Come Alive

The Greatest Showman was one of those movies that shouldn’t have worked. A musical about P.T. Barnum, a man who gained notoriety by exploiting people for profit and marketing racism to the masses in the form of entertainment? That’s just not right.

And yet, the movie was a major success! I’m a huge fan myself, and I think a big part of that success had to do with the underlying message that had nothing to do with Mr. Barnum. It was an invitation that appealed to that desire within all of us: to show up as our true selves, to shed the dreary gray uniform of the daily grind, and as they sing, come alive.

As I continue to establish myself in Maine and we near the end of the year, I’m reflecting on what makes me come alive. It sounds cheesy outside of a big musical number. Ok, maybe it’s cheesy inside a big musical number too but what’s a musical without cheese? Music and dance can turn cheese into inspiration.

Inspiration is what I’m looking for. What makes me feel inspired? Ballroom dance and the written word are obvious answers, but lately I’ve been digging deeper in an effort to figure out what my purpose is in this new chapter of my life. In other words, I’m impatient and don’t want to just wait and see what reveals itself. Even if I’m not discovering my true destiny, the exercise still gives me the chance to explore these passions in more detail, which also helps me avoid taking them for granted.

I came home from Zumba the other week and was not feeling as satiated as I would expect from an hour of dancing up a sweat. I knew I was missing ballroom and training with Teacher. Examining what I was missing in more detail showed me that I was missing the challenge that comes in developing the technique part of dance. So I signed up for an adult ballet class! The class was harder than I expected, but it was a pleasant surprise. I went home sweaty, sore and with a significantly improved mood. I loved the chance to focus both my mind and my body on precise movement. A “yes!” escaped out of my mouth when I managed to balance a few seconds longer during a relevé on one leg. I met the familiar frustration at not getting something right the first time as I attempted piqué and step up turns across the floor at the end of class. Luckily, I’ve had years of experience with royally messing up a dance move in front of others in a studio setting, so I just said hello to my old friend and kept trying to do at least one turn cleanly.

I signed up for ballet classes for the rest of the month. Between ballet and Zumba, I’ll get the dance that lets me let loose and the dance that challenges me both mentally and physically. Next I just need to get back to ballroom. 😉

And now for something completely different (but related):

Earlier today, I finally fixed my bookshelf that didn’t make it across country with all of its shelf pins and put away several piles of books that had been sitting on the floor since a couple of the shelves collapsed due to poor substitutes for the original shelf pins. The books included a collection about screenplay writing. I was a creative writing minor in college and took a screenwriting course one semester. I was totally gung-ho about writing a movie script when I was in college! The thought of painting a story with words that could then be translated to the screen made me come alive, but at some point, that part of my passion for writing fell to the wayside. Seeing those books today reminded me of the other types of writing I once explored and could explore again. I’ve been consistently writing blog articles for about a decade. Once in awhile, I happen upon an idea that lights me up but if I’m honest, it feels mostly routine. I enjoy it! But does the writing I’m doing now truly make me come alive?

What does still make me come alive when it comes to blogging is when one of my readers comes to me with a provocative question, one of those questions that really makes you think! I’ll answer the question but often I’m still pondering it days later and it turns into my next blog post. It’s that outside input that shakes me out of the groove I’ve been running in and forces me to consider other paths. Maybe they lead somewhere, maybe it’s just a quick detour. Either way, it helps to refresh the creative juices.

In conclusion…

The more I work toward living my life my way, as who I truly am and not who others expect me to be, the more I see how hard the world makes it. We’re supposed to fit into boxes or categories. We’re supposed to keep to the well-trodden paths. We’re supposed to meet expectations. Humans don’t fit into boxes though. We’re complicated and we’re constantly changing (or fighting change). To come alive and dream with your eyes wide open, to light your light and let it burn so bright…that ish is hard in this world! Hard but not impossible. If I can win a world championship title with a full-back tree tattoo, then others can shine as their true selves and still find success. YOU can shine as your true self! It’s not an easy road, but the longer I’m on this journey, the farther I want to go.

A good start? Identify what makes you come alive. What makes you light up? Then make sure you include it in your life in some way, even if it’s just a small way at first.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that if your ballroom training is making you come alive, the books and journals at Practice Ballroom Dance are officially on sale through the end of the year! With my dancing taking the form of Zumba and ballet as opposed to ballroom right now, I’m particularly appreciative of the aptly titled A Journal for the Whole Dance Journey.


6 thoughts on “Come Alive

  1. Christian says:

    “a man who gained notoriety by exploiting people for profit and marketing racism to the masses in the form of entertainment?” That’s just not right. “Cannot believe you went there! Another “woke” attack over the distant past. What do you think ballroom competitions are? They exploit us for cash and its our choice to participate, just as the Barnum performers had a choice. You want to kill your blog? Just keeping posting your political views. This isn’t Twitter Katie! I follow you because of your dancing insights not because of your “woke” movie critiques”…


    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      It’s not political, it’s just history. 🤷‍♀️ Well-documented by Barnum himself. But that’s not the point of this post, just a starting point that I found interesting. I love The Greatest Showman! And the main character was inspired by a man who was no saint. Both of those statements can be true. It’s almost like a real life “Springtime for Hitler”.

      I appreciate you following the blog and I hope you’ve gained value from my insights. Those insights come from taking an honest look at dance and Life, “the good the bad and the awkward” as I like to say. We can’t improve as dancers if we dismiss or ignore the uncomfortable parts. The trick is to not let it weigh us down. History is full of bad characters, but that doesn’t mean we in the here and now can’t shine our brightest.


  2. fmfortunato06 says:

    You want a question? Here’s one. Is there one specific Ballroom dance that just transports you, even if it’s difficult? I feel that way about Viennese Waltz. It’s not at all easy, but dancing it makes me feel like an olden days princess, swirling around a grand ballroom, under sparkling chandeliers. Sometimes, when I’m worried, stressed, or having a bad day, I will practice Viennese Waltz as therapy. It works! I did it a short while ago, because I’m going to the dentist today (always a stressful experience) and I wanted to get out of my head. So. Do you have a magic dance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      Viennese Waltz makes me feel that way too! 😍 I feel like I’m flying free over the dance floor and yet grounded. So magical!!
      Salsa is another dance I can lose myself in. It’s so fun and joyful, all my stress gets shimmied loose. My favorite kitchen dance. 😄
      Good luck at the dentist! 😘


    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      Yes I have! 😁 It would be a fun challenge to try to write a story about pro-am ballroom in a way that would be interesting for a mainstream audience who wouldn’t necessarily get why we invest so much time, money and energy into a “hobby.”


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