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The Anchor

Have you ever had something appear in places that brings you comfort? Maybe a ‘sign’ of some sort to let you know that God, your Higher Power, or maybe your loved one who passed away is near?

I’ve been having an anchor follow me around and appear starting a little over a year ago. I know, without a shadow of doubt, that it’s God or the Holy Spirit telling me, “I’m here”.

I was never one to believe in ‘signs’ or anything like that. But I definitely believe that God has a way of showing me (and others) that He is near, He loves me (and you), and to keep my (and your) eye focused on Him. Maybe not so much a ‘sign’, but Him using a person or thing to grab my attention to make sure I heard or saw very clearly that He is near.

This anchor and I met without itself as an object. The first time I met this anchor, it was through hearing all about it. I listened to a guest preacher at my church (which happened to be a revival week- talk about being revived!) preach a message on how no matter the storm you’re in; the peace of God can hold you steady. Although you may move a bit and sway around, tossing and turning out on the raging sea, He’s got you, and He doesn’t just have a light touch on you, He’s holding you in place, strong, just as an anchor does.

I’ve heard sermon after sermon about anchors and all the different ways you can use an anchor to make a message. Each message about an anchor I always found so beautiful because they all boiled down to the same point; God is faithful.

This one specific message caught my heart in a different way. I was in a place in my life that I was unsure if I was in the right place, doing the right thing, going the right way. And it wasn’t even about my ‘right’, but I wanted to be in God’s ‘right’, His path.

So, because of that service, I found a peace in an anchor. I became in love with how an anchor represents Him.

I started looking up every bible verse about anchors. I started studying why the word was used and what its’ context was. Then I came across this verse:

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” Hebrews 6:19

That verse spoke to me and I remember praying, “Lord, please help me to remember that You are my anchor, no matter what storm I’m in.”

Then I met the anchor in person, as a tangible thing. I was at a store and saw rearview mirror decorations. I saw that there was an anchor that you could have dangling from your mirror. I immediately bought it and put it on mirror and thought, “when I can’t drive (spiritually, emotionally, literally) or I have no idea where I’m going, I’m will look at this anchor and let it be a reminder who really has control of the wheel.

I had no idea that this metal anchor hanging from my rearview mirror was going to have so much influence on me. I notice that I tend to have my ‘alone time’ and ‘I need to break down and cry time’ in my car. It’s a place where I am alone, can migrate to a different spot, can put myself in a helpful surrounding, and can cry or scream as loud as I need to. But now I had something with me in the car; this anchor. I don’t find it coincidental that on the moments I was tempted to pull into the Projects and relapse or consider self-harm or not show-up to where I was going (discouragement seemed to be the common theme here), I glanced at this anchor and not only was I reminded, but I felt the peace of God. It reminded me to pray, to stay strong, to push through, or sometimes to just hold on tight and remember that the true anchor is doing everything to keep me from drifting away.

After those moments, anchors started appearing everywhere. But I noticed that they would appear in three different (or all of them combined) scenarios:
1. When I’m extremely discouraged
2. When I’m being faithful to something God put on my heart
3. And when I’m on the fence of trying to figure out if I’m doing the right thing or on the right path

Allow me to be more specific:
I saw an anchor after every single time I shared my recovery story.
I saw an anchor after every single work-related event I would be a part of.
I saw an anchor after telling someone about God’s love
I saw an anchor after saying no to self-harm, relapse, and any other self-destructive behavior
I saw an anchor when I kept the faith that no matter the situation, God is always up to something good.

I literally saw anchors appear places and many of the times, they were only visible in my exact spot that I was standing or sitting.
Let me just tell you about a time that an anchor appeared and then you tell me what you think.

I was invited to speak to a youth group. They wanted to hear my story of recovery because many of the teens had been struggling or knew someone that was. This was a BIG youth group; 115 teens to be exact. Earlier that day, I received news that an old friend had passed away from an overdose, a mother was calling me frantic that her son was missing after leaving treatment, my ‘best friend’ was missing and I was being told she was prostituting for heroin, the guy I was in a relationship with told me that ‘he just needs a break from me’, and I had many other personal concerns going on. Basically, everything that could go wrong that day was going wrong, but EXTRA wrong.

Do you actually think that I had the energy or desire to go and speak to teens about how fabulous life in recovery was? Definitely not. I didn’t want to be a fraud. I didn’t want to get up in front of them and be all YAAASSS RECOVERY! Meanwhile, deep inside, I am not feeling fabulous at all.
But I guess that’s where the “faith-it till you make-it” part comes in.

I will never forget how much I complained on my way to speak to this youth group. I was filled with anger, frustration, and pain. Before walking into the room, I prayed as I usually do before speaking. I asked God to clear out all of the clamor in my mind and help me speak to these kids. I remember I even told God that I didn’t want to speak to these kids because I was feeling drained and hopeless.

I stood up in front of these teens and shared my testimony. It was difficult at first because of a combination of nerves and everything going on that day. However, as I kept speaking, my nervousness went away and that peace I long for from God came.

Just as I finished saying my final words to the teens, they started clapping. I thanked them for welcoming me as their guest and I glanced at the youth group leader to turn the conversation over to her control. Just as I was extending my hand to pass her the microphone I was using, my heart stopped at what caught my eye. This microphone was in my hand for the past 40 minutes and I didn’t see it; God didn’t want me to see it quite yet. Maybe it was a test of faith, I’m not so sure…

The manufacturer who made that microphone had its name and logo on the microphone.
“Anchor” with a picture of an anchor.
That was the name of the manufacturer.

I chuckle when I see an anchor. Sometimes I cry. But I always feel a peace and know that He’s right here, never left, never going to leave.

I continue to find anchors where I go and they continue to make me laugh and smile when I see the interesting ways God allows me to see them. I’ll never forget when I went to speak to students at a High School and as I was waiting at the security desk to finish making me a name badge, a student approaches me and says, “hey Miss, do you like my new belt?” The belt had anchors lined up all over it. Coincidence? I think not. Or the time I went to speak at another high school and as I was walking through the hallway, a kid had cut in front of me and she had an anchor-print backpack on.

My mom sings at my church and I’ll never forget a song she’s sang many times called, “The Anchor Holds” I am so glad that my Anchor always holds.

Do you have something that you see or maybe hear? Is there a comforting item or noise that you experience?

anchor

Keeping the Rhythm You Gave Me

One of the most magical things about dancing is getting to feel the music in your body- truly feeling each note vibrating through your soul. I know that you don’t have to be a dancer to feel that way about music. Some of the Earth’s inhabitants can simply listen to a song and empathize with the emotion that the artist was feeling when they wrote it.

Those kinds of people are special.

Music has shaped and created my world in so many unique and wonderful ways. Sometimes, simply hearing the first few notes of a song allows me to travel through time and space and take on the emotions I was feeling the very first time that song resonated with me. My favorite memories are associated with music.

At 7-years-old, I was given the gift of the album that changed my life. M!zundaztood is the second studio album that P!nk released, and it’s the first studio album that made me feel. At 7, I was able to identify with things that P!nk, a 22-year old, was singing about. Not fitting in. Being misunderstood. Hating yourself. A broken family.

These incredibly heavy and heart-wrenching topics that an adult was singing about, I understood. I identified with. I finally felt like there was someone in the world who knew exactly how I felt in my most depressive state. M!zundaztood got me through my darkest hours. The more I learned about P!nk, the more understood and important I felt. At 27, she was writing things that made people listen. She didn’t care who she was pissing off. If she had something to say, she was going to say it. I needed someone to show me that speaking your mind is GOING to make you stand out, it’s GOING to piss people off, and it’s GOING to make a difference in this world. P!nk was (and still is) that someone.
For the next 7 years, I survived my darkest days by listening to M!sundaztood and I’m Not Dead tracks on repeat for 24 hours straight.

Her words made me trick myself into believing I was strong, until I actually became that strong person I was imagining. She was putting words out into the world that were encouraging girls (just like me) to embrace their differences and to stand up for what they believe in. I was so proud to sing at the top of my lungs,

“I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in. That will never be me. Outcasts and girls with ambition- that’s what I want to see.”

And then, in August of 2008, my beautiful idol gave me another gift.

She gave me So What?

“So What? What do I have to say about So What? Sooooo what??” she says about the track.
Insert image of a 14-year-old high school freshman just trying to survive. Oh, wait. I have that exact photograph. 

There I am. Age 14. Trying to fit into a world in which I was meant to stand out. I spent many of my 14-year-old days alone, in my room, imagining a version of myself that was impossible to maintain. I was angry. Sad. Alone. Scared of what I was going to become as I entered (and lived through) the high school phase of my life. I was intimidated by everything and everyone. I was bullied by kids I thought were my closest friends. It was hard to get out of bed most of my high school days.
But I always had P!nk with me.

If there were ever a time in my life when I needed to pick a theme song for myself, it would be So What?
14-year-old me lived and breathed So What? (In her defense, 23-year-old me still lives and breathes So What?)
I am eternally grateful that P!nk gave me (the whole world really, but I know it was just meant for me specifically) that song and the attitude that so fittingly goes along with it. There’s just something about So What? that can cure any kind of bad day/ailment/chronic pain that I will ever suffer. So What? is exactly that. So what your day sucked? So what someone was mean to you? So what you didn’t finish your to-do list? So what that mean girl in your class made a nasty comment towards you?

SO WHAT.

For Alecia Moore, more affectionately known as P!nk,
thank you for encouraging me to find the strength I had so deeply hidden inside of me. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to, someone who doesn’t care what the press or the rest of the world thinks of her. Thank you for explaining how terrified you were to be a mother, since your mother always wished you a daughter just like you. Thank you for teaching your daughter, “We don’t say mean things and we don’t say things we don’t mean”. Thank you for all of the good you have done for this world. Thank you for putting into words the thoughts that I couldn’t. Thank you for understanding.

Raising the Barre Since 1997

Anxiety has taken many things from me.
She has taken my sanity, my comfort.
She has robbed me of experiences.
Anxiety screams at me constantly. She is louder than the voice inside my head.

There is one thing in the world that settles her.
As soon as I slide my feet into one of three pairs of shoes, she knows her time is up.

She can’t get to me when I am dancing.

I have been many, many things in the last twenty years. I’ve taken on different roles. I’ve played many parts. My weight has fluctuated. My face has changed. I have grown in so many different ways.
Three things in my life have been constant.

Anxiety.
Depression.

And dancing.

My favorite me is who I get to be when I am dancing. I am fearless. I am safe. I am free.
I am any personality I want to be. I am anything I want people to feel when they watch me perform.
I can feel the music move through my soul. My world is whole when my body is in a rhythm.

The hour and a half I get to spend in the studio on Wednesday nights is the only hour and a half of peace I get all week.
Peace of mind.
Peace and quiet.
The speakers could be shaking because of the volume of the music, and it is still the quietest my brain will be all week.

This peace wouldn’t be possible without the support of the greatest group of women in the entire world. Wednesday at 6:30, you are my entire heart. It’s been 8 years, and every week is better than the last. You make me a better dancer, and a better person. You push me to move, create, inspire. Each of you holds a place in my heart, and your love gets me through my darkest hours.

My mental illnesses have constantly let me down, disappointed me, hurt me, and stopped me from living my best life for the last twenty years, but that’s okay. Because at least dance has never given up on me.