I have a confession to make. I dance around the house for no reason other than it makes me happy, and sometimes, I do it in heels. My dog looks at me funny from time to time, but I think he’s gotten use to my random bursts of movement.
I step, I salsa, I groove, and I do the running man when it hits me. I’m a dancer, through and through. No, I wasn’t classically trained in ballet. No, I didn’t participate in summer dance intensives. I hear music in my head and I move to it.
Growing up, I listened to jazz, gospel, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, hip-hop, country… you name it. Thanks to my family, I was exposed to some good stuff and that goodness would seep beneath my pores and I would be compelled to let it out. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain would get a mix of hair swinging and stepping. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would get head bobs and horrible attempts at whistling. Going through my uncle’s cassette drawer was like eating at a musical candy factory. I was in heaven every time I could sneak a listen.
Now the cassette and headphones have been replaced with streaming queues and bluetooth speakers, but I dance just as hard. Music will always be in my DNA no matter how old I get. It makes me feel alive and healthy, running fine on all cylinders – even if but for 3:32. Diving into my audible ocean means everything to me and I always resurface better than before. I think the freedom makes me a better choreographer.
What do you do that gives you unadulterated happiness? Is it bike riding? Rollerskating? Painting? Cooking? Whatever it is, I pray that you get to do it before the year ends and whenever the mood strikes. Get some happy in your life!
The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.
On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.
The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.
And that, we did.
The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.
The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.
It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.
Now that we’re tangoing with the new year, I’d like to dare you to do a few a things. Not the cheesy stuff, but the things you may not be thinking of… yet. Designate an envelope for each of the month’s listed below and include these instructions for your future self.
On February 14th, don’t wait for someone to shower you with love. Depending upon how they feel, you may not feel loved that day, so write a brief letter to yourself to open that day. Start commemorating by loving yourself.
When Easter approaches, spring colors will be everywhere and I pray you feel just as invigorated to spring into the goals you’ve set for the year. The truth is, you may not. As for me, every April, I become deeply reflective. Both of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month and they played a significant role in raising me. So, I miss them all the more and I remind myself of lessons they taught me. Maybe spring marks a special event for you. Write an encouraging reminder to yourself for that season… that things change and blooming takes time and labor, both of which you possess to make your dreams grow.
Juneis the month for weddings. If those are not your favorite events to attend, consider writing your current or future significant other. Better yet, send a card to one of your favorite couples, you know, the one that makes you smile when you see or think of them. A card in their mailbox would be perfect.
Augustis back-to-school time. Instead of complaining about revving up the routine again, try writing an encouraging message to read to your future self or your children that month. Maybe it’s goals that you or your child(ren) want to accomplish that school year. Maybe it’s organizational tips to make semester better than the last. Maybe it’s a reminder to be patient with the Walmart checkout lines. Either way, your future self will be grateful for the fresh air.
Gratefulness spills over the month of Novemberand it’s also the home of Veteran’s Day. Go grab a box of greeting cards and give them veterans that you know and even those you don’t. Seek out your nearest VA facility and share the love. After all, they shared themselves for our sake. Do you know what else November hosts? Stress Awareness Day and Go for a Ride Day! Pick a place in your state that you’ve never seen and explore how beautiful it is. I have a few spots I love to randomly indulge throughout the year. It’s the perfect reminder that your troubles aren’t too big for God to handle.
When the cold air snaps, people bundle up and cuddle up. If you’re single during that time, you may not have “all the feels.” Pick 5 scriptures (one for each week) to meditate on during the month of December. Reflect freely (ugly cry included if you have to) and pray about your direction for the new year. Treat yourself to dessert and prepare to address one fear before midnight strikes.
“Spiritually cloudy days” can creep up at any time, so you have to think ahead. When the months roll around, take out the envelope with the month’s name written on the front and do or marinate on what it says. Your future self will smile and thank you for it.
Peace & Thanks for listening!
*Special shoutout to one of my favorite Instagram accounts It’s A Day Really. Check them out as often as you can. They remind that there is always something to celebrate. *smile*
After an invigorating dance-in-the-dark party in February, I was all about having my private party on the night before my August 20th birthday. What better way to celebrate my fresh wind of feminism than with other Wonder Women? I hand-picked a few close friends that I thought would appreciate the unique experience and invited them to dance their heart in with me. When the dust settled, seven ladies were confirmed and I was elated to rock with them.
Related Sidebar: I’m an Olympics fanatic. Seriously. I try to watch everything. You know how the U. S. Women’s Gymnastics Team is usually earmarked with a nickname? We’ve witnessed the Magnificent Seven (Atlanta 1996), the Fierce Five (London 2012), and recently in Rio, the Final Five to commemorate the retirement of legendary gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi. Epic.
I decided to jump on board and nickname these seven sisters + our beautiful host Shannon. They were the Exceptional Eightand this new band of supersheroes were about to embark my birthday SOL ship voyage. Sidebar complete.
I’m a thinker, so I reviewed the dynamics. Three of the attendees were my sorority sisters. Two of the eight ladies I knew since grade school. The remaining two women, I met in college. And Shannon? She was a sister on-site. Our kindred spirits kindled a positive energy that burned over emails and spilled over into our face-to-face encounter. I loved how she fit right into our type of crazy. I even had an icebreaker planned just in case my multiple circles needed some communicative coaxing, but as Shannon pointed out, they already had something in common…me. Each one of them represented a part of me that identified with them, so why wouldn’t they blend? I must admit. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how the session would turnout for them, but it resulted in an explosion of laughter mixed with bursting sounds of pure joy and freedom. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a beautiful blend.
Soon, it was lights out and we danced the night away to a perfect mix of my favorite jams (Did I mention perfect?). We ate until our sweet tooths were satisfied. We shared words of love and humor and you could see the strings of sisterhood weaving among us. We were SOL-tied, a band of professional women that had worked hard during the day, but needed the unique forge of fortitude that night. One of my sisters even had to get up for work at 3:00 AM the next day, but was still energized when she woke up. It was that electric. I saw their faces relax and for a moment, we weren’t wives, mothers, students, caregivers…we were an assembly of queens drinking from the pool of cooling strength and being fitted in new armor for the world that awaited us. The shattered stress from our daily roles lie on pieces of pink paper around us and no one walked out in the same manner in which they entered. Everyone returned to the lobby a little taller, brighter, and ready to obliterate any obstacle in her path.
We were walking with sunlight in our pockets and positivity in our hearts.
Our steps had rays of sunshine beaming underneath as we matriculated to our night-kissed cars.
To say that those dance steps charged our feminine energy packs would be an understatement. We may have put on the same shoes, but they didn’t feel the same.
Each quarter, I challenge my first-term students to engage in “15 Minutes of Fame.” This is where they find an emotionally-safe spot (closet, car, bathroom, etc.), turn on their favorite song(s), and absolutely lose themselves in the music. No pressure to dance or sing, just the dropping of caked-on inhibitions for a few minutes in order to refuel the soul. Well, I clocked in my 15-minutes this week… and then some.
For 55 minutes, I danced my heart IN
after pouring much of it out for the last few months
and I loved every second of it.
It began with an invitation to participate in a “Dancing In The Dark” party with my writer’s group. Just the thought of it made me excited to attend. The energy was loving, encouraging, and full of camaraderie when I walked in. We wore what we felt was comfortable and the care for body-type was null and void. After a round of laughs, a few photos, and a quick rundown from our facilitator and it was lights off-music on.
The mix of audible goodness fertilized our eagerness to let go of the day’s demands and celebrate our group founder’s birthday. Immediately, my arms flew up and my eyes adjusted to the un-need to close them. I had moves that made the angels blush. They probably covered their faces with their wings. It was great. I was alive and electric. No one could see each other, but everyone could feel their own light shining in the room. We screamed, chanted, and sang our way to liberation in the middle of a workweek. It was a fantastic relief. My body was sore, but I didn’t care. The moment was about me, not what happened to me physically, spiritually, or mentally.
If you had the honor to peek into our session,
you would have seen the weight of social roles breaking around the room and shattering like glass shackles on the dance floor.
For almost an hour, we weren’t wives, mothers, employees, supervisors, etc. We were all-shades-of-woman gaining control of our existence. It was evident on our faces when the lights floated back on and we resurfaced from our pools of freedom.
I began the evening with the thought of “I’m going to dance my heart out.” I said it to myself, but stopped at the word heart and instead of saying out, I heard in. I was determined to dance my heart IN that night. It reminded me of Proverbs 4:23 –
“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.”
Everyday I pour my heart into the things I do, because they are extensions of who I am. I teach, tutor, sing, dance, serve, and speak because it flows from my heart. It’s not a bad thing, but it does take a toll if I don’t refuel and regroup. In my freshman orientation course, we discuss “who you are” versus “what you are.” Easy is the road to becoming engulfed in the roles you play in life without filling up the bucket of what makes you awesome.
Pouring into multiple vessels can only occur if your “who you are” bucket is full; otherwise, you’ll end up still trying to pour with a cantankerous pail from a barren well.
God is pretty cool at this task. Fill up with His view of you. You’re an awesome creation with beautiful springs of life. I encourage you to refuel with your own “15 -Minutes of Fame” some time. You could do it in your living room, but there’s something special about being in good company as you disrobe your soul. SOL Dance Exchange is the perfect segue way to unravel the ropes of personal and social constructs. Say hi to Laura and enjoy.
Go for it. Dance your heart IN and let me know how it goes. *smile*