I grew up in a home with 5 older brothers and was convinced I wanted to be some sort of athlete because my brothers liked sports and I liked anything they liked ’cause they were the coolest people on the planet. I valued their opinion so much, that before laughing at a commercial or movie I would look over at them to see if they were laughing. If they were, then I knew I was ok to laugh too. They were the beee’s kneeee’s. Obviously.

I was also so shy as a little girl, I had a hard time with anyone who wasn’t in my immediate family. Once, while looking at a photo of myself at Disneyland with my favorite character, “Chip” the chipmunk, and seeing a stranger standing next to Chip and looking at me, I said audibly, “I hate that girl,” (I was maybe 3 years old) referencing the girl looking at me, who clearly thought me smashing my face into his big stuffed belly was the cutest thing ever. None the less, I hated her…because she was looking at me. AND because it was my FAVORITE character and she was ruining my photo with my beloved Chip. Pretty rude if you think about it.

Other things I hated: dresses, curls in my hair, and don’t even get me started on bows or headbands. Although I did love a good French braid, I pretty much hated anything else that fit into the category of “girly.” But more than anything… dance class. I HATED dance class. After my attempted jump forward off of two feet into a line with the rest of the girls ended up in a fail with me sitting on my butt and everyone laughing at me at a dress rehearsal at 4 years old, I decided it wasn’t for me. Or so I thought. It was in the 5th grade, when I saw the school ballroom program at their annual concert for the first time, I was absolutely mesmerized. Now THIS was something I HAD to be a part of.

You can imagine the surprise, after several failed attempts by my well-intentioned mother to get me to try dance again, when I told her I wanted to be in this ballroom DANCE program at school. (At this point she was probably thinking my chances of becoming her cute little dancer were disappointingly never going to happen. I mean, after having 5 boys you can imagine the excitement she had to dress me up in dresses and bows and take me to dance class. Could you blame her?)

I tried it, and within a couple months of learning, I finally caught the bug. And let me tell you, it was as wonderful and magical as I could have imagined.  The medals and ribbons at competitions, the beanie babies after making a final, the sense of belonging I felt, the new friends I made, and the Idaho competition… OMG the IDAHO COMPETITION. This competition was so exciting that I would make my own count down calendar out of plain white papers that I would staple together and rip a piece off each morning when I woke up that would count down the days until we FINALLY GOT TO LEAVE FOR IDAHO. Staying in a hotel with my best friends, playing tag on the elevators, and getting medals all at the same time in the beautiful barren plains of Idaho?!? I mean I’m not even sure Christmas Day could top that. With all of this excitement I’m sure as a reader you’re getting the gist of the magic. Don’t give me a genie with 3 wishes; I had everything I needed. I think I even made a scrap page once with writing next to the pictures of me dancing. I wrote, “I’M A STAR!” And on the next page, “I LOVE BALLROOM.” Yeah…. I was a fanatic.

Now I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all good things come to an end, but in this case, things just changed. The magic wasn’t quite as magical and the challenges that came with the reality of competing on a high level were harder than I could’ve anticipated. None the less it showed me who I am, the good parts and parts that needed work, and that is priceless.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

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