Dancing outside my comfort zone

Why do I dance?  To those who know me, this might seem like a question with an obvious answer, but in truth, there’s a lot more to it. 

I remember reading the Peanuts comic strip as a child, and could never keep from smiling when I saw a picture like this one of Snoopy dancing with wild abandon, his joy apparent for all the world to see.  And this was, whether I realized it at the time or not, exactly where I wanted to be.

As I child, I was a major klutz.  I couldn’t even walk across a room without tripping over my feet (and they have always just been average sized).

Until the great school psychologist fiasco, I don’t think my mother thought much of it, figuring that eventually I’d grow out of it, or learn to deal with it after receiving my share of bumps and bruises.  But tell a young mother that her 5-year-old daughter is developmentally disabled because she has not yet learned how to skip, and suddenly, the klutziness takes on epic proportions.

Enter, Lee’s School of Dance, where I had my first experience with dancing and pretty costumes.  I admit it.  I was hooked!  Granted, I didn’t always like going to dance class because, frankly, Lee was not the most patient of women when it came to trying to work with the attention span of a group of 5 and 6-year-old girls.  (is anyone really ready for that challenge?)  But she did manage to teach us plie, releve, tour jete and a few other hard to pronounce ballet moves.  But what I really loved was tap.  How could you not love tap when, with ever step, your feet made noise?  I loved the time step and wings and of course, Shuffle off to Buffalo.  In fact, I was able, later in life, to resurrect some of these skills when I took up clogging.  But that’s a story for another day.


What came out of my mother’s attempt to teach me grace was my insatiable love of dancing, which, when not satisfied with regular doses, has been known to bring on depression, weight gain and full blown crankiness!  What did NOT come out of this was grace.  To this day, I still trip over or step on my own feet.  I still run into desks, walls, beds, doors or anything else that has the audacity to get in my way (the cats don’t count because they get in the way intentionally so that I have to pick them up and comfort them, sneaky little devils!)  I have even been known, while walking barefoot and carrying a load of school books, to walk across a perfectly dry quad, only to manage to find the only puddle in the place, just as I drop the books! 

I finally accepted the fact that I was just not meant to be graceful, although I know it was one of the many ways I disappointed my mother.  Poor woman never did get the graceful, ladylike, doctor marrying daughter she so desperately wished for. 

Over the years, I learned that as long as I danced on a regular basis, I was a happy, reasonably well adjusted person.  But take away my dancing for any reason, and I slid slowly into the depths of despair.  (ok, maybe not that bad, but it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?  Has a really gloomy ring to it!)  I can honestly say that, as I didn’t dance much in the last few years of my marriage, part of my low self-esteem and lack of joy was directly attributed to that missing element. 

So I danced my way through my mother’s death and my divorce, raising two headstrong daughters by myself and some pretty high pressure jobs.  At least I did until the girls’ activities started taking up the time I would normally spend dancing.  And that’s really where the trouble  began.  The less I danced, the sadder I got and the sadder I got, the more I ate and the more I ate, the less I exercised…do you see where I’m going with this?  I became a lazy, cranky, depressed blob who believed that everyone was against her and was in serious “woe is me” land! 

As I detest “woe is me” land and am particularly hard on those professional victims out there, I was pretty much despising myself by then.  But I was very fortunate that a girl friend got me dancing again, and the more I danced, the better I ate, and the better I ate, the more energy I had, and the more energy I had, the more I lost weight…until now, I’ve gotten myself back into the gym routine 3 times a week, I’m dancing 3-4 nights a week, and am dancing more dances and more hours as the days go by. 

So, to take poetic license with a current country song, “The more I dance, the more I dance”  and it’s all good!  Which is an excellent segue into the latest quote I’m sharing with you tonight:

I am living proof that, when I stopped dancing, I was disheartened, dispirited and depressed.  I stopped singing and I definitely lost that sense of enchantment. 

I realize that everyone’s trigger isn’t the same as mine.  You might prefer singing or long walks in nature.  But whatever it is that keeps you in your joy will invariably also keep you singing, dancing and being enchanted as well.  Magic is hard to see when you’re wallowing in the depths of despair!  But when you’re sparkling, magic is everywhere! 

For me, when I am sparkling, my sense of smell is stronger, I notice little things, colors are brighter and jokes are funnier! 

Even on a night like tonight when I wasn’t completely “up” when I left for the club.  One of my friends who I often say is the brother I never had, started teasing me as soon as he walked in.  I’m sorry, but there is just no way I can stay at anything resembling a low point when he starts ribbing me.  I just HAVE to give it back, much to the amusement of his wife!  Even his entreaties that she jump to his defense fall on deaf ears as she sits back to enjoy the show!  And tonight was no exception.  Within minutes, he had me laughing and the rest of the evening was a blast!  The music was good, the dances, the ones we loved.  We were all sweaty and gross by the time we left, but we also had huge smiles on our faces. 

So, my friends, dance like nobody’s watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like you don’t need the money, because if it comes from the heart, it will always work!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my mother’s misguided attempt to teach me grace.
2. I am grateful for my wonderful, crazy, witty friends.
3. I am grateful that I am becoming stronger and healthier.
4. I am grateful for sunny weekends with many opportunities to be out in the sunshine.
5. I am grateful for so many opportunities to find my joy.

Love and light.

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