GROW YOUR BACKBONE (NOT A WISHBONE)

GROW YOUR BACKBONE (NOT A WISHBONE)

I’m coming off watching (again) Luam Keflezgy’s 2018 TEDxTalk, ‘The Art of Practical Daydreaming,” at TEDxPenn and I’m smiling big.  It is a good one.

Keflezgy is one of New York City’s most prolific choreographers.  The award-winning dancer is also a creative director and writer working in media, television and live performance.

Among other things, she created Rock the Industry University, a business and artist development training program for dancers, that you can check out by clicking the button below.

click-here

In this video, the dancer tells the story of her path from medical aspirations and then the corporate life to the life that happened when she got serious about following her daydream.

In the video, she explains how the need for stability and for practicality, which is often the result of fear of turmoil and uncertainty, can keep us from pursuing the path that gives our lives its greatest mana and meaning.

Her workaround for that was to tackle the issue of practicality head-on.  She says when you are wanting to take a path that is counterintuitive, that is “different” than the norm, “you need to figure out what you need to do in order to be” (what you want to be).

Practicality,” she says, “is the unseen backbone of your daydream.”

backbone
“Backbone” by The Shared Experience via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
She also says:  “Once you jump you have to figure it all out. You have to pull into many different sides of yourself.  That’s the true leap: to be everything you need to be inside the dream of your life.”

She gives three general bits of advice in the video:

  • Don’t just “try” it. Be practical and relentless in your pursuit.
  • Use everything you are.
  • Mostly, set yourself apart.

There’s one other bit she throws in, a thing she tells her dancers: “Dance for the stages you want to be on, not for the room you’re in.  Visualize what your future looks like and find yourself there.

ANOTHER PRACTICAL DREAMER

Keflezgy reminds me of another awesome woman, Clementine Paddleford, a (literally) high-flying Kansas farm girl who, in the 1930’s, became America’s first “national food journalist.”

that-knife-cuts-to-your-core
“That knife cuts to your core” by Bryan Pearson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
As a food columnist for the New York Herald Tribune and, later, as a contributor to Gourmet and This Week magazines, Paddleford crisscrossed the country piloting a propeller plane to find and talk-story with real home cooks whose food specialties were their version of the signature dishes of their region of America.

cockpit
“Cockpit” by Joe A. Kunzler via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Nobody had ever done such a thing before.

As she pursued her goal of chronicling American regional cooking and chased down her stories and wrote her newspaper columns, Paddleford helped to transform American newspaper food sections.

In 1960, after more than a decade of flying around and cooking up a storm, Paddleford published a cookbook, HOW AMERICA EATS, that became her legacy work.  (Born in 1898, Paddleford died in 1967.)

The book contained more than 500 of her best recipes and was an instant best seller.  Behind every recipe are extraordinary stories about ordinary women.

The cookbook is a coveted classic which was out of print for 30 years.  It has been called a “portrait of America.”

In 2011 a new edition of the book, updated for the modern cook, was released.  It’s now called THE GREAT AMERICAN COOKBOOK:  500 Recipes:  Favorite Foods From Every State. 

(This book is a whopping 800-plus pages of recipes and stories.  It DESERVES two semi-colons!)

PRACTICAL DREAMER = VISIONARY

The reason I’ve always liked Paddleford is because she once advised her readers (many of them working women trying to juggle all the parts of their lives), “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.

backbone
“Backbone” by Benjamin Dobson via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
That one has helped me keep my head on straight for years now.

It occurs to me that Paddleford followed the same path that Kerflezgy advises.  She did the same three steps as the dancer.

Paddleford took a paying, down-to-earth, humdrum occupation (food columnist), added in her own spirit of adventure (flying herself around the country in a prop plane), and found a practical way to get paid for using real life stories to add heartfulness, meaning and mana to her endeavor (being different).

And isn’t that a cool thing?

ADVENTURE AND WONDERMENT, HEY-HO!

It does seem to me that a spirit of adventure and wonderment as well as practicality may be a major key to finding meaning and mana that adds new dimensions to your life.

This video, “a morphine toast.”  was published in 2018 by TheGaro Studios and is the work of a vlogger named David who lives in the Republic of Georgia, Tbilisi.  His channel on YouTube has 266K subscribers.

I’ve included it in this post just because it is a heartfelt and beautiful look at the wonder-inducing phenomena in the world and what I feel is probably the only proper human response to it all.

This attitude of appreciation, gratitude and love is a thing that needs to be added to all of our practicality, I am thinking, if we are to reach for and claim our own truths.

This way of walking, I have to warn you, can lead down strange and different byways.

However, we who are masters of the mash-up are up to the task, I am thinking.

DRAGGIN’ THE VIRTUAL HOME

Right now I am intrigued by a 2016 book by Steve Kamb, the founder of nerdfitness.com

The book, LEVEL UP YOUR LIFE:  How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness By Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story, uses gamer metaphors and mindsets to sneak up on tackling the practical aspects of transforming your life from deadly dud-ness to awesome dude- or dudette-hood.

back-at-work
“Back at work” by Kit via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Much of the advice can be found in other, more seriously packaged (and way less lively styled) publications.  What Kamb offers, however, is a new perspective for those who fall asleep over earnest words of wisdom as well as a ready-made tribe of fellow dreamers.

practical
“practical” by Matthew Robinson via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You might want to check it out.

Here’s a poem:


TUMBLED RUMINATIONS

 Tumbling again.

One more time.

 

Here you are,

Dizzied by the momentum of this latest rushing flood

That pummels and pushes and slams you against the boulders

Lining the banks along the Promised Land –

That dream you told yourself

Is waiting just on the other side of this roiling torrent.

 

There is no haven here.

No anchorage, no port.

 

You forgot again,

One more time.

 

The Tao has its own rhythm.

It has its own flowing that overrides

The pretty phantasms fancy-dancing in your head.

Fragile air-promises and silly head-games

Drown in the flash-floods roaring down

Through the canyon-lands of your mind.

 

And there you are again.

One more time.

 

You spin around and around,

Sinking down into the vortex

That pulls you towards the bottom below the surging waters.

Waterlogged and awash,

Bedazzled by your own bullshit and bruised by all the pounding,

You are sucked down and down and down.

 

Okay.

Got it.

 

Another reminder (sigh!)

One more time.

 

Now here’s the slow learner rising up again,

Pulled back into the churning

By currents and irresistible forces swirling around.

Forget about challenge, forget control.

You are NOT going to power on through this one.

Nope-nope-nope…not.

 

New plan (old plan, same plan)

One more time.

 

Get back to the surface and snag a floating log.

Find a calm bit and catch your breath.

Okay….now…where are you?

Hey, look over there!

Do you see it?

There’s a landmark.

 

Okay…ready…here we go…

One more time.

 By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Backbone 4” by Elroy Serrao via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0] created by Shantamani Muddaiah

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10 thoughts on “GROW YOUR BACKBONE (NOT A WISHBONE)

  1. Pentrental says:

    Wow this is such great information for dancers and those interested in dancing alike, and I like your play on words to start it off in backbone/wishbone. 

    Practicality definitely is important when it comes to chasing one’s dreams. 

    These are inspirational stories from Luam Keflezgy and Clementine Paddleford and I love that name. Her story definitely is cool I agree. 

    I think being practical is the way to go and I appreciate the insights and allusions you’ve made so well here, keep up the good work!

    1. Pentrental, thank you for your visit and for your enthusiasm about the post.  It makes me smile!

      Please do come again….

  2. I absolutely love this post, as I do every post I have read by you!  

    In particular, I really like the section that talks about adventure and wonderment!  When my wife and me first got together, she always questioned how I stay so energized and happy all the time.  She later found out that I had never lost my sense of wonderment!  

    I always see the beauty and majesty in everything.  Now she does too!  And one of the ways she got like that was because she traveled with me to random cities like D.C. and NYC.  We are from a small town in Kentucky, so our adventurous life went up a lot there!

    1. Jessie, thanks for your visit and for sharing your story.  It’s marvelous that you and your lady are off on adventures.  You go!

      Please do come again.

  3. Feochadan says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more.  It takes a lot to stop just daydreaming and to put your desires into motion – to live your dreams rather than just wishing for them.  

    It might take a lot of tries but you will get there if you just keep trying.  I love your poem at the end that seems to echo the attitude of never letting anything stop you and to keep on trying.  

    One does have to take the practical into mind in order to make the dream come alive!

    1. Feochadan, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad the post resonated with you.

      Please do come again….

  4. Not sure I understood the title until I went through the post! But its a very well put together post and very well written. 

    Love the videos, dancers and the information on the side  about the links are in different colors are fab. 

    The set of the website is very well done and looks professional which in my opinion is very important.
     

    1. Lgi, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts on the post.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

  5. Anthony Hu says:

    Thank you for your post. It is inspirational and I particularly like your section of summarizing advice in the video: Don’t just “try” it. Be practical and relentless in your pursuit. Use everything you are. Mostly, set yourself apart.”

    This is such powerful advice. Every one of us dances in our own stages. We should dance for the stages we want to be on, not for the room you’re in. We need to visualize what our future looks like and find ourselves there. We need to have strong purpose on our life.

    It is kind of you sharing these powerful thought with us.

    1. Anthony, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am so glad the post moved you.

      Please do come again.

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