Playing the Hula Hoop
you ever wondered what life would be like in tap shoes? How it
would sound every time your feet smacked the floor? Would you
dance down the supermarket aisles? Would you wear sequins on your
pajamas? Would you wear a sparkling cowboy hat and pretend to
dance with a lasso when you needed to improvise on stage? (Wait,
that's another story...) Would you notice new rhythms in your life
if you lived it wearing tap shoes? How would you move differently?
of these questions were on my mind the other night as I was waiting
outside our studio with my journal for our teacher to arrive for class.
My mind was still on a conversation I had just had that had left me
disturbed, excited, and not a little left in wonder of what I was
stepping into and what that would mean in my life. Things were
changing, God was on the move, and if you have any experience with his
unpredictability, you know he loves to surprise us- with ourselves.
Evan after Stacey arrived and I was tying my sparkling red shoe-laces in
their double knots, I was still searching my heart and processing.
I over process a lot. That is, until Stacey remarked she had
forgotten the hula hoops in her car and was going to get them.
Reality then hit very quickly like a tree branch crashing onto my head.
Tonight was Sheri's and Joshua's birthday celebration and Stacey had
asked us all to bring hula hoops if we had them. I didn't have one.
house when I was a child, hula hoops were something you used as a circle
to toss toys into with your sisters or to roll down the sidewalk to see
how far it could go. I know we tried to master the hula hooping
"thing" but I confess, I could never do it. It always fell down
around my ankles before I could get it going around my hips. I
believe at one point I just gave up on it and went back to seeing
how many toys I could toss through it instead of putting myself through
that humiliation one more time. The prospect of being embarrassed
in front of my tap class was not a picture I wanted to enter into.
(I'm also still working my self-consciousness.)
took me a second to create that embarrassing picture of myself trying
to hula hoop, pathetically and without rhythm as a "mature" adult.
It was not pretty. But, tapping had already gotten me into plenty
of other interesting situations and what was one more? I had
already tapped down the supermarket aisle, (Okay, I still do), tapped
around a campfire, worn sparkles from head to toe, danced in front of
hundreds of people with a smile on my face, and even substitute taught
the class when Stacey was out of town. I had just stopped short
of wearing sequins on my pajamas, though that can be fixed.
Besides, everyone was doing it...
So, in the belief that life
truly is too short not to live it, I picked up a blue and white hula
hoop, watched the experts, and tried. It didn't fall off right
away. Okay, the first couple of times, it did fall off right away.
But I tried again and again and shocked the socks off myself by actually doing it!
I felt exhilaration, I felt joy, I felt vindicated! One of my
childhood skeletons, that I couldn't hula, had now been fully redeemed!
Yahoo! It was an incredible time, we had such fun hulaing together to an old song, "Everyone
Plays the Hula Hoop!" that Stacey had recorded from an
record. We laughed A LOT. We dropped our hoops A LOT, but we
all soon had them spinning again. Deborah could hula
it straight to town- around her arm, neck, whatever! She was
However, the shocks were not
over for the evening. After getting our attention over the music
and rolling hula hoops, Stacey challenged us to see how many tap steps
we could get in while swinging the hula hoop around our waist.
Flabbergasted, I protested, "I've just learned how to hula hoop and you
want me to tap dance at the same time?" Stacey smiled at me and
said, "It's the next step up. You can do it!" I must tell
you, this is a familiar exchange between us. She will challenge me
to do a variation of something we've learned and say it's the next
technical step up. In truth, I like it. I like it a lot.
She challenges me to do new things and believes in my ability to
accomplish them. Even hula hooping. And she is usually
right, I can do it. And I did! I got several tap steps while
keeping the hoop airborne. Quite an accomplishment!
I have thought about that
night since and have gleaned two truths from it. One, when you
have a lot on your mind, when you are thinking about many things,
sometimes you just need to "tap it out" and play! This is
especially true for those of us who tend to think too much, we can dig
ourselves into impressive holes and end up hitting ourselves a lot with
the shovel. Tap has been great for me to learn to play, to loosen
up, and have fun. It requires taking my thinking cap off and
putting my tap shoes on. After a good hour playing and making
rhythmic noise, my problems always seem a little easier to handle,
easier to think through. If they seem important at all.
Sometimes I just chalk them up to my tendency to make something bigger
than it is. I just tell myself it's a little thing, not a big
deal, go out and play!
The second lesson I took from our
hula hooping night is we need to be open to challenge, even at times
when we don't think we're ready. At those times, you have to
listen to the people who think you are, to trust those who believe in
you. One of these, is God, and he deserves our trust above
all else for he knows everything about us and everything we can do.
Sometimes he will give us a new level to reach for, but like Stacey, he
knows we can reach it with practice, and he will encourage us all the
way there. Even when the hula hoops of life keep falling around
our feet, he will cheer us on, telling us to go for it, and when we do
it, when we have that hoop spinning in the air, he will be the one you
hear clapping the loudest, laughing for the one he loves, the one he is
proud of. With that, we can do anything!
Today the hula hoop, tomorrow the pogo stick!
Anyone have one?
I will be at Wings of the Soul in Salem,
Oregon, on October 5th or 6th for a book signing.
Details and a specific time are coming soon.
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