It's National Dance Day!
When I was a baby, I peered through the window of the dance studio to watch my three older sisters take their classes. When I turned two, I was ready for my turn.
(Yes, I took my first dance picture at 1 month old)
Since then, I've been dancing non-stop. I competed for 13 years, joined my college Hip Hop Team, was Captain for two years, danced at the House of Blues in Disney World, and have been teaching for 12 years.
Dance is something that will never leave me, but there have been moments when I have thought about giving it up because of pain.
I was 12 when I started experiencing joint pain, but I danced through it for 14 years without ever receiving a helpful answer as to why I was hurting. When I was 25, I was teaching full-time, and couldn't handle being in that much pain everyday. I set myself on a mission to heal, and at 26 I got the Ehlers Danlos diagnosis. Well now at 27, I am still teaching full-time and am busier than ever.
Dance is what continues to put me into my pain pattern. So why do I do it when I had multiple doctors tell me to just stop? Could you stop doing something that fills up your bucket?
Then I met my PCP who gave me realistic advice. Physical Pain vs. Emotional Pain.
If I stopped dancing would I be happy? Would my mental health end up way worse but my physical health improve? Anytime I've had surgery it has tortured me not to be able to move. I can't imagine doing that forever. So I choose to live in pain knowing it helps my mental health.
Now, this is not to say the pain can't improve. I have accepted that I will never be pain-free, but there are tools and treatments to help improve my pain, and more pain management skills to learn. It's only been a year since being diagnosed, so breaking 15 year old habits is very hard.
Pushing through pain is what I am worst at. I have the hardest time stopping myself and taking a step back. I try to tell myself that if I am smart about adapting now, I will be able to dance much longer, My love of dance/teaching/movement just wins the battle most days.
Will I teach forever? Probably not. Will I teach for as long as my body holds up? Definitely yes.
I'm so thankful for all that dance has brought me including life-long friendships, a passion for teaching, and a love of the arts. I don't know what I would do without it.
Happy National Dance Day!
Stay Kind. Be Brave. Much Love.