**Blog List Styling** **Fonts**

The Dance

This is it.

I’m in the dimly lit dance studio, an audience of a few dear friends and my dance instructor sitting on mats at my feet.Stephanie on a chair before her dance

Poised on my chair, wearing my Sea Dragon holographic shorts and top, crossed legs ending in blue-green ankle boots with seven inch heels, I’m ready to begin my dance.

I think.

My heart is pounding. I don’t know what I feel. My body and mind are a swirl of sensations.

“I Feel Like I’m Drowning” by Two Feet begins, and my spine is electric with energy.
I turn my head and…GO.

I’m in the dance, flowing from one practiced movement to the next. The timing is off and I slow down, improvising a wiggle to catch up.

My friends are smiling at me. My partner is grinning widely. I think they like it, but I can’t stop to analyze.

My body is moving and I don’t know how.

A wave. A spin. Steps around the pole. Another spin.

Shit. I missed my target landing spot. Keep going.

I’m on the pole again, ready for my finish. Can it be the end of the song already? My heart thunders in my ears in a moment of panic before realizing, yes, this is the end.

Breathing hard, my friends burst into applause I can barely hear.

What the hell just happened?

I danced. My dragon dance performance.

I completed my Impossible Project.

And yet rather than triumph, I feel confusion.

I can’t remember what I did. I think I skipped something. Or rushed something. Three minutes whooshed by in an instant.

Everyone congratulates me, and their pleasure seems real, but I don’t know what to feel.

It’s not what you’d expect, right?

Steph doing her chair dance

Nine months of planning, learning, practicing and obsessing, you’d think I’d be over-the-moon pleased with myself for finally completing my Impossible Project, a journey from zero to a choreographed dance performance.

I sip my celebratory Prosecco, the first alcohol I’ve tasted in months, and feel even more spacey.

It’s not until after dinner at an Indian restaurant that my memory of the dance slowly begins to return. I decide not to watch the video of my performance until the next day. I don’t want to think about it.

But thinking keeps me up all night anyway, replaying the spins and turns. I can feel where I was off, and I can’t stop dancing it in my head.

The next morning, I finally watch the video.

My performance was not what I’d hoped for.

Yes, I completed the whole choreography and executed the moves, but it was rushed. I can see myself pondering the next move instead of embodying the one I’m in.

I wasn’t present. I know I can do better, and did do better, in my rehearsals.

Disappointment is a pill lodged in my throat.

I didn’t ask for perfection. I didn’t expect to be great. All I wanted was to fully embody and enjoy the dance.

I can’t even say if I enjoyed it. I was too overwhelmed with adrenaline to tell.

For the next hour or so, I wallow in self pity. I can almost see how silly this is – I mean, I did a dance performance as a total newbie! – but the disappointment feels more real than the accomplishment.

Until I begin to question my experience.

Pulling back from my self-judgement, I can see the whole performance anew.

I see a woman committed to daring what seemed impossible, overcoming discouragement again and again in her practice. I see her show up and feel everything. I notice the moments where she drops thought and embodies her dance.

She dances in and out of thought, her attention drifting away from the space within and back again.

What happens is infinitely, undeniably present. She just doesn’t feel it that way sometimes.

What if it’s all perfection?

I have learned so much in this journey, and this is just the beginning.

The Reflections

Steph and friends in the dance studio after her dance

Steph and friends celebrating after the dance performance

I feel a little funny sharing this story, as if it ought to be an ecstatic tale of victory, rather than the mixed unfolding of what’s actually happening.

But I don’t want to share a sterilized version of my experience. I want you to see the mess and know that even though my life is full of joy, sometimes it hurts, too. Sometimes I feel confused, overwhelmed and disappointed.

I am so grateful for this experience and what it’s teaching me. A few of the highlights so far…

I can’t know how I’m going to feel or how I’ll respond, but I’ll be okay.

Back in my NLP days, I was taught to “maintain a positive state” for optimum performance. Affirmations and anchoring looked like ways to control the outcome.


I can tell myself a story of feeling great, and direct a lot of energy into trying to make it so, but the results will be mixed. And it’s exhausting!

In my imagination, I showed up for my dance relaxed and ready to play, but the reality was feeling lost in a huge hit of adrenaline.

My experience wasn’t what I would have ordered off the menu, but it was still amazing, and I survived without a scratch.

Showing up in a dance looks different (and harder) than where it feels easy, but it’s not.

In my past life as a professional wedding DJ, it was my job to make announcements and introduce the bridal party. I would trip over my words in the first sentence, every time, for years. It was as if I needed to get the mistake out of my system, and then I was fine.

Eventually, I discovered that if I didn’t know what to say, I could simply wait and something would occur to me.

I learned to trust the same thing in coaching conversations. If I don’t know what to say, I can just shut up. At some point, I know what to do.

Well, dancing seems much harder. It really looks like I have to think about what to do in order for my body to move.

But the creation of movement works the same way as speaking and coaching. I can get caught up in my thinking and stress out, which tends to create nervousness and stuttering. Or I can relax and something will come through.

It looks like dancing is different, but it isn’t. The same wisdom that inspires my words also moves my feet.

Presence just IS, but sometimes I really don’t feel it. And that’s exactly perfect, too.

Like Michael Neill said in his podcast conversation with me, “You are always being your true self, and a lot of the time you don’t notice.”

I’m always in the present, but sometimes it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

I spent a bit of time judging myself for not being present in my dance – I really ought to know better as a transformative coach, after all – but I was present the whole time.

When I put my attention on my turbulent thinking, that’s what I feel.

Somehow, it helps to know that I was present through the whole dance, because there’s nowhere else I can ever be.

When I cling to my expectations, it hurts.

None of my experience is a problem…until I decide it should be different. Then I’m in for a world of suffering.

When I think my performance should be perfectly present and embodied in every way, and then it clearly isn’t, disappointment and discouragement come calling.

But when I pull back to see the big picture of this rich experience of learning, growing and creating that’s perfect just as it is and so ALIVE, there’s nothing but gratitude.

Elon Musk takes a gorgeous attitude about failure in his SpaceX launches. He celebrates every experiment as a triumphant learning experience. Not as a reframe, but because it actually is.

The Journey Onward

After hearing my mixed reactions to my impossible dance, a dear friend asks, “How will you apply this learning?”

There is no applying it. There’s nothing to do.

All I can do is see. Notice.

The next time I show up in the dance of presence and distraction, I’ll probably see it more clearly. Maybe I’ll slow down in the dance or maybe not.

I’ve already landed in a fascinating new exploration about where movement comes from when I’m not thinking about it.

One thing I know for sure:

I’m grateful for this messy, compelling and beautiful dance of being human.

Yours in love and play,