On Dreams and Dance

April 24, 2017

When a little kid dreams about becoming an astronaut when she grows up, nobody ever responds to her lofty aspirations by telling her to consider finding the ideal time for a trip to the moon — an adventure put off until she has completed her education, maybe comfortably sandwiched between college and having babies, perhaps carefully plotted out for the moment all her kids are in school — or, maybe, if she’s still physically up to it, penciled on on the day she and her husband become empty nesters. 

I mean, why would they? It’s not like NASA lets you schedule these things. It’s not like a six year old understands these things. It’s not like ANY of us want to think about how these things can determine whether or not we meet our career goals. 

And yet, the past two years have taught me that “these things” do, in fact, happen.

The universe might not let me schedule the moment when all the stars will align and my perfect job will happen, and it sure as heck doesn’t check my calendar, let alone my season in life, to determine the timing is right.

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to fulfill one of my long-time BIG dreams: going back to my old high school to coach the dance team I was a part of as a student from 2001-2005. Dancing on this team was hugely formative for me; I went from being an incredibly shy kid without much confidence to, in my junior and senior years, not only dancing in front of the entire student body, but also standing up in front of 35+ of my peers to help run daily practices as a captain. I grew in countless ways, and I was (and still am) passionate about helping other young women find themselves through an activity they love and alongside teammates they love even more. If you’ve been a coach before, you know it’s probably one of the hardest jobs there is. That being said, while coaching brings you the lowest lows…it also has the highest of highs! Although they probably don’t realize it, watching the dancers on my team grow so much in the past two years has been one of the highlights of my life thus far. I am so grateful for this experience.

While all of this was so wonderful, in these two years I’ve spent as a coach, life has done a total 180 on me. I found out I was pregnant two months into the job, which made our very early morning practices pretty rough, to say the least. I spent so much of last year excited for the time I finally wouldn’t be pregnant anymore and life would just snap back to normal. I know, I know: all you fellow moms are laughing at this point! While we have certainly fallen into the groove of our “new normal”, coaching with a baby has presented all kinds of new challenges that just make our family life a little too crazy for our liking. I resigned from my position as head coach a few weeks ago, and the job posting for the new coach closed last week.

While all of that makes me pretty sad — I went through a lot of heartache on Friday as the posting closed and my decision became permanent — I’m trying to take my friend Micaline’s advice to focus on what there is to be gained from this choice. You see, “these things” are, in my mind, the best things. While I have dreamed of coaching my own high school dance team for several years, I’ve dreamed of marrying a wonderful man, owning a home together, and taking care of our children in it for much, much longer. Spending quality time with my husband makes me happy. Making our house beautiful, comfortable, and organized makes both of us (especially my husband!) unreasonably happy. Taking care of our daughter, watching her grow, and building a relationship with her makes my heart so happy. For me, no job I have ever had matches any of that. Beyond all of that, I think it’s important to, above all else, “be Carolyn” — not to excuse myself from personal growth, but to honor my own personality, especially the things I find most life-giving. Time is currency, and I haven’t been doing the best job of budgeting that currency in the past two years. I want to be sure I’m prioritizing my “spending”.

I’m so grateful to my husband for being so endlessly patient as he let me come to this conclusion for myself (I know he saw it coming a long time ago). Furthermore, while this job has obviously had its challenges, it’s also been so much more than a job. If anything, I care about this team even more than I did before I started coaching.

This is definitely not a goodbye, but a “see you later” to some fantastic young ladies who have truly become my second family. I love you all…even when we’re all dead tired at 6:45 am! With that, I’m throwing this back to the universe. Maybe the stars will realign, and maybe they won’t. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more simplicity in my life…and, most likely, also cheering these lovely dancers on from the stands with my little girl by my side.

All photos are by the lovely KC England Photography. Thanks for making team picture day so special for the past two years, KC! 

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  • Do I want to do it? – Momvillage

    […] one point, I even said, “no more” to one of the thingsย to which I had once wholeheartedly said, “yes!”: coaching dance team at the high school where I teach. I encouraged my dance team seniors on my […]

    October 23, 2017 at 6:22 pm Reply
  • Reneefagras@gmail.com

    Hey Carolyn it is Renee fargas/walker. I totally know how you feel. I have up teaching to stay at home and never regretted it for a second. It was so chaotic just being pregnant and teaching. There is already so much work to be done just being a mom and taking care of a house.

    It is also definitely most rewarding career. When people ask what job I’m doing i proudly tell them my job is being a mom. And we make it work on one salary no problem.

    It is a hard decision to make. I know how you feel about being sad. But who knows what the future holds. It definitely gets easier as they get older.

    Hope you are doing well!!

    April 27, 2017 at 8:43 am Reply
    • Carolyn

      It’s so great to hear from you, Renee! I totally hear you on the pregnant + teaching thing…being up on swollen feet all day is no walk in the park! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the encouragement. Just remembering I’m not alone in the chaos of it all helps so much.

      April 28, 2017 at 10:49 pm Reply
  • When Life Gives You Lemons…

    […] still completely blown away by the response to my last post about resigning from my dance team coaching job. At one point on Monday, I could see that I had almost as much traffic on my site in that […]

    April 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm Reply
  • Cynthia Holman


    April 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      Hugs, Grandma!

      April 24, 2017 at 8:01 pm Reply
  • Jeannie Saccomanno

    Time for you to move from being a dancer, then a coach, and soon a dance Mom! It’s the circle of life and you just happen to be near the center of the vortex right now. Things are spinning pretty fast. Good for you to realize that there are only so many hours in a day, and so many days in a childhood. They all go by way to fast. Best to enjoy the ride as much as you can. Your season will come again, I have no doubt!

    April 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      The vortex is the PERFECT way to describe it — love that! Thank you so much, Jeannie. ๐Ÿ™‚

      April 24, 2017 at 8:00 pm Reply
  • Susie Pearson

    Yay!! Lindsey and I are beyond thrilled to hear this! It’s a super hard choice but I know you won’t regret it!!!!

    April 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      Thank you, Susie and Lindsey! I think you’re right about that prediction!

      April 24, 2017 at 7:59 pm Reply
  • Cory Leser

    Carolyn… I am so happy for you, Mike and Annie. No woman should ever have to equate success and personal growth with a career. You will continue to grow regardless of where you are planted. Just do what makes you happy.

    April 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      Thank you, Aunt Cory. You’re right…taking care of a baby certainly provides ample opportunity for personal growth. I love you!

      April 24, 2017 at 7:59 pm Reply
  • Lisa Wilson

    Being on the other end of raising children and most of my birdies have flown, I cheer you on in this decision! It isn’t easy, but you will reap many more blessings through this decision! Refreshing to see wisdom played out in young adults lives. Be Blessed!

    April 24, 2017 at 1:50 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      Thank you for the cheering, Lisa — I’m really looking forward to getting past the sad feeling and just enjoying the blessing of this choice.

      April 24, 2017 at 7:58 pm Reply
      • Lisa Wilson

        One day, One step, One moment, at a time! And lemon pie ๐Ÿ˜‰

        April 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm Reply
  • Carmen Green

    In all the stages of your life you make me proud to be your mom! You manage yourself with so much poise and grace to those you are with. I will miss watching a little of you on the dance floor!

    April 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm Reply
    • Carolyn

      Thank you, my sweet mama. I’m looking forward to being able to watch Annie out on that dance floor together someday…which is probably even better. Two more years!

      April 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm Reply

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