Tag Archives: bravery

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!

Self-care on the slopes

diamond snowflake sample2

“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.” I learned that affirmation in Week 7 of The Artist’s Way, and I have made use of it often since.

But last Sunday I felt strong already, and I didn’t want to listen to my bruising body. I wanted to treat myself like a sturdy object rather than a precious one. I wanted to go skiing.

I wanted to ignore the fact that my knee was sprained. After all, it wasn’t a bad sprain. I wasn’t in much pain, and the joint could bear weight, and it wasn’t nearly as swollen as the day before. So why not make use of my lift ticket?

Because my knee was sprained, of course. The smart part of me knew this–understood as soon as I saw the swelling that my time on the slopes was over. But the rest of me desired a different outcome, wanted permission to push myself, to prove my resilience and ability.

The day before I’d been rewarded for boldness and bravery: I’d intended to start out slow on the beginner slopes since I hadn’t skied in six years, but a rush of come-what-may confidence prompted me to launch myself onto an intermediate run instead.

To my exhilarated delight, muscle memory and courage kept me on course, and soon I was dashing down a black diamond. It felt good to face my fear of steep and icy terrain, and even though I fell a couple times, I was impressed with my performance.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

And then I got punished for taking it easy: I next decided to take a break and glide down a long and winding beginner trail, and as I cruised around a curve, I crashed into a snowboarder who was standing still.

I knew something was wrong right away. Thankfully she was okay, and I said I was too, but I also said something like, “I’m pretty sure my knee isn’t supposed to twist out like this.”

Turns out I was correct. Within two hours the tissue above my kneecap was the size of a golf ball, and I wisely accepted a friend’s lunchtime assessment that I was done for the day.

I was less willing to accept that I was done for the weekend. But the group of great people on my ski trip included an ER doctor, and after assessing my injury that night, her diagnosis was clear: It was a sprain, and additional skiing was absolutely inadvisable.

And yet Sunday morning found me justifying, rationalizing, and minimizing. Yes, I had a sprain, but it was a very mild one. I could walk with no trouble–so why not a wee bit of skiing, on only the easiest of trails? It would be a serious shame for already-rented equipment to sit idle, and as long as I was extra careful…

If I was extra careful, I would stay inside. I would not make a minor pain worse. I would treat myself like a precious object, and I would grow stronger. The truth was I had nothing to prove, to myself or anyone else, and as soon as I accepted reality, I was able to focus on self-care with compassion.

Looking at my phone also helped.

VT ski temp

Because inside, it was a lot warmer than zero degrees. And I’m very okay with not feeling numb.