Dancing through life

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties”.  – Helen Keller

I was born a dancer. Even before I could walk, I could not stop moving. My mom loves to tell me the story of when I was a baby and had to wear braces on my legs to straighten my bones, how I would take my braced legs and kick them against the crib. I couldn’t stop moving and never have.

I grew up dancing. At first I preferred hopping and jumping jacks and by age three I was enrolled in my first dance class. I jumped, hopped, swayed and turned throughout my childhood in tap, ballet and jazz. I was even on the high school dance team and competed. I loved to dance and always will. But unfortunately my dancing came at a price. I wrecked my neck at age 13 and could hardly sit up straight in my desk at school. Years and years of therapy and chronic pain has significantly impacted my life.  But I’ve never let it stop me.

Despite the pain, I’ve climbed mountains, traveled the world, learned to surf, ran a marathon, skied the Alps and embraced my life to the fullest. I’ve learned that although I can no longer practice my love of dance I can still dance through life. While my vitality, energy, and passion for life are a huge part of who I am, so is my pain. It is something that is always present. Always difficult. Yet I have a choice. To let it stop me in my tracks or to dance through life. I prefer to dance.

Base Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Base Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Base Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro TanzaniaBase Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro TanzaniaBase Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. – Helen Keller

Base Camp 2, Machete Route, Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance. 



  1. Pingback: WPC: Dance (Fly) | What's (in) the picture?

    • Thanks Louise! I’ve been hurting so much the last month so it was on my mind. Thankfully I have a new PT treatment plan and I woke up today feeling much better. It is hard for someone as energetic and cheerful of me to have this nasty pain wearing me out. But like my
      Mom always says it can be so much worse! So I could my blessings (and curse when it hurts!) 😊

  2. I hear you! My back injury has been an invader into my life & lifestyle for nearly 3 years now. It has ended up being a wake up call on my body’s fragility & the catalyst that not only pushed me back into some forms of exercise that I had given up on but also made me realise that some dreams I’d been putting off can’t be put off any longer. Back problems are going to be a permanent part of my life now but I’m determined to make the most of my health now whilst I still have it! Keep dancing that dance.

    • Did you have an accident? For me it just hurt like hell one day when I was 13 and hasn’t stopped ever since. I did find a good backpack that I can wear now that doesn’t kill my neck but I can’t carry more than 15 pounds. Yes it is tough. Not sure how old you are but I am 44 and I sometimes feel like I’m 60 in my neck. But I will not let it stop me. I just have to deal with pain a lot and change a little what I do. It is hard but I’m always so thankful because it can always be so much worse. Thanks for commenting and sending my support your way! 😊

      • I’ve had 3 accidents and I’m not sure which one contributed to the problem. I’d had discomfort sitting down for a couple months then one day mountain biking I went over a wee jump but on landing I got a shooting pain up my whole spine that just continued to get worse & worse. Sitting was painful for weeks & I couldn’t bend over for a few months. I’m mostly controlled now although a relapse last year was a strong reminder of my fragility. I can no longer pick up anything more than 10kg which means the days of carrying a heavy backpack into the wilderness with a tent & food are over. Walking really helps me though most of the time but sometimes I’m quite uncomfortable from standing too long & those days I feel very old indeed (despite being 33).
        That is unfortunate for you to have been injured so young & for it to have remained. As long as we both keep dancing in our hearts, we’ll keep on keeping on because yes, it could be so much worse!

      • Wow that is a drag! Yes for me it’s been constant but varying degrees of pain for 30 years! It was really bad at university with all the studying and then when I had an office job miserable. But once I quite working full time to have kids it is much more manageable. Just flare ups. I am sure if I had to sit at a computer all day it would be a nightmare. So thank goodness I don’t work just take care of the kids, write a ton and enjoy life! 😊

  3. Nicole you are the role model of anything is possible with the right attitude, hard work and perseverance. You have had so many wonderful adventures and accomplishments and inspire so many including me.

    • Oh Sue! What a beautiful comment! I try to not dwell or talk about negative stuff on my blog because I know people don’t want to her me complain. I admit it has been really hard. When I used to work in sales 9-5 I’d go home in tears of pain every single day. Even with writing it is hard to be at my desk. This last bout started in December and I finally got a new PT order and it helped a lot. I have a lot of arthritis already in my neck and issues after years of discomfort. I don’t think the surfing was good but I still am glad I did it. 😊 I just ice my neck a lot now. But I can’t let it stop me as I’m only 44 and will have to take the good with the bad, right. And you know that YOU inspire me as well so much. I am so thankful to have this amazing community of friends!

      • Yes it is. Living here in MN and being a mom I just don’t have friendships here of people who travel and love photography. This is my escape as I can connect with likeminded friends from all over the world! 🙂

      • I think living with chronic pain is a true test of positive spirit. Thanks so much for sharing Nicole. You really are inspiring. I wish you strength, courage and energy as you continue to model the way for living life as fully as possible and not letting obstacles given in life get in the way. xo

      • Oh thanks Sue! My PT yesterday did some magic and much needed relief. I am feeling better and there is a light that I can get back to living with less pain soon! 🙂

  4. Aaaaaahhhhh. Sigh. You are a powerful woman Nicole. I would never have guessed you have chronic pain. Unfortunately I can now relate since pain is pretty much a constant visitor for me too these days. I choose as best I can to not define it or make it mean anything. It just is, and I too will do my best to not let it get in my way.
    With much admiration

    • Thanks Alison! I just grabbed a few from Kilimanjaro to go with the feeling of dancing through life and doing things despite it all. Glad you loved them!

  5. Hi..loved reading this piece of yours. I can relate to this so has been a childhood passion to me but my spinal injury taught me that even if I couldn’t dance , “I could dance through life”😊. Yes, pain is constant part of life that can’t be ignored just like the love to dance again like never before..and just a slight change in the perspective is the best thing we bring in us. Cheers..💃

    • Thanks Debbie! I don’t think the surfing was a good idea but I did it! I am getting a bit better. The tropical weather actually was really good on my neck as the pain really subsided when I was in Nica. Maybe I need to retire there too?! 🙂

  6. A truly inspiring story which illustrates that there is definitely more than one way to dance through life. Thanks for sharing and keep on keeping on – because you rock 🙂

  7. I am so glad you continue the dance which I so enjoy sharing. I like to think that in our heads we are always dancing.

  8. What a wonderful and inspiring attitude you have towards life Nicole. You have created your own incredible dance of life through your meaningful travel and journeys and the words you share along the way. A beautiful post Nicole.

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