Tuesday, July 7, 2020



The year was 1987. Just a few weeks after giving birth to my first daughter, which flooded my being with mama bear instincts far beyond my greatest imagination, I was invited to join a dance team.

A Jazzercise dance team. Mhmm. That's right.

The purpose of this mission, if I chose to accept it, was to perform onstage during our city's summer festival, and in a conscious effort to balance the yin of my life-changing transition to motherhood with the yang of my sassy former self, I said yes.

Thus began a summer filled with weekly Saturday morning practice sessions, as we perfected every patented 80s pop star dance move known to man. I loved every minute.

The day of the September performance finally arrived. Looking fresh in our coordinated leotards and leg warmers, we dancers had also made some upgrades to our hair and make up. At our dress rehearsal, my instructor/friend and fearless leader had encouraged us to let go of our usual work-out-worthy pony tails and fresh faces, and for the performance, lean into big hair and sultry make-up.

When I showed up back stage, draws dropped at my new look. Later, my instructor told me that she honestly didn't recognize me under my natural finger waves, dark berry lip color, and smokey eye shadow. Not that I normally looked bad, she hurriedly clarified; this was just a more glamorous kind of beauty than she'd ever seen on me before.

And so we danced.

And we totally rocked it.

I'm not normally a performer at heart. I've never enjoyed the spotlight and rarely put myself in any situation that requires an audience to look at me.

But this was different. I lost myself in the moves and the music, and forgot about the fact that the auditorium was packed. It was a moment of my life that I will always treasure.

I'll always treasure the song of that day too. Though we'd worked through the routine easily a hundred times before we got up on that stage, I never got sick of it. One line from the lyrics felt particularly like a personal message just for me:

Beauty's where you find it. 

For all the joys and blessings of first-time motherhood - and I was up to my ears in all those good things - I felt, as most new mothers probably do, somewhat less than beautiful. And I wondered, as most new mothers probably do, if I would ever feel beautiful again. 

What I learned from

this line
this song
this dance
this performance

was that music, dance, imagination, inspiration, and yes, even beauty were still within my reach. All I had to do is reach out and take them. 

I felt, then and now, a sweet rush of relief whenever I hear this song. 

Beauty's where you find it. 

* * * * *

Now, please fast forward with me through the decades and right up to today.

I was in Bellevue, a satellite city of Seattle, known for its ever-expanding high-rise skyline and an impressive portfolio of top notch corporate headquarters, but also nitty and gritty in its own right. I was on a mission at a local stone yard, definitely one of the nittier and grittier parts of town. While my husband handled payment for the patio stones I'd just picked out, my dog and I took a turn around a gravel overflow parking area at the back of the property. 

As we sauntered along this extremely inelegant lane under a tiresome hot sun, Gracie predictably headed for the tangle of blackberry vines and weeds along the broken down wire fence at the edge of the gravel. She gamely tucked her head under the prickly vines and sniffed about as I fell into deep, dark, moody thoughts about

the dirty and the ugly
the sick and the discouraged
the pain and frustration

of our world today.

Suddenly, I noticed what was right in front of my face. 

Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache
It's everywhere that you go

You try everything you can to escape
The pain of life that you know

When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today

I know a place where you can get away
It's called a dance floor, and here's what it's for.


Not the scrappy, scrubby run-down specimens one might expect to see in an untended city patch of gravel. But lush, colorful, charming little faces, worthy of their country cousins who might adorn a pristine meadow under a clear blue sky.

With careful framing, I realized, they would make for some lovely photographs. So I told Gracie to wait (yes, she knows what that means), pulled out my camera, and began to snap away.

And that's when I heard it.

Just as clearly as if I were back on that stage, dancing my heart out, a gentle voice in my head rang sweet and true. . 

Beauty's where you find it. 

Beauty is still within our reach, my friends. All we have to do is reach out and take it. 

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