Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sometimes It's Hard

(This is the first time I've written anything so introspective in a long time, and it could probably use about 5 more revisions. Still, I'm going to post it, because I'm proud of myself for thinking hard about something I'd rather ignore.)

I'm working on a couple of dance routines right now for the studio showcase in November. One is a Salsa team routine, and one is a Swing routine. Both are a lot of fun, but last night I really struggled with the Swing. Our instructor asked us to try a couple lifts, and they were lifts I had done before, things I thought would be easy. I was wrong. And almost every time I would attempt a lift, the instructor would give me that same pursed-lip face that my piano teacher used to give me when I hadn't practiced; the look that says, "are you just not trying, or are you really that incompetent?"

I got home at 10:30 p.m., exhausted but not sleepy (a common occurrence when I dance late). I lay in bed for awhile, but I couldn't shut my brain off, so I got up for some food. Which, of course, turned into clicking around on Facebook. Seeing as how it was midnight and I was feeling beat-up physically and emotionally, I decided to have a little pity-party on my status. I figured at that time of night no one would really see it, and I could get away with it.

I was wrong, of course. I received a lot of "cheer up" and "you can do it" responses, which I know were written with love and concern for me, but I found myself arguing with many of them in my head. 

I KNOW a good attitude is important, but all the "Little Engine That Could" attitude in the world won't make my body do something the muscles are not currently capable of.

Yeah, work harder, I wish I could. It's not like I can practice this on my own.

It'll come back--yeah, it would if I could actually practice it. But I'm not likely to ever have the chance to do many lifts again, so it's a moot point.

Time and dedication, two things I can't give right now. I can barely dance twice a week without feeling guilty.

The more I grumbled to myself, the more frustrated I got. But as I stepped back and looked at my internal dialogue, I started to see my real problem, which had nothing to do with the loving, encouraging comments of my friends.

This is more than just me not being able to do a lift and getting discouraged. It's more than being frustrated about the skills and muscles that I've lost (though that is frustrating). And I'm not lacking in confidence, because I know I can work and train my way into being good at lifts. After all, when I started doing lifts the first time, I was very, very bad at them (just ask my old coach--she once confessed to me that after our first lesson she wondered if my partner and I would ever be able to learn any lifts). It took a lot of hours and bruises to get to where I was when I stopped dancing to have children.

I know I COULD get back to where I used to be, given the right set of circumstances. Unfortunately, the circumstances required are not available at the moment, and are complex enough that I'm afraid they'll never occur again. The combination of a) time to practice, b) a partner to practice with, c) that partner having time to practice that coincides with your available time, and d) a place to practice that is available at the time you both have available, is a difficult one to find. Beyond that, I have to e) be physically capable of conditioning myself without breaking, which disqualifies any time spent in future pregnancies (lifts are a no-no while pregnant, lol) and whatever time I need to recover from them, and also means I probably can't just say, "I'll do it once my kids are grown" (since I already have trouble with my hips and knees, which have gotten worse with each pregnancy, I don't see myself being capable of doing such a strenuous form of dance in my forties/fifties). That means I only have a few, non-consecutive years left in which those circumstances could even possibly line up. 

I was very fortunate in college to be able to meet all of the above criteria at the same time, but now, without shifting my priority off of my family, I don't know that I'll be able to recreate it. I feel guilty if I take more than a couple hours a week to go dance, because, at least while we're living here, the only times available to dance happen to be the only hours my husband's home, and I feel like I hardly see him as it is. If I could dance during the day, that would be easier, but the thing about ballroom is that it caters to the hours when most couples are free, which means evenings. It's the same reason I wonder if I'll ever teach at a studio--the hours they need are the ones that are the hardest for a wife and mother to give.

I've known all of this for awhile, but it's still difficult for me to face, and it comes down to this:

I felt more passion about doing dance lifts, specifically ballroom cabaret, than for anything else I've ever experienced except for getting married and being a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But because God and my family come first, and because I can't see a way to reconcile my personal family priorities with the time and serious training cabaret requires, I will probably never dance cabaret again.

I gave up something I loved so much for something I knew would be better. But sometimes it's still hard.

Getting to dance at all is a wonderful gift, and it takes care of most of the ache. And maybe I'm wrong, and someday I'll do lots of lifts again. Whether I do or not, I'm sure someday I'll look back at this time and smile that wise, introspective smile that people get when they think of their naive younger self; that smile that says, "I see things more clearly now, but I remember the pain was real."

In the mean time, it hurts when I try an "easy" lift and fail. It hurts a little because I think I should be able to do it, but it hurts more because I'm scared if I don't get it right, the instructor will scrap the lift, and I'll never get to do it again.

But somehow, when I recognize why it hurts, it hurts a little less.


  1. Shannon, this is a beautiful post. (And for the record, I almost never revise anything on my blog, because if I try to revise every post... I'll never post!)

    I was going to add a lot more, but it ended up being a reeeeeeeally long blog comment, so I'm emailing you now. Ha. ;)

    1. Thanks, Cindy! Time to go check my email. :-)

  2. Hi Shannon! Its been a long time since I've seen you (our English capstone class with Brother Williams, I think).Thanks so much for this post. It helps me put things into perspective that I am going through right now too, similar to you. Giving up the things you love to do (partially or totally) is very hard to do and can hurt a lot sometimes, like you said.But I like your comment at the end. It is so true.

    1. Good to hear from you, Sarah! I'm glad it could help. Perspective is such an interesting thing--right when I think I have it, I lose it completely. ;-)
      I've decided a huge part of our test in life is choosing the "best" and "better" over the good. It's something I still struggle with, but hey, if it weren't hard it wouldn't be a test, right?
      Good luck with what you're dealing with. I hope life's been treating you well.

  3. Shannon! I love your post. It's seriously so true how much of ourselves we have to sacrifice for our kids and family... I've felt really discouraged when I don't have my personal time to myself to do what I love. Like drawing or playing guitar. But you're right. The sacrifice is worth it. We'll be blessed for having our priorities set with God's will on top. :) Anywho, thanks for posting this! I really enjoy reading your blog posts!

    1. Sorry I didn't see this until now! Thanks so much for the comment. I'm still working on accepting the "different seasons" of life thing, but I'm doing better with it right now than I feel I've done for much of the last couple years. I hope you're seeing those blessings as well!


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