My Afterlife Series ~ Will You Dance at the Party?

By Susan Keats, Contributor &  Seize-the-Day Propagandist

I am running down the hall. In the living room there is a party going on and women are dancing to the music. I’m nervous. Very very nervous. One of the women calls to me. Suuuusaaaaan. Its yooooouuurr turrrrnnn! She has a feather boa in her hands and she wants me to shimmy my way into the center of the circle and hoochie koo around with the birthday gal. So instead, I am running down the hall and hiding in the kitchen. Nightmare? No. Totally true. The idea of dancing, letting myself go, being uninhibited in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know was so uncomfortable, there was no way I was going to dance at that party. No way. Which is odd, because I love to dance.

On my way home I thought about my behavior. Why had I done that? Why did the idea of dancing in front of all those people seem to be more awful than fun? I mean… I’ve been known to do the funky chicken… around the house….in front of my mirror…alone. Don’t you do that? I wondered about myself. Is this really you? You can’t just be silly and have fun in front of other people? What’s THAT about? I cranked up my radio and sang loudly, cabaret style, all the way home. I wasn’t much in the mood for self-reflection.

I didn’t think about it again until one day my cousin put a very silly hat on my head and suggested that I wear it out. I was instantly mortified. There they were, all those feelings again. I didn’t want to feel foolish, ridiculous, embarrassed and self-conscious. I wanted that hat OFF! I didn’t want to be the center of attention…what would people think of me?

And there it was. What will people think?

This is why I call cancer the great clarifier and creator of strangesilver linings. With days and weeks and months to contemplate my existence, a few things became breathtakingly clear. Why the heck was I even remotely concerned about what people thought? Why is it that what I’m guessing is in your head is more important to me than what is in my own? Why oh why did I ever stop myself from feeling joy because I was more concerned about what someone else was possibly thinking? Why am I doing the funky chicken in the closet?

I don’t have to look far to find “be yourself” inspiration from my own family. Today my daughter has pinned her hair up like a movie star from the 1940s. She loves dressing up in vintage clothing. She has put on deep red lipstick and walks glamorously to the door with her backpack on her shoulders. She goes to school this way. I admire her bravery but I wonder how the other kids react to her style. We all know teens can be particularly cruel. I asked her about it and this is what she told me:

I get lots of positive comments from people and lots of other kids stare at me and give me strange looks. Those kids are basically telling me that they want me to conform. I make them uncomfortable by not trying to be like everyone else. I take it as a compliment because I don’t want to be like everyone else.

Wow. I hope she holds onto that forever. I hope she doesn’t need some awful illness to teach her to never give up those things that bring her happiness. Fabulous.

There will never be another day that I don’t adorn myself with something that makes me feel good or that expresses who I am. I will never again stop myself from doing something that I love because I’m too concerned about what might be going on in someone else’s head. How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something that brings you joy because you were overly concerned about what other people might think? I know you have because I tried to get you to dance at my party and I think you said you had a broken foot.

OK so maybe shaking your groove thing isn’t your idea of joy, but for me, the saying is true: life is too short to not dance at the party.

What is stopping you from doing things that bring you happiness?

Click on this link to catch me dancing Bollywood style! Do I look ridiculous? Probably. Do I care what you think? Nope. Come join me next time!

You may follow all of Susan's Afterlife stories here.

Susan-KeatsSusan Keats ~ In 2010 Susan received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!

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18 Responses to My Afterlife Series ~ Will You Dance at the Party?

  1. Audrey says:

    I think I recognize all you awesome dancers! Thank you for continuing to inspire me! I have just put Pandora on my computer and am tapping to the rhythm! And it feels good!

  2. Diane L says:

    You look great! Keep dancing….

  3. Jane Corley says:

    the word “ridiculous” never even entered my mind. You were TERRIFIC and I truly truly mean that. Not only did you look like you were having fun, you can dance!!!

  4. Gloria B says:

    I think you’ve got something there! You and your daughter are an inspiration, and I need to take your suggestion.

  5. Judy Baron says:

    I like the costume u wear. It looks like clothes from
    Loving Frank. You look well, happy, involved with your family.
    I’m happy now to see your dance pix.
    Love Judy B

  6. Oh Sue, you made me smile…. that was soooo nice. Your smile and moves were contagious.
    Hey whatever happened to our purple hat!!
    Its time to wear it all the time, everywhere!
    I love you.
    And I love all those women you were with, because they are sharing in your crazy, cookie happiness….

  7. Ruth says:

    Wow! Bend it Like Susan!

    I had heard of a Bollywood dance class around here–it looks so fun–and you do it so well!

    Great colors too!

  8. Jill Thomas says:

    I love Bollywood dancing! Thanks for the great reminder, I try to tell my daughter everyday that
    ” weird is wonderful, normal is boring!” 🙂

  9. Ellen says:

    Oh, Sue, I’m smiling from ear-to-ear after reading your article and seeing you dance. Your comment about “caring more about what I think is in your head” really hit home and made me think. Today I was sitting on the porch and thinking about how great it was as a kid to lie down in the grass and watch the clouds go by. So I did. And I don’t care what the neighbors think. I bet they wish they thought of it first.

  10. Susan says:

    Thanks for the super comments everyone. As always, what you have to say keeps me entertained and inspired. Ellen, I’m going to go watch the clouds. What a super idea. Actually, the idea of doing the things we loved to do as children is very compelling to me these days. We let so much drop away. Recapturing the wonder of things is a very moving thing. Thanks for the idea!

  11. nancy says:

    I would not feel comfortable wearing a wierd hat, so therefore, I would not wear it out. However, I enjoy wearing uneven hemmed tops or ruffled tops or big bracelets. I wear these items proudly and think I’m wonderful! I think you just have to find your own comfort zone. If you’re voices are stopping you from being silly ‘your way’ then that does stink. I don’t like when others try to stop me from ‘being out there’ when I feel perfectly exhilerated by being silly. Lastly, you looked similar to the other two women in size and shape and talent, except you were smiling the whole time!

  12. Great dancing, great outfit – love the colors. Keep on feeding your soul! Bollywood On!!!

  13. Aileen says:

    Sister!! AWESOME blog post, Awesome newsletter and awesome video – keep it up and keep dancing!! We make dancing a regular part of family get togethers. we dance in the kitchen, living room, back yard whatever!!!

  14. Laurie says:

    Hey Girl! 5th Grade Cheerleading with a twist! Keep on : )

  15. Janet says:

    EXTEND THE RUN!!!!! Girl! You are Fierce! I can only hope to live up to the example of you and your daughter. You keep dancing, you are awesome! xo

  16. Kayla says:

    I love it!!! I caught a bit of the joy just watching! Thanks for brightening my day.

  17. Elaine Powrie says:

    Joy and inspiration for all of us. Keep it up!!

  18. Elise says:

    Loved reading the article and thought that you guys looked great dancing!!!

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