You Will Remember These Moments

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” Anne Frank

You might not always remember the moments when you gave a gift to yourself. But you’ll always remember the gifts you give others. Especially when you make them feel good.

I love what I do. I love teaching and helping people through dance. It’s been an incredible journey. But sometimes I want to push myself. I want to dance with great dancers, challenge myself and push my dancing to its limits. I feel guilty even writing that. It is not that I don’t love dancing with my students and encouraging them. I love that as well. But about once a month I need to get my fix and let loose on the dance floor. 

When I’m feeling this way, I want to be selfish and go to a club to get in a bunch of good dances. For me, those nights aren’t really about connection or conversation, it is simply dancing. I move from one partner to the next and let loose.

And so last week, on Friday, Shelley, one of the other instructors, and I went out dancing at a club in Toronto. Before we even walked in, I was excited. There are always a couple of people at these socials that I look forward to dancing with. As we walked in, I noticed that about 30% of the people were TDS students within the past year. I looked around some more and about another 40% were TDS students within the past seven years. Everyone is hugging me and saying hello. And I feel so blessed. TDS is taking over the dance scene in Toronto!

But I’m still hungry to get my dance on. I started scoping out the dance floor for the great dancers. I wanted to dance with my level twelves and level 30s. And so, as I’m getting my dancing on and I’m getting back into my old advanced groove, I was feeling pretty good. 

I scanned the room to look for my next partner. Mentally I was scoping out the people. “No, she is a beginner. That girl isn’t smiling much. The other girl’s balance is off.” I was hungry to dance with some great partners. Then I saw this woman walk in who looked really confident, so I asked her to dance. And as I extended my hand she looked around, didn’t smile and seemed to be assessing her options. My ego was bruised. But I swallowed it and said, “Hey, we’re going to have a great time.” 

She agreed and we started dancing. Within eight counts, I realized she was a complete beginner. She didn’t know how to dance. Internally, I groaned. This night was supposed to be about me. I was thinking now I have to babysit this woman for the rest of the song. I tried to be patient, but after about thirty seconds, I started looking around for other people to dance with. That is embarrassing to admit, but it is the truth. 

Then I glanced at her and I noticed that she was not confident but nervous. And something came over me. My mind shifted and I thought “quit being so selfish and go take care of her.” So I did. I started to smile, play, joke around, and asked her about a tattoo on her finger. And she started to relax. By the end of the song, we were both glowing, smiling and having fun. I took care of her. I did moves that she was capable of doing and she felt great. 

As we finished the dance, I said thank you and was about to turn around and walk away. But she grabbed my arm and pulled me back. Surprised, I looked at her. She said “Hey, listen, this dance meant a lot to me. It was my first night going out dancing. You were my first dance and you made me feel safe. Thank you.”

And I felt embarrassed because, for the first thirty seconds of the song, I was not paying any attention. I was looking around for my advanced dancers and I didn’t want to dance with her.  

But the funny thing is that my dance with her is in my top three memorable moments of the night. The other two memorable moments were seeing my TDS family and dancing with an old friend who I love dancing with. It’s important to give to yourself, to care for yourself and do things that you love. It’s important. But I also realized that we can get so caught up in our own needs that it becomes toxic. We focus too much on ourselves and do all these things for ourselves but end up feeling empty and lonely. So this week and moving forward I’m trying to remember that most things are better when we serve others first. 

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