Pre-show—weeks before stepping on stage, she imagines with eyes closed. She’s confident and classy yet bold and eye catching. She walks tall with grace. Her passion unfolds. She hits each pose strong. She’s tight. She squeezes her stomach in. Her butt is hard. Her arms, back, and legs are flexed. Each transition is smooth and flows. Her color is flawless and highlights the turquoise-colored suit. The crystals sparkle and make her teeth shine and eyes glisten. Among the fanciness, she’s in training mode right now. Her mind is on doing her work. Right now, her job is to smile, hit her poses hard, and remain tight, all while listening to the commands of the judges. She imagines her muses safeguarding her and supporting her efforts. Only they know what she has sacrificed, exercised, depleted, battled, overcome, and completed in getting here. They are all present. She feels their presence and allows them to continue to guide and bless her.

She knows that up to this point she has successfully conquered her demons. This is her moment. She is present. She is fully aware of the process and journey that has led her to this moment. Here, she knows the work does not end. She’ll learn and then continue her work immediately after walking off stage. She’s overjoyed by this process and anticipates the next battle. She’ll continue to stare resistance in the face, do her work, grow, learn, and conquer.

It's the day of the show. The spectator—the critic, if you will, sits in the audience and looks on. He too is “ready” for the show—popcorn in hand, on time, his entertainment expectations at an all-time high. He sees her on stage but imagines differently and takes things personally. He perceives her as being cold, not wanting to touch or be touched. He doesn’t understand why she can’t see him or why she isn’t concerned with him seeing her. He feels as though she’s solely focused on her appearance and nothing else. He’s unaware and careless of her enforced ever-changing schedule, a full-time job, a move to Chicago, her lack of sleep, her separation from family and friends, her hunger, her suffering from a car accident, and her trick-or-treating duties. He forgoes the thoughts that all these rationalizations could have been used against her, allowing her to not do her work, the work that needed to be done. Instead, she woke up every day, stared resistance in the face, and got busy. It was hard and sometimes miserable.

The show ends, the curtains close, the show-goers go home. They leave, fantasizing about sleep and rest. That night, they dream of their next adventure of play and moment of fun. The next day comes. Recreationally, they continue to watch and judge others at work.

She stays in the arena, void of an audience or observation from any other. She remains at work. She continues to be in battle and stare resistance in the face. Her existence is dependent upon this.

Pre-show, show time, post-show, and in her off-season, she fights her opponent, her 'self,' resistance. With fear as her sidekick, she continues to remain focused and press forward. Each minute of every day, resistance is getting that much wiser, keener, and malicious. It has the ability to take everything she has worked for away. It doesn’t care. She cares and she comes prepared and steeled. She anticipates battle and her drive remains wide in spite of open or closed eyes.


Header image courtesy of Pat Lee Photography.