When your life resembles a carefree dance

There’s a song that tells us that “life’s a dance you learn as you go,” and I’ve always known that it’s full of truth.

Yet I’m just now letting it all sink in—you know, more than 20 years later.

Cue “I’ll Be There for You”

Two of my precious forever friends and I went to a park Saturday morning to catch up and also to take a picture on the Friends couch. When we arrived, we saw a handful of people dancing on the stage used for local performances and, as we later discovered, apparently Saturday morning yoga, as well.

I was immediately intrigued.

I started walking faster, excited for the possibility of dancing with some new friends (they weren’t aware of these upcoming friendships just yet), but I was slightly disappointed when I found out that it was an exclusive group. I spoke with a man who wasn’t dancing but looked like he was part of the in-crowd, and he told me that it was a professional dance group that travels around the country to teach dance to kids. The dancers were there this particular morning to shoot a promo video, and it wasn’t exactly open to the public (e.g., a feisty redhead who loves people and loves to dance).

I asked him if we could all dance together when they were finished recording, but he didn’t seem as enthusiastic about that idea as I had hoped. When the group had a small break a couple of minutes later, though, I asked all of the dancers if we could dance together just for a bit, and before I knew it, we were going at it free style.

And that’s the only way I know how to dance—with no rules or structure or expectations of any kind.

That moment of dancing with complete strangers who all have their own unique stories while my sweet friends watched and cheered me on was exactly what I needed that morning. I’ve had more on my plate lately than I likely should, and I’ve felt bogged down. I’ve also been dealing with some things in my heart that have been rather heavy on my emotions, as well. You know, life stuff. It’s tough sometimes. But being able to let go of everything for a few carefree moments felt like that moment when you’re swimming and have been holding your breath too long underwater and finally make it to the surface and breathe in fresh air that’s full of more life than you can explain.

I don’t do organized dancing well. I’m not a fan of knowing what move I’m going to do next or trying to think too hard about what steps I’m supposed to take. It’s too stressful, and it’s not me. I’d rather just go with my own flow and surprise myself. (However, not everyone supports that, and I once was kicked off of a dance floor at a very strict line dancing place in California because I wasn’t doing the line dance going on at the time.)

So why can’t more areas of my life be like my dancing—absolutely no idea what’s coming next but with no worries about not knowing?

We’re trying not to be too shocked by the dinosaurs around every corner in Jurassic World.

Life is always going to throw unexpected things at us, and it’s OK not to know what’s on the next page of your story. I used to read the last page of a book first so that I knew how it ended. I hated surprises. But in the past few years, my life has been filled with more transitions than I ever thought possible, and I’ve come to (almost) love the element of surprise that each new day holds. Sure, sometimes it’s truly frightening, but it’s mostly intriguing and beautiful.

Are there some mysteries in my life right now for which I wish I could go and read the last pages to make sure that everything turns out OK? Absolutely. But I’m not supposed to know that yet.

I’m not Marty McFly, and I don’t roam around with a genius named Doc who has a DeLorean that can take me to the past or the future, so there’s really no way for me to know what’s going to happen next. And I’m finally OK with that. I don’t read the last page of a book first anymore, because it’s going to end the same way whether I know what’s going to happen or not. It’s more important to focus on the story that leads up to that ending—after all, it’s all of the stuff in between that helps make the story what it is.

Our stories are uniquely ours, and we don’t always need to know what’s going to happen next year or next month or next week or tomorrow or even within the next couple of minutes. It’s OK to live in the unknown and dance without any structure whatsoever, even if it means you get kicked off of a dance floor every now and then.

Because your story will often end up better than you ever could have planned it, anyway.

When you don’t let your appearance define your beauty

Like love, I think that beauty is often best displayed when it’s in action.

Especially out on the dance floor.

There’s a really pretty view of a lake behind us, but we’re completely blocking it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it’s gorgeous.

The weekend was full of travel for me. I flew from Orange County to Dallas late Friday night, got a couple of hours with my family Saturday morning, drove down to Austin with my friend for our friend’s wedding, took a long Lyft ride to the Austin airport and flew to LA early Sunday morning, and then rode back to Orange County with a coworker friend who was nice enough to offer to pick me up all the way up in LA.

I’m currently exhausted.

It was worth it, though. I loved being able to spend time with my family and snuggle my precious niece, and it was so nice to reunite with some of my friends and celebrate the love of Nina and her sweet hubs. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE the dancing that happens at wedding receptions.

Saturday night was no exception—that dance floor became my BFF. There were a few young girls out there (I’m guessing between the ages of 9–12ish), and two of them were standing in an area toward the back and not dancing. I kept trying to get them to dance, but they seemed a bit afraid and remained in their safe zone. It makes me sad when people don’t dance. Sure, there are probably some people who really just don’t enjoy it, but I think that there are a lot of people who probably do or would actually love it but are scared of looking ridiculous.

When it comes to dancing, sometimes the more ridiculous, the better.

Bear legitimately hates dancing, but we’re still friends.

Later in the night, those two girls finally started busting out their dance moves, and they looked like they were having the time of the lives. I was so happy, and I was filled with even more joy when they twirled across the floor with me during the slow songs—single people don’t always have to avoid the dance floor during the love ballads.

At one point, the DJ played Alessia Cara’s “Scar to Your Beautiful,” and my new homegirls and I were belting the lyrics together as we danced. In that moment, my heart made a silent wish that those girls would believe those lyrics with all of their hearts and that they would always know that they’re enough—that they don’t have to change who they are to try to fit the molds of who they think the world wants them to be. I hope that they always know how beautiful they are and that they should always dance every chance they get without worrying about what the people around them think.

When I boarded the plane (which Chrissy Metz from This Is Us was on, by the way) Sunday morning, there was a very attractive fella sitting in the row diagonally behind me. I immediately became more concerned than I would like to admit about my appearance (which was what someone who rolled out of bed at 4:34 a.m., threw on some clothes, and brushed her teeth might look like), but then I thought of my sweet little dancing friends, and I stopped. It didn’t matter what I looked like right then—what mattered was that my heart was full, and I’m confident in who I am. I even spoke to Mr. Attractive a little later, but I don’t think that we’ll be having our own wedding anytime soon.

In moments of fear, I hope I have the courage of the girls who were brave enough to dance. And I hope you do, too. We weren’t meant to stand in corners and watch as the world passes us by. We were meant to live—and live boldly—as the people we were always meant to be.

Because even with our scars and wounds and broken hearts and tears and fears and mistakes and flaws and memories and messes, we are beautiful.

Let’s dance forever

I feel the need to address a serious problem in our society today: there’s not enough dancing.

And it needs to change–soon.

I love dancing. I never took dance, and I probably wouldn’t have been very successful, because I’m not very good at organized and structured dance. I prefer to make the moves up as I go. But dancing doesn’t have to look pretty to be beautiful–it simply needs to be natural.

I was on an elevator the other day with a mom and her young daughter (she looked maybe 4 or 5), and suddenly the girl burst into some spontaneous dancing when another woman’s phone began ringing. The mom looked at me and apologized before telling her little girl to stop busting those moves (though she didn’t use that wording). I told her there was no need to apologize and that the world needs more dancing. The little girl looked up at me and said, “Let’s dance forever!”

She’s got the right idea.

DANCE
It was a really good song

I think a lot of people don’t dance much because of the fear of what people will think of them. But what does that matter? If everyone danced more, we wouldn’t have time to analyze everyone else’s dancing. Taylor Swift gets it, though. She frequently dances at awards shows to the live music, and people continue to ridicule her, and she continues not to care. You know why? Because it doesn’t matter.

I love the John Michael Montgomery song “Life’s a Dance,” because it’s such a great analogy.

Life’s a dance you learn as you go

Sometimes you lead; sometimes you follow

But don’t worry about what you don’t know

Life’s a dance you learn as you go

In life, you don’t always have structure, and you don’t always know what your next move is. Sometimes you really just have to move along to the beat–and you may look completely off-beat–without caring about what the world outside is thinking. You may look like a flailing monkey, but those might be the perfect moves that make you you. You may step on your partner’s toes when you’re trying to two-step, but nobody is perfect, and the people who care about you aren’t going to let your mistakes ruin a good song. Just dance.

Because dancing is BOLD.

Lee Ann Womack gets it, too, and she sang about it:

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance

Never settle for the path of least resistance

Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’

Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’

Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter

When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I HOPE YOU DANCE

It’s easy to lean against the wall or stay in your chair and avoid the dance floor, but it takes courage to get out there and dance. And life needs more people choosing courage. Because you’re going to come across opportunities in life when you have to make choices that let you either do things that are BOLD or play it safe and choose not to risk anything. But some risks are simply worth taking.

Like dancing your heart out.

I hope the little girl from the elevator continues to dance when she hears cell phones ring and whenever else the opportunity presents itself. I hope her mom learns from her precious daughter and follows her lead. I hope more people take the chance and stop caring about their images and just dance, instead.

You just might find courage you never knew you had in so many areas of life if you’d just dance.

Let’s dance forever.

Sunny rain

So many times in life, we focus on even the tiniest bad things when they are amidst so much greatness.

Like a bit of rain during sunshine.

Last Thursday evening, it started raining as I left dinner and was on my way home. The sun was still out, though, and I normally don’t like the combination of rain without dark skies accompanying it, but for some reason I was really enjoying it. I began thinking about how there have been a lot of times in life where I have let seemingly negative things overshadow all of the good things around me. But, as I drove through the neighborhoods, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the whole picture was. And it wasn’t some huge storm sweeping through that wreaked havoc or had flashes of lightning and clashes of thunder–it was simply fairly weak rain that couldn’t put a damper on that peaceful night sky.

It was such a short, small moment, but it really gave me a perspective I needed at the time.

WhatRain?
Can’t even see the rain

I usually get tired of hearing trite expressions, but one of them–which is actually a quality quote–popped into my head, and I let it stay there for a while: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I know a lot of the time when it rains, my first thought is that I don’t want to get my hair wet. Shallow? Yes. But true, nonetheless. There are so many more significant things in life than dry, unfrizzy hair, though.

Like living.

As I was driving yesterday, I noticed that my car was almost to 100,000 miles. I guess I thought that was sort of a big deal, and I wanted to see it turn that number just for the sake of seeing it happen. But I got caught up in my own car concert as I was belting out some T-Swizzle, and I completely missed it. When I looked down to see it was already in the six-figure range, I was briefly disappointed. Then, I thought to myself, “Who the crap cares?” I mean, why should it matter if I see that number? I don’t even like numbers in increments of five. I had wasted a few seconds of my life getting upset about an unimportant event that has no lasting value in my life. You know what was more important? Singing “All Too Well” as if I were performing for the attendees at the Grammys.

Life brings with it a lot of things that are really difficult to handle. There are some things that seem so much bigger than we are, and they are, which makes it even more challenging to try to find the sunshine in the middle of all of the rain. It’s not always easy to be dealt an unwanted hand–whether it’s illness, losing someone you love, having your heart broken, or any other number of events in life that leave us questioning why we are standing under such huge clouds of storms that just won’t let up. They seem so huge and daunting that it makes it hard to think we will ever make it through with any ounce of hope.

But, there is Someone who is bigger than all of it, and He can take away pain when it seems like it won’t go away.

When I was a sophomore at Texas A&M, I was supposed to go to a concert with a guy, and he bailed on me the day of the show. I was definitely not happy about that–I had really been looking forward to the concert, which was on a school night in Dallas. Thankfully, my brother said he would go with me after I called and practically begged him. But I spent way too much of the three-hour car ride thinking about how upset I was over some guy who didn’t even care. I ended up having a great time with my brother, and I should have been more thankful of the quality memory I was getting to have with my childhood hero. He had cared enough to sacrifice whatever he would have been doing that night and gone with his younger sister to see a band he had never even heard of play live.

He was my sunshine that drowned out the rain.

As I made the trek back to College Station and got home a little before 3 a.m. so I could make it to my 8 a.m. class that morning, I have to admit that I hadn’t forgotten about being upset. Looking back now, it was so silly. I was making something out to be more important than it really was. In the big picture, the fact that one guy didn’t go to a concert with me really wasn’t such a bad thing after all. I got to hang out and catch up with my brother, and I felt so honored that he was there for me.

I know my life isn’t going to be perfect, and I am certainly going to have more storms come my way. But I don’t want to stress out about what troubles may come because of some rain or lightning or thunder; rather, I want to face those adversities head on and, as Taylor Swift wisely says, “dance in a storm in my best dress, fearless.”

Because even when I am dancing by myself I know I will never be dancing alone.