When you look back, you can see places in your life where there were forks in your life, that turning one way versus the other was going to change the course of your whole life. At the time, you don’t know it’s a big deal. There isn’t a flashing neon sign that warns, “Important Choice!” It’s probably a good thing, too, because if there was one, I’d probably be frozen in fear, unable to go either way. So for someone like me, I’m glad I don’t know. It’s only later, when I look back, that I can see how some moments, seemingly innocuous, meaningless, like-every-other-moment, were really a life changing.
When I was a senior in high school, I told my guidance counselor I was planning on majoring in journalism. “There isn’t any money in journalism,” she scoffed. Somehow, her statement was the end of that plan. No money automatically translated into no journalism degree. Instead, my mother and I decided I would get a marketing degree, the most creative of the business degrees. So for four years, I went to school, worked three part-time jobs, and overall, had a blast.
One year into my career on the fast track to boredom in the business world, my mother came to me, bless her heart and her high heels, and said, “What do you really want to do?” This day is imprinted in my memory. I can see the office door that my mother walked around, can feel the wooden desk under my hands as I turned and watched her step around the huge printer. In asking that question, “What do you really want to do?”, she gave me permission to ignore the marketing degree she and I had just finished paying for to pursue my passion. The truth is, I still wanted to be a writer.
This one time I did see it was a fork. And I will be forever grateful. I knew the train had made a special stop for me and I didn’t know where I was, or where I was going, but I did sense the magnitude of the gift I was being given – freedom.
Armed with my mother’s blessing, I decided to look for a job that wasn’t nine to five so I could have large chunks of time home alone to write. A tiny ad caught my eye. Dance teacher wanted, no experience necessary. Six words that would change my life.
I went in sweatpants and an exercise top, thinking it was aerobics of some sort. If I had known it was ballroom dancing, I never would have gone. After all, I was twenty-three and ballroom dancing was for old people.
I took the train into Boston, marched up a few flights of stairs, and took my first steps into Arthur Murray dance studio. And into my new life. It was an audition for a training class. Amanda, with her daringly short hair and flowing dress, epitomized the sexy dancer every little girl would love to grow up to be. I had found the place in life that greeted me with open arms, whispering softly and sincerely, welcome home.
I cried on the ride home. I had found what I was meant to do. I would write in the morning and dance at night. I would dance with my body and write with my heart. Very quickly I learned that life had a better understanding of where my life should go than I did. Dancing consumed my heart, soul, and body and my plan morphed into a life plan of dance while I was young, and write in my later years.
Dancing did indeed turn out to be the perfect job for writing. I wrote during all those years. While I was dancing, I finished my first romance novel, Tumultuous Waters, and entered it in the Golden Heart writing contest. I wrote a screen play while I lived in California. I wrote a romantic suspense novel while I was going through a hideous divorce. And now that I’m in my forties, the genre of women’s fiction feels like my new home. The rose colored glasses of my youth may be broken, but they have been polished with experience.
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