Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How To Receive

It's better to give than receive.  Haven't you heard that since you were a toddler?

Me too.  However, sometimes, we give too much and we don't receive.  I've been working on this, trying to find a better balance between the two.

Fortunately, I met Kristyn Pope.  And I learned two lessons from her.

I'm second from the left, with my nose in the air; Kristyn is fourth from the left, with the glasses.

The first lesson I learned from Kristyn was Patience.  Kristyn was the dance captain for that production of Sister Act that I was in recently.  She's a fantastic dance captain.  She has this uncanny knack of knowing what you're going to do before you even know it. Or do it.  She also happens to be one of the most generous and patient people I have ever met.

The second lesson I learned from Kristyn, which was much more important, was how to Receive.  She didn't mean to teach me how to be patient or how to receive.  She did mean to teach me how to dance, because that was her job.  So those two lessons...well, that was serendipity.

Let's start with Lesson Number 1 - Patience.

Here's the thing - I'm not a dancer.  I'm what's known in the business as a mover.  This means given time and space, I can make it look like I know what I'm doing.

Kristyn was able to give me that time and space.  During rehearsals, I wouldn't get every step right away, but I got enough of them that she could see I was working.  She would say to me "That's enough for today.  Don't worry, you're going to get it.  Let your brain process it tonight".  So, while I wanted to go back to my hotel and work on dance steps until I fell on the floor exhausted,  I decided to trust Kristyn and give my Self a break.   Sure enough, when I would return to rehearsal the next day, it would be better.  Sometimes it was completely learned.

How many dance captains (or people in charge) can be that patient, that trusting?  And you know what happened.  Because Kristyn believed in me, I believed in myself.  And you also know what happened next.  I learned all of the choreography fairly quickly and I looked just as good as the rest of the nuns.

Let's move to Lesson Number 2 - Receiving.

I have a difficult time receiving.  While I've gotten better, it's still a challenge.  So when Kristyn offered to teach tap dancing to anyone in the cast who was interested, I was able to easily receive the lessons.  Hey, I would have been a fool to not study with a former Rockette!  Besides, I figured we'd have 2 or 3 lessons and call it quits.  But nope, Kristyn kept offering and I kept receiving.  By the end of our time together, we even made this video:

Unintentionally, Kristyn gave a big gift to the world that day.  We recorded this video on July 10, 2016, days after the shootings of Alton SterlingPhilando Castile and the five Dallas police officers.  We were all stunned, wondering what in the world was going on.  And then the seven of us - black/white, female/male, young/old, gay/straight gathered in a rehearsal hall and tapped.  On that day, dancing provided the reaffirmation that, in spite of the serious problems in the world, people could come together, get along and just be joyful.  I think we all left feeling better and hopeful.  If we could do it, couldn't everyone else?

I tried to think of ways to pay Kristyn for her generosity.  What gift card could I sneak into her dressing room, what bouquet of flowers could I have delivered to her, what material thing could I give to Kristyn that would genuinely show my gratitude and appreciation?

Ultimately, I realized the best gift was no thing.  It was an action; it was telling Kristyn how she had helped me to be better at receiving.

So I did.  I told her one night as a bunch of us sat in a dressing room together.  I told Kristyn she had helped me practice Receiving.  She seemed honestly touched.  And I knew the simple act of telling her was the best gift I could give.

At the end of the run, when Kristyn insisted on taking the Sacred Tappers (yup, we even came up with a name) out to dinner, my Receiving practice had kicked in.  Without hesitation, I said yes.  I enjoyed that dinner, sitting with people who I hadn't know 3 months earlier, who were now so dear to me.

And there at the middle of the table, sat Kristyn Pope, the woman who taught me how to receive.


  1. WOW! What a fantastic video! That is awesome work and in your spare time between shows?? You have a lot of energy. I'm going to sit down with a big cold drink and watch it again! It is hard to Receive. Well done letting that happen! Cynthia

  2. Thanks, Cynthia! I guess I do have a lot of energy.