I almost ended a new friendship with another man. But I didn’t… I couldn’t. My husband knew, of course. I believe in being up front about these things. He wasn’t very happy about it, to be sure, but he knew the other man could give me what he couldn’t… foxtrot, tango, waltz and quickstep. And hubby understood my need, my burning desire to… dance again.
Yes, I’m seeing a dancer on a regular basis. Can’t seem to stop myself.
Many moons ago (about twelve years worth), I was a ballroom dancer. This was before Dancing with the Stars, the show that made what’s now referred to as “DanceSport” popular. And, while I always loved dancing, it requires large amounts of time, energy and money–all of which I called into reserve when I decided to adopt children and expand my family. My former life as a single, ballroom dancing mom with one son quickly evolved into the life of a married mom to seven! As you can guess, there was no time to think about the dance floor!
Imagine my excitement when, twelve years later, I was contacted by someone new to the area looking for a partner. He suggested we meet at a local ballroom on a Friday night to see how we danced together. I reminded him that I’d been off the floor for twelve years and that it would take me some time to find my feet again, but I was giddy with excitement. Oh, to foxtrot across the floor again!
Our first dance date consisted of a lot of missteps on my part, but we agreed to meet the next weekend at a different studio. The dancing began to feel better during our second dance date and we agreed to a third dance a couple of weeks later. By the third dance, however, I began to realize that our dancing goals were not the same. He was searching for a top-level (gold standard) international dancer with technical perfection. I was looking for a joyful experience on the floor (sound the gong, please). Thirty minutes before the third dance date was over, I took off my dance shoes and just watched the other dancers.
Chalking it up to a bad day, we agreed to meet for a two-hour practice session the following week. Within thirty minutes, I knew it was over. My right leg wasn’t moving back fast enough, my spins were under-rotated, I was popping up like a yoyo on two, not low enough on three, my head was out of position, my shoulders weren’t straight, I was moving too fast, I was moving too slow… OMG! Where was the joy in this?
Two hours later, I couldn’t wait to vent to my ever-loving, supportive, understanding husband. Together, we agreed that my new dance partner had reprimanded me more in two hours than my husband had in our eleven years together. Hubby was jealous of my new dance partner’s verbal liberties and I’m sure my dance partner was exhausted from the sheer burden of my imperfection.
Here’s what I believe about dance. You can take just a few basic steps and make them look like a million bucks on the floor. Sure, fancy steps are great but they aren’t necessary for the average dancer. And, while I like the challenge of dancing advanced steps, it’s not important to me to work them in to every other step on the dance floor. But, since the woman follows the man’s lead, it doesn’t matter what I believe to be true about dance because I have no choice but to keep up with my gold standard dance partner. It wasn’t looking too pretty and believe me, it felt even worse.
My intended final goodbye was planned for an all waltz dance on a Saturday afternoon. Waltz was the dance that, during our two-hour practice session just days earlier, had almost led to my walk-out. What were we thinking? Yet, when the dance was over, I didn’t end it. Instead, I agreed to meet for another practice a few days later. Isn’t that the way these things work? Just one more time…
With each practice session, the steps began to feel more comfortable to me, but my partner remained relentless about perfection. I would steam. I would give him my evil eye. I would make snarky remarks. And then I would get back in dance position and do the condemned steps again and again and again. While all of that practice was putting muscle memory into place — so important for dance — my partner continued hammering me with words of dissatisfaction.
That’s when I decided to use a different strategy to shift our dancing to a different level. Not only did it work, it worked immediately!
What did I do?
I practiced what I preached. After all, I am a success coach and I have all kinds of tools and techniques that I share with people to help them achieve their goals. Yet here I was struggling and frustrated, trying to do the best I could, all the while ignoring the very processes I advocate! Silly me.
When I realized what I was doing (or better yet, not doing) I immediately asked myself how I would coach a client in my position. The answer was to take the situation out of its physical element and elevate it to a soul level. Through mediation and visualization one can reach into their own spirit and envision their divine source of wisdom. Becoming acquainted with one’s divine enables us to reach into a rich well of spiritual prowess and leverage that divinity to work with the divine in another person, essentially elevating the challenge from the physical realm to a spiritual one.
I sat in meditation and sought out the wise woman within. The spirit-woman whose very existence is the illumination of the divine spark of creation. Often ignored by the hardwiring in the brain, the wise self is infinitely more prepared to guide us appropriately and, when requested, effectively assist in tough situations. I explained to my wise self how frustrated I felt when my partner found fault in my technique and presentation. I asked my divine self to reach out to the wise, divine within my partner to help us dance better together in partnership. After all, that’s what our dance is, a partnership of movement.
Later that day during our two-hour practice session, our partnership felt more connected, less offensive. I felt more comfortable in frame with him, more relaxed in the movement. He raised his eyebrows in surprise. He began to compliment my footwork. His constructive criticism was limited and specific… and appropriate. Once during the session when his words might have previously angered me, I took a deep breath and silently asked my wise self to take it up with her wise partner. It worked. At the end of the session, my dance partner hugged me and told me what a great session it was!
Our dancing partnership has continually improved and during our last practice session he told me I had danced the best foxtrot ever. It took five months, but now both of us getting exactly what we want. He gets a gold standard, international dance partner and I get a joyful experience on the floor.