Don't Let It Change You! – Changing Lives through Dancing

Friday, January 18, 2013


Lou and Joyce Gray were a couple I taught in Pheonix for almost nine years!  I taught them from beginners to their Arthur Murray Gold Program.  They were brilliant and I still stay in touch with their daughter. Lou owned a construction company and Joyce was a mom.  They were like family to me.  I’ll never forget Joyce. Right in the middle of a lesson in a crowded ballroom, she would be having some problem with a step and suddenly start stomping her feet yelling, “s*@%” at the top of her lungs, with several other words coming out as well. Then, she would stop, look around and say to the astonished faces around her, “Oh, I’m sorry everyone, but I feel much better now!” Lou would just stand there and be the great loving and patient man he always was.

Untitled1After I got to know Lou, I said to him, “Lou, you are one of the nicest people I have ever met. You always have a kind and friendly word for everyone. You never swear and you own a construction company. How do you do it?” He replied, “My dad was a hard man and had a hard mouth. I promised myself that no matter how successful I became, that I would be a gentleman and try to be a nice person.” Well, Lou did that! He remained one of the most gracious men I have ever known, and he was one of the most successful men, in every respect, that I have ever met!

Lou’s example to me has stayed with me all his life.  We stayed in touch after Joyce’s death, and now I stay in touch with their daughter, my “Little Sister”. Do I want success and all the joys and challenges that it brings? Yes! Do I want to become a hard person from that success? NO! There is an old saying, “Surround yourself with people you want to become like”. That is my life’s motto and I am doing this today. My mentors are great women and men who are successful, strong, driven, yet humble, giving and gracious people. The leaders I surround myself with have risen to the top of the heap in my eyes. I see them as the cream of the crop as they give back to their faith, families, friends, and colleagues.

Last August, I wrote my new mission statement for the next 20 years, until 2032, “Inspire passion in others through dance”. This will require that I am in good health and able to dance and coach, while also still working and able to deliver that dance knowledge to others. It will mean that I continue to dance and teach until I’m 76. My key teachers at Arthur Murray are setting this example for me. They are extraordinary and still dancing, judging, coaching and fully booked and traveling. They have all had physical challenges, and many of life’s trials and tribulations, yet I see them highly respected and still dancing as if they were still 20 years old!

Did they “let it change them”? To the contrary, they let it “sustain” them. They allowed the dancing, movement, music, and the younger dancers continue to inspire them.  They have let the creative ability to share the skill of dancing and the wonderful gift of choreography keep them vital and strong. Also, they continue to surround themselves with young people who are full of vision, excitement, enthusiasm and hope.  Since they are mentors, they refuel by surrounding themselves with youth, joy and the infectious love of life. 

Jacques and Roz DeBeve were my franchisees for Arthur Murray Studios in Phoenix for nine years.  We call those years “The Camelot Years” in Phoenix. Jacques and Roz created, nurtured, loved, and sustained many of the current champions and leaders of today. For me, their patience and love created a bond that endures even now. They are both examples of leaders who didn’t let success change them. Jacques is still traveling and highly in demand as a trainer of champions and Roz is still a dear friend to me.

Untitled2Closest to me is someone who did let life change him. Someone who learned to bend as the winds of life blew in his later life.  Someone who told me when I was an adult, “I realize that I wasn’t always right”.  This man was my dad.  My life’s hero, the strongest man I have ever known, changed in his later years. I think daddy understood me the best of anyone as he entered into his last years, and I hope to learn from his life experience as I grow older.

Part of my daily mantra is, “I am free from fear, anger, depression, resentment and unforgiveness.” I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I’m not afraid or too proud to ask the important questions. My shoulder replacement taught me about being flexible. The greatest danger of this type of surgery is adhesive capsulitis or shoulder freeze.  The shoulder must remain flexible and the muscles must be stretched to stay limber and relaxed.  Not moving and not working the shoulder will cause it to freeze up and not move. 

Funny, I am learning about this in life as well.  If I think I am always right and I have all the answers, I will spiritually freeze up.  If I am willing to learn, be flexible to new ways of doing things, and live with an open heart and mind, I will get along much better with others and weather life’s storms and constant changes with poise and confidence. 

Be successful and let it also make you a great person in every area of your life!


Thank you!

David Earl Woodbury


Next Week: Dealing with the Tough Questions

Share this Post