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.
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.
P.S., If you’ve got Come Alive in your head now and want to try your hand at the dance, here’s a step-by-step tutorial I found on YouTube! Happy dancing!