No 51. Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury
Friday, December 18, 2015
“I praise loudly; I blame softly.” – Catherine the Second (1729 – 1796) Russian Empress
During the holidays, we are all running crazy with 18 hour days, many fun get togethers, and holiday parties. We have gifts to purchase and wrap, cards to send and open. We have great dinners to experience with friends, special parties at work and with those we call friends. Yes, it is a festive time.
Sometimes the holidays cause a bit of stress and things may go askew. We may even have some short fuses when it comes to the mail, traffic, restaurants, shopping and getting around during the holidays. It’s this time of year I try to remember to give lots of praise and little blame. To say hearty thank yous to those around me and try to have a pleasant and genuine smile. In fact, I find that keeping that smile alive is one of the most essential ingredients for me in sharing a happy holiday with others.
“The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift.”- Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) French Playwright
Every year at this time I am determined to send out all my Christmas cards and mail my gifts and have a great Arthur Murray Christmas at the studio. The house must be festive and I love seeing the magic of Christmas all around me. What I have learned is that how I deliver this cheer is the most important part of the giving. Am I relaxed, peaceful, at ease, not in a hurry as I do this wonderful giving? Do others truly feel the love and the spirit of the giving? Yes my reader, this is what I am trying to master this holiday season.
A few years ago during Christmas I was truly broken. I had sold my business, my life partner had died in my arms, my mother was gone and my dad and just gone to be with her after Thanksgiving. I was lost, in the dark night of the soul and alone. It was the hardest time of my entire life and I was desperate.
One day at mass, I went up to a man who looked as if he was in charge and said to him “May I help you?”. That man, Dan Schwala, gave me a stack of bulletins and said, “Stand here and greet people as they leave.” Well, I did that, and continued greeting people, for 14 years! That Christmas, I served with Dan for 11 Masses and handed out a LOT of Christmas bulletins.
Guess what happened to me? I, who was the saddest person on the planet, became very happy. Having lost my life and purpose, I suddenly saw that others were also sad, and that my smile and my cheerful Merry Christmas made a lot of people smile. Suddenly, I was not the unhappy person and I awakened to the fact that OTHERS needed love and encouragement. Well, I was healed! That “sad” Christmas turned out to be a life-changing time for me and was a glorious Christmas.
Now, years later, I’m still serving and saying “Merry Christmas” to hundreds of guests at many masses. I cannot do the 11 masses anymore, my feet only allow me to stand for about 8-9 hours, while also walking to and from church so we don’t take up a parking spot. Helping so many others have a great experience has become so much more important to me than “receiving a gift” and worrying about the holidays. Giving of time and leadership is now my Christmas present to myself and to my community.
Daddy was so good to share this story with. He loved people and serving others. Only now, at 59, do I truly understand Mr. Woodbury and what a great man of service he was. I am becoming my dad not and am full of the desire to give back as he did so generously.
“Nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment.”- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British Prime Minister
Yes, I am determined no matter what the cost to continue on this path and I know that it is my only hope in life now to find happiness and joy. All has been given to me, and now I must give back to others.
“It is only as a man puts off from himself all external support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) American Poet and Essayist
Stand up this holiday season and know what is your greatest gift to give to others. Be strong and determined in your goals and move forward doing what you are called to do, giving what you are called to give. You will have a life full of riches beyond belief, have everything you need every day in your life, and you will find peace of mind in this fast-paced world of ours. Be true to your calling and go out there and change lives!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Keep on Dancing!
David Earl Woodbury