Alarm rings. Get up. Put contacts in. Brush teeth. Maybe some makeup (if time allows). Drive to work belting out my new and old song obsessions. “...we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, but when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I'm gonna compel him to include women in the sequel...WORK.” Currently, it's a Hamilton obsession. Drink smoothie when not belting out songs. Work with my wonderful kiddos until I hear “it's time for dismissal”. Go home. Eat dinner. Maybe workout. Sleep.
Before I started working, someone said I would live for the weekends. Plans established for the weekend with my boyfriend, family and friends made me get through my man-crush Mondays through throwback Thursday's.
I have a confession though.
I can honestly say I love and have found my dream job. What?! Yes, I’m 26 years old and love my job. I have the found the most rewarding, challenging, and dynamic career as a speech-language pathologist working with preschool age through second grade kiddos. They keep you on your toes, literally. This job takes the patience of a saint and a passion that is indescribable. I mean, I could go on for hours about language development, or the way your articulators touch to make certain sounds, or the effects of a stroke on the left hemisphere versus the right hemisphere, or the anatomy and physiology of the swallow. Yes, you read that correctly. We know more about the swallow than anyone probably should.
Passion is needed for this field. But it's still my job. I heard someone use the phrase, “I don't live to work, I work to live.” It's true. I'm passionate about my job, but it's not a hobby. It's not something that I can do to release the stress. So in order to release the stress from my job last year, I started with Zumba. Between the salsa and hip-hop inspired movements, I was hooked. It got old though. I threw myself into the gym life. I discovered Beach Body workouts and lost weight with the 21 Day Fix. I needed something to distract myself from the stress.
I think it finally hit me after thinking about my grandparents passing away. In my first year of work, I lost three grandparents between December and February. How does that happen? I felt numb. I felt incomplete. I felt empty. I watched a video of my Granny singing her last Christmas carols with us. I thought why didn't I sing more with her? She was an opera singer, always harmonizing with my Poppy. My Poppy always had golf in his life, started using a golf cart...at the age of 90. My Nonno was a tile setter, and was always creating things with his hands. Throughout their lives, they inspired me with their hobbies. For more than fifty years, their lives were fulfilled with something that they grew to love more and more as they aged. This is what was missing in my life. I danced and sang in an acapella group in college and lost sight of those hobbies during graduate school.
It all happened at once. I got a text from my boyfriend’s sister informing me about auditions for an acapella group in New Haven. I see on Facebook my old dance studio opened another studio in my town. I took risks. I took a chance. I auditioned. I went to that dance class. This past work year, I finally felt whole. I felt better at my job. I was using the creative part of my brain again.
This was the answer. This is what I needed for my soul. Since I can remember, music, singing and dancing have always given me something. What is that something...it's hearing the end of “One Day More” from Les Mis and tears running down my face, it’s feeling a connection to another dancer’s joy by just watching the expression of their face and movement, it's simply harmonizing with my best friend and the blending of our voices together. I can't explain it. I don't care if you're religious or not, God gave us a brain, a right to think, a right to use our minds to create art. We are formed with a unique set of DNA. A unique set of talents to give to the world, inspire others, and form human connections. By hiding our talents and not acting on them, this world would be stunted, dull. I think about the history of the arts. What if Picasso never picked up a paintbrush? What if composers like Mozart were robbed of the encouragement to pursue a career of music? What if Bob Fosse decided to stick with mainstream choreography? It is because of everyday human beings expressing individuality that novel and genius works of performing art were created.
What makes me passionate about dance and music? What is passion really? I know the Merriam-Webster definition, but what's the psychology behind passion?
I learned I have harmonious passion for dancing and music. I have a strong desire to dance and sing; however, it is under my control, my own free will. Dancing and singing have become a part of my identity. Passion, I learned, is really a disguise for the word motivation. These abilities and hobbies developed early and became innate motivation. These were the stories my family tell me time and time again. “When you were three, you performed a song from the “Sound of Music” using the fireplace as your stage.” “I asked the dance teacher why you didn't look like you were having fun in tap class, and then she told me it was because you already learned the steps and wanted to move on.” So what does that prove? Well, it proved that I started to engage in these hobbies at an early age, but where did the motivation to continue engaging in these hobbies come from? I learned it's because I knew myself early enough. I have knowledge of my innate motivation, which helped guide me toward what would be fulfilling. Dance and music make me feel satisfied and fulfilled. This passion keeps building and contributes to my happiness.
My passion keeps building for dance and music and the reasons why continue to grow.
Dance allows me to be something I don't perceive myself as. I have always seen myself as cute. Felt cute. Sexy is a word I've never perceived myself to be, but when I dance, I feel sexy. Over the years, I have grown to feel more comfortable with my body. I've allowed myself to let go. Be confident about my body. I feel connected to my body than I've ever felt.
Dance and music give me a chance to challenge myself. I want to grow as a dancer. I want to grow as a singer. Last year, I took a contemporary/lyrical class for the first time. I feel in love with the class. I worked at getting the timing and learning the technique.
Dance and music have brought incredible human beings into my life. There's an immediate connection with others who share the same passion as you, and are striving towards the same goals. I feel this way about my time at United Rhythms. I spent my years as a preteen and teen at the studio. I came back after ten years and the same energy exists as it did ten years ago. An accepting, encouraging place with people who are dedicated to creating art with you.
(Opening video to our most recent dance performance. You can feel the energy.)
Dance has allowed me to connect my body to music and emotion. With dance, I can feel the emotion that was intended for the song and move my body to replicate that emotion. Singing has allowed me to be connected the emotion of a song. When we’re given a direction to crescendo and build our sound during pivotal moments of a song, you feel the intended emotion.
(There is no way when watching this clip you don't feel something. The combination of the music, the dancing, and the acting is what art is all about).
Create my own work of art. Choreograph, teach, inspire. Demonstrate my own individuality and creativity through dance.
Reason #1,000,000. Performing gives me an elated feeling that I want to share with others. I want them to feel the joy I'm feeling. I want them to find that innate motivation and harmonious passion about something like the way I feel about dancing and music.
There is also obsessive passion, not only the opposite of harmonious, but “a negative effect of someone where they feel they need to engage in their hobby to continue interpersonal relationships, or “fit in” with the crowd.” Obsessive passion controls your free will. I know this type of passion exists. I also know individuals struggle to find what motivates them intrinsically. My hope is for individuals in my life and others to find peace in a harmonious passion. An activity that gives back to the world. Something that inspires individuals and invokes joy in others instead of what seems like increasing hatred and violence we see today. Whether it's skydiving, reading, volleyball, or even underwater basket weaving, I believe life was meant for us to discover this:)