keep dancing: bouncing back from life’s curveballs

danceAs kids, we think about becoming something. A fireman. An artist. A parent. A better version of our parents. Lots of things. But life throws us curve balls and where we actually end up tends to deviate from what we once imagined. What is that phrase – life is what happens while we are busy making other plans?

In the last three years, I’ve experienced tremendous change. Divorce. A special needs child finally properly diagnosed after 15 years of struggle. I lost my home. Money. A few friends. My job. At one point, I felt like I lost me. Other times, I lost hope that things could ever be right again. I made mistakes. I tried to make amends. There are still days where I feel like Charlie Brown when the football gets taken away at the last minute and I fall flat on my face.

Some days I still think the universe is punking me. 🙂

But amidst the change and loss, I found so much more. Now that I am closer to the other side of something, I see that much of the change was necessary. Some of it was natural. Some of it was my choice. Some not. This realization does not make what any of us go through easier or less painful. But I see now that out of extreme loss and change can come wonderful, unexpected things.I found so much more. Now that I am closer to the other side of something, I see that much of the change was necessary. Some of it was natural. Some of it was my choice. Some not. This realization does not make what any of us go through easier or less painful. But I see now that out of extreme loss and change can come wonderful, unexpected things.

Spoiler alert: I don’t have any snappy “3 steps to…” in this post. Just thoughts to share.

Recently someone new told me that I seemed very comfortable in my skin. I took this as the highest compliment. I work at it every day. To accept who I am, just as I am. It’s really, really hard. It is a choice. It is a practice of being mindful of where I’ve been and where I want to go. It requires solitude, quiet and reflection. It is practicing the art of forgiveness – of others, of oneself. It is choosing to be grateful and positive. It is choosing empathy. Working out, yoga, acupuncture, journaling…these fill in the gaps. Some days I do better than others. Some days I really suck at it. 🙂

And while I know that my journey is not over, I will tell you this: it is worth it. The only constant is change and we can fight it, or we can accept it gracefully and try to move forward in a way that feels right and kind to all involved. It can be messy. Scary. But change is crazy like that. It turns your life upside down. But at some point, when you least expect it…something wonderful happens.

You become who you were meant to be all along. 

Throughout this process, I’ve met some wonderful people through MeetUps social groups and I want to give them a shout out here. For anyone going through change and looking to make a fresh start, please check it out. I’ve made a few best girlfriends and made a lot of really great connections. One person introduced me to someone who could help my child in a time of great need. Another woman I met once (and never ran into again) gave me invaluable advice about dating when I couldn’t even imagine dating again after 22 years. Others introduced me to new groups and activities I never would have considered. Another made sure I was okay during a loud, crowded event when I was overwhelmed.

We look out for one another in ways large and small.

Mostly, I treasure the many different people who made the effort to talk to me when I first joined these groups two years ago. I was terrified to go back out into the world to meet new people when I was so uncertain of my life and where it was going. (At my first event, I sat in the parking lot clutching the steering wheel, shaking, trying to talk myself out of driving right back home. I went in anyway.) It was a vulnerable time in my life and I am profoundly grateful to have met so many nice people who made it easier. The folks who host these events (regular members who take on this extra responsibility) make an effort to engage new people and make it a welcoming space. The people I met along the way taught me much about kindness and respect – we all carry our own burdens that others may never see.

On those Charlie Brown days, it is a relief to know that I can go and just hang out, talk about nothing in particular, and feel normal. You will get out of it what you put into it, and every group is different, so it is not a ‘cure all.’ But if you are going through stuff, if you are starting over, want to meet new people or just want do something different, I highly recommend that you check out Meetups. There are groups based on every interest, from parenting to social to dating to business to mushrooom hunting (seriously!!).  Whatever you do, please don’t isolate yourself.

You need people. We all do. 

I love to dance. Always have. My parents were ballroom dancers so my childhood was infused with music and dance. There is something beautiful and magical about movement and aligning your body to a rhythm. To me, dance is the ultimate expression of joy. The weight of the world falls away as the music carries you outside of yourself. Charlie Brown goes to bed. You are someone else. Lighter. Free. Beautiful.

Dance is life and love in motion.

Tonight I danced with my friends at a meetup event. I talked. I laughed. I listened. There were many hello and goodbye hugs. I let go of my worries and danced. Mostly, I just let go. I don’t know what the universe will throw at me tomorrow. But I have the confidence now to know I will find my rhythm.

I won’t be cliche and say life is a dance. But, well, isn’t it?

Whatever you may be dealing with today, I wish you peace. I wish you comfort in your skin. I wish you friendship. Keep dancing. 🙂

PS As I wrote this post tonight, I listened to James Bay’s songs  Let It Go and Hold Back the River. My favorite line from Let It Go: “Just let it go, let it be. Why don’t you be you and I’ll be me?” I stood outside on my front porch, letting the music carry me where I needed to go. The sky was a canvas of white cloud brushstrokes punctuated by night. The trees, still leafless in Chicago’s April, prayed to the sky with bare fingers. One tiny star shined through. A sliver of hope.

 

 

 

 

 

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