Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dance ~ Life- a message to my girls.

I actually have a lot on my tired mind today, but I really want to congratulate my first born, Kayli.  

I can't believe I JUST watched her last competition~  I know she'd hoped to leave it with lots of accolades, plaques, ribbons, and diamond level trophies.  That didn't happen; we got a few platinum trophies and high golds sprinkled with a few special awards, but way more importantly I got to watch my  girl.  She's turned into a confident leader and has created lasting friendships.  In my not-so-smart mind, it appears that the competition circuit has changed since we first started competing.  Competing used to be a fun, healthy atmosphere for the dancers to see their strengths and weaknesses and a time when the "team" would support each other and share memories.  In fact, I made some of my best friends because of the camaraderie of the parents.     So despite the changes over the years, we must hold on to the awesome friendships and memories we have made! In the long run, THIS is what matters, not the plastic trophy or shiny ribbon! What WE have is way more special than any man-made idol that will sit on a shelf or hang around the neck of a stuffed animal!

So, how did all this begin?  When Kayli was little I wanted to find an outlet for her energy and get her involved in something.  It just so happened, a local dance studio was close by and looked fun for little girls.  15 years later, Kayli graduated from the same studio.  She's been fully committed and worked hard.  Upon graduating, she received a few awards and acknowledgements and it was VERY special.   She doesn't wish to pursue dance any further, but there's a lot that dancing has taught her.  She's learned how to celebrate success as well as  how to deal with great disappointment, stress, and frustration. (Unfortunately, sometimes that was more often than not) She knows what it feels like to be complimented  and praised, but she's also experienced ridicule and sharp criticism.  It's almost a microcosm for life packaged in sequins, ribbons,  tutus and ballet slippers.  IT'S GOOD, though.  Not everything is a bed of roses in real life.  Our society is tough.  People can sometimes be mean, but I want both my girls to hold their heads high and be proud of what they've accomplished and for what they've worked so hard. 

If I were talking to Kayli right now, I'd say something like this: 

"You are a fierce competitor and unbelievable dancer. I'm so proud of your loyalty to your Company!  Anytime volunteers were needed, YOU stepped up to support your team.  You've helped sell candy bars, balloons, lemonade to benefit Alex's lemonade stand, danced for sick children AND in honor of cancer survivors.  You've entertained lonely seniors over the years in various nursing home facilities and sang for the families of sick children at the Ronald McDonald house.  Your stage presence is a force to be reckoned with!  I am proud of you, my Sunshine for all this things, but in addition, no one sticks with something recreational for 15 years! You've done solos, duets, special numbers.  You've sang and you've danced.    Thank you for the wonderful memories and relationships it's brought our family.  I LOVE your spirit and hope you remember all you have learned!  I LOVE YOU and will miss seeing you perform.  You have made me laugh, cry, shake my head, and have inspired me. This last competition was long and some of the other dance school were amazing.   However, remember why we began this SO long ago.  Sometimes, not everything is about winning, but how you play the game.  YOU, my love, have played well. SO, Congratulations!  I think you are FABULOUS. No, I KNOW you are fabulous!" 

So then, how did Amy begin?  After seeing her sister dance, Amy quickly caught on.  I remember her tiny little feet mimicking her sister with her platinum blond curls dancing around her heart-shaped face.   At age 2 1/2, I enrolled Amy into the very same dance school as her big sister.  She was VERY timid at first and needed big sister to hold her hand and walk in.  Her graceful, wise teacher saw this need and allowed it.  Ever since, Kayli has "held Amy's hand" and helped her along the way to become the phenomenal dancer she is!

She is my Babycakes, my ballerina!  If I were speaking, this is what I would say: 

"I watched you this weekend intently.  I could see in your face on stage when you were enjoying yourself and when you were feeling downright frustrated and angry.  I'm sorry to see the latter.  I wish you could see yourself through MY eyes.  You are simply stunning, and you have every bit as much talent as the dancers that came in first place.  Your confidence is budding and I can see it!   Whatever you want to do, Amy, grab on and hold with both hands!  You are SO talented and have SO much to offer the world!  Don't be disappointed in what you view as failures from this experience.  They are NOT!  Nothing is ever a failure IF you learn from it.  With what can you walk away from this?  I'll tell you.  You DO work hard at what you do.  I know you practice not only during studio hours, but in your room on your own time.  I see you improving your craft and striving to succeed.  There's a lot that can be learned from dance whether you wish to pursue it in the future or not.  I know you have a lot of avenues you may want to explore, but let's enjoy THIS avenue NOW!  You don't need sparkly awards and ribbons for me to love you. I LOVE watching you dance.  You are so graceful and elegant and STRONG!  Yes, you are strong.  Do not ever let ANYBODY take that away from you. FIGHT for it, BE kind and you WILL go far!  I LOVE you, Babycakes!  
You have 3 more seasons left- LET'S DO THIS!!!  The Lord has given you a beautiful ability. Let's together use this to glorify Him."

Maybe I will tell them now or maybe I'll encourage them read this.  Whichever is fine.  

Side Note:

Sometimes, honestly, I do stop and question why we've traveled this path.  It is expensive and time consuming and requires our family to be separated at times.  We've sacrificed fancy vacations and quick renovations on our home to be able to afford this for the girls.  A pair of pointe shoes can cost me $130.00 by the time all is said and done, and sometimes, Amy needs three pair in a season of that shoe alone, not to mention ballet shoes, jazz boots, tights, body suits, etc.  The irony of it is that I buy CHEAP shoes for myself so we can do this.  I mostly shop at Kohl's and Target OFTEN.  We eat out sometimes, and we don't often get to have designer clothes. (My girls save their money and buy their own). Why? Why would any family make such sacrifices?  First, they are material things and do not make or break our family.  Additionally, the bible says to "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

As far as a relationship with the Lord, I've heard many people use this verse to raise  godly children. YES, we should be doing that but there's a little more to it.  It means to give your children a firm foundation. FIND what they are good at and help them excel and strive to master that talent or skill.  Dance is so much more than just talent.  It's learning how to deal with different personalities and how to handle disappointment as well as success.  I have truly enjoyed watching my girls dance over the years, but also feel as though developing a God-given talent was important.  HE gave this talent to my girls and my job has been to channel that and help them deal with all the other things associated with it.  It really didn't matter what they chose to do.  It could have been soccer, track, gymnastics- ANY THING- we just happen to have chosen dance.  

In the end, the reward is great and the life application is a challenge.  I challenge my girls to do this for the glory of God, not any human.  The result will be great!

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