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Dancing With Your Skeletons

Dancing With Your Skeletons.

Yesterday, I made a short presentation about mindfulness in daily life at a small church 2 hours west of Edmonton. The pastor spoke about lightening our burden and not carrying the weight of the world in our backpacks. It is important to lighten the load.

Dyan makes  a similar point using the metaphors of dancing with skeletons. The Marianne Williamson provided a more Jungian approach in the quote about shadows.

There are reasons we are called and given voice in our lives. Sometimes, we do not see the reasons easily and we need to examine the weight in our backpack, dance with our skeletons, and know our shadow side. Being mindful is about knowing what to discard, what to retain, and making sense of it as we take the next step. I spent 20 years teaching and it was challenging at times, but I know those challenges were worthwhile and meant something. I was not always sure of the meaning, but I danced with the tunes being played in the shadows and my skeletons learned to dance as they came out of the closet.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

32 responses »

  1. I tend to carry too much in my pack, literally and figuratively.
    I have been going through my belongings and culling, when I am done, I will go through again. Clothing, books, old photos, jewelry. Some of everything is leaving.
    I am also going through times in my life and choosing to let go of guilt and regret.
    Getting rid of some of the physical and some of the psychological feels good!

  2. Excellent points you make. Time for me to clean out my backpack!

  3. It’s good to go through our backpack regularly. And not to take in all the world’s burdens in the first place, but rather throw them into the light.

  4. Lighten the load and dance with skeletons and shadows …. I love the analogy and how the imagination captures the visuals!

    • Thank you Val. It was interesting yesterday listening to the pastor and her readings. The only person in the room who knew my script had changed and was an improv was Kathy. It just all made sense.

  5. powerful post 🙂

  6. Well said! Thank you for sharing your insights, Ivon.

  7. I like the analogy you used with our skeletons and our shadow side. I think I have to learn to accept that shadow side of myself, be aware of it, so that I can better live my free side…I have been reading Thich Nhat Hahn and I love his gentle expression regarding “mindfulness.” Namaste!

  8. In the Stillness of Willow Hill

    Dancing with skeletons was such a hard thing for me to do, because I for so long craved the security I didn’t get as a child. That said, I now dance a merry jig with those old bags of bones, and I can say that they aren’t as scary as they at once seemed. Love your analogy.

  9. Being mindful is all very good. But I don’t think it tells me how to go about transforming my life. It just makes me aware of why I behave or do the things I do. It does not teach me what to do to change.

  10. Hi Ivon, this is a private message, but I couldn’t find a way to send you an e-mail. I just started taking a Coursera course called “Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” and I thought of you. It’s only just begun, but I’m enjoying it…maybe you will too. Here’s the link:

  11. Great post! Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  12. Ahh yes, to not carry the world in our backpacks. I just had a big lesson in that, both figuratively and literally when I walked the Camino de Santiago. We must remain mindful and that is where we do our work. Thank you for sharing.

  13. the best thing is not to carry anything in your backpack at all. Go with the flow. But, it is easier said than done. Struggles with the content of the backpack is a never ending story for all of us and I just hope that once in a blue moon we get our aha moments that help us dance in the rain and clean out all that is not needed anymore

  14. Pingback: Getting There | Teacher as Transformer

  15. Sounds more like acceptance to me Ivon,,,,,,,

    Men who gaze back with loss and resentment, rob their life experience with their judgments.

    You look back, accept and know it is fine, a worthy life.


  16. I love the idea of dancing with your skeletons! It’s good to realize how much we carry, sometimes I find it can disguise itself as me, but offloading the right kind of weight at the right time, is an essential. It’s always good to discuss that! 🙂

  17. thanks for this–totally mean that, too. Me an’ mine are jiggin’ somethin’ fierce…And i keep thinking–it’s good to wrestle through it, and I’ll gain something from it…

    well, not all of it, but the dead ones anyway.


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