Tag Archives: Dance

Tony the Transformer (and the New WOW)

Some people are transformers by their very nature. My brother-in-law, Tony, whose “birfday” is today is just that kinda guy.

Tony joined the Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico, where he and Shirlee lived for their first years of marriage.

They say that inspired peoples’ energy changes the atmosphere. From the time this wide-eyed 12-year old girl met this hurricane of a man, Tony has made an impact on every room he enters.

Full disclosure: He was my sister’s boyfriend, but I had a HUGE crush on him.

Who wouldn’t?

These were the days of Saturday Night Fever, and man could this Italian heartthrob DANCE.  He didn’t have practiced, official moves.  But he tore it up with his own Northeast Philly disco swagger.

I loved when HE offered to pick me up after the middle-school dance.  He’d strut up to the cafeteria, cigarette in hand, John Travolta-like hair – and collect ME.  Yep, I was the luckiest girl at Cleary Junior High.

What’s that sound? Just the tears of heartbroken women throughout the Delaware Valley when they learned Tony DiBacco was “off the market.”

Oh, and he can SING, too.  No, he never really knows the words, but they’re always on key.  He does a MEAN Elvis and, had the course of his life gone a different way, I have no doubt he would be some kind of an entertainer.

Tony DiBacco is surely a star in my universe.

With my father’s death just a couple of years before Tony entered the picture, we three Costello girls were kind of somber.  Mom had to try and simply maintain the inner and outer workings of running a household, while valiantly serving as mom AND dad to her 15-year-old, Shirlee, and 10-year-old me.

There was no Christmas tree for us the year after Daddy died.

Then Tony swept Shirlee off of her feet and we then experienced SUPER-SIZED Christmases. So many presents!  So much fun opening them!  He would shake every box elaborately and try to guess what was inside.

Tony, to this day, brings electricity to any party.  He constantly cracks one-liners, is unfailingly generous, as handsome as ever…and today, when thinking about our Word of the Week, Transformation, it felt right to devote the column to him.

Tony, I love you.  Thanks for being a wonderful brother and husband to my sissy.  Thanks for always being full of life and fun.  You are a treasure!

I pondered how to transform my own life in 2018, and hope you will understand and support a big decision I reveal in this week’s video:

Looking forward to wearing my forgiving clothes with you over the next two weeks!

And feel free to wish Tony a Happy Birfday (he never pronounces the “th”) in the comments!




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Intent on a Challenge (and the New WOW)

Our recent week’s word was INTENTION. After a lackluster Zumba class, I realized it was time to seek a new exercise challenge.

It’s not that I have lost any love for Zumba. However, I seriously have ALL of the moves DOWN. When I know the steps by heart, my brain disengages and it tends to wander.  And it wanders to thinking about work, laundry, bills, cellulite…

…all the thoughts that I hope to gloriously escape from for the hour that I’m shaking and shimmying.

When I set my intention to find a new challenge, I saw THIS:

Any headline that says “Shake Your Booty” is bound to grab my attention.  

And the description?  “Fly’s most popular class, Throw Down, is the ‘most unapologetic, booty-shaking, hip-hop class in town.'”

Where do I sign up???

The studio was described as “more like a nightclub” and visions of me with my sky-high purple hair and Madonna moves from the 80’s propelled me to the Throw Down class.

I had good INTENTIONS.

This was hard-core. Zumba is more like my happy family, full of high-fives and guiding  me through the salsa steps with a smile and claps of encouragement.

Throw-Down was like my car breaking down in a bad neighborhood and the residents looking at me menacingly like, “What’s the problem?  Fix it, b_ _ch.”

The music menacingly pounded as the disco balls played with the strobe lights. Most of the class had obviously done this before, not only from their seamless moves but also from their oh-so-toned bodies.

These ladies had swagger.

I had agita.

Within minutes, I also had worked up quite a sweat and completed my first ever burpee. (For the uninformed, as I was, a burpee is that horrendous fall to the floor on all fours move that lasts for just a couple of seconds before you are required to jump upright again.)

When they went left, I went right.

When I began to clap (as we do in Zumba) at the completion of a song, the Throw-Downers looked at me as if to say, “So. Not. Cool.”

Oddly, I was not intimidated. I stank to the high heavens at this new form of exercise (during, AND after!), but I DID get what I wanted.


And I was so busy trying to keep up, I didn’t think once about my growing “to-do” list at home.

Sometimes when you set an intention, you get exactly what you need.  Maybe not in the package you expected, but if you look at it the right way, it’s still a gift.

Here’s the story of the BEST answer to the question, “What are your intentions?” followed up by a brand new WOW:


Yep, who couldn’t use a hefty dose of THAT.

Peace be with you.  And me.

Have a beautiful week, friends!



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Surrendering to Love & Justin Timberlake (and the New WOW)

You know it’s going to be a fun reception when EVERYONE is surrendering to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake BEFORE the festivities officially begin.

Such was the joyful atmosphere at the recent wedding of Colleen Viola (daughter of Roger and Kathy, Duane’s brother and sister-in-law.)

There was so much love swirling around the place you couldn’t help but SURRENDER to it…as well as to the music.  Duane was thankfully off the hook because my West Coast bestie, Kedric Hubbert, was in attendance.  Not only is he handsome and charming, he’s a great dancer who LOVES the same music I do.  If he lived near me I am sure I would be a size two from all the dancing.

Can’t resist.  Here are some sigh-worthy highlights:

It felt so good – it feels so good -to just let go, doesn’t it?

The opportunity to SURRENDER always comes with an invitation.  

Too often I just keep plugging away at my computer and decline the offer.

How about you?

I do know that in this fleeting experience that is life, it’s the times that I said yes that created the best memories.

The older I get, I realize you CAN dance like no one’s watching because…well…usually no one is!

And now, parting thoughts on SURRENDER and the new WOW:

Beware of opportunities to put your foot in your mouth this week!  (Whenever I get the word WISDOM, I use it as a yellow caution sign.)

But also, look for the insights that will make your life richer.

Love to you all!



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Bad Hair vs. Dancing in the Rain

These WOWs (Words of the Week) truly challenge me, because when I pray and ask I really BELIEVE that the answer is something I need to apply in order to grow as a person.

To provide context so you know where I’m coming from, my former life was bathed in a toxic cocktail of self-criticism and abuse masqueraded as personal growth. Higher levels of spirituality were dangled in front of me like a carrot by others (whose ideas about my shortcomings were used to torment and control me.)  So happy was I to eventually be free from the scrutiny, I took a  sabbatical for almost a decade and declared (to myself) – ENOUGH!

“If I never change another thing about me, I’m going to love myself and start enjoying life.”

And I did! And I do!

But something happened along the way and, I realized I still yearned to grow. Now it’s a gentle, self-motivated and healthy exercise that serves to make my life happier and more fulfilled. I say all this to affirm:

My hope is that none of you reading my exhortations beat yourself up with criticisms and judgments but are rather inspired to bloom, like when the sun kisses a budding flower.

Lots of preamble to get to my personal experience with WILLINGNESS this week.

My husband surprised me by being willing to go to an oudoor concert featuring my favorite funky dance tunes. He’s not a guy who likes to dance, but he knows I am happy to boogie in my beach chair and sing along. So we did!

Finding a spot on the grass with hundreds of other Sarasotians on the grounds of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, the sun began to set on our water view. The sounds of Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” had me shimmying in my seat.

And then the clouds descended. And the sprinkles of rain turned into a steady stream, causing me to pick up my chair and seek the nearest shelter.

To my surprise, Duane stayed put.  At any moment I expected him to say, “Let’s get out of here.” Instead, he turned to me and beckoned me back to our spot on the grass. “It’s just a little rain.”

I had a momentary pause. My cute little tie-dyed sundress would get soaked, and my hair? I could already feel it expanding into Roseanne Roseannadanna territory.

And I literally asked myself,  “Are you willing?”

Out into the rain I went, bouncing to Uptown Funk and boogie-ing with abandon as my look went south.

But my heart soared. Especially when they broke into Marvin Gaye and the man I said “I do” to stood up and wrapped me into a slow dance as we were pelted by raindrops.

I would have missed all of this if I wasn’t willing:  IMG_1185

It doesn’t have to be a huge, life-altering willingness to tip your life into the happy zone. Just a decision to replace the customary “No” with a “Why not?”

Like when I went to Zumba and realized, “Oh no. New teacher. She’s Ariana Grande’s twin and I will be hopelessly inept for the next hour.”  Normally, I’d use this as an excuse to skip class and head to Starbuck’s for an iced skinny café mocha grande.

Instead, I asked myself, “Are you willing?”

Fifteen minutes later, I was deep into Fireball (and Uptown Funk, again!) and smiling. None of us knew the steps. And it didn’t matter. We were working up a sweat (and working off last night’s ravioli.)

I wonder what other treasures WILLINGNESS has in store this week?

My wish for you is like the song.  If you have the chance to sit it out or dance…

I hope you dance.

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