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!!!

Collaboration Stew – Your Recipe for Success

collaborationYour Recipe for Success.

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler

Absolutely amazing things can happen when two creative minds get together. A great current example comes from Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. Together they play, sing, act and create MAGIC. #ViralMagic.

So I wonder what we can learn from their success.  #GreatExample! Sometimes collaboration begins with a simple conversation, an idea communicated among friends, even a story shared by an author to a crowd. For instance, I had a “date” with sportswriter/author Mitch Album (who penned many books including “Tuesdays with Morrie” and the latest novel “A Phone Call from Heaven”). You can read about that “date” here -> #MyTuesdaywithMitch. Although I listened more than I talked, it was a collaboration of sorts. I learned from a mentor, which in turn reignited my passion for writing and creativity.

We can all inspire each other through collaboration. For instance the Collaboration Definition from Merriam Webster: 1:  to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor — speaks volumes to the entertainment industry. So why not use it more in the business world or personal endeavors. Sometimes it can turn out widely successful, sometimes widely not, but hey, why not give a try? The best “epic fails” can be the most learned from experiences. The ones that DO work… are Amazing!

So I suggest you “Stir Up” some thought-provoking “Collaboration Stew” Recipes for Success:

  1. Who inspires you? What company? Is there a specific book or author that speaks to you? Read. Listen. Learn.
  2. Research the things that motivate you, the background behind their philosophies and the many paths they had to travel to reach the current destination.
  3. Find YOUR successful sidekick. Someone that shares your values. Or maybe not. Because if you are “challenged” in a good way then perhaps you can stretch your mind even further.
  4. Or find someone you believe in. Reach out. It only takes one question, one email, one tweet, one phone call and one hi, to start up a conversation. You’ll never know unless you ASK.
  5. Mentor someone. Share your success with others. Learn from successful people. Get creative and “collaborate” your way to new ideas.
  6. Add to this list. I’d like to collaborate with you on building this list. #CollaborationStew

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.

 

Soar to new heights. See “Saving Mr. Banks” now.

©Dancinmoma

©Dancinmoma

Let’s go fly a kite… It’s a simple idea and song lyric from Mary Poppins by Walt Disney Company. It is also a childhood staple of mine. And yes… our family has even flown a kite or two through the years. The song by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman is simple, yet its inspiring lyrics and the amazing story behind it taps into the imaginations of your inner child, to provide much needed hope in this world.

Yes, that is one of many things I learned after watching “Saving Mr. Banks” this past weekend, also a Disney movie, and an adventurous, thought-provoking film. The story acknowledges the power of your past, childhood memories good and bad, the gift of forgiveness, and the joy of imagination. Through happy tears, laughter, painful moments and quite a few smiles, you can experience behind the scenes moments of the making of a classic Disney film. We learn about the process of creating ideas, the relationships made, the emotion behind the real story, and even interesting facts about Walt. (Hey, if you’re a Disney fan (as I am) you feel you already know Mr. Disney on a first name basis.)

In “Saving Mr. Banks,” you will enjoy the comparisons of reserved versus casual environments, formal introductions vs. first named basis and how a straight-laced, somewhat cranky woman can still have a soft side when she encounters a person who listens from his heart. You will learn, again, about the Mouse that started it all. You and your loved ones can even virtually walk through Disneyland back in time with Mickey Mouse and Walt leading the way to the park, of course, but also to the place of your own imagination, where everything is possible and where “your kite” can always be mended.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is a film that will be forever etched in my mind. I left the theater with a happy tears, a smile on my face, humming Mary Poppins tunes and dreaming of being escorted to my next event with Mickey. 😉

If I were a film critic, I would give it 5 stars, a 10, or a standing “O.”

Yes, a spoonful of sugar CAN help the medicine go down. Fortunately you won’t need that for this engaging and uplifting film that give us all…promise for the future.

BRAVO!!

Take Back the Night…

Take Back the Night.

In the words of Justin Timberlake’s recent song, THAT is exactly what I would LOVE to do… again! EVERYONE needs this kind of experience from time to time to put this crazy, sometimes depressing world in perspective.

You see, I recently attended the concert of a lifetime, with seats to die for! Think of your favorite singer, musician or band and be close enough to actually make eye contact and interact with him or her.

JT photo

Dream come true, right? Well that’s what recently happened to me on a recent warm evening in Detroit, Michigan. With my girlfriend Mindy by my side, we reverted from Mommies in the hood to giggly 16-year-olds.

There’s something about the anticipation of attending a big concert; the road trip there, deciding what to wear and attending the pre-party before. (Yes, our seats were that good.) You’ve been waiting for so long for this day and here it is right in front of you. Now you’re on the road, jamming to tunes, dancing in the car and laughing so often you sometimes even snort. There was a part of us that wanted to paint the car or wave flags to tell everyone that we were head to the “D” (Michiganders’ nickname for the state’s biggest city) to see JT and Jay-Z! On the way we called our husbands and our kids to share our excitement. A couple of Facebook posts and texts later (not from the driver, of course) we arrived.

Can I get a “What?!! What?!!!” 😉

There we were, checked in and cranking up the tunes in our room as we danced some more while getting ready. We opened a bottle of “Celebrate” champagne, raised a toast to the night and were off. I may or may not have had a minor shoe issue, but that was fixed by a quick run back up to the room and we completed the short walk to Ford Field.

We located our party package area and the moment came to see where we would sit. We already knew we would be on the floor (which was fab already) but when Mindy opened the envelope, we literally whispered a “F*** Yeah!” to each other as we smacked hands. (Intense high fives can sting.)

OMG! 2nd Row! Center!

2nd rowI could feel my heart beating faster and faster. We tried to eat in the party room but anticipation was killing us. We grabbed another drink that I happened to drop, with an apologetic “sorry” to lady next to me. Then we were off to our “kick a@@” seats.

The bass  was already thumping…the house DJ was spinning tunes as we “danced” our way past three (yes we were that close!) check points to get to the floor! We kept “dancing” closer and closer to the bright red stage…boom…boom…boom. We grabbed a Bud Light® from the vendor and waited in anticipation as we high-fived our seat “neighbors” in front, behind and on the side of us. We were ALL about to share this concert experience!!!

 Then…the lights go down, the bass gets turned to eleven and the band starts toward their instruments. Boom…Boom…Boom. The crowd is chanting…clapping…screaming!! You hear his voice first, and then Justin Timberlake slowly appears on the left stage. Wooooooo! OMG! Jay Z appears on the right. Justin Timberlake is walking this way; closer and closer until he is standing directly in front of YOU…looking into YOUR eyes for at least 10 seconds (well maybe 5) but you’ll take it! Your heart is beating faster and faster. There are 50,000+ people in the stadium that evening… and he sang to YOU. Can this night get any better?!!!! Yes, it can! How about some head nods from Jay-Z, some dance moves from JT and a little point in YOUR direction!! Yep. 🙂

Good Lord, EVERYONE needs to have an evening of moments like those Mindy and I enjoyed. I truly didn’t want it to end. If only… we could “Take Back the Night” and do it all over again. We left the weekend with a life changing experience, one that rates right up there with births of our babies and wedding days. Yes. It’s true.

So, I thank you for sharing in our adventure by reading and now I turn to you…

Who would YOU want to see, up close and personal? Who would transform you back into a hyped up teenager and why?

(On a side note: We seriously contemplated if it was possible to become “groupies” and travel around on his new world tour that starts this month. Would there be a way to get paid to “review” each concert in each city? Could we “hang out” with JT and his band “The Tennessee Kids?” Hmmm….I know we are moms and wives and all that… but is it possible? (Hint, Hint) I’d like to believe it IS! Mindy and I would be REALLY good at it. (Wink, Wink)

P.S. Here are a few more photos that we took from our seats that we never actually sat in… ( because we were DANCING!!) Did I mention that I happen to be a “fan” of Justin Timberlake? 🙂 Oh! I also left a fan of Jay-Z as well. I also included a link below to preview or purchase the new album.

The Complete 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake

JT photo2 JT 2 JT 1

Get Jiggy in March!

“Dia Dhuit”

Top of the morning to ye, lads and lassies! Follow me to the end of our imaginary rainbow to search for a pot o’gold…’Tis time to get your “Leprechaun” on.

We step, we skip, we hop, we MARCH! It’s time to kick up our heels and dance a jig or two in honor of St. Patrick. You see, I grew up in an Irish family and married into an Irish family. So I’ll be knowing an Irish Blessing or two. St. Paddy’s Day is a big deal in our home, right up there with Christmas and Halloween. It’s not about the pub crawls (but that’s not to say a green beer or two wouldn’t appear.) 😉 To us it’s about Leprechauns sneaking in, leaving a bit of a mess, and maybe a wee lil’ gift or two. It’s about pots of gold and magical rainbow myths. We dress in shamrock-adorned clothes and carry banners as we march proudly in our local Irish parade. We sway arm in arm while harmonizing over “Oh Danny Boy” and yes, we know all of the arm motions to the infamous Unicorn song.

Aye. Kiss us. We’re Irish! 😉

20130317-083515.jpg I hope that you, too, will get your “Green” on…whether Irish or not. ‘Tis a fine time to clap your hands with the beat. Stomp your feet. Click your heels. Make some noise and celebrate!

On this St. Patrick’s Day — and everyday — count your BLESSINGS. Take a moment to look for the “four-leaved” clovers in YOUR life.

“Slån!”

I will close with one of my favorite Old Irish Blessings…

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

A Curtsy to Oscar Night….

Time for a little sparkle and maybe a little bubbly. The stars are coming out! Not the beautiful constellations in the sky but the MOVIE stars! You see, I’m a big fan of the Academy Awards and going to the movies. I love the escape a well-crafted film can provide. I also enjoy the “I’d like to thank the Academy” speeches. And I LOVE the idea of being a movie star….I think. Well, maybe just for a day….for the adventure.  Dance Bubbles

What do you think about being a movie star?

Speaking of ‘thank you’ — at the end of a pre-ballet class we always wrap things up with a final curtsy, in other word’s, our final bow. Using our imaginations, we pretend we are bowing to our audience or even our prince! It’s my method of showing my gratitude towards each student for a wonderful class. It’s also their sign of respect and thanks to the dance teacher (yours truly), and makes them more comfortable doing the curtsy for an appreciative audience in the future.

To me a curtsy eloquently says, “Thank you.”

This brings me back to the Academy Awards and the infamous “acceptance speech.” I like to hear what the winners say. It’s as if for those 2 minutes we have a brief window into that person’s soul. Are they truly humble? Or have they won so many Oscars that they need to drop names for business reasons. The heartfelt humble words and the speeches that make you laugh along, that’s what I am looking for. Each speech makes you think, who you would thank and how you might react.

So with that, I’m going to share my annual “Fake Acceptance Speech.” You can go running back down the red carpet or you can join me in my imagination as I, Miss Pam, receive my fake Oscar and give my fake speech…..

Oscar Miss Pam

“O. M. G! Is this for real, is this really happening?
(I look directly into the Oscar statues eyes here)
Hellooooo there Golden Guy…. Wow! I can’t believe this!

Hugh Jackman are you out there?
(Here I scan the audience for his holy hotness and look in his eyes.)
“Hellooooo Hugh”
(in my most provocative, flirty voice)

Can you sing your song from Les Mis for me — “Bring Him Home” — because that is where this guy (refer to my Oscar) is going TONIGHT!

While I have your attention….Hughie,
(We’re getting to know each now.)
I LOVED when you hosted. I watched your opening number countless times on my DVR, until our hard drive space was full.
I had to delete you, but I will never forget.
(I wink at Hugh, and he smiles back and blows a kiss.)
(Hey, its my fake acceptance speech).

(I fan my face with my hand and take deep breath.)
I’d like thank my family first and foremost. My hilarious, impersonator hubby, my creative, witty boys, and my precious daughter who is our good luck token from Vegas. (I pause and giggle.) You all bring unending JOY to my world.

To my mom, and her adorable, nervous, happy energy that has passed onto me. (Here I motion with my arm and almost knock over the Oscar)You SEE!

To my Dad and Brother…you put the MURPH in Murphy’s Law, but my god what an ADVENTURE life is.

To my girlfriends & soul sistahs, you make me laugh till I cry and cry till I pee.
Yes, I’ve had three babies!
Seriously, you put the SANE back in my insanity moments…. your support is invaluable!

Thank you to social media for bringing the world closer together, for bringing my family across the country together, for inspiring moments, support and love. As long as my time is positive there, it is well invested.
P.S. #SMGirlfriends you ROCK!!!

To my adoring fans —
(Remember, this is my fake acceptance speech.)
We are ALL here because YOU go to the movies.
Thank you!!  fake oscar

To my cast, fellow cast-mates, directors, producers, and crew. You know who you are, and it’s all on the credits because of ALL that you did, you deserve the Credit. I will do some individual shout outs on Twitter later on!

(music starts playing)
Wait!! I’m forgetting someone…. Oh Jodie Foster. After hearing your words upon receiving your lifetime achievement award recently, you’re my idol. Someday, I hope that I will OWN myself the way that you do. I am such a big fan and…

(Music playing louder and drowns me out as I’m dragged offstage gripping Oscar.)
(Music stops. Then I rush back onstage.) Donny O Pam

Oh and …. Donny O….Yes you know the one. I thank you every year for putting a smile on my face since I was a little girl. Meeting you in VEGAS was a dream come true. Someday we can take a spin on the dance floor, now that you’ve won that mirrored trophy. In the words of your character in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
“ANY DREAM WILL DO.”
Yes.
(I hold up my Oscar.) Any dream WILL do. Thank you, thank you
(I do a very sincere, eloquent final curtsy.) THANK YOU!!!!
(I blow kisses and bop another curtsy, start walking away, then run back to the mic)

One more thing…Justin Timberlake….so glad you are BACK singing….

I saw you waving at me in 2011. Tell your mom, Hi! Can you say, JT concert? JT wave on TV

(Thunderous applause from the audience, as I bop my final curtsy and am carried off stage by Ben Affleck….) 😉

Okay, now it’s YOUR turn! And the winner is….