November 16, 2017 0

Today I Dance

Posted by:Janet Neal onNovember 16, 2017

An annoyance led to a gratitude, which led to my dance down a New York City street. And brought me back to being 14 years old and the how important good friends are, both then and now.

The #MeAt14 campaign also had me reflecting on that horribly awkward stage in my life. Up until that age I had been a confident, competent girl, unafraid to try new things and proud to stand out from the crowd. Then those hormones kicked in. I found the balance of my attention shift to not just wanting the attention and approval of others, but actually needing it. That self-confidence I used to possess took a seat far back in my consciousness. And as a smart and straight-laced girl, I certainly was not fitting in with the popular crowd. Fortunately for me I had a close group of friends who shared my dilemma: how do you “do 14” when you are not “cool”? Our solution: form a new club, complete with id cards we could carry in our chic shoulder bags (that I needed to carry my glasses). Our new moniker? Well, since we were the opposite of the “cool” kids, we called ourselves….hot. Yes, that is where that term started. Or at least we’re staking that claim. I undoubtedly still have the id card somewhere in my memory boxes, should I need it for evidence on the claim.

On Monday this week I was on the train for my early commute to the city, where the dozing and half-awake crowd is usually, thankfully, silent. A couple gets on and sits behind me – and starts talking! Of all the nerve! Not even loudly, but still! Annoyed, I reach for my earphones and hastily put on the first artist on my song list, as I don’t even have the patience to scroll farther than the A’s. Al Jarreau starts singing and drowning out the chatter behind me. Suddenly, I notice that I am smiling. And dancing a little in my seat. My mood has totally shifted and I offer up a silent gratitude to the previously annoying couple for bringing me to this new heightened mood. I share this awareness on Facebook, and note “If I had the nerve, I would have danced down a NYC street!”

That’s when my “hot” club member stepped in. “Next time dance and enjoy every moment!” she wrote.

Back in 2012 when my 1st book came out, I had a chapter in there where I talk about how in my head I have already won an Oscar, a Tony and probably an Emmy. But there is this little detail: I haven’t done any acting since (hmmm…here it is again…) I was 14 years old and played the postulate in The Sound of Music. (fabulously, I might add…) A reader wrote to me and asked “Why don’t you just try out for your community theatre?”

There it is. That challenge. Innocent statements that hit to the core of my being. I profess to be a woman who lives a life true to herself, unafraid of what others may think/say/feel. And this week I was given a mirror to show me where I had room for growth.

In 2013 I played the part of a tree in our local production of The Wizard of Oz. I rocked it. Today I danced down a New York City street as Amy Winehouse sang “Valerie” in my ears.

Thanks Sue, and all you other hot people out there who hold those mirrors for me. Keep dancing!

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