No to a Wedding


“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”  Brene Brown


I am one proud papa! I found out about my impending fatherhood through an email. It read:

“Hey Aleks, I’m one of your old students from a couple of years ago. I’m getting married next year. To the man I met in your salsa level one class! Thank you so much!”  


Awwww!   I was bursting with pride – my babies are grown up. I’m at least partially responsible for this – I was one proud dad at that moment.  


But the email continued: “It would be amazing if you could choreograph our first dance!” The pride instantly disappeared and I felt a burning sensation like heartburn. You know when you eat too many sweets or too many carbs and you get heartburn? I find in my life when I am trying to be sweet all the time and I agree to things I don’t want to do, I get heartburn. I don’t think I’m the only one. When we over commit to others, when we are always giving, giving, giving, we often have nothing left for ourselves.


My inner voice goes “Dude – you made a promise to yourself – no more wedding choreographies.”


So I was staring at this email and I wanted to be sweet but it’s giving me heartburn. Why?


I agreed to it one last time a couple of years ago, even though I did not want to do it and it was just brutal. I do not enjoy the process and I became resentful of the couple and myself for saying yes. I did not want this to happen again.


I knew I wanted to give them love though…


So I wrote back; “I don’t do wedding choreographies but I’m happy to meet with you virtually for free and give you all the advice, all the tools, set you up and connect you with a choreographer so you guys can feel awesome on your wedding day.”  


She said yes and we met up last week. The camera went on and I saw them and they were sooo excited. So happy, so full of glee and as I started them I realized…


I did not recognize it! I don’t remember my kids…wait are they my kids. Lol


Ok, It took me a good minute or two to remember and we began to talk.


We were talking and I was ebbing and flowing and I was giving them all this love and I just felt my cup was being filled up, not spent. I could tell they were feeling great. At the end of the meeting the groom paused, squinted and asked “Hey Aleks, listen man, we love you so much. You have all of this knowledge, you know us, you know what’s best for us. Why don’t you just choreograph the dance? We’ll pay you.”


I feel guilty… My kids were asking Papa for help and why wouldn’t I? I should be sweeter, no? 


Instantly the heartburn is back. I caught it…


I recognized that if I said yes I would be doing it  for all the wrong reasons. I take a breath and the heartburn starts to subside. “Listen guys, I could do it but if I do, I just know I’m not going to enjoy the process. Not because of you but because it is not something I love. It is going to take me away from Toronto Dance Salsa and right now I need to take care of my school. So, I hope what I did here was enough and if you need to meet again virtually we can definitely do that.”


“Aleks, are you kidding me? We love you so much. You did more than enough!”


It was a beautiful moment.  “I love you too guys.”  We all hung up and for a moment the heartburn came back. My inner doubts surfaced. I should have been nicer. These are my kids, I’m at least partially responsible for their relationship and they asked for help and I said no to a wedding.


Then a wave of gratitude came over me and my heartburn vanished. When I showed up in front of them for those 30 minutes, I showed up as my true, loving self. I didn’t feel a sugar crash or a carb overload coma. I didn’t need to take a nap because I was burnt out.


I set boundaries and the crash didn’t come. It was incredible! 


I’ve learned that it is not about being sweet but about being loving. The thing is you cannot give love if you don’t respect yourself and your own time. When you set boundaries, you say: 


“Hey, if I show up like this, I can really give my all. If I do it this way, you won’t get the best of me.”


Boundaries don’t divide us, boundaries are a sign of respect for yourself. 


You can show up for people but you do get to determine how you show up. You are no use to yourself or others if you are burnt out and suffering from heartburn all the time because you are overextending yourself and giving to others with nothing left for yourself. So be loving, be giving, be caring but set those boundaries. 


“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”  Brene Brown