To be honest, I don’t feel like writing right now. I’m utterly exhausted, which is probably why I haven’t written something in months; it just feels like something else I have to get done. But I want to make myself write because when you’re happy, you should share it. When we share our happiness, it permeates our hearts, and this world needs more of that.

My year has started off absolutely perfectly. I did the David Dorfman Dance winter intensive right out of the gate of 2015, and I can’t begin to tell you how much this dancer needed that experience without even realizing it. It was a breath of fresh air. The encouragement and positivity that surrounded that week was palpable. I was challenged – very challenged – with movement and curiosity and decision-making, while being made to feel like dance is something so valued and appreciated; we as dancers were made to feel valued and appreciated. It was a safe place to explore and expand. The feelings of happiness I felt as I watched the first NYC snowfall while dancing in a fifth floor studio with people who love dance just as much as I do were almost indescribable. So when I say my 2015 has started perfectly, I truly mean it.

But life gets busy, especially life in NYC. Working, dancing, auditioning, adulthood in general – it becomes a great balancing act. Sometimes it feels like I’m riding a unicycle while juggling a dozen eggs and pedaling backwards… on a tightrope. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. And yes, I know everyone’s life can be jam-packed and exhausting. I’m simply trying to say that this life I’ve chosen wears me out sometimes. But that’s exactly what this post is about – this life I’ve chosen.

I think it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the day-to-day of our lives and not pay attention to the path we’ve created. During a conversation with my parents earlier this week, I started really and truly thinking about the path I’m on, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. The conversation actually started with me telling them how I think I might be the black sheep of the family – I’m the one who has chosen a life in a world that nobody else in the family can relate to, a world that is not largely supported or appreciated by the general population. I told them that I know I’ll always have to further explain my process and my exciting moments in my field, and sometimes I wish it was easier for people to understand the life I’m living. I must be the black sheep, right?

Here’s my mom’s answer: You aren’t the black sheep, Val. You’re the sheep covered in glitter, standing out and living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Oh, Mom. You always have the right thing to say.

So, I started thinking about what she was saying. Yes, I’ve chosen a life out of the “norm,” but I am so blessed to actually LIVE. I have such a support system in my family and friends and boyfriend that I’m able to live the life I’ve always wanted to without (much) fear. My parents knew my soul was an adventurous one, and instead of stifling that, they fed it.

Day-to-day this life I’ve chosen can seem exhausting. Walk – train – push granny cart over ice to get to laundry mat – walk – work – dance – get punched by random lady in CVS – walk – train – cook – feed Morgan kitty treats – dance – feed Morgan more kitty treats – pass out.

But man, I look at the full path I’ve walked so far, and I’m thoroughly humbled and blessed. I’ve had so many thoughts and dreams and ideas for life, and I’ve never wanted to look back and think “I wish I would’ve…” And I don’t think I’ll ever have to do that.

I’m so grateful for every experience. Yes, even the crazy ones, like being pick-pocketed or consistently having to reroute myself to get home because the trains decide they’re going to stick it to the man. Why? Because I figure it out. I’m simply living a regular NYC artist life; there are hundreds of others like me. The majority of my NYC friends are doing the exact same thing. But what I guess I’ve been thinking about is that I really think it’s important for everyone to go off and do something completely on their own. That doesn’t just mean moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone. Figure out what it is for you, and then do it. Gosh, why not? Sure, it’s going to be hard – emotionally, financially, physically. But you’ll prove to yourself that you can do it. You’ll find intricacies in your personality. You’ll surprise yourself with bravery and confidence. You’ll learn how your mind works and how to overcome obstacles. You’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll find determination and gratification.  You’ll find that you are absolutely capable of doing whatever it is that you want to do.  You’ll adapt until it becomes what my dad always describes as your “new normal.”

Do something that gets your heart rate up.  I don’t mean go for a run around the block (though the exercise physiologist in me highly suggests that).  I mean do something that makes you nervous and excited and pushes you out of your comfort zone.

In doing this, you’ll be writing yourself an unforgettable story.

I couldn’t peacefully close my computer today without saying “thank you.” Thank you to my mom and dad. If you know them, you know they are some of the most generous and selfless individuals that exist. They could’ve asked me to drop the dance idea and pursue physical therapy. But looking back, I see they never even considered that.

So, thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for not flinching when your little pipsqueak told you that she’d be leaving West Virginia. Thank you for driving a U-Haul 8 hours to New York City and confidently leaving me with my half-sedated cat. Thank you for answering the phone and listening to me describe my first Taylor callback. Thank you for answering the phone and listening to me cry as I describe how hard this life can be. Thank you for the extra money to buy groceries when I didn’t have a job. Thank you for your constant advice. Thank you for admitting when you don’t know how to advise me because it’s unfamiliar territory for you. Thank you for telling me this is where I should be. Thank you for the courage you instilled in me when I was a little girl.

Thank you for letting me be your glittered sheep.

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