No 47 11-24-17 A Time to be Thankful!

No 47 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Time to be Thankful!

This time of year I’m the luckiest guy on the planet. I’ve just started my 42nd year with Arthur Murray Dance Centers. I am happily married and lucky in love with a great home life and two wonderful kitties. My faith life is strong at St. Monica’s and I am happy to be serving for many years now at my parish.

My health was not good this past year and was my own fault. It’s getting better and I have a way to go to my optimum health at 61. I always say “Your health is your wealth” and I am trying to make some changes in my diet and exercise life!

My associate with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has now put me on the Board of the Chamber as well as on several committees and being an Ambassador for the Chamber.

For personal goals I am looking forward, God willing, to 20 more years of dancing and being with Arthur Murray. After all these years, I now know a couple of good things to help others in the dance world. I look forward to life and to making our school stronger and stronger.

I take refuge in my faith and am fortunate to be serving and helping others on a regular basis. All the Hospitality Ministers confess that we serve so we will be sure to go to mass! For me, it keeps me out of trouble and keeps my heart and life in check!

What to be thankful for? I always heard it said that waking up in the morning was a great blessing and now in my early 60’s, it truly is a blessing. To be given the opportunity to life another day and grow and experience the challenges and blessings of life again is amazing!

The hard times, well, I think that if I can just keep on helping others and helping others grow that my eyes will not rest on the bad in life, but in the infinite possibilities of good and the blessing of being a mentor to others.

The good times, I just don’t look for them anymore. To me, every day is a good day. I use to live for the weekends and time to myself, and now I love sharing my gifts and time with others. I do not look for tomorrow to be better than today, but look to be my better self in the moment and making today a winning day.

With just a few twists in life, I could be out of the streets and not in my home of 29 years. I know that living in the moment is the greatest blessing and the greatest possession I can have. Everything could be gone tomorrow, so I want to make my mark today.

Is your heart full this Thanksgiving? My heart is full of hope, thankfulness for so much that live has given to me, and a clear vision of the future. My mom, J. Clair, always said “Keep a little song in your heart”. I am singing my way now through life thanks to her great advice!

Thanks for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

davidearlwoodbury@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No 45 11-10-17 Nothing is ever lost by courtesy

No 45 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, November 10, 2017

Nothing is ever lost by courtesy

“Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing, and conveys much.”

– Erastus Wiman (1834 – 1904)

Canadian journalist and businessman

Growing up, my dad always said to my mom “Be sweet Miz Woodbury”. Why, she had a direct option on people and situations. I’m just the same. I’m quick to speak and fast to react. My weakness is that my buttons get pushed so fast that I can’t get them under control and bam, there goes my big mouth!

What’s the answer? This courtesy quote is excellent. The answer is wait a moment before speaking and reacting. Now at 61, finally I take a moment before saying the first thing that pops into my mouth. I have learned to take a breath, pause, and listen to the other person finish their sentence. My dear friend, Roz DeBeve, always said that God had perfect mathematics when He gave us two ears and one mouth. Roz said to be successful, listen twice as much as you speak!

For another aspect of courtesy, I have learned from my great friend, Linda Greenberg, to say “I’m sorry”. Perhaps there is a disagreement between two people, and you are caught in the middle of it and you did nothing wrong to either party. To be the peacemaker, just say “I’m sorry” that happened and just take out the fight and be the calming factor. I’ve seen many fires put out with this simple act of courtesy.

Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said during a homily a few years ago that he had gone through a major change in his life. He said he would get angry and be “in the right” in arguments. He stood before us, hands behind his back, and he said, “Now I just say, I’m sorry” and I don’t fight. His message had a profound effect on me. Does it matter if I am right? It matters if I am a great peacemaker and am able to help, console, guide, and repair situations in a positive way.

“We cheerfully assume that in some mystic way love conquers all, that good outweighs evil in the just balances of the universe and that at the eleventh hour something gloriously triumphant will prevent the worst before it happens.”

– Brooks Atkinson (1894 – 1984)

American theatre critic

The biggest part of courtesy for me is laughter. Of the four personality types, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Melancholy, and Choleric, I am a Chosen Sanguine and a retired Choleric. That means that I was a jerk for a long time and did not laugh enough. I was way too strong and made others see that I was always right. Guess what readers, this was not good for my heart and I almost had a heart attack over this.

Now, I find that courtesy through laughter is a true medicine. When I am dancing and we make a mistake, we look at each other and say “what was that?” and we laugh and give each other a hug a move on. What a great approach to teaching and this keeps my students happy, and they do learn how to dance beautifully loving each and every moment.

Yes, I’m quick just like my mom J. Clair was, yet she was also a very polite and gracious woman. My dad always had a great laugh and he smiled at all who were around him. I’m so blessed to and honored to be their son and have their Southern characteristics in my personality.

Courtesy: try this. Just go out and give a smile and share a laugh with someone. Tell them how great they look today and how happy you are to see them. Ask them how they are and say you are looking forward to seeing them again. Remember, the smile we see in other’s faces is our own smile we are giving to them. From our quote today,

“It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much”.

Thanks for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

davidearlwoodbury@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No 41 10-13-17 Do What You Can Where You Are and With What You’ve Got!

No 41 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, October 13, 2017

“Do what you can where you are with what you’ve got.”

– Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) 26th President of the United States

Do you ever wish things were different in your life? Sometimes I do. I wish that things were moving along faster, more prosperity, easier hours, and just more luck every day. Guess what I find out? Daily, I have to do what I can, where I am, with what I have and who I am. It’s not glamorous or easy, but the truth is that we are exactly where we are doing what we should do and using what we have. Perhaps the greatest victories in life are the little mundane things of daily life.

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881) British Prime Minister

Yes, I do thing great thoughts, much of the time. I don’t always see the immediate results that I desire, but I do believe in the heroic! My favorite hero is Siegfried, son of the Volsung twins, Sigmund and Sieglinde, children of the god of Valhalla, Wotan, and the earth goddess Erda, a mortal. Siegfried was conceived to save the gods and save the world. He knew no fear and was only protected from the front of his body by Brunhilda’s magic. She knew he would never turn his back on the enemy.

I think of how fearless he was, although naïve and reckless in his actions, he never backed down and never showed fear. In fact, the first time he did experience a moment of fear was the first moment he saw a woman, Brunhilda, and for a brief moment, he tasted fear. He overcame this by kissing her an awakening her from the spell of a deep sleep.

Yes, I do believe in heroes. When my father, Troy D. Woodbury, passed away, next to his bedside was a marble base with a brass plate on it that read, “You are my life’s hero”. He had that by him until the night the angels took him home to mom. I think that in my life, my dad was my true hero. Was he perfect? No heroes are perfect, but he was my life’s hero and I becoming more and more like him daily.

“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 don’t think my parent’s every told me I could not achieve my dreams. They were happy I found Arthur Murray Dance Centers and got my life on a good pathway.

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”

– Lord Byron (1788-1824) English Poet

My mom, J. Clair Ford Woodbury, always said to me “Keep a little song in your heart”. I have and continue to do this daily. My mom liked to laugh, and she found a lot of joy in the simple things in life. We could just sit together and tell stories and laugh until we had tears in our eyes. No wonder daddy loved her so much!

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.”

– Roger Bannister, in 1952 after breaking the four-minute mile (1929)

English former middle-distance athlete, physician and academic

I had a dancing student from England who once dated Roger Bannister. During those years while teaching Kim, I was an avid marathon runner. Kim said that when Mr. Bannister crossed the finish line and broke the record, he could not believe it. He did not die from it and he was surprised that he accomplished this goal. He truly took it in stride at the time, but soon realized that he had made history. He did what he could, where he was, with what he had. He made the impossible possible.

Thanks for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

davidearlwoodbury@gmail.com

No 33 “Patience is passion tamed.” 8-18-17

Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde 

No 33 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, August 18, 2017

“Patience is passion tamed.”

– Lyman Abbott (1835 – 1922) American Congregationalist theologian

For many years I never had patience. I was a ‘millennial’ in the 70’s. I wanted everything in my dancing to come to me on the first try and I wanted my technique to be perfect and natural from the first try. I had the passion and the talent, but not the patience to practice to perfection. Many others could just see a step and do it the first time. That skill I did not possess (I still can’t do this).

Then, I watched how others taught the steps that I was learning. They were fast and impatient with their students, and they lost patience with those that did not learn as fast as they had learned. They even became harsh with others when the step was not executed to their standard.

One of my teachers told me a wonderful key that has stayed with me for decades. She said “David, you’re a slow forgetter!” I just thought I was dumb sometimes when I could not get a pattern. But when I learned the step and the technique, I had it for a lifetime.

On the teaching end, since I was a “slow forgetter”, I was very patient with my students. I learned that the two key ingredients in teaching were laughter and praise. Later I learned that people did not remember what you said to them, they remembered how you made them feel. I learned that teaching could be a wonderful confidence building experience for the students who were learning.

“Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty and self-respect are the qualities which make a real gentleman or lady.”

– Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) British Scientist

Over the years I have had teachers who brought me to tears, made me hate and resent them, and teachers who tore me down. Then, there were the master teachers who made me feel as if I could learn and perform anything in my life. They made learning fun and made me feel confident and talented. They are still the heroes in my dancing life. Although some of the mean teachers taught me some greatly needed lessons, I still remember the emotional floggings they gave me.

Now, when I am teaching and someone makes a mistake, I pause, smile and say “What was that?”  We begin to laugh and share a hug, a giggle, and then we fix the step. Those students seem to love their lessons. They are the ones who smile on the floor and draw all eyes to their great smiles and beautiful technique and styling in their dancing.

Perhaps the best part of ballroom dancing is that we learn respect. Respect for our partner, other couples on the floor, the audience, the choreography and the music, the judges, and the wonderful audience for whom we are performing. Ballroom teaching discipline and how to present the other person with grace and elegance. Perhaps if we could just get all the leaders of the world together at the United Nations and teach them ballroom technique and the etiquette it teaches, we might have better world peace!

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”

– Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco (1897-1945) English Writer

As I write to you today, the words flow from my heart to my fingers to the page. I give this love and support to you not remembering the effort of writing, and I take back the blessings I receive from sharing this love with you, never forgetting the experience.

Thanks for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!

davidearlwoodbury@gmail.com

 

 

Make Your Own Circumstances 11-4-16

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No 45 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, November 4, 2016

Make Your Own Circumstances

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) Irish Playwright

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We think, “Oh, they have it so easy in their life. Money, family, opportunity. It was all given to them.” Yes, it may seem that others have it easy and we have it hard, but get this. We have the best in our own lives if we just look up and see all the great things around us.

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I’m a blamer and I get jealous of other’s success. I think, “That should have been me”, “I can do that, what didn’t that success come to me?”. The reality is that we are all truly living in our own great success. We have control over our circumstances and we have the ability to make opportunities come our way. We never truly know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  The funny thing is this, often the ones we are envying are looking at us and saying, “Wow, they have all the luck” for they see the good in our lives that we are unable visualize.

“Trials, temptations, disappointments — all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fibre of a character, but strengthen it. Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.” – James Buckham (1844 – 1930) Canadian lumberman and Liberal politician

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Why do our diet and exercise programs fail? Once it gets a bit hard, or requires extra energy, or tests our character, we give in. The temptations are overwhelming and we just do not have the strength to overcome the trials. We just give into our present circumstances and cannot pull up.

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Do you know how a world class ballroom dance couple makes it to the top? Is it talent, luck, or is it just given to them? The answer is simple, the best couples have worked the hardest, practices the longest and have earned their ranking through many trials and failures. Their successes are precious and sweet, and they have hearts of gratitude for the glory given to them. They made their own circumstance and created their own opportunity and stayed with it to the top.

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“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. That’s the essence of it.” – Vince Lombardi (1913 – 1970) American Football Coach

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It’s easy to stay down after being knocked down over and over. Yet, as Vince Lombardi says, coming back is the real glory. I’d like to just get up and stay up, but as Waltz has rise and fall, and Tango is staccato with starts and stops, and Swing has its turns and spins, and Samba has a bounce, blessedly there is the Foxtrot that is smooth and glides across the floor. I wish you, the reader a few Foxtrot days, but also enjoy your Tango days, and keep on coming back!

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Thanks for reading!

David Earl Woodbury

Keep on Dancing!