Can you recall a time just before your life took an unexpected turn, and how in that minute or hour before, you had absolutely no idea your life was about to change?

Looking back on my first belly dance class, I never would have guessed that a few years later, I would sell my house and quit my career to study and teach belly dance full time.

Especially considering, when I began my dance journey, I was a fearful young woman running from my painful past.

You see, I grew up with a speech impediment known as stuttering.

I felt embarrassed and ashamed every time I opened my mouth.

The frequent bullying, in my early years, left me with low self-esteem, clinical depression, and anxiety that affected many of my daily activities.

To the point where, I experienced paralyzing panic episodes before most speaking situations like meeting new people, speaking on the phone, and going to doctor’s offices.

After years of trying different therapies to ease my condition, I had lost all hope of ever living a normal life. I felt trapped, like there was nothing else I could do or try, to ease my frustration.

No one, especially me, would have ever predicted what happened next!

I was working full time at a non-profit, finishing up a 4-year degree, when I decided to take belly dancing classes after seeing a dancer in a local Greek restaurant.

From the first shimmy, I was in love.

The movements, the costuming, the music…everything.

Belly dance class was the one place I could just relax and feel good.

Though learning different belly dance movements and steps was challenging, my heart was light and happy, so I kept doing it as often as I could.

Not realizing it, belly dancing was healing me – building my confidence, helping me find more strength, and feel more capable.

I was blossoming with my newfound confidence!

Not long after starting lessons, my teacher asked me to join her dance troupe. Despite my apprehensions, I agreed and began performing.

My friends and family all witnessed in amazement, how out of the murky mire, the painfully shy and awkward person they knew, was rising like a phoenix, spreading her wings, and starting to fly.

I had come so far.

But every epic journey has its challenges, right? 

In a future post, I’ll share how self-doubt and perfectionism nearly stopped me from dancing, and how I got myself back on track.