Y’all. It was a week. After not being to work full-time in months, we all finally stepped into the studio together this week. I’ve been in a constant state of tired since last Monday. What once would roll out of the studio effortlessly now takes a different kind of planning and preparation..
Three class assistants.
Eight kids or fewer.
Six feet apart.
Finding Zoom links.
“We’ll roll with whatever comes at us.”
“Thanks so much for your understanding.”
So much sanitizer.
So, so, so much sanitizer.
Even though I could have used a nap every day, it was seriously the best kind of tired - the kind where you fall asleep with a sense of satisfaction over the activities of the day.
But I have to be honest with you. Not that long ago, I was ready to walk away from the dance studio. That will shock some of you who read this. When I took my first class at age 3, I fell in love with dance. It was that same day that I decided that I’d be a dance teacher someday. And throughout these 30+ years, every decision and move I’ve made has been toward that dream. There’s nothing else I ever wanted to do. And for the past 13 years, that’s what I’ve done. I have been so fortunate to be able to do what I love in the small town I love.
But then - plot twist.
A plot twist that didn’t just mess with my story, but with stories all around the world. Enter the novel coronavirus. COVID-19. Is anyone else completely over it? I know - the LAST thing you want is ANOTHER blog post and perspective about COVID. But keep reading - there’s more to this message.
On March 15, the governor of Iowa announced that schools would be shutting down across the state to attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. And of course, businesses and organizations soon followed suit. There I sat, watching television with my family, and it felt like I got kicked in the stomach. I have to shut down the studio. Oh my gosh. What am I going to do? I would imagine you were hit with stress, too. Maybe fears of childcare, job loss, late bill payments - the distress that rocked our world is shattering. For me, it began a bit of an unraveling.
There is a sense of security that comes from knowing what you want to do from a young age. While others my age were lamenting over what they would do with their futures following high school, I was figuring out the steps I needed to make my already-completely-formed-plan happen. There was never uncertainty for me. The downside comes, however, when that perfectly-formed-plan becomes part of your identity. I’ve been a dancer for forever, and all I’ve ever done is teach dance. That is all there is.
So, all of a sudden, I couldn’t do that. At least, not in the way I’ve done for forever. I had over a hundred kids who showed up to the studio every week; a hundred lives to teach. And for the foreseeable future, we couldn’t be in the same room. But I still had a business to run. Families invested their time and their finances into my business - and I needed to uphold my end of the deal. So, like every amazing business owner I know, I pivoted.
After a teary Facebook Live video with my dance families, we moved dance classes online for the rest of the season. And it was fine. I’m thankful that technology exists. I was thankful to see the faces of my students, hear their stories, meet their pets, see what they were having for dinner (for real, I got to know those humans in a whole new way). But hard doesn’t begin to cover this season for me. It was heartbreaking. I felt lost, isolated. Empty. This is no exaggeration or dramatization. It was hard.
Other small-business owners I know, love, and respect were facing similar struggles. Every dance teacher and studio owner I know was in the same position. It was (and still is) being said that online dance would be here to stay, at least to some degree. And this knot in my stomach began to grow, and the joy I found in bringing dance to the people started to dim.
I said to Hubs more than once: “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.”
I confided in a few friends: “If this is what the studio is going to look like, I don’t want any part of it.”
I thought in my heart: “Maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to do.”
My mind raced: “But if you don’t teach dance, there is nothing else. This is all you have. This is all you are.”
Fusion was going to be done.
If you’ve found this blog, you surely noticed that its home is the Fusion DanceWorks website. Fusion is still here. The only reason for that is because I realized that teaching dance is not who I am - it’s what I do. And more than that, I discovered the root of my passion for teaching. Yes, I teach dance. I teach dance because it’s a skill I know best. But even if I never took that dance class when I was three, I would have taken whatever best-loved skill I had and used it to help others find joy. That is my passion.
When I am in the studio having dance class with my students, I learn so much more about them than how well they dance. I see their eyes sparkle with exciting news; I hear the deep sighs of hard situations. I notice how some keep their distance when they’re sad, how others sit closer and need a hand on their shoulder. I instantly know if their day at school was tough or great. That is what was making me feel so empty when we went online - those things didn’t translate through the computer screen. I lost my connection to those kiddos. But that loss connected me to my true purpose. Isn’t it funny how that works out sometimes?
Actually, that sense of loss and reconnection was the reason for creating this blog space. If someone lands here and I am able to speak truth, love, and inspiration into his or her day, that can speak to my purpose. I’m learning that the medium is not what’s important to me - be it dance, writing, a chat at the coffee shop, or sharing a book that I love. I don’t want just my dancers to Dream Big and Work Hard…I want that for everyone. For you.
So, as counter-cultural as this may seem, I am thankful for my unraveling. It taught me that sometimes, there’s something new to be created - something new to be discovered. Now is time for the work to begin. Now is the time for me to keep digging into what brings me joy; what I truly feel called to do. And sharing dance with young people is absolutely part of that. But that’s not all there is to me. There is so much more to be realized and to share. Perhaps part of that message is that your purpose is just on the other side of the struggle.
Sending you all of the love,
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My name is Miranda and I'm a mom, spouse, dance teacher, and entrepreneur. I’m going to share my life with you. The good, the bad, the weird. I hope to inspire you, encourage you, make you laugh. I’ll be honest. And I can’t wait to learn more about you through it all.