On Personal Shorts

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This is a good image to lead me back to my regular blogging routine because this post is about personal shorts – as opposed to Opinions in the Shorts (which should return next week). Then again, there is that question of personal preference of boxes or briefs.

Our trip to Spain and Portugal was wonderful, and thanks for coming along on the travel posts. It was fun to share the highlights, yet it was important for me to have a balance of text and images – thus not be overwhelming on either.

It was also a walking vacation for us. Experts say 10,000 steps a day is a good goal – and 12,000 steps is better. We logged our steps each day and averaged 16,000 steps per day. That includes 3 days at sea (no land stops), but we went over 20,000 on 4 land days.

Yes, I still yearn for Barcelona – and still hope to make a video to that song using our images – but time will tell if I get to it.

Volunteering in English Second Language (ESL) continues to be very rewarding for me … and to think it happens on the same day as my ballroom dance time with the Downs Syndrome adults. Rewards galore!!! Sorry to say this, but one of the downsides of this year’s vacation was that I missed the dance competition for these wonderful people.

PlaybillSkyMajor announcement!

For those who didn’t get the advanced notice on the Hear Ye page, the next musical is Sky: The Musical. Act 1. Although the production team hasn’t finalized the details, I’m guessing 5 acts. Opening Night is this Tuesday, November 10 at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). All songs must have either Sky or Skies in the title – but no to compound words with sky (such as skyward, skyrocket, skyscraper). Meanwhile, I still have to secure an opening act and prepare the playbill – but at least I’ve completed the cover.

Ladies, do you need an outfit for Opening Night? See the Hear Ye page.

You may recall I was in the midst of working on a tango routine. We were very close to show ready at our goal – the end of September – which we had to do because of our cruise. The first time we practiced after getting back, we did well – which was a relief to both us. Last week we had a dress rehearsal at another studio with a live audience. It was far from our best, but we didn’t collapse … and it was a good learning experience for me because this idea is new to me. On to the show very soon. (Here’s the song … again)

We recently went to a young couple’s wedding. One song caught my attention because everyone was doing the same dance to a song I’d never heard! If you have an upcoming wedding, you may want to learn Watch Me Nae Nae.

Does anyone out there have a foam mattress as Leesa or Casper? If so, please share your thoughts.

It’s been an interesting football year for my teams: an undefeated pro team … my alma mater winning with an explosive offense … my local college having an OK year, but not what was expected.

The opening image gave me an idea for a future post about underwear. So, do you think I wear boxers, briefs, or others?

I really enjoy the song Counting Stars by OneRepublic. I stumbled across this a cappella version done by one person. I think it’s really good. Enjoy … Have a good weekend and I hope to see you on Opening Night!

On Fall Break 2015

Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with visiting other blogs and my own writing. Experience tells me that’s a sign of needing a blog break. Besides, I normally take one in the September-October time frame. So, the stars are aligning for me to take a blog break, thus I’m hitting the Pause button.

Most of my blog-break time will be Level 1 – Total Abstinence – however, I will creep a bit of Level 2 as I hope to write a little during that time. (For those needing more information about the levels of blogging breaks, click here.) To help separate myself during the break, I’m turning off my notifications. Meanwhile, my comments are On because I will be phasing myself into break oblivion.

Regular series as Monday Morning Entertainment and Satire Bits gave me a chance to share bits from my personal life, which many seemed genuinely interested. Now that those series are no more, so is my personal sharing – so going into the break is a good time for an update.

After my year off, I didn’t return to the handbell choir, but my wife still plays. They recently played this version the Led Zeppelin classic – Stairway to Heaven. (Consider playing it as your background music while reading).

My golf game started the season with a bang, but then I hit a 6-8 week spell of what I described as my worst golf in 30 years. However, I righted the ship.

For those who miss my list of monthly, weekly, and daily celebrations, I promised to provide my main sources – and here are the top 2 – this one and that one.

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Ballroom remains part of our life. You may recall that I doing a tango routine for a showcase event at a private studio. It’s not with my wife, but she approves of my partner. It’s been an interesting experience, but because of the time commitment, I’m not sure if I would do this again. Nonetheless, here’s the song – which is a tad fast, so we slowed it down.

I continue volunteering with ballroom dance for those with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I try to attend most of the weekly events. Unfortunately, this year I’m going to miss their competition, the event started my interest. (Remember this post?)

I recently started serving as a volunteer in an English Second Language (ESL) program for adults. It’s off to a good start. Regardless of their individual reasons for being in the US, each of them wants to improve their proficiency in English.

However, our season of ushering at plays is underway. We recently saw The Secret Garden, and young artist (Caitlin Cohn) in the lead role impressed both of us. We are curious to see how far she climbs on the ladder to stardom.

I’m a Christian who believes in Interfaith dialogue and efforts – both within Christianity AND between different religions. The Friday’s Interfaith ceremony at the 9-11 Memorial in NYC was very moving!

My initial plan is to stay away 3-5 weeks, but time will tell. I encourage you to visit bloggers you may not know -the good people listed on my Sidebar and those on the Blogroll page – especially the New Acquaintances section. Regarding all bloggers listed today, I hope to reorganize them in the future.

To lead you into my break, here are several videos for you to enjoy. Take your pick – a singing two-year old, a singing comic, today’s comics doing their version of a classic routine, or a major hit from many years ago that still sounds great today.

Wishing you all the best and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.




On an Unexpected Connection

Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.

I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.

My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.

However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.

Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.

I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.

  • To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
  • To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
  • To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
  • To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
  • To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
  • To R, who insists on being a lady
  • To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
  • To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
  • To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen

I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)

Other Related Past Posts

On an Extra-Special Event

BallroomDecor

Decorations in the ballroom’s corner

We arrived at the suburban convention center, then followed the red carpet to the upstairs ballroom where we found soft lighting, decorations, and plenty of tables surrounding a large temporary dance floor. At one end and above the floor, on the platform the DJ was checking his equipment from his seat beside the emcee’s podium. The judges’ area was to the left of the platform with forms ready for their completion. The people arriving were nicely dressed … some to compete and others as members of the audience.

The event was a very special sanctioned dance competition with over 30 dancers competing in foxtrot, waltz, rumba, cha cha, salsa, tango, and swing. On this day, the competitors were adults with disabilities – primarily Down Syndrome.

Several weeks ago my wife and I asked the organizer if she needed more volunteers – and she quickly said, “two males to compete” because two contestants needed partners for several dances. I checked our schedule and then accepted … plus my wife volunteered to be on the makeup and hair-styling team …. and the next day I secured a second male.

I only had two short sessions to practice with my partners, but that was enough because the steps were simple and we were not to exceed outside the listed steps. At the competition, organizers placed in heats of 6-7 dancers that allowed plenty of room for both the dancers and the judges on the floor … just like in typical dance competition.

My partners and I competed in four of the seven dances, making the semifinals and finals on three … and even winning third place in one .. but this day was more than that. Yes, it was a competition … yes, there were medals … but everyone one of the dancers were big winners. They loved dressing up, they loved dancing, they encouraged each other, and they appreciated others who smiled, said hello, or shook their hand with a smile … and we support dancers made sure the day was about our partners.

The day was about the contestants, not the dancing pair. The emcee announced each contestant for every dance, but he never mentioned their partner. We were in the program, but after the contestants name. During the awards, contestants received the medals with great joy as the never-mentioned support partner proudly stood by them … and every support partner loved playing second fiddle on a day meant for others.

The story about the organizer and how this group of people came to be is a post in itself, but on this day, my wife and I were very happy that we asked that question several weeks ago about the need for extra help. We smiled a lot on this day and left with a warmer heart, plus I know some tears leaked out of my eyes when the organizer took the time to dance with each contestant.

The next step for me seems logical … that I continue participating as a partner at their weekly gatherings … after all, it’s about them. Through the magic of dance, they see themselves on an elegant ballroom floor … but they probably don’t know or realize what they give to the volunteers.

(Note: It isn’t my place to post a video on the dances, but if the organizer releases them for public viewing, I will share.)