Marriage is Like Dancing

I just finished reading a book entitled Marriage is Like Dancing. The author, Richard Eyer, a retired pastor and chaplain, wrote this book after he and his wife began taking ballroom dance lessons for the first time after almost forty years of marriage. He soon realized that the partnership in dancing paralleled the partnership between a husband and a wife. In his book, he discusses the importance of the man leading and the connections needed to dance well and to have a good marriage.

My sister and her husband have been married for twenty years, and during a recent vow renewal ceremony, her husband read her a quote by Elton Trueblood. “A successful marriage is not one in which two people beautifully matched find each other and get along happily ever after because of the initial matching. A successful marriage is a system which persons who are sinful and contentious are so caught up by a dream and by a purpose bigger than themselves that they can work through the years in spite of the repeated disappointments and make the dream come true.”

He told my sister at the ceremony, “This has been our dance, my love – all the spins, all the dips and all the twirls… may we always be ready to make life’s difficult sacrifices and may God grant us the courage to weather them. May we be honest with one another , always and forever trusting in the love of the Lord.”

This blog is dedicated to PJ and Susan. They have danced well. Dance on.

Anna's Encouragement

One aspect of life that everyone needs is encouragement. My dear friend, Anna, is an amazing young woman who has a heart to share her faith, her music and even her love for dance. She went to Uganda for a month this past summer to be an encouragement to the people there. She helped in various schools, assisted in putting on festivals and made friends everywhere she went. Anna is a talented musician, and she was able to take a violin with her on this trip. She used the violin to encourage the people with music and even had the opportunity to teach several groups the Virginia Reel and play fiddle music for them while they danced. It is fun for me to think that some of the music and dance that we use to build community here on the Central Coast made its way to Africa to encourage the people there. I know that, through Anna’s gift, the people of Uganda were blessed.

Forever Friends

I’ve heard it said that there are friends for a reason, a season and a lifetime. As I look back on my college years, my “friends for a reason” classmates and I spent a lot of time together in the science labs and study hall as we worked to complete our classes and earn our degrees. We stayed up to late and ate too much junk food as studied and quizzed each other so that we could reach our goals. When college ended, most of us parted ways.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I joined a Mommy-and-Me class with a lot of other young mothers who were learning about motherhood for the first time. We shared this “season of life” as we pushed the babies in strollers, went to the park and had many discussions on the importance of raising children well.

One of these young mothers and I found that we shared more than just a reason and more than just a season of life. Even as our children grew and I moved four hours away, our friendship remained very close. This dear forever friend came up to see me last weekend, and we went on a “field trip” (a long time tradition) to a pumpkin patch with one of her daughters and two of mine. We went in the corn maze and bought pumpkins for our girls. I am thankful for the “forever friends” in my life.

Touching Lives

I have always felt that one of the most important things a person can do is to make life better for someone else. Although true joy can only come from being in a right relationship with God, a great deal of happiness comes from being thankful for what we have and serving others with the talents that God gives us. While looking over the many photos from the various events that I have called dances for over the years, I began to wonder how many lives I’ve had an opportunity to touch through teaching social dance, manners and etiquette. It must be in the thousands by now. What a great privilege I have had to be able to bring together so many people in these community building activities.

A sample of some of those many photos are on my website at Through this website, I hope to continue to find places where I can help to build community relationships and serve others. If you are interested in being a part of this by hosting your own event, please feel free to contact me at!

Atalanta Running

One little girl asks to take violin lessons. Later, her small sister wants to play as well. Far away in Austria, a third little girl is born into another musical family, and she begins to take piano lessons. Time goes on, and the parents of these girls drive them to many, many music lessons, not knowing exactly where it will lead, but knowing that expressing and enjoying music is one of life’s greatest gifts.

As the girls grow up, musical partnerships are formed, and one beautiful melodic line becomes a chorus of harmonies. The enjoyment of the music spreads from the musicians to their appreciative audiences, and all receive the gift of music.

Below are some videos of those three girls in their band, Atalanta Running.

Roy Disney

I grew up not too far from Disneyland, so I have many childhood memories that take place in the Magic Kingdom. My high school senior class even got to go to Disneyland for an all night Grad Night celebration. Of course, Walt Disney’s name is everywhere: in the park and on his animated movies, television specials and a multitude of toys too.

But Walt had a brother. I read a story about those two brothers, Roy and Walt, and I found out that Walt was the creative dreamer and his brother, Roy, was a numbers man who was a banker before the brothers opened their animation studio. Walt dreamed up wild ideas, and Roy did everything he could to make them happen. When Walt wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue filmmaking, it was Roy who borrowed money from their uncle and took care of the finances as the two formed The Disney Brothers Studios.

Walt and Roy were partners. Walt believed that it was his life’s work to use entertainment to improve the lives of the masses. Roy believed his life’s work was to help Walt do what he felt he was called to do.

Partnerships often need a “Walt” and a “Roy” to succeed. One of the aspects that I like best about tutoring and coaching is that I get to play the part of a “Roy” in many people’s lives. I believe that my life’s work is to help others do what they are called to do, and I have found that there is a lot of satisfaction to be found in helping others achieve their dreams.

The June Civil War Ball

In January, I wrote a blog about the very first Civil War Ball a friend and I hosted over five years ago, and I posted some photos from that very first event. Many of the dancers in those photos still attend our Balls. The ten year olds have become teenagers, and the teenagers have become young adults, and now they are inviting new friends to attend.

Last weekend, we had over two hundred people dancing away to some of our original dances as well as to some new ones that I learned while Civil War Reenacting. You can compare the photos from our first event with the photos and youtube videos from our most recent Ball. The people may have gotten a little older, but the smiles are still the same.

Here are some videos for you to enjoy!

Virginia Reel

The Letter

People rarely write letters anymore. Most of us barely take the time to jot quick emails, text our friends, and upload photos on Facebook. So when I receive a hand delivered heart-felt letter, I recognize it as the true treasure that it is.

I received a letter this week from a student that I have been tutoring this winter and spring. Although I have been teaching and tutoring varies subjects to a multitude of students for over twenty years, my goal of encouraging and inspiring my students never changes. While it is true that I want them to master the subjects, I also want them to have so much more. Here is what my dear student and now friend wrote:

Dear Mrs. Newby,

Coming into this class, I thought government and economics was boring. I never thought about how it could affect me, and honestly I didn’t really want to know. However, working with you, I have learned so much. I have never been in a class where I am excited to do the homework and learn about the topics.

Because of my learning style, I have struggled in many of my classes. You taught me in a way that I could understand and a way that made me think. I looked forward to every class because I was able to sit down with you and discuss things like congress, elections and inflation as if I were talking to a friend. I felt confident on different topics that I was very unsure of before.

Learning with you wasn’t work. It was interesting, fun and challenging. You were always encouraging and always answered my questions, making sure that I completely understood.

I have found that because of your class, I am not only confident in government and economics, but in taking on new challenges that I would’ve avoided in the past. If I could, I would take your class again in a heartbeat. Out of all the teachers I have ever had, you were, by far, the best.

Thank you for everything!


(Note: Megan is seventeen years old and ready to take on the world!)

Building Community Through Dance

I host several large and formal Civil War Balls every year which I enjoy very much, but it is also fun to call dances for smaller, community events as well. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to call a dance for a planned community neighborhood in Paso Robles. The centerpiece of this lovely group of homes is a beautiful Common House where the neighbors share weekly meals and hold special events. The people in this community have a vision for living life together, and in their Common House there is a kitchen, a library and even guest bedrooms where people who are visiting can stay. I had the opportunity to work with a new band of friendly and talented musicians, and we all had a great time.


What is a Ceilidh? Pronounced “Kay-Lee,” it is an informal social gathering at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing and folk dancing and storytelling. But that short definition does not tell the whole story. Really, it is good friends coming together to share things they all love which builds and binds their friendships even more. It is homemade chili and warm corn bread smothered in honey. It is families working together before hand to have something to give to the others. It is smiles and encouragement as we all try to share something. It is laughter and fun as we all marvel at our good fortune in having such great friends.
I have been privileged to attend two Ceilidhs where I heard wonderful music, ate delicious food and remembered again and again that some of the best things in life are shared moments with family and good friends.

Accelerated Learning

There are many ways to get from point A to point B. If you are heading to a certain location, you can walk, ride a bicycle, drive in a car or fly in a plane. Each mode of transportation provides more help as you move from wheels to adding an engine and then wings. The more help you have, the faster you can go. I have had the wonderful opportunity to do some tutoring this winter in a variety of subjects. One of the goals of these tutoring sessions is to provide extra help so that the students learn the material more quickly and efficiently.

Did you know that people only remember 20% of what they read, 30% of what they hear, 40% of what they see, 50% of what they say, 60 % of what they do and 90% of what they see, hear, say and do? When students study alone, most just read silently to themselves, and they often do not retain as much as they need. When a tutor partners with them, they have the chance to see, hear, say and do, (and sometimes even draw and sing!) which drastically increases the retention of the knowledge. Of course, having someone alongside to coach and encourage them provides great benefits as well.

Benjamin Franklin once said that “Time is Money.” Actually, time is more valuable than money because if you lose all your money, you can earn more, but once you have spent your twenty-four hours allotted to you today, it is gone forever. I enjoy tutoring and teaching because it allows me to help people make the most of every moment.

Five Years and Counting

When my husband and I started home schooling our children almost twenty years ago, many people at the time were concerned about “socialization,” and I was often asked what we were going to do about “prom.” With Awanas, Boy Scouts, choir, youth symphony and many other activities, socialization was never a problem. But when it came to prom… well, maybe it would be nice to have a dance. But our vision was that this dance would be one where all ages would be invited, and the focus would be on modesty, manners and etiquette.

In April 2006, my friend Adena and I planned what we thought would be a one-time Civil War Ball. But everyone had so much fun and found the event so valuable that we did another … and another. Now, almost five years later, some of our original families have moved away or moved on, and we’ve had a lot of new people join in. Over the years, I’ve received many emails and letters telling me how much these Balls have meant to those who have attended, and I am grateful that the Civil War Balls have made a positive impact. I am posting some photos from that original Civil War Ball, thankful to these families who gave us such a great beginning.