On February 6th, 2009, two police officers and the police chaplain came to my home. "I'm sorry to tell you ma'am... Joe was 19 years old, my oldest, my baby boy. My life will never be the same without him.
Grief will have its way. Afraid to move, I confined myself to bed. It was too painful to face the world. I hid myself away, barely existing. I have three other children and a wonderful husband. Life moves along. But I just couldn't, not really. When Joe left it was as if he took my future with him. And I didn't want to live.
Knowing it was time to get up and out of the bed. I pushed myself forward and started going to Jazzercise. My head was down, shoulders slumped, I was carrying a lot of extra pounds and a mountain load of grief. I could barely do the low impact. Something about that physical release also brought about an emotional release. I would usually cry, wail, and scream out in agony, in the car, all the way home.
Over time, I was gaining strength physically and emotionally. But not without setbacks. One day In the middle of our workout, I started to shake and cry. I actually left the dance floor, slumped down in the little back room and cried uncontrollably. I didn't think I could do it anymore. I wanted to give up. I just wanted to go back to bed, to disappear, to go away.
But God had a plan for me. A plan which would breathe life back into my heart and soul. The time was right and I was ready for the next thing. It started with a prayer of desperation. "Lord give me something to do. Something just for me that will make me want to live again. Please Lord, help me."
That very day, I walked into the center looking down hoping no one would notice my tear stained face and went to my usual spot in the back of class. I was getting physically stronger by now and so I threw myself into the workout. Knowing the moves, I could tune out and not have to think. But my mind was jarred into the moment when I heard, "Penny, you're gonna be my next instructor." I thought she was joking, trying to encourage the old gal in the class. The instructor/center owner would later say she saw something in me she could build on, and that is exactly what she did. She took a little something and step by step she worked tirelessly and faithfully building and she never gave up. She believed that I could do it. Sometimes we need somebody to believe for us, don't we?!
And after months of training, lots of ups and downs, days when I really didn't think I could do it, and moments when fierce determination swept over me and I could do it, the dream of becoming a Dance Fitness Instructor became a reality.
In a few years, I went on to develop and teach my own version of Personal Touch, a Personal Training Format. This inspired me to keep moving forward. I earned my certification as a Personal Trainer through the American Counsel on Exercise. And now I have my own fitness business, FitMamas: Personal Training for the Everyday Woman.
This is my story. It's a story about life. It's about moving forward into the future and taking the love of others and the love of God with you every step of the way. This is a story of hope. Hope in a tomorrow where good waits for us. It's about dancing. You and I dancing together. Each step is a statement. It says, "I'm moving forward in life with purpose, gracefully, powerfully, joyfully and with intensity." We're doing this together. Not perfectly. Because, just like in life, the dance is not without flaws or a misstep here and there. But somehow when we do it together, with love and heart lifted high, the dance is beautiful and we are too.