You Only Live Once, This Is How I'm Doing It!

Tag: happiness

Feeding my soul

My mom put me in ballet when I was an awkward pre-adolecent. She thought it would give me grace and some control over my limbs that felt too long for my body.

It gave me oh so much more than that.

In dance I found a way to not just move my body but to move my soul as well. I had what I think are the world’s best dance teachers. They focused on pure technique. They didn’t believe in recitals because they felt it detracted from time in class that could be spent learning rather than perfecting one single routine.

They made sure our form was perfect, from the point of our toes to the tips of our fingers and the tilt of our head. I could have lived at that studio. The teachers were tough but kind. We had to memorize terminology and were frequently quizzed on it. Every once in awhile we had parent’s week when parents were allowed to come and watch a class and we could show off what we learned.

I learned so much in those classes. I truly wish I could have taken classes there forever. Unfortunately our family started falling apart for awhile and with it my stability in being able to commit to classes at any given time from week to week.

I didn’t stop dancing though.

At the time I was blessed to be at a church that had a very active dance team. We had classes and made up routines and performed them during services. Again, I was able to express my soul through dance. It was therapy in an extremely difficult time in my life.

When I turned 18 I moved to the Netherlands and started the next chapter in my life. I didn’t look into taking dance classes there because my life was so full of so many new adventures there didn’t seem like there would be room. I did make time to frequent clubs though and was able to again, dance my heart out.

Europe has the very best dance music. It’s a fact.

Then I fell in love, got married and moved back to the Midwest. While I was gone, the dance group I had been a part of was ripped apart at the seams in a very ugly church split, so it wasn’t there for me to return to. Being a brand new married couple we barely had enough to afford the essentials so paying for dance classes never really entered my mind. Then flying created such a random schedule that it again didn’t seem practical.

And suddenly it’s been years and the only time I’ve danced is the occasional wedding.

I don’t know why I didn’t dance in my living room. I have once or twice and it felt beyond amazing but I never made it a regular thing.

I missed it. I missed it like my lungs miss air in water. You know when you’re swimming and even with your head above water if your chest is covered you never can quite get a deep enough breath? Like that.

So when I saw a LivingSocial deal for unlimited dance classes for $19 dollars I bought it almost immediately.

Last night was my first class and I was beyond nervous. It had been so long since I’d danced at all, let alone in a formal class. Once the class started though it was like inhaling pure oxygen. I moved and stretched and couldn’t wipe the huge grin off my face for the entire two hours. It was a beginner level adult class so the steps were easy to do and remember. I was able to not concentrate on the physical motions and just dance.

I can’t believe how good it felt.

I was made to move. I’m not the most talented person in the world but nothing makes me happier than dancing.

I can’t believe I let myself forget for so long.

I haven’t been fully happy in a long time. I’m taking my happy back piece by piece and this was a giant piece that was missing.

It’s good to have it back.

A leap into less than happiness?

This morning my eyes slowly opened and I looked over at my sleeping husband. I smiled through my sleepy blinks at him lying there next to me. I pressed myself up against him and breathed deeply, taking in his smell of shampoo and sleep. He didn’t notice me this morning because he was in too deep of a sleep. That’s fine, I let him sleep a while longer.

I rolled out of bed and went to my computer to catch up on whatever happened while I was away sleeping. While browsing through Facebook I came across this article: If parenthood sucks, why do we love it? Because we’re addicted.

I’ve heard it before, parenthood actually decreases your happiness. According to this article the only reason people keep popping out babies is because of the occasional high you get. Most of the time parents with young children are miserable.


The thing is, I suspected that all along. It’s a huge part of why I’ve waited and resisted all the pressure to start adding more humans to the planet so far. I’m so happy with my life as it is, am I really ready to screw that up?

Will I ever be ready?

Who is ever ready to be less happy?

Joel and I have what is my idea of a perfect marriage. We love each other fiercely. We fight but we do it fairly. We forgive each other and move on after making mistakes. We have long afternoons filled with passionate sex and intimate cuddling. We take trips to exotic locations on a whim.

All these things and more make me so happy. When I lie in bed staring at Joel I can’t imagine doing it through bleary, sleep depraved eyes that haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in months. Will I be able to stare at him in those last moments of sleep or will I desperately be trying to catch every last second of shut eye before I have to return to my motherly duties?

I know myself. I become a grumpy monster without good sleep. Not sleeping makes me miserable. Naughty, whining children drive me crazy. I’d love to believe that I’ll be such an awesome parent that I’ll produce perfect children but we all know that’s not the case. My kids will have my DNA which means they’ll almost certainly be stubborn, creative, little evil geniuses.

When I remember some of the ways I acted towards my mom, dad and babysitters I cringe. I once convinced a babysitter to play a game that involved tying her hands to a doorknob. Then I convinced her to sit down. Then my sisters and I ran giggling out of the room leaving her unable to stand up. From the time I knew how to talk I knew how to manipulate things so they went my way. I never took no for an answer well. I got in a good deal of trouble but was very good at talking my way out of my punishments.

Then of course there was Joel. The stories he tells me about jumping off roofs, climbing trees and doing flips down steep hills on his bike terrify me. He basically poked his eye out when he was 6 and is now blind in that eye. Frankly I’m shocked that that’s the only major injury he ever got. He was such a dare devil. If we have a child like him I don’t know that my nerves can take the experience.

But then again, I look into Joel’s beautiful blue eyes and wonder what a mini version of him would look like. I see my beautiful sweet nephews and wonder if I could be as good at raising kiddos as my sisters have been. In the end I want to be surrounded by my children and grandchildren. I want a big happy family.

However, taking that leap into years of less happiness kind of feels like jumping out of a plane with a questionable parachute.


It’s funny how when I’m happy I feel the need to apologize for it. I am so freaking happy. And you know what? I’m not sorry about that.

Not even a little.

But still I feel like I can’t talk about it. Not on my blog anyway. Because that would be like bragging, wouldn’t it?

The thing is, it’s so different from how I was feeling a month ago. A month ago I was seriously starting to wonder if I needed help of the men in white coats sort.

Or at least the kind that comes with happy pills and couches.

It isn’t normal to feel such deep sadness that you cry for days.

For no reason at all.

It makes me feel almost dizzy just thinking about it. It was awful.

The scary thing is, I never figured out why I was so unhappy. All I know is that I’m happy now.

I have a feeling my happiness has a lot to do with the fact that I’m working again. As “nice” as it is to lounge around all day everyday chatting on Twitter and watching my shows I felt useless and lazy. I hate feeling lazy. I consider laziness my biggest flaw.

Now, almost every day I shower, get dressed, smile and interact with humans. My clothes are fitting better even though the number on the scale hasn’t gone down. When I do spend time lazing around the house it’s a treat. There’s still a little guilt but it’s justifiable.

There’s a small undercurrent of unease that follows me around. Like a dark trickle under the surface that threatens to burst at any moment and become the next gulf spill of sadness.

I don’t ever want to go back to the dark place I was in. I also don’t want my happiness to depend on work or other outside factors that I can’t really control. I want my happiness to come from inside of me. That’s a much more elusive kind of happiness.

The good news is, unless I think about really hard I can’t tell the difference between that kind of happy and the kind I am now. I’m content to take the kind of happiness I can get for now though.

Even if there’s a chance it could disappear, it sure is wonderful while it lasts.

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