Words from a Reader

The “Writing Life Stories” e-mails I receive are such treasures. As soon as I see there is one in my inbox, I read it immediately. I look forward to them and never know how they will touch me. They can be interesting, informative, humorous, and/or touching.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

All Kinds of Falls

Often when we speak of falls in my area, we are talking about waterfalls. 
But today my subject is not waterfalls. 

I got up off my bed where I had been sitting trying to find Bill Gates' podcast on my IPad. I took two steps and felt I had tripped on something. I could feel myself falling forward. With my IPad in my right hand, I evidently reached out with my left hand. It happened very quickly. I found myself lying face-forward my left hand above me and excruciating pain emanating from the left side of my body. I knew I had a bad injury.

I was taken to an emergency room where I spent two hours in a sling with no help for the pain. I was diagnosed with a broken shoulder. At 2:00 AM we were dismissed.

I was told I might require surgery. Three days later, an orthopedic surgeon said the quickest recovery and to shorten the pain he recommended a shoulder replacement.

And here I am sleeping in short bursts day and night, needing round-the-clock care, and preparing for an operation. i am so very grateful I was here in the home of my sister and BIL.  

I had some falls over the past few years but was never badly hurt. But this one hurts enough for all of the others. You never know when this might happen. 

Be careful!  

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Putting away the Christmas Decor and looking forward to 2024

Here we are in February, 2024. I began this post in January but did not complete it until now. So much to get to and get done it seems. 

I finally took down the Christmas decorations in my apartment. I miss my fireplace mantel so bright, and cheery.

I continue to unpack boxes I have moved here from my home in the mountains.  
Next, I will bring some of my furniture here although there is not room for much. I need places for storage and for books. I have come to enjoy the smaller living area and being uncluttered. But I need office furniture like a good desk and file cabinets. 

I went out on the deck one afternoon and I surprised a herd of deer crossing the yard down by the lake. There were six of them and they stopped and watched me for a while. I stood still and talked softly to them. After a few minutes, they moved on across to the neighbor's yard. With my bird feeders busy all day and the ducks quacking on the lake, I almost feel like I am in the mountains where I spent the last 29 years. We have a herd of deer there that come down near my house every afternoon. 

I could not ask for more than I have here at my future home with my sister and brother-in-law. 
Wildlife, the lake, and family right upstairs. Today I cooked a meal for them and for me. I like to do that so I don't have leftovers. I am learning to use the Air Fryer and set off the fire alarms. But I will continue to cook with it after watching a video on YouTube. I think it will be handy for me to cook small amounts in a short time. Do you use an Air Fryer?

Tonight Gay and Stu will go to a play and I will be fine here with Lexie. They don't feel obligated to invite me to go with them every time they go out and I don't usually want to go. I have so much to keep me busy

My writing classes which began in January are very interesting. I have six students which is just right for a two-hour class.  They are bonding and are excellent encouragers. They voted to hold another course in March. I will teach on Tuesdays, 6 - 8 PM on Zoom.

With Microsoft updating and changing, I am having to learn more new things, and that irritates me. Time is the most valuable commodity I have and I hate to waste it learning to use something new when I was doing fine with what I had.

I have also been working on revising some short fiction I hope to publish. My editor is wonderful and so helpful. She suggests I find better titles for my stories. I agree. Titles have always been hard for me.

Glenda sitting at Pat Conroy's desk in Beaufort SC. 
I envy writers who are married couples. They can help each other by reading and making suggestions. Pat Conroy said he always sent the work he did that day upstairs at night for his wife, who is also an author, to read for him. And she had him read her work. Just asking family members to read your writing does no good. They are not going to tell you if they don't like it and often if they make a suggestion for a change, you know they do not understand your purpose in the work. 

I listened to The Boys in the Boat on Audible and enjoyed it tremendously. I am listening to Barbra Streisand's memoir and loving it. She narrates her book and that makes it even more interesting. She is quite a woman who made her way when men did not want to work for women directors, and often directors became angry when she made suggestions on ways to make a film. She has a reputation of being hard to work with and now that I have heard her side of the story, I understand why she was considered that way. Barbra is such a smart woman and such a perfectionist she wanted anything she was a part of to be the very best it could be. Her talents as a singer, an actor, and a director are beyond what most of Hollywood could produce. 

I realized recently that I like myself better at this stage of life than I ever did before. I wonder if that comes with getting older. Does everyone feel this way? 
I am seeing doctors for several medical issues, but I seem to be dealing with it better than most. I laugh much more because Gay and I have the same kind of sense of humor and we laugh lots when we get together. Lexie makes me laugh with her antics and Stu always has something funny to say.

I hope you, my friends, are doing well with the cold weather or hot weather depending on where you live. When I think of so many people in this world who are suffering war, natural disasters, and loss of loved ones, I am grateful for the life I have.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Curiosity and Observation

I like this quote: “Observe with radical honesty and curiosity rather than judgment."

This could be my mantra. Too many of us judge everything and everybody before we take the time to observe honestly. I used to do that. In fact, we grew up in a home where my father and brothers were quick to make judgments on what they supposed were the facts. Someone always had to be blamed.

I hear that today from my own friends. Even in politics, people judge others not by who they are and what they do, but by who they vote for. I have been the brunt of some of those judgments and I have been the one judging. 

I am trying not to judge anyone by my standards alone or what my standards once were. I tell myself that only God has the right to judge a person. I try to see the good in everyone because no one is all good or all bad. While a person is a Christian and very religious, that same person might turn away a dirty homeless man and refuse him food. 

During the Great Depression, hoboes jumped off the trains that passed through Pelham, Georgia. 

Mother told me those men had left home up north because there was no work. The men jumped off the trains to beg for food from people like my parents who ran a store beside the railroad tracks. Mother always tried to find something left over from feeding her family to give to those weary travelers who were headed to Florida. They believed they could find jobs as fruit pickers,  fruit packers, and farm workers so they could have a roof over their heads. Like my father who spent time in Florida working for his older brother right after marrying my mother, they sent what money they made home to feed their families. 

Florida was booming during the twenties with building and farming going on. Some of those hoboes never went back to their families up north. But in the thirties when times were extremely hard, even those in Florida struggled to sustain themselves. One of my aunts had a small child and her husband lost his job. They spent their days in Florida pulling the gray moss off the old oak trees. They filled bags and sold them in town to merchants who used the moss for stuffing pillows and mattresses. Moss weighs very little so it took many bags of moss to bring in any money.

Back in the early 1960s

I think about the good people who attended the church where my Mother was a member. They were there every Sunday, sang the hymns, said the prayers, and tried to be good parents to their children. But some of those people said they would bar the doorway of the church and stop any Black person who tried to enter. 

Although I was young, I told my mother I could not go to that church. I didn't believe those people were really Christians. Just as I don't believe the men who owned slaves before the Civil War were true believers of God. No good man would own another human being and work that person unmercifully, I thought, and sell them away from their families. But it is not my place to judge why they did those things. They read the Bible and in that book, we see where slaves were mentioned all the way through.

In today's enlightened world, we all should understand that owning another human being is terribly wrong. Yet, human trafficking is a tremendous issue all over the world. Women and children are the usual victims. 

I have a shirt with words on the front; Practice Radical Empathy.
If we could just imagine what it is like to live in another's skin, another's family, in the body of someone who is disabled, who is elderly, housebound, blind, or deaf, would we be less impatient, would we be more generous or caring? 

Don't criticize until you have walked in someone else's shoes. Someone who recently had ankle surgery and can't put her foot on the floor for weeks said she is much more understanding of her mother who became disabled in her later years and of me who depends on others more and more. 

Have you ever felt anger because someone got out of a car in the Handicapped parking place, and walked into the store with no crutches or a wheelchair? We are quick to judge and feel the person had no right to a handicapped parking space. But maybe you didn't know that the person you believe has no right to a special parking place has an invisible illness that prevents him from walking more than the distance from his car to the mobile shopping buggies inside the store. The person with the invisible illness is me. I have shortness of breath and get extremely tired if I am on my feet for more than a few minutes. When I get home from the store it may take me hours to carry my groceries inside.

Try this for a while. Don't judge others unless you know for sure they are deceiving and manipulating innocent people. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Recently while visiting friends, I made a big effort to listen more and show appreciation to my hostess. She talks and talks and it might be because she is anxious. She often digs up dirt on others to make her stories even more outlandish. 

I tried for a moment to put myself in her shoes. She cooked a large dinner for us. She tried to make sure we did not need anything she couldn't get for us. She had spent hours decorating for Christmas and her house was beautiful. I and my sister made sure we complimented her on all she had done. It pleased her.

What do most people really want?

As I learned from Oprah years ago, the main thing people want is to be seen, to be recognized for what they do or who they are. And it is not a difficult thing for us to do. I wish I had known this years ago when I was learning to live with strangers, with a new husband, with fellow teachers in school, and especially with children.

As a child, I did not feel I was seen by my father or my older brothers. I spent my time trying to get my father's approval and never felt I did. Not until my brother told me when I was in my sixties and my father had died, that I knew he talked about me with pride. 

In many ways, I know now, my father needed and wanted the same thing -- to be seen and heard - especially after he retired and was no longer head of the family business. But he had to give up the leadership of the family to his sons, especially to his oldest son, Ray. And there was some jealousy, some friction, Ray tried hard to erase. 

One reason the elderly men and women who live alone become depressed and sick is because they feel invisible. This is also why some of them take their own lives. When we become irrelevant to the world around us, we don't feel we have a reason to live.

In our hot political world today, I look for good character in a leader, a person who puts the good of the country ahead of selfish needs or lust for power. I keep my eyes, ears and mind open to what the candidate has done or been in his or her past. I dig if I have to, to find out the political history of the man or woman running for office. So much depends on morality and decency, good character, and what the person plans to do for others when in office. 

Today I heard a congressman say he was leaving politics because the two major parties now only care about their party not what is best for the country. From what we see on TV, one would think it is so. I hope that is not true, but we have to be careful how we vote.

Some say we no longer have heroes, but we do. They might not be young handsome men on white horses. They might not be others like Mother Theresa, but every day we see heroes in our own neighborhoods. See how many you can find this week. Tell us about them in our comments.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Writing about Dark Days as Well as Sunny Times

When we write our memoirs, our narratives about our lives, we need to include the dark days as well as the bright and happy times
Our lives are made up of good and bad, fun and not much fun, pain and joy. We all have failures that teach us and we have successes that help us teach others.

I would not like a book that is filled with nothing but bad happenings unless the writer is telling us how she turned those dark times into brightness. In the book, Educated, the author paints a clear picture of her father and mother, and their unusual and sometimes cruel behavior toward their children. It doesn't all come at the reader in one chapter, however. Through the story of her childhood, we see the weird behavior of her father who doesn't want the kids to go to school. He has an absurd fear of education and the outside world. But we see the determination of the author and her brothers to get an education and leave that strange home. The writer shows us the good times as well as the most dangerous and fearful happenings. 

In my life, I don't remember difficult times until I reached fourth grade. From then on, being in school was a trial by fire for me. Only recently have I learned something about myself that has opened a window into that darkness. I was a highly sensitive child, although no one knew that 20 percent of our population is highly sensitive. They have different needs and they experience life differently from others. 

Gay Council - the cutest little girl

In third grade, I lived for the last half hour when Mrs. Chapman read to us from a book called Miss Minerva and William Greenhill published in 1909Because I enjoyed that book so much, my teacher sent her copy home with me so I could finish it and experience the happy ending. 

I had a big learning experience that year when a fellow classmate and I exchanged notes during class and Mrs. Chapman caught us. I was never so ashamed or afraid of public embarrassment. 

Since she was a good teacher and only wanted to make a strong impression on me to mind her rules, I got off with a note home and a fear that I would have to face the principal. To my relief, it was not even mentioned when I went back to school the next day.

I have written about many of my difficult times as a child and a teenager, but the terrible days in my life, the painful days that I will never forget, are often too painful for me to write about. In my diaries, I wrote about everything, but when I go back to read them and write them, I cry like it was all fresh and new. 

I admire writers like Joyce Carol Oates who wrote a memoir about her husband's illness and subsequent death. My digital friend, Kathy Rhodes, who wrote an excellent memoir about her life after her husband's passing, amazed me with her details and grieving.

I can't write about my Mother with any ability to make my readers see the marvelous person she was and what she became after an aneurysm destroyed part of her brain. I want to write about the person who loved me so tenderly that she hurt when I was sad. I want to tell about this ideal mother who put her children ahead of everything and made many sacrifices for them. She wore the same worn house dresses, never buying herself anything new because she wanted her little girls to look good, and never be shamed by others for their homemade dresses or hand-me-downs. 

Being country girls and living miles from town, we already felt ostracized by others. We could not take part in after-school events because we had to ride the bus home and it didn't wait for anyone. 

Our friends were other country girls who lived on the road that ran past our farm. As little kids, we were allowed to go across the road and through the woods to play with them. Later as teenagers and when I received my driving license, several of us girls would pack into the front seat of Daddy's old truck on Saturday night and drive to Sylvester, a town about ten miles away where we met boys at the skating rink. I never dated a boy from my high school, only boys from other towns. 

Gay and I with our friends across the road and from Acree, the little settlement nearby. We were at the 
county fair held every fall. We were not in Jail.

When we begin our class on January 23, I will give my students suggestions on how to begin a story, what we want to write about, and what we might leave out. I will encourage them to write about both the good and happy times as well as the saddest times in their lives. 

We still have room for a couple more to sign up for this course of three classes online. I use Zoom for my schoolroom. My students sit at home and take part. We make lasting friends in these classes and we all learn how to entertain, enlighten, and inform our readers. 

Join us: Tuesdays, 6 - 8 PM, January 23, 30 and February 13.
Email me at gcbmountaingirl@gmail.com for registration information. Put writing classes in the subject line.

Get motivated to write. Take a class. No one else can write your unique story.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year to my faithful readers.

My new year has begun with seeing a terrific movie and cooking a traditional New Year's dinner for Gay, Stu, and me.

My sister sitting in front of my fireplace decorated for Christmas

George Clooney is one of my favorite celebrities for many reasons and now that he is older, still handsome, but not acting so much, he is a great director. We went to a theater to see the movie he made from Daniel James Brown's best-selling nonfiction novel.

The Boys in the Boat has all the elements that make a feel-good movie, just the kind of movie we need now. There was no graphic sex and no vulgar language as most modern movies have these days. The young men who were the boys in the boat lived in 1934, a more innocent time in our country. The romance was sweet and left things to the imagination. These young working men came from low economic backgrounds. They made perfect underdogs as they competed against teams with financial backing.

The movie is based on a book that tells a true story. The author of the book interviewed the families of the men who were those boys so many years ago. The main character among the boys, Joe Rantz, was a neighbor of the author. 
When I came home after seeing the movie, I had to know more about the book, the author, and Joe Rantz. I have ordered the book.

I hope many people see this in the theater. I was shocked to see that some critics have panned this wonderful movie. I wish Hollywood would make more movies of substance. Maybe if we support these movies by going to the theater, people like George Clooney will make more of them. Out of the many previews at this theater of coming attractions, there was not one I would go to see. 

When we came home we ate my dinner of blackeyed peas, turnip greens, pork chops, gravy and wild rice. We had a good day and I enjoyed spending January 1, 2024, with loved ones. 

I don't make New Year's resolutions. But I have goals. I will teach an online course in memoir writing beginning January 23. We will have three two-hour classes. To learn more, visit Writers Circle Around the Table.
Classes are limited to ten students.

I hope to continue to teach throughout the spring and summer.
Thanks for not giving up on me. The past few months have been challenging, but I look forward to a bright future. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Doris Buchanan Smith, author of books for children

I hope to teach a writing course on Zoom in January - February 2024. 
I will contact my former students when I have a date and time set. 

Meantime, I am interviewing interesting people for publication. I have a deep curiosity about the lives of others and enjoy writing their stories. I began doing that back in the 90s when The Clay County Progress Newspaper paid for my stories. I had just moved to Clay County in 1995 and had begun to meet artists in the area. One of my first articles was about a woodcarver who lived on my street. 

One of my best articles was the result of an interview with Doris Buchanan Smith, a children's author, who had published a large number of books many of them in languages of other countries. Doris came to the mountains in the summer from her home on the coast of Georgia. It was not popular at the time for children's books to include the death of a character for ages 8 - 12. That was a big step back then and not acceptable to most publishers. But Doris was published by HarperCollins Publishers.
A Taste of Blackberries
Doris Buchanan Smith. HarperCollins Publishers, $4.99 (85pp) ISBN 978-0-06-440238-5

In the book, two boys are pulling a prank and one of the boys dies. "In Smith's moving story, a prank ends in tragedy, and a boy must learn to live not only with the loss of a friend but with the feeling that he could have prevented it." Ages 8-12.

Doris Buchanan Smith

DORIS BUCHANAN SMITH won the Josette Frank Award for "outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally"; the Georgia Children's Book Award; the Children's Best Book Prize Netherlands (Zilveren Griffel); and Georgia Author of the Year, all for A TASTE OF BLACKBERRIES. 

I remember the day I walked into Doris's house in the mountains of western North Carolina. I had met Doris through Nancy Simpson who had met Doris one day when she was out walking on Cherry Mountain. 

I had been told that I would not see where Doris worked. Her office was very private and she didn't want to have to tidy up or make it ready for strangers to come in. I understand that because where I work is always messy, cluttered, and not for strangers to visit.

Doris taught a writing class at John C. Campbell Folk School one summer and I was overjoyed to be in her class. She was the first real professional writer, a well-published author, I studied with. 

I was nervous about my interview with her, but when it was published in The Progress, Doris told Nancy it was the best article anyone had ever written about her. I still have that newspaper clipping in my files. 

Doris Buchanan Smith wrote another book for children that broke new ground when she wrote about a grandparent who was developing Alzheimer's disease. The book title is Remember the Red-Shouldered Hawk.   The book is out of print now but might be found as a used book.

If you have children who read, I suggest you give them Doris Buchanan Smith's A Taste of Blackberries this Christmas. Written in the 1970s, the setting and many things will be different from the modern books of today. But this book is about grief and the guilt one child feels. In our country, we avoid speaking about death as if when the words are not spoken, death doesn't exist. Parents often have difficulty talking to children about the death of a family member or someone close. Children need to learn about the reality of life and this exceptional book won many awards because Doris wrote so well about this taboo subject.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Rosalynn Carter, a Woman to be Admired

Rosalynn Smith Carter

Today, Tuesday, November 28, 2023, has been a day of sadness and celebration in Georgia and around the country. A tribute service was held in Atlanta and the local TV stations carried much about the life of Rosalynn Carter, who was a role model for me and many women, especially in the south. 

My husband, Barry, and I were big fans of Jimmy Carter and supported his campaign for President. They were raised much the way I was. But they grew up in better financial conditions in Plains, Georgia, not far from Albany, Georgia which was my hometown. 

We had pride in the fact that a man from the South, who was a humble man, with a Southern wife who grew up with the same restrictions I did, was going to be the President of the United States. We often drove over to Plains on a weekend afternoon to watch a ballgame between the Secret Service men and others.

The little town was transformed into a tourist town with lots of strangers on the streets. We stopped in the stores and bought souvenirs like all the others who were there. I read everything about this couple and their family. 

Like many of us, Jimmy Carter had siblings who led completely different lives from Mr. and Mrs. Carter. His brother, Billy, was made a joke by the news media. His sister rode a motorcycle and was made to resemble a Hell's Angel by the media. I never saw them but I was sorry to hear in later years of their deaths from pancreatic cancer.

I still have a green and white campaign pin that says Vote For Jimmy Carter and a green and white hat I will show one day here. This couple of simple people who did not live in a ritzy home with gold fixtures in the bathroom, or own extravagant homes in other countries did not spend their time getting rich or richer in material things. Their eyes were always on how they could help others. Rosalynn didn't mind not being recognized for what she did. It seems to me that I hardly ever heard about her when some of her most important accomplishments were announced. Only at her tribute service did I learn how much she has done in her life. 

In a country where autocrats and self-serving people are too often elected to office, I hope the example of the Carters will somehow penetrate the minds, hearts, and souls of young men and women who will come to take their place as leaders of our country and the world. 

When I hear of bad happenings in the South, I think of the good, great people like Jimmy Carter and his beloved Rosalynn and remember the good folks I know who are not racists, not mean-hearted, who do not hate but are filled with concerns for those in need no matter their color, race, or circumstances. 

Truly it is more blessed to give than to receive, even if you can only give a smile and a kind hello. I have seen the saddest people respond with a big smile of gladness when I have taken the time to say hello and smile. It does something to us, physically, when we give what we can. It makes us feel better. 


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Lonely People Need Meals on Wheels and someone to check on them.

Glenda and Barry walking up a trail
in the woods

Soon after Barry retired, we signed up to work with Meals on Wheels. We enjoyed being together as we drove over mountain roads and found little frame houses sitting back in a cove or holler. We began our days going to the Senior Center in Hayesville, NC where we lived. There we picked up a couple of thermal carriers that held carefully wrapped hot meals, and also a cooler that kept drinks and certain foods cold until we delivered them. 

It was an experience I will never forget and people I will always remember. In my poem, Two Buttermilks for Pamela, you learn about one of the dear people who will always be in my heart. Now that I am growing nearer her age, those memories take on a deeper meaning. 

Sadly, too many people live alone in the mountains and never see anyone but the people who deliver meals. This past summer, a woman and her dog were found dead in her home. The bodies had been there for days and no one had known. She probably fell and could not reach anyone for help. It could happen to anyone who lives alone and has no one to check on them.

Once when we delivered a meal, we found a woman who had fallen and she could not get up or reach a phone to call for help. "I knew you would be coming soon," she said. "I wasn't worried."

That is one of the reasons I made the decision to live with family in Roswell, GA.
During the pandemic, I realized how alone I was because I did not go out around other people and there were weeks I never saw another human being. I talked on the phone but did not see anyone.

As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I am grateful I have loved ones who care about me. When I arrived at my apartment in my sister's and brother-in-law's house, I found a beautiful Christmas cactus waiting for me. Stu had bought it while Gay was up in NC helping me pack to come back. 

Those who know me well, know I am a people person. 
I thrive on being and talking with others. Here in my comfortable apartment, I visit with Gay every day and often see my niece, Lee. It is the best thing for me to do now. I will miss my dear mountain home and close friends. But until I sell my house, I will go back to visit often. 

My dear readers, for those in the United States, have a safe and thankful holiday this week. For those in other places, I am grateful for you who read my posts and for the words you leave me.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Never too old to dance the night away

My sister, Gay, who is only a couple of years younger than I, is showing us what she can do on the dance floor. 
She has a marvelous young man as an instructor in the Atlanta area and she loves dancing with him. Click on the link above and go to the Facebook page where you will see a video of her waltzing with Chris, her instructor.

When we were young girls growing up on a farm in southwest Georgia, Gay wanted to take dance lessons like so many other girls. But we did not live in town where it would be convenient and she never felt she could ask our parents to let her take lessons. I had piano lessons for a short while until I proved I was not going to learn and Mother let me quit. I wish the money that went for my piano lessons could have been spent to give Gay dancing lessons.

But she never gave up her dream. As a teenager, she danced all the time. She learned any new dance that came along and she seemed to always date boys who were good dancers. Maybe that was a prerequisite. 

In college, she danced in the UGA Modern Dance group. She loved it and she was good. One summer she went to Connecticut to a summer dance camp.

After college, she opened a dance studio for children but the location of her studio was not good. Families who lived in the area did not have money to spend on dance classes. Closing the doors was disappointing to her.

However, she danced with the Albany Ballet Company after being discovered in the Miss Albany Contest. She made her own costume and choreographed a dance for her talent. She soon left her hometown and moved to California. There was no more dancing in her life for a while. 

But now in her third act, she decided to take ballroom dance classes so she could dance with professional partners. After a few years with Chris, he talked her into taking part in a competition a few weeks ago. She danced for three days and was so nervous before the event, she could hardly sleep. But she performed wonderfully and gained a huge amount of self-confidence.

In the video above, she was at a different event. She said she felt like she was floating. She had many, many compliments from other dancers and when she watched this video, she was happy with what she saw. 

I am happy for her and so proud of her. She dances three times each week and often she and Stu, her husband, dance on Friday nights. Dancing is great exercise no matter your age.

When we get into our seventies and older, we often feel we cannot follow our dreams. People put us in a box where they put all people of certain ages. 

We can't let that happen to us. 

Gay worked hard to get ready for the competition. I admire her self-discipline. She is healthier than she was five years ago, strong, and able to physically do more than most people her age. I wish I had begun dancing years ago. It is wonderful exercise and a great way to socialize with like-minded people.