Monthly Archives: August 2014

Cyrano: a window into my own insecurities

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I went to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the American Shakespeare Center last night.  It was a fantastic production which included a performance of a lifetime for ASC regular actor, John Harrell.  I was so moved by his portrayal of the role, the  beauty of the  play’s translation by Anthony Burgess and the subject matter of the plot that I awoke crying.  Please know that I am rarely thus moved by a play but some of my emotional outburst has to do with my own frustrating, debilitating insecurities about relationships in general but primarily romantic ones.

The title character, Cyrano, is in love with his beautiful and intelligent cousin, Roxanne.  Though he is an exceptional wordsmith with a lightening wit and phenomenal swordsman, he feels that because he has an unusually big nose, that she could never love him. So instead of putting himself out on an emotional limb and pursuing his dream girl, he agrees to woo her with his words for the handsome, Christian (a fellow soldier) with whom Roxanne is infatuated. The soul bearing beauty of Cyrano’s words win Roxanne who marries Christian while believing he is the master of expression.  The two men are instantly sent to war and Cyrano writes gorgeous letters to Roxanne on behalf of Christian which make her fall even more in love to the point of realizing that the soul of this man exceeds any possible physical beauty .  Too late does Roxanne come to learn that she really loves Cyrano and everyone is sad for the loss of joy that could have been between them.

In many ways I am like Cyrano.  It is so obvious that he must take the risk to experience real love and yet despite his gifts and bravery in battle, he cannot bring himself to claim the love that is being offered him.  He is a big ass chicken.  His insecurity about his looks prevents him from taking the risk and therefore both he and Roxanne suffer.

I am a big ass chicken too.  I am so fearful of rejection and pain that I put up walls of judgment that keep people at a distance.  At least this has been my historical behavior.  I have worked hard and continue to work to become a better person in order to be confident enough to learn to identify and invite the right kind of people into my life. I can only do this by taking relationships slowly, having healthy boundaries and striving to express my needs, thoughts and desires in clear, respectful ways.  This does not sit well with all people but then that makes it easy to weed out the type of person who should remain on the outside of my personal relationship wall. I am not perfect at this but I am at least trying.

What has triggered this burst of emotional turmoil? I have been seeing someone who has a great deal of potential to share a long term relationship and I am moving from a space of whining about wishing that that could happen to the possibility of actually having someone in my life so I AM FREAKING OUT. A perfectly normal reaction to such an adjustment I am sure.  And most likely all I needed to do what write this blog and get it out of my system so I can continue to inch forward.

 

One thing I am sure about though is I don’t want to by a Cyrano in terms of being my own worst enemy when it comes to a love connection so I must learn to take the risk one way or another.   Wish me luck.

 

John Harrell as Cyrano, Sara Hymes as Roxanne and Patrick Midgley as Christian in ASC's production of Cyrano de Bergerac

John Harrell as Cyrano, Sara Hymes as Roxanne and Patrick Midgley as Christian in ASC’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac

PS: If you like theatre or even if you don’t and you like a good story, I strongly encourage you to make your way to Staunton, Va to the American Shakespeare Center to see this production of Cyrano de Bergerac. For information click here.

The Dance Audition

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images All of my friends know that I am passionate about dancing.  It all started when one of my older sisters taught me how to Pony at the age of three.  By age six I was in ballet class.  Years passed by learning tap, modern and jazz and by age 14 I was dancing weekly in disco clubs aka Saturday Night Fever.  Cotillion introduced me to ballroom dances like the waltz but also social dances like ChaCha, Foxtrot, Jitterbug and Swing and I am pretty sure it is a requirement to learn to Shag in order to graduate from private school in Richmond, Va where I grew up. I spent the better part of my college and early career years in dance clubs bumping and grinding to my hearts content and people love me to attend their weddings because they know I will decorate the dance floor for hours at the reception.  In fact I met my second husband while dancing (click here for story). You get the picture. So now my dance habit manifests itself with Latin.  Usually, at least once a week I squeeze in a lesson and and hour of  spicy Salsa or sensual Bachata seasoned with the occasional Cha cha thrown in depending on the mood of the DJ. And I LOVE IT. It is my way to relax, socialize and zen out of my usual world while getting some serious exercise. But one of the best things about social dancing is how it defines character and relationship potential. One’s approach to and execution of a dance is a litmus test for their way of relating to people which is why usually on the second or third date I invite a man to go dancing with me.  I know that dancing may not be a priority in a man’s life but trust me, this works.  Here’s what I can learn through this process.

1. How the invitation happens – Usually somewhere in the first conversations the question of “What do you like to do for fun?” emerges.  Part of my answer naturally includes dancing, the mere mention of which often evokes a look of terror on the face of the man who asked. Fearful or not, how he responds is what is important. If he clearly states within seconds that he will never get on a dance floor for any reason, I know that there is a lack of open mindedness that could inhibit a good relationship.  If he offers to come dance with me despite his fear of making an ass of himself on the dance floor, he earns major points for being a good sport and showing at least a supportive interest in something that is meaningful to me.  If he enthusiastically jumps at the chance to invite himself along mentioning a long time desire to learn how to dance, he is on his way to winning my heart because he has demonstrated a definite interest in something for which I am passionate with the potential to share the experience in the long term. And if he tells me he already  enjoys dancing, well then, he gets an instant invitation to prove his mettle on the dance floor (sometimes people pleasers will tell me they dance and they really don’t or reveals blatant red flags on the dance floor and must be banished from the potential mate list immediately.

2. How the man does at the lesson- Does he pay attention to the instructor and do his best to grasp the basics?  His attention span dictates his level of commitment.  Usually, I am not paying much attention to him during the lesson since the partners are rotated.  Since I live in a world of many social events it is important for a partner to be able to handle this type of social activity where I may have to be attentive to other people- some people can handle that, others not so well.

3. Making it flow- It would be ridiculous to expect a first time dancer to be able to dance well after one lesson. Even seasoned dancers must practice a new step for a while before they are good at it.  The key is can he keep time with the music and let go enough to at least have fun.  When my high-school flame came to visit me a couple of years ago, we went salsa dancing and even though he didn’t get the steps, we had a blast just improvising on the dance floor in time to the music.  Relationships must have ” flow “( that magic of just being in the zone) even if the two of you are doing something different than everybody else.

4. Indication of relationship potential- Social dancing is about clear communication, allowing your partner to be themselves and a willingness to be in the moment.  The leader of the dance must clearly and gently communicate the desired dancing pattern, the follower must be open to feeling those communications and trusting of the leader.  The follower will only trust the leader if the leader provides clear direction, otherwise the follower is confused and may try to guess the movement which usually ends in disaster – just like in normal relationships.  When there is clear communication and willingness to receive it, then the dance is harmonious even when each partner dances with their own style and flair. Clear communication comes from confidence.  If a man gets out there and is a disaster at dancing that is fine but how he handles that indicates how he will handle other difficult situations. The real jerk will blame someone or something like the DJ or the instructor for his ineptitude. He will be closed minded about suggestions from seasoned dancers.  The total ass will say he knows how to dance, prove himself to be a liar and be a pain to dance with. I literally had a guy tell me he danced Salsa for nearly a decade and when we danced, he wasn’t even doing the basic step correctly which made our steps out of synch. He stepped on my feet three times in one dance and jerked my arms so forcefully to spin (also out of time with the music due to the incorrect step) that both my shoulders hurt the next day. Another of his partners stopped him mid-dance  to show him the basic step at which he became super offended and wanted to leave. That was a very clear message and explained a lot about why he was single, his questionable employment and basic attitude of limitation.

A good man who has trouble with dancing is honest about it laughs it off and comes up with a solution to dancing that is right for him whether it is not dancing or taking lessons but whichever he chooses he does it with confidence and grace.  A good dancing man knows how to send signals appropriately and respectfully and improvise when needed. So you see why it is important for me to take potential mates dancing? It is not necessarily about the physical aspect- though it can be nice to see how a man moves- it is more about relationship potential assessment than anything else.

Maybe you have a good way to assess relationship potential.  If so, share.