Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dancing with a full heart

I've always considered myself lucky to have an amazing birth father as well as a tremendous stepdad who bucks the "evil" stereotype in every way. Over the years, I've leaned on both of them, but in the past year, I've relied on my stepdad for very specific advice.

Simon entered my life when I was young, embracing his role with honesty, positivity, and love. So much love. There were ups and downs of course - relationships that remain on an even keel are rare. And boring.

Being a step parent is tough. You're always walking a tightrope of caring too much, or stepping over the line, forgetting you're not mom (or dad). Sure, my stepdad slipped a few times, but it didn't take long for him to shape - and embrace - his role. I love him, yes, but I also admire and respect him. His mentorship has been instrumental in my life choices, and his words of wisdom guide me even in adulthood.

I thought of him last night while struggling through Jessica's very difficult Fit Hop class. My beautiful stepdaughter was busting out the moves beside me, panting, and kind of sweating (she never sweats!), but always smiling. She didn't "get it" - knowing when to push right, or pop left. She couldn't keep up with Jessica any better than I could.

But she didn't give up.

A lot of that has to do with the atmosphere at J'Adore Dance , and frankly, the leadership demonstrated by Jessica.

When my stepdaughter moved in with my husband and I last year, I called my stepdad and asked for his advice. He said a lot of things that make sense. But something he said really resonated after listening to my teenager gush about Jessica.

Surround her with positivity. Provide good mentors.

How appropriate for her to join me in this dance adventure.

It's no secret a adore Jessica. I'm blown away by her enthusiasm and beauty. I'm astounded with her business sense. She's a wonderful mother, wife and friend. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity she has provided for me to "find" myself through dance.

But I'm also thankful for the example she is setting for young women.

My stepdaughter commented on Jessica's beauty, she complimented her hawt body, and she admitted that the workout was way harder than she thought. (Sorry Kasha, but Jess busted our butts!) But my teenager also noticed other things. Like how young Jessica is to own such a successful company. How caring and passionate she is about her clients. How her smile is infectious. And how her encouragement makes people want to work harder.

Even my self-admitted somewhat lazy teenager.

My heart is full knowing that my girl looks forward to learning to dance with me. It's an added bonus that we've discovered a place that embodies the advice my stepdad has given me, and a leader my stepdaughter and I can both look up to.

The Book In My Bag Today: Another One Bites the Dust, Jennifer Rardin


  1. I love that you are sharing your physical and emotional journey through dance!

  2. This is beautiful post! I grew up with a step father, but he unfortunately didn't have much power in diciplining me. My mother did everything. This meant that I hated her and loved him, because he and I would only play. But you know what has happened now? I can't talk to him about anything serious. I go to my mother. And I, in no way, feel like he could give me any sound advice if I needed it. HE was always there, being the good guy, but now I don't need him. I need my mother. The strong character. The person that refuses to buckle under the heaviest of pressures. She earned my respect.

    I'm glad you had a great step father, and I'm glad he is able to give you good advice. Dont buckle under the pressure. Hold your own, and your step-daughter will respect that a whole lot more than you think.

  3. Thanks, Jan.

    Jessica - what an amazing response. Thank you for this. And thank you for your words of wisdom. I consider myself strong most days, but there are times I want to buckle. But you're right. I can't. xo

  4. That's so great your stepdad was able to give you advice and that dance class sounds like so much fun for the both of you! I can tell you really love it, in shines through your posts and even though I don't know you too well, i can feel the good its doing for you and your entourage. Good on you for sticking with it and appreciating the experience! and thanks for sharing with us!

  5. Awww, thanks, Creepy. Dance IS good for me and my "entourage" - every day I am learning more how.

  6. I just love this think you're doing together. I always feel warm and fuzzy after reading. I grew up with a step-dad, too, and he's a fabulous man, and great for my mom, but I think he was probably too afraid to cross those intimacy lines. I probably would have rejected it anyway--my dad died, then my mom and I spent 4 years alone where NOBODY really parented--I wouldn't have tolerated parenting. But there is a little of me that is envious of having that closer bond. Very nice that the role modeling is now going to such good use.

  7. Hart - I love that you felt warm and fuzzy after reading this post because it means I'm not doing a terrible job of conveying my emotions. I love how "real" you are about your relationship with your mom and stepdad. So often, people sugar coat it...

  8. Brava, Dawn. You are a treasure. This experience is heartfelt and oh so remarkable. Carry on!