Dirty Dancing

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

~ Johnny Castle (Dirty Dancing)

I always wondered what happened after Johnny plucked “Baby” from that corner and they were done with that last dance. Did they make it?

We got the pay-off in the form of Johnny asserting his position for his girl, experiencing the feel-good pleasures when our bad boy came back for our protagonist. Our hearts fluttered and soared as he mouthed the words “I’ve had the time of my life. No, I’ve never felt this way before” while holding her close. Yet, as the credits rolled out to the catchy tune, I found myself somewhat mystified.

Call me a stick-in-the-mud if you must, but I was never completely sold on that romance. The chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey lingered somewhere in the sludge I’m playing with, getting my hands dirty while seemingly bagging the movie.

In the context of relationships, chemistry is a simple feeling people get when they share a special connection. It’s that underlying impulse and need to see the other person again, to be close to them – a romantic spark. This is the part between the characters that I felt wasn’t conveyed through the screen. 

Having said that, I must somewhat digress. Just a little. I’m thinking of the scene where “Baby” shows up at Johnny’s doorstep after her father saved Penny from certain death following a dodgy abortion. Johnny tells her he’s never met anyone like her, that she’s not scared of anything. Her response gets me every time when she says:

“Me? I’m scared of everything; I’m scared of what I saw, of what I did, of who I am. Most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

Sigh.

That is one great dialogue delivered with just the right amount of vulnerability. You can grumble all you want about not being a romantic, but if that line doesn’t make you feel something, then perhaps your heart is caked with a thick slick of that mud you thought I was stuck in.

Need some help getting clean?

The truth is, I’m not writing about Dirty Dancing today because I wanted to talk about romance or sexual chemistry. Despite my personal take on the on-screen chemistry (or lack thereof) between Patrick and Jennifer, the romantic “coming of age” love story hit the archetypical “forbidden love” romance conventions superbly, making a gazillion dollars worldwide and going on to become the first film to sell more than a million copies for home video.

Obviously, something worked. Maybe it was that line of Baby’s. Or the undeniably hot dancing scenes, which let’s face it, sizzled up movie screens and temperatures the world over. Someone pass me the ice as I gear up to tell you something strange.

Strange things. Other than people, the universe is always communicating and responding to us in some way. It may sound a touch on the “woo-woo” side and whether you believe or not is your thing. But it’s when you begin to tune into yourself and the energy around you that you start to become aware of the most uncanny and wonderful things happening for you.    

I hadn’t thought about Dirty Dancing for the longest of times, yet now, it seems to have become something in my life. At least, temporarily. No, I’m not planning on taking Mambo or Salsa lessons, or writing a romance novel any time soon (I’ll leave the romance writing to Catherine Evans). It’s just that suddenly, this romantic 1987 American flick has begun to shadow me and I’m not entirely sure why.

It began a few weeks back when I meandered to the couch with my plate of dinner and flicked on the TV. Dirty Dancing flitted onto the screen. This is the only time I might actually watch something on TV, and only for the length of time it takes for me to finish eating. It was good enough to grab my attention for that snippet of time.

I felt something shift slightly within me. When you become attuned to the universal consciousness, your inner reactions to your senses are a telltale sign to pay attention. Still, I switched off the movie after about 15 minutes and thought no more of it.

Fast forward one week and I experienced a repeat. That’s right. I grabbed my dinner, made for the couch, turned on the TV and there it was again, Dirty Dancing. This time, I’d caught the above-mentioned scene; Solomon Burke’s Cry to Me caught somewhere in my chest as I bit my lip and turned off the TV. 

Gets even stranger. I downloaded the album so I could hear that song again. Only, that track isn’t included on the iTunes soundtrack (true). But, She’s Like the Wind is, and it grabbed my attention, so I listened. When the song traveled from my buds and into my ears, what happened was something I’ll never forget.

The following day, that same song was playing when I stopped by my local store to pick a few things, and ever since I downloaded the album, my iPad has taken to randomly playing She’s Like the Wind all on its own. Which has never happened before. Like, ever.

My mother often wonders why stuff like this occurs in my life. I tell her it’s not that the signs aren’t there for her, but that she’s not paying enough attention to catch onto them. When we make a conscious choice to become aware of and push beyond our preconceived ideas of the world, we begin to open our mind to perceive and receive more information from a greater intelligence. And I can’t begin to convey the appreciation I feel to be able to tap into this part of our world.

As these beautiful unseen forces are currently slapping me in the face with a bit of the Dirty stuff, I can’t help but wonder again what had struck me so long ago when first watching the movie. After the summer spent at the Catskills Resort and it was time to return to the “real world”, did Johnny and “Baby” ever make it? Was their love strong enough to overcome the obstacles they would have had to face?

I guess we make up that part of the story as we go.



Living from the heart – are you an under or over-roller?

There are two types of people in the world: those who hang their toilet paper rolls in an over position, and those who hang it in the under position. You can tell a lot about a person about the way they hang their ass-napkins. According to Dr Gilda Carle, “People who roll over are more dominant than those who roll under.”

Carle went so far as to suggest that you could use this information to see if you’re compatible with new partners. There’s an idea. Perhaps those looking for love should add this information to their online dating profiles or use it as an opening line when someone in a crowded bar catches their eye.

“Hey baby, do you take it under or over?”

Gasp.

“How dare you!”

“Nah, you got it all wrong, sugar. I mean your shit sheets? Do you like the roll under or over?” 

“Err … I’m an under-roller.”

Brows raise. Hands wave furiously while backing up. 

“Oh … you’re one of those psychopathic weirdos who like to make it hard on yourself. Sorry … I’m only looking for over-rolling ladies.”

Have you ever switched the hang of a toilet roll when using the bathroom at someone else’s house? I have. I’m guessing by now you may have worked out that I’m an over-roller. Yep, I take my toilet tissue over and my eggs over-easy please (not necessarily in that order). It just makes sense. Why make it harder on yourself?

Speaking of harder, I’m wondering if those submissive under-rollers are among the touchier beings in our society. Think about it, hanging a toilet roll in the under position is awkward if not miserable. Clearly it takes an under-person sadist to enjoy unrolling the paper in the wrong direction.

Some people are broadminded. Others are not. Maybe there is a correlation between “under-rollers” and intolerance, or “under-rollers” and bizarre social hang-ups. Rolling the toilet paper under may indicate core issues about uptight behaviors and attitudes.

Of course, this is just harmless speculation and I’m (partly) joking (under-rollers, lower your pitchforks and lighten up). But while we’re on the subject of rigidness, why not explore the difference between broad-mindedness and narrow-mindedness a little?

Societal structure and cultural conditioning help to define our values, beliefs and ethical systems, ultimately shaping the way we perceive ourselves in the world. Yet, if we take a group of people from the same community with similar upbringings and look closer, we soon realize the vast differences between them, including their outlook on life.

Personality plays a significant role. We’re all unique in that sense. Friedman and Rosenman conceptualized a set of behavioral responses collectively known as Type A Behavior Pattern. Their research showed that people with the Type A personality behaviors were more competitive, ambitious, impatient and aggressive than those exhibiting Type B behaviors who are said to be relaxed, non-competitive individuals. And just in case you’re wondering, apparently Type A’s favor the over-roll.

The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an extensive, research-based adaptation of Carl Jung’s psychological types theory encompassing 16 personality types. And while they act as useful reference points to understand your unique personality, it’s worth keeping in mind the human experience is complex and cannot fully be defined within such narrow perimeters.

For instance, I fall into the INPT personality type on the MBTI. Much of the traits attributed to this type are relatable to my personality, and yet I cannot completely rest my identity as an INPT. In other words, I won’t allow a set of personality-based indicators define who I am as a person. I am much more than a list of indicative words in a study. I have deep layers, intricate fabric and human experiences that have accumulated to make up who I am.

The above-mentioned factors definitely play a part in forming a person’s mindset tendencies, but in the end the difference between a fixed mindset and an open mindset comes down to personal choice. In each moment we choose how we want to see the world and our reactions toward it. We choose our perspectives and therefore, the empathy we demonstrate toward others in any given moment.

Small fragments of time exist between our responses. Each time we are confronted by a situation is another opportunity to choose our behavior. Poor reactions are indicative of the emotions we have toward ourselves. In other words, when someone treats you like garbage, it says more about them than it does you. Those poor responses are usually symbolic of a fixed mindset and the emotions driving it.

As we mature, so too do our hearts. Forms of love exist to teach and cultivate the rich stuff like empathy, compassion, connection and courage. We begin to learn patterns of love early on through family relationships. We thrive and grow through our love of life, forming friendships that teach us about respect, compromise and integrity. Then, we are confronted with the ultimate heart-lessons through romantic love and connection.

“These experiences of love and expressions of love drive this center to transform our whole being to greater states of awareness as the heart closes to heal, transform and reopen to yet another love. This is how your heart transforms you, moves you to fulfill your passion and challenges your courage to go deeper and quest longer. This is transformation through cycles of rebirth of your spirit.” – Rose Carey

It is through the wonderful journey of our hearts and love-lessons that we learn tolerance, kindness and the ability to open our minds as we open our hearts to others. It is our hearts that provide the gateway to an open mind and not our personalities or cultural backgrounds. Our hearts are powerful enough to embrace new ways of thinking and being, and smash away invisible rigid boundaries that imprison us. It is through our hearts that our worldview is shaped.

Choosing to live from the heart center means we choose benevolence over self-centeredness, love over fear, tolerance over narrow-mindedness. Through our heart center we realize that we are much more than the “physical” self as we become aware of our divinity. And whether you are an under-roller or over-roller in the shit sheet department, that my friends is what makes the difference between a fixed mindset or an open mindset.

How open is your heart?  

Real Friendship knows no time

I have a friend. Her name is Sharon, but I call her Shaz. She was born in Johannesburg, South Africa but she’s really Scottish. Luckily for me, her family migrated to Australia a few years before we met during my first year of high school.

Shaz is like a breath of fresh air on a sweltering day. She’s grounded and practical, yet also open to new ideas and alternative possibilities. She can make me laugh till I cry and my cheeks ache, yet she has an extremely sensible disposition. She’s also a dreamer. Artistic and creative at heart, her brushworks are extraordinary and she’s smart – numbers are her thing and she excels at it.

What I like most about Shaz are her gentle and positive qualities. She has this beautiful, calming energy and she’s as loyal and patient as they come. And when it comes to me, she doesn’t play games or mince words, even when it comes to delicate matters. She has a way of expressing the truth without cutting to the bone. I love that about her. Seldom will she allow anger or frustration to influence her reactions, and this was true of her nature even when we were kids.

I can always count on her honesty. I hate guessing games and fart-assing around, so I guess we suit each other. Generally, we all like to know where we stand with others. With Shaz, I know where I’ve stood, still stand and will always stand. In turn, she knows where she stands with me.

We’ve had our differences over the years. Like, how best to cook baked beans. Yes, that’s as far and as heated as our disputes have ventured. We were 16 years old and she was holidaying with my family on the Gold Coast. The debate got heated that day. We stalked from the kitchen in opposite directions and didn’t talk for hours following that argument. Baked Beans almost ruined a good friendship, but it didn’t. Good friendships practice forgiveness.

Shaz is an excellent listener. She’ll listen until there’s nothing left, then she’ll offer an opinion if asked. Let me tell you this about Shaz. Her guidance and advice never originates from a self-satisfying or judgmental position. She has this ability to see a situation from all angles, keeping the bigger picture in mind and still often surprises me with her insightful suggestions.

Good friends have our backs when life gets tricky and keep our stress in check.

Good times.

We flew to New York city once and spent a week exploring together before parting ways – she on a pre-booked North American tour, while my sights were set on a trip to Canada. We’d spent the week sharing a hotel room the size of a peanut and sleeping in a double bed that caved in the middle beneath our weight.

That’s another of Sharon’s abilities; she can sleep soundly even in the most uncomfortable circumstances. I’ve always envied this about her. Then again, she didn’t have to listen to herself snoring through the night.…

On our second last night in New York, we had recovered enough from jetlag, sightseeing and shopping to hit the town. We had a plan – we would start out some place near Times Square and make our way through as many bars across the city as we could squeeze in. A NY bar-crawl.

Woop!

Out came the heels and lipstick; in came the delicious alcoholic sour concoctions served up at our first stop, an Irish bar called the Playwright. Truth is, we never had a chance at that planned bar-crawl. It began and stopped right there, in a cozy little bar on West 49th. Yep, we got talking with the barmaid, the charming Irish owner named PJ, the locals and the drop-ins, and it wasn’t long before we’d settled in for a night of – well – you know.

That night was packed with laughs, unusual proposals and surprises. I was asked out on two dates, hit on by a local hustler, rescued by the bar staff and offered a bed if I agreed to ditch my Canadian plans and instead stay a week longer in New York – thanks PJ. A guy from the NBC asked me to join him in the basement for a couple of lines of coke, and my foot was savagely squished and injured by Sharon’s heel when, at the end of the night, we raced through our extraordinary long hotel corridor toward our door in an effort to secure the bathroom first. I think I lost.

I could barely move the next day, and it wasn’t because of my swollen foot. Last day in New York city and I spent it in bed nursing the hangover from hell while Shaz took a helicopter ride over the Hudson river, almost puking mid-flight. Heee!

Early next morning I left her standing on the sidewalk in a foreign city as I set off for LaGuardia airport. That was one of those moments that stick with you. I’d said goodbye to her a million times before that, but that time was different. That time it felt more profound.

Good friends accept us for who we are during the good and bad times. Good friends don’t expect, demand, manipulate or control. 

I had another friend once. I loved her. But she was too controlling. She gave me ultimatums when my choices didn’t suit her. She’d tell me how long I could keep a man in my life, for example – husband.

My current husband and I had a rocky start. Passionate, yes, but our union resembled a spinning yo-yo for the first few months. Round three, and this friend gave me the hard word – him or me. I mean, whaaaat?

Umm .… see ya, hun. I’m not in the business of ultimatums. My life, my choice. Family members do the same kind of thing. My brother stopped talking to me too. When he realized my man had really manned-up, was sticking around and in it for the long haul, he backtracked and turned his decision into something else. I talk to our mother, you see. He doesn’t. Another story, same shit. His hang-up, not mine.

Good friends are respectful and supportive.  

Regardless of the personal choices you make in your life, a genuine friend will support you through adversity. They’ll also tell you when you’re being a dick, but they won’t use emotional blackmail as a means of control. Good friends won’t bring you down or try to hurt to you, but they’ll keep you humble.  They will celebrate your accomplishments and remind you of your roots. They will uplift you, and in turn, you do the same for them.

Real friendship knows no time.

There have been long stretches of time when Shaz and I haven’t spoken. Not because we’ve had a disagreement, simply because life happens. You know you’ve found a good friend when time means nothing. When you can pick up the phone after a year and talk as if you’ve spoken yesterday. That’s the kind of people I want in my life. The kind of people that have time for me.

In Shaz I know how fortunate I am to experience the rich and beautiful friendship that began in high school and continued to grow and strengthen with me over the years. I must have done something right to score a friend like her, I must have.