There’s no real need to tell you that we’re reaching the end of the year. It’s everywhere. Christmas lights twinkle, sugarplum fairies twirl, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Small Business Saturday packages are arriving on your doorstep one happy box at a time.

For some of you, it’s cold outside and you’ve already played in the snow. You’re making plans for the holidays and maybe even for New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, all of this planning might make you pause to consider what you did and where you were in years past.

Because we’re a military family, we tend to enjoy Thanksgiving locally (that is to say wherever we’re living at the time) and then travel to Atlanta for Christmas. Usually, Christmas means going from one family’s house to the next and enjoying ALL of the good food and company. One year, we went to 4 different places on Christmas Day!! Wooh! Where’s that wide-eyed emoji when you need it?

This year is a first for us: we’re staying local, and our family is traveling to see us! We’re joyfully anticipating the newness of Christmas in our home. We bought a tree, I dried oranges for decorations, we bought a turkey, and we’ve been acquiring things like chairs for people to sit in because we figured that three chairs for seven people might be a little too rustic.

As I’ve been scrubbing and re-arranging, preparing and researching the fun things to do with loved ones in town, I’ve also been stepping into a completely new role as an educator. Most days lately, I’ve had little snap-to moments where I’m like, Is this really my life?

We’ve come so far in a year! When I rewind, I see the Selena Auditorium and feel the crunchiness of my first ankle circles of the day. The warmth of the stage lights flickering on and off floods over me as the crew preps for dress rehearsal. I’m listening to the oh-so-holiday sounds of Outkast in my headphones and wearing the “mucklucks” my friend made for me many Nutcrackers ago. I’m also injured and wondering how in the world I’m going to make it through these shows in pointe shoes, but I’ve got my people next to me–silly, loud, and big-hearted. I’m home and I know I’m saying a proper goodbye.

I’m amazed by the resiliency of humans, by the breadth of a year, and by our inherent ability to begin again and again and again.

Truth is, I’m getting a little emotional writing this now, and not for the obvious reasons. Yes, I miss my friends and the drama of the millionth Nutcracker in cold December. I miss the artistic freedom that the stage can offer too, but really I’m emotional because of how stunned I am that I started again when my capital “S” Self told me to. I’m amazed by the resiliency of humans, by the breadth of a year, and by our inherent ability to begin again and again and again.

When we were living in Corpus Christi, my friend who also has a dance blog (Another Night at the Barre) gave me a t-shirt to encourage me to start mine. Its message is simple: Begin.

With mom in Austin, TX wearing Another Night at the Barre’s “Begin” tee.

Stop laboring over the “what if’s” and just put pen to paper. Forget the perfect Instagram filter you’re “supposed” to have to build your dream the “proper way” and just begin. When the enemy comes up to tell you that you can’t start a new thing, hear him out and then respectfully, once he’s done, tell him to shut up! Elizabeth Gilbert says it well:

There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Fear is in you, and it’s a useful part of you. It helps you to calculate, to plan, to budget, to consider. It keeps you alive, but it’s not the best ringmaster. Yes, have a plan and think through the thing that you’re about to begin.

Eventually, learn how to connect to your audience through algorithms and learn what a comma splice is, but first? Heart. First, commit to listening deeply and then take the first terrifying step and then the next. Or, as Emily P. Freeman would say, “Do the next right thing in love.”

With 20 days left in 2019, it might be time to get quiet and look inward. My prayer for you is for you to know that no matter where you are you can and will begin again.