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My Mother, My First Dance Teacher

My mother dancing at the Flower Festival June 1993

My mother was my first dance teacher. To this day, I can reach back to what it felt like watching my mother dance in front of me as I tried to follow. We’re in our old house. I see the blue carpet on the floor. Hawaiian music surrounds me. My mother is twice my size with long black hair taking three steps to the right, followed by three steps to the left. Her hips sway as she moves side to side. I hear her voice telling me, “Bend your knees more.” It’s a vivid memory, as if a part of me is still there dancing with her.

She began teaching me to dance the hula when I was five. She taught me that the hands tell a story, and that when we dance, we share the story with others. In the Hawaiian culture, the hula carries the history of the people remembered forever through dance. I was taught to smile, make eye contact, and to enjoy the dance, because that is what draws people in. Some of this I learned because she told me. Most of it I learned from watching her.

My mother was the only hula dancer in our small town, so she was the entertainment for every luau. I was the one she would throw in front of the audience when she needed to make a costume change. I’d be in a flower mumu dancing to the “Little Brown Gal in Hawaii.” I don’t remember being scared. I only recall having fun. My favorite part of the show was at the end. The audience members would join us on stage to learn a song. There would be lots of laughter. That is what I loved most.

My mother was always well-prepared. We practiced for every show. She had back up music for every song and even carried an extra sound system in the car. But once the show started, she would always tell me not to worry. Whatever happens, happens. Enjoy yourself and the audience will too. If you mess up just keep going and smile. They’ll never know.

I’m much older now. Mostly, I dance Salsa and Bachata. But in my heart, I am my mother’s hula girl. Dancing will always hold a story whether it be one of happiness, sadness or gratitude for being alive. I feed off the energy of those around me and add my own to the mix. I practice to be the best I can, but when I dance with others I simply relax and enjoy. Whatever happens, happens. Come to think of it, that is the way I live my life too. In both dancing and life, my mother is my first (and favorite) teacher. Always.

The Dancing Writer

Dancing and writing are the funky glasses I wear in life that gives color and depth to the world around and within me. One grounds me to the physical sensation of being alive. The other invites me to launch my imagination and explore endless possibilities. Dancing inhabits only the present, whereas writing exists forever on the page. And so I dance and write between now and forever in a playful way, living life in the moment and writing down what I learn.

Okay, so that’s the fancy way of saying both are just so much fun! I honestly don’t recognize myself if I don’t dance and write. This blog is my way of sharing what I love. My life is far from perfect, and I’m fine with that. What could be more boring than being perfect? No, I’ve had many bumps and bruises along the way, and skinned knees from kissing dirt after a tumble. Countless times, I have ended up hopelessly lost. And yet, here I am still standing, wearing my funky glasses.

I’m sure this blog will be about many things, because life is just so damn interesting, isn’t it? However, there is one question that is closest to my heart. I’m sure it will show up in my writing wearing disguises here and there, and when you spot it you’ll say, “Yep, I recognize that character.”

So, I’ll ask the question here. Are you alive?

Please tell me you’re not among the living dead. Zombies are all around us. I talk to them every day. Instead of seeking brains, the modern Zombie just wants more. More of what? Well, more of anything that will fill that void of not having enough. More time to get things done, more youth, more goodies, more money, more perfection, you get the idea. I was a Zombie for many years. I died taking care of everyone else. Never even noticed, I wasn’t even invited to the funeral. I just lost touch with that feeling of aliveness that comes from slowing down and breathing life in.

Somewhere along my twisted travels, I’ve come back from the undead. I dance and write, and I don’t think Zombies are capable of doing either of those things. So as long as I keep writing, you can rest assured I’m alive.

What about you? Did you check? If you found a heartbeat, then I hope this blog inspires you to keep exploring your own curiosities. If you didn’t find a pulse, don’t panic. Zombies are welcome here too. The more you hang out with the living, the more likely you’re heart will recharge. I’ll even let you borrow my funky glasses.