As a Dailey Method studio owner I am often asked “How did you decide to open a studio?’ Often with a wonderful hopeful tone of “This looks great!” or “What a fantastic way to find that elusive work-life balance!”
And, it is … in so many ways. But I write this blog as an honest admission of sorts that this life, my life, as a Dailey Method teacher and owner, was completely unplanned. To get to this seemingly idyllic place of “balance” I took some giant leaps of letting go of planning and control. This is not to say that this is the best path to happiness, but hopefully to provide hope and energy to those that may be struggling along the way.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am a planner. Always have been. Always will be. Setting goals and working toward those goals in a very straightforward and determined way carried me through my life for the first 31 years. I wanted to be a nurse from as far back as I can remember. It was and in many ways still is who I am, not just what I did for a living.
Being a fitness instructor was never in my plan. Owning a fitness studio was definitely not in my plan. If you had asked me even 10 years ago what my 5 year plan was, it would look nothing like what my life looks like today.
Making the shift from a planner – primarily following a logical life to a heart follower was not a painless shift. It was, however, essential.
My first baby was planned (because I’m that much of a planner) to be born just after I completed my Master’s degree at UCSF. He was two weeks early and walked with me at my graduation. I took the summer off and returned to school in the fall – two classes and a dissertation left to complete my PhD – the plan was in place.
Writing requires passion. Research requires passion. And before my first-born arrived, I was passionate about my dissertation topic. I thought about it, read about it, talked about it all the time. I was writing in my head so often that when I sat down at the computer the words would come so easily it didn’t even feel like work.
But then everything changed. My life turned into: Sleep. Breastfeeding. Sleep. Nanny. Babysitter. Daycare. Sleep!!! My brain was completely cluttered with just getting through the day. My heart was full in the best way with love for this new person in my life but my passion for writing, for research, for nursing… was gone.
I thought “I have come so far – how could I quit now?” I forced myself back to school. I didn’t buy any books or readers, I didn’t write and I cried almost everyday. This was not my plan.
My husband is the best of the best and he told me to quit. “What? I don’t quit. I’m not a quitter. This is not the plan.” He responded: “Just quit. You can. You’re miserable. Your happiness matters more than anything. Just quit.” He’s a smart man…
The response from my professors directly reflected the battle going on in my brain.
One: “You’re making the right decision. Be with your family, follow your heart”. Another: “If you quit now you’ll never come back. Don’t do this. You’ve come so far, all of your hard work will go to waste.” I knew I’d never go back… The time was not wasted though – I learned so much in those years of school, I didn’t need the degree to make the work worth it. So, I quit.
Your heart is like an inner compass. When you tune in and listen, you’ll find your way even if you don’t know where you’re going. There is an inner sigh of relief that happens at that moment when you know you’ve made the right decision even if it means you have no idea what lies ahead.
Life settled down. A second baby came along and it was time to get back to work so off I went – back to the hospital working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. I was happy, loved my job and the people and patients I worked with. There were normal bumps … finding the right childcare situation, having to call out far too often when kids were sick, but pretty much I was back on track, the path ahead looked straighter, I thought maybe I’d even go back and finish that PhD one day …. and then BAM!
It is not a good thing when you get called into a meeting with the preschool teacher two weeks after your child starts school. They are not calling you to tell you how smart and well behaved he is. The meeting was almost an out of body experience, the memory still evokes a visceral response.
I knew with my whole heart that I could no longer focus on anything but my son. I had a whole new language to learn and whole new world to navigate and it would take every bit of strength and every second of my time to do it. I walked into work the next day and quit a job I loved with no plan for what would happen next.
So, I did what needed be done. I drove the “therapy bus” as I so fondly like to refer to my days shuttling between every real and self-proclaimed expert I could find on the path to our new routine of “normal.” I learned a lot about people during this time. I found friends where I didn’t know I had them and lost some along the way who could not accept my new adventure.
Fortunately for me I also had a haven of sisterhood by now at The Dailey Method Piedmont with my (then new boss) and dear friend, Susan, leading the charge. She guided me through this time in a way that only the best of big sister friends could do. She introduced me to all the right people to help me navigate and advocate for my sweet boy, and she took me under her wing and gave me a job and a purpose and a place to call home where all I had to do was be myself and teach a great Dailey Method class.
The rest is history. My baby got better (or grew up? or maybe he was just fine all along? … I’ll never know, it doesn’t matter). I kept teaching Dailey Method. My “hobby” became a job and ultimately a business when Susan and I opened The Dailey Method Berkeley. Most days I still feel like all I have to do is be myself and teach a great Dailey Method class. On the days that aren’t so simple I try to remember the journey.
There are so many twists and turns this story could have taken. I am so grateful for not only where this crooked path led me but for all the moments along the way that have made it worthwhile.
Life is full of transitions. Learning how to transition is a skill like any other that takes time and practice. Transitions do not feel easy in the moment, but with each transition and each choice I’ve made to stray from the well-planned path I’ve learned more about myself. I’ve learned that as long as I take a breath and listen to my heart I’ll find the way. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I feel in those moments of not knowing what is coming next, and I’ve learned that sometimes what lies ahead is even better than you planned.
— Kerry Corcoran, The Dailey Method Berkeley & Lamorinda