• See where you’ve come, or risk wasting your efforts.

    When we start the year, many of us attempt these things called “New Year’s Resolutions”, and desperately try to make the coming year somehow different that the last. Question:

    Who thinks about those resolutions as the year comes to a close? Do you pull out that paper they were written down on and see if you hit any marks, or did you burn that paper last February when your goals seemed so far away they could never be achieved?

    Did you have Dance Goals? Maybe you wanted to hit Bronze two or even Associate Silver in all Majors? Did you set out to hit two different competitions and make finals or a specific placement… Maybe you committed to dancing every song at the practice parties to build your stamina or just get outta the house!

    When we set goals, it’s important to keep an eye on them, but not for the reasons most believe.

    Everyone will tell you that goals are about sticking to schedules and achieving big things in a million tiny steps and focusing on moving forward, ect… A TON of emphasis is placed on the actual steps taken and where you are meant to be reaching.

    In other words, a lot of people only look at their goals to see where they have yet to go. Few look to see how far they’ve come.

    Thing about it, we all know someone who is so eaten up with checking things off their list and achieving ever still more, that they have no appreciation for what they’ve actually done. They may have built an empire for all the effort given, but they don’t enjoy it.

    No matter how far they’ve come, or what they’ve built… it’s never enough for them. They seem to constantly need more, because they don’t stop to look at everything they already have.

    We’re fast approaching a major Holiday about being Thankful… and we’re also coming up on our Medal Ball ceremony. This is the time to really be mindful about how far you’ve come in your dancing, and how thankful you are for all your hard work and practice. Medal Ball is a celebration of your dancing achievements, small and large, and without appreciating those goals being reached, you risk losing your love of the journey in the scramble to move ever forward and up .

    So stop… look.

    Write out what you accomplished this year, so far. I bet you anything you’ll surprise yourself with everything you can list. Because it’s more than just the dancing. You faced fears, you built new habits, made new friends, learned new moves, tried things that may not work, faced wins and losses, found answers and became a new person through it all.

    If we don’t enjoy who we are today, we may as well have never achieved anything in getting here.

    Because all the dance training in the world is wasted if we don’t take the time to dance,

    All the medalist levels in the book are pointless if we push the old stuff aside to learn ‘better’ material.

    All the compliments we receive are meaningless if we don’t accept and treasure them,

    And we will never learn any more about something… if we think that we have already achieved it and simply moved on to the next thing.

    If you sit in the ballroom and observe the dancers with any one thought in your mind this winter season, let it be this:

    “Which of these dancers reminds me of where I was at the beginning of this year?” and with that, take the opportunity to wonder at how you’ve changed. Be impressed by yourself and all that you’ve gone through. Be thankful for those extra practice sessions you did on your own time, the routine you were afraid of until you nailed it for the first time…

    “Until we gaze about ourselves and feel the reality of all we have created around us, we have not truly experienced it, and so have not fully received the benefits we sacrificed so much for.”

    Don’t miss out on everything you have worked so hard for. Enjoy what you’ve done. Be impressed by where you are today. Feel proud of yourself! And your efforts to get here will not have been wasted.

  • Teachers never change… We do.

    Do you remember your favorite Elementary School teacher?

    The way they made school fun? How safe and cared for it was like to be in their classroom, occasionally even getting special treats to take home at the end of the day…

    Some teachers really go the extra mile to make us feel special. And not just in a simple nice way; they’re great listeners, have great advice, and seem to know us so well!

    A lot like our dance teachers.

    I’ve come to appreciate two things about my dance teachers that are very similar to what I loved about my school teacher:

    One: They had faith in me . No matter how I thought I failed, they never seemed to think so. They talked about what I could do to fix my mistakes, and how to stop bad habits. It never seemed to phase them when I did horribly and missed the mark I was aiming for. I remember wondering why. I remember thinking that it drove me crazy that they were never upset with me, when I knew that everything I’d done had been awful.

    Two: Their life was set aside for me. Did you ever wonder as a small child if your teacher lived at your school? Like their entire life was just that classroom and the school grounds… ever get shocked by seeing your teacher in the grocery store and realizing they had a life outside of your lessons? Dance teachers are funny like that, too. Even as adults we forget that our teachers are just like us. Normal people. Regular people.

    These similarities always strike a chord with me, because I love to see through other people’s eyes. I grew up to understand that the reason my 1 st grade teacher never got upset with me for being slow was that she knew the learning steps I was taking. And how what seemed as a monumental failure to me, she knew was only a drop of water in the ocean. She was drawing me up in that way, guiding me when I didn’t know where we were going.

    And when I got old enough to see her as a real person and realize that there was a family and life waiting for her at the end of the day, once she had offered everything she had to teaching me… I saw how much she dedicated, and sacrificed to be there. To listen to me. To support me. To be my friend at a time in life when I had few.

    Was Elementary School a drop of water in the ocean?

    Yes… and No.

    And when I think of it now, I have so much respect for those people who gave up so much of their lives to help me build mine.

    The same could be said of our dancing. Is it the sum of our lives? Does it mean the world to us? Do we care to live without it?

    And is it our teachers who make it so.

    They, too, are putting their lives to the side to teach us. To focus on us. To be there for us.

    The only difference is that I never was able to tell my 1 st grade teacher that everything she did for me was so powerful and made such an impact.

    I’m so glad that I get to be on even ground with my teachers these days, so that I can tell them what their time means to me.

    I can stand next to them in life and know that we both go to the grocery store, fill our cars with gas and do our laundry whenever we can. And I can appreciate that they care enough about my lessons to put so much prep-time towards them, so much thought on my goals and the dancer I want to become to plan those steps that I will fumble up and never get mad at me . Because they know each step is just one drop of water.

    I can thank them for that.