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It is not only memories of play tht shape who I am now, or affect my approach to life. It is what I do after work - now - every Tuesday and Thursday. As a parent, I am glad my children see what I do and how much it means to me.

My story doesn't include any rough-and-tumble, because it is about play among grownups. It is actually a structured kind of play, but I thought of it when I heard your solicitation for stories because I once described it to a friend as "my ministry." I am a Quaker, which not alot of my dance students know, but in our religion we've done away with the laity and all consider ourselves to be ministers or potential ministers, vocal or otherwise. So when I share my gifts with people, it is my ministry.

In the course of maintaining physical fitness, there are obvious health benefits. But when I teach a dance/fitness class, I teach it straight from the heart for non-fitness reasons. There are so many pressures on normal people today. I teach my class like a respite from all of that. I never make comments about body fat content or bathing suit season or keeping off the holiday pounds. I don't need that fear-based motivation. I may refer to the holidays or stress in general. But my comments about the body are along the lines of how well it responds to exercise and how to do it safely. When I say, as I often do, "Your glutes are gonna love you for all those squats," I don't really say why. The music keeps going and I don't have time, but I really mean much besides controlling fat and building muscle. I think it builds self-esteem for people to be fit. And to take the time away from family, home, etc simply to go to fitness class - sometimes that takes strength too. To begin certainly takes courage.

My classes are corporate, so I have to keep my own faith out of it. But I do feel that, as a person here on earth, I have something to share and those are my gifts. We each have a gift or gifts. It is by teaching dance/exercise that I have found a way to share mine. I enjoy my own gift so much more when I use it to lead classes that are good for other people. I hope very much that, as a result, there is a moment here or there when people in class feel more aware of their own gifts. Or at least a break from the pressures of our lives that may form a barrier between a person's everyday identity and the sweet, covering, and consuming contact with what I call grace, or the reason for being here on earth.

I think I am not alone in thinking about the past and the future so much that I lose the opportunity to live in the present. That is one thing that dancing in class gives us. You can't think about the past or the present when you are keeping up with the dance routine. You don't have a choice but to live in the moment. Thanks for asking.