Contributor: Mandy, a professional dancer and dance, yoga and pilates instructor. Read her blog at www.breathingheart.com.
For over two decades, dance has been my passion. It began when I was seven years old when my mother signed me up for ballet lessons. She hoped that I could use up my extra energy learning how to move more elegantly, rather than using it to jump noisily around the house. (I was a little girl who could not sit still for over ten minutes!)
During that very first class, I fell in love with dance. I grew up in a family that didn’t talk very much about feelings, and dance gave me permission to feel and “speak” honestly and freely. My voice was heard through movement.
When I was in the fifth grade, my mother unexpectedly developed cancer and died shortly after the diagnosis. It was an emotional upheaval for me and my family. Later on in life, I didn’t realize that ever since that happened I had been suppressing my grief, anger and fear. Every time I felt bad, I just kept my thoughts and feelings quietly to myself. I was afraid to confront them; I was afraid even to remember them. Later, this suppression became such a problem that I had a hard time verbalizing and communicating when I was angry or upset. My inability to express negative feelings even led to the end of my first romantic relationship.
After that first relationship broke up, I was in a “functional” depression for almost two years. However, this experience taught me tremendous lessons about letting go and how to use positive thinking to change my life. It was during that period that I realized that the loss and the sadness I felt affected the physical function of my heart and lungs–I was actually getting physically weaker each day. At one point, I started having difficulty breathing and got tired very easily. As a dancer, I lost focus, stamina and even had trouble memorizing the choreography.
I knew I could not let my despair continue, so I became determined to get better and live my life again. During the process of healing, I read lots of spiritual books, did meditation, danced and journaled. It took me a while to see hope and happiness again, but eventually, these techniques worked, and now, I have my life back. I realize that nothing can hurt me, except ME. I refuse to be a victim of the past, and I choose to keep loving and to keep laughing no matter what life brings to me.
After realizing this, my life started to change. I started to attract more lovable, supportive and inspiring friends. When my mind feels good, my body feels good; I am just happy, healthy and free right here, right now. Most importantly, I know I am special whether I am on or off the stage.
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