An Exercise in Gratitude, as Told by a Cynic

After several depressing posts, I thought I should try to turn the mood around by stopping the moaning and groaning and exercising a little gratitude instead. The only problem is I’m a bit of a cynic.

Positive and grateful thinking is a good thing, but I think some people take it too far. When someone is positive all of the time, even when things are clearly falling apart around them, I’m never sure if they’re being genuine. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, so my first thought is someone is hiding how they really feel when they keep a smile plastered on their face while shit is hitting the fan. Granted, some people are true optimists. Some people have been through enough darkness that they can honestly appreciate the little things and always find the silver linings. Others I think may have just drank too much of the Kool-Aid at some new age “life coaching” event.

Not everyone is comfortable with the darker side of their emotions either. I probably spend too much time with mine. While I agree that I should make more of an effort to acknowledge the positive, I don’t think I should ignore my negative feelings or pretend they’re not there. Sometimes I get the impression that an all-happy-feelings approach to life is what some people are insisting is the way to live. Just put your positive intentions and vibes out into the universe and all will be well. Uh, no, I don’t think so. Things still go wrong. Life sucks sometimes, and it’s perfectly fine to acknowledge that. There needs to be a balance.

In the spirit of that balance, I’m actually going to take some time to focus on the positive. I’ve fully acknowledged my feeling that Life is being totally unfair right now and that I’m feeling sorry for myself and a little jealous of others. I keep falling into the comparison trap and it’s eating away at my motivation.

Now for the positives for this past week:

  • I still danced ballroom one day. Ballroom Viking was able to make it to our scheduled practice session, and later that same night, Roomie and I went to a local studio’s Halloween-themed party. The party was actually more fun than I expected, and even though I didn’t get to dance a whole lot, I still felt some of the stress go away.
  • I still got to go to hip hop class one day and ended up having a short private lesson since no one else showed up (see my Instagram page for a video of me attempting facial expressions).

Other positives that go beyond this week, but still should be acknowledged:

  • Teacher hasn’t once changed his attitude toward our lessons. He still puts in 100+% and makes me work hard (which I want), even though we don’t have any competitions on the calendar. I haven’t felt like less of a priority just because I’m not competing or performing (although it doesn’t help when I miss a whole week because he’s competing with others).
  • My still-newish job is going well, the people are cool, and the work is keeping me busy (so it feels more secure than my last job). Plus, my boss was very supportive when I told him about my upcoming road trip and need to work remotely for an extended period of time.
  • I had the opportunity to participate in another blogger’s new venture! The Dancing Housewife is starting a new podcast about ballroom dance in January and she interviewed me for one of the episodes.

So Life isn’t all bad. Part of my problem is I’m overwhelmed and not getting my usual stress relief from dance. “One thing at a time” is my mantra when it comes to handling that feeling. At the moment, I’m feeling a little better as I was able to check some things off my list AND I found out that my car is ready to be picked up from the shop today, instead of having to wait until Monday. Goodbye money, hello new clutch!

My other problem is that it’s been over a year since my trip to USDC was cancelled and I feel like I haven’t regained any momentum. CalOpen 2016 was clearly a false start. The more time passes, the more I wonder if I’ll ever regain it. But I’ll stop there because this is supposed to be a post focusing on the positives. As a positive counterpoint, I am eyeing a couple comps in April 2017 as potential comeback events. I’m not giving up.

As you can see, even when I try to focus on the positives, the negatives still show up. Since I think it’s foolish to ignore them, I’ll give them their space on the page. It’s all about balance.

Speaking of balance, I thought of another positive: we went off-topic during a hip hop class a couple weeks ago and worked on pirouettes because all of the students were interested in learning how to turn without falling over. Between the first and second weeks that we spent some time on them, I went from barely making it through a full turn to making it through a turn and a half! I’m eager to see if this new knowledge will translate into improvement in my cha cha routine that has that frustrating spin.

Teacher is back from competition this coming week, so as far as I know, we’ll have my regular lessons, which means two days of ballroom dancing next week (practice with BV is the same night as one of my lessons). Better than nothing, right?

Happy dancing, and happy Halloween!


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