Words from my heart
Several weeks ago, my husband and I ate at SABORmx to celebrate my 59th birthday, and you were our server. SABOR has the most amazing Mexican food! Their traditional classics with a “modern twist” are exquisite, each bite divine. And the service? Attentive and kind. Thank you, Erika—you helped make my birthday dinner extra special, and I’d like you to know why.
Three weeks before my birthday, I wrote a story for my blog titled “Inspire Courage.” I hadn’t posted in almost two years, but a conversation with a friend compelled me to share those encouraging words.
It seemed timely to include a one-page paper I had written for Communication Theory in 2015. One particular sentence had a strong message of encouragement: “YOUR VOICE MATTERS. YOUR HEART MATTERS . . . DO NOT GIVE UP!” But it’s the paper’s opening and closing paragraphs that are significant to my birthday dinner.
In the first paragraph I wrote:
I come from a long line of believers, believers in God and love and forgiveness and kindness. And occasional fun (no dancing, though—I was taught dancing is sin).
In the closing paragraph I wrote:
I believe in God and love and forgiveness and kindness. I don’t believe dancing is sin, yet I do avoid dance floors. However, when interaction happens and hope is renewed, my heart dances! It dances up a storm like a Broadway musical on closing night. That’s my kind of fun—meaningful conversation with family, friends, acquaintances and others in the routine of everyday life. And if the day happens to have a light breeze, I’m in heaven.
You see, dancing doesn’t come naturally to me, sin or no sin. It’s simply not in my bones. And I’m easily intimidated at events when there’s dancing, especially when someone tries to coax me onto the dance floor. They seem convinced it’s the only way I’ll have fun. Sometimes, those someones even make me angry. But why would a well-meaning act of encouragement make me so mad?
Because in that moment, I feel as if I’m being told my life isn’t fun enough, or good enough, or complete enough unless I dance my way through it. I feel as if they’re saying, “Oh, poor you . . . don’t you know that dancing is the answer to everything?”
That was my attitude when I posted my blog on September 7. The following Wednesday my division from work held its quarterly meeting at a ranch in North Fresno. It happened to be the National Day of Encouragement—a day I didn’t know existed—and our meeting theme was Got Encouragement? Decorations and activities were done in hoedown style. We played lawn games, ate a BBQ lunch, and held our meeting in the lovely shade of pecan trees, light breeze included.
After the business part of our meeting, we were directed to the barn for a surprise—a line-dancing lesson! I admit I had fun, but only because the moves were choreographed and everyone had to participate.
As the meeting ended, we were given a challenge. There was a wire display with paper cowboy boots, and each had an action word or phrase on the back side. We were encouraged to pick a boot and find ways to use that word or phrase to encourage others. On my way out, I picked a boot and turned it over—then stared in disbelief.
DANCE . . . my boot said DANCE!
Dance? I picked Dance? How was that possible? HOW? “I have no idea what I’m going to do with this,” I moaned.
During the next few days, as I continued to be dumbfounded by my selection, I decided to open my heart to what dancing could teach me. I began to look for ways and opportunities.
That’s when you became a special part of this story, Erika.
My husband and I had ordered flan for my birthday dessert, and you delivered it with a beautiful glowing candle. Thank you for that thoughtful touch, and for taking our picture. After we finished, I noticed that the first wave of customers were gone. When you brought our check, I commented that we had the whole place to ourselves. You quickly replied, “And it’s still early—you could go dancing!”
Tears gently began to well, and I said, “I don’t really dance.” But then I looked at my husband, and then looked back at you. With a softened heart and attitude, I asked, “Can we dance here?” Your eyes lit up and with a big smile, you gave your approval.
So the small space next to our table turned into a dance floor.
While soft latin music filled the room,
I melted into my husband’s arms