These days, I feel like I’m stressed out constantly. Owning a business is no joke—I always feel like I’m several weeks behind on my to-do list. I feel like I can’t keep up with the demands of running my business and having any semblance of a normal/healthy life. I have a Clif bar for half of my meals every week. When I sleep, it’s fitful and I wake up multiple times during the night or early in the morning and just think about things. All the things I should be doing. All the marketing, all the promoting, all the bookkeeping, all the cleaning, all the staffing, all the scheduling, all the administration…the list goes on and on and on and it never seems to stop.
I own a dance studio, so you’d think I would be using dance as my release, as my therapy constantly, but since I spend so much time either thinking about dance or teaching it or trying to promote it, lately I haven’t actually wanted to dance outside of work. The joy and the magic of dance has honestly been a little lost to me. Which is kind of depressing.
But I’ve been rekindling my love and dance, thanks to a simple message inscribed on a bench.
I’ve always loved this unassuming wooden bench in my hometown that says
“Arden Crandall Flagg
When In Doubt, Dance!”
When I was home fleeing a hurricane a few weeks ago, I walked down to this bench.I just sat for at least half an hour, watching sailboats glide across the water and joggers with strollers and dogs pound past me. I was close to tears, feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, the hurricane hadn’t caused any damage to my business, but I was struggling. Struggling because I didn’t want to leave home to go back to it all. I didn’t want to face reality. I didn’t want to face responsibility. I didn’t want to go back to that feeling—that feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, that if I didn’t go, go, go constantly, the entire operation would fall on my head like a house of cards.
I was planning to go to take class with my old ballet teacher, one of my favorite women and mentors, but I didn’t feel like I could. I melted down, sobbing. I was too fat to go to a ballet class, too out of shape. I didn’t dance anymore, not like that. I didn’t even like dancing anymore.
I couldn’t see any way out of my terrible mood, even though I was sitting on a bench that had the answer. When I got home, I was preparing to sit on the couch and skip the ballet class, to continue wallowing in my self-inflicted misery. My mom looked at me and pointed out what should have been obvious.
“You love to dance, go to the class.”
So I went. And it turns out, I’m not too fat to go to ballet. I wasn’t so terribly out of shape that I couldn’t keep up.
And even if any of those things were true, they didn’t matter. My teacher was thrilled to see me and so were the ladies and gentleman in the class. I enjoyed seeing them, my old adult ballet crew and the teacher who had inspired me the most when I was a vulnerable teenager. I enjoyed an hour and a half where I didn’t fret about my business. Didn’t think about the money I had lost or could lose because of the hurricane. Didn’t think about how I didn’t measure up to my idea of what a business owner looked like. I just enjoyed moving. I enjoyed the music. I even enjoyed wearing a leotard.
Since I’ve been back in the grind post-hurricane, I’ve been repeating and living by that simple mantra—“When in doubt, dance.” I dance in my kitchen. I’ve stayed at the studio after class and moved just to move. I’ve been getting my butt out of bed earlier than I want to and going to ballet classes. I had an absolute blast at a regional dance event, when lately going to a big event has felt like work. I started a dance party at my friends wedding.
I still feel uncertain…owning a business is an exercise in constantly battling with and eventually accepting uncertainty. Is there more I could be doing? Absolutely. Am I where I want to be in my business? Definitely not.
But I feel grateful that I’ve rediscovered an important lesson: To not let the fear and uncertainty consume me. And when it does get to the point where I want to throw the towel in, instead of collapsing on the couch and binge watching Netflix to chase out those feelings, I’m remembering my mantra…
When in doubt, dance!
Do you live by this mantra? Does dance help you feel less uncertain when life gets too much? Do you ever feel like dance is too much? Is a chore, an obligation? Do you have another dance mantra by which to live and dance? Comment below!