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Guidepost #10 - Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance


I bought The Gifts of Imperfection at the end of March.  It took me two more months to actually pickit up and open it.....and then six months of halting progress....sometimes spending weeks trying to get my head around the concepts outlined.... before getting to the final guidepost.  I won't say finishing the book. That's not right.  My intention is to now go back and re-read the book from cover to cover.  To observe the flow. To reach out with a stronger heart and soul.  The concepts are touchstones I will return to again and again to help me find a more balanced way to look at things.  To remember I am not alone ---and that Brene Brown...expert in the field....has been where I am.  Struggling to embrace Wholehearted living...when really, you were happier thinking everyone else has a problem.

Guidepost ten circles back to the core of what makes us human---our desire to belong---to be part of something--to be reminded we are not alone in this world.  Nine chapters ago I would have told you I don't need anyone. I don't need to "connect".  I am happy in my house, in my world---because it is a safe place I can control and safely extend myself in a "just-so-far" kind of way with the people closest to me to avoid risk of feeling too much, caring too much, getting hurt---and in a "wayyyyy-toooooo-far" way with my job---where every phone call and task felt like sandpaper against my skin (until I actually physically felt sandpaper on my skin like pain when my nerve pain incapacitated me  ---  my body transforming one to the other in an attempt to get my attention....Ka-POW...it worked.)  

But now I sit in Starbucks, working on this blog, because I felt the need to be around people.  To hear music and laughter and be reminded there is a whole world out here I can take part in if I just put out a little effort.  I am also trying a bit of a desensitizing project.  The Starbucks is close to where I work. There is a good chance someone from work will walk in here.  So while I do feel my stomach clutching every time the door opens, I have yet to go bolting from my seat to my car.

Laughter, song and dance are transformative.  Whether you are coming to them through a place of joy or sadness or fear, Brown believes there is a song, dance or path to laughter for every human emotion.

Think about the songs that make you want to sing in the shower, music that makes you squirm in your seat, tap your feet or make you dance around, forgetting you are even exercising.  And even in our darkest moments, a shared laugh, at some shared experience, however brief, connects you in that "Yeah, I get it!  I get you!" sort of way.

Laughter, dance and song are also come of the core ways we can connect to and express our joy! 
My eight year old is teetering on the cusp of becoming self conscious of how he looks and sounds when he dances or sings.  For now, he will occasionally  wiggle, twist and sing him naked before a shower---showing off his behind in a way that is so totally joyful and free.   I give him "the eye" and often chance him into the bathroom.  But I NEVER tell him he looks silly!  (I do tell him he can only do this AT HOME!)
I am not in this picture---but I GET the joy it portrays!
I love to dance.  L.O.V.E to dance.  Every Friday and Sat night when I was younger, I could be found on club dance floors all night long (except for slow songs where you grab your girlfriends and, without making eye contact with anyone, head for the bathroom until the next fast song came on).  In the centre of the floor, lights pulsating, feeling the bass pounding in your chest, a circle of girlfriends---all lip-singing along--the bliss was addictive. I crave those time--- and so I will dance around the house, and my kids have seen this.  I do Zumba to dance with others (a completely JOYOUS experience as well as a good calorie burn) and before the summer, I took a Latin line dance class --complete with heeled dance shoes and show tunes.  AMAZING!!!  Not only does it connect you to others---it allows you to get in touch with the emotions in you.



I only sing in the car...and only with my little one.  I also often sing at the top of my lungs...."I GOT THIS FEELIN' ON A SUMMER DAY WHEN YOU WERE GONE.  I CRASHED MY CAR INTO THE BRIDGE I WATCHED, I LET IT BURN..."  and he will join me.  Lately, he has been more tentative. And when I turn the radio down to hear him better, he stops completely.  I don't know how, but somewhere along the way, he has become self-conscious of his voice (which resembles mine---points for effort---no points for accuracy!) 

I get it. I do.  These things--singing, dancing and laughter are all exercises in vulnerability.  We open ourselves up to ridicule---we are constrained by fear of what others will think ---or worse SAY to us, or about us.  This is another perfect example of how we try to "hustle for our worthiness" ---we want to fit in, to not stand out as awkward or to be perceived as "weird". 

I know I am a good dancer. I just do. So I would not feel awkward dancing at any event where dancing is expected.  I might even go so far as to dance a bit in the grocery store, and I certainly chair dance in restaurants or at work or in class.  I don't care if someone sees me.  Well, I might care, but not much.  Dancing brings me joy. 

I know I am not a good singer.  So when it came time to do karaoke in the adult day treatment program, I shrunk down in my seat and prayed I would get passed over.  Fortunately, after a couple people did sing...we did a group number and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I could hide my voice amidst the others while actually singing out loud!  Even though I love to sing.  The vulnerability of putting myself out there for ridicule would be too much for me---even now---after guidepost ten.

As far as laughter goes.  I do like to make people laugh.  It is a good way to cut the tension and allows you to "share a joke" with them.  Connection.  We all laugh at something funny.  We all get it. We are together.  I am not alone. 
There is always one in the bunch right? 

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