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As a child, did you ever go to the ballet? Can you remember watching a ballerina for the first time? I can—I was four. Mostly, I recall the way her body bended in a fluidity of graceful movements. She held me mesmerized. Even back then, I was short, and carried about as much elegance as a charging rhinoceros. I think it was because I was lacking so greatly in the potential ballerina department that I was so enthralled. The beauty of her lines, the straightness of her back as she flexed her legs into impossible positions struck a chord in my heart. It was something I wanted learn so badly, but never achieved.

There is so much more to practicing ballet than standing on a stage and performing. It takes the right type of body and many years of grueling physical conditioning, and even then you’re not guaranteed to be successful. Another element sits at the center of the equation as well. Have you ever noticed a unique quality emulating from a few chosen dancers? They’re a bar above the rest in ability and their talent can be spotted even with a novice eye.

As I mentioned before, I do not carry the body type to be a ballerina, but I’ve come to understand the secret quality and it can be applied to nearly every walk of life. It is the art of flexibility. A special few are willing to submit fully. They actually enjoy the process, not just the experience. Incapable of bending any further, they push their limitations past the point of breaking and discover another level.

How do they reach this capacity for greatness? It isn’t easy. A contradiction lies inside our nature conflicting with the very idea of achieving. Everyone wants to be happy, and successful. We want to be happy. We want to succeed. But success can only take place when we go beyond our capabilities, and that’s not easy. To reach a higher realm of accomplishment, we must stretch the capacity of our personal tolerance to accept that if we want to be successful sometimes we can’t be happy, but still derive joy in the process.

In my own experiences as a writer, a mother, and the wife of a small business owner, I’ve found that victory is accompanied with a high probability of failure. Disappointment can leave me hungry many times before I can feast on the tiniest taste of triumph. Personal growth is ugly, messy, and extremely uncomfortable. But in the moments of challenge, I’ve discovered there is a point where I am capable of yielding a little more, striving further than my previous limits ever thought possible. Each time I stretch and gain ground until I am finally big enough to swallow my goal. As I develop—a true sense of happiness and purpose fills me, and I find there is a spot where ‘I can’t’ ceases to exist.

Because of physical limitations, I never became a dancer, but my present success is determined only by how pliable I am willing to become. The art of flexibility is to yield as necessary, but also knowing when it is imperative to press forward. I bent away from one dream to grasp another. Now I create beauty with words instead of motion and my reach is infinite.

Angela Hartley

Author of The Sentient Chronicles

Blog: www.angelahartley.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Angela-Hartley/267442633281341