During my 5 year wait to join a dance school, I would carefully watch my favourite music videos, practice and listen to my favourite songs about 100 times until I knew the words and steps off by heart. On Saturday’s my mum and aunt would take me shopping, and I still remember that time in Asda when my aunt said she was no longer coming back with me if I didn’t stop dancing down the aisles. I was shocked and appalled at her lack of support for a second, but then I decided to take myself off to the next aisle, and dance there; when no one was watching. I loved it.
Eventually after one of our holiday trips to to Blackpool, I managed to convince mum to take me along to dance class. It came pretty soon after an incident at The Pepsi Max Roller coaster where I refused to go on, (due to fear of heights and fast moving cars that I can’t control), but instead I decided to make the most of a dull situation, and dance to the music beside that said roller coster. My friend and her mum went ahead to queue for the ride, and mum and me held the coats at the bottom, with the biggest smile on my face. Gosh the butterflies from just the thought of going on that thing back then was enough adrenalin for me at that time. My Mum, being the social bee that she is was on the phone to my aunt when I decided to let the beat take me to a different place.
I would get pictures of moves in my head that I picked up from the many RnB/Hip Hop music video I would watch for hours on end. I found a confidence in me that when I danced, I didn’t just enjoy it, but it felt like a release of energy that for some may have been to jump on a roller coaster ride, but this was my way of having fun. This is where I could just be me.
So as I my dancing feet continued to move to the background music, it later came to my attention that I was gathering a crowd of folks watching. There was one woman also standing next to us, and seemingly waiting on her party to come off the ride, who also witnessed me dancing – I used to be so careful to dance when no one was watching, but unfortunately on this occasion I failed. The woman approached my mum and said, ‘You have a great little dancer there. She’s a good one.’ The next thing I remember I was entering our local community hall where I witnessed a flood of young girls in black leotards, with black and white leggings and white tap shoes, and some with red bows in their hair. I’m not quite sure if this was the straw that broke the camels back, but I will be forever grateful to that woman! And I love my mum!
You can imagine my amazement though. I think I had a t-shirt, shorts and some barbie trainers to begin with on my first day. We bought the tap shoes, and jazz shoes, which were required, but my Mum wanted to wait and find out if I’d stick the class before going on a spending spree. I was invited along for a trial session. Who needs a trial when you’ve been begging for 5 years to get here? I was so excited that I’d kind of jump and shuffle as I walked, hoping to the sound of the dance music billowing out of the big hall. The teachers looked very serious and scary though. I walked in to a small room, as everyone seemed to be split between several rooms. There were older girls too, tall ones, and small ones. In my room there were twelve. They all had batons, which I quickly noticed I was without. The dark haired teacher with short curly hair called me to the front, and asked me to stretch out my arm. Why did she need my arm? I wondered. Just then she stuck a small metal stick, with two white rubber ends under my arm and measured it to find the right fit. The first one didn’t seem good enough. I think it was too small, so she went to fetch the next size up. ‘There you go. Now you stand over here.’ She said as she shuffled me into a space on the front row, and moved the other girls along accordingly. I didn’t seem to recognise any of the girls in my class, except one girl who was from my school. I kept looking out the big bay windows in front of us, and watching the older girls go by with black and red dance bags, and co-ordinated jackets that looked super cool. I wanted to be one of them. The teacher starts the track, and begins to demonstrate some basic moves with the baton. I found it interesting that she would use the analogy of strawberry and chocolate ice cream when taking us through the motion of a horizontal spin. Stripped back we were to imagine dipping our stick into a two bowls of ice cream, one on each side. I think if she had actually bought some ice cream in for the illustration then I would have picked that skill up faster, but looking back I was pretty sold by the idea and willing to do what it took to learn.
The first few weeks seemed to be so simple. The steps didn’t look like the fancy ones I saw advertised on TV. Many years later, I now understand the importance of those basic steps, and how they set me up to win the trophies, medals and awards years to come. Now I understand that to be good at anything in life it starts with taking a few simple steps.
Hollywood’s most private celebrity. During this evening’s couch session, I watched a clip on Leo’s 40th birthday, which featured footage from when he was 17. He talked about how he faced rejection in the early stages of his career with casting managers overlooking his talent and making fun of his hair cut.
Leo went on to start in one of the biggest movies of our time; the Titanic. There are thousands of stories out there like Leo’s. The truth of the matter is anyone who does anything will face some kind of set back, or rejection. Those moments are not what define us. It’s what we do with them that will determine our future. Leo mentioned how ‘for a second he got discouraged’, but then he made choice to keep knocking on those audition doors.
(Happy Birthday Leo!! You don’t look any older).
Dear younger self,
Make sure you never stop dreaming, and do not get discouraged in the process. Every dream has a process, much like sowing a seed and waiting for it’s harvest. There is an in between stage, where you must continue to water that dream in the face of uncertainty and unseen. Don’t forget the importance of planting your dream in the right environment, and watering the seed, to see the growth you desire.
I had to make a very important phone call this morning, and after being on hold for an hour and a half, I decided to turn my frustration into creativity and found myself reading Dr Caroline Leaf’s book on toxic thoughts. It’s such a good book. I have learnt so much about the way my brain works, and how important it is to be mindful and selective about the thoughts I use. Did you know our thoughts can impact our psychical health? I’ve been aware of the power of thought from a very young age, and how it’s important for me to guard what comes into my mind. I had a conversation with some girls this weekend about how I can’t watch horror films because my mind is too active, and it can flow off the TV screen and have an impact on my daily life. Gosh, there was one point where I had to stop watching Casualty on a Saturday night after the bloody accident scenes before bed caused me to have nightmares! I know, it’s only Casualty. I get how weird I am, but I guess it’s important to know what is right for our well being. The same thing happened with Twilight, I loved the first film, and after the second I realised I’m going to have to say no to the rest. It felt so unfair too because all my friends were holding competitions to see how could finish reading the books first! Gutted.
Dear Princess, I think it’s really important for you to:
1. Use your waiting time to prepare, to learn and to grow
2. Be good stewards of our lives and know where to place our boundaries.
Just because something works well, or feels good for one person that doesn’t mean it will bode well for you. Don’t be afraid to make healthy boundaries for yourself. It’s very important that you do. Also, be careful not to let your emotions cloud the great potential of this day. Rise up, and shine bright for those who matter will be there, and those who don’t won’t. That’s ok. You’ll need thick skin, and an elastic heart for this world. Now you’ve got work to do, a dream to chase, and a wonderful life to lead. Let’s go!
From a young age I dreamed about the day I would be able to have enough money to redecorate my mum’s house for her, surprise people, and help people where I saw a need. I’m not perfect by any means, and through life I have been challenged in this area in many ways, but as I decide to embrace my imperfection and go after the dream in my heart I am starting in the best way I can think of right now. I am setting myself the challenge to do something (#doSomething) every month to contribute towards organisations that I’d love to be apart of. To find creative and resourceful ways to give, even though my beginnings may seem small. I am reminded by some great people in my life that if we can’t give from the little we have now, we’ll never give when we have much.
November – Watoto
December – Pencil of Promise
January – Sisterhood
February – TBC
March – TBC