One of my intentions when my first children’s book What Makes a Dancer got published a few months ago was to go share it at schools.
I had visions of reading my book to groups of enraptured students to help them increase their love for the power of dance.
After much outreach and action-taking, my dream came true this past week (hooray!). I got to do book readings at two elementary schools in Calgary. There were many learnings from the experience so I thought I would share them with you.
Learning #1 Using the Tools
Although I’ve taught all ages of humans from 6 months to mid-90s, this new experience had me feeling nervous. It was just enough outside of my comfort zone to cause me to take notice.
Here are some strategies and mindset practices I used as the nerves came up.
By using these super-effective self-care tools, none of the thoughts or feelings took root or even took up much space. They were more like passing weather, as they are meant to be.
Learning #2 Lumpy Pancakes, Wiggling and Pandemonium
I love the saying “The first pancake is always a lump” (because it's true and also...). The initial try at anything is not going to be stellar but it can certainly be your best effort. (“What a relief!” exclaims the part of me that lists towards perfectionistic tendencies.)
Since I was a novice at book readings for hundreds of students aged 5-12, I prepared what I thought would be fun for them and it went relatively well. Rather than read from the actual physical book, I made a PowerPoint of the pages so everyone could see. It’s a book about dance so I got them moving without causing pandemonium. (As a former PE teacher, I knew that they would need to get out some wiggles and I also knew that it would need to be very structured.) The only chaos came when I got the initial audience a little too riled up while reading the book. At one point, every single kid was yelling answers at the top of their lungs in unison. Lesson learned.
For the presentation, I had located some dance videos on YouTube to illustrate the various dance styles included in the book which the kids seemed to enjoy. Then there was a brief q&a (which I’ve learned can turn more into “I have a very loosely related story that I would like to share with everyone rather than ask a question” kind of moment).
All in all, the lesson plan worked out well enough for it to be considered a success on the first day. As I drove home, I immediately had several ideas to improve it for the next reading and the great news is that there was no judgment towards my first attempt. I was very clear that I had gathered good information that could only be discovered from experience. Three cheers for the inner critic transforming into a helpful inner cheerleader! (Flashback to a few years prior and the self-talk would have been very different.)
Lesson #3 Adjusting on the Fly
Going with the flow is an absolute necessity, as any teacher, presenter or parent will know. There were a few hiccups such as the sound system not connecting with my laptop in the first school (so I held the microphone to the computer to play the music and dance videos). The Smartboard in the second school deleted many of the PowerPoint photos and the videos didn’t work (so I downloaded the presentation into PDF form and then just did a YouTube search to access the videos).
I like to look at those moments as opportunities to improvise and be creative at lightning speed. It’s very rewarding to come up with solutions in a flash and that can only happen when you’re not attached to things being a certain way.
Lesson #4 Worth it in Unimaginable Ways
Part of my intention for doing book readings at schools is to send order forms home with the kids so that they can order the book. Publishing a book is a pricey endeavour and I borrowed money from our savings to make it happen, so I sure would love to pay that back.
Initially, that was my main goal. However, so many delightful things happened that I realized that I will continue to do the readings even if not one book sold. Here’s why.
My heart just about melted (because part of the point of the book is that everyone can dance, no matter what). I could feel the tremendous importance of my answer; like it was a make-or-break moment for this sweet child.
“Of course, you’re a dancer!” I exclaimed. “You don’t need to hear the beat in the music. You can dance to the rhythm of your heart. You have a heartbeat, don’t you?”
He looked concerned and glanced at his teacher for confirmation. “Yes, you have a heartbeat,” she assured him.
I said, “You can just dance to the rhythm of your heart. If you have a heartbeat, you’re definitely a dancer.”
Looking relieved, he thanked me and left. Mission accomplished.
You just never know what’s going to happen when you act on an idea and follow it through. I was totally filled up by the experience.
What idea has been nudging you? If it’s something that keeps coming back, there’s something in there for you. Someone out there might be waiting to hug you around your knees, or you might have an answer to someone’s burning question that only you can give. Follow that inner guidance and I promise you can’t predict how much good will come from it.
Oh and by the way, if you’re a parent or teacher in a school in or around Calgary, I would love to do a reading for you. Please reply to this email and we can set something up. (And if you’re not in Calgary but you have a budget for air travel and accommodation, I’m happy to come to you too ;)
Oh and also by the way, if you would like to order a copy of What Makes a Dancer, you can get it on Amazon by clicking this link (in Canada) What Makes a Dancer and this link (in the US). If you’re outside of those countries, you can just log into your Amazon account and search for the book. If you already got a copy, thank you so much!
May you have a week filled with unexpected gifts.
With heart-warming love and creative courage,
>Creator of Courageous Self-Care
>Writing this post on a beach in Mexico! I’ll tell you more next week!
>Never tired of guacamole! Especially when made with fresh avocados!
PS - No live yoga class this week as I’ll be taking a class in the yoga shala on the ocean. *Sigh… living the dream.
PPS - The next Energy Codes Book study will begin later this month. I’ll tell you more next week.
Ghee. I LOVE Ghee! Not only is it spectacularly delicious and makes your sourdough toast crunchy, it has a multitude of health benefits such as:
Ghee. What’s not to love?!?
I really like Heritage Ghee because it’s grassfed and organic. You can find it at this link (in Canada):
It’s also (probably) available at your local health food store.
Do you know Melody Gardot? I love her. Her music is sultry, poetic and delicious. I listen to her often. I also love her because she has overcome great adversity and turned a major accident into a huge opportunity. Prior to her accident, she was a visual artist but light sensitivity became an issue. She turned to music as part of her healing and discovered that it was another passion. Wowee - what a fantastic role model.
There are many songs of hers that I could share with you because so many are soooo good. Here’s a current favourite: If the Stars Were Mine. I love the rhythm, the message, the instrumentation and her yummy voice.
I recommend dancing to this song in your car, your kitchen or in your grocery store. It’s sure to spark your creativity.