The Power of Positivity

And Dancing in the Snow

Image used with the permission of Gurdeep Pandher

A little over a year ago, I was struggling with caregiving issues surrounding my (then) 94-year-old mom’s failing health. It had been a hectic month, and, as a result, I had been feeling cranky, frustrated, and just plain burned out. I remember coming home, kicking off my shoes, and collapsing onto my bed with a cracker of a headache. Instead of sleeping, I began scrolling, (as you do), and stumbled across an Instagram post by a man named Gurdeep Pandher. It was a video that featured him performing a traditional Bhangra dance in -45 degree weather near his home in the Yukon.

I had never heard of Gurdeep Pandher, and watching the video made me smile. Because who was this smiley guy? Who was this man in the bright orange turban whose face radiated joy?

I watched the video again, and then once more, and then I showed it to my husband, and we watched it together… twice. (You can find it here.)

I have since learned Gurdeep is many things: a dance instructor, a positivity ambassador, and probably most importantly, a human conduit for cross-cultural connection. He’s been known to perform Bhangra to Scottish bagpipes ; he dances with the very young and the very old, with politicians, and with soldiers as a way to promote inclusion and diversity within the Canadian Armed Forces. Gurdeep truly embodies the “We are all one” sentiment. And being reminded of that, especually during this past year — a surreal year — is pretty important. There is nothing “preachy” or “finger-shaking” about Gurdeep’s message — he simply celebrates the joy of movement, the companionship of a diverse group of friends, the rich link to his ancestral roots, and the timeless beauty of the northern wilderness.

After that hour I’d spent “Bhangra-binging,” I shut off my phone and marvelled at the magic — at how something so joyous and positive had been able to show my lousy attitude the exit sign. My headache had gone with it.

The Internet is full of doom and gloom these days, and while it’s important to stay informed about all that is going on in the world, it’s easy to get weighed down by it. When that happens, hopelessness and apathy can follow, and nothing good ever comes from feeling like that.

So now, when I feel myself sliding into a negative funk, I tell myself, “Hey! Carol Anne. Just stop. Maybe it’s time to go and dance in the snow!” (Figuratively speaking, of course — I live on southern Vancouver Island.)

Anyway, by the end of that “horrible” day, I’d had a perspective jog. I’d also been inspired to pen the little story-poem below. I hope you enjoy it. I also hope that the next time the news headlines get you down, you choose to dance in the snow, too, or in the cherry blossoms… or in the sand. You get the picture.

Happy dancing, and thank you, Gurdeep.

DANCE IN THE SNOW

A Poem About Positivity

Artwork by Carol Anne Shaw

Eleanor was pissed
Nothing was going right
The power was out
She’d run out of milk
And there was no hot water for her to take a shower

To make matters worse, the dog had to be walked
So she threw on some layers
Mashed down a hat
Put on her gloves and went outside, slamming the door behind her

I hate winter, she thought to herself
Minus 45 and my stupid nostrils are freezing
Her scarf itched
Her eyes stung with the cold
And her left big toe felt frozen right through

And then there was Rufus.
Why did she even own a stupid dog, anyway?
But Rufus was in heaven
He burrowed
He barked
He rolled
And he leapt
Rufus, it would seem, was in the zone
Eleanor, clearly, was not

Rufus heard it first
A high-pitched, energetic, syncopated rhythm
A banging of sticks
A tambourine?

And then
Through the trees
There he was
A stranger…dancing in the snow
Resplendent in a bright orange turban, multi-coloured scarf and russet pullover
On his face, he wore an ear-to-ear grin

The music pulsed
The dancer danced
And Eleanor frowned
What are you doing? She barked. It’s too cold
It is! The stranger yelled. Which is why I am dancing!
I am dancing in the snow!
It’s cold but it is beautiful

And something inside Eleanor began shifted
Then thawed
She felt her face soften
Her shoulders relax
And a smile form
Where there’d been no smile for days

I’ll remember this, she told Rufus, when they arrived back at their cabin
I’ll remember that even on the darkest of days

You can choose to dance in the snow.

Bona fide word nerd. Author of 3 award-winning novels for young adults. Somewhat lazy painter. Living & writing from a tiny rural village on Vancouver Island.

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