Tag Archives: authenticity

Dance like the whole world is watching

Uniqlo 4th ave credi

All the world’s a stage. Including the Uniqlo store on 5th Ave.

“You need to work on your shyness.”

That’s what a middle-aged gentleman called out to my friend Laura Hames Franklin as she twirled down an aisle of Uniqlo’s 5th Avenue flagship store, playfully interacting with mannequins and brandishing packaged tank tops like pom-poms.

The man was joking, but as I hovered nearby, I took his observation to heart.

I don’t generally think of myself as shy, but when it comes to dancing in public…I’m shy. Which is precisely why I agreed to take part in Laura’s WeDanceDay film shoot. What better way to confront a fear of embarrassment than to intentionally embarrass myself?

Except I don’t actually want to be embarrassed, so I was struggling to muster up the energy that Laura so easily exhibited.

watching Laura

Watching Laura and trying to avoid embarrassment.

My comparing and despairing mind was quick to point out our differences: Laura’s a trained dancer, whereas I’m just a gal who agreed to bust a move on her lunch break. Laura has rhythm, I don’t. Laura has who-cares confidence, and I…

Do! I do have who-cares confidence! I even have a little rhythm. (I definitely do not have dance training.)

Sometimes I worry about what other people think of me. I try to control their perceptions by controlling my appearance. And it’s true that the way I look impacts the way I am perceived. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much I can control, and the thoughts of others are really none of my business. I’m confident in my authenticity, and beyond that, well, who cares?

Our bodies were made to move, and WeDanceDay is a great excuse to boogie down. I wanted to feel free and happy and to have fun; I wanted to show my fellow humans that it’s okay to be openly silly and joyful.

So that’s exactly what I did. As I watched Laura shake loose, I acknowledged my insecurity, gave it a hug, and decided to enjoy my experience. Not just to dance like no one was watching, but as if the whole world could see. Because I’ve got nothing to hide, and when I allow my full spirit to shine, embarrassment is impossible. (Awkwardness? Well, that’s another story.)

dancing anyway

Embracing embarrassment with who-cares confidence!

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.