Behind the Curtain….

We all have things we are afraid of, so we hide behind our own curtains. Every so often we may peek out for a view…but how many times do we just sit and wait. Sometimes we let others perform, even open the curtain for others. But, what’s behind your “curtain” in life?

Behind the Curtain....

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Why are you hiding?

Every stage has a curtain, either actual or imaginary. Some use curtains that raise or open. Others simply need a spotlight turned on. Either way it is the beginning, the show is about to start! So you step out onto that stage with nervous, yet joyful anticipation. An audience is there waiting….will you entertain from your heart, or your head? Will you listen to your critics and hide again? Or will you rise up above to earn and then hear the cheers from the audience?

Find YOUR meaning in your LIFE performance.

Standing in the SPOTLIGHT with a down pool of light washing over you, you are exposed in a sense, yet the audience is hidden from your sight. Everyone sees YOU, yet you can’t see THEM.  Will you freeze in that moment or will you embrace the light and express that person that has been hiding behind the curtain. You can feel the heat of the lights on your face and then the music starts. It’s time to “DANCE.” Yes, that curtain may eventually close at times. The curtain in your life will rise up and down; it will open and close; but if you hold on tight to your courage, your confidence, YOU can take charge.

What a glorious moment that will be!!!

Step out from behind that curtain and take YOUR spot on the STAGE of LIFE.

Your audience awaits….

TREE of LIFE… (Five Minute Free Write)

 

©2013 Dancinmoma

©2013 Dancinmoma

I watch as you bend in the wind, gently, with a calming rocking motion. You are my PEACE. You are my breath. You are my pillar of STRENGTH.

With you in my world, within my view…I can reflect on my life.

I can LEARN. I can PRAY. I can GROW.

Your leaves change to beautiful colors, creating a canvas of painted beauty. I see your leaves float down – from your branches, like wings from an angel.

You stand strong in the cold, winter chill, painting another piece of nature’s artwork with the glistening snow that sits on your branches.

As the ice melts and drips from your branches, a bud emerges again. Leaves fill your branches, enduring the weather that you storm. Branches may fall, but your inner roots remain intact. You are my HOPE and RENEWAL. You, like all of us, are rooted in LOVE; as you thrive through seasons of change.

You are GOD’S BEAUTY; right outside my kitchen window. You are always there. I can count on you. You are a BLESSING. As the sun sets and rises behind you; I am surrounded in GRATITUDE.

 

You show me GRACE as I rock along with you in the wind, or sit beneath you and look up to your magnificent glory.

You are my HOPE for the future. You are never-ending, unconditional, and pure LOVE rooted with unequivocal FAITH…

The Dance…

The music starts.

Your heart starts beating nearly uncontrollably as the countdown signals your entrance.

You take a deep breath, toss shoulders back and swing aside the curtain.

You’re on stage.

Focused… you sense applause as you head toward the spotlight greet to your dance partner. You catch each other’s eyes, smile and off you go… to entertain the audience and raise money for charity. It’s “Swingshift and the Stars.”

DANCING from your hearts.

One year ago today I experienced that joy and fear. I stepped out of my comfort zone into a world of “ballroom” dancing for a charity dance-off.

Photo by Record Eagle

Photo by Record Eagle 2014

What an adventure! Through hours of rehearsal and perspiration, my partner and I developed a mutual trust. We agreed to attempt  “lifts” I swore I could never accomplish. See that girl on the man’s shoulder? It’s me! I call that the “Peter Pam,” as it was the closest I ever felt to flying. 😉

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Yes, I have taught dancers how to safely perform lifts, and I have done too many to count as a young dancer. But 20 years and three children later… this was a big, nerve-wracking decision!

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

“The Dance.”

For me, it’s what life is all about. Dance is a gift of art and self-expression that must be shared. Because I live that philosophy, I know that dance on the highest levels requires balance, grace, coordination, and athleticism. To me the most important elements are your emotional commitment and the passion behind the movements. I believe this applies not only to DANCING but everyday life. We need more passion in our actions!

Through these performances I learned that facing fears directly can be exhilarating and intensely satisfying when you achieve what you never thought possible, or had been afraid to try. And that is what my run on the charity dance-off “Swingshift and the Stars” accomplished for me. I competed as a dance professional in the four-month-long  charity dance-off. I was paired with a local celebrity. We invested over 5 months of rehearsals. It allowed me time to learn new steps and then teach them to my celebrity partner, a self-proclaimed non-dancer. We mastered intricate routines for the four separate competitive events in which we were to compete.

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo by Windborne Photographic

Photo By Windborne Photographic

Photo By Windborne Photographic

I personally learned four different dances; each with its own rhythms, footwork, arm holds, turns, emotion, character and styles. First was a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers-inspired Foxtrot, followed by a John Travolta-inspired hustle. For the country-themed event we performed a West Coast Swing. The finale was a spicy, very spicy Latin Bolero (waaaaay out of my territory) but I DID it!!

With the support of fans and sponsors, and the votes of judges, our hard work brought in over $130,000 for Leelanau Christian Neighbors!! I believe when you put your heart into something (whether its dance or something else) you will be rewarded for your effort. For this event, our community joined together, for an all-time record. Over $300,000 was raised for the 2014 season.

Swingshift award

We did it! I did! The community did it! And what we achieved for the charities fills my soul to the core.

Overflowing with gratitude a year later, my heart continues to fuel my daily life with family, friends and teaching. Returning to the event for this season as a judge has already touched my heart in ways I didn’t expect. I know how hard these couples are working (along with everyone else behind the scenes). I get a little choked up thinking about the impact they will make for their charities and the precious folks they will help.

YOU can make a difference too…in those tiny moments, in those big moments and just by offering a smile to someone.

The music is starting…

Join me as we all grab each other’s hands, listen to our hearts, find that passion to drive our action… and DANCE!!!

Connection.

copyright 2015 Dancinmoma

I’ve realized recently, that I seem to be on this journey to find connections; connections that are meaningful, soulful and flawed…like me. I’m not talking about romantic connections…just heart to heart moments that mean something when you walk away, so that you can actually feel better about the world and know that we are ALL imperfect but loved.

By taking a moment to talk with people with different backgrounds, different feelings, unique stories and thoughts… you can learn a lot about yourself and others, but only if you truly LISTEN. Unfortunately, human nature allows individuals to immediately judge a person, even while you are talking directly to them! It is hard not to let that inner ego/selfish voice within take over, but if we learn to turn that negative voice down or mute it even, your heart will OPEN even more… You may even change that person’s life.

Can’t we all just be imperfect and flawed together, without judgement?

To me the world is NOT and never will be… black and white. There are far too many layers of each human being to truly KNOW them. Think of the many intricate parts of each person that is wired differently, based from perception, to self-worth, to their past and what they have learned from each obstacle or challenge they have faced.

So I’m on this mission share good things when the thought pops in my head or an opportunity presents itself to friends, family and people I may not even know… In fact, I told a construction worker yesterday, that his joyful smile and wave, as I pass through the road work construction every day, literally makes my day! When I ran into him at a gas station nearby, I didn’t have to say anything, but I felt the need to within myself, so I did (as maybe, just maybe, he needed to hear that). His response was very humble. “My mama always taught me that a little smile can go a long way!”

Yes it can.

All it takes is one tiny spark to light the fire within.

So I challenge you to join me on my quest to find connections in the world, to see humans in a better light. Say something nice, that you truly mean, to someone today… or offer up a smile to a stranger…

YOU may just make a difference.

 

Fit to be an Irish Queen?

This is a tale of how a lucky girl was “fit to be a queen” on a weekend in March of 2014…Princess Crown

Irish flags are waving. Green shamrocks are all around. Bagpipes are tuning. Men strut around in plaid kilts carrying a pint in their hand. Wee ones run around with green beads flicking. Lucky ‘gold’ coins adorn the tables. The Irish spirit and sounds fill the air! It’s a cacophony of noise. But hey, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. The official parade kickoff ceremony is beginning, in a pub, of course.DSC07366

The sounds of voices chatting in our local pub, applause, laughter, a speech from time to time. I brush aside Danny Boy’s hair. He told me he was to be the Lord Mayor of this year’s parade. As I was prepping him for his big moment… I notice more than a few sets of eyes on me. Daniel is Skyping with his parents and sisters in Florida. I wave.  They are grinning at me like Cheshire cats.

Gradually, I tune into the words a lovely Irish woman is saying…apparently she is introducing someone…Hmmmm….

DSC07374This person graduated from MSU? And a Dance student? Communications major? Her family lineage goes back to County Roscommon in the Emerald Isle? Wow! I could totally hang out with this lass! We’re virtual clones. As I process the similarities between this girl and myself…. I pause… and look at Danny Boy. He has that same Cheshire cat grin I can still see on the ‘Skypers’. And my son has the video going, pointing at me.  Hadn’t noticed that before. Wait! They are talking about me? DSC07373

I thought Danny Boy was to be the “Lord Mayor” this year. Confused and bewildered, I hear applause. People are helping Danny push me toward the stage. They are crowning me the 2014 Irish Queen? What?! As I try to catch my breath, I am wrapped in a beautiful vest and shawl adorned with unique pins. And a real crown is placed on my head! More applause. Now they want me to talk? OMG! I babble on about being in shock, I kick up my legs a little for a pretend jig.  I pull out an Irish Toast I had prepared for my hubby, since I thought this was HIS day.

                                I one day woke to a stormy night, twas not a single star.

                                Morning brought a rainbow clear, I followed it afar.

                                There I found to my delight, a prize beyond all measure;

                                Aye, no pot of gold, but YOU my dear, the REAL TREASURE.

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I am honored and embarrassed by the attention, yet I enjoy it too! I am told that I am the 36th Irish Queen. Each beautiful soul, virtually every previous Queen, women with stories and hearts full of love, come up and proudly point out the pins on their identical hunter green shawl. I’m invited to tea at high noon and a bunch of other things. It’s all a blur, quite frankly. If there is a local royalty even for a second, I can feel it. I also sense an intense desire building to learn more about the Irish Queens who went  before. I must follow-up on that. IMG_3549

Then the Irish music kicks in. The parade begins its slow but happy journey. Hey! I get to ride in a car even! And the chauffer? My own Lord of the Leprechauns… my hubby… O’ Danny Boy. Caseman (my favorite second-oldest son) will ride in the passenger seat while little Miss McKenzie sits on my lap to help wave along the parade route. The Irish Teen (Brady, my favorite oldest son) waves, then disappears into the crowd to find his best lads and lassies. 😉 The day is sunny but c-c-c-c-c-cold, really cold. Feels like it might snow! No big deal…I know there will be plenty of Irish Music, a pint or two of Guinness and an Irish jig coming up shortly. I’m warming up already!

I see friends on the route waving their Irish flags. Casey jumps out to run alongside (Yes, Dan stopped first.) Brady and his friends join in. The frosty breeze nips at my nose. What a true Irish Blessing, however frigid. After a fabulous spin around downtown Traverse City, more than a few “queenly waves” — McKenzie seemed like a natural at the task — and much dancing, we arrive at the destination where the celebration begins in earnest. Adorned in my queen’s garb passed down from queen to queen, I accept the pint handed to me — as any Irish Queen most certainly should—  and make my way to the dance floor. IMG_3534

Teaching Celtic dance is a passion of mine, so I might as well… aye? ‘Tis time for a wee little Jig or two…”Your Majesty!” 😉

As a thank you for sharing this memory with me, I’ll leave you with a little limerick:

So the tiara may tilt sideways at times

It may not always shimmer,

But what lies within the Irish Soul is what really counts,

It’s a light that is sure to glimmer.

– Pamela Murphy McCormick

Dear 2014

Dear 2014,

As we round out another year full of triumph, defeat and a multitude of blessings (some in disguise) I bid you adieu. I thank you for yet another chance to experience life and all it has to offer. I thank you for humility. I thank you for strength and endurance. I thank you for a sense of humor.

We have danced together; we have cried together, we have covered our eyes in fear and opened our eyes to miracles. We held hands tight in a number of disappointing moments, yet we overcame and raised our hands up to celebrate!

We were heartbroken in loss, but hugged in sorrow. We opened our eyes again to love and to the little moments that mean more now than they ever will. We celebrated the life of loved ones no longer on this earth, yet we miss the sounds of their voice, their words of encouragement and laughter that could fill a room. We relearned the power of prayer, the power of spirit that lives on in each of us. We met angels on this earth and those in the heavens. We sang and yes we DANCED some more.

New hopes, new friends, new experiences also filled the woven patchwork of 2014. Together we changed our lives and others. We opened our eyes to possibilities and to the power of community. We opened our hearts again to LOVE that has been there all along and love that can be renewed.

2014: A year of change. A year of humility. A year of blessings. A year of sorrow. A year of LOVE. A year of DANCE. A year that I can never get back but will carry in my heart forever. God Bless you 2014. I will carry your lessons into 2015. I will pray again. I will hope again. I will BELIEVE in possibilities again in 2015 And YES, I will DANCE through LIFE again. Please, please new year, just catch me if I fall. Together we can RISE UP and celebrate the moments that have yet to unfold…

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Happy New Year!

5 Gifts of Life I have learned from my 4 year old Pre-ballerinas

Find your signature hue. The world is a blank canvas, and YOU can add all the color your precious heart desires. Hold the paintbrush in your hands and find the color that defines you right now because 5-10 minutes from now, it may morph into another, equally beautiful hue. I can hear the young dancers state their fairy wing color preferences of the day…

“Pink with Sparkles!” “Every color in the world!” “Blue with yellow polka dots!” “Purple with black swirls!” “Rainbow!” “Green, orange, and blue with pink flowers!” “No! Wait! How about…!”

Now Paint! Without overthinking, without second-guesses. Just paint, add pigment, throw in water, and mix it up. This is YOUR painting. The finished product will always hold a special place in your life’s gallery.

Touch the stars. They are tiny windows to the universe. They bring us out of darkness, and seemingly shine when we need them the most. They glimmer with hope, love and promise. Even when we think we can’t reach one anymore….we can. Go ahead. Touch them. And remember they are not always in the sky. They also shine through those around us.

Dancers up on their toes, arms lifting as high as they can reach. Reaching to the ends of their fingertips. They close their eyes and feel the heat of the light. A spin may follow as their arms extend even higher. Smiles seems to grow with their stretching. They are shining in the moment, just as the stars encompass the world in its moment.

Sing your admirations. Loud. From your heart. Like you are singing for thousands.

Uninhibited Joy unfolds as we play a favorite song in the class. Grabbing our scarves, we sing as if each was the only person in the room. Turn on your internal microphone. Crank up the volume, because this is YOUR song. It that touches your soul and moves your spirit. Sing!

Imagine. Envision. Get lost in the story. Pretend.

That’s all the pre-ballerinas require to get-away…a mind with imagination not quieted by negative internal ego. With their wheels turning, they visit oh so many places, they create, and innovate. Inspiring.

Pretend you are whoever you want to be… right now. There’s no one saying “you can’t do this” because it’s YOUR place to visit…in your head.

DANCE without inhibition, with abandoned enthusiasm. Shake it out! Feel the music, dance from your inner core, and within your soul. Feel the energy you are creating.

My hearts overflows while we dance together. I am entertained to the core. The young ones move without apprehension, they jump and turn with JOY, they don’t carry any burdens in that moment. The music is on and they must DANCE. They MUST dance. The music is ON!! 🙂

These are Five unassuming, important skills I learn every class…

in a dance studio bursting with the future of this world

and giftwrapped in a tutu.

 

Mama’s Boom in Da Room – My Messy Beautiful

©2014 Dancinmoma.com

©2014 Dancinmoma.com

“Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad” – Proverb

Yes, as in crazy or “Cray. Cray,” as the kids call it.

We are all dancers on this earth. We reach ups and downs, we bend over backwards, we turn from one place to the next, lift our arms up, put our heads down, then twist and we turn. We jump. We run, run, run and stop with our arms flailing about… If that’s not a “dance” I don’t know what is.

Of all the “dance shoes” I’ve worn in this life, the mom pair has to be the most exhilarating, most challenging, most “drive you to a place you never knew existed, drive you mad, tug your heart, 24-hour lifetime channel movie, soap opera, overwhelming, and simply JOYful experience” I have ever had.

Whew. Let me breathe for a sec.

Children (and husbands) do have a way of putting the “OY!” in JOY (sigh). You know what. I wouldn’t change ANYTHING. Motherhood may drive you to your wits-end or bring you to your most vulnerable place but it’s an ADVENTURE and I personally happen to love adventures. Motherhood is where you can tap into your inner strength, your inner beauty and things you never knew you existed within you.

I have danced on many stages in my life with audiences of all sizes, but the audience members that mean the most to me, are those tiny little toddler hands that clap and say “yaaaay” or the double-digit, emotion-filled boy (wanting to be on stage next to you), or the handsome teen-sized eyes that look at you, smile and say “sup mom.” That’s MY audience. They may not always applaud feverously, toss roses my way, give 5 star reviews and yell BRAVO… but they are there with hearts full of love and possibility. They need me. They love me, all of me, flaws and all. There’s a popular proverb quote out there that says this…

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”

That is my “mantra.” I’m certainly not a psychologist, but I guarantee that even with the most well thought out plan… you will stumble at times. (For me, I stumble more often than not, but again… if you make it part of the dance… DANCE it out sister!) So let’s crank up the music…

Boom. Ba da doom. Ba da doom boom the room. Do you hear it? 🙂

ME: “Baby’s sleeping, try to keep the noise down.” Boys get louder. I calmly repeat “Baby’s sleeping, keep it down please.” Boys get louder. Me (at the top of my lungs) “I SAID. BE QUIET. BABY’S SLEEPING!!!!” (Look who’s shouting now!) Followed by baby cries (because I, yes me, I woke up the little one).

Ahhh, Chicka, Doom, Boom… Music’s still playing.

Toddler in the bath, older child in the shower. All is good. Husband runs to store for milk. Toddler says, “Wook, mama, wook!” (as he holds up an object). Hmmmm how did a “tootsie roll” get in there? WAIT! That’s not a tootsie roll! “Yucky!” I say, as I grab “object” and immediately remove toddler from “toxic area.” Older child is now done with shower and curious. Looks into tub, sees foreign object and proceeds to “toss his cookies.” Really? Really?!! Mom proceeds to put both kids in shower for a soap rinse, dry PJs on, and then cleans mess. Husband comes home, looks at me with my disheveled frizzy, hair and wet clothes and says…

“What the heck happened to YOU?!!!” 🙂

Whata, whata…whaaaaaa…Can you still hear it?

Fast forward to a morning commute to school. Baby is still sleeping. So is Daddy (It’s my turn to drive). Boys are knee deep in the morning routine. “Grab your backpacks! Turn off the lights. Pick up your clothes.” Normal stuff. We head out on our driveway (which snakes down a large hill through some woods by the way). Moments after accelerating, remembering there may have been “freezing rain” in the forecast. Duh. Is school even open? Car catches the frozen rain, veers right, then left, sideways, and completes a 360 at the bottom of driveway, barely missing a tree. My heart is beating. Fast. There’s a short moment of silence followed by loud, cheers from the passengers. “YEAAAAH. Wooohooo! Mom’s got SKILLZ.” Why yes. Yes I do.

And the beat goes on…

So get out there…MOM’s and dddddDANCE! Work the floor, show YOUR audience what you’ve got, hear your own music… and take a BOW baby… YOU deserve it.

 

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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

 

Bounce Back!! 6 Ways to Thrive not merely survive.

©2013 Dancinmoma

©2013 Dancinmoma

 

I’m not a psychotherapist — I don’t even play one on TV — but I can comfortably predict that, in your life, whether business, family or personal, there will be not so good days and moments. You can’t avoid them, no matter how hard you try. The successful person, however, trains him or herself to take those dark times learn from them and “Bounce Back!”

We watch children fall down and encourage them to get up, brush themselves off and try again. Why is it so hard for adults to do the same? Have we been knocked down too many times? Are we so weighed down with worries that we can’t get off the ground? How do we change this negative “mindset” and soar to new heights?

This thought occurred to me while watching my kids on the neighborhood trampoline. “Watch, Mom! Watch this!” Their faces beamed as they jumped a little higher each time — the little one kept looking up, probably afraid she was going to hit the sun — and then they flipped over and landed on their feet. Then they directed their attention toward ME: You want a turn, Mom?” After several “not right now” responses, one day…I surprised myself by saying,

Sure. I’ll “Bounce” with you for a little bit.

I tentatively started to bounce in the air with small little jumps, and then soon, I was bending my knees a little more to get just a little higher, when all of a sudden I LAUGHED…OUT… LOUD…This is FUN!! My children were startled but my inner child had taken over. She grabbed onto my consciousness. Briefly I let go of worry and bounced. JUST Bounced!!! Hey! Maybe I can reach the sun. I was no longer hiding behind the curtain of life.

We will all hit hard places or surfaces in life and business, but how we “BOUNCE” back from them will make all the difference. So use the word “BOUNCE” as your reference to remember these key tenants of your thriving life:

Believe in yourself.

Own it. (Own your ideas, good and bad).

Understand (your background, your audience, why things went wrong or right).

Never give up. (Keep Trying).

Courage (Stand up with all the courage you can muster).

Enthusiasm (Use your heart and your childlike wonder to get enthused).

So BOUNCE a ball around, step in the bounce house, bounce on a trampoline and BOUNCE on!!

Are you ready to jump back in the game of life with me?

YOU are capable of rising above, you can DO THIS. Keep BOUNCING!!!