Twenty years ago I was a 37 year old mom of a darling little girl, pregnant with my darling little boy, still married, running a business by myself, teaching as an adjunct at Shorter College in the department of theater, serving as an executive officer on our local arts' council and volunteering at my child's school. To put it bluntly, I was overextended, overwhelmed, overworked and struggling emotionally on many fronts to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher, daughter, sister, friend. I know I failed on at least one of those fronts, and probably more than one. I look back now through non-rose-colored glasses and know the old cliche of hindsight being 20-20 is quite accurate. Are there things I would have done differently had I known the outcome? Yes, most definitely. None of us have that luxury, however, so it seems a little pointless to dwell in regrets. I live my life by Jeremiah 29: 11-14 and I believe, no, know, that God has me in the palm of His hand.
Fast forward twenty years. I am an empty nester. I am working harder than ever to keep my head above water. I often ask God, now what is Your plan? I am filled with more creativity than any time before in my life. I have wanderlust. I find myself becoming even more passionate about the people I love, the causes I care about, the downtrodden and helpless creatures in our world. I make mistakes and when I realize it, I ask forgiveness for them. I find myself wanting to spend time with people of character, and to avoid pointless and meaningless drama. I just want peace and serenity and to drink coffee and paint furniture and cook beautiful food and drink wine and lie on the beach and listen to the waves lapping on the shore. Is that too much to ask?
My dance studio has been my other child for more than 33 years now. I've nurtured it, seen little girls (and quite a few boys) come and go, created and maintained an environment of encouragement, acceptance and love for my students in which to feel safe and welcome. Twelve years ago, I made the decision to start commuting out of town so I could keep my doors open at home, and support my newly single self and my kids and the teachers who worked for me and depended on me, too. Would it have been easier to just scale back and simplify my program and cut my overhead and teach everything myself? Yes, it would have. But I have never been one to take the easy way out. I believe in following the road less traveled, the road not taken.
The critics abound. Your hard work is sometimes just not enough. That's when you look at your own amazing and awesome adult children, the little dancers who you "raised" and loved as your own, the music and laughter and all the beautiful synchronicity of your students as they danced in class and onstage and into their futures, knowing you had a small yet powerful influence on their young lives. What a blessing.