Living With Flair

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Like most people, I'm busy. I'm busy cleaning, writing, cooking, teaching, exercising, or doing any host of activities that consume the day. Sometimes I move through life so quickly there's no time for reflection.

I teach writing, and in my classes I teach the concept of writing with flair. I talk about creating amazing sentences with delicious verbs. My writing advice made me wonder, “What would it look like to live with flair?” What if I made a conscious choice to make everyday amazing--not because of what I produced, but just. . . because? What if I could find “daily flair” to help me catch my breath and reflect?

One morning recently I decided to do something full of flair. My neighbor and I learned the choreography for Michael Jackson's “Beat It.” We had my laptop propped for maximum visibility and water glasses filled for potential dehydration. We adjusted our workout clothes so they wouldn't inhibit our moves.

We learned the whole dance from a youtube video. This is no small thing.

I'm not sayin' I can do it well, or in any way resembling MJ, but I did learn it.

It was my flair for the day.

Living with flair means I'm doing something a little ridiculous, a little beyond what's expected or appropriate every day.
Joy often lies dormant. It waits to be unearthed. What made learning dance moves with my neighbor so joyful? Was it the spontaneous, the supremely useless, the silly… that let the joy in?

Whatever it was, I needed it.

Flair means embellishment. I want to embellish the day; I want to celebrate it. Doing my MJ moves made things shimmer that morning. It wasn't -- in terms of productivity or market value -- useful.

But the day felt hopeful, not because I scrubbed a kitchen floor, but because I danced on it. And then I told all the neighbors. And I want to keep telling them. In fact, I started a “live with flair” blog to celebrate my daily flair.

Flair needs company. Dancing with my friend, banging into her when I mirrored the moves incorrectly, made us giggle like preschoolers. We weren't talking about anything. We weren't processing all the dysfunction in our lives or in the world. We were just trying to learn this dance. . . together. And we did it. We participated, somehow, in some larger dance. We’re wives and mothers, with tons to accomplish in any given day. Who has time to learn a dance from the 1980's?

And yet, we danced. It was the perfect flair for the day. I believe in living with flair. And now, the neighbors do too. We talk about what made our days amazing at the playground or at the school pick-up line.

Just the other morning, a dear friend brought over a bright pink scarf for me to wear when I teach. “It's your flair,” she said and did a little curtsy. That's flair.


JoAnn Foley-DeFiore
State College
Apr 01, 2010

This is my FAVORITE line! I laughed out loud.
“We were just trying to learn this dance. . . together. And we did it. We participated, somehow, in some larger dance. We’re wives and mothers, with tons to accomplish in any given day. Who has time to learn a dance from the 1980’s? “

and yet, who doesn’t need to?

Andrea Minasian
State College
Apr 03, 2010

I LOVED this piece. After hearing it on the radio I had to got to my computer to hear and read it again. Thank you Heather for your inspiring words!
My favorite part is: “Joy often lies dormant. It waits to be unearthed.” I plan to write this down and hang it on my bathroom mirror so that I am reminded each morning to live with flair and unleash my Joy every day.
I have shared this essay with my sister - these words really reminded me of her and I had to let her in on the news. We plan to “share our flair” with each other, even though we live hundreds of miles apart.
Thanks so much for sharing yours!


Jul 24, 2011

Absolutely delightful

Aunt Theresa Houseman
Foster City, CA
Jan 04, 2012

I’ve been living with flair “in reverse” the past week! Since serendipity brought your blog to me (thank you, Mar!), I signed up for your daily LIVE WITH FLAIR message and just now read your NPR piece. YOU are flair, Heather—that is, you have become God’s mechanism through which people locate their invidual flair, unearth it and with it, they shine! Tonight I will write on my kitchen chalkboard (I got the idea for the chalkboard from your beautiful mom, my oldest sister!): “Joy often lies dormant. It waits to be unearthed[!]” I added the exclamation point. I’ve decided that exclamation points are points of flair. I hope you agree. I look forward to welcoming each of my days with the flair that you share! Love you, kiddo. Auntie Theresa

Kim Feasel
Sep 05, 2012

No disrespect to your niece Theresa Houseman but after seeing your mention of “God” in your comment I am compelled to ask where was God when you were sleeping with my husband for the past year and a half?  What kind of woman does that to another?  Don’t use the excuse that he told you it was over between us….when he didn’t move out and continued living with me you KNEW it wasn’t over…..Here’s a suggestion for you…in the future, don’t start a sexual relationship (or otherwise) until the person you are seeking the relationship with is out of the marriage he is in.  Yes, 21 years of marriage that you and he defiled!  Did you ever think of what this would do to my children?  SHAME on YOU!  You should hope and pray I never run into you…...Yesterday I was in shock ~ Today I’m MAD as HELL!

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