Monthly Archives: July 2011

Dancing Out Of The Box

If you know me at all, you will know that I love to dance.  I started taking lessons when I was three, and I started teaching when I was 16.  For a large portion of my life, it was my world.  On many days, it was literally the only reason I got out of bed.  Without dance, I’m sure I would not be here today.

Over the years, dance has changed for me.  I now have more reasons to get out of bed, but I still feel most alive when I dance.  I will admit that there were points in my life when dance was an idol for me.  I remember the moment that changed.  I was in Russia, and I was dancing during one of our day camps.  The song was Mercy Me’s ‘I Can Only Imagine’.  During the song, everyone else in the room disappeared, and for the first time, I was dancing with God.  After that, I realized that God had given me this gift, and all I wanted to do was share it – with Him and for Him.

I’ve realized recently that dance needs to change for me again.  Not the how, or the where, or what it means to me; but some of the why – some of the motivation behind my dancing.

I love the song ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles.  There’s so much in that song that resonates with me – and I realize some of that may not make any sense to anyone else, but that’s okay.  There’s a line in the song that has been poking and prodding me recently.  ‘Some dance to remember.  Some dance to forget.’  I have always loved that line, but it’s hitting me a little differently right now.

Growing up, and even into my adult years, dance was the one place that I could escape.  I felt like I belonged there, and the rest of the world would just go away.  I connected with myself in a way I never could outside the dance world.  And even after dance changed for me, it was still the best way to connect with my true self – especially my emotions – and to connect with God.  I could forget about everything else and just be.  It was a wonderful feeling.  But I’m realizing that ‘forgetting’ was a big motivation for me to dance.  I truly danced to forget.  Forget the pain.  Forget the rejection.  Forget the anxiety.  At the time, it’s exactly what I needed.  I wouldn’t have survived any other way.  The problem is, in that process over so many years, I forgot me.

There’s a little girl who is trapped right now because dance was the only freedom she knew.  But because she was dancing to forget, she never got to fully experience life.  She never knew that she was really okay.  She wanted to forget all the bad stuff, but she forgot all the good stuff too.  Going through that crap made her stronger and taught her so much, but she doesn’t remember that part because she never got to leave the box she was trapped in.  She dances inside the box, but there’s not enough room to dance freely.  She’s scared to come out of the box, though, because she doesn’t want to feel all the crap again.  She tried so hard to forget, but it’s imperative that she remembers.  Only then can she fully experience the ‘good’.  When she forgot, I lost parts of myself.  I need her to remember.

So, now, I must dance to remember.  To remember truth.  To remember freedom.  To remember me.  I know that I will only find them through dance.  Only dance will help me remember what I need in order to heal the wounded little girl and help us truly dance.


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Some More Things You May Or May Not Know About Me

1 – I’ve danced into a set wall during a performance
2 – I played Barney Rubble (complete 35 pound character costume) for a grand opening at our mall while I was in college
3 – I started teaching dance when I was 16
4 – My favorite color is Purple.  My second favorite color is Gray.
5 – My favorite sports teams are the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and Iowa Hawkeyes
6 – Other than corn, I prefer eating my vegetables raw
7 – I’ve seen Barry Manilow in concert – yes, I’m a fan
8 – The best pizza is Pete’s Hawaiian Luau
9 – I can’t draw
10 – My favorite holiday is Christmas
11 – I am a night owl
12 – When I lived in Russia, a five year old told me I was as dumb as a cat
13 – My mom was pregnant with me when she married my dad (and I only know that because it’s a simple math equation)
14 – My favorite vacations were the two cruises I went on
15 – I recently locked my keys in the car – the first time I’ve ever done that
16 – My favorite restaurant is Texas Roadhouse
17 – I walked to and from school everyday from the time I was in first grade until I was in high school
18 – I started wearing glasses when I was ten (needed them before that, but refused to get them)
19 – Some foods that people are surprised I like – mushrooms, calamari, escargot
20 – I’ve had three jobs in my life – dance teacher, nanny, and my current job at Blue Shield
21 – I am competitive
22 – I find it highly attractive if a guy is willing to dance (regardless of his abilities)
23 – I’ve choreographed 14 musicals, performed in 2, produced 1, and was a dance captain for another
24 – I graduated high school fifth in a class of 400 with a 3.97 GPA (and that was with skipping about a quarter of my senior year)
25 – I collect playing cards from the places I visit
26 – I love board and card games
27 – I played softball from second through eighth grades
28 – Best scents – lavender; fresh chocolate chip cookies; mint; a turkey in the oven
29 – I’ve ice skated once – spent more time on my rear than on my feet
30 – I am addicted to soda (Dr. Pepper, in particular)
31 – I have never, nor do I ever wish to ski
32 – My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden
33 – I am one of the most extreme introverts you will ever meet
34 – I am almost always cold
35 – I love socks (and they have to match what I’m wearing)
36 – I broke my right arm when I was six – the only bone I’ve broken
37 – My favorite nuts are cashews
38 – I like to paint (walls)
39 – I’ve played Duck, Duck, Goose around a table in the middle of a restaurant
40 – I can’t sing
41 – I hate to run.  I love to walk.
42 – I never had braces, but I did wear a retainer for six months.  One of my top teeth was too far back
43 – The taste of coffee is disgusting to me
44 – I love Amazon and Ebay.  I do most of my gift shopping on one of those two sites.
45 – I don’t like walking barefoot – I need to have flip flops/shoes, socks or slippers on
46 – I love to read
47 – I’ve gone out to eat with friends as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
48 – I love garage sales (mostly setting up and running them)
49 – I love Goofey
50 – Am still amazed that I voluntarily walked away from my job and was able to go back two months later

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks.  I’ve only just realized, though, that it was anxiety that I was suffering from.  I was treated for the physical symptoms of my attacks, but no one could ever figure out what was causing it.  I’m sure that part of it was that I hid my anxiety well.  Admitting that I was anxious would have required admitting that I wasn’t strong, that I needed help.  I was taught at a very young age that I shouldn’t need help.

I was also taught at a young age that I could never be good enough.  No matter what I did, it wasn’t enough to deserve love or attention.  Living with that knowledge caused even more anxiety – especially when it came time for any type of evaluation.  When I was in school, it took me a long time to realize that not everyone got A’s.  School was easy for me.  About the same time I realized that not everyone thought school was easy, I started to sense the expectations placed on me to get good grades.  Even though nothing really changed in me – school was still easy to me – the outside pressures created anxiety for me.  I felt the expectations of teachers, and I became anxious when it came time for test grades or report cards.  I worried that I wouldn’t live up to the expectations.  Grades were extremely important to my parents.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of doing well in school, but my grades were not what was important to me and definitely not what I wanted to be defined by.  That was a point of contention with my parents, but because I wanted them to be proud of me, I got anxious when they went to open houses at school – worried about what my teachers would tell them.  Would it be good enough?  Even with straight A’s, I still felt inferior.  My dad paid me to get good grades, but what I wanted was not monetary but emotional.  I needed positive reinforcement.  What I got was just what I could do better.  I’m all for constructive criticism – I want to be the best I can – but there has to be some sort of balance.  All I ever heard was the negative, so that’s all I ended up believing about myself.

Currently, I find the same anxiety at work.  It’s review time.  The other day, I mentioned to a friend that I was starting to get anxious because it’s review time.  Her response was basically, ‘You realize that you have nothing to worry about, right?’  In all honesty, there is a part of me that knows that I am good at my job, and I go above and beyond my technical job description and what I get paid for.  But there is a louder part of me that says, ‘You’re still not good enough.  All anyone notices is what you’re not doing, what you should be doing, and what you’ve done wrong.’  This anxiety is so typical for me.  The goal is to reduce that anxiety – to be comfortable and confident in who I am and what I’m capable of.  I’ve gotten better in the last couple of years, but I still struggle with the voices that cause me anxiety.  That anxiety contributes to the feeling of drowning.  Alleviating some of that anxiety is a key to learning to swim…


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Swimming Lessons

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been wrestling with the idea of drowning.  I’m struggling with keeping my head above water.  Even though I’m sleeping pretty well, I still feel exhausted.  Everything in me wants to get out of the water.  I want to feel ‘safe’ again.  But I know that I need to learn to swim.  Recently, I’ve been sensing that there are things I need to do in order to learn to swim.

During my journey of leaving my job and going back, one of the most important things I learned was to focus on taking one thing at a time – to just take a step without trying to figure out what it means or how it’s going to get me to my destination.  I learned that I need to enjoy the journey.  I realize that I’ve forgotten that recently.

God is asking me to take one thing at a time – to trust Him, and see what happens.  I’ve been sensing the need to get away for a little while.  Work is crazy right now, and I’ve got a pretty tight budget, but I’m trying to work in a short getaway to spend some time  just listening and following – and getting to know His daughter.  It’s the first step in learning to swim.

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Some Things You May Or May Not Know About Me

1 – I learned to read from baseball cards
2 – I do math/algebra problems to relax
3 – I think bald guys are sexy!
4 – My first words were ‘bowling ball’ (seriously!)
5 – I started dancing when I was 3
6 – The combination of 4 & 5 should help you figure out what my email address means, if you haven’t already
7 – I don’t like beer or wine, but I’ll drink just about anything with Midori in it
8 – I’ve never ridden a horse
9 – I have ridden a mechanical bull (one of many pieces of evidence that kids bring out a different side of me)
10 – I love to tap
11 – I lived in Russia for a year and would totally live there again
12 – I have, on several occasions, danced on a table – which is, I might add, different than ‘table dancing’
13 – Best feelings – an infant/toddler falling asleep in your arms; watching a student finally ‘get it’; laughing so hard you cry
14 – You don’t really know me until you’ve seen me dance or at least teach
15 – I played basketball from fourth through ninth grades
16 – I love wrapping presents (and shopping for them), and I am a tape-aholic
17 – I know way too many versions of solitaire
18 – Certain medications make me extremely hyper (I’m not kidding)
19 – Geri is not short for anything – it has been shortened to Ger quite often, and when I lived in Texas I was ‘G’ to most people (started by my two year old buddy!)
20 – I’ve been the same height since I was 13
21 – I am a great example of the phrase ‘still waters run deep’
22 – Between 2002 and 2005, I moved 11 times
23 – Best sounds – the crack of a bat on a solid homerun swing; a cat purring; music; a child laughing
24 – I started tutoring when I was in fourth grade
25 – I went to a Catholic school from second through tenth grades
26 – I am extremely ticklish
27 – I don’t like my foods to touch
28 – My older brother hit me in the head with a baseball bat when I was three
29 – I’ve been told I’m a closet risk taker
30 – I will write a book someday
31 – I love pizza
32 – The movies I’ve seen the most – Harry Potter, Newsies, Godspell, and Into the Woods
33 – My faith defines me more than anything else
34 – I don’t really like hot liquids
35 – I love scrapbooking
36 – I have two cats
37 – I was 26 when I rode my first roller coaster
38 – I crack my knuckles – sometimes without realizing I’m doing it
39 – I can tie my shoe with one hand
40 – I’ve owned at least one bowling ball since I was about five
41 – I have a degree in Accounting
42 – I was named after my dad’s brother who died of cancer when he was 17
43 – I was a cheerleader in junior high
44 – I have a motorcycle license
45 – I was essentially engaged for about a week when I lived in Russia
46 – My friends are more like family to me than my biological family
47 – I taught myself algebra when I was in eighth grade
48 – If you tell me I can’t do something, everything in me will want to prove you wrong
49 – I have an extreme fear of heights
50 – You will win me over if you can make me laugh, and if you know me well at all, you will know that it doesn’t take much to make me laugh.

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In Over My Head

When I was about five, I remember my mom taking me to swimming lessons – well, one swimming lesson.  The instructor wanted us to jump in the water.  I don’t fully remember what was going through my mind, but I’m sure it had nothing to do with my control issues – yes, I had control issues at five.  Since I wasn’t jumping, the instructor, without warning, pushed me into the pool.  I don’t really remember the panic attack that I’m sure happened immediately following that push, but I do remember that I refused to get back in the pool, and I never went back to swimming lessons.  I still suck at swimming (and probably everything that represents right now).  I like to be around water, but being in water causes a high amount of anxiety for me.  I will hardly ever go into water unless I can touch the bottom.  Yet, there is something calming about water, and something that fittingly describes how I feel right now.

I have four main pictures hanging in my apartment.  Three of those four are water scenes – a lighthouse, a dock, and a bridge in the sunset.  I love these pictures, and they represent calm and relaxing scenes.  Maybe that’s because I know I don’t have to actually touch the water.  Of course, I might as well be in the water because I feel like I’m drowning.

I made a conscious choice recently to live differently – to live without allowing fear to dictate my actions; to live without keeping everyone at arm’s length.  I knew that it would not be easy to make that change, but I am finding that I jumped into the deep end of the pool.  The question I’m facing now is do I allow fear to cause me to pull myself out of the pool or do I trust myself to figure out how to swim.  My hope is that there’s another option – that I can trust there are people around me who are willing to help me, to teach me, to swim.  I’m having a hard time believing that, though.

I know that I am in a totally different place than I was a year ago.  In a lot of ways, I’m a different person than I was a year ago – more myself than I’ve ever been.  I know that the progress I have made has been significant.  But to this point, it’s all been internal.  For the last couple of months, I have been fighting to keep my head above water.  I feel like nothing around me has changed, which was always the point of changing what was inside me – the voices and my perceptions.  I still struggle with feeling invisible, used, and not good enough.  I still feel isolated and greatly lacking a support system.  I’ll leave out details for now, but there has been so much that has happened in the last couple of months that has made me feel like most people still don’t notice me (or more, care about me) unless I’ve made a mistake or they need something from me.  It just reinforces all the voices that have always told me that being alone is the only thing I deserve.

I feel like I’m drowning right now, and I’m getting really tired of fighting.  I’ve lived my life without hearing much positive reinforcement.  The only time I got attention was when I didn’t do something as well as expected or when I could do something for someone.  In the last few years, I’ve had people in my life who have started telling me positive things, and it’s been really difficult to believe them because I’m not used to hearing them.  But the scales have not even come close to balancing, and it seems like most people forget that I’m human and need to hear some sort of positive reinforcement along the way.  In certain settings, I know that I come across as being very confident – which is really funny to me because there is not a time that I don’t still have serious doubts about my abilities.  I get the feeling that a lot of people would be very surprised to know just how much I struggle with self confidence and seeing anything good in myself.  It’s really hard to see good in myself when most of the people in my life have always only pointed out the negative.  I’ve made huge progress in that area.  A year or two ago, I could have never written this – at least not in a forum for other people to read.  But I feel like I’m coming to the end of my strength and am looking for a little help.  Unfortunately, I was always taught that I shouldn’t need help, and that I don’t deserve it.

I’ve taught myself a lot throughout my life, and I could probably teach myself to swim eventually.  But I don’t think that’s the best thing for me – or what God intends for this current struggle in my life.  So it comes down to trust – trust that I won’t drown if I allow myself to stay in the water, and trust that there are people around me even if I don’t currently see them.

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