“There is something that you are born to do. You can feel it. Maybe you forgot what it was because of where life has taken you, but it’s there…”
I wrote those words two years ago. Feeling stuck on where to begin my ‘what-have-I’ve-been-up-to’ post, I found myself going back to when I was last interviewed by you all. I wanted to see if, without knowing what the future held, I could look back on those words and still feel them to be true. I can now say that because of where life has taken me, that I feel those words to be truer than ever.
Where to start…well, moving on from recovering from the 2014 car accident, let’s start with the fact that things moved a bit slow artistically for me as I all of a sudden found myself not being able to walk for more than ﬁve minutes without my toes in my left foot going cold and numb and full of pain all of a sudden for a little over a month. Yep, as soon as I decided that I needed to really kick my butt into gear and get back into “dance shape” (because baby number four was almost two), I found myself unable to walk properly for a couple of months. They diagnosed it as metatarsalgia, AKA a problem that dancers can get due to enormous pressure constantly being put onto the ball of their foot. In my case the bones of my two middle toes had fallen and were pressing on a nerve.
Of course, I’m thinking of how I can manipulate my dance moves because this wasn’t going to stop me from dancing. Well, a foot pad and Vitamins were my answer. Yep, once I started my prescription Vitamin D, Iron, B12 and Vitamin C, my numbing and tingling in my foot went away, and the pad helped with pushing the bones back into place so no more pain. Which, thank the Lord for because now I found myself already moving into my next venture. I was building a dance studio.
In February of 2019, my husband and I started building what is now known as the Dance Theatre of Coastal Virginia. A couple of months later, my husband would be diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called Polycythemia Vera Primary. What’s interesting about this besides the name is that they actually found it in his blood work four years prior but forgot to tell us…so now I have found myself trying to soak in and learn all that I could about this disease, while overseeing the work for the studio and making sure our children stay on the path of making me think that they won’t need therapy later in life. I’ve also just ﬁnished my memoir and am ready to at least announce to the world that I’ve written one.
“The Beast Queen Suburban Mom, Her Spicy Love and their Blinidan Oﬀspring”, was ﬁnally complete and I was ready to start my six-month marketing plan and part of that was through the blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages that I had set up through my author name Lola Mommy. It was my Sasha Fierce in the literary world by name only as I literally am the same character with or without the name. Except Lola Mommy kept her cool by always having her red, sparkly shades handy just for when she wanted to feel fabulous while running her errands in these domesticated streets.
I knew the book was a funny, light-hearted read about the last 15 years of my life. Feedback from my beta readers conﬁrmed it, but as a new author, I am struggling getting the book published just to say I published something, or actually ﬁnding an agent to help me get it really out there. Once you get into this new world of publishing, you realize that unless you just want the ﬁrst option, it’s a long road until you see any fruit of your labor if at all. And a memoir of someone that doesn’t have a fan base in the tens of thousands is a hard sell for agents.
So as of right now, I have a non-professionally edited memoir that I am hoping by next year I can say has been either self or traditionally published. In the meantime, it’s not just a studio that I am trying to build, but now a new business that I am trying to learn how to run.
The studio was oﬃcially done in October 2019. It didn’t take that long because it’s huge. No, my contractor was a pastor who happened to not only live up the street from my house but who also knew my uncle in North Carolina, and between his congregation, funerals, words of biblical wisdom and people he hired going to jail, it took a while for the project to get done. I wish there were parts of my life that I could make up, but I can’t…
Once done, I hit the ground running with trying to make up for lost time. The dance season had already started, and I would be blessed and humbled with whoever came through those doors.
“Some have asked me why I didn’t name the studio after myself, and this is why…dance has never been just about me but about my family…my community…” You will not ﬁnd me in the “dance like no one is watching” group. I used to think that. To me a big part of adopting that philosophy was due to fear. But I can no longer keep choosing to operate in fear. And now I also fully understand and embrace that dance is a language that needs to be expressed for the world to see and not hidden. If you can tell a story of pain, passion, happiness, retreat, sorrow, peace, faith with your body, that is a gift. Use it.
My awesome sister friend, Rebekah Rickards, sent out a call to local artists to come together to do a music video in memory of the 2019 Virginia Beach Shooting Victims. Of course, I did it. That following November, she took it a step further by putting on an actual stage production to again bring healing to the community in a way that she knew the arts can. I participated in that, too.
With my studio, I do something once a month that in the business world one might look at as bad business, but I oﬀer a Master Class of a style of dance that people might not be used to from people who are already established and even own their own studios elsewhere here in VA. So far, we have done Retro Zumba, Vogue, East Coast Swing, and Salsa classes. I tell the teachers to please make sure that they tell the students where they can go if they want to learn more from them.
These last couple of paragraphs were written to strengthen your understanding in the driving force behind why I have even started a studio and the reason for the name: to have a place that really speaks the heart of the people that it serves through the art form of dance, and is not afraid to connect with others to do it. Another studio could have the same mission, but guess what, their founder is not going to have the same life experiences and might see things diﬀerently in order to get their point across. Neither should be in competition with each other, but should do their part in ﬁlling the artistic void that they see. The name Dance Theatre of Coastal Virginia is a representation of the community that I wish to serve with the knowledge given to me thanks to the people that have been placed in my life.
So, needless to say, the momentum with the studio was building. Our last class happened to be a Master Class with the fabulous Marquita Bianca, founder of Baila Fuzion, when we could no longer get together in large groups due to the Coronavirus. As you know that has been a day by day thing. And for a new small business studio owner, the last thing that I wanted to do was not be able to serve and keep classes going.
First thing I did was a live ballet class during the regular class time. But after one time, I knew that if this thing dragged on too long, I would need to ﬁnd another way to engage with my students. So, when the Governor of Virginia grounded us due to some happy beachgoers, the solution that has worked from then and thankfully up until now has been Zoom. I love how they can see me and I can still see them as well. The biggest blessing through doing my classes this way is that I not only have my current and local students, but I am now able to teach people in Germany, Florida, and Georgia as well. You have to look for the rainbow my friend.
Speaking of looking for a rainbow, I am back at trying to ﬁnd it again. For you see I am writing this the day before the deadline due to a stroke that I suﬀered ﬁve days earlier. It happened while I was teaching and not because I am not healthy, but because of the 2014 car accident that I spoke about in my interview post. Classes were going ﬁne, I’m drinking my smoothies, I am even an oﬀ-ice coach at the local skating rink and have started doing Zoom classes with them when while I was stretching in class the discs that were already damaged clamped down on an artery, which of course stopped the blood ﬂow.
All I knew was that my vision went completely blurry, but with no pain and not wanting to alarm the 8-year-olds in my class, I kept teaching. Long story short, when I questioned blurry eyes for an hour via Facebook, my friend who is a paramedic asked me a few questions privately and said, “either you call 911 or I’m taking you to the ER.” After the stroke was conﬁrmed in the ER and right before I was sent to the ICU and the TPA was about to be administered, the Dr told me that if this were just ﬁve minutes later, I would’ve suﬀered some sort of permanent damage, and if I had waited until the next day (because I thought I was just dehydrated and was going to rest), he said forget it.
The rainbow that I am trying to ﬁnd is not one of optimism, because I am always optimistic, but in the why? Why after all of this and getting on what I feel is a good track did this have to happen? No matter though. I will keep going as I have done before. The pain in my neck for the time being will remind me to take it easy, but it will not stop me. I am on a mission. And that mission is to live this life moment by moment to the best of my ability without giving into fear. I am now home and, with taking it easy, I have already taught three classes. Husband didn’t like that, so I promised to take a week oﬀ and then reassess.
This is a lot, but then again, it’s been two years since we’ve caught up. I am nearing the end of my mil-spouse journey as my husband is nearing retirement. A new normal will once again befall our household. If we never get to catch up again, my dear friends, just know that this mil-spouse did her best to live the life given to her, while pursuing the passion that was placed within her heart. I encourage you all to do the same, even if that means that during this time, we are all supposed to be still and the best that you are to do is rest, then do it. It’s what I have to tell myself. Just don’t let what was meant to stop you actually stop you. Life is too short for that. Love and blessings to you all.
“There is something in you that you were born to do. You can feel it. Maybe you forgot what it was because of where life has taken you, but it’s there. I just want to encourage you to nurture it however you can because you never know where your gift will lead you or how it will inspire others.”