I came to ETD Outreach by accident.
My plan when I came to New York City was to dance, with dreams of “FAME! I’m gonna live forever!” (to date myself just a bit). I can hear the song in my head and can sing it. I grew up with the TV show, went to a performing arts school, and performed in every major theatre in NYC.
Being an expert mover, I had the ability to hide and dodge things. Or so I thought.
You see, hiding in plain sight, I figured, was always the best place to hide. As a seasoned performer, I got so good at role-playing, camouflaging and artfully dodging things that I hid who I was as “the child who loves to dance and move”. I used it to wear a thousand masks instead. Soon, those layers became suffocating enough for me to have to seek out help.
I met Michelle Cole, a dancer that works with ETD Outreach, because of her connection with Uganda. I went there in 2017 as a volunteer to help support children and communities in need. We were talking at an event that had Ugandan dance and the subject of recovery came up. ETD outreach works in different populations. I’m in recovery. She asked me to demo and I’ve loved every minute.
Since entering recovery, I have a new life as an artist and personal trainer because I have a greater ability to help others in recovery from a myriad of illnesses and challenges. I understand that change is hard from a deep and visceral place. I used to be on automatic pilot and just “do do do” whether I was in pain or not. I did not care about my feelings. Numbness got things done. Now that my feelings are returning I see that others have them too. Because I’m being more truthful about myself, I’m less fearful and showing up as myself everywhere I go. I had no idea how liberating that would be.
Because I have a health issue, I’m much more empathetic to being a beginner, to having a (mental)health challenge that requires more patience, slowing down and being reflective.
My current goals: Travel to Uganda and other parts of the world as a global wellness ambassador. Continue to dance as a woman over 40 and share my recovery story as well as have fitness/nutrition workshops for people in recovery from substance use disorder.
Movement and dance can heal lives. I wasn’t thinking about that before. I wasn’t thinking about much besides myself. Now, I care about people and how they feel beyond what the physical body is able to do.
Movement is the primary focus of my work, but I also have a message: we are more than our bodies, and we have the strength to be brave enough to live within them without anything that alters who we truly are.