Leave the Rest to Fate!

No 43. Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, October 23, 2015

Leave the Rest to Fate!

“But try,” you urge, “the trying shall suffice; The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!”

– Robert Browning

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My life is great. I am trying to be Shakespeare in my life. I’m trying to do it all, and after 40 years with Arthur Murray, I see many around me who in their upper years in life and with their companies who are doing amazing work. Last week I saw Otello from the MET in HD in a movie theatre. What a thrill for me. What amazed me was the age of some of the star singers. Later in their lives, they were using a lifetime of skills to be the best in their fields on the most famous opera stage in the world, and in HD no less.

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How do they do it and how did they get to this point in their lives?

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“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances.”

– Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886 – 1967)

American Advertising Executive

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They became great by not letting their circumstances dictate their fate. They had vision and they dreamed the big dream and acted on their goals to make them become reality.

Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

– Vince Lombardi (1913 – 1970) American Football Coach

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When you watch a MET opera in HD, you get to truly see “behind the curtain” of the opera and the theatre. The introduction is given from back stage. You realize that it’s not just a few singers on the stage, but hundreds of people behind the curtain who are making the magic happen. You see the singers just before they are going to sing in front of millions of fans. They seem so normal, but you know that their Adrenalin is rushing through their veins. Then, the cameras go to the front and we see the opera from the audience’s view.

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During the interval, the cameras take you behind the sets. You hear the singers begin interviewed moment after they leave the stage. They are still out of breath. These chats are thrilling and full of energy. The interviews are always the top MET stars in their own rights and the camaraderie is fantastic. The cameras then take you to the rehearsal rooms where the singers and conductor are rehearsing for the next scene. You see the costumers steaming costumes and the stars getting dressed ready for the last acts.

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“What do the right people want more than almost anything else? They want to be part of a winning team. They want to contribute to producing visible, tangible results. They want to feel the excitement of being involved in something that just flat out works.”

– Jim Collins

After the final curtain, the cameras show the cast behind the scenes. The ‘elite’ coming up to the stars and congratulating them. The singers hugging and shaking hands. The conductor and designer giving praise to the team. What an intimate moment that happens to be shared with millions of us who are viewing this private moment that happens after every performance.

I love being part of a great team. I love the producing of the visible, tangible results. I love the struggle, even the tears and the battle of making it day to day. The trials that come to us daily, the team members that let us down and bring us down, the heroes who light our way. The super stars that take us to the top. Yes I love it all. For when I’m right in the middle of the game, I’m truly happy and feel as if I am growing.

Be a part of a winning team. Don’t have one, make one. Beware, you will be surrounded by Iagos and those who will want to see you defeated, but also you will have your fantastic mates who will carry the load with you and run to the finish line with you. Ask for it, live it, make it happen, live through it, and enjoy the finish line!

David Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!






Breaking the Rules 10-15-15

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No 42. Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, October 16, 2015

Breaking the Rules!

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.

– Mary Lou Cook

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It’s easy to get into a comfort zone. Building up a wall of security and routine that no one and nothing can break through. Setting a pattern that stifles the creative spirit. As I grow older, I find that my “comfort zone” becomes more of a fence around me making me feel that I cannot stretch and take risks any more. “Oh, you’re too old to jeopardize so much now. That’s only for younger people”. The cold hard facts are this, if we don’t use it, we will lose it! We can live the more careful, healthy life only to have it snatched away from us by accident or illness. We must live life to the fullest every day and keep on dreaming!

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live a life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.- Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) American Philosopher and Writer

It is easy to think, “My big day is coming in my life”. The truth is that TODAY is your big day. You’re living your Big Day. Every little thing we do day in and day out is a part of our total impact in life. “I’m waiting for my big break”. It was said that Beverly Sills, great American Soprano, was an overnight sensation at the Metropolitan Opera after her debut there. No one mentioned that she was the reigning star of City Opera across the street 20 years before her big MET opening night. She had become an “overnight sensation” after decades of paying her dues and working her way up to the top.

The dreamer inside of me does always thing my big “debut” is just ahead for me, yet I have many opening night all the time. So many opportunities come my way. But these are also peppered with the many days of working hard and doing my daily tasks with my whole heart. If there is yet that great opening night ahead for me, I will be ready for it and I’ll welcome it with many, many years of diligent preparation and practice. Any time someone needs and emcee, I throw my hand up. Any time someone needs an organizer, planner, speaker, trainer, I jump to the occasion. The experience is invaluable and when I am needed, I can fill any shoes with joy and happiness and confidence.

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. – Bishop W.C. Magee (1821-1891)

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We take a risk always running forward in life. I have many opportunities and I try to take them all. On top of my schedule, I keep my laptop waiting working on my two books as much as I can. I just have a lot to share about life and I want to get my thoughts in print. As for mistakes, yep, I make them. I’m not a good proof reader, not just on paper, but in life in general. Sometimes I go in the out door and out the in door. I have the tendency to cross my “i’s” and dot my “t’s”. It’s just who I am. I depend on mentors who are my life proof readers and they help keep me on track.

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To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more fun? – Katharine Graham (1917 – 2001) American, Chairman of Washington Post

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Today, 10-15-15, starts my 40th year of dancing with Arthur Murray. I was a student in early 1975. I then turned pro in October of that year. I always tell anyone who will listed that I have not worked a day in these past 40 years. I love what I do. I love typing this blog. I love meeting new students, working with staff, being a franchisee, and just dancing period! My life has been a very lucky one for I do what I love every day of my life. Happy Anniversary to my Arthur Murray years of dancing!

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David Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

Something to be Enthusiastic About!

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No 41. Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, October 9, 2015

Something to Be Enthusiastic About!

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. – Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1875) English Novelist and Clergyman

Most people will tell you that they just want to be happy in their lives. As Arthur Murray dancers, we love to be happy while teaching dance, learning dance, and performing dances. Dancing makes us feel good and we are blessed to uplift others through music and movement.

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Sometimes, I run into someone who wants comfort and luxury at the main ingredients in their lives to make them feel good daily. They want that special Starbucks caramel macchiato, their perfect car, the stylish clothes and all the accessories worn over the perfect body. They are one of the beautiful people. Yet, are they happy?

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Who do I find that is happy around me? It is the person and the people who have dreams and they are motivated by helping others achieve their dreams and goals in their lives. They are not frustrated (OK, sometimes, but usually while they are organizing a fundraiser!) they are not sad, they are not depressed. They don’t have time for such luxuries.

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It’s funny that the people who give in life consider being in a bad mood and being unmotivated a “luxury” that they cannot afford. Amazing how that works! I am surrounded by event organizers, people who support the arts, volunteers for events that raise money from cancer to helping kids. They are always on a mission to make the next event work so that they can help someone else. These are amazing people.

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As I sit in organizational meetings for fundraiser and events, I feel the camaraderie that all the attendees have to be their best and deliver their best performance as volunteers. You leave one of these meetings feeling motivated, full of the ‘can do’ attitude, and your to do list is full of great things to do and experience.

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All big things in this world are done by people who are naive and
have an idea that is obviously impossible.
— Dr. Frank Richards (1875-1961) English Writer

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I do believe that I can accomplish my goals. This is the same feeling as walking on the dance floor to perform a dance presentation. Your tummy turns on you before you go on the floor and you have a moment where you can’t breathe. Your mouth is dry. Your hands and body sweat. You and your partner are both feeling adrenalin going through you a million miles an hour.

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Boom, you take the floor. Everyone is cheering for you. Then, the glorious music begins. Your muscle memory takes over and then you begin to move to the music together. You feel the wonderful energy of the audience and suddenly you are not dancing, but creating magic! You hear cheering and clapping and suddenly it’s over. You’re done. You leave the floor to a thunderous applause and you hug each other. You made it and you did it.

If you’re not enthusiastic or happy, I’ll share with you what my mom, J. Clair, would always say: “Keep a little song in your heart.” I try to do this every day. Sometimes I have to make sure it is a happy song and not a funeral dirge, but I do my best to keep humming along and singing in my heart a song of joy and praise. Out sing the blues. Drown out their tunes with your happy songs and find something to be enthusiastic about in your life.

Keep on Dancing!

David Woodbury




Make the Big Committments 10-2-15

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No 40. Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, October 2, 2015

Make the Big Commitments

Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw
back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and
creation), there is one element of truth, the ignorance of which
kills countless ideas and splendid plans – that moment one commits
oneself, then providence moves all.
— Johann von Goethe (1749-1832) German Poet and Dramatist

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As Bob Long, Coach, Chairman of the Judges, and Franchise, always says, “I’m all in!” I hope and think that I’m all in. There is so much I want to do with my dancing and performing and teaching. Every day is full of another “dream seed” to be watered with hope and enthusiasm. So I don’t judge myself too harshly against others, I always know that I am fully committed and trust in providence to guide me forward.

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Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.
— Lord Byron (1788-1824) English Poet

You’ll need a good laugh now and then. Ballroom dancing is fun, but it may be challenging as well. Not everyone wins “first place” and there are successes and failures and long, hard roads to the top. I’m in a new place in my life where I am trying to live with my stress level and learn to manage it.  Some of you read this and bristle. May I remind you of when you were a little kid driving your parents crazy, or worse, your teenage years? How do parents do it, especially parents of several kids, or special needs kids? They seem to have endless energy and patience.

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My parents taught me that I could do anything I wanted and I have
always believed it to be true.  Add a clear idea of what inspires
you, dedicate your energies to its pursuit and there is no knowing
what you can achieve, particularly if others are inspired by your
dream and offer their help. (from his book ‘Close to the Wind’. Goss
successfully sailed around the world – alone.)
— Pete Goss (1961-) British Sailor and Entrepreneur

I just don’t think I’m done with the adventures in my life. I think there is more. There is only one obstacle that may kill my dreams and that’s fear. So, what do I do?  I run just fast enough forward in my life to out run doubt, depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence and of course fear.  Also, I try to “run with the pack of winners”. They seem to have what it take to make it and I just have decided to run in life with them. They are my peeps.

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You’ll find at a dance competition, all the champions hang together. They love each other. The passion, commitment, the dedication, the love of dance. They all know that they bond through the decisions they have made to become #1! Winners always want to gather with other winners. Life breeds life and good energy breeds good energy.  So, try this. Look around you.  Look for a group of people that are in a circle of success, and just go stand in the middle of them. Let them know who you are and soon, very soon, you’ll be in that very same circle and welcoming others who want to make it to the top!

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is
the only end of life.
— Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish Novelist

Keep on Dancing!

David Woodbury