Keeping The Promise That Mattered

It was over five and a half years ago.  Deb and I had just been given the news that she had four, perhaps five years to live.  (We actually had much less, but did not know it.) We were riding home in the car trying to digest the news when she said, “I wonder if anyone will even remember me in four years?”  (She always went with the low number, being a realist.  I, being the optimist, insisted on five.)

“I will,” I said.

She squeezed my hand and said nothing.  I knew she felt that much of her life was wasted, that she had made little lasting impact in the world.

Well today marks the fourth anniversary since she was taken from us.

This year, her mother and I went to the awards ceremony where the scholarship in her name was given to a lovely girl who wants more than anything to dance.

The historical photography project she worked so hard to complete went up on display at a prominent Rhode Island College.  Parts of it will become the posters for future Dance Alliance advertising to promote dance and the arts.

This year I was given a DVD by two of her students showing their winning routine in a Dancing with the Stars contest. The dance was dedicated to her.

The list of her former students who still tell me of lessons they learned from her goes on year after year.

I still get calls on a weekly basis from people who use her riDance website, despite its age.

I meet weekly with many of her favorite students in the classes I now teach, and at local watering holes and, of course, at dances.

So, Deb, I finally won an argument with you.

In time we will all be forgotten, the great, the not-so-great, the famous, and the infamous.  But, not today.  Today, four years later, I still remember.  And so do many, many others.

My life, and theirs, goes on.  We grow and we change. I’ve become the writer we always discussed, and I’ve added new friends and new students. I’m moving forward.

But, we are all better for having spent part of our lives with you.

So, I’m off to a dance now.  It’s what I do.

Living Life

I was thinking today about how many times we go through a whole day, just to reach the end and measure ourselves against what we have accomplished.  We make lists of things to get done, check them off, and go to bed, often unsatisfied with the outcome.  Usually this is because we have even more things to do tomorrow.

I admit I live in that world most of the time.  But, once in a great while, I manage to do something unexpected, something I personally enjoyed doing, that wasn’t called for, that wasn’t part of the plan, and I realize that much of my life is happening while I am hunched over, planning what I am going to do next.

There is something to be said for getting the essentials for life done, but just how much further should we go in pursuit of “getting it all done.”

If you are like most Americans, (and increasingly like most people in the world who are slavishly following in our footsteps) then you have more things to do in any given day than you can possibly accomplish.  The vast majority of self-help books basically consist of a set of guidelines for filtering out what are the most important things you want to do, arranging them in order of priority, determining how long each will take to do, and consoling yourself that you spent your entire day doing the most important things.  The result is supposed to be a happy productive life.  But for many I suspect it simply means that you have a really good idea that you are totally overwhelmed.

So, I’d like to offer a prescription for American Time Management.

Chill.

Take a deep breath.  Close your eyes.  Let it out.  Now, say this out loud to yourself.

“I owe myself a break.  I’ve worked hard, I deserve it.  I am taking five minutes, right now, that are just for me.  Not for friends, family, society, or habits.  I am not going to think of anything to do.  For five minutes I am going to relax and take in the whole world around me.  I am going to appreciate the simple fact that I am in control of my destiny.

“Maybe I’ll have a cup of tea.”

Deborah Nash 1950 – 2012

 

Deborah Nash, beloved wife

Nash, Deborah A., 62, of Exeter, passed away November 16th , 2012 at her home with her husband and members of her immediate family at her side.  She was the beloved wife of David Dougher.

Born in Crystal Lake, Ohio, her family moved to Columbus, Ohio and Orono, Maine before finally settling in Kingston, Rhode Island.  She was the eldest daughter of Charles and Frances (Agar) Nash.

She was a graduate of South Kingstown High School and the University of Rhode Island.  In her early career she championed women’s rights and was asked by the authors, G. Kass-Simon and Patricia Farnes  to be the Associate Editor of “Women of Science – Righting the Record.”  Considered a seminal work in the women’s movement, it has remained in print since its initial publication in 1990, and continues to be used as a textbook by colleges and universities.

An avid reader and writer, herself, she continued to assist others with their work.  Her final editing project was for the just released young adult novel, “The Marble Game”, by Sarah Sloane.  The book was dedicated to her by the author.  Her interest in writing led her to publish her own poetry and the hobby of creating miniature books.  She created several books, with each double sided page being smaller than a postage stamp.  Many included carefully reduced illustrations.

Deborah was an ardent believer in animal rights and a strict vegetarian.  She was an accomplished equestrian and engaged in many outdoor sports including ice skating, swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking.

She worked for a period of time in the corporate travel industry, specializing in complicated travel itineraries for business professionals, and travelled widely herself.

In 1990 she left corporate work and turned her interest to dance.  It was a transformative experience. She trained as a ballroom dance instructor at Paris Academy in Massachusetts and went on to create riDance.com, one of the largest dance websites in the country.  She focused on older adult students, believing that too much attention was being directed to young and competitive dancers.  She worked constantly to improve her teaching technique and taught hundreds of couples and individuals in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  She never stopped her own education, and loved all kinds of dance.  She took dozens of classes from experts in jazz, tap, hip hop, ballet, lindy, and blues dance, as well as regular training to improve her understanding of ballroom technique.

Recognized by her peers for her work on riDance.com and the dance field in general, she was elected to be President of Dance Alliance, the Rhode Island organization representing the interests of the professional dance community from 2004 to 2009.  She was a frequent attendee of dance events:  high school recitals, college performances, ballroom events such as K&S and Dancing Feeling, modern performances by Fusionworks, and classical performances by the Providence Ballet.  She would promote these events and often personally review them on the website to give them additional exposure.

Besides her husband and parents, she leaves two brothers, Jonathan Nash and Eric Nash; and a sister, Susan Nash, and many, many friends from all walks of life.

A Graveside Service will be held Saturday, 11:00 am December 1st 2012 at New Fernwood Cemetery, Kingstown Road, Kingston. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Dance Alliance Scholarship Fund,P.O. Box 372, East Greenwich, RI 02818 or Farm Sanctuary at http://www.farmsanctuary.org/ would be appreciated. For information and condolences visit: www.FaganQuinnFuneralHome.com.  Fagan-Quinn Funeral Home  401-295-5603

There will be a reception at the Busy Bodies Dance Studio, in Wakefield, RI after the graveside service for those who are interested.