Tag Archives: Keene High School Project Grad 2016

New Stars Crowned

And so, like so many before them, another week has closed in my life.  But this wasn’t an ordinary write-until-I-drop week. This week I took a pseudo-break from writing and reveled in my participation in my town’s Project Graduation fundraiser DANCING WITH THE KEENE STARS…


and I’ve never been filled with so many lingering, joyous, and charged emotions.

I’ll start with the lingering ones. I am, despite what I show to the world, not the most people-loving person. I tend to judge  people for how they behave and the things they say( still working on that, daily!), I find myself more times than not nervous and anxiety plagued about saying the wrong thing, and I just would rather be writing than socializing. I could so very easily – if given the chance – be a hermit.


This cast of DWTS was such a diverse, open, and fun-loving group of people I found myself sucked into their revelry and good spirits every single time I was with them, and all my unleashed misanthropic tendencies went the way of the dinosaur, leaving me with a such a sense of camaraderie and fellowship that I truly WANTED to spend more time with them. Their sense of selflessness and goodwill was overpowering and made me feel hopeful that our little community will continue to thrive and move forward on that good old fashioned Yankee ethic of neighbor helping neighbor. Selfless devotion to a worthwhile cause filled this group of people with purpose and made me a better human just being around them.

At last year’s event, I was a dancer. This year I got to sit back and be a judge. Which role did I prefer? If you had asked me a week ago I would have said judge, every time. But after watching the faces of the dancers, hearing the roaring approval of the audience, and witnessing the ego-growth of each and every participant, I can truthfully say it’s a toss-up. Being a judge was heaps of fun, not to mention much less physical and arduous work, both of which we all know I loathe. ( Sloth, thy name is Margaret-Mary.) After witnessing the joy on the faces of each dancer as they finished a magnificent routine and understanding their sense of individual accomplishment, I realized I wanted to feel that, too. I am so very proud of every dancer, Star and Partner alike, and hope they are as equally proud of themselves.

As I write this, day is dawning through my window and I know the DWTS cast and crew were out last night after the event, partying, dancing, and expelling huge sighs of relief that it was all over. When they wake this morning, a little tired, a little sore, they will relive each dance step, wonder how they could have made it just a little better, and nit-pick every move  that wasn’t dance-perfect. This is normal for a morning after. I hope, though, as the day wears on, and the facebook and text congratulations pour in,  they will also start to comprehend what a monumental feat they all accomplished. No, they didn’t cure cancer; didn’t drive out poverty; didn’t feed the world. What they did do was devote countless hours of their time, energy, and thoughts to benefiting the graduating high school seniors of our community in order to make their official send-off into the next phase of their lives a fun, safe, and memory-precious night of celebration through an alcohol-free party chockful of activities.

So today, I am emotionally charged with positive feelings of pride, joy, friendship, and love for my community and its members.

And I know these feelings are lasting ones…..

Dancing with The Keene Stars 2017 is already under production, and I pray I am asked to participate again. There is no way I will say no!!!


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Filed under Author, Dancing with the Stars, Life challenges, Project Graduation

The challenge to push…

This week I’m participating in Keene Dancing with the Stars again, just as I did last year.


Many of you know this already, but what you may not know is why I chose to participate again this year.

Last year  I was a STAR,which meant I was the featured community name, the person friends, family, and neighbors came to see compete and for whom they voted.

I didn’t win, but there was no expectation I would and I didn’t agree to dance for that reason anyway. I agreed for 2 reasons: 1. DWTS – Keene version, is a fundraiser for Project Graduation for KHS, which is an all-night, alcohol-free party sponsored by the community for the graduating seniors of the high school. The party keeps them contained, safe, and free from alcohol and drug use for the night, and, 2.  I was at a point in my life where I realized I was stagnating, not trying anything new, and not growing. And I needed to.

So, this year, when  I was asked to be a judge (and  not a dancer, thank you, Jesus!) I immediately said “yes” for the same reasons and one more: I needed to continue on that path of challenging myself to learn and experience new things, and to try and gain some insight into myself and what motivates me to do the things I do and write the things I write.

A little esoteric, you ask? Yeah, maybe. But here’s what I mean: as a writer – and a writer of romance, to be exact – I could continue on very nicely and just keep writing my stories of families, love, and happily-ever-afters. No worries there, because I will, BUT I need to challenge myself to discover new avenues of ideas to write about, and to do that, I need to meet new and different people, learn new and exciting things, and have new and diverse experiences, all of which will lead to me being a better writer and ultimately, a better person.

So, if you are sitting around wondering what to do this weekend, please consider attending this worthwhile event. You’ll have some fun, see some friends, and more than anything, know you will have contributed to the health and safety of an amazing group of high school seniors.

Tickets are available here: DWTS


Filed under Dancing with the Stars, Project Graduation

My spirit is willing, but my feet are weak…

One year ago this week I was a STAR in my town’s project graduation fundraiser DANCING WITH THE KEENE STARS. I documented my journey on this blog and many of you responded so favorably I wanted to share this year’s journey with you as well.

This year, I am back but as a judge, not a STAR. I have a whole different set of emotions and thoughts running through me this time. Last year I was nervous, apprehensive and terrified I was going to fall during the dance. I was also very uncomfortable having all eyes on me as I danced because, #1. I hate having all eyes on me for anything, and, #2 my weight was awful, which made # 1 even more terrifying!

This year, as a judge, I am terrified of one thing and one thing only: giving criticism.

Now, this is a fundraiser for a worthwhile cause. Project graduation is an all night alcohol-free party the high school throws on graduation night so the graduates won’t go out and get trashed, and potentially die from drunk driving. There has been precedent for this kind of behavior, hence the party. Also, all the stars have volunteered to dance, so with that you have to realize there is a vast amount of good will on their part, no?  I remember vividly what it was like to be in the “spotlight” last year and grew more and more shakey everytime my partner and I finished a dance and were then “judged.” Now, the panel of judges was wonderful – there is no other word for it. Never a harsh comment, always encouraging words, and plenty of smiles and laughs. Even though I was totally out of my element, the judges made me feel like I was a true DANCING QUEEN. For those of you who came of age in the 1980’s, you will get that reference!

This is the kind of judge I want to be!!!! The problem: I have severe impulse control issues and very frequently any thought I am in the process of thinking pops out of my mouth uncensored. Do you know how horrible this is??? The last thing I want to do is make a comment that could potentially hurt someone’s feels – someone who is bravely and valiantly doing their best to entertain and raise money for a worthy cause.

So, what am I going to do as the big night approaches?  #1 PRAY. Often and at an hourly rate! #2 Take a breath before opening my mouth. Truly, this is an effective maneuver for curbing impulse control issues. Your mamma taught you to think before you speak, and she wasn’t wrong. #3 empathize. As a past Star I know all about the nerves, tremors, and fears each present STAR is going through, so I can freely state my job is to offer comfort and encouragement, nothing more. #4 enjoy the moment. This show is truly one of the most fun shows to be a  part of and an audience member watching.  And when it is all said and done, the money raised will keep our graduates safe and entertained, and let them know the entire community is behind them and looking out for their welfare.

So, I am off to rehearsals and dance routines.

If you are looking for something fun, worthwhile, and entertaining to do on either Friday or Saturday night, come see KEENE’S DANCING WITH THE STARS. Ticket info is here: DWTS

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Filed under Dancing with the Stars, Project Graduation