Saturday Night Fever: A Tale of Dreams Coming True

Last Saturday night a group of ordinary people did something exceptional. They put on their dancing shoes, wiped nervous sweat from brows, fluffed out feathers, straighten ties, step on stage and danced as part of the local YMCA’s Dancing for Dreams event, helping to raise more than $19,000. A whopping $4,000 more raised than the previous year’s event and darn close to this year’s goal of $20,000. We may make it yet, as money is still rolling in day by day. Dancing for Dreams is the primary fundraiser for our YMCA and the funds raised helps to provide scholarships for kids and families who otherwise would be unable to take advantage of the health and wellness services provided by our local YMCA.

Seven local stars and 6 people fulfilling the role of “professional partners” carried on a tradition that began three years ago when a couple of local women thought that an event based on the Dancing with the Stars phenomenon might make a good fundraiser. Being formidable, resourceful and persuasive they sold the idea to the YMCA Director. With virtually no budget, but with much dedication they pulled in a number of people, including me, to pull to get the first event, which raised a $5,000, a sum that seemed impossible at the time. So the next year the event grew merging with an auction (live and silent) event already in place for the YMCA. Year two the dancers alone again raise a sizable sum, and now we happily repeated this achievement again. Part of what makes this so amazing is this event occurs in a small Midwestern town (population 9,900), where farming remains a strong way of life and there is limited industry.

It is a privilege to for me to be part of such an effort, three years running now. All of dancers are amateurs with the exception of one young ballroom instructor. This wonderfully motley crew, spends hours learning to dance, learning their choreography, selling tickets to the event, as well as figuring out costumes and having some real fun. It’s gutsy for our local stars in particular, to get out on stage to dance, as the evenings entertainment.  Our stars have included, a high school librarian, attorneys, a retired judge, the county clerk, a physician’s assistant, a program director, a bank president, several business owners, an optometrist, the art center director, a school superintendent and the YMCA’s Executive Director (who by the way has got some good rhythm).  My hat is off to all of our local stars and “pros” who have tackled the Waltz, East Coast Swing, Bolero, Tango, Foxtrot, Jitterbug, West Coast Swing, Rumba, Hustle, Cha-Cha and Samba over the past three years. Most of these folks don’t dance regularly, some may never dance again, and some you could not imagine dancing in the first place, but each of them has said how much they enjoyed the experience. For some it has been a dream to learn how to dance. For some it was just an interesting way to support a good cause. All of them put their best foot forward, took a risk and made magic happen.

It astounds me what can happen when people put steady, solid actions together with dreams and hope.

New Season, Noomii, New You?

Noomii is an exciting  resource I would like to share with you. Noomii is an online tool for life coachingbusiness coaching, and career coaching that uses the power of weekly coaching sessions to help you achieve your goals. There are two ways to use Noomii: with a professional life coach or with their free pair coaching system in which you and a partner take turns coaching each other. Either way, it’s easy, fast, and fun.

Pair Coaching is Noomii’s innovative new system for helping you and your friend make your goals a reality. Every week, you and your coaching partner get together for a coaching session, just like you would with a professional coach.  Pair coaching is a new kind of life coaching in which two people take turns coaching each other. Instead of working with a professional life coach, you first coach your partner, and then switch roles and your partner coaches you in return. Pair coaching with Noomii is 100% free – you simply provide your time, encouragement, and a commitment to be there for your partner. Pair coaching is a great way to try life coaching to see if it’s right for you. The best part is that anyone can be an effective pair coaching partner; Noomii shows you how! Many of our users start out with pair coaching and then hire a professional life coach when they want to take their coaching to the next level. Find out more in their FAQ section.

I am delighted to be among the professional coaches listed on Noomii and to be able to suggest this resource to my clients friends and family.

May the coming weeks be bountiful and inspirational for you, may you rest well tonight and be ready to go tomorrow morning to tackle whatever comes your way.

Respect, searching and support: It’s not easy being green

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too. – Voltaire

We are privileged to live in a society where our freedom of thought and speech are protected and nurtured. The preponderance of websites, blogs (including this one), talk radio, talk shows and the like serves as evidence of our ability to think and speak openly. As Americans we celebrate the ideal of the independent spirit. There is though at least one competing characteristic in our Americanness, our humanness, that can inhibit our most authentic voice, the one that speaks of our personal points of view, our inner most tenets, our deeply held personal values. One characteristic is the desire to belong- to fit in, to be connected with a community. An other is the way in which we express and experience respect for others, and especially when there is a difference of opinion, thoughts or approach.

Wynona, a participant in one of my workshops, tapped into her experience of these competing characteristics and the tension created by this dynamic. Wynona feels a profound need to find a spiritual home for herself and her beloved family (husband and two young children) to ground their family life. She is also seeking for this spiritual home to provide her with additional support as she begins her foray back into the workforce as a fitness professional after spending a noble fours years as a stay-at-home Mom (which incidentally is a more than full time job in my opinion). As she discussed her powerful desire to find a place, a community that would embrace the same ideals held by her and husband, one that would value the need for less stuff in favor of more time and doing, of making memories and demonstrating authentic acceptance of difference, tears slipped out of the corners of her eyes and roll down her cheeks into a tissue. The tears were not a block for her, but rather the release on a lock to her concern.

These tears were a symptom of the pain she was experiencing because as much as she wants to find this spiritual home she has not yet found in it the churches of her youth or adulthood. Wynona and her husband have recently moved back to her hometown and are actively integrating themselves into the community at large. She explained while she respects those community and places of worship she felt she did not fit; they were too traditional in their expression of the various doctrines. She worried that she will always feel as an “outsider”. That her family, her children would lack the mooring that a spiritual practice and community bring to so many other people because they had not found one. Could she possibly be such a non-conformist, what price might she have to pay? Where could she go to find the spiritual home that was the right community for her family?

To the great credit of the group that gathered on that day, they shared with Wynona there are other churches and places of worship in the area and began naming at least a half dozen, including a Quaker group, a Presbyterian Congregation and a Unitarian Church. They group as diverse as they were with their own religious practices and spiritual beliefs, listen, respected and supported Wynona thinking for herself.

Frankly being part of a deeply personal and utterly respectful conversation has been an antidote to the shouting matches that all too often erupt in the media.

Disappointing Gremlins and Others, But Not Myself

The past week I have been disappointing people left and right.  Excited for me and curious about the Windy City Open dance competition, family, friends and acquaintances ask, “ How was the competition? Was it fun?” “ No, but I did expect it would be. It was however what I expected and I did what I set out do”, I reply.  Their hopeful faces crumble a bit as the word “No” rides sonic waves from my mouth to their ears. What is most often missed when they first hear my response is that for me, the competition was what I needed and successful, because I achieved my goals, which had nothing to do with having a fun with all the classic trappings of smiles and laughter.

One goal was get out on the dance floor, looking as if I belonged there in my division by age and dance level. More importantly my other goal was to contend with a full-scale assault launched by my Gremlins. Both were accomplished, but not without deliberate, focused action. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it?  Absolutely. Would I do it again? Yes, look out 46th Harvest Moon Ball Championship here I come. And you know what? The next competition will be easier and much more fun.

Performing, being the center of attention has never been enjoyable for me. My nature is to be introverted, despite finding people and their company immensely fascinating and enjoyable.  Some people thrive on getting up in front of a crowd and speaking, dancing, acting, playing football… I don’t. However, personal excellence is a value of mine and it drives me to get the most from and put forward the best foot I can in the moment. To push past the whisperings of anxieties fed by Gremlins, because the short-term pain of growth is a price worth paying for the long-term gains of personal agency and the profound contentment of knowing you honestly put your whole effort in to something.

Practice makes perfect so goes the adage and there is truth in it. Last weekend was one long practice session. Each difficult moment was countered with twice as many easier moments. There were multiple rewards of being in action:

  • The messages of support from my husband sent each day.
  • The fellowship of many dancers, some more skilled, some less skilled, but all dancing for the joy of doing something loved.
  • The joy of cheering for someone dancing his heart out.
  • The pleasure of spending time with beloved companions.
  • The kindness of a fellow competitor helping me to rub out the cramps seizing both sets of calf muscles of my first round of heats.
  • I am proud to say there were some heats where I placed.

The most meaningful reward was feeling an uncontrollable smile as I danced my final 6 heats, growing from just doing something loved and shared. On Oct. 9 and 10, it is that memory and generative power in it that will make the next competition fun.

Creating Your Better Life

Once again I am delighted to host a Powerful Living Workshop on Saturday, September 9.  The June and July Powerful Living Workshops were a success for all involved.  Thanks to all of you for your continued support! I think Jeanie’s comments offer a glimpse into the workshop  “RATS – I KNEW there was something I needed to do before I could move forward with my plans, but I had been successfully ignoring it until I attended your workshop.  The experience was a true guidance.  Thank you again for reoffering this workshop – and it was a real pleasure meeting you in person.” – Jeanie Scholey, Mental Health Professional, Galesburg, IL, July 2009

My recent posts, “Crafting a Future From the Edge of Chaos“,  and  those on Values address the thinking behind the Powerful Living Workshop. In these changing and unsteady times many of us are asking questions such as: What comes next? Or about what might be? What would be a more fundamentally satisfying way to live? What is most important to me to live better? This workshop offers participants a time, place and process to consider these questions and begin to answer them through reflection, discussion and collage. That’s right collage, it is extraordinary what can happen when you stop fretting, start taking action and play. In the somober mood of the times, it is important to connect with fun as well as what is not fun. One with out the other makes for a less than powerful life.

Those of you who are in the Galesburg/Quad Cities/Burlington area I invite you to join me at the September 12 workshop.

Powerful Living: Creating A Better Life

A workshop for you to stop, reflect, focus, on your life and your future.

You’ll create a clear vision, a plan and a tangible picture of your better life.

We’ll even play a little, and who couldn’t use a little bit of fun these days?

Date: Saturday, September 12, 2009, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Location: Inner Wisdom Bookstore, 31 N Kellogg St, Galesburg, IL

RSVP at (309) 343-8806

Investment: $25, a willingness to be open to possibilities and two hours of your time

Benefits: Clarity, Focus, Satisfaction and Some Fun

Please feel free to send me a note at inmotion (dot) Danahar (at) yahoo (dot) com with any questions you have about this workshop. Please forgive the odd spelling of the address I am trying to thwart spammers.

Making Vows: Honoring Intentions, Actions and Your Team

Intentionally declaring your intentions, your plans, and the actions you will to take to meet your goals is an extraordinary behavior with great kinetic potential.  Saying something aloud does not equate with undertaking the action you declare, but it does help to forward your action to a given end. You still need to take the action.

Thoughtfully stating your intentions out loud is akin making a vow.  Much like when giving voice to a sacred ceremonial vow, such as a marriage vow or a pledging one’s fidelity to another, there an assumption of accountability to the other person(s) to whom you make a pledge as well as to the witnesses of this act.  When you declare your intentions to others, in a large or small venue, to a small or large group, or even a single individual, you invite them into your experience and to support your endeavors.  We do this even causally when saying, “I think I will go to the movies this Saturday” to a colleague. The next time you see each other your colleague is likely to ask, “So how was the movie on Saturday? What did you go see?” They too are invested in your efforts.

People are social creatures. By in large we want those around us to do well, so we too can share in their successes and celebrations, be they for grand or small accomplishments. Celebrating the small wins like getting through a week with only 4 negative thoughts about dresses ripping on the dance floor, or 5 strategically and individual crafted emails to your professional network exploring opportunities are as important to acknowledge as celebrating completing all of your heats or landing a new job. It is the small successes that line your path to the bigger goal and the supporters we engage along the way are like a fans and teammate cheering on their riders in the Tour de France. It takes the combination of your intentions and efforts, and your support team to cross your personal finish line.

When undertaking a big challenge, wouldn’t it be great to feel steady support from a variety of people from the different aspects of your life? In the dark moments when you just want to stop, there is a ground swell of support for you to ride back into the light moments. There is an additional flow to energy to feed your efforts. There is a somebody or some bodies at the proverbial finish line encouraging and drawing you ever closer to it.

Having someone on your team, who can and will consistently tell you what you need to hear when you need to hear it, is critical for you get to the next portion of your path.  This has to happen when the message is overtly and easily positive and even more importantly when the message may be difficult to deliver and hear. We all need at least one person in our lives to provide a reality check, to push us firmly but gentle forward when it is time to in motion. Delivering the difficult messages may be too difficult for a family member, loved one, friend or colleague to tell you when you need it most. If there is someone already in your life you serves this most important role in your life that is great.  Celebrate that gift in your life and thank that person for their unwavering support.

If not, go find someone who can fulfill that role in your life and thank them along the path you travel. This could be a mentor at work, a rabbi, Imam, pastor, or a Coach. A coach can be a wonderful addition to your team of supporters, their focus is to keep your big picture in mind, when you don’t, can’t or won’t. Your Coach is focused on you and your goals for creating a personally satisfying and better life. They are always in your corner and can help you rally the rest of your support team. Frankly you are not paying them to bull****you, the stakes are too high- this is your life.

As I look at the calendar and see that in less than 4 days I’ll be limbering up wearing a rhinestone dress and putting on my game face, I want to think my support team. My husband, my mom, dad, stepmom, my sister and brother, in-laws, nephews and a wealth of cousins. My dance family. My friends. My colleagues at the conference last week. My dance instructor and coach. My Coach/Mentor and my coaching colleagues. On Friday and Saturday, when I dance at the Windy City Open, I know you will all be with me literally or figuratively, cheering me on. It is to each and everyone of you I dedicate my dances. Without you I wouldn’t have come this close to my personal finish line and because of you I know I will cross it, ripped dresses, bruised toes, or not.