A few years ago, I set out to do 50 things before I turned 50.  Between my 49th and 50th birthday, I tried things like yoga in the park, attending a sound bath, feeding Alpacas, aerial yoga, making a charcuterie board, and many others.  It was an adventure-packed year and nestled in all of the lovely things, I signed up for ballroom dance lessons with my husband.

Some of the things I tried, one time was enough.  A few of the things were worth repeating.  The one that has stood the test of time is ballroom dance.  I am currently in my 3rd year of lessons and it continues to be some of the best time I spend with my husband each week.  

In my ballroom dance journey, there have been some life lessons that I find helpful, even if you don’t set foot on the dance floor.  I would like to share three of those here today.

Not Leading

I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed not leading.  As you likely know, in traditional ballroom dance, the man leads and the woman follows.  As someone who feels like they need to think things through in every possible way with every possible alternative ending, this was different for me.  I am not going to say that I never try to lead or “help out” my dance partner.  What I am going to say, though, is there is such a relief, such a breath of fresh air, to not have to decide what the next move is going to be.  I can relax and enjoy the dance.  The takeaway for all of us is that life is a bit like that, too.  We don’t always have to think everything through.  Trust in whatever or whoever you trust in to lead, so you can relax and enjoy the dance.


Next, let go of perfectionism.  I don’t think you’ll see me on Dancing with the Stars anytime soon, but unless you are a professional dancer, you might be a little impressed if you saw me dance.  The dancing always looks better than I think we look.  I know when I didn’t slide my foot just right or my frame was off.  I know when I feel a little clunky.  But when others have seen us, either in person or on video, they usually say complimentary things.  You know what?  When I watch videos, I think it looks pretty good, too.  I try to remind myself that we always look better than we think.  The takeaway for life on this is to remember you are doing better than you think.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Perfectionism can steal your joy.

Power of Words

And the last thing I want to share with you is the power of words and affirmation.  Our dance instructor has an incredible ability to say one word so well.  That word is simply “GOOD” but he bellows it and it feels like it has magical powers.  I could be tired.  Ballroom dance is, after all, a full-body exercise.  I could be discouraged because it just isn’t clicking right in my head or my body.  And right in the middle of a dance, he will say “GOOD” and I perk right up.  Not only do I get a burst of energy, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  Hearing this from him actually makes me dance better.  Friends, the takeaway for life on this one is quite simple.  Find your cheerleader, who offers you affirmation that perks you up and helps you do better.  Maybe, more importantly, be someone else’s cheerleader.

When I signed up for ballroom dance lessons, I really didn’t expect to learn anything more than maybe Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, or Cha-Cha.  I also learned to relax and enjoy the dance, you are doing better than you think you are, and it is important to have a cheerleader and be a cheerleader.  

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