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I am not sure that I have ever felt a sense of belonging at any time in my life. As the baby in a family of five there never seemed to be a space as the little one that made things uneven or imbalanced. That and knowing from a very young age that who I was didn’t seem to line up with the family’s religious or cultural views. And yet, off to the side I was, dreaming and building worlds in the heart of my imagination. Sitting within that space I realize even at such a young age I found my center and I started to become the very heart of who I am today.

As a child in school growing up I also felt quite different and not quite like others. To say I felt as if I was the one of those beings unlike the others would be an understatement. I think I realized very early on the importance that modeling kindness and love for everyone I encountered seemed to create relationships that mattered and therefor love allowed more space for imagining connection even if I didn’t feel I belonged. And so through kindness I found my center and started to become the very compassionate being I am today.

As a teen I played all kinds of sports and was involved in all kinds of activities. I was privileged to be able to have these experiences and yet they scared me to death. I hated being out in the outfield because there was no other place to put me. Standing out hoping a ball wouldn’t come my way. Batting time and again and hoping to get walked simply to avoid the humiliation of striking out. And yet, when it came to being seen always being recognized as the sportsperson of the season because of what I was capable of doing for others around me. Wishing to be a ghost but seen as a strength for others. And so through support I found my center and started to become the empath I am today.

And who couldn’t forget the football team? I mean really? The size of me doesn’t really work with the power and the force that my friends were capable of harnessing. And even in this instance, despite the mismatch and lack of talent, I loved it. Not only that, but I loved the friends that I spent my time with. I always felt cared for and protected despite not feeling like one of the guys. But for some reason, after games, we sang. Yes, we celebrated and we enjoyed life come the rain or the shine. And even if I was on the “field”, mostly sidelines, I found my center made of joy; joy that came from liking doing something with people I admired and respected which started the notion that I could lead others in song even if it wasn’t on the field.

And then I found myself in theater. I took a risk to embrace being different and choosing so I found a small part of my voice. I stumbled upon my actual voice. I opened the door to a world of lovely people who were kind and who I realized began to see me perhaps as me even if the revelation of my full being remained hidden from public view. And yes, I seemed to thrive in this industry but always felt an outsider as I had no formal training or experience. Would they found out I have no idea what I am doing? That on top of the fact that I am not at all what I seem? Yet even so, I found my center “hearing” myself for the first time and thinking I might have a chance to become the listener of something if I worked at it.

Following my voice and the theater I came to realize I enjoyed it and found great pleasure but like all other things in my life, I just didn’t seem to fit that world. Once again unlike the outspoken others I was finding out that where I really found great joy, as the introvert that I am was in the animation and training of my physical voice, the body. I fell in love with dance as it was the thing I could do hiding behind my dyslexia and crippling fear of being found out that I did not see the world and words as others. So being on the outside now became the inside as I listened and learned how my body worked and how it would become the tool of my life. I found my center at the center of a moving body and breathing soul.

And here I am today, after all these years in the field having had a career as a dancer, choreographer and educator, still with the same feeling of being in dance but not of dance. I have made an incredible life in this art form. I am so grateful that it has given me so many beautiful experiences, friends, travel and the manifestation of breathtaking work. So much gratitude for it all. Yet, as most people know, I am not in the “game” of dance just as I have never been in the game of anything I have done. I did it and do it out of the joy and love I get from doing it and doing it as if my life needs it as I need breath. Oddly enough I have also realized how much I don’t need it as I have also found a way to breathe with the soul that has been with me all along in the times I have been to the side living in my dreams.

I guess after all of this living in the shadow of fear, isolation and not belonging; I realize I belong to myself and to the dreams I have been able to manifest simply by giving into the center of myself in everything I did. I have been living in the center of becoming and in doing so, I have always belonged. I recognize that in accepting I belong, I have always been able to see the unseen, feel the unfelt and dream the impossible. And in the end, I accept all that I am and honor that at the center of it all, we all belong if we accept the center of ourselves.