So my boss calls me and asks a question. “Shannon, do you dance?” Do I dance? Do I dance? What kind of questions is that? Umm, yeah, NO I DO NOT. He tells me that he wants to send me to California to participate in a flash mob. WHAT?! I don’t think so! I only dance behind closed doors. I used to love to dance in high school but became paranoid of being judged as I got older. “Okay, sure, I’ll go.” Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into? Self Acceptance, huh? What does this mean? Are we dancing or are we having a therapy session? I fly to Santa Monica and meet Alli. Her smile was big. Her energy was high and her hug was warm. She taught me the dance in a small place in her office. That night I drove to East Hollywood to have a practice with some of the members I’d be dancing with. I danced with people of all ages and sizes. I liked it. Coming together with people who embraced their bodies was powerful. I started to loosen up and enjoy myself. I found myself jumping around and laughing. Lots of laughs, high fives and hugs. Friendships were made quickly because we share a common bond. We are a group of friends that want to be the change that we wish to see in the world. SELF ACCEPTANCE IS WHERE IT’S AT! Two days later we put on our red shirts and danced our hearts out. I cried at the end. Unbelievable! I have never felt so much freedom when dancing. I didn’t care of being judged. I didn’t care about what was shaking or jiggling. I didn’t care if I got a move wrong. I was having fun! My inner child was so happy and I could feel her hugging me from the inside. This was life changing for me. I enjoyed this so much that I ended up doing a Shake It flash mob in my hometown on the bridge. Alli and Michael traveled over here to dance (of course) and film. Since then I have traveled to Capitol Hill and have participated in 5 of Alli’s flashmobs. Next week I travel back to Santa Monica for my 6th one. I would follow her around the world.
I have always hated running. My breasts, legs and lungs have never enjoyed high cardio. I had a girlfriend that encouraged me to do a 5K with her. Who starts running at 40? Isn’t this a high school sport? I mean, I don’t look like a runner. I need to lose some weight first. I said, “sure, why not.” I jogged a little but walked most of it. It was fun. The running community is very friendly and high energy. I was invited to another and then another. Surprisingly, I heard that voice that was pushing me to keep up with the other runners. I don’t know how I heard it, I mean, I’m deaf! I was constantly stopping. I went to Roadrunner Sports and got properly fitted for running shoes. I was put in a very ugly pair of Brooks. Who wears purple shoes?! I’m not a pink and purple kind of gal. Anything in blue? Nope! Pink, purple and neon yellow. They probably glow! After purchasing these very expensive ugly shoes, I completed my first 5K with no walking! I was so proud of myself! I stuck to it. Up early for those Saturday morning races all over Phoenix. I never got faster but I discovered that I have endurance. Slow and steady is my pace. I don’t care if I come in dead last. I CAN DO IT! I ran 5K’s for about a year, then tried 10K’s and 15K’s. Here is me completing a half marathon! Go Me! It’s amazing what our body can do when we take care of it.
I am 43 years old and I am blessed. Really, I am. I am a wife and mom of two wonderful children. I have a great job and good health. I have a beautiful home, nice car, pretty clothes and food in our refrigerator. Sounds like a wonderful life, right? With all of these blessings, I was lost. I had no identity. It has not been easy for me. I have battled depression for years and have found myself in some pretty dark and lonely places. Years of isolating, feeling sad, hopeless and worthless. Hating what I saw in the mirror and not deserving of anyone’s love. I could not shake the feeling that my family would be better off without me. I felt that I was a burden on everyone. I had no reason to be depressed. I married my prince and he has given me the world. That alone made me more depressed because of the guilt. Not too long ago, I hit my rock bottom and felt that I was faced with a difficult decision. I am thankful that I didn’t listen to that voice and chose to give life another chance. You see, my life began when I learned how to make myself a priority. Isn’t that selfish? No, it’s a necessity! I take care of everyone else, why shouldn’t I show myself that same kind of love? My family is my world but today, I come first. I am my best for them when I am my best for me.
Today, I love life and I LIVE life. I am a lover of adventure. I thrive on adrenalin. I make time for me. Years ago I used to say “Yes, we will go when we have time.” I don’t believe in that saying anymore. There will never be time. We make time for the things we love, right? Well, I love me and I make time for the things I love. I love to hike, bike, swim, run, camp, and wander. I do these almost every weekend. When that depression sneaks in, I pack up my car and go to my therapy. My therapy is outdoor. Sunlight, moonlight and fresh air is what works for me.
Life is hard and exhausting. Through my eyes, it’s easier when you are your own friend. Make the time to recharge your batteries. Take care of your body, you only have one. Speak your truth. Set healthy boundaries. Find things that you love to do and do them. You are deserving of standing on a chair and screaming at the top of your lungs, “TIME OUT!”