Saturday, August 20, 2011

Second cycle

I just need to stop apologizing and do something. And by "something" I mean write.

For a number of reasons, I decided to drop the philosophy (Critical Reasoning) course I'd registered for this summer quarter at Bellevue College. It was a hard decision... I hate the idea, even the thought of quitting. I'm not a quitter. Taking responsibility for my choices, staying the course, sticking it out - these concepts (mottos?) are deeply woven into the fiber of my being. It's called commitment - a word I fear many in my generation are unfamiliar with... And while this is just a community college course, I feel this strange sense of urgency, of intentionality... that every course I take will not only serve to fulfill my General Ed requirements, but will somehow be used in my life in the present and the future. But this is all beside the point. Not to mention a little dramatic? Um. Yes.
So what is the point, you ask? The point is, I eased my conscience by promising myself I'd use this quarter "off" to write, write, WRITE! Well so much for that... 
But I still have some time before fall quarter begins. Summer's not over yet! Shoot... here in the Northwest it feels like summer just started! 
What has started is my 8th season as a professional ballet dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. 
Has it really been that long? Am I really that old? Haha!!! I don't think that I'm that old. 
It seems like just yesterday that I received my first contract. That I was assigned shoe cubby number 27 with a little sliver plaque reading "Jessika Anspach" under it. That I claimed my locker between Lindsi Dec and Carrie Imler, which inevitably overflowed to the spaces above and across... Yes, I was kind of a mess. I still am.
And then poof! Seven years just flew by. Okay, they didn't fly by. Flying, in my mind, implies ease, or at the very least a lack of difficulty. Hmmm... But I've never "flown" before. I wonder if flying actually is difficult?
Wow. Rabbit trail. Sorry about that.
At any rate the past seven years haven't been "a piece of cake," a "walk in the park" or, my personal favorite, "easy peasy lemon squeezy." Then again I don't think anything having to do with ballet could ever be considered easy. It's like saying sandpaper's as smooth as a baby's butt, or walking on a bed of hot coals is fun.
But the struggles, the obstacles I've faced in arriving at where I am today were massive. Mountainous. Like Himalayas mountainous. Just ask our physical therapist Boyd Bender. He'd be the first to tell you that my body wasn't meant for dancing. Or ask any of my former PNBS teachers if they ever thought this dyslexic and daydreaming girl would ever have made it to the professional ranks. They'd probably laugh... I'm just remembering Abbie Siegel sweetly saying to me at barre: "No. Jessika. Left... your other left."
But the Everest of these obstacles, greater than dyslexia or any physical funkiness I have to deal with on a daily basis, was an unseen mountain buried deep within myself.
Call it Fear, Self-Loathing, or the Idol of Ballet and Self. They all apply. What it comes down to is that I put my identity, my confidence, my value and self-worth in how I looked and how I danced. Essentially I put my trust in ME, not in the Almighty and Sovereign Lord. So it's no surprise that over the past seven years these pillars built on sand have come toppling down. And pillars toppling hurts. A lot.
But praise God for His mercy, His grace and His sovereignty! He could have removed me completely from ballet - the thing I worshiped above Him - but His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He had/has a plan for my life and ballet's a part of it, whether I want it or not (oddly enough there have been times when I haven't wanted it. At. All.) Miraculously He's kept me at PNB while building my pillars on Firm Foundation - on Him!
Through lots of prayer He's moved mountains for me. He's paved the way and has led me along His path. And after six years of struggle it felt like I'd finally exited the hard pruning season and finally began to see some buds blossoming.
As I said before last season was by far the best season I've ever had. The Lord blessed me with so many wonderful roles and opportunities to dance. I felt like I was challenged, pushed and therefore grew in a way I'd always hoped for but had yet to experience. And more than that I found my trust growing in Him, and my confidence rooted in Him. I am so humbled, so grateful and so in awe of the gifts He gives that are immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. He is so good and so faithful!

And so I've begun Season 8. I'm now entering into what my dad terms as the "second cycle." The 2nd seven year stretch. I still have shoe cubby 27. I still dance at PNB. My left leg is still 1/4" longer than my right, and I still struggle with knowing my left from my "other left." But I have a new locker, and it's a new year. I am a new creation. I cannot go back to who I was before.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?Isaiah 45:18-19
 It is going to be a good year. It is not going to look like last year, and so far it couldn't be more different. And it's hard. Hard to expect without expectations. Hard to not dwell on the past, even when the past was glittering and bright. But I can remember His faithfulness. I can remember the miracles and the work of His awesome hands. And I can have faith. I have hope.

Praise Him!
He is doing a new thing!