Keep Moving

Part One

Keeping physically and mentally healthy will go a long way in keeping your marriage strong and alive.   Each of us will make decisions each day that will affect our mental and physical well-being.  

Ballroom dancing is a unique activity that can benefit both our minds and body at the same time.  This alone would want a person to get up and try a little Rumba.  

There are many activities we can do to keep our bodies in shape, but you don’t have to use your mind to do it.  Examples are bicycling, running, or walking.  

Try a little cha-cha or lindy hop and you will see just how physical ballroom dancing is.  Some dances get your heart rate up.  All dances are moving around a dance floor.  If you are spending most of your time in an easy chair, this could be challenging.  Some of the steps take coordination.  

For added mind strength,  you can do crosswords, read a book or play a memory game with your grandkids,  but unless you are on a treadmill doing it, you are only strengthening the mind. 

Because ballroom dancing is a lead-and-follow dance, thinking is required if you want your dancing to go well.  You will be learning new steps.  You then have to remember your steps and how to lead or respond with your dance partner.  Dan and I will go to a dance lesson and then go home. It can be difficult to remember what we just learned.  

Having an activity that is fun can also help our mental health. It’s a date night.   Then being around others is an added mental bonus. 

Ballroom dancing will use both physical and mental exercises in one.  How great is that?

Let’s Plan a Date

Let’s Date-Week 8

How about a challenge to plan a date this week for your spouse? Here are a few ideas for you.

  • A romantic dinner for two at home with your best China dishes and candles.
  • Make your spouse’s favorite dinner. 
  • A drive in the countryside, taking a back road
  • Watch Your spouse’s favorite movie together
  • Afternoon Cake and Coffee at a quaint coffee shop
  • Antiquing together
  • Exercising together-like a bike ride, hike, or ballroom dancing
  • Take your camp stove to a state park and have breakfast together
  • Learn something new together-a class at Kirkwood Continuing Education
  • Take turns planning or make it a surprise
  • Make each other breakfast in bed
  • Take a vacation that you can unplug for a week

Unplugged in Wyoming-2020

Battlefields and Botanical Gardens

Let’s Date-Part Seven

Many times when Dan and I go on a vacation together, a battlefield or a public garden is part of our trip.  

Dan is a history buff and loves to research his ancestors that fought in a war.  He writes books on their journey and adventures of fighting for our country.  I have spent more than one spring break with Dan on a battlefield.  I am sure another battlefield is soon to be visited. 

I love flowers.  I enjoy researching flowers and learning more about what selections to put into my yard. We go on dates to botanical gardens, garden walks, and wildflower meadows.  Because of my new sun-filled yard, I now study prairie and native flowers.  

We both like to say that we earn points if we go with the other to their desired place of interest.  We earn battlefield or garden points.  I am far behind with battlefield points. : 0

We have activities we do together, like ballroom dancing, but we also have activities that the other spouse is really not into.  It is important that we support and encourage each other’s hobbies and interests.  Yes, that means more battlefields, reenactments, and revolutionary war sites for me.  For Dan that means visiting more botanical gardens, garden walks, or sitting in a wildflower meadow.  

Think about what your spouse enjoys doing; a hobby or activity.  Then you can plan a date around the other spouses’ interests.  You will earn brownie points for sure! 

Port Hudson Battlefield-2013
Afton Villa Gardens-2013

Thirteen Years

This coming Sunday, Dan and I will start our thirteenth year of ‘Dance With Me Ministries.’  Thirteen years ago we set out to teach a few friends some dance steps along with an empty-nester marriage book study.  We were thinking of a once-and-done kind of class.  God had something else in mind.  

The couples in our year one class wanted more.  More teaching, more fellowship, more dating, and more dancing.  It was so much fun and it blessed us beyond measure.  Just one more class we thought.  Just one more class has turned into thirteen years.  We have loved every minute of it.  We have met many wonderful couples.  Thank you out there if you have been a part! 

Here are a few stats for you:

  • over 95 couples have attended
  • started in 2009
  • 16 weeks of classes yearly(except 2021)
  • Continued every year except 2020
  • 2 marriage conferences
  • Over 50 DWMM-sponsored dance/date nights 
  • donations only for venue cost
  • 4 different venue locations
  • 12 Christmas Balls
  • Over 1000 joint volunteer hours for the two of us

It is good that God takes us step-by-step when calling each of us to the unknown.  He takes the desires of our hearts and uses them if we allow Him.  Looking back, we are humbled at how God could take an imperfect married couple, untrained ballroom teachers, and use them to encourage couples to grow closer to each other.   The ministry is all about keeping the marriage close.  The ballroom is the bonus. 

Each year we wonder if it is going to be our last dance year.  Will couples still want to join us?  Has ballroom died out?  It is not for us to answer.  God will open doors or shut them when He wants.  

Our thirteenth year will bring us new couples to meet.  New adventures and more blessings.  We are excited to get started. 

God’s Word-Ephesians 3:20

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Spring Garden Dance 2010-Our first-year pioneers: Lori and Dan Bailey, Coreen and Greg Wildebour, Marilyn and Dave Popelka,
Kathleen and Mark Banowetz, Denise and Andy Smith, Therese and Mark Smith, Sheri and Craig James, Kristi and Kent Knake, Pam and Mike Sieke

Date before It’s Too Late

Let’s Date-Part Six

When Dan and I began the empty nest part of our marriage, I knew dating would need to be a regular part of our relationship.  It is easy at this stage of our life, to go our own way, and do our own thing.  When a couple is raising their children, that’s where they put a lot of their time and attention.  Instantly it seems, your kids are gone and on their own.  You find yourself looking at each other and saying, “Who are you?”

Many of our friends and acquaintances, who began the empty nest stage at the same time as we, did call it quits on marriage.  They did not know who the other person on the opposite side of the room was.  They lost the closeness in the many years before and didn’t take the time to have quality dating times.    

I feel if you always make it a priority to date each other, no matter what stage of marriage you are in, you will remain close.  You will know your spouse in an intimate way.  Dan and I made date night a priority all the years we were married.  We didn’t wait until the kids were gone.  If we waited to date, it may have been too late. 

This takes planning and putting a regular time on the calendar.  That’s why they call it a date! Sometimes, Dan and I took turns planning our special outing.  Maybe it was a romantic dinner at home with just the two of us.  Dan would try new recipes, and I loved the night off from cooking.  That was a treat for me.  We would still dress up and make it special even if at home.  

Dating tells your spouse, “You are special and I want to know what’s happing in your life.”  It gets you away from the everyday craziness that life seems to bring.  You won’t regret making dating a priority in your relationship. 

Date Night at Home

Dress to Impress

Let’s Date-Part Five

I love to dress up.  I am not a sweatpants and sweatshirt type of gal.   If you know me very well, you know I love to wear a dress or a skirt most of the time. It is the style I like.  Ballroom dancing gives Dan and I an opportunity to dress up when we go on our date.  I love it when Dan wears a suit and tie.  He looks quite smashing indeed.  : )

Our very first date together was on New Year’s Eve, 1980.  He was taking me to a fancy restaurant and a night of dancing.  It was his time to impress.  Dan drove out on the country gravel roads to pick me up on the Manning farm.  He was dressed up in a light blue polyester suit, white dress shirt, and tie.  This was not only a time to impress me but a time to impress my parents.  It was their first meeting together.  My parents liked Dan right from the beginning.  I think his suit and his nice personality started him off to a great start.  

Dan in his polyester suit was a step up from what I was used to him wearing.  I was used to polyester but it was a brown and orange uniform with a sailor hat.   He smelled like burgers and French fries.  Yes, we met at a very romantic place called Hardee’s.  It was a fast-food restaurant.  We both were employed there.  So I should say we both smelled like burgers and fries.  We both had greasy brown shoes to match.  It’s a miracle that Dan would even ask me for a date under those circumstances.  Hmmm, I guess we both could see something beyond the brown and orange polyester since it was not very flattering.   

Now fast forward 42 years and we live in a much more casual dress America.  I remember with Dan’s first accounting jobs, he would wear a suit and tie to work every day.  Now, thanks to Covid, it’s even more casual since his office is at home.   Shorts and t-shirts can be your dress for the day. 

So I enjoy the occasional times we can dress up, look our best for each other, go dancing, and make it a special date night.  

Dressing up once in a while will go a long way in impressing each other for that special date night. 


The First Dance

Tomorrow, Dan and I have the privilege of attending the wedding of a friend of the family.  The engaged couple approached us about teaching them a few ballroom dance steps for their first dance together as husband and wife.  Dan and I were happy to share our knowledge of ballroom dance with them.  

They chose a song they liked and a slow dance was the best fit for their music.  We taught them a couple underarm turns, a rock step, magic turns, and a final dip for the finale.  

Spending time with this young almost married couple was a reminder of what it is like to always want to be together.  Always wanting to do whatever is asked by the other.  Wanting to dance, just because they know it will please the other.  Smiling at each other-just because.  

They thanked us for teaching them slow dance steps.   They told us that learning the slow dance is something they can take with them in their marriage together.   The slow dance can be easily done in the kitchen, in the garage, or in the bedroom.   

I told them that I believe any married couple that dances with each other daily-would most likely never separate.  

It would keep them close.  Closer together as husband and wife!

Dinner with You

Let’s Date-Part Four

It saddens me to go to a restaurant with Dan, and I look over to see a couple at a table with their heads down-staring at their cell phone screen.  Their attention is obviously not on each other.  How do they know what is going on in each other’s life?   How do they know what is happening in their day?

In my book of etiquette-all cell phones would be put away when eating a meal.  We need a break from technology.  Especially on our cell phones.  Dan and I have this as a standing mealtime rule at home or when on a date.  We don’t bring our phones to the table.  A cell phone is easy to grab if it is sitting on the table next to you.  You want to share the world’s latest news, pictures, or statistics.  I have done this a few times.   You have to be disciplined at not grabbing your cell phone.  Your phone seems to have a trance on you.  You don’t even realize what you are doing.  That is scary.  

When Dan and I go out to eat at a restaurant it is an event.  Besides our yearly vacations, it does not happen very often.  We have become choosier about where we go for our eating-out dates.  I enjoy a quiet romantic atmosphere.  This really limits our selection.   I despise having TVs in the room where I am eating at.  At one restaurant we went to, I seriously could watch 11 televisions from the chair I was sitting at.  How many TVs does a person need?  You can’t help but have your eyes on at least one of those TVs.  Dan did not have my attention, the 11 screens did.  It was a horrible experience that I would never go back to.  It was not a date.  

On more than one occasion, the venue was so noisy, that Dan and I had to yell at each other to have a conversation.  I would rather stay home. 

We in America have lost the importance of mealtime.  When possible, eating together should be done daily. Mealtime is not just to stuff our faces.   It should never be rushed.  It is a time to connect with our spouse, family, or friends.   This only happens when putting away the screens!

Come Dance with Us!

Let’s Date-Part Three

After teaching our first year of ballroom dancing with ‘Dance with Me Ministries’, Dan and I wanted to plan ongoing dance opportunities for our graduated dance class to attend.  It would keep us dancing and fellowshipping together when our weekly classes had finished.  After many years of dance class ministry, we still have our monthly dances where couples can go out together for a date.  An added bonus is the food, fellowship, and a wonderful venue that these events bring.  

Summer Lake McBride Dance-For over 10 years our outdoor venue is a large deck that overlooks Lake McBride in Solon, Iowa.  A couple that had joined us for ‘DWMM’ has opened their lovely property and home for us to dance the night away.  We start with a pot-luck dinner together and then have a 1-hour dance.  Dancing to either a Fox Trot, Swing, Rumba, or Waltz overlooking the lake.  : )  At the end of our dance, we are treated to a pontoon boat ride to enjoy the moonlit lake.      

Christmas Tree Market- A fall and spring dance awaits us in the midst of the evergreen Christmas tree market.  Another couple that has attended our ballroom dance class has opened their acreage, barn, and outdoor space to our group.  Food is always a part of our fellowship/dance time with a cup of hot chocolate or cider to help with the coolness in the air.  

For many years we had a Valentine’s dance at a local coffee shop.  The venue is a historic older building, with hardwood floors, and a rural setting.  Most couples would dress up for this once-a-year event.  Homemade delectable desserts would be served along with their house coffee.  A music playlist of romantic songs would be played for this festive occasion. 

Our most attended event is our annual formal Christmas Ball.  The venue has changed throughout the years, but our favorite has been the historic CSPS building in downtown Cedar Rapids.  High ceilings, wooden floors, and large windows to see the snow lightly falling makes for a perfect evening.  Everyone brings a festive Christmas finger food to share.  Punch is served. Our music playlist is all Christmas tunes with the beat of Waltz, Fox Trot, Swing, Polka, Rumba, and Slow Dance.  It is quite the evening. 

As with many fellowship and dating outings, the last few years of a virus have made it difficult to continue on.  But we need each other and especially need to date.  As long as we are able, we will plan to dance!   

Kava House Valentines Dance-2013

Why Don’t We Just Dance

Let’s Date-Week Two

My parents met at a ballroom dance.  Back in the day, the Col-Ballroom in the Quad Cities was a great way to meet others and try out your dance moves.  Many times live bands would play for the crowd. For my dad, it was a time to get out of his farming clothes and dress up for the girls.   Technology did not keep a person at home.  Times have changed.

We are thankful that there are some area venues for Dan and I to try out the steps we have practiced.  Here are just a few of the dances we have attended:

Congenial 100-Dan and I are part of a ballroom dance club that started 90 years ago here in Cedar Rapids.  We go once a month, 8 months out of the year.  It is time to dress up!  We enjoy a catered dinner with dessert and live music. We have met many congenial friends. 

USA Dance-This is a nationwide organization that offers ballroom dancing and a one-hour group dance lesson.  Our local chapter meets once a month at the Old Brick in Iowa City.  Dan and I have learned many new dance moves by attending USA dances.  

The Barn Dance- A horse arena turned into a dance venue.  We dress up for this once-a-month dance that has a huge dance floor.  This is quite the venue.  Snacks and beverages are provided.  

Dubuque Fairgrounds-A big band would be the highlight of this New Year’s Eve event.  Everyone would dress up for this dance.   We would ring in the New Year with champagne, party favors, and a midnight buffet. 

Walford Ponderosa-Rod Pierson Big Band would be the highlight of this formal Valentine’s ballroom dance. 

Many of the ballroom dance events are in danger of no longer continuing.  We attend and invite others, so we can continue our dancing.

Dating keeps you closer as a couple and with others!