Just Heather

I’m in the middle of a women’s study on The Mom Factor through my church. As part of tonight’s activities, we were asked to design a mask—one side represented our personal, inside attributes; the other represented our public face. Whoa.

I wrote character words around the outside of mine, colored my public face purple (duh) and used a variety of colors to represent my insides. The mask I wear for the “public” isn’t fake or a contrived persona. It’s just the best part of me—the parts my parents would be proud of. Inside? I’m a big, hot mess. I bill my competitive streak as tenacity. I cover up my confusion with determination. And, I hide my hurt with defiance.

What’s interesting to me, though, is that I’m completely open, honest and transparent here. In our discussion, I think I nailed down the reason. Here, you can only stop reading. And, I’m okay with that. In real life? People have the power to hurt me. Here, I can hide behind my computer and pretend no one reads my words. Out there? In the real world? What if they don’t like me?

So, I blog. I blog about the things I can’t talk about to people in my life. I blog about the things I’m excited about but think no one else will care. I blog about the worst parts of me I wouldn’t admit to my best friend. Because it’s freeing. And, sometimes? I find that people do care. People do relate. And? People still like me. So, I’m working on taking off the mask in real life a little.

If I hadn’t been real, if I weren’t all me with MFJ, we wouldn’t be planning a vacation together right now. If I hadn’t opened up, made myself vulnerable and let Spencer see all of me, we wouldn’t have reconnected the way we did. Yes, even the hubby was kept at a distance—out of fear, mostly. I’ve been letting it go a little, peeking out from behind my mask and thrilled to find that he loves me anyway.

What does your mask look like? What are you hiding from?

When I was a child, I took dance and tumbling lessons for many years. In 3rd grade, I wanted to be a ballerina. In 5th grade, my Arts & Humanities Fair project was Ballet. In 7th grade, my dance studio was sold and the new owner/teacher walked in on our first day of classes, sight unseen and took us off pointe. I never went back.

For the last several years, I have been saying I should take a dance class. I loved it and need a fun way to exercise so I can lose the last few pounds for 40×40“>#4. Over the summer in 2008, I had finally decided to do it. My friend and I were planning to take a Friday night adult dance class at our daughter’s studio. Two weeks before it was to start, they canceled it for lack of interest. There goes crossing #1 off the 40×40 list.

God is funny, though, and always seems to know exactly how to get me on the right path. The very next weekend, my church celebrated the grand opening of its new worship auditorium with a huge kickoff service. The choir was there, of course, along with an actual marching drum corps (did I mention I love my church?). Then came the dancers! They looked so happy and serene. I just kept thinking, “I want that!”

When I left the service, I lingered a bit in the village-style area outside. There were booths for various missions, the upcoming women’s ministry and—ta-da—the dance ministry team. I signed up and started a week later. The ministry runs as a (free) weekly dance workshop. Each month, we study a different style of dance. The first week of each month, we are joined by guest choreographer who teaches a crash course in whatever we are planning to study. It’s basically a 6-week advanced workshop in 2 hours.

This is when I realized that while the ministry was open, I was the only person there who was not actually a professional dancer! I have spent the last 6 months making a total fool of myself—and having an absolute blast—trying out modern dance, lyrical, jazz, ballet and even tap & Irish step dancing. We are now taking a break until September. I will miss the dance and the exercise, but just when I was realizing that my Wednesdays would be free for the foreseeable future I got an email from church about the new women’s series that starts tonight:

Search for Significance Workshop — taking a look at our worth through God’s eyes and finding freedom from the pressure to perform and/or gain others approval.

Those who know me personally will see this course was designed for me. God knows exactly what he’s doing.