Sunday, November 25, 2012


When we turn in dance, we must “spot.”  That means to pick a spot on the wall that you keep your eyes glued to while you are turning.  Then you whip your head around immediately to find the spot again.  In this way you can turn many times without becoming dizzy and you can end up where you want.

If you focus your eyes all around the room as you turn, you will get dizzy and disoriented. 
The metaphor here is pretty simple -- what we focus on is what we experience – but sometimes we focus too much on what we think we desire, and when we end up there, we’re not really sure it’s where we wanted to be after all. 

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on a goal without limiting your expectations.  I really admire that.

I have not been able to expand my view of what I believe is possible for me to achieve.  Somehow I get stuck in the painfully familiar place of feeling “not good enough” and think it might be better not to focus on my goal at all.   I tend to make them smaller as time goes on, anyway, inadvertently limiting myself.  

Every now and then I think I should just let go and make an uncontrolled turn and see where I end up.  It’s not pretty.  And I can end up on my ass. 

However I know that there are certain things that I can focus on while I’m “turning” that are important to me and can be accomplished immediately.  Although they are simple, it’s easy to succumb to fear and forget my intention.  I guess that’s why it’s called a “practice.”

I can stay present in the moment and choose to do what brings me joy.  I can decide to trust my process and be open to every opportunity.  I can remember to be kind to myself and everyone else.  I can remember that love is all that matters. 

So I feel that if I can make these things my “spot,” then no matter how uncontrolled my turn is, I’ll end up in a place that’s probably pretty good.  And maybe even better than I could have imagined.

Have you found your spot?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love Song

Once you are sick of a song -- or if you can’t remember why you first fell in love with it – you just don’t want to dance to it anymore.  If that music doesn’t inspire you to move, you start to feel as if your shoes were made of lead.  It’s hard to tread lightly or to even pick up your foot to go forward.

However, sometimes you can change your perception of the song.  You might hear a drum or sax thread in it that you really hadn’t noticed before.  Or you can perceive a depth in the music that at first you may not have appreciated.  You might try to do a new movement to an old song that makes it fresh again.  

You can’t force yourself to love a song.  There is a certain chemistry between you and the melody that’s ephemeral and not explainable.  Once you get tired of a song, if you can’t appreciate different things about it or re-capture your synchronicity, it is difficult to move to its beat.  If your movement supports the song and the song supports your movement, there is mutual reverence and love, so your appreciation can grow.  Repetition brings familiarity and familiarity can breed deeper understanding, love and respect.  

If you don’t listen to the music while you are dancing (or feel its beat) you will be either ahead of it or behind it—you will not be in sync.  This is like thinking about what you are going to say while the other person is trying to communicate – you just won’t really hear what he is saying.

Familiar songs can evoke deep emotions.  Listen to Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World.”  I defy you to be unemotional.

Old songs that we love go deep into our hearts.  We may forget to appreciate the songs we are familiar with, but the experience of hearing and appreciating them again, can renew us.  

Love never dies; it’s the only thing that’s real.  

It’s the same with relationships.  Sometimes it’s essential to go your own way, but it is also healing and inspirational to remember why you first fell in love – even if you’ve moved on.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hear the Music

Sometimes when there is a new person in my class who is struggling with the choreography, I try to help her during the class from my place in the front.  One of two things often happens:  either I’m shouting “RIGHT foot, RIGHT foot….” and the person, very intent on the movement, is just not hearing me, or I (belatedly) realize I am indicating the WRONG foot and it’s a good thing she really wasn’t listening.

I try to deliver the “right” message.  Sometimes I’m not heard at all.  Other times, I’m wrong.  Whether I’m right or wrong, though, it feels really good to be heard. 

In life, as in dance, when I am understood, the validation goes both ways -- I feel validated and so do you.  We understand each other.

Often we don’t hear what another person is telling us.  Maybe it’s because we are focused on thinking about something else or maybe we are thinking about how we are going to retort, rather than really listening.  There’s also the chance that we don’t want to hear or simply can’t absorb what another is trying to communicate.

I remember this from the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle:  The youngest son, Dewey, has just seen a television ad about a toy he wants.  He asks his mom, Lois, if she’ll get it for him. 
Lois says, “No, sorry, Dewey.”  In his mind’s eye, Dewey sees Lois saying instead, “Hmmmmm.  I don’t know.  Ask me again.”

Dewey asks again.  This time Lois says, “I said no, Dewey.  It’s too expensive.”  What Dewey hears is, “Gee.  Maybe.  Ask me again.  Louder.”

And so on.

I remember being in a serious relationship that was stormy.  (I take equal responsibility for this.)  I wanted to convey to my partner that I wasn’t happy and that I didn’t want to live the way we were living.  I was trying to initiate change in the relationship.  It felt like I was banging my head on a brick wall over and over again.  I knew I was not being heard, but kept at it.  I got tired of hearing the sound of my own voice.  I’m sure he was, too, but I have a long fuse, so I stuck with this relationship. 

But then, tired of speaking just to move the air around, I turned a corner.  Once you turn that corner, you can’t go back.  You are just, profoundly, done.  

When all efforts brought the same results, finally, I had to leave and I said so. 

His reaction was, “What??!  You’re leaving me???? Why????”



Ask the neighbors.

We are only responsible for how and what message we send another.  We can’t take responsibility for how that person receives it.  

There’s a part of us that knows when a person is not receiving our communication and we want to take hold of that person and throttle him until he listens.  (I told you it was a stormy relationship.)  

But we can’t.  Or we can try, but that’s a whole lot of head-banging for nothing.

No matter how much you love another person, or how much chemistry there may be, when you can’t hear each other and then, further, believe what you’re hearing, there is a corner that will be turned.

Hearing each other -- really perceiving what is being communicated -- is what makes us peaceful and happy together.  Once we understand, there could still be problems to surmount, but the struggle is half over when we’ve really listened.

If you can truly hear the music, whether it’s just in your head or blaring from a speaker -- that’s when you can really dance.