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Just Write Entry 14: Life Lesson Learned through Just Dancing...

Just Write is written on a post-it taped to the inside of my computer. As I continue down the road of my own journey of self-development and discovery, I have challenged myself to wake-up each morning and JUST WRITE. These two words inspire me, even when I am feeling empty, to Just Write. I aim for twenty minutes each morning sometimes less, sometimes more, but I always walk away feeling better than I started. These blog entries are the product of following through on this commitment to myself. There is no rhyme or reason other than to Just Write. I am glad you are here. Perhaps I can inspire you to go more in the direction of vulnerability and curiosity  of how this simple act can play a part in your overall well-being when YOU JUST WRITE .

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Dance like no one is watching.  I say dance for nothing more than for the enjoyment of it. Just Let Go. Let the movement of dance take you to where you want to be  and places you have never been before if only in your mind.  Let it shape you, bend you and open you up to a beautiful world of possibility if you allow it. For me, dance has created some pivotal experiences that have built me. Growing up, I never danced. I have never had an interest in taking dance classes when I was young and as I approached my teen years I wouldn't dare try something new. As an adolescent I cared too much about what others thought of me and have stripped myself of experiences that could have shaped me. No worries, I am learning to catch up in my older years! I do believe this was the path I was destined to travel and now that I am equipped with more tools I will learn to use them more often on the journey of MY life. I also will use those tools to try and inspire you on the journey of yours, if you will allow it.  I wanted to stay safe and out of any kind of spotlight that could draw attention to myself. Honestly, I never knew how much my future self would LOVE to dance and can pinpoint the time and place dance began to move me. It was Melissa's 8th grade basement house party heading into Freshman year. Although I cannot remember the exact song I can vividly remember that exact moment I shifted from wallflower to a dancer. I moved my body and although I was aware of the other wallflowers looking at me with their judgmental  stares, I did not care.  I was dancing and I was smiling and I never had more fun than at that moment in Melissa's basement and I have been dancing ever since. True story. This was also not alcohol induced either. I didn't drink till much later into my teens.  So, if we backtrack a moment, you see, the environment didn't change, the people around me didn't change, it was me. I changed! I let go of any expectation of what a dancer looked like, acted like and I just danced. I also let go of other peoples expectation of me and danced for... me. It was me who had changed, nothing else. A breakthrough and also a lesson learned that I wish I could tell my younger self. Just Dance. Just try new things for the sake of discovering more about who you are. Coming from an overthinker. Do not overthink it!  Let go of what something/someone should look like, act like, and just do the damn thing.   

Dance brought me closer to my dad also. Another pivotal moment that involved movement. My relationship with my dad was strained all of my childhood years up until I turned twenty-one. Funny thing is, he probably didn't know it. The lack of physical presence my dad had in my younger years helped me meet people where they are and learn to see others through their lenses, the best I can anyways. Physically, he may not have been around as often as I would have liked and I mean that in every sense of the word. He never kissed or hugged me and I never heard him say "I love you".  He worked everyday and was gone most nights at the bar and returned at the waking hours of the next day to do it all over again. I will let you fill in those blank spaces from the night to the waking hours when he would come home. With that said, I do not think he was a hardened man or one who did not want to show love. I think it was he did not know how to express it in a way that I would understand till much later. It is true as a child I yearned to have his arms around me more and although I did not hear those words I did know he loved me, in his way. Instead, his presence existed within me. His absence  in my life had less to do with me and more to do with him.  When I learned to see my dad with eyes of compassion those feelings of resentment, anger and frustration began to fade. I began to see my dad in a different light and have since discovered his unique gifts. Unique gifts that also existed within me too.  Meet people where they are.  It took me twenty-one years to meet my dad where he was and that was at Jalapenos, a bar mixed with an older and younger crowd. I was a newly minted twenty-one year old so I was startled when my dad told me he would also be at the same bar I was headed to later that same night. I will spare the mundane details, but my dad was teaching himself how to play the harmonica and when he would practice in our house it was a horrifying sound. So, my nerves were through the roof when he went on stage to play with the band. I was torn. How would I react when my dad would begin to blow that harmonica and it sounded terrible? I was nervous. Did he not know how this would make ME feel?  It was then, that it happened. As my dad blew those first few notes on his harmonica, with the band, it all made sense. Not only did my dad not suck, he was amazing! I was able to see my dad in a different light and surrounded in a room full of strangers, my dad included, I was able to witness my dad doing something HE loved. Without saying a word my dad taught me a lesson that night. Another lesson I have taken with me. You are never too old to learn something new. Others may judge and criticize you, just as I did. Do it anyway. My dad would have been in his late fifties when he taught himself how to play the harmonica. Now, at almost eighty he is still playing the harmonica with the band, still working all day and going out all night.  You are never too old to do the things you LOVE just for the enjoyment of it. Others  may not understand. They do not need to. This is your journey, not theirs. When he was done on stage after his applause, we danced. Sidebar, my dad is a phenomenal dancer.  Again, self-taught, my dad is one of those who can just feel the music and dance in a way that makes others wish they had the guts to do it themselves. From my twenties on, my dad and I bonded through music and dance. We would go out often to the blues bars and just dance and enjoy each others' company over a few cocktails. My dad is a man of few words, but when he speaks, people listen. He is a smart man, good with his hands and although he doesn't have much by the materialistic sense, he is sound in mind and sees the positive. Throughout these years of my life I have met hundreds of people who knew a different side of my dad. To them, my dad was a local celebrity and one who did the things they could not do or would not do. My dad does not care what others think and he would not hesitate to walk right on stage and jam out with some of the best Chicago blues bands. As I mentioned earlier, my dads presence exists within me. The best parts of him exist within me. I carry that with me often. He is Me. I am Him. For the first half of my life I vowed to be nothing like my dad and here I am... so much like my dad. Although I do not share his same love of the harmonica I share his PASSION. I  know that the very best of  his unique gifts have transferred into the woman I have become. I do not need to list all of his shortcomings, rather, I will focus more on his unique gifts he has given me.  Meet people where they are. You will love people differently that way and that is a rare,  beautiful gift that  can only be possessed by those who learn to Just Dance. 

Perhaps it has come with age and becoming a grandpa, but my dad hugs me and tells me he loves me often. Lesson learned. Meet people where they are. We are all facing internal battles the other knows nothing about. I know my dad has worked through and continues to work through his and became a witness to this when my mom passed.  I am thankful and grateful I was able to see his unique gifts at a time when I could have let it drive a wedge between us many years ago. I love you too, dad. xo

I don't get to dance with my dad much anymore, but I LOVE to dance with my husband and my kids.   Although his physical presence is  not dancing with me as often, my dad is always dancing in my heart. As I stated earlier, dance can take you and  move you to places in your mind, if you allow it. 

 Just Dance. Just Move. Just Smile. but more importantly, meet people where they are, yourself included. Try something new today simply for the enjoyment of it.   Just experience LIFE for all it is and all it can be when you  let your guard down. 

 

xo, Tracey 


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