Hello, my name is Elise. It has been seven months since my last confes…..blog post. I have started and stopped writing so many times, but never really knew what I wanted to say. I guess I’m just going to start typing and hopefully it will make sense in the end. My life has changed in many ways, since April. It has been crazy, wonderful, stressful, messy and amazing. My son graduated from high school, daughter got her permit and chose to be baptized, stepson took the oath to join the Air Force, my husband and I both trained for and completed the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon, this list goes on and on. At the time of my last post, my goal was too be more organized, thanks to a book I was reading. I’ve, of course, lost that book, my closet is a mess again and I’m still completely scatterbrained and disorganized, so I guess not ALL things have changed.
I’m no longer a stay at home mom and wife. I got so tired of hearing, “When are you going to go get a real job?” (not my husband) I decided to go back to work and contribute to the household. I got lucky and am working in the billing department for a local hospital. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before and I love it. I can put my headphones in, turn on music and focus on nothing but my task for the day. For a few hours, my brain is not going in ten different directions and it calms me somehow. When I’m not at work, I am constantly busy. Sometimes it feels like I’m running on empty and I know I need to fix that.
Aside from my job, I’m now teaching nine Zumba® and REFIT® classes each week. It helps keep my anxiety at bay but I must admit, there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed and the very last thing I want to do is stand up in front of a room full of women with a smile on my face. It never fails that as soon as I turn on the music and I see their just-happy-to-be-there attitudes, all of my stress and frustrations disappear. For one hour, all is right with the world. Our class t-shirts say, “Leave your stress at the door, sweat it out on the dance floor.” That is exactly what we do. It is more than just an exercise class. It affects my body, mind and spirit in a way I’d never thought possible. It is hard to explain to someone who has never taken one. It is a room full of pure joy and it’s intoxicating.
I never thought that I’d have a positive impact on anyone but my children. I didn’t finish college and it is something that still haunts me to this day. My husband is a brilliant man. He’s been in the Air Force and now has an incredible career that he is very successful at. Words can’t describe how proud I am of him and all that he has accomplished and overcome to be where he is today. I will never have that kind of career or success though. I’m ok with that now. For a long time it bothered me. Not because of jealousy, but because I was disappointed in myself for not doing anything impressive with my life. I was just kind of existing, but not doing much with it. I have found purpose and my own kind of success now though. In comparison, it may not mean much to some, but it does to me. I will admit, I am a terrible housewife. I don’t like to clean and having a house full of picky eaters who all want something different has taken the joy out of cooking, so I don’t do much of that either. My mind is all over the place and I start five things at once but never finish any of them. I am the epitome of a scatterbrain. Before teaching classes and losing weight, my self confidence had been nonexistent. It has gotten much better. Sometimes I still doubt myself as an instructor, due to problems with my knee. I worry that I am not giving my students the experience they deserve, one that other instructors can. I can’t move as fast as some or do the kinds of moves they do. The voice in my head telling me negative thoughts is hard to ignore sometimes. It is a good feeling when I can tell it to sit down and shut up though. Today I realized that in the past year, because of what I do, fifteen of my students, who are also now friends, decided to become instructors as well. They are going to go out in the world and make a difference in not only their lives, but help others to do the same. Many of them had never even stepped foot in a Zumba® class or they’d tried it and not liked it for various reasons. Most had never heard of REFIT® before. Now look at them. We even made a YouTube video with the founders of REFIT® during one of the trainings. (posted below) It’s humbling and absolutely blows my mind that all of this has happened. I am so proud of them, and proud of myself for overcoming a crippling fear of public speaking on February 12, 2013 by standing on a stage in front of 160 people, dancing like a fool. Had I not done that, none of this would’ve come to pass. That’s an empowering thing.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Life begins outside of your comfort zone.” Training for the triathlon made me aware of how true this is. I have never done anything in my adult life, that has given me such fear and feeling of euphoria all at the same time. As a child, I almost drowned in a lake at my family reunion. My uncle saw me struggling from up on a hill, ran down and saved my life. I hadn’t thought about that day in over 10 years, at least. The first time I had to practice swimming in the ocean, I was instantly back in that dark, scary place. I started crying and couldn’t breathe. Luckily, there were coaches out in the water with us, who talked to me until I could calm down. I did this to myself every Sunday, for weeks. I almost quit many times. I’d start to turn around and go back to shore, then I’d see people swimming all around me and talk myself out of it. If they were fine, I could suck it up and be fine too. The day of the big race, I really didn’t know if I could go through with it. 600 yard open water swim, 18 mile bike and 5K run were the requirements and it was a huge pill to swallow. All I wanted to do was get to the run (jog for me). Right before the whistle was blown, I heard someone say, “Dear God, please keep us all safe.” I don’t know where it came from, I may have just said it to myself. A wave of calmness came over me and I suddenly knew I’d be ok. For the first time all summer, my breathing was fine, I swam with ease and I didn’t feel an ounce of panic anymore. When I came out of the water, I had friends cheering my name. It was amazing. In that moment, all I could think was, “I DID IT.” I didn’t place, I didn’t beat any record, I didn’t have a great time. It didn’t matter. I did it. It was completely mind over matter.
I’ve rambled on enough for now, but I want close with this: I recommend that everyone do something out of their box. Step way out of your comfort zone. Take a leap of faith in yourself. Do something nobody expects you to do or something nobody thinks you CAN do. Prove them wrong. Prove yourself wrong. You’re worth it.