It’s my birthday today. Hallelujah! I’ve made it through 27 years on this Earth. Last year, when I talked about my birthday, people sent the loveliest cards and gifts and wishes. It made me feel so special; I just couldn’t believe it. This year, I’m jonesing to use my birthday powers for good. Explanation below.
. . .
Anjal was one of the first people I met when I moved across the country to attend NYU. She was in my freshman honors seminar, one of thirteen of us studying the life and work of W.E.B. Du Bois for a whole semester.
We became friends, because you can’t not become friends with Anjal. She’s constantly smiling, and always including everyone, and asking unexpected questions that let you know she accepts you already. Plus, she just happens to be an incredible tabla player, and a fabulous cook, and a choreographer, and ah, yes, a shockingly accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer.
I asked her to be my roommate junior year, and by some miracle, she accepted. I felt so lucky to get to room with her. So lucky. For the next two school years, we spent time living side by side, often on opposite sleep schedules, but sometimes both tapping late into the night on our computers. Anjal introduced me to food politics, and I baked her my favorite chocolate-dipped earl grey shortbread.
Then we graduated, and while the rest of us were polishing our resumes and coiffing ourselves for interviews, Anjal up and started a dance school.
What, you say? Started a dance school? Fresh out of college?
Yup. Because that’s how Anjal rolls. She’s not one to take the easy, or the expected, way about things.
She started her dance school, which she named (beautifully) Soham Dance Space. First, she used an at-home teaching space. She then rented teaching space in the city of Chicago, where she lives and works. And then, a couple of years ago, Soham became its very own brick and mortar entity, complete with warmly-colored walls and a special floor for dancing on.
Now, here we are in 2012, and while her peers are just beginning to discover that cubicle nation might not be all it was cracked up to be, Anjal Chande has been the founder, director, teacher, and Jill-of-all-trades of Soham Dance Space for five whole years.
. . .
The first few years of Anjal’s business, I didn’t really grasp the enormity of it. I don’t think anyone can really appreciate the enormous amount of work that goes into the creation of a business and the realization of a dream. I always thought it was incredible that Anjal was forging this path. I excitedly told other friends about how cool she was, and I purchased the first Soham t-shirts she created.
Then I started becoming a life coach/photographer, and I began to build my business, and I experienced this flood of realization at how crazy-hard it is. How the smallest website tweak can take four hours and more than a few tears. How taxes and incorporation and accounting, which basically no one but you even sees, make up a massive part of the business pie, consuming time and energy and funds and, again, maybe some tears.
It was then that I began to more fully appreciate the fact that Anjal is pursuing this dream. It’s not just that she’s growing a dance business, either. She has fabulously lofty ideals, and the day-to-day of her business is part of achieving them. Anjal’s big picture has to do with a thriving, smiling community; a world that views art and dance as integral to a functional social fabric; and performances that leave people with new thoughts and questions. Her vision is so much deeper than simply teaching people to dance.
That anyone’s business dream succeeds is, to me, a total miracle. It requires sustained effort, a commitment to seeing through the minutiae and the headaches and the sleepless nights and the seemingly insurmountable challenges, and maintaining a steadfast commitment to a vision that, quite possibly, no one but you will ever appreciate at its most pure level.
Which is why all I want for my birthday is to support Anjal’s dream. She currently has a fundraising campaign going to raise money for her Spring Fest, an upcoming performance that will usher in a whole new era for Soham Dance Space. The Spring Fest Fund isn’t just money for a performance to happen. It’s watering the seed of Anjal’s gorgeous dream, one she’s been tending for five years, and which she needs a strong community to continue to grow.
This request isn’t just me asking for your help in fulfilling the dream of my friend. Yes, Anjal is absolutely one of the most miraculous humans on the Earth. And yes, that’s one reason I’m supporting her, and asking you to support her instead of sending me birthday cards and gifts as you lovely people have done in the past.
But this is about so much more than that. This is about supporting the beauty of dreams, and the power of an unstoppable, effervescent spirit. This is why I became a life coach: because there is little more transcendent on our fleeting Earth than the miraculous blossoming of a dream.
For my birthday, I’d like to ask you to watch this video about the incredible work Anjal’s doing. If you can, I’d like to ask you to donate any amount of money that’s appropriate for you (even if that’s a dollar). If you’re in Chicago, attend Spring Fest. And pass on supportive fairy dust by sharing this post on social media, to build community around this miraculous business that is Soham Dance Space.
Thanks, everybody. For being here supporting my dreams, for supporting those of Anjal, and for supporting your very own.