No 17 Changing Lives through Dancing

By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, April 28, 2017

Gaining Wisdom

“Wisdom comes alone through suffering.” – Aeschylus 525-456 BC

Well, that’s not too encouraging is it? But it is so true The best champion dancers have worked and trained for many years to get to the top. As with any athlete, they have gone through wins and losses, sickness and injuries, and also great triumphs. Yes, there is a great price to pay for wisdom and success.

When God asked Solomon what he desired above all other things, he replied, “Give me wisdom and knowledge so I may lead my people”. Solomon was wise, for he knew wisdom was the greatest of all riches.

2 Chronicles 1

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”- Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) 16th President of the United States

Along with Solomon’s wisdom came great riches and great power. Even though Solomon was warned to not turn away from God, he did so. The power overtook his believe and faith.

1 Kings 11

I have had power, riches, and knowledge. I found all those things to be nothing when it came to dealing with death and loss of loved ones. All I had, all I knew, and all I was could not help keep the angel of death away from the ones I loved. I realized that we bring nothing in with us and we take nothing with us as we leave life.

Now when writing about wisdom, I don’t think I know all about life. I know the basics. My goal is help, inspire and mentor others in life. Whether it is through dance, faith, career, relationships, or helping someone find their purpose in life. If I can just guide others in the right direction, and give them the tools to stay on the right paths for their lifetime, I think that is good.

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” – Horace (65-8 BC) Roman Poet

I would love, especially at 61 years old, to now avoid adversity and stress and problems, but that just ain’t going to happen. I realize that a diamond is only truly formed after extreme pressure over a long time to that little piece of coal. I now welcome the ‘refiner’s fire’ and I know that each day will bring challenges.

“An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” – Arab proverb

Life does not work like Amazon One-Click ordering. You see it on line, click Amazon Prime, and have it the next day. That instant gratification is truly for an army sheep. I want to be the lion leading others to victory in their lives.  I just have to remember to embrace every challenge, every trial, count every blessing, and cherish all the good things in life.

Thank you for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!


No 16 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Hero’s Shield

In Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Siegfried was the son of Sigmund and Sieglinde, who were both the Volsung twins of Wotan, who was the king of the Gods. Siegfried was the hero born to save the world. He was protected by a magical power from the warrior maiden, Brunhilde.

As happens in life, Sigmund betrayed Brunhilde and she took revenge. She only protected Sigmund with her magical powers from the front of his body because he was a hero and he would never turn his back on the enemy. In revenge, she told Sigmund’s enemy, Hunding, of this secret and Sigmund was stabbed in the back. Such a tale! (By the way, our cat’s names are Sigmund and Sieglinde!)

We cannot turn our backs during the hard times. We look forward and keep on trying until we are victorious.

Keep on Swinging!

“My motto was to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was to keep swinging.”- Hank Aaron (1934) American Baseball Player (Retired)

Imagine the fortitude and strength for Hand Aaron to stay positive in the world of baseball. He did not turn his back to the pitcher and he faced the pitch and kept on swinging into history.

Set a good goal!

“You can’t climb up to the second floor without a ladder. When you set your aim too high and don’t fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that’s reasonable, and then gradually raise it. That’s the only way to get to the top.” – Emil Zatopek (1922 – 2000) Czech Middle Distance Runner

Sometimes our dreams may seem too big, too grand, even impossible. Yet if our achievements are step by step, and after each success we raise our expectations each time, we will get to the top without bitterness or resentment.

Recently, I have asked for advice from some great leaders. It is amazing that I have received so much insight, just for the asking. Each mentor has been happy to ‘show me their shield’ and how be a successful hero. This knowledge is equal to freedom, and this light shines hope into darkness.

“Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated! There is more than one road to joy.”– Author Pascal Bruckner, The Paradox of Love (1948 ) French writer

“We tend to make courage too dramatic. Courage is often doing something simple, unpleasant, or boring again and again until we get it down pat. People who are physically challenged and who have the determination to get around their handicaps are great examples because their courage makes them test their limits every day.” – Dave Thomas (1932 – 2002) American Businessman, Founder of Wendy’s International Restaurant Chain

Have courage. Courage is knowing how to say “Can you help me?”. Courage is being able to reach out to someone else and say “May I help you?” Courage comes in many different forms, but we must hold our ‘hero’s shields’ forward and not turn our backs on challenging times.

Thank you for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!


No 15 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, April 14, 2017

Things to Ponder!

These two questions were sent to me by Mr. Jacques DeBeve.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.

Here are the two sets of questions.

First Set:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4 Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor &  actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies.

Awards tarnish.

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here’s the second quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. Think of a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
The lessons learned:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the
most credentials, the most money…or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most!

This wonderful test was sent to me by one my best friends in the whole world, Mr. Jacques DeBeve. Jacques contacts me weekly and many, many of his emails leave me in tears from their deep emotional impact and powerful messages.

As Steve Platt says, “Life changes more when we help others to make their own lives better”. This is so true in life.

This Easter Sunday, I am a part of a team of several hundred, serving a total of 11 masses on Easter Sunday, welcoming over 12 thousand visitors to St. Monica Parish. I am honored to be serving three of these great masses with an amazing team of leaders and mentors. Many of my friends are serving 5 or 6 masses that day. Of the 11, we have three masses at the same time at 9:30 and 11:15 in three different venues on our campus.

Last Easter, I walked outside as Team Leader and listened to the music from the three 9:30 masses, in the church, the Grand Pavilion, and the Gym, all being celebrated at the same time. We had about 3 thousand guest on the campus and more arriving. The music sounded like angels to my ears.  After all three masses let out, many more were guests were entering for the next three 11:15 masses. I felt a wonderful blessing seeing so many hundreds of happy people all celebrating the season together. What great energy!

So, for Points to Ponder, I give you a challenge. Become the mentor that others will remember, the leader that others want to spend time with, the teacher who will guide others, the friend who is there in a rough time, and the one who will make others feel appreciated, loved, and special. Be unforgettable and be the person who will make a difference in the lives of others.

Feeling a bit low? Are you lonely and out of sorts? Are you lacking direction? Try this, find a place you can give back. Work at a shelter, clean the beach, offer your time to a sick friend or visit a shut-in. Find a group that gives back and ask them if they need some help. You’ll be shocked at their reaction and the huge “Yes” that you will hear from them.

It’s hard to be sad when you are helping others and it’s even harder to be down in the dumps when you are busy guiding, inspiring, and giving time to a great and worthy cause.

My mom, J. Clair, always said, “Keep a little song in your heart”. The key is to share and get others to sing along with you!

Thank you for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

No 14 Can Dancing Protect Your Brain From Aging?

No 14 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, April 7, 2017

Can Dancing Protect Your Brain From Aging?

Our Arthur Murray Santa Monica student, Diana Ungerleider, brought in an article that said there may be something unique about learning a social dance. The demands dancing places on the mind and body could make it unusually potent at slowing some of the changes inside our skulls that come with aging. Neuroscientists and those in middle age or beyond know that brains alter as slow as we grow older. Dancing seems to accelerate the processing speed of how rapidly our brains can absorb, assess and respond to new information.

Any dancer who has attended a dance competition with two solos, 20+ Open and 20+ Closed entries, and an All Around Championship will tell you that their brains are buzzing with information. They feel more alive than they have felt in years. I remember my competition years where I had several hundred entries all floating around in my head at the same time, all ready to be danced. As I look back, I remember how happy those times were for me and how free and alive that I felt at the competitions!

“There is a sense of exhilaration that comes from facing head-on the hard truths and saying, “We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a long time, but we will find a way to prevail.””- Jim Collins, from his book, Good to Great (1958) American business consultant

Perhaps facing the hard truths through the skill of dancing gives us a sense of direction and we never surrender or give up. Over so many years I have had many students who were racked with illness and they dance through the illness, pain, and depression. They become whole through their dancing and overcome and prevail with joy succeed in their quest to become good dancers.

“As the body needs physical exercise in order to remain in fit condition, man’s spirit also requires the spiritual exercise derived when he confronts his problems and combats life’s vicissitudes.” – William Sahakian and Mabel Lewis Sahakian, describing the philosophy of Epictetus (1922 – 1986)

I spent many years with physical exercise, and now I am in a time of my life practicing spiritual exercise. I once thought that I “had it all together” in my life. I knew the magic of work and collaboration and success. Now, I think that I know very little and I have a world of knowledge to learn all over again. I feel like a novice and a beginner. Thanks goodness for the dancing, for when I’m dancing, I feel young, thin, alive, happy, healthy, fulfilled, at one with life, and full of energy.

“Unswerving loyalty to duty, constant devotion to truth, and a clear conscience will overcome every discouragement and surely lead the way to usefulness and high achievement.” – Grover Cleveland

“There is a sense of exhilaration that comes from facing head-on the hard truths and saying, “We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a long time, but we will find a way to prevail.”  – Jim Collins, from his book, Good to Great (1958) American business consultant

In my past I think that gave up too early with problems. Now, I only want to be useful to help others reach their high achievements. I’m ready to face the hard truths. I’ll never give up. I’ll prevail to the end and I’ll find a way to make it in life.

Keep on dancing. Get your body moving. Shake off the dust and move on. As Jim Byrd always said “It will get better”, and it does!

Thank you for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!






No 13 “Be a Part of the Winning Team!” 3-31-17

No 13 Changing Lives through Dancing

By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, March 31, 2017

“Be a Part of the Winning Team!”

“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

We are so very quick today with social media to label someone as a “Loser or Legend” without always knowing all the facts. In 1951, Rookie Willie Mays got one hit in his first 26 at bats. But then things picked up. He would go on to win rookie of the year and become one of the year and become one of the legends of baseball, once hitting 4 home runs in a single game.

Sometimes it just takes a while to reach your full potential. I have asked thousands of times in my life “What is success?” and I have come up with many, many answers. When I see anyone over 60, I think that they are a success. 70 I think they are amazing and 80 and over they are heroes to me. I don’t care how much money they have, how big of a house they own, or their 401K amount. I am just amazed to see them in good health, happy, usually dancing, and loving life.

Over so many years of seeing older students come into Arthur Murray, and seeing their lives change, has made me a lifelong believer in the benefits of dancing. The sad truth is that many older students who dance, are never seen by their kids who are themselves in their 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s. The kids cannot wrap their minds around the fact that their elderly parent is competing in an exciting ballroom dance competition, dressed in the most beautiful outfits, surrounded by many friends, professional dancers, and the great Arthur Murray Family. The kids of the older dancers are shocked to see their “old” parent taking the dance floor looking glamorous, being cheered on by hundreds of friends that they, the children themselves, have never met or seen.

They see their parents winning awards and truly look amazing on the dance floor and witness their lives being transformed through the magic of dance. Sometimes, this transformation of the senior parent has been the catalyst for the older child themselves to start dancing and sharing the lifetime benefits of dancing and competing.

“We will all experience disappointments and crushing events somewhere along the way, setbacks for which there is no “reason”; no one to blame. It might be a disease; it might be injury; it might be an accident; it might be losing a loved one; it might be getting swept away in a political shake up; it might be getting shot down over Vietnam and thrown into a POW camp for 8 years. What separates people, James Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulties, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.” – Jim Collins (1958) American business consultant

A winner does learn how to deal with the daily trials of life. I’m almost 61 and I’m still trying to figure this out. Somehow I think that just getting up, getting dressed and serving another day, day after day, makes me a hero. We will, we must, we shall go on with our daily lives making a difference in the world.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”- James Stockdale (1923 – 2005) American Naval Officer and Prisoner of War

This quote is very important because it is easy to get confused in the middle of a brutal current reality. Yes, we must have faith that we will make it in the end, yet we must carry on in the current moment with discipline so that we do not give up in the present moment. Sometimes, I find that I get swept up in the current storm of life and lose my focus. This is a dangerous moment because despair may enter in and hope may flee my thoughts.  Then, as I maintain my discipline, it does get better. I don’t know how, but I continue on bravely with my daily life, and it gets better.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”- Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888 – 1935) British author, archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat.

Be a dreamer of the day. Act on your dreams with your eyes open. Never be a prisoner of your past, it was just a lesson, not a life sentence. Thank you for being a part of the winning team and for taking others with you on your path to success.

Thank you for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!