Teacher Tune-Up | Creating a Life You Love

by Sandi Duncan

Do you ever stop to wonder if there’s more to life than this?

You’ve worked hard, created a wonderful career, and have a great family and network of friends. Yet you still have a nagging feeling that something is missing.

Poet and author Maya Angelou wrote, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Ask yourself: Am I living a life I’m passionate about, or merely surviving? Am I compassionate with others? Am I living with humor and style?


Are you thriving or surviving?

Being a dance educator and/or studio owner is time consuming, to say the least. Many work days begin at sunrise and finish late at night, making you wonder how the day got away from you so quickly. As time speeds by, you may feel that your life is running you, instead of you running your life. This constant fast pace can cause exhaustion, burnout, and feelings of emptiness.

At times, we get so caught up in studio life that we forget what excites us outside of dance. Yes, there is life outside of dance! No idea what else you are passionate about? It’s important to carve time out of your busy schedule to try new activities with friends and family and to take some you time. Maybe it’s a day of hiking, biking, writing, or sitting by the water; maybe try a yoga or Pilates class. Find something that refreshes your spirit and makes you flourish, prosper, and thrive—not just survive.


Are you practicing compassion?

Do you remember how you used to send cards just because? Or the last time you listened carefully to a friend’s story without hurrying on to another subject before it was done? Sure, you might feel compassionate—but are you able to practice compassion daily? Or do you find yourself, instead, rushing from one thing to the next?

Take time to send a card to a friend in need. It will brighten your friend’s day and yours. Be in the moment when you’re having a conversation. Put the phone away and give your friend your full attention.


Are you living with humor?

When was the last time you belly laughed? If it’s hard to remember, get out there and surround yourself with people who make you laugh loud and proud. Poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, “And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of the little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” We all need that time of refreshment. Give yourself permission to make and take the time.


Are you living with style?

And lastly, what style do you possess in life? I’m not talking clothing, hair, or makeup. What style of person are you? What is your attitude toward life? Do you complain a lot, or are you living a life of gratitude? Are you patient with others or quick to snap? What style of energy do you want to put out to the world?

Photo by Kimi Duncan

Consider the following quote, often attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I challenge you to find what it is that makes you thrive. Live a life you are passionate about. Share compassion, and do it all with a ton of humor, grace, and style. Happy creating!


Sandi Duncan is a senior staffer at Melissa Hoffman Dance Center. A certified life coach, she conducts team-building seminars and workshops for studios nationwide.