So what do ballroom dancing, newly platinum blonde hair, and a lucky penny have to do with spiritual growth?…
On a whim, my husband and I signed up for ballroom dancing lessons at a dance school in the nearby mall. I had been a dancer in my teens and twenties, but nothing since then, and never any ballroom. I wasn’t in good shape. Sixty pounds heavier than I had been when I was dancing. With pain in my knees, and ongoing muscle problems, I had trouble moving as well as I could in the past. But what happened over the next ten months was nothing short of miraculous for me.
I was out doing my daily 3+ mile walk (the daily walk I began in my quest to be able to dance better again), and a glimmer caught my eye. It was a penny on the ground, almost invisible. It was the color of the surrounding dirt, except I happened to see it at just the right angle catching the light. Though I occasionally leave pennies around so that other people can find them, I generally don’t pick them up myself. But this time, something in me said, Now that’s a lucky penny. I wasn’t sure exactly why, but it felt like it had something to do with the dancing. I thought, Maybe I’ll work it into a piece of jewelry I can wear at my ballroom dance competition in October. But instead of picking it up then, my head jumped in and said, Get it on the way back. You don’t really want to have to carry it for three more miles. You don’t have any pockets. So I looked around, found a nearby tree as a marker, made sure I knew where it was on the ground, and decided to get it on the return home.
As I walked away, I had a gut feeling. What if a car drives over it and the dirt shifts and buries it? But I let my logical mind (“no pockets”) overrule everything I’ve learned about trusting my intuition. On my way back, I came to that open patch of dirt, found my marker tree, and stopped to retrieve my lucky penny. It was gone. I walked up and down that patch of dirt four times, scouring every inch. I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I stopped and thought, Okay, what’s the larger message here, beyond trusting my intuition? I thought about my dancing in relation to the penny, since my original feeling had been that they were connected. Sometimes in life, an opportunity rises to the surface. A window to something. And how many times do we not jump on the opportunity, letting our head talk us into waiting for a more convenient time, only to come back later, wanting the opportunity, but finding that the window has closed. “The dirt has shifted” and the thing that had presented itself is now buried and gone. Life is constantly shifting, nothing ever stays the same from moment to moment.
That’s what the ballroom dancing was for me, this little window in time where a chance to take some silly, whimsical ballroom dance classes at the mall came up. I could’ve thought of a million reasons why I didn’t have the time, or the money, or it wasn’t a more serious use of my energy while trying to keep my business afloat during a recession, etc. etc. But I didn’t. I “picked up the lucky penny” that time, and my entire world shifted. My soul woke up when I rediscovered dancing. I had no idea how much I had missed it. In ten months, I lost 50 lbs and my body became twenty-five again, after years of the weight not budging, and physical difficulties crept up on me. I began to feel more joy on a daily basis, because I allowed myself to do something where the only goal was to experience the joy of doing it.
I stood there on the side of the road marveling at how my life was completely different than it was in January. What if I had let my head talk me out of it? I thought about how important it is to pay attention, to recognize those brief windows of opportunity that surface in life, and to know that sometimes it’s now or maybe never. You never know. Waiting for a better time is crazy. It’s presenting itself now because maybe this moment IS the better time. The key is following that voice in your heart when you hear it. Choose the adventure!
I thought, Wow, so maybe I don’t get to keep that penny today, but the insight I just got from it made it a lucky penny indeed. The minute that thought crossed my mind, I felt like I had received the intended message, my heart relaxed, and I resumed the last leg of my walk. At the next patch of dirt in the road, I looked down and saw my penny. I started laughing, picked it up, raised it to the heavens, and yelled, “Thank You!” I’m sure the car of people driving by just then thought I was nuts, but at my age, that doesn’t bother me anymore. “Crazy” is rather liberating because there aren’t as many rules!
I kept the penny on the table next to my computer for weeks, not wanting to lose it (again). I looked at it one day and was inspired to write the story down so I could share it. At that point I took it downstairs to my art studio to transform it into a piece of jewelry. I set it down, ran back inside for something, and when I came out fifteen minutes later it was gone. I looked everywhere between the dining room table and the jewelry area in my studio. It’s never been found. I think it just hung around until I got the message to share the story. Then it was done. Mission accomplished. Poof!
Maybe ballroom dancing and platinum blonde hair isn’t be the next step in your own personal journey of spiritual growth. Maybe it’s a yoga and meditation retreat, or volunteering at a soup kitchen. But just maybe it will be something you don’t normally think of as “spiritual.” Maybe it will be remodeling your kitchen, or skateboarding, or a juggling class at the local community college adult extension program, or taking that vacation you never make time for, or getting back to that old hobby you gave up years ago for reasons you can’t remember.
There’s no Spirituality Rulebook, with a prescribed list of “spiritual” activities and the accompanying dress code. (Just the rules we create in our own head.) There’s actually nothing we do in our lives that’s outside of our spiritual growth. The most mundane of activities is spiritual when you bring ALL of yourself to it, and allow yourself to be expanded by it. So reconnect with what you LOVE, with what brings you JOY (minus the judgements about how much perceived value it has). It’s not what you do that has meaning, it’s how you do it, and how much you open your heart to the greater meaning it has for you and for your life through the joy it creates in you.
Allow yourself… That’s what I did.
When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.