Dance & Sing ’89!
When my girlfriend asked me to join her for a hike, I envisioned a hot, dusty trail; the sun beating on my back. I placed the cap upon my head, wrapped my hoodie around my waist and packed the ice water in my Jansport backpack. I had slept lightly the night before but I knew a hike early in the morning would refresh my senses and clear my mind of the worries lurking beneath the surface.
I promptly walked through her front door and my girlfriend asked if I had brought a heavier jacket. She was afraid I would be cold. It was then that I took note of our fellow hiker; dressed in Patagonia cold gear pants, the heavy duty jacket and backpack and hiking poles. It was determined that I would return home to quickly change into more weather appropriate clothes. During the short five minute drive to my home I contemplated bailing from this excursion. It was not what I had had in mind on this leisurely morning.
just. like. life.
I fought the train of thought of canceling on this hike. I reminded myself that I wanted to step outside of my four walls to the world beyond. To open my eyes to new adventures and opportunities. To fight the inner dialogue of excuses and I can’ts and nos. I am fortunate to have choices to make.
I can. I will. I do.
Two hours later, as I hiked a series of steep switchbacks, I began to still my thoughts. Initially I took the hills quickly; wanting to get them over with. But the hill continued to climb with no plateau or respite in sight. I shared with the girls how my heart raced and they admonished me to keep it slow and steady. There was no rush. I had nothing to prove. I had to remember the altitude. Rushing to the destination isn’t the point of hiking. It is enjoying the scenery, breathing the cold, dry air and tuning the senses to the sights and sounds of the mountain.
I began to internally hum Ravel’s Bolero; walking steadily to the tempo of this classical piece. Breathe in. Breathe out. I blocked out all else.
There is no greater joy than conquering your own internal fears and negative inner monologue. I found my second wind; toasty and warm as we came upon the designated clearing. It was liberating to finally push myself out of my comfort zone. It took perseverance and mental work. But knowing I can is the take away from my hike. I hugged the feeling of accomplishment to myself. I own it.
I have come to a place where I must own my place in this space. To carefully step past the boulders placed on my path and step out of the rat race. I can walk anywhere if taken at a slow and steady pace.
A year-and-a- half later we have finally taken the steps to formally take ownership of the family business that has survived almost twenty-seven years. After transitioning from the world of active duty military service and a steady paycheck, we had ventured into the great unknown. A recessed economy. Our niche as a small business custom manufacturer was hit hard as large corporations and LLCs began to close their doors; losing business overseas.
Thankfully, we are not one of them.
But the thought is never far from the hubs and I’s mind; the worst case scenario. We weighed the balance between four more years of hardship deployments and how it would affect our three sons. The hubs felt his time was running out with his boys; the ones who barely saw him. He made the conscious choice to choose family and take the financial hit. His father was ready for retirement and his rheumatoid arthritis (RA) wasn’t improving. Manual and physical labor is not kind to those with RA. He looked to his son to continue what he started.
Neither of us wanted to own it.
The transition almost, literally, killed the hubs. It is easy to drown your sorrow and stress holding your breath behind closed walls. To numb the anger, stress and worry with substances or addictive behaviors. To close doors and build walls and let the darkness swallow you whole. I lost my ability to find things good. We all did.
But these days I have found my internal music…the steady beats and rhythms that remind me why I am here. The above video is on repeat in my car stereo. My sons know that, within the confines of my car or home, if there is a song that I like; I crank up the volume and shake it! LOUD! In their younger years they would dance with me; holding my hands and twirling about and laughing. It was recently at my cousin’s wedding that they danced with me, once again. It had been years.
My boys caught me trying to learn Eden xo’s dance moves in her tutorial video. O.M.G. Mom! Seriously? I come from an extended family that LOVES to dance. And I am married to a man who would rather be a wallflower than be on a loud, pulsing dance floor.
The slogan, “Dance & Sing ’89” was on my car’s license frame during my junior and senior years of high school; acknowledgment of my participation in songleading and band. It reminded me of a place outside my home where, within its four walls, my father was slowly dying of colon cancer. I consciously looked at the license frame each day to remember to move forward; to push towards the future. It was the wish my father had wanted; in stark contrast to the dark and lonely places at home. Recently, while digging through old albums I found the yearbook photo (above) that my girlfriend had taken during a varsity football game. In yearbooks I signed and penned my license frame slogan; belying the dark sadness that always resided in my heart and mind.
Life moves in forward motion. Papers are filed, accounts close and open. The hubs has finally completed his remaining military years in the reserves for retirement. Twenty. The business is ours. New opportunities and failures lurk around the next corner; unseen. But I need to continue to step out; to be able to discover these things for myself. I need to dance to my own music and fully reside in the present life that I live.
I have only one life. This is it.
I crank the bass and feel it thump. I am the lone person upstairs and the floor is vibrating with energy. I fasten my attention to the music in my soul. Some days the notes clash and are disharmonious but my composition is already written. Now I just need to push forward to the next bar. I still can create a masterpiece. I move forward to my slow and steady beat and own it.