Sunday morning I stood holding a perfectly brewed cup of tea amongst the sleeping butterflies on the sand as I watched the waves lap up on the beach in Wasaga. Each year on this particular Sunday in September I stand somewhere on this beach and recharge from a weekend of crazy antics, over stuffing myself with delectable food and line dancing with a community who truly know how to have a good time.
My fabulous friend Val, who has a grand capacity to care for others, has run this particular line dancing weekend for the past 18 years in order to raise money for cancer research. All year round she gathers prizes, networks with local vendors and works overtime designing outlandish costumes her friends are obligated to strut around in during the weekend. A massive crew of eager helpers arrive a day before the event to organize the magic, dance instructors volunteer their time to teach and dancers buy tickets for countless raffles and Betty’s famous penny sale. It is a sight to behold and a joy to be part of.
For obvious reasons, this year hit close to home that all of this hard work and tomfoolery has contributed to research that will have me saying this time next year… I am cured.
I found myself enveloped with love through countless hugs, kisses, laughs, tears and thoughtful gifts. It was beautifully overwhelming and at one point I looked at Val and told her I didn’t know how to accept it all. She put on her serious ‘I’m going to smack you’ face, pointed her finger at me and said, “you need to take your own advice… accept and just say thank you”. To be clear, for as much as this woman knows how to give, she knows when to put her foot down and call a duck a duck. So, I stopped saying ‘you shouldn’t have’ or pressuring myself to say the right thing and opened myself up to simply receive.
I relished every hug and soaked in every kind word.
I appreciated the death stare Doris would give me when she sensed I wanted to do a spin.
I delighted in meeting new dancers and forming fast friendships.
I was grateful for Cathy booking a place that would accommodate my unpredictable attendance and making sure I had a place to stay if the drive home was too much.
I treasured thoughtful gifts that were all so heartfelt.
I felt supported and excited over the fact that Val & Cathy took the time to include my quotes in the program.
I was grateful to Jackie for being the Morgan Freeman to my Miss Daisy.
I appreciated my friends for keeping an eye on me at all times to make sure I remained upright and knew when to encourage me to take a nap!
I truly believe that,
what makes a tradition is who you share it with,
and I share this tradition each year with a community that has a tremendous capacity to love. There is a true sense of belonging during this event because we all just get to be our wild wacky selves… even when that includes wardrobe malfunctions or the need for backup underwear.
At one point I stood looking at the beautiful tree shaped mural on the wall that holds pictures and poems in tribute to those we have lost to cancer and felt a deep gratitude for the fact I was at the event in person… and also appreciating the ladies who threatened me to remain off of it!
This weekend is so much more than the over the top games, inappropriate jokes, embarrassing costumes and fundraising, it is a celebration with a great big family. Standing on the beach that morning I gave a prayerful thank you for each member of this tribe that fuels my strength.