Take the Leap!

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Lucky for us, 2016 is a Leap year, so this month we get 29 days to get ‘er done instead of the usual short-stack of 28. This is a once-every-four-years deal, so it’s not a day to be yawned at.
Back in 1980, it was also a leap year, and my senior year of high school to boot. What’s more, it was likewise the year I asked a boy to a dance. To be clear, it was under extreme duress, being required as “Warriorette” drill team duty by our dictator of a drill team advisor. It was a Sadie Hawkins dance, which meant the girls had to do the asking. I wasn’t a dater, and I didn’t want to ask a boy out-it went against everything I was comfortable with. You know: staying home, reading, watching TV, doing homework- the gamut of fun activities for the wallflower.

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But we were the sponsors as a fundraiser, so we had to set the example. So painfully, I asked this boy out. Well, technically, I didn’t ask right off the bat. There is a subtle nuance to these things, so my girlfriends and I did what all girlfriends do. We came up with a no-fail plan to ask boys without actually asking. First we picked some boys that we thought would be fun, but not get the wrong idea about long-term romance. Then we did the usual asking his friends what his answer might be if a certain someone were to ask him to a certain dance, and as a “friend” and not a “real” date. This is very complicated stuff. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and you don’t want to make them feel like you’re just using them because your advisor is making you participate as part of your grade. (Ouch!) And so, the delicate dance begins. (Well not the actual dance, but you get my drift.) After the back-and-forth between his friends, my friends, and assurances we would not be refused, we asked our individual dates out. And thankfully, they said yes. Surprisingly, after all the pressure was off, we became bossy, as some gals are known to do. Those poor boys didn’t know what hit them as we schemed on what they, (er, I mean we), would wear.

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It was a casual dance, so matching T-shirts were the go-to garb. Of course, in true 1980’s fashion we went with the classic “I’m With Stupid” and “Stupid” T-shirts. (Pretty shameful in this era of political correctness that I picked those shirts, and chose for myself the “I’m With” versus the “Stupid,” Yikes!) My date, however, was a good sport, and except for some awkward dance moves, we all had a reasonably fun time and survived the Sadie Hawkins dance unscathed. Whew!

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It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the Sadie Hawkins dance was actually a spin-off of Sadie Hawkins Day. Which led me to wonder, who was this Sadie Hawkins, anyway? Well actually-she wasn’t. Not a real person anyway. Sadie Hawkins is a fictional, old-timey, larger-than-life, hillbilly comic strip character. Sadie lives in a ramshackle place in the hills called Dogpatch, U.S.A., in the cartoon strip Li’l Abner, created by Al Capp. The premise is, in a town full of yokels, Sadie is an unattractive desperate spinster-but no suitors come a courtin’. (Go figure!) Her pa wants to marry her off, so he contrives Sadie Hawkins Day to honor “the homeliest gal in the hills.” (Boy did that take the shine off my Sadie Hawkins dance experience…) The main event is a foot race for Sadie and all the single ladies (sing along if you want to), to chase down the eligible men and bag themselves a husband, with the reluctant gents getting a fair head-start. (I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it first-ludicrous! How utterly ridiculous, how sexist! That could never happen nowadays. And on the heels of that, a two-word thought popped into my head-“The Bachelor.” I guess times haven’t really changed all that much, just the tactics, come to think about it.)

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Back in its heyday, the Li’l Abner series was so successful, the fan letters poured in. Due to its popularity, The Sadie Hawkins theme became an annual comic strip event lasting four decades! Faithful readers took up the plot, but rather than foot races, Sadie Hawkins Day dances soon became the norm, starting way back  in 1939.

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Long before the women’s movement, a comic strip event had somehow blossomed into women’s empowerment. Due to its “ladies choice” rule, the day has since become synonymous with February 29th-Leap Day. Traditionally on Leap Day, women may do the proposing, rather than waiting on their Mr. Right to pop the question. (After my angst over asking a boy to a simple dance, that would never be for me, but a fun tradition nonetheless).

Although I didn’t appreciate it then, thanks to that silly comic strip, I had to do something I never would have done ordinarily. And I didn’t like doing it one bit. It took me out of my comfort zone. In hindsight, it taught me me a valuable lesson. The Sadies of the world don’t rest on their laurels. The Sadies of the world take action. And they don’t let their shortcomings get in their way. Truth is, Sadie (& her pa) simply got tired of waiting. Sadie Hawkins was, in a way, just a girl chasing her dreams. In her case, guaranteeing the outcome-but chasing nonetheless.

My life doesn’t come with any guarantees-but I can really relate to Sadie. Lots of my dreams have come to pass, but there are still dreams to chase and races to win. In the race of life, I’m a hesitater; a look-before-you-leap kind of person. But the thing is, leaping is good! It stretches and grows us and enables us to be more. And our dreams never grow old, even if they may seem out of reach. It all starts with a leap of faith. Faith in you!  Your abilities-Your talents-Your Dreams. Is the victory in the finish line or in the chase?

 

YOU”LL NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU TAKE THE LEAP!

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“Leap and the net will appear!”
~Julia Cameron

Sent from my iPad

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