My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for dance

On life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair and more…

life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair

Celebrate Life!

As I celebrated another birthday, I think what’s so beautiful about growing older is what can develop on the inside, and how our perspective on life changes.

Here are a few disjointed, yet connected thoughts:

On Life:
Don’t try to dance to everyone’s rhythm, find your own beat and move to it.
• People will try to define you, don’t let them. Discover who you are and be that.
• People will try to confine you. Grow in spite of.
• People will try to rattle you. Possess yourself from the inside and draw from that place of peace.
• Keep things that make you giggle, close – when life offers nothing to laugh about draw from that place.

On Love:
I learned very early not to allow fear to keep me in relationships, I’ve had to learn not to allow fear to keep me from relationships.

On Keeping Life Simple:
Even if you can’t afford to get dressed up and go to a live performance, get dressed up anyway, throw back your windows and let the birds serenade you. Learn to make your own moments beautiful, no matter your place or circumstance.

On Growing Older:
I love where I am at this moment. I love that I feel free to dance even if everyone chooses to sit it out. It’s great to feel good in your own skin.
Don’t be bothered by little things, and learn to forgive quickly. There are too many older people who are still bothered by little things.

On Natural Hair:
It seemed like such an unlikely affair, I fell in love with my naturally graying hair. Wearing ones natural hair doesn’t make one more self-aware, but I believe the journey of knowing and loving oneself is worthwhile — and such an awakening!

On God:
I really believe God exists. What He’s doing in me – renewing me, changing my attitude, my outlook;  filling me with strength, peace – that’s what beautifies.

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Convicted with my hands in the air. Goodbye Zumba

“If you come out to party and have a good time, if you …. .” Normally, I won’t allow myself to get caught up in music if I thought the message inappropriate, but recently for the sake of fitness, and my love of  Zumba, I had deemed this acceptable and placed my habit of closely examining the message behind the music on hold.  You see, dancing to this calypso had become the favorite part of my Zumba workout.

I was loving the moment, and, much too vigorously, had just wind my way across the room to the left, then made my way back to the right. Lost in the rhythm, I followed the calypsonian’s  instructions….  “now put up you han, now wave you han, now wok up you waist…” I had settled into a shake that would rival Beyonce’s, a shake very similar to the one that had caused Mama much alarm when she had seen my workout routine back when I was much, much younger, a shake which I had since given up and only started again in my Zumba class.

I was there, hands in the air, body part shaking to the rhythm when something strange happened — music still blasting, calypsonian still instructing, Zumba teacher still leading, other students still following — in my mind I heard two lines from the Proverbs 31 text. “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” My shake slowed to a gentle sway as I asked myself one question that ended my participation in Zumba, “Would God’s virtuous women be doing this?”

That was early December, 2010. I have not been back to a Zumba class. I’m not here to write about what is wrong or right about Zumba, but for me I think I’m beginning to understand what Paul meant when he instructed the Christians in Philippi to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Though we can never work to obtain salvation, (it’s God’s free gift to us) once we make a decision to turn from living life based on our own righteousness, and we accept the righteousness offered us through the blood of Jesus the Christ, we then accept the responsibility of being discipled by Him so we can learn to better represent him.

“Working out our salvation” I believe means as we learn from Christ, and are disciplined by Him and challenged by His word, we then make the choice to obey, to change, to grow, and to let go of those things that do not showcase the character and righteousness of God.

As important as physically exercise is, even more important is Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “… to train yourself to be Godly.” In the same manner as physical exercise; being heart healthy, building strong muscles, becoming fit, spiritually, take the investment of time, discipline and hard work.

Keeping my body healthy is still important so I have to find a substitute for Zumba, maybe Body Gospel. So as I continue to strive to always keep the most important thing, the most important thing, I challenge you to do the same. Later in the scripture Paul reminds Timothy that he must remain diligent, for others must be able to see his spiritual progress.

Relationship — A call to love

It was Monday, a little after 8 a.m. I sat in my car on I285, traffic at stand still, rain pouring down, harder now it seemed. I danced as the music filled the space, the message resonating on point and on purpose, as Israel Houghton sang “Love God, Love People, Love my neighbor as myself… You can’t give it, till you live it, You can’t live it, until you give it away …”

Something about the music and lyrics made that space magical, it was as if I were transported to a theater. Israel and his group were on stage somewhere in the shadows, singing. I looked down and realized I was in a fancy ballroom dress, reds, yellows, golds and high heel gold shoes.

This was no time for entertainment though, for as Israel Houghton sang, figures started appearing on stage, seemingly painted in place in bold, brilliant colors, and then given life. I saw children from Haiti and thought about the devastation they had suffered and the hardships they were still experiencing.

More figures filled the stage, people from around the world. Some images looked familiar, like the ones I would see on TV just before I switch channels; tiny limbs, bulging tummies, big sunken eyes; hungry people, broken, hurting, lost … As I stared at these people, tears on my cheeks, something looked out-of-place, for on the same stage were areas and people who I knew. I saw my neighborhood, my family, friends, co-workers… “I can’t give it, ‘til I live it, Now that my eyes are open, Teach me how to love…” sang Israel Houghton.

I tugged at my dress, it seemed so out-of-place in the midst of the hunger, devastation and lack. Also, there were underlying questions in some of the songs I had heard, “Who can I send? God seemed to be asking, “Who will go?” Israel Houghton continued in song “What if the I and the ME, Turned into THEY and then WE, Together we could be, The change that we all want to see… It’s a love Revolution.”

I believe so many of us want to make a difference in the lives of others, sometimes knowing where to start is difficult. The bible says no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl, instead it’s placed on ITS lamp stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. I believe that God has strategically placed lamp stands all around us — in our homes, our neighborhoods, on our jobs, in all the places He takes us in life. He may just be waiting for us to climb on our lamp stands and shed light, live love, in the places he has positioned us, so others may see.

This is Dona Halliday as I challenge myself, I challenge you, to join the “love revolution’ and dare to shine in those places where life seems darkest.

Work what works for you–Finding your fitness groove

Finding your fitness groove

"Saturday morning at-home exercise"

Class is over, we’re standing in the “Y’s” parking lot talking, 3 beautiful women, 3 different body types, all committed to our particular exercise routines and with different goals in mind. I’m the leanest of the 3, and lest you think I’m boasting, let me say that I’m a black West Indian who believes my heritage dictates that I should be packing at least a little bit of “junkiness in my chunkiness.” So several years ago when my doctor hinted at high cholesterol and I changed my eating habits and my hips disappeared I was not pleased. Years later, my healthy eating habits have remained, I’ve kicked up my exercise routine and I said good-bye to hips.

I’ve realized, though, it’s not only important to know the fitness level you want to achieve, but finding your personal fitness groove is paramount — that is, a routine that is fun, flexible, works and can grow into a life long habit.

I had committed myself to 2 nights at the “Y” (1 hour of yoga, 45 mins of cardio box and 1 hr of Zumba.) However, I wanted to exercise more often without having to give more time at the “Y”, so I needed to find something that I can do at home consistently. I have a range of dvds– pilates, yoga, dance, taebo and more but in the past I’ve lacked consistency. So now, every morning Monday to Friday I get up at 5am. I mix my chores with exercise and then I dedicate about 20 mins to jogging in place or dancing, a little yoga, planks, push ups, and I’m energized to face my day.

Does it work? Can 20 mins a day make a difference? My body says it can, consistency is key. So find your fitness groove and work what works for you.

Make every move count–physical, spiritual & emotional fitness

“It’s time to have church like never before…,” this rather bright and cheerful announcement at 5:00am comes from Pastor Donnie McClurkin as he starts his radio show. But that’s also my signal to throw back the covers, bounce out of bed and get moving. You see, I started this experiment to be very conscious of every move I made for the first hour of my day and make it beneficial to my health — i.e. taking my early morning tasks and blend in a workout routine so that whether I was putting away dishes or brushing my teeth I got a workout as well,

It may sound strange, but remember every little bit counts. This is how it works: as I move, I pay attention to my breathingdeep, abdominal breaths, I jog as I go from room to room, instead of standing in place I dance or do an in-place jog, bending to get something gives me a chance to work on flexibility, I develop balance when I’m throwing away garbage by standing on one leg and lifting the lid with the other and during this hour I pay attention to my core (tightening) and drink waterall this is done to the music that flows from “The Donnie McClurkin Show.”

As I move around the house jogging, dancing, bending, twisting, stretching I add dance moves I learned from my “Island Girl Cardio Hula” video that tones my legs and trims my waist. It’s actually fun as I try to see how creative I can get in accomplishing my tasks and increasing the intensity of my workout.

However, as I was enjoying my challenge this morning of making every move count I had this amazing reminder — do you know that God specializes in making sure that everything that happens in our lives count? He is always in the process of taking “ALL things” and shaping them so that they work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Do you feel as if you are being stretched, twisted, tugged and bent out of shape? Are you experiencing shortness of breath caused by stress, a life that is out of balance and the aches of inflexibility? Who knows, this may be an excellent opportunity to work on your spiritual and emotional fitness. Don’t waste this time, make every move count.

Did someone say Zumba? Exercising through dance

Zumba! What a great way to exercise

Zumba at the "Y"

I’m remembering my years as a teenager, and once again I hear my grandmother say “I don’t want that kind of dancing in this house, I know you did not learn that in church.” Of course I did not learn it in church, honestly, I don’t remembering learning it anywhere, (this was before BET, MTV and all the others). Back then I used dance as a form of exercise and many of my dreams were about dancing. I would sleep and dream of new ways to dance, and mostly, this was no graceful waltz or anything so dignified it was that untaught African-Caribbean response to the pounding of drums, that was in many ways innate, raw and downright sensual.

No wonder I scared Mama, I had added this shake to my exercise routine and with my love of high heels even as a teen she probably thought she saw a flash of something definitely unchristian and totally unacceptable in my future.

I think I’ve only told one person of the dream I had of being a dancer, I love the beauty of choreographed dance routines, the graceful movements, the joy that dance brings, but that dream died that day in Mama’s house. As a matter of fact, it took me years to regain my love of dancing and not view it as something sinful.

And, every now and again, as I “shake, shake, step;  step, bend, swing;  twist, step, turn and shake again” in my Zumba class I remember that day. Once again, I use dance as a means of exercise and I don’t know anything that invigorates so after a long day of work and re-energizes not only the body but also the mind and spirit. I love ZUMBA!

Mama, I know you can still see me, and even though I still love to dance, I turned out amazing–I believe you would be proud. And so, in the midst of the everydayness of life, when I’m tired, frustrated, angry, sad, have experienced difficult challenges, or, simply loving life, like Pastor Donnie McClurkin, I sing, “I choose to be dancing,” because I believe it’s one of heaven’s gifts.

What if your “parakeet” can’t dance? The challenges of discontentment

As the story goes, a fellow went to the pet store in search of a singing parakeet. Seems he was a bachelor and his house was too quiet. The store owner had just the bird for him so the man bought it. The next day the bachelor came home from work to a house full of music. He went to the cage to feed the bird and noticed for the first time that the parakeet had only one leg. He felt cheated that he’d been sold a one-legged bird, so he called and complained. “What do you want,” the store owner responded, “a bird who can sing or a bird who can dance?”

I knew that story would come back to haunt me as my logical-self demanded reason from my emotional-self with the question “Girl, can your parakeet sing?” “Of course it can sing.” I replied in annoyance, “but why can’t I have a bird that can sing AND dance AND do lots of other stuff?”

I hate being illogical, but my emotions were not submitting to reason, I was disappointed because of something that had taken place and I could not seem to shake it. I’ve heard that unmet expectations lead to disappointment, but I couldn’t say that I had not received what I had expected, so what was the problem?

After wrestling with it a while longer with no results I went to bed. I expected that I would awake with everything resolved. My sleep is normally a time when challenges are sorted through and solutions found, but when I awoke the next morning the change I had expected had not been in the right direction. I was still disappointed, and there was a growing sense of discontent and anger.

How do you fight that? When you know there is no valid reason to be as upset as you are. Or, maybe, it’s felt that there are valid reasons, and discontentment is growing, anger escalating, bitterness setting in, and that non-dancing bird has gotten on your last nerve.

I don’t know what or who your “parakeet” is, but I knew I had to regain proper perspective, get rid of my negativity and bring my emotions under control.

First: I had to be honest enough to admit that I had wanted something else and had been unwilling to face up to it

Second: I realized that the unspoken expectations had been quite unrealistic

Third: I resisted the urge to complain

Fourth:. I started identifying the needs that had been met

Fifth: I remembered the scripture that talks about “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness…”

Sixth: I gave genuine thanks for what I had received

I know it’s not magic, but it certainly worked like it. Before I got out of bed my attitude had shifted and through the eyes of thankfulness I found on closer examination that I had more than I needed.

I can’t promise that if you try the above steps your “parakeet” will grow a leg and break out in dance, but maybe you’ll start hearing the parakeet’s sweet melodies once again and as you give thanks for what you have, the fact that your parakeet can’t dance wouldn’t be as important.

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