Dancing my Heart Out

It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! This year, I’m just writing about whatever is currently on my mind. I invite you to do the same. If you would like to chime in and contribute a guest post about your own journey, please drop me a line.

Sometimes words of wisdom become cliche, which is another way of saying they become easy to brush off. Let’s face it – you can only hear a pat object lesson so many times before you start to tune it out. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too? There are plenty of fish in the sea. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. And yet, in spite of the pat-ness, and the cliche, the wisdom is there all the same.

This preamble is meant to excuse me for what I am about to do. And what I am about to do is share a quotation that has become – I’ll admit it – cliche.

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.

~ William W. Purkey

Exactly one week ago I left to attend the BlogHer conference. One of the highlights for me was the Sparklecorn party. This came as a big surprise to me, because I’m not exactly the partying type. I’m most especially not the kind of person who attends parties with hip hop music cranked up so loud that I have to yell in people’s ears to be heard and my own ears ring for half an hour after leaving, which is exactly what Sparklecorn was. And yet, I had the time of my life.

It didn’t start out that way. I arrived early, and didn’t bump into anyone I knew for a few minutes. When I did find my friend Nicole we tried talking to each other but it didn’t go that well (see: very loud music). We stood side by side, staring at the door, waiting for more of our friends to arrive. Eventually, they did, and we yelled into their ears. I was wondering how much longer I would last.

Getting my groove on at Sparklecorn

And then my friend Alexis said it was time to dance, because she had something to celebrate. I followed along, because it certainly looked like more fun than standing on the sidelines watching other people dance. All the same, my first impulse was to issue an excuse up front. I wanted to say, “I’m not a very good dancer,” to explain away what was sure to follow. But I stopped myself in my tracks, because somehow above the din I had a moment of clarity. I realized that nobody cared about my dancing skills (or lack thereof) except me, and I also realized that by discounting myself up front I was setting myself up for failure.

I may not know much about dancing, but I do know that no one is a worse dancer than the person trying not to look bad. And that person who’s trying not to look bad? They’re not having much fun in the process. I know this because I have been that person, and the last thing I wanted to do was waste a precious night out with my friends by repeating the performance. I have kids now, I just don’t have the energy to spend a party dancing stiffly and feeling bad.

And so, I danced. And I danced and danced and danced. I couldn’t keep up with my friend Alexis, but I tried. I spent a solid 90 minutes dancing, with only a little break. I dragged my friend from Ottawa out to join me. I shimmied and I swished my flowing dress and I waved my hands in the air and I sweated and I may have looked totally ridiculous. But the more I did it, the easier it got, the more at home I felt on the floor, and the less I cared. And I suspect that the less I cared, the less ridiculous I looked.

Earlier that same morning I attended the most amazing session with Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown, Mr. Lady and Shauna James Ahern. At one point, Brene asked us all to stand up and dance, and she acknowledged that it was one of the hardest things to do. Dancing requires us to let us go of a lot of our inhibitions. But when we do, we’re richly rewarded. We enjoy ourselves in ways that we never could while we’re busy trying to look good and avoid judgment.

Dancing may not be your thing, and that’s fine. But we all have things that we would do more of if only we weren’t so afraid of what other people would think of us. And certainly, there are times when we’re just too vulnerable to expose our tender hearts to others. But after dancing my heart out at Sparklecorn, I know that I will spend more time considering what is holding me back when I just want to be out on the floor enjoying myself. Because I deserve joy, not self-judgment – and you do, too.

Do you ever find yourself standing on the sidelines when you’d really rather be dancing – whether literally or metaphorically? What’s holding you back? Please share!

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  1. You certainly were ripping up that dance floor. Of course none of us could keep up with Alexis.

  2. I’ve definitely been that person, standing awkwardly in the corner, or dancing timidly in an odd attempt not to look awkward. HA! How ironic.
    I’ve also been that person that just didn`t care about what a fool I looked like and just let loose on the dance floor. Of course, you speak the truth when you say that no one else even cares how you dance because they`re usually too busy having a great time with you to care about your dancing skills.

    There are so many things that we don’t do out of fear (and lack of self esteem). How many questions have I not answered in a classroom or conference only to kick myself afterwards because I soooo knew the answer? How many dreams do we not accomplish because we are too scared to fail? We truly are our own worst critics (*ahem* I couldn’t resist adding another cliché)

    Good on you for having the courage to be free!!!

    I also see that the recent Blogher conference has had an amazing impact on you. I already loved your posts… but you’re just getting better and better 🙂
    Nadia @ Red, White and GREEN Mom’s last post … Holy productivity Batman!My Profile

  3. Dancing has ALWAYS been a huge part of my life. And so, I have made it a big part of my childrens life. Not just by going to dance class…which they do a alot, but by cranking up the music very loud in our house and shaking our buts. Some times it’s just Steve and I and it’s a slow dance, we just can’t help ourselves. The other day YMCA came on the radio and it was the perfect time for me to teach the girls before the wedding in a couple of weeks…now they are set to shake it with everyone else on the dance floor! Emma is actually a pretty good little break dancer and she has even taught me a few things!
    Heather’s last post … Good Enough?My Profile

  4. That’s awesome to hear Amber! I was reading other blogs, seeing pics of the beautiful women dancing and dressy at Blogher and Sparklecorn and was totally relieved that I didn’t go because HOLY INTIMIDATING!! I am also not a partier or a dancer or a clubber and always feel super awkward dancing … other than at home with my kids. It’s a good sign when someone who’s normally not a Dancer gets down for a full 90 minutes! Good on you!

    Also, the plate thing kind of makes you a hero! I often get annoyed by such inconsistent messages and, uh, do nothing about it but bitch to Brad after the fact:)
    eva’s last post … Emily at Ten MonthsMy Profile

  5. Thank you so much for dragging me out onto the dance floor. I really do need to dance more. Next time I won’t even bring a purse. I’ll just stick my hotel key in my bra. 🙂
    Capital Mom’s last post … Counting downMy Profile

  6. Oh I do that all the time… I spend so much time worrying about if I’ll look stupid or if it’s the right or wrong thing to do that I often just do nothing… and then regret it!
    One of my goals for this year was to be brave…. I need to remember that!
    katepickle’s last post … Printable Lunch Box NotesMy Profile

  7. Sounds like you pushed so many comfort zones and grew so much on this trip! Wonderful!

    I used to dance, if I was with a group of friends and had had exactly the right amount of beer, but these days the opportunity most presents itself in my living room. I do dance in my living room but I don’t know if I would be brave enough to jump in at a conference full of strangers. Maybe I would.

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