I love to dance. I took Highland Dance lessons for 23 years and earned my Teaching Certificate. I also took a year of Ballet, and as an adult, I enjoyed Irish Dance lessons for a couple of years. I also enjoy dancing waltzes, polkas, and two-stepping. My favourite part of gym class was the dancing - which always was too brief. When my sister was in Grade 9, I attended her gym class during the dancing weeks to provide another girl for the boys to dance with, and for the teacher to have a partner to demonstrate some of the dances. My Dad was a wonderful dancer, and it was a thrill every time I got a chance to dance with him. The very first time was when I was 15 at my Grade 9 Farewell at Mirror School. My Dad was from a family, and an era, where they all got together on the weekends to dance. When my parents met, Dad was involved in three dance clubs in Calgary and dancing most nights during the week. Once, following our performance at the Robbie Burns night in Camrose, a couple of veteran dancers decided they were going to teach my sister and I how to social dance. After a brief verbal lesson, the music started and we started dancing. They exclaimed, “You know how to dance!” Seemed very few “young” people they knew could waltz. I also enjoy dancing around the room with my 4 year old niece who enjoys any type of music or rhythm. Recently, I came across this quotation... “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.” ― Robert Brault It was also a very timely reminder that the healing journey I’m on isn’t a linear Point A to Point B to Point C, etc. journey, but more of a graceful dance circling around, sometimes revisiting a spot I’ve already been before - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it reminded me of another famous dance quotation… “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.” (sung by John Michael Montgomery) Beth Read the complete issue of The Chautauqua here. Contact The Chautauqua via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Beth's Ponderings Scientists and researchers have told us that we’re victims of our genetics, that the neural pathways in our brains become fixed, and that we are born with a set point (level) of happiness and optimism. Yet, newer studies show beyond any doubt that not only can our genetics been altered by our environment/emotions/thoughts, that our brains are very plastic and our neural pathways can be changed or created at will, and our happiness/optimism set points are not set in stone. If we are able to change ourselves - even below the cellular level - why do some people seem incapable of changing, even when their existence depends on it? Why do some people go around like they have a dark cloud over them wherever they go, spreading doom and gloom? We are - from very early childhood - encouraged to try new foods, new activities, learn new information and skills, go on new adventures, develop new habits and more. That is a good thing and important for growth. However, everyone is unique and what might appeal to one person will turn off another. What may work like a charm for you, may not for me. As you try new activities, learn new skills, and go on new adventures, which ones do you want to repeat? The ones that most closely align with your innate personality. Someone who is naturally rhythmic and is always humming may benefit from activities such as learning how to play a new musical instrument, learning a new style of dance, or being introduced to a different form of music than they normally listen to. On the other hand, they probably would not be drawn to activities that require them to do complex mathematical tasks, or that require them to remain completely motionless for long stretches of time. While there is much we can change about ourselves, the best and most lasting changes, are those that “come naturally” to us. Could it be that optimism and pessimism - and thus the secret to success - have more to do with how “naturally” you are living your life, than about what is happening around and to you?