Part 1 of who knows how many…
Today I took my first ballet class in over 15 years and I loved it! It’s a challenge and it felt really good to be back in a dance class and learning new things to help me with body awareness and improve as a dancer, teacher and human being.
Today is also the 8 year anniversary of leaving a secure day job working for an architect with great benefits for over a decade to live life on my terms, following my dreams of becoming a full time creative entrepreneur.
When I started my job in 1999, I said to myself this is the last time I will work for someone else. I had no idea in 1999 what path I would take, but I just knew I’d live to be my own boss. Almost 11 years later, it was crystal clear that I needed to use my gifts and dedicate my life to teaching bellydance, yoga, making jewelry and art and living to the fullest. The universe had opened the doors for me and rolled out the red carpet (well maybe it was more like astroturf, but I digress). It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but I wouldn’t live any other way. To free yourself of attachment from “things” and “comforts” and to take risks is to truly be free, the universe will provide if you let it. Now I’m not saying I want to get rid of my apartment, car or bed and live life on the road sleeping on the earth…I’m just saying… hell, I forgot what I was saying so let’s get back to where I was…
The first year or so after I quit was really rough, but I knew in my deepest self, I’d make it somehow. I’ve always had faith and confidence in myself that I am able to carry my own weight and evolve as a human mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. I truly believe I am the master of my destiny. I like to think of myself as a MacGuyver of life. I will take what ever shit I have and make something amazing out of it, this is true in art, dance and life. All I need is a strand of dental floss, a piece of bark, some butter and a pickle and I’m going to turn it into a dream come true or at least next month’s rent.
It snowed a lot that first winter and classes were canceled frequently, so money was tight. It was so tight, that most months that I could barely afford to eat. I lived on ramen noodles and weekly lunch dates with my mom or boyfriend. It took almost 11 months but in July 2011 I started to get my financial shit together. I said out loud to myself, I am going going to go out there and make a bunch of money, rebuild my confidence, push through and climb my way out of this hole. And you know what? I did just that. It took a while, but it happened. I put the call out to the universe and put the hard work and hustle in that it takes to make ends meet as an independent artist and I keep moving onward and upward.
I didn’t have health insurance until 2013 and was physically sick and depressed most of the time, but managed to put on a happy face around people and online and because I love dance and teaching dance, plus I felt good while I was teaching. What happened from a physiological standpoint was I had an IUD put in before I quit my job (it was paid by my insurance at the time and I had heard good things about it so thought I’d try it to save money on bc pills) and had to have it taken out after 6 months because I had almost every bad side effect you could get. Including severe back and pelvic floor pain, no libido, depression, crying for no reason, feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. Some days it was so bad I had a hard time getting out of bed to even make food.
I was also depressed because I had my confidence shattered after a less than stellar performance. I was probably overdoing it, pushing my limits on every level and needed to rest. After that, I felt doubtful in my abilities as a performer and it took me 2+ years to completely rebuild my confidence and feelings of self worth. I realize now I am more than just Ami Amore’, performer and I take performances I am not happy with in stride, I know it’s going to happen from time to time and I try to use it as a learning experience. Also, no one but me needs to know when I am unhappy with a performance. For a long time after that incident of “the performance that shall remain nameless”, I felt like an imposter and like I was just fooling myself. It didn’t help that I had a several toxic relationships in my life at the time and that they were peppered in every aspect of my life – since then I have set boundaries and eliminated them.
This will come as a surprise to many of you who read this and only a few know what I went through. I never shared any of this publicly, mostly because I don’t feel like Facebook posts of this are appropriate from a professional standpoint nor did I want sympathy, pity or people to send me cute pics of animals or tell me I’m awesome or pretty. I was thankful that there were people who felt and feel that way and I appreciate them, but what I really needed was from within, something I could only find inside myself in my own time.
Throughout that bout of not so good times, I kept on with learning and creating even when I wanted to give up – making jewelry sometimes for 12 hours on end, performing even when I felt like I was going to die inside, making costumes, helping my students elevate as dancers, choreographing for my group, producing shows, teaching workshops, taking dance workshops and laying groundwork for better days ahead. I grew leaps and bounds as a person and artist.
The most valuable lessons I learned in this time period were these. If you perform, you’re going to have an icky performance/ off days from time to time especially if if you’re trying new things. It’s important to know that most of the people on the outside won’t notice or care that you’re having a bad performance and more importantly it’s how we grow and learn as artists. You have to take a deep breath and let it go. That fog finally fully lifted in August 2012.
That’s about all I have in me for today. My hopes in posting these stories is that they will inspire some of you or be something you can identify with. Who knows – maybe they are a good read for you or you want more insight into who I am as a person.
AmiSpotting in Sept 2018:
9/3 and every Monday in September and beyond –
Jumpstart fusion bellydance tune up and drills 6-7pm more info or sign up here
Metal Rage Yoga Home Edition 2.0, 7:15 pm Find info here
9/7 CO Yoga Blacklight Glowga party sign up here
9/16 Performing with Raw Earth at Shimmyfest in St. Charles more info here
9/20 Burlesque Bingo at The Crack Fox 9pm – with fellow ERBDs – Alena Volta and Eluria DeLune – hosted by Greta Garter
9/26 Cats n Mats Yoga at Tenth Life – normally the 1st Wednesday of the month, but this month it is the last Wednesday due to some kitty tummy virus. more info here
9/28 – 9/30 Women’s Weekend 17 – put on by Dianna Lucas – I’ll be teaching a basic zills class and more! It’s always a rejuvenating experience. Early bird registration through next week. More info here