Dance it out.

photo credit: cris mendoza & josh telle

   If you were to fly back in time and search for the little Erin, you would find her in a tiny house set in a small town in California, growing up under the shade of a cotton wood tree where days were spent blowing bubbles, playing Barbies and making homemade play dough with her sister Mandy and their mama. When I look back at my very earliest childhood years, there are those unforgettable representations of being a kid that stand out in my mind - things like singing along to the Aladdin soundtrack (right, 90's kids??), slap bands, Pogs (remember those?), dozens of Barbie dolls (some headless, some hairless due to a run in with my Fiskar kid's scissors), water baby dolls, and my ballet slippers. At age 6, I trailed behind Mom as she walked me into Danskins in Los Angeles to pick out the perfect ballet shoes. My Sis and I were starting ballet class and it was a big deal. I remember just how those pretty pink leather shoes slipped right on my feet, their tiny string bows tied perfectly at the toe, and how I felt like I was a real ballerina when I wore them. Dance class proved to be a highlight and soon I was enrolled not only in ballet class, but tap and jazz as well. I couldn't put it into words then, but as an adult I now look back on those sweet dance class days and see the reason I loved dancing so much - because not only was it fun, set to music, and we got to dress up in cool costumes... but it also gave me confidence, it helped me to realize I could express myself, that I was free, that I could fly if I wanted to, that I could soar.

  I still love to dance. But, I must admit -  after my initial golden years of the love affair with dancing, when I became a teenager, then a college student... when disappointments came into my life, some dreams were dashed, and my heart broken a time or two ... I lost my love for dancing and didn't think about it at all. Until one day, right after I graduated from college and I worked as a nanny for a few months. As I prepared the two little girls' mid-day snack, I fought tears while I cut up carrot sticks and spooned peanut butter onto plates. I felt like my heart would never recover from the brokenness I felt. Life threw me about 4 curve-balls immediately post-graduation, and I must admit - I was honestly grieving over the loss of some dreams, plans, and things that had been close to my heart. Loss overtook me, I felt overwhelmed with sadness over changes that were happening in my life, over people I lost in sudden circumstances, and over the unexpectedness I was suddenly and harshly experiencing. Tears stung my eyes when one of the little girls noticed. "Ewin?" she asked innocently, "Why are you cwying?" Trying to recover the situation and not scare the toddler, I explained, "Aw sweetie, Erin's just feeling a little sad. It's okay to feel sad sometimes. But I'm okay!" And I forced a smile. Her older sister who was about 5 years old, ran over to the TV and turned the satellite radio on to "Kidz Bop". She took my hand - suddenly and purposefully - and led me to the middle of the white carpet  in the living room and exclaimed, "Well when I am sad, you know what I do? I dance!!" And with that, both girls started busting out some moves, holding my hands and giggling. And I remember in that moment ... as I freestyled along with two toddlers wearing tutus, how fun and freeing a little dancing can be. I remember how hard I laughed that afternoon - dancing along to some Hannah Montana song - laughing so hard I cried, and I remember consciously thinking "I haven't laughed like this in who knows how long." And ya know what? It felt so good.

busting out some moves with my precious friend in 2009.
we can dance with the best of 'em!

   Those two sweet toddler girls reminded me of something important. I've told you before that rockstars take life and rock it out. Well, you know what else they do best? They dance it out. Oh yeah do they dance. They dance like nobody's watching. They dance like crazy.

  And in life, only the brave dance. It takes courage to dance after loss, heartbreak, and in the midst of pain. But it's oh so worth it. I look back on those years when I experienced severe pain, heartbreak, loss, and uncertainty. When you lose people you love, it feels like you'll never dance again. I never thought I would. But I did, darling. And you will too. 

"You will lose someone you can't live without,
 and your heart will be badly broken,
and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.
But this is also good news.
They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up.
And you come through.
It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly -
that still hurts when the weather gets cold,
but you learn to dance with the limp."
-Anne Lamott

Learning to dance with the limp. That's what we rockstars do.

   A couple months ago, my sweet friend Heather got married and I was honored to be a bridesmaid. She's a real dancer (while some of us, like me, kinda fake it!) so of course her wedding included some awesome dancing. And I realized again, kinda like I did with my toddler girlfriends when we danced like crazy on the living room carpet - dancing it out is good for the soul. Dancing it out with a big group of your old, close friends is one of the best things in life.

   Dance it out, sister. Dance til you have a collision on the dance floor with an old friend. And you both stand silently laughing hysterically, holding onto each other's shoulders so you don't fall over into a heap of laughter...for the rest of the song. Whether you're dancing it out alone to a little R&B on your iTunes, or you're doin' the Cupid Shuffle with the people you've laughed with, cried with, lived with, and loved.... just dance.

  You're a rockstar, sister. Let's embrace life's heartache, unexpectedness, loss, pain, and the things we can't control -  and make the best of them. Loving people we still have and moving forward after loss - as we learn to dance with a limp.

One of my favorite bloggers said this once -

"the unexpected in our life is really an opportunity....
you cannot control the things that happen in your life,
but you can certainly control the way you spend your life...
embracing all that life offers,
grief included,
and making something grand of it."

  I think your tile kitchen floor is just dying to be called a dance floor tonight. Turn up the hip hop and dance it out while you do the dishes.

 We can choose to dance, with our limps of grief and the unexpected things life offers... and we can dance it out.
 We can take the craziness of life and make it beautiful.

And maybe we'll even laugh so hard we cry while we do it.

Be brave, sisters.




Remember, the reason we have this freedom to embrace all of life .... God gives it to us.

"Call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you,
and you will honor me."
-Psalm 50:15

"...For you who love my Name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in it's wings.
And you will go out like calves leaping from a stall."
-Malachi 4:2

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He,
I am He who will sustain you, have made you, and I will rescue you."
-Isaiah 46:4

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