Posted in beauty, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People

A Tiny Little Revolution

alan-cohen
courtesy of Alan Cohen. Thanks, mister.

Let me describe my day for you: I woke up at four a.m. and poured myself a cup of fresh, strong french roast coffee, fixing it so that it was creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I sat out on my front porch and sipped it, listening to the crazy birds singing in the trees- yep, they are singing away even at that hour.

After I had my fill of the quiet and the not-so-quiet, after I had seen enough of the tiny little crescent moon, I came inside and said good morning to both my beautiful black kitties and my sweet black lab. I sat down at my computer and worked through a few lessons on the tarot course I am taking, pausing often to take copious notes. I read through a little of my work in progress. I had some more coffee. I read for a little while.

When the sky started to lighten up outside, I lit my candles and my incense, I got my cushion, and I sat down on the floor to pray and meditate. When I was done, I stretched lazily, grabbed my book, and poured myself a very hot, very bubbly bath. I stayed in there reading until my fingertips did not look much like fingertips anymore. I threw on my bathrobe and jumped back in bed, snoozing for another hour, give or take.

After Camryn woke up, we threw on whatever clothes looked decent enough, and Lucy (the lab), Camryn and I jumped into the car and headed to the beach. We walked and walked, finally stopping at the rocky end, where we lingered for a while, picking up shells, and standing in the gentle, icy water, while seaweed wrapped around our legs. Camryn saw a cairn and asked what it was, and I explained to her that people built one in memory, sometimes, of people they loved. She wanted to build one for my friend Joe, so we did. I was delighted that she thought of it.

On the way home, sandy and salty and filled with the calm of the ocean, we stopped at the best bakery on the peninsula and got a few croissants, a coffee for me, and a coke for her. I am sitting here now, at my desk, as the sun streams through my window, writing this to you. I don’t know how to adequately describe to you the peace inside my heart, the calm assurance, the gratitude. It is at once enormous, and completely, perfectly, normal.

I wrote recently about the shift that occurred for me, the way that I was suddenly able to see my body as something more than just some object to be admired, or, more upsetting, to be judged harshly by the eyes of others- and even more harshly by ME. Suddenly, I saw my body as the vehicle for my soul, perfect even with its imperfections, perfectly functional, ever faithful, strong as could be. From that moment forward, there has been an almost comical domino-effect of changes happening, one after the other. I don’t know the words one would use to describe something like this, and right now I don’t even want to try to find them, but suffice to say…things are…I am…changing on a fundamental level. Some deep, deep shit is just resolving itself. I am just over here, watching it happen. Enjoying it.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that I am pausing, all the time, to search for that feeling of connection to the energy that is just pulling me along, when I am open. It means I have stopped saying anything demeaning to myself, about my appearance, or any other facet of my being. It means I do weird stuff, like close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and the wind, and smile because I am not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, I am here, now. It means I don’t always know where my phone is anymore, because I don’t care. It means I am not tracking my food, obsessing over calories, or beating myself up for not being driven enough to work out regularly. Consequently, food tastes MUCH better without the extra guilt sauce, and I have gotten more walking in than I have in months.

I’ve decided to leave myself alone, for once. Just simply live and enjoy my life without the guilt and she really should’s and shouldn’t s. It’s so easy, and so simple, and so kind…and yet it FEELS revolutionary, to me. My own quiet little revolution. A little love affair with myself. How perfect. And now, I’m going to read my book and take another nap. Enjoy your day!

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Posted in Addiction, advice, alcoholism, Goals, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, recovery

Radical Change

change

I’ve been extra quiet, here lately. I have been working hard on my novel, and it’s nearing the end, which is incredibly exciting for me- I had planned to be done with it months ago, but that just wasn’t how it panned out. I find it a little harder to blog on days when I am also working on my book, and I have been working on my book every day, but also…I just haven’t had a lot to say. Everything comes and goes in cycles, and in this cycle, the blogging aspect has been less active. And I am not overly concerned about any of it.

I am not overly concerned about anything, to be honest with you, and that…that is not like me at all. But MAN, do I appreciate it. I am just sort of rolling with whatever, happy to float along. It’s funny, though- one of the sharpest tools in the box of every addict is control. It’s very important when you are in your addiction, to be able to control every conceivable aspect of your life so that you can manipulate the outcome in your favor. It’s a necessity, almost. Or at least, it feels that way. The idea of letting go of the end result is totally foreign, and completely unacceptable. I don’t know, maybe normal people experience this as well? I have never been one of those, so I don’t know.

What I do know is that lately, I have made a conscious decision to stop fighting everything all the time, to let things go the way they are going to go, and see what happens. More than just a conscious decision, because decisions are one thing, but action is where it’s at! I’ve made a conscious effort to redirect myself often so that I stay on that path. What I mean is, my habit is still to control things and so, when I feel myself getting bunched up and frustrated because things are not going the way I expected, I take a deep breath, and get back with the program. I let go. I step back. I redirect.

Here’s the thing- I didn’t get clean so that I could just get by. In my heart of hearts, I have always believed I could have this big, beautiful, amazing life. I won’t settle for a life of struggle and mediocre happiness. That’s not what I am after. And I didn’t get clean so that I could find a whole new set of reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied with myself. I want to love myself and love my life, and love all the people in it properly. But in all those years that I was using, I created a carefully crafted persona- someone sarcastic, tough, invulnerable and sharp, and that is my default now. I am having to learn how to disassemble this person I spent years and years putting together. It won’t happen overnight, but I know that is not who I want to be.

So every morning, I make up my mind that there is a lot to be excited about today. I think about how grateful I am for the life I have, and I imagine myself just being happy. I imagine it so well that I start to feel excited and happy and as if it is going to be a really good day. This may sound incredibly dumb, but it works! And throughout the day, when I feel my attitude slipping, I try to pull it right back to where I want it to be. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it works a whole lot better than when I don’t try at all.

A long, long time ago, when I was still very messed up, I remember driving down a street in Fresno when the thought popped into my head “Attitude is everything”. I remember it because it was such a weird thing for me to be thinking at that particular time, as I was in quite a state. I don’t remember what the thought was even in response to, I think it literally just randomly appeared in my head. But I believe that to be true with all of my heart- Attitude really is everything. I happen to know two different people that have recently gone through the exact same loss of a limb. Their attitudes about that loss could not be more different. One of them is thriving and full of gratitude about being alive, and the other has basically given up. It’s the exact same thing, two different attitudes. Our perspective on our own lives has everything to do with how our lives function. Everything.

So today, I have a plan of action for my own attitude. Love my life. Love the people in my life. Be grateful for everything. Love myself, everything about me. Do not think ugly thoughts, do not say ugly things. Find the blessing in every situation. Take a nap or eat a snack if any of the above gets too hard. Take a deep breath. Start over. Hug someone. Smile at everyone. Pet my cat, hug my dog, do the dishes, take a walk…whatever I need to do to keep the good energy flowing, that is my goal. And beyond that, be okay with whatever else happens. If I can’t be okay with it, let that thing go. I think there is always a way to have peace in our lives, if we have peace in our hearts, right?

And THAT is my recipe for radical change…a whole bunch of little things that add up to me being exactly who I want to be. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Posted in Blogging, faith, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

My Girls

daughters

One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.

Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.

And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping;┬á mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.

That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.

Have a beautiful day. ­čÖé

Posted in advice, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, recovery

It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry, ┬áthe little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A New Phase

 

 

For some odd reason, I had it in my head that phases are something we go through early in life, then we grow up, and we become these solid, stable, unchanging, humans. It’s kind of unfortunate, and has caused me all kinds of unnecessary grief, that I am only now realizing the truth- that change truly is the one constant in our lives, and phases are a natural, healthy part of that. You see, I thought I was some kind of failure for my sense of unrest, my need to do something else, be different, want more. I guess I thought this was a symptom of unhappiness of something.

As I wrote in my last post, the realization dawned on me, recently, that, for me, not only is this desire natural, but it is a survival instinct. When I am still for too long, when I am bored, and not reaching for the next thing, I am in danger of self destruction. Now, I am not saying that a little stability is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I have had the same job for almost seven years now, have lived in this house for nearly three, and in this area most of my life- I do think it’s important to have long term friendships and ties to things. Especially if you have children, I suppose (although we moved like crazy and I liked the adventure, personally). But within that stability, if you have it or want it, it is totally normal to experience, and hopefully embrace, change. It is okay to go through new phases all your life. As long as you aren’t shaving your head and joining weird cults every six months, hey! Live your life.

I have been through a whole lot of change over the past few months. I think I was stuck in quite a dangerous rut for more years than I want to think about, and then, when I finally got the balls to open up the door to my prison cell and walk out, all sorts of things happened. I went into this manic-joyful phase that was wonderful to experience, and clearly a joy to behold ( per my friends), but it sure was a bummer to find it flickering out so soon…

The good news is, it didn’t completely disappear- which is to say, I didn’t wind up back down in the dregs of the rut I had been in, thank goodness. I found myself in a phase of just wanting to fill up my life with as much fun and good times, good friends, as much living, as I could. So I did this for a while, too. I ate out a lot, and did so many awesome things, and it was great. It was also totally exhausting.

So, after sleeping away two entire weekend days, I find myself here. This new phase looks to be very useful indeed. I think I will call it my “fine tuning” phase…you see, without me even realizing it, the last few phases I mentioned above were all extremely telling. They left me with some really important knowledge- what I know for sure I do not want, how I want to feel, and what makes me feel alive. I learned that I must have balance, above all things, to sustain happiness, and that too much of a good thing is definitely not such a good thing for me.

Going forward, I have a tentative plan- I will continue to meditate daily, and walk my dog, because these things unfailingly make my day better. I will try to be as faithful with prayer, because it fits, although I don’t always remember. I will continue to strive towards order and neatness in my home, no matter that it feels like I am fighting a losing battle- it makes me feel better when the dishes are done. I will continue to work on this blog, even if I just can’t spend a lot of time reading everyone else’s blog, and I never ever build a gigantic following. That’s not really why I do this, anyway (although it would be nice, I am not going to pretend otherwise). And I will work on my new book every morning, until it is done.

I will keep spending time with my friends, and planning things that sound like fun, and I will continue to nurture new friendships along the way. But I will always leave time for myself in there, plenty of it, and time for my children, because these are the most important hours of all for me- unscheduled, empty hours, we can fill with whatever we want. I will work on balance. I will lay the next stepping stone in the path…and eventually. I will get to that place I am seeing in my mind. I intend, however, to enjoy every inch of the journey.

Have a wonderful day.

Posted in family, kids, Learning, Life, love, People, relationships

Arrivals, Departures…

my-children-poem-parents-quote-daughter-son-quotes-family-love-you-quotes-pic-picturesI will try to remember the distance between us- even when you are sitting right there beside me in the car, you are somewhere else, entirely. The world rushing past you is not the one that rushes past me. For you, it is a place you have inhabited but not yet made your own.

I know that this journey is ending…it’s not over just yet, but it’s ending. I know you have roads of your own to explore, hours and years that will take you miles and miles away from this place. I hope you will be my companion, sometimes, ride for a while on the passenger side…I hope you will always think of me when you think about home.

It seems like we’d only just started- but somehow, it’s been all of these years. When you were still small, I thought I had forever, but now, here we are-just like nothing. As quick as can be, you’re grown up, now. You’re the most precious thing entrusted to me, long before I was ever trustworthy…but we sailed, anyway, didn’t we? Together, we made it through storms and rough waters, and eventually, I learned to steer this ship into calmer waters. Now suddenly, I can see land ahead- your destination, darling. I can’t go with you, even though I want to. I can’t hold you here, and I can’t go on with you. I did my job, I got you here safely- now I have to let you go, soon.

I have time, still. So little, it seems almost nothing…and the part that you’ll share with me, even less. The landscape is nothing but change, now. I will try to allow you to savor the first, awesome bits of your freedom. I remember so clearly that anticipation, that feeling that anything, really, could happen. It’s wonderful, being so wild and alive, and with nothing but a wide open road there before you. I want you to have it. It is everything, for a minute, and it never can happen again. I can’t shelter you, protect you, and set you free to live your life, too. And I want you to live.

I wish I could tell you how profoundly you have shaped me. All this time that I spent tending you has completely changed me. It is as if you were a natural extension of me, of my life- a friend I picked up along the way. I have no idea how I will go on without you. It’s been the two of us, always, at the core of things, really, and I don’t remember at all what it’s like without you sharing my space, my home, my life. I know I am being sappy, but none of this is exaggeration- it doesn’t even come near to describing my feelings. I love you. I love no one more.

I look at you, I watch who you are becoming, and I know in my heart you’ll be fine. You have something about you that makes me confident of that. I think you are smart, I think you are quick, and I see you observing what’s laid out before you, adjusting your understanding accordingly. I know you are learning. Much of your life is yours now, and I think you are navigating it just fine…I take no credit for any of the wonderful things you are becoming, either. You are your own girl, through and through.

I just wanted to tell you, I get it. I forget sometimes, but then I remember, and it’s like I’m your age, right there beside you. But just for a moment, enough to remind me- just so that I can be mindful of you. I don’t want to steal this joy from you, I just want to guide you a little. And tell you how loved you are, and how important. I realize the clock is counting down the last, impossibly short years of your childhood. I hope you know it’s been the very, very best time of my life.

Thank you.

Posted in beauty, escape, family, kids, Life, love, People, random

Don’t You Wanna Dance?

dancing

Good morning. Hopefully, I can get my thoughts down on the page, here, in some sort of cohesive manner- I slept fitfully last night, with a stuffed up nose that kept changing sides, and a rotten headache, to boot. I finally got up fifteen minutes before my alarm went off and used my new espresso maker for the first time…so, I am exhausted, over-caffeinated, and loopy. This ought to be entertaining, at the very least.

One of the things that has fascinated me since I first began to notice it, is the weird way you can divvy people up into two groups when it comes to certain things. For instance, there are mustard people, and┬ámayonnaise people-not all of them are hard core, but if forced to pick one or the other, there is a clear division. There are Coke and Pepsi people. Furthermore, there are Coke and Diet Coke people, and there is a whole subgroup of Dr.Pepper people. (Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that when you tell a Dr.Pepper person that his drink of choice is not available, they almost unfailingly will then ask “Do you have Root Beer?”. I am not making this up-ask any waiter or waitress if this is the case, and they will tell you it is.) There are dog people and cat people, night owls and early birds, readers and illiterates (Kidding!), and there are dancers, and those who do not dance.

I am a mayonnaise eater, Coke drinker, cat person (sorry Lucy, I love you, I do), early bird, reading non-dancer. I can give you pretty simple explanations as to why I am most of those things, but I can’t tell you why I don’t dance.

Because the thing is, I really, really WANT to dance, when I am out and about and other people are doing it. Gosh, it looks like so much fun, and people nearly always smile when they dance, as if there is nothing else in the world they would rather be doing. There is nothing more amazing than watching a great dancer do their thing…like, seriously, Chris Brown? Yeah, I know he’s got some issues with anger, but put that aside for a moment, if you can, and watch the dancing…I mean, how in heck does his body move like that, and with apparent ease, a perfect expression of joy? And Justin Timberlake? I mean, c’mon, there goes the whole myth about white dudes and┬árhythm, for sure.

But I’m not even really talking about people like that, that are professionals, famous, polished, trained. I’m talking about just every day normal people who, when they get on the dance floor, become this other thing, totally into the music, unaware of the world around them and totally unconcerned with the crowd. Wow, I admire them so freaking much, and I am envious, I really am.

You know who I am even more envious of , kinda? The dancers who get out there and are just as into it as the people around them that are great, only these dancers just suck, bad. Only, they could give a shit less, because for them, it’s not about being great or impressing anyone, it’s about having a wonderful time. I suspect that some of them may have no idea that they are really bad dancers, that in their own minds, they are on fire, but no way every last bad dancer I’ve seen is completely in the dark. They just don’t care.

I am not brave enough to fall into either of these┬ácategories, and it is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I don’t think I am really a terrible dancer- I won’t dance in public, but I assure you, I have done plenty of it in the privacy of my own home- mostly alone, but sometimes with friends or my older daughter, and they didn’t seem horrified or embarrassed for me. I’ll admit, I’ve danced in front of a mirror or two, and I’m alright.

Yet get me out in public, and I start hyperventilating the minute I start to sense that people in my group may be wanting to dance…because, inevitably, one of my girlfriends eyes will light up at the start of “her song”, she’ll grab my hand, and say “Oh my gosh, we HAVE to dance.” And I am always the killjoy that is all, “Um, NO, we don’t…you go.”. And on it goes, her begging, pleading, bargaining, me digging my heels in and finally exclaiming that I have explosive diarrhea as I high tail it to the ladies room. When I come back, my friend has found another friend to dance with, and I sit and watch, wishing I was out there, too.

It’s so funny, because I am an extrovert in every way but that one. If you were to ask someone else to describe me, self-confident would most likely be in the top three. But when it comes to dancing, I am the eternal seventh grade girl, terrified of being asked, of not being asked, and of all of the people in motion around me, who are clearly better people than I. I feel like my inability to enjoy dancing is the peep-hole into the secret, rotten truth about how insecure I really must be, and it’s impossible to hide when there is music and a crowd.

Twice in my life, I have danced joyfully in public. The first time was at a country-western bar that I sneaked into with a fake ID when I was twenty. I don’t remember much about the night, aside from learning why it’s never a good idea to take your whole paycheck with you into a bar, and that I danced. The boy who asked me was big and ungainly, and he had big sweat rings under his arms, but he seemed nice and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I told him I didn’t know how, and he said “That’s ok, I’ll help you.” And this big old ungainly dude literally swept me off my feet. I don’t think my feet touched the ground, he whirled me and swung me and, somehow, his grace rubbed off on me. I will never forget that night. Well, that part, anyway.

And the last time…the last time was at my boyfriends brother’s wedding, and everyone was having so much fun. My daughter wanted to dance so badly she was barely sitting in her chair. “Go!” I told her. “But I’m scared.” She said. I saw that longing misery in her eyes, and when I told her not to be afraid, I knew I was in big trouble. How could I ask this of her and yet refuse to be an example? So I took her hand, and out we went onto the dance floor, and we danced as if there was no one else in the world. It is one of my happiest memories, and for her, I’d do it again. I never want her to look back at her life and wish she’d just gone ahead and danced…like I do, sometimes.