Election Day 2016. I woke up and said good morning to Shaun. I loved on my sweet boys whose tails were wagging just because their mom got out of bed. I made eggs and waffles for breakfast. Shaun already had the coffee going. He was kind enough to take Henry and Logan outside so that I didn’t have to take off my pajamas.
Shaun left for work, and I sat down to do some exciting follow up from a Wellness Workshop I hosted yesterday at my favorite spot on St John, the School of the Arts for some of my favorite people in the world, the Twerk and Tone community.
I am already excitedly awaiting this evening, because Tuesday is my favorite day of the week and the happiness of this day comes to an exhilarating crescendo at 6pm when people that I adore enter the studio to share our happiness in what I call “a power hour of joy” and “the happiest happy hour in Cruz Bay.”
I derive an absolute ridiculous amount of happiness from dance. From the age of three, I looked forward to my dance classes. In the fourteen years I took dance lessons, I don’t remember one day that I wasn’t excited to arrive at the studio. I loved dance competition weekends, costume fittings, jazz shoes, parade days, festival performances, and most of all, the friends I made at dance. I loved it all so much.
As an adult, once I found Lem Houston’s classes, I planned my schedule around them so I could dance. I remember countless times that I drove for well over an hour, often in rush hour traffic, to be a part of a class. It was always worth the effort because of the high I felt that lasted into the evening, the night, the next morning and usually until the next class. I remember having a stressful day and feeling hopelessly stuck on the couch, with no energy or motivation to do anything productive, and Shaun wisely saying, “You need to go dance.”
Election Day 2016 feels like every other Tuesday since March, when I decided to live out my dream of inspiring people to be happier and healthier. It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t understand that there’s a lot a stake. And I am a tad bit disappointed that I haven’t exercised my right as a citizen to vote today. As USVI residents, we can’t vote in the Presidential election, but we can vote for local officials. I need to do better.
Problem is, I don’t watch the news. I don’t have cable. I don’t read about politics unless something shows up in my Facebook feed. I do not, for a second, begrudge those who are passionate about their beliefs; I just don’t share the passion when it comes to politics. I’m currently planning Twerk and Taco with my friends. Seriously, that’s what I’m doing. Tonight is going to be so much fun- dance and tacos… how could it get any better?!
I’ve learned a lot about myself, and probably more in the last two years on St John than the other 35 years combined. I thrive on community. I love sharing my joy. I need people around me. I believe we are all stronger together. I believe dance has the power to change people. I believe in the power of an hour spent doing something you love. I believe group exercise is the most effective form of therapy. I believe the connection between the mind and the body is more powerful than most of us realize.
What are you doing on Election Day 2016? Do you feel a sense of hope? A sense of dread? Are you worried about the country? Do you feel all “everything is bad and hopeless and what has happened to our world”? I don’t. I am seeing beautiful things happening around me. I’m seeing people open up and share with each other. I’m seeing people becoming happier and more confident. I’m seeing people support one another. Maybe I’m in a bubble that is going to burst tomorrow, and if you believe this is so, please just don’t tell me. Whisper about me being ridiculously optimistic behind my back, but don’t burst my bubble, so that I can continue to focus on my mission, which I believe is one handed down to me from Above.
What I’d love to suggest to those who are feeling worried and cynical and depressed and hopeless is that you find something- or maybe a couple of things- that bring you such ridiculous amounts of joy that nothing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton say can rob you of that joy. Nothing that shows up on your Facebook feed or the news can bring you down or ruin your day. Clearly it doesn’t have to be dance, but it must be something you can unabashedly embrace with your whole heart no matter how silly or unimportant others may think it is.
Once you find your “thing,” it’ll be surprisingly easy to fit it into your life. Happiness should take priority. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so you’ll soon see that what fills your cup with positivity and joy is exactly what you should be engaging in, so that you can give to others and fulfill your responsibilities to an even greater degree. Positivity and joy are hard to contain. You’ll share yours with others and everybody wins, because you took the time to do your thing that brings you happiness.
Think about it on Election Day and think about it the next time you feel hopeless or robbed of the joy that you deserve. Maybe you should ask yourself, “Do I need to go dance?”
Ashley Cates, St John USVI Blogger