huge fan of the TV show Dancing with the Stars. I’ve been a fan since the very
beginning. I jokingly say it’s because there’s no sex, violence or foul
language. I can watch it with my grandchildren or my mother. How many shows are
out there that meet those qualifications? I also love to dance.
the show, about a dozen celebrities learn to dance different ballroom dances
with a professional dancer. They get to wear these sparkly, colorful, fun
costumes and learn a new dance or two each week until the final week when one
of the couples is declared the champion for that season and they get the famed
Mirrorball Trophy. It’s such fun to see the people progress. I find it very
inspirational. Sometimes there are celebrities who have serious disabilities
but they don’t let that stop them. In 2011 TJ Martinez won the title. He was a
wounded Iraq war veteran with serious burns to his whole body, including his
face. He actually lost an ear in the explosion. Did that keep him from giving
it his all? When I watched him dance and saw the joy that emanated from his
whole being, I completely forgot about his disfigurement. I obviously wasn’t
the only one because he was that year’s champion.
Shephard, from the TV program The View was one of the contestants this year,
2012. She was determined to do well. She wasn’t a little lady and I could only
imagine how mentally and physically challenging it was for her to learn those
dances. She really wanted to win. She was traveling between the show she
regularly hosts in NY City and the Dancing show in Los Angeles. It must have
been a grueling schedule. I know she had all the advantages that money can
provide but it doesn’t lessen the hard work she had to put forth. She was
eliminated in week four. She cried and cried. But, before they could say
goodbye, she had something she wanted to share with the viewers. “If you don’t go towards the thing you fear, you won’t be
able to say you lived.” She went on to say that you should run towards that
thing you fear because what you’ll find on the other side, is simply amazing.
of my upcoming trip to South America. One of them said, “Oh, Jean, that’s
great! Because when you come home, you’ll feel so good about what you’ve done.”
I know she’s right. Her comment gave me a sense of optimism and excitement,
instead of dread and anxiety.
canoeing through the Everglades. Now, I want to share that I am a city girl. I
was raised in Queens, New York. Our home was on Grand Central Parkway. I mean,
right on it. I was riding the buses and the trains by myself by the time I was
10. The “country” was the property fenced in around the hospitals that bordered
our three block neighborhood. And now, I’ve been invited by my husband (born in
Brooklyn) to go on an Outward Bound. He was on the Outward Bound board and
thought this was a good idea. I got a tape about the Everglades. There were
snakes and alligators, not to mention other creepy crawly things. But this was
the year after I finished treatment for breast cancer and I figured if I could
go through that, I could probably canoe through the swamps. I invited a friend
to go with us and she was shocked, “What is the purpose of this excursion?”
Well, if you needed to ask that, I figured you really didn’t need to come
and our teenage daughter. The good news when we arrived was that we weren’t
going to be in the swamp, we were canoeing through the Thousand Islands. Whew!!
On our first night we had to create an island. We took boards from the bottom
of the canoes and lashed them together on top of the canoes. This was our
“home” for the night. My first night to ever sleep outside, outside under a sky
that had more stars than I had ever seen before. I learned a lot during those
days. I learned that my daughter was an amazing person. She never complained.
She just did whatever was needed, my son too. My husband was as kind and
gracious in the wild as he is in civilization and I learned that I could be an
indian or a chief. I could both follow and lead, whatever was required. And, I
learned that I could survive in a situation I never even imagined. Now, when
Sandy and I find ourselves doing something that’s challenging, outside of our
comfort zones, we refer to it as an “outward bound experience.” It’s funny how
often we find ourselves in that kind of a position. The purpose of going
outside of your comfort zone it to empower you, that’s the purpose. Life is
challenging, there’s no two ways about it. The only way to bolster your
confidence is to do those things that frighted you, “to run towards them” as
Sherri said. You not only receive the gift of empowerment, many times you find
joy and fulfillment from making your way to a whole new place.
based on fear than any other reason. It needs to be recognized and overcome.
There’s a wonderful tale about a guru who treks all over the land, sharing his
wisdom and compassion. One day, he decides to return home. When he walks into
his house, he is met by several huge ferocious monsters. They are drooling and
their fangs are bared. He looks at them and asks, “Why are you here? What is it
that you need?” and half of them disappear. He then asks the others, “Why are
you here? Is there something I can do for you?” and they disappear, all except
one. He is the biggest and the most frightening of all of them. He is growling
and hissing and drooling but the guru is calm. He goes up to the monster and he
puts his head into his mouth and with that, the monster evaporates.
compassion, to put our heads into the monsters of life. Sometimes we get to
choose our outward bounds and sometimes they are thrust upon us but if we have
faced those events that take us out of ourselves and we’ve survived, we will be
as prepared as possible for those events that we never even imagined.