Monthly Archives: November 2011

Dancing v. Golf

The golf swing has got to be one of the most difficult skills to learn, because of the thought process that must accompany the movement. I find that if I don’t focus, I’m lost, and if I think too much, it’s worse. There are so many things that dance in my head when I approach a swing. I want to grip the club properly, bend my legs slightly, and stick my hind-end out just a little. Then I have to consider the actual swing. I think about my wrists, my elbows, my head, the balance shift in my body and the follow-through of the club. There are so many errors I can make, and I have made them all. I lift up, or look up, or stop short. Sometimes I try to hit the ball too hard, instead of accepting that the natural rhythm of the swing, the power of the club and the momentum of the follow-through will project the ball farther than any brute force. My golf instructor Lee will often give me one little nugget of advice that changes my whole swing, and it is a beautiful moment. She once said, “You know, the swing doesn’t have to involve your whole body.” I believe this tip came from her intuition that I am an over-thinker. I have busy-brain syndrome, and it is exacerbated by my perception of golf as a very complicated game.

When I started lessons with Lee, she had me swing the club like a metronome. She explained that the golf swing has a rhythm, and once your body learns it, you can just feel your way through the swing instead of thinking your way through it. You just have to do it over and over and over again, until the brain tells the body, “ok, I think you have it now, I’m on to bigger thoughts”. Hopefully in that moment, the golf swing begins to look natural, easy, and full of grace.

This message from the brain to the body is what I am hoping to find as I now learn to dance. My dance instructor, Stephen, calls it “muscle memory”. In essence, it means that the body memorizes how to move, so that you can think about the bigger picture, such as where you are in relation to the dance floor, or conveying a certain mood, much like an actor might. If I try to think about the intricate steps required for my dance routine, in addition to what I need to do with my arms, torso, head and facial expression, I am sure that my brain will implode. There is literally too much to remember all at once, so I hope to practice the movements so much, that eventually my thoughts can get out of the way.

So now I swing my body like a metronome, the same way I did with my club when I first took up the game of golf. I practice every day, engaging in simple moves that I will need my body to have in the “muscle memory” repertoire. I have faith that although learning to dance is as difficult as learning to golf, if I practice enough, I will be able to focus on the big picture and not become overwhelmed with a million small thoughts. Thankfully with both endeavors, I have amazing instructors who are patient and reassuring, and I am confident that they can guide me toward some form of grace.

Dancing Stars of Augusta Progress

ImageCountdown-13 weeks. I have had 3 lessons so far and am amazed at how much there is to absorb. My instructor/guide/mentor/guru Stephen said that I am essentially learning a new language. I think we are still on the alphabet, but it’s fun. He is patient with little grasshopper. It turns out that the number one rule for dancing is the same as for rock climbing-don’t look down!!


This week my homework was to listen-really listen-to music. It’s not just background noise; I have to hear the beat and learn to count it out. I call my friend Jeff to keep me on track. I thought a Papa Roach song was a 3-count. (Jeff tells me it’s a 4.) I’m wondering which songs should be considered for the big number. Stephen advises that Sixx AM and Linkin Park may be hard to choreograph. Alt rock may not be in the cards for my dancing -at least for now. I’m sure we will find something fun.


 Kevin has been alerted to his inevitable involvement in this process. He said he is in for the adventure -like always! He is constantly saying “let’s do it” to new suggestions, and I love that about him. I am also grateful, because I need to practice the basic steps in-between lessons, so that they become second nature. The two of us are also going to check out the open dance nights at the Ballroom Dance Center. They take place each Friday 830-11pm. Perhaps if I go to a few of these, I will absorb some dancing skills through osmosis.


That’s all for this week!! Be sure to vote for me or any of the other great contestants online!!

All of the pictures and bios are posted (except Austin??) so the site looks great. Check it out.

Angela’s Going to do What?!

When my friends heard that I was going to be a participant in Dancing Stars of Augusta, they couldn’t believe it. They heard it on the Austin Rhodes radio show and thought it was a mistake. Angela? Really? She hates the spotlight and hates exercize more. She must have signed up to be a judge or an event planner. I had to tell them I truly had agreed to dance. At the Bell. In front of a crowd. A big crowd.

Life is all about new adventures, and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones. If we can do that and support a great cause, it is a no-brainer. Dee Dee and the team at the Alzheimer’s Association were kind enough to extend this offer and place a vote of confidence in me, and I knew immediately that I had to say yes. It is exactly the kind of challenge I enjoy. And, much like when I tandem-jumped out of a plane, my goal for this adventure will be simple. Have a good time but try not to cause any harm to the professional guiding me through the process. I have met my professional dancing partner/teacher Stephen, as well as everyone at the Ballroom Dance Center, and they are all delightfully enthusiastic and optimistic for me.

I appreciate everyone who votes/donates to this campaign, regardless of which dancer they support. They are a tremendous group of local leaders. I am also appreciative of Kevin and my family for their encouragement, and to Jim Hudson Lexus for their sponsorship. I look forward to making new friends and conquering old fears. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, here is the website where you can learn more about the event.

Make it happen

A co-worker once told me she had a policy against the future tense. She said she never tells anyone what she intends to do. Her motto was one of all action and no talk. Since then, I have tried to do the same and found that it takes a great deal of willpower. It is just so easy to spew out whatever pops into your head. “I am going to do this and this, and it is going to be awesome.” It is very difficult to keep those thoughts to yourself, and just mentally tell people, “Wait til you see what I am getting ready to unleash on the world.”

Whether you say it out loud or tell it to yourself, the trick at that point is to hold yourself accountable. At the age of 39, I started what most people call a “bucket list”, but I called a TDBID (to do before I die). It was filled with adventures like learning to ride a motorcycle, driving a racecar, jumping out of a plane. I did not want to tell people about the list, unless it was after one of the adventures was completed.

The TDBID morphed into a general point-of-view: I just forced myself to be open to adventures that crossed my path. The most magnaminous of these was Dancing with the Stars (the local version, for charity). The Alzheimer’s Association asked me to be a dancer, and I had never heard of anything more frightening in my life. Here I was, a relatively subdued personality with a twinge of shyness, going to perform a dance routine in front of a packed auditorium. In addition to stage fright, I was out of shape and had never danced before.

This overwhelming, all-consuming adventure is what started my need to write. It helped me to verbalize the process-the fitness challenge, the crazy dance moves, the panic attacks. In this blog you can read about the experiences that came from the Dancing Stars adventure, as well as other endeavors I chose to unleash upon the world.