“We must find time to stop and thank the people who have made a difference in our lives.”
– Dan Zadra (1984)
Austrian politician and lawyer
We just had Valentine’s Day, and this was a sweet Valentine’s Day for me. I was surrounded by love, friendship, harmony and gratitude. I had the time to spend with some of my mentors and heroes in my life. My husband and I were able to share breakfast and dinner together. Much love and gratitude!
Today I thank my heroes who have made my 43 years with Arthur Murray a wonderful experience. So many friends of many decades who got me started, nurtured me, guided me, and sustained me. These friends are still in my life and still coaching me to success every day.
Many years ago, I sat with one of the most famous, and still famous, coaches in the Arthur Murray Dance world. She gave me some important advice that I listened to, acted on, and grew from. She is now my life-long friend and someone I rely on for her words of wisdom and encouragement.
The many franchisees that I have worked for who believed in me, guided me and enabled me to become an Arthur Murray franchisee twice in my life. The words of wisdom they have give me have lingered with me for decades. Many years ago, a famous lady of the dance world said to me, we don’t have jobs or careers, we have lifestyles. This statement stayed with me and has shaped my whole Arthur Murray life.
When I was an Arthur Murray dance student, in 1976 not yet a pro and at 18 years old, my teacher said something that molded me into the dance and coach I am today. She said to me on a lesson once, David, you are a slow forgetter. She could have said that I was not a good learner, or stupid, or that I did not have the aptitude or talent to become a dancer. Instead, she told me that when I leaned something, I had it for life. I have repeated this great phrase thousands of times throughout the years as I have used this phrase to encourage many new dancers.
What keeps me with Arthur Murray, is the family of friends that I continue to have today. In life, we truly chose our family. When I was young, I was not always accepted for being gay, and for becoming a dancer, or even for my calling to the Catholic community. Some of that rejection early on in my life gave me great challenges. Then, I learned from an Arthur Murray champion that there are two types of people in life, those who are victims and those who are accountable. I hold no grudge, or blame. I have become accountable for my actions and choices in my life and I am thankful for all my different families who have love and guided me in all ways. I am truly surrounded by my family every day.
One of the greatest gifts a dear friend of mine gave me was the ability to say I’m sorry. She told me that I would find myself in many situations where I would experience discord and chaos over things that I had nothing to do with and no control over. I would also oversee healing these situations where others were heatedly not in agreement. She told me to just humble myself, and say these words, I’m sorry. I’m sorry these things happened to you and I will do my best to make things right again for everyone. This humbling exercise has been hard to practice, but invaluable in my life as a mentor and peace maker.
A huge thank you to my dad, the great leader and man of service. To my mom who taught me “Build an Empire”. J. Clair, my mom, taught me that when I first meet someone, to see something wonderful about them, say it, and build an empire on that quality. I’ve practice this for decades, and it is pure magic. I see someone, immediately voice the great quality that I see in them, and then I watch them smile and feel peace and hospitality and friendship.
My last thank you has been this lesson. When I see someone who irritates me, someone who rubs me the wrong way and makes me angry. Someone that I cannot stand, that it’s not them or their fault. I’m seeing my own faults reflected to my own eyes. I am rejecting them based on the faults that are my own faults.
This has been impossibly hard, but super practical in my life. It has also caused me to be able to say sincerely I’m sorry and to better understand others and who they are and where they are in their journey of life.
Thanks to all my life teachers, my blood and dance family. My partner and those who have given me a lifetime of friendship. Thank you to all you have loved me knowing and seeing all my faults and forgiving me for them.
I may not know it all, but I do know how to say a hearty thank you!
Thanks for reading!
David Earl Woodbury
Keep on Dancing!
FB: David Earl Woodbury