to be in the moment. Because after seeing a video that someone had taken of that performance, and actually witnessing myself clumsily lumbering around strenuously, with labored breathing while straining to keep up….

Well, I just couldn’t bring myself ever do it again, without the hesitation of feeling exposed.

And as a result, I was really only able to dance that one time in front of people.

So, I taught myself the art of henna tattooing , in order to continue to participate in future belly dancing events without actually having to dance. And, I put myself on the sidelines again.

I just wanted to dance.

Then, after I joined Weight Watchers, and had experienced a moderate amount of success (about 50 lbs down), I was leaving the pool after water aerobics one morning, when I heard some pretty good music coming out of the basketball gym.

I peeked in to find a Zumba class in full swing.

Initially, I stood on the outskirts of the room and watched everyone dancing. I could see the smiles on their faces, the unabashed joy radiating from their movements.

Women (and men) of all shapes and sizes, dancing together as one.

I felt the music pulsing through my body, and an old feeling returned.

Not that old feeling of insecurity, but that formerly absent feeling of reckless abandon that the dancing had fulfilled within me oh so many years ago.

I felt myself bouncing just a little bit, and itching to join them.

I left that day eagerly determined to return . It became one of my small goal rewards to myself.

And that was when things really began to change.

I walked into my first Zumba class in March of 2013, and I haven’t stopped loving it ever since.

I had triggered something dormant deep within, and dancing again was one of the big pieces of the puzzle that eventually helped me to achieve my weight loss goals.

Now every time I go, I have what I call a moment of Zumba Zen. That moment when the music is just right, and everyone is moving in unison to the same beat. And in that moment, I feel like such a bad ass, that I want to just yell, flex my muscles, break things, and fist bump myself, lol! (And then I want to go home and try out for the Laker Girls. But sadly, I am too old. Boo.)

I had finally awakened that sleeping dancer inside of me.

And as it turns out, she was always there waiting. She had never abandoned me, and I had found my way back to re-connect with her joy.

Now, I just needed to dance.

So, I decided, that if I could not be a back up dancer for Beyoncé, then the next best thing, I suppose, was to fulfill a former yearning, and to belly dance yet again.

To perform once more, and to finally bring it all full circle.

To throw caution to the wind.

To feel…

To surrender…

To know…

To dance again, with reckless abandon, with the entirety of my being, like my pants are on fire.

For me.

For that girl on the dance team.

For the girl on the sidelines.

For that girl that just wanted to dance.

And, for the dancer deep down in my soul, that finally woke up, and found her way back to the music again.

Because, I AM a dancer…

And I just need to dance.

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15 thoughts on “A Chance to Dance

  1. You are giving the world a gift with your colorful and invigorating writing pieces. Keep going while being exactly who you are at the present moment, I know you know what I’m sayin’ ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey do people have “sponsors”. Would you be mine😜? I so bad want to get below 200. Then it wil be 190. Etc. I am realizing how much we can be on track and eat the wrong foods, and blamo. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would totally be your sponsor! Small goals are the key, and each day is a new commitment to continue. And yes… “blamo happens”! But then we dust off the oops, and say, “I’ll do better tomorrow”.

      Like

  3. Love your writing, it makes me smile, and I enjoy hearing a similar journey to mine… it inspires me… just got my 75 lb medal, and now down 77.6… headed to 80 next on my journey. Thanks for being a force for good in the world… I totally get the dancing thing… I have a picture of myself in a belly dancing costume when I was a kid. Just tried Zumba Gold and loved it! M

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post really resonated with me. I too love to dance. I remember in high school I tried out for the Drill Team. I am tall (5’10”) and big boned, and at the time wasn’t over weight but was considerd so by the Twiggy standards of the 70’s. Needless to say I didn’t makethe Drill Team and was really bummed. That too was the start of my own decline in self-love and perceptiin of self-worth. I began to see myself as fat and it became a self-fulfilled prophesy.

    I still love to dance and even being 150 lbs over weight fortunstely it doesn’t stop me on the dance floor. Keep on dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post really resonated with me. I too love to dance. I remember in high school I tried out for the Drill Team. I am tall (5’10”) and big boned, and at the time wasn’t over weight but was considerd so by the Twiggy standards of the 70’s. Needless to say I didn’t makethe Drill Team and was really bummed. That too was the start of my own decline in perception of self-worth. I began to see myself as fat and it became a self-fulfilled prophesy.

    However, I still love to dance and even being 150 lbs over weight it doesn’t stop me on the dance floor. Keep on dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admire that. I regret letting it get in my way, and taking so long for me to figure out that joy is accessible at every stage of life, not just for “someday”. I will keep dancing, and now I will be thinking about you dancing too! Maybe someday we can shake a tail feather together😉

      Like

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