I Didn’t Intend to Make a Fool of Myself

By now you know my weakness:  Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”  I’m at the school picnic, and the DJ plays the song.  It’s like I’m on autopilot; I’m gathering children to my side and announcing to the whole crowd that I know the choreography.

Who is this crazy woman?

It’s me.  I’m sorry.  It’s just me.  I can’t help it.  I’m too old and too tired to be self-conscious anymore.

Besides, later that evening, a random father finds me and gives me a high-five.  “I wish I would have joined you out there,” he says.  “I love that song.”  Maybe at next year’s picnic, he won’t be wishing because he’ll actually be doing it.

Living with flair means actually doing it.  You will make a fool of yourself, and that’s just how it is.

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Journal:   What silly thing will you actually do today? 

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Dance Instead

I’m driving to meet some women for karaoke.  You know I cannot sing.  At all.  But I say, “yes,” to this kind of invitation precisely because I’m living with flair these days. 

Everyone knows I can’t sing, but I can dance, and when Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” comes on (the song that began Live with Flair), my group sings while I put the microphone down and do the whole choreography.

Living with flair means that when the empty track plays, you don’t have to sing.  You can put the microphone down and dance instead.

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Journal:  What can you do well?

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The Ridiculous Ritual

Last night, the neighborhood children gather in our basement for Monday Night Fitness Group.  It’s cold, dark, and dreary in the evenings now, so our alternative to biking and double-dutch is Dance Party and Jumping Jack Challenge. 

I don’t want to do this.  I want to change into my pajamas and watch television.  Earlier in the day, one child races out of school and asks, “Is tonight the night?”   Children are calling my cell phone, begging.  My own daughters are already in the basement, ready.  We’ve started some fitness revolution, and I can’t stop now.  Soon, I’m texting families to invite everybody to dance in my basement after dinner.

We’re in a circle dancing to whatever comes out of my iPod.  At one point, the “Hamster Dance” song comes on, and 10 of us crawl around like hamsters.  Then we skip in a circle. 

I’m too old for this. 

A hula hoop rests in the middle of our circle, and each child takes a turn standing in the hula hoop and doing whatever dance move he wants.  The rest of us copy him.  As we rotate around each child, dancing and hollering, I start to feel like I’m in a tribe doing a ritual dance.

I think of Native American dances designed to strengthen tribe members spiritually and emotionally before battle.  Perhaps each of us, in our own way, fights something.  Each child needs us here, circled around him, seeing him, celebrating him, strengthening him for the fight. 

This ridiculous dancing suddenly turns to ritual right in front of my eyes. 

This is my tribe.  I need this.  We enact these rituals that, on the surface, represent fitness.  In a deeper sense, we build our tribe when we gather like this.  Deeper still, we prepare each other emotionally and spiritually for tomorrow’s battle.   

We rally and fall, out of breath, only to rise up in a brave dance. 

It doesn’t take much:  a space to move, people, and a song.  It cost me nothing, and I went to bed more satisfied than I’d felt in months.  I have to remember that living with flair means I build my tribe.  We gather up because we need that strength, that ritual, that dance. 

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Daily Flair: Learning the “Beat It” Moves

This morning, my neighbor and I learned the choreography for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” We had my laptop propped for maximum visibility and water glasses filled for potential dehydration. We adjusted our workout clothes so they wouldn’t inhibit our moves.

We learned the whole dance from a youtube video. This is no small thing.

I’m not sayin’ I can do it well, or in any way resembling MJ, but I did learn it.

Why did we do it? I have no idea. But it counts as my flair for the day.

Living with flair means I’m doing something a little ridiculous, a little “out there,” a little beyond what’s expected or appropriate every day. Something about dancing this morning reminded me that joy often lies dormant, waiting to be unearthed and brought forth. What made learning dance moves so joyful? What is it about the spontaneous, the supremely useless, and the silly that lets the joy in?

Whatever it was, I needed it.

Flair signals embellishment. I want to embellish the day; I want to celebrate it and set it in the right light. Doing my MJ moves (the thrusts, the snaps, the round kicks) made things shimmer this morning. But it really wasn’t, in terms of productivity or market value, useful.

But the day felt hopeful, not because I scrubbed a kitchen floor, but because I danced on it, hard, for no reason at all. And then I told all the neighbors about it.

Flair needs company. Dancing with my friend, banging into her when I mirrored the moves incorrectly, made us giggle like preschoolers. We weren’t talking about anything. We weren’t processing all the dysfunction in our lives or in the world. We were just trying to learn this dance. . . together. And we did it. We participated, somehow, in some larger dance: we are wives and mothers, aging and aching often both internally and externally, with enormous amounts to accomplish in any given day. Who has time to learn a dance from the 1980’s?

And yet, we danced. That was the perfect flair for the day.
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