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….

Don’t Doubt…DANCE it OUT!!!

DanceItOutWhen in Doubt… DANCE it out!

Can you hear it? No, not the “voice in your head”silly. The Music!!
It’s always there within your reach. Everyone has a song or tune that speaks to them, touches their souls and inspires their inner well-being.

So… what’s your “signature tune?”

You know the one, the song that — no matter what — you will sing out loud in your car or shower; the one to which you will always get up and DANCE!

A playback button pushed or keyboard clicked will start the music that may be the one thing needed to create new ideas and chase those troubles away. So turn it up! Crank the volume and DANCE.
Okay, full disclosure. I am Dance Teacher, so music is an important part of the job, but I’m also a Wife, Mom, Writer and Editor so I’m tossing an eclectic mix of “personalities” into the world. It can get a little stressful at times, but I have always been one for multitasking. Music & Dance have been and always will be my default solutions to my challenges.

Thus my motto: “When in Doubt…Dance it out!”

To me, MUSIC and DANCE combined is actually the solution to nearly anything.
– Let’s say you have a PowerPoint of important graphics/sales forecasting, or photos from your recent vacation. Watch it for one minute. Now add MUSIC and watch it again; any difference?
– You are on a road trip to your next sales meeting, in a convertible (because it sounds fun), top down. Yes, the sound of the wind whipping through your hair is nice, but turn up a favorite tune? It is SO much better.
– You have been wracking your brain with an overwhelming problem to solve. Play a little music, and you may just find the answer. It’s the standard ‘walk away from a challenge; take a breath to get a fresh view’ technique with a little zing to make you sing.

Consider a myriad of everyday events made better by music and dance:
-The movie trailer with the voice overs, but without dramatic music? No Way!
-The sports event without the musical interludes, or cheers…Not even…
– The climactic scene in a thriller video without drums beating or ominous music… I don’t think so.
-A bride walking down the aisle in total silence… weird.
-The world famous university marching band entering the field quietly… can’t even imagine!
Dance is all about steps. Heck so is life, family and business. So listen to a favorite singer or band and begin moving forward, one step at a time. If you are the more adventurous type, you could even add a leap or spin… oooooh!
Make some noise! Get some ideas! Build your business! Have fun with your family!

Don’t Doubt.

Dance. It. Out.
Ps: Animals love music too! –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3bwpBuHgTU&sns=em

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!!!

The Heart of a Princess

©2015 Dancinmoma

©2015 Dancinmoma

Inside the heart of every girl…there is a princess. This princess is the holder of her own strength and faith. For within her, she can find that place where magic happens. She has inner beauty, dreams, hope and plans to make the world a better place (with or without a prince). The sparkles on her tiara are reminders to look for the good in every speck of dust. For even the finest diamond comes from a large, dark piece of coal. When she finds this shimmer, she can send this light out into the world to warm the spirits of others.

This princess works hard; she listens to her friends and celebrates both sorrow and joys with them. She helps others find their inner sparkle. That light can take her through the dark times, but her favorite thing to do to make things better is to….DANCE!! Yes. Dance!!

To dance like a princess is to express oneself and yet be unified with others in the simple JOYS of moving across the floor or just twirling in place.

Spreading happiness…

Listening without judging…

Helping others…

Letting her light shine…

For it only takes one simple gesture of pure kindness to ignite someone else’s light….

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.

IMG_3494DSC07379

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

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.

 

messy-beautiful-450b

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!

 

Oh Mercer! Victory Dance

victory dance

You must watch this soon-to-be-famous (click here >) –> Victory Dance! from the Duke vs. Mercer game!!!!

 

Oh what an upset against Duke! Well Mercer may have messed up a bracket or two, but this guy, Senior Kevin Canevari, from Charlotte, NC is now the face of that upset. I personally rewound my DVR about five times to watch his celebratory dance and found myself laughing and dancing along!

He may not have scored any points in the game, but he has stolen the hearts of America with his spirit, oh and dance moves. (I have watched his twitter followers grow from about 330 to over 1,000 from his big debut). It’s only a matter of time before we see that “Victory Dance” on news, sports and entertainment programs all over the world!!

So here’s to you, Mr. #3 of Mercer Basketball! Thank you for making us smile with your celebratory team spirit, for teaching the world the “Nae, Nae” and for being the new face of the NCAA Tournament. It’s #TimeToDance !!

Just keep on DANCING!

Mercer Upsets Duke, Kevin Canevari’s NaeNae Victory Dance Makes Us All NCAA March Madness Winners—Watch Now! http://eonli.ne/1hPmsD0 via @eonline

Super “Hero” Strength… LET IT GO! (Five-Minute Friday Free Write)

©2014 Dancinmoma

©2014 Dancinmoma

Every one has an inner super “Hero” within , but I never realized that going to a sweet Disney movie with my kids would teach me to tap into my own inner “power.”

It was a lesson of forgiveness and self-worth to me.

A lesson in strength.

Inner strength.

Super “Hero” strength.

“Let it go” is a beautiful song (from the Movie “Frozen”) about being “true to you.” Disclaimer: Once you hear it, you won’t be able to stop singing it, especially your kids. 🙂 For me, it is a reminder to LOVE myself again and exemplify that LOVE to my children. A reminder to keep the volume of those negative voices turned down (because they always seem to find a way through the cracks of my soul); a reminder to stop holding things inside.

I equate much of that “stuff” to the reference of a “closet.” We can keep shoving stuff inside, until you can hardly shut the door. Pushing it down; pushing it in to keep it shut. Then finally it won’t shut, the door comes FLYING open! And BAM! There’s an explosion of emotion! A Beam of LIGHT!

LET IT GO!!!

As my 3 year old daughter dances around singing the song with her precious little voice, she engages her imagination and smiles as she waves her hand like “Elsa” in the movie. I join in… turning to the right and reaching my hand into the sky, turning to the left as I toss my “magic ice crystals” higher.

LET IT GO!!!

As we grasp our hands together, turning to the sounds of the beautiful music. I can FEEL it. Stirring up from within… what is it? JOY! Pure unadulterated JOY!

LET IT GO!!!

Warm yourself in the light…

Soothe your spirit…

DANCE… in the beaming light of hope and…

Release your inner power. Be a hero and LET IT GO!