autism housing pathways

For 3 years now, Autism Housing Pathways has been asking me to be one of the “celebrities” in their Dancing With The Stars fundraiser. Despite the fact that I LOVE the incredible work that they do and I really, truly, wholeheartedly want to support them, I’ve been coming up with excuse after excuse for not doing it.

The truth is that I’m very insecure about my body, that I can’t fathom finding something to wear (yes, really, don’t judge), that I’m a really, REALLY awkward dancer and that I’m terrified of doing this in front of people.

The other truth is that those are about the worst reasons in the history of ever to not do something important and giving into them (again) would be setting the worst possible example for my girls.

Or, to put it another way, after three years, I just said yes.

– Diary’s Facebook page, November, 2014

So. Um. Hmm.

You might remember that back in November I finally ran out of excuses and agreed to participate in Autism Housing Pathways’ annual fundraiser, an evening of “Dancing With The Stars.”

I admitted at the time that my real reasons for declining year after year included insecurity, insecurity and, well, insecurity. Paired of course with the fact that I REALLY can’t dance.

Well, in an hour and a half I will be meeting my partner, a member of MIT’s ballroom dance team, for our first lesson. I really, really hope he has a sense of humor. And that I can manage to keep mine.


– Diary’s Facebook page, last weekend

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I’m scared.

I agreed to do this, and I will, but the truth is that I’m terrified.

Year after year I came up with excuses.

Because I was afraid.

And the big, ugly truth is that I’m ashamed of the reasons why.

The dancing part will be what it is. It will be silly and fun and utterly ridiculous. I’ll step on my partners feet and say, ‘Oops,’ … a lot. I’ll giggle … a lot. And I’ll consider the whole thing a raging success if I simply manage to avoid going ass over teakettle on the dance floor.

The crowd will be friendly. People don’t tend to come to charity events to jeer at the participants. I think I’ll be fairly safe from hecklers.

It’s not that.

It’s not any of that.

It’s having to look in the mirror.

It’s having to dress a body that looks and feels nothing like I want it to. It’s having to put it on display. It’s having to relinquish my “crop” button. It’s having nowhere to hide.

I’m afraid.

I will do it anyway.

Because vanity is a really, really bad reason to not live.

And fear is the worst reason I can imagine to not be a part of making a better world for my daughter. Here goes.

15 thoughts on “autism housing pathways

  1. Jess,
    I live in Oregon so making it to the event is out. I would however love to vote. Is there a way other than PayPal to do this?

  2. Just drink a glass of wine, laugh, dance and be silly! Being able to laugh at yourself is such an endearing quality, and being the self- proclaimed walking yard sale that you are, I’d say you’ve got this! I’m voting for online, and donating, now go win that trophy!

  3. Good for you! Please post pics — and perhaps link to a video?
    PROUD of you even though I only know you through your blog!
    — Joan in PA

  4. This post.

    Jess, you are so fearless in so many ways and now, even more so to share your deepest fears here.

    (To clarify, I felt a rush of victory when I finished reading this post. I am the girl who used to love the ocean and haven’t swam with abandon for fifteen years because I am so painfully ashamed of what my body looks like in a bathing suit. I thought to myself: if Jess is going to dance, then I am going to swim!)

    Now, this part is going to sound crazy – but my little guy has just become obsessed with the movie James and the Giant Peach. I’m so grateful that it’s such a great movie because in our house, it is now on a continuous loop. 🙂

    I can’t help but think about the part in the movie where little James has to face this big giant rhino (his greatest fear) and he looks the rhino in the eye an yells: “I’m not afraid of you!”

    And the brilliance of Roald Dahl is that the Rhino doesn’t disappear, he attacks.

    Sending James falling down into oblivion.

    And when he lands – he ends up being in the place he always dreamed of.

    So the message is: facing your fear won’t make the scary thing go away but you will be rewarded for it!

    Dance with abandon! (If you dance I will swim).

    We want pictures!


  5. Jess, You are going to have feathers, sequins, rhinestones, fringe, a costume that moves….all you will have to do is blink your big, false eyelashes…(and maybe move your feet in time to the music…) 🙂

  6. You never cease to amaze me! Way to go! I have to add that you are beautiful, inside and out. You will kick ass! You are teaching not only your beautiful girls, but people everywhere to face their fears head on, put on their dancing shoes & go have some fun for a good cause! You are fabulous!

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