Dancing Fool Competes: But WHY??

Yes, there is that question. competition

Considering that I seem to be colorblind when it comes to blue ribbons…..or any color ribbon at all. Competition holds no meaning to me, so why would I decide to dip my high-heeled dance shoes into a Ballroom Dance competition at all?

I spent some quality time in front of my potbellied stove to craft an answer over the weekend. The birds and I came up with a response as I witnessed the sunrise bringing light to the day….and my thinking.

I’m all about learning, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me. The process of the dance lesson alone intrigues me. How does my teacher move from Point A–a simple box step–to Point B–a cross-over with hip motion, and then beyond, resulting in a beautifully crafted rumba? Especially from me, someone who had never danced a step until about 3 years ago, a woman who resisted dancing to the point where I spent more time hiding in a lounge’s restroom than sitting anywhere near the dance floor? As a teacher myself, albeit in a vastly different arena, I appreciate and embrace the challenge from my perspective: the student.

I may not be competitive with others on the dance floor–or just about anywhere else (well, maybe on a racquetball court, so come back later for that story)–but my internal dialogue challenges me. How was my crossover yesterday? Today it must be better, or I’ll exhaust myself trying. I don’t need my rumba to be perfect, but it must be the best I can achieve. And therein lies my competition–me.

Competing may slake my thirst for continuing to move along the line of my dance experience. It seems a natural progression for me, as a woman with no dance partner and some decent moves on the dance floor. I may hate the whole thing–but there is only one way to find out.

Let’s do it!

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Consider yourself warned…..

too late

Consider yourself warned…..

  • Eating junk food as your daily entree turns your body to junk. How could it not?
  • Joking about not exercising won’t be comical when you’re 70 and your legs and core won’t get you up off that comfy sofa any longer. It will be funny to those watching, though.
  • Smoking will be the death of you, one way or the other. Yes, YOU. Did you like taking that last breath, the one that just went in without any effort at all? If you smoke–yes, YOU–those breaths are numbered. Start counting.
  • Arteries in all kinds of places in your body can–and will–harden to the point that other important things CAN’T, guys. Yes, that one! Why doctors don’t harp on this with their male patients escapes me. If young men knew this NOW, they might take better care of themselves, because we know what gets their attention, above all else, right??
  •  That gorgeous “bad boy” will be bad for you, girls. Be careful, very careful, who you choose.
  • The trite platitude “It’s never too late” is a lie. Some mistakes can never be corrected, some missed opportunities will never circle back around for a second look. Live intentionally, not by the default position of “what will be, will be.” It made for a great tune, but the lyrics simply made its creator a rich man, not necessarily a happy one.

To reflect on your life with regret is devastating. Consider yourself warned, today, before it IS too late!

 

 

 

Dancing fool competes…..

Yes, I’ve made the decision to enter my first ballroom dance competition.  Yikes!

What’s up with that? I freaked out doing a performance at my own dance studio, so how will I handle dancing in front of lots more people? That’s a good question you’ve just asked, I must admit.

Here’s how I figure it. In my former life, I taught hundreds of teachers at any one time, so this should be easy. Right?

We’ll find out! My instructor and I will be preparing and then we’ll head on down to the Hilton here in Jacksonville on June 20th. I’m going to take all of you along on this ride, beginning with today’s dance lesson.

We talked about what dances I want to compete in at what levels (waltz and rumba), and then we danced. He talked: We can’t do that in a competition at that level, we have to be back here in 8 beats, make sure your heel is down before moving the other foot…..

And you know what? I’m in heaven…..

Stay tuned!

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Putting sand back in the hourglass……

“It’s never too late.”

Um, yes it is. I hate to add fuel to anyone’s already overactive angst, but I’ve run into this gremlin way too much this week. It hides under the bed, waiting to snap at your ankles as you get out of the bed in the morning, or huddles in your closet ready to grab your wrist as you dress for an evening out with friends.

Time is a controlled substance and a commodity that doesn’t care what you do with it. It keeps ticking away as you make decisions, no matter how valid or valuable those choices are–or not.

When we are young, the end of our life is so far away, out there in the misty future, that we waste a lot of that controlled substance. People give us advice, but we don’t listen. None of us do. Maybe we even ask people we trust for guidance, but as the decision looms closer, we do what we want, often counter to that advice. And our own best interests.

But, in reality, we presuppose that time will never run out for us. The gremlin has bitten my ankles, though, and drawn blood this week. And I never did make it to the event I was dressing for as another wizened goblin  twisted my wrist to the point of tears.

Regret is the offspring of wasted time. Wasted chances. Unfortunate choices that will never be  cleaned up, decades later, as I now recognize where the road zigged and I should have….not.

I know better now. About many things. But my biggest regret is that the sands that trickled out of the hourglass of my life–my life, for God’s sake!–can never be funneled back into that delicate vessel.

Rather than end on that desolate note, here is what I would tell young(er) people from my vantage point today:

  • Behave as if today is your last day on this spinning top. Because it might be. Think about that with dedication every morning of your life, BEFORE the goblin snaps at you.
  • Spend time now considering what kind of life you want. What kind of partner is best for you. What career fits your goals and personality. And then set your course to get those things.
  • Don’t let other people–ANYONE–live your life for you. Make choices and decisions based on what you want for you, not what will make them happy. Seeking out advice in advance is advisable, but make sure these people don’t have a stake in the outcome of their words of wisdom. Consider if they have an agenda counter to yours, and then do what is best way for you to embrace the life you want, the one you spent valuable time unearthing. (Besides, some people are idiots, let’s face it.)
  • Spend time learning to love yourself. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs understand that the fact that you are here is all that is necessary for you to be “good enough.” Period.
  • Have more fun. Laugh, be silly, watch clouds once in a while. Dance, or paint, or write, or blow bubbles every day. Whatever. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. To realize this near the end of your life is excruciatingly dismal.

Believe me.

Details, details….

“What’s an encyclopedia?”

The question was posed in earnest, no shame in asking, right?

What astounded me the most was that it had never occurred to me, baby boomer in full regalia, that there are  people inhabiting my  planet who had never seen one. Encyclopedia, that is.

You might have a different thought here. Why were we even discussing such a topic?

Trivia. No, the answer isn’t trivial. It was the topic of conversation that day–trivia games and our various aptitudes for bringing forth irrelevant and unimportant scraps of information, often tamped down deep in our grey matter.

I’m good at trivia. So good that many worthy combatants have gone down like a jet in a massive nosedive. Never to darken my card table again. (Yes, I do also have a problem with people disappearing from my life, but that’s a topic for another dark, vodka-steeped day.)

Anyway, I started wondering where I got all these disconnected, obscure facts. I do read–a lot–but today I devour detective novels and sappy love stories, not historical nonfiction. Even though I taught history for years, but it was to 13-year olds so it doesn’t count. I read to escape, so I know all the shades of grey and every formula for motive-means-and-opportunity.

Ah, but wait! As a kid, growing up in my house could be, well, distracting. (I was thinking of using another word, but some of those people will be reading this, so….) A therapist later told me (oops, another clue) I reverted to a soul-saving technique called “duck and cover.” And my activity while I was cowering, er, I mean covering, was to read the encyclopedia. In my room, curled up on my bed to make myself as tiny as I could be. Maybe that way they couldn’t see me, right?

I must have filed all that A-Z data in a lockbox way behind my ears. And when the trivia games heat up, the skeleton key to the box magically appears with a flourish and I WIN! I’m as surprised as my opponents when those answers fly out of me, unbidden.

Young people don’t know, have never even seen, the 24-volume set of books containing the knowledge of the world, right there for anyone–including little girls hiding under the covers–to devour.  So, how do we preserve concepts like this for today’s devotees of Google? They carry the uber-encyclopedia around with them in a pocket or their hand and don’t have any historical frame of reference for it.

Astounding. Or is it like schools that don’t teach handwriting any more? Does it really matter?

Trivia anyone? Like, aren’t there 26 letters in the alphabet?

A……Haiket?

 A Haiku*—or two:

Being older means

looking back and wondering

which wrong turn mattered.

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had not turned away

from this road—or that?

 
 

Or if I had let

my head-strong will and my heart

have equal footing?

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had taken control

and embraced MY dream?

 
 

Being mature means

seeing with clearer vision,

what truly matters.

 
 

It can also mean

embracing a new vision—

Embracing one’s heart.

 
 

Today, I look back

and see that multiple paths

rose up before me.

 
 

Some say “no regrets.”

I say we don’t learn the truth

by ignoring it.

 
 

Being mature means

Finding peace from knowing

My life is…as is.

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*Haiku is a very structured form of poetry that originated in Japan. I choose to write in the traditional style of Haiku for the discipline demanded from its structure:

First line = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Second line = 7 (and ONLY 7) syllables

Third = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Traditionally, also, Haiku is meant to be a snapshot of something in nature. A butterfly resting on a rose. The sunrise. A flower dancing in the evening breeze, awash in its mysterious scent. Any Haiku I have written to date follows this dictate for the most part.

For a writer who normally runs on and on (meaning me), this is first an exercise in being succinct and precise. I love it! In most cases, though, Haiku is simply ONE set of three lines: 5-7-5. Being me, though, I have chosen to string together a series of “Haikus” into one cohesive “Haiket.” There….I invented a new form of poetry!

I have also been indulgent here, and used this beautiful art form to reflect my soul as I move into–and through, because we are never done– the status of Active Master. We do not stop desiring or hoping or striving as we age. People who say we do are, well, boring and have probably always been that way.

We are simply more wrinkled as we do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will it be?

retirement_road

As I moved through the first day of my retirement, everyone kept asking me what I had done all day, as if my work day had to be supplanted with something. Right?

Our society is fueled by work. We learn a trade as young adults and then we practice that brand of work in order to earn the currency that is traded for it. That currency then is traded for our lives. Literally. We eat, we have a roof to sleep under, we clothe ourselves. So, we must then work some more to sustain the whole thing.

Is it any surprise to anyone, then, that we align our entire identity with the most visible talisman of our worth? The one that sustains and insures that the wheels stay on the track of our existence?

When we stop working, what happens to the whole system then? In the case of retirement (because there are people who intentionally jump ship earlier on purpose), we have traded all that currency as long as is necessary in our society, and hopefully have enough to sustain us throughout. Until we die.

Maybe that’s the rub. We realize that our end is breathing down our necks, a salivating beast that we cannot hope to outrun. Many people avoid retirement at all costs, fearing what lies on the other side of that alarm clock that jangles them awake at the crack of dawn.

Others fill it up with more work. We’ll see how I do.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
Vince Lombardi