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  • Writer's pictureMartti Peeples

Becoming the Better Version of Myself

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

The transformation of a butterfly is an astonishing process to watch. The butterfly starts inside a cocoon, and while inside, it starts to evolve. Once it evolves, it breaks out of its cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly able to soar to the skies.

People, too, will go through this transformation process, often more than once over time. A few weeks ago, I was able to sit down and have an inspiring and enlightening conversation over Messenger with a young lady named Alexis Dawson. This young lady is full of life and no quitter, no matter what is thrown her way.

We began our conversation discussing her current status. In early 2020, Alexis was diagnosed with discoid lupus. She had just started a new job as a school administrator and thought the stress from the job was causing her fatigue. She also developed a rash under her eye, which she thought may have come from her skin regimen or products she was using. But soon, extreme weight loss happened. After multiple visits to an urgent care and another physician with no real diagnosis, Alexis just kept pushing forward. However, a couple of months later, her hair came out in chunks, and this prompted Alexis to go to a dermatologist, who came back with her diagnosis: discoid lupus. Alexis had heard of lupus, but not discoid. Alexis’s understanding was that this was a type of lupus that would only affect her skin. But after more testing, sadly, her diagnosis was changed to systemic lupus erythematosus. This chronic autoimmune disease may cause hair loss, scarring, and fatigue, along with appetite loss, and would also affect her internal organs.

In October 2020, Alexis was admitted to the hospital for extreme blood loss, which she thought was a side effect of the various medications she was taking for her condition. All of this was still new to her, and in the midst of a worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, one can only imagine the worry, frustration, and fear Alexis was experiencing.

Alexis truly found herself out of her norm. Let’s take a brief journey back to her childhood. Alexis was born into a God-fearing family, a family that had no limits, but set goals. At the tender age of six, Alexis was enrolled in dance at the Northwest Activities Center. During her time there, she learned ballet, jazz, and hip-hop. Dance was her passion.

Alexis has this “dream big or go home” personality, so why limit her goals to dance? Alexis also saw herself as the first female African-American President, or hell, why not the first female NFL player? The family she was surrounded with encouraged these dreams and passions. Alexis envisioned herself a person who would be in front of an audience. She dreamed of inspiring and uplifting people. She narrowed her dreams down to her passion of dance, but now, with this diagnosis, would her passion be denied?

Alexis was facing a new norm within a new norm. Lupus and Covid-19 were affecting her spiritually. She has a deep relationship with God and now she was asking God for answers and felt her questions were not being answered clearly. “Lord, what are the solutions and answers?” she asked. She was surrounded by a loving family and had deep friendships going back to her early childhood, but she needed to be around her church family. Covid-19 had brought everything to a halt. No more in-person fellowshipping. It was like the gospel song by Kurt Carr, “We Lift Our Hands in the Sanctuary,” a song she has sung several times in church. Here are some of the lyrics: We sing our song to give You the praise / And we will praise You for the rest of our days! If you know this song, you know it’s a song of rejoicing with an up-tempo beat which will have everyone on their feet. But Alexis couldn’t incorporate this personal experience with God because she wasn’t in the Sanctuary. Alexis found herself slipping into a depression. Yet she continued to push through. Flare-ups would come and go, some minor and some knock-you-on-your butt.

Alexis, however, does not have a defeated spirit. On her good days, she rebooted her “Dance with Lexi” classes. Alexis is also trained in American Sign Language and was part of the sign choir at her home church. One of her best sign performances is an arrangement by Kurt Carr, “For Every Morning.” For every mountain / You brought me over / For every trial, you see me through / For every blessing / Hallelujah, for this I give You praise. These are just a few lines from the song, but they embody who Alexis Dawson is and continues to strive to become.

As some pandemic restrictions were lifted, Alexis found herself at one of Dwight Holt’s pop-ups, “Dance Your Pounds Off.” Alexis had met Dwight at one of gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard’s events. They started communicating and she shared part of her journey with him. If you have ever seen one of Dwight’s pop-ups, you know that after going through the steps and drills, he will call people out, and one time, Dwight called Alexis out and she did not disappoint. With every inch and part of her, she put it all out there and left it on the cement pavement. Dwight shared the video and soon it was circulating on social media. Alexis received her answer from God: “Don’t give up, give in and know I’m standing in the midst with you, daughter, I am here.”

When Alexis saw the video, it gave her the push she needed. She received so much positive feedback. People left prayers and messages of inspiration for her.

As I ended our conversation, I asked Alexis this one question: “Looking into the future, how do you see a better version of yourself?” Her response: “This has pushed me for sure to be a better version of myself. I see me more fearless, hav[ing] my moments to be alone, more of a go-getter, not second-guessing myself, knowing that failure isn’t the end.”

The one word I would remove from Alexis’s answer is “failure.” She doesn’t know how to fail; what she does know is God has her, and with Him, how can she go wrong? What she has truly learned is to be humble enough to walk the road or path God has prepared for her and to know she is not alone on that road.

If you would like to see the inspiring video with Dwight Holt, visit Dwight’s “Dance Your Pounds Off LLC” Facebook page and look for the July 9 post.

Correction (1/21/22): The picture published during the initial release was incorrect.

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