The Dancing Queen Has an Aha Moment

Have you ever found the answer to a problem in a bizarre way? That happened to me this weekend. Saturday morning, I was stumped.

My problem just so happened to be about writing, but it could’ve been about anything.

Thinking too hard and drinking way too much coffee, I sat in my office staring at dozens of sticky notes. I couldn’t figure out how to fix the plot in my novel.

By 10 a.m., my brain already felt like this.

A knotted-up mess. 

Ever so gently, my word for 2016 came to me.

DANCE. Why don’t you dance?


I can’t dance. 

I have to fix this problem.

Take a break. Dance. Let it go. 

I can’t. 

Work comes before play.


Those are the rules. 

Then four words came to me. Four one-syllable words.

Do you trust Me? 

Yes, of course but…

Then dance–the gentle thought brushed against my heart.

Don’t laugh, y’all, but I did.

I got out my chair, twirled around in my office (no one was home but me), and I boogied my way downstairs–

Like I was the room monitor, slacking off on my duty.

Then I did something really wild and crazy. I hopped into the car. Drove to the YMCA.

For 30 minutes, I played solitaire on the treadmill as though I had absolutely nothing better to do. 

I acted like a kid during recess and danced–mentally and physically. 

Guess what?

The best thing happened–

When I forgot about my problem, the answer came. I knew what to do! How crazy is that?

Back at home, I moved a few sticky notes around on my whiteboard and fixed my plotting issue. 

Sometimes trusting God means we let go, take a break, and dance. Click to Tweet

Is this an aha moment for you too? Or have you always known about the dancing secret? I bet you have! 🙂

P.S. If you have a minute, watch this video from 1978. “Dancing Queen” used to be my fave song back in the day.

If you can’t see the video, click here. It’s impossible to watch it without dancing!


Julie–the Dancing Queen 









  1. Anna Haney says:

    Love this story. I usually sing. Turn up Pandora on my speakers and belt out tunes. I have never done karaoke, but I’d love to. And when I’m Dundee singing, I always feel better.
    It’s snowing here. Got a free day off. Think I’ll sing.

    • You HAVE to do karaoke, Anna!!!!!! And maybe even do a video of you singing and post it…talk about freedom!

      XOXOXO Enjoy your day. I keep hoping and praying, but I don’t think the snow is going to get this far south. Probably just north west part of GA.

  2. Mary says:

    When I have something I’m struggling with, I wrestle with it. I mean, I grab that problem by the neck and I squeeze it and I shake it till its eyes pop! The result? I get myself worked up and sweaty. The problem, ironically, is not perturbed in the least.

    So, I am working on RELEASING those things by turning them over to God. And this means I do not race back to Him five minutes later, saying, “Oh, did I remind you how worried I am about this? And could You use some help on this? Because you know, I have a few ideas! Here, let me grab that problem back for just a sec, and I’ll show You what I mean!” This is very hard for me to do. But, I am trying.

    Holding on to things makes me feel tight and clenched, like I’m in a small cage. Letting go allows me the freedom to let things in or out. I can breathe! Or dance!

    So yes, Julie, I do understand what you mean. When you give yourself space to breathe, and when you release and dance, things do have a way or working out.


    • Such wisdom in your words, Mary!!

      It’s like we have to do the opposite of what we feel like, don’t we? Like, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to dance. Or let go. Or release our problems.

      But I think that’s the only way to live. To really live.

      Thank you, my friend. You get it. 🙂

    • Oh Mary, we must be sisters, too! You sound so much like me. I look at it from every angle, decide on a plan of action, and put it in place. Even after praying for direction, I often take my thoughts as His thoughts and dash forward!

      Julie, you wrote this for me–thank you!

      And some day, when we’re together again, I want hear about your plotting with sticky notes. I love the instant overview. I know lots of people do that, but I’ve never tried it. I have long notes and headings in a Word doc, so I have to scroll back and forth. That’s what I’ve done with all my novels so far, but the one I’m working on now has a much more complicated plot and I can see that my modus operandi (sp?) won’t work.

      Love and appreciate you, my dancing friend!

      • Nothing makes me happier than for someone to say what Vonda just said. “Julie, you wrote this for me.”

        🙂 🙂 🙂

        Would love to talk plotting with you. Isn’t it a yucky sounding word. Sounds like PLODDING. Which is what it feels like sometimes.

        I also use Scrivener, but something about getting the scenes written in short little phrases and putting them on stickies, and then being able to physically move them around helps me.

        I don’t write in Scrivener. DiAnn does, but it’s kinda neat to keep all my notes organized.

        Miss you too!

  3. What a fantastic idea..just take a break. I’m considering this God’s word to me today xo

    • Go for it, Robin. Maybe even venture into an antique store!

      I love you~~

      And even if we take a break and our problems are still there when we “get back to work,” our minds are rested. Surely, it’s a form of Trust.

  4. Patricia Martin says:

    I am the same way! Semester in college just started and I am stressed to the max.): I have always done first work, then play. Flexibility is something I need to work on.(: Dance is true flexibility.xoxoxo

    • We’re so much alike, Patricia. I was just thinking about you this morning (Thomas and Brittany are back in college this semester) and wondering how you’re doing.

      When you feel like it, take a break! It’s amazing!

      XOXOXO Big hug from cold GA.

  5. Cathy Mayfield says:

    This year, I want to practice listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice, so I began rising at 5 a.m. again. Yesterday. I rose at 5, turned on the tree lights, and waited. After my husband left at 6, I took up my devotional and journal; with hot tea in the adorable, ceramic travel mug our middle daughter made, I began my regular morning quiet time. And He made His Presence known.

    Over the weekend, frustrated by a longer term back issue, I told God I’d had enough! I claimed victory over my back – the pain, the inability to do dishes without holding on, the forced inactivity. And Jesus agreed with me! All weekend, my back behaved itself, even allowing me to play with a toddler on the floor! Hallelujah!

    So,yesterday, I decided to claim victory over some personal sin issues – procrastination, laziness, fear. Using my word, NOW, I put my foot down and said, “No more!” Then, I asked what the Spirit would have me do that day. As I wrote, my thoughts blended with His, and I came up with: “Make a schedule” (Ok, with my workload overwhelming me, that’s important.); “List the day’s must-do priorities” (I can do that, it’s a long list, tho’.); “Do those first” (What? ALL of them?)

    Confused, I found a fresh to-do list, poised my pen, and wrote: 1. Bible study. 2. Letter to Connie. 3… What else, Lord? Nothing? “Do those first.” So I did. I opened the Bible study our daughter Faith wrote for me and read the quote she’d written at the top, “Progress is impossible without change…” (George Bernard Shaw). Wow. Then I read the lesson and went on to the questions: “How is God asking you to change your mindset?” Easy – He wants me to…”Stop living in defeat.” What? Did I write that? Wow. That’s not what I’d planned to write.

    This kept up all day. After writing the letter, I added the next things…only two things at a time. Bills. Dishes. (Time for lunch.) Papers for classes. Exercise. (What about ALL the stuff I have to get done by the end of the week?) Start supper. Write.

    What? “Write!” I don’t have time for that! A voice of reason (sounded like Faith’s…) said gently, “Mama, if the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, are you really going to tell Him you don’t have time?” So, like you, Julie, with doing your jig, I brought up a fresh Word file, stuck in my new zip drive, and wrote my very first blog post!!! Imperfect, not ready for others eyes, but when I finished, I didn’t care. Last detail the Spirit showed me to prove it was Him (as if I needed that by now) – a writing instructor said to keep blogs between 400-500 words. The word count for the post…500 words exactly! Can I get an “Amen!”

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Cathy! I’m sitting here in my little office (by the space heater) cheering for you!!!

      I’m so stinkin’ proud of you!!! Wo-hooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW. I may be the dancin’ queen, but you’re the Listening Queen.

      Keep listening. Keep writing. Don’t stop.

  6. Carm Russell says:

    I have had aha moments not through dance but in the same way…taking a break from pushing for that answer and finding peace in the moment rather than staying in the stress. For me taking a walk, listening to music, etc. BTW thanks for the Dancing Queen memory! I guess what I love the most about aha moments is God’s presence. ⚓️

    • Love your beautiful thoughts and heart, Carm.

      Yep. I take walks too and listen to music. Even talk to myself. I don’t know why–but it helps me think.

      Ohhh, yes, The Dancing Queen memory. I just keep watching that video. 🙂 And remembering.


  7. Brenda Greene says:

    First thought as I read today’s blog, Sweet Julie, was how my Dad taught me something similar to that many years ago. We owned a motorcycle shop and my brother (the mechanic) had broken his leg. I was trying to help by doing something I called “simple”…changing a flat tire on the front of a small motorcycle. Simple? Wrong! Dad saw my frustration and gently said “walk away from it and when you get back, you’ll be able to do it.” It worked! I was able to finish the task. (With only a third grade education Dad had left school (he was a big fellow at 9 years old!) to work in the logging business to support his family. The wisdom he gathered over his lifetime was greater than many a man I’ve known.)

    I have used that phrase many, many times since then. Whether making prom dresses/wedding dress for our daughters, or wanting to write something creative in the current Scrapbook I’m working on; “walking away” for a few minutes I can always return able to complete the task. And now with our grandchildren, I’m passing that phrase along to them. Thanks for the sweet memory. Daddy’s earthly journey ended 35 years ago this month and even though I still miss his gentle, quiet spirit, and wisdom; he’s still in my heart and I can go there for a visit whenever I want. Thanks for today’s “nudging” to do just that!

    • Brenda, your daddy’s Wisdom is giving me holy goose bumps. And look. His words are touching our lives. And you never forget what he taught you.

      THANK YOU. You shared a life-changing memory with us with such tenderness.

      And he was exactly right. Something about the walking away….that’s what helped me.

      I let go for a while. Came back refreshed.

      Love you, my friend.

  8. Julie Gilleand says:

    Dancing Queen Julie!

    First of all — I love Abba, always have and love this song especially! I love that you walked away and “danced” for awhile, down the steps and on the treadmill. Very cool! I love the yarn analogy too. Since I crochet, I could so relate to the tangled yarn! I’m remembering a time when I was single parent to a toddler — my oldest, Tim. The house was in a shambles. Toys and spills and crumbs everywhere, dishes piled in the sink and on the counter, and still on the kitchen table too. Everywhere I looked was an undone chore. Fragments of a zillion things that needed finishing. My mind felt so frazzled with all that around me plus a 2-year-old needing attention. Finally, I knew I couldn’t accomplish anything in my frazzled state, so I up and left the house, 2-year-old in tow. We headed to the mall. It was so nice to look around and see order. Order to the display windows and clothes racks and shelves of toys. Tim had fun looking at (and trying out) the toys he saw. There was a play area he had fun in, with a mini-carousel and other fun things to climb on and do. Then a pet store. Who doesn’t like looking at cute little puppies, kittens and birds?!! And then I think it was a stop at the cookie place. We had a good time and it was so relaxing and healing. When we got back home, of course that disaster was still waiting for me, but I was just refreshed and energized enough to tackle it. I’ve always remembered how well that worked and have used it many more times since. It’s as if you are erasing all the tangled mess so you can think clearly again and then going back into it ready to handle whatever it is. It works!

    Back to Abba — I listened to Abba non-stop when I was expecting Tim and so when I was in labor for him, all those songs played in my head the whole time. Didn’t have ipods in those days but didn’t need one either — they were stamped on my mind, heart and soul and I heard them plain as day at a time when I seriously needed to! BTW, he grew up and married a girl who loves ABBA, lol. Just sayin’!

    Take care Dancin’ Queen Julie and keep dancin’!!

    “Leafy” Julie

    • Leafy~~~~~~~~

      The way you tell stories–LISTEN TO ME~~you’re a writer. A storyteller. Your memories are imprinted in your heart. I can tell.

      And you like ABBA too?! And even Tim’s wife loves ABBA!

      What you just wrote–that memory, is beautiful. And so healing. There’s a takeaway in it for all of us.

      thank you. It blows my mind how the right thing to do is often the opposite of what comes naturally!

      • marci says:

        Yes, I so agree! Leafy is a writer! — and a very good one. She is so great at telling a story, and takes us right there! And took me right back to when I was the mother of a toddler, and relating, (as I mention below). You get your book done, and Leafy write a book, and I will be the first in line to get both of them! 🙂

  9. Oh, my goodness! I got up, turned my speaker volume WAY UP HIGH, and DANCED for the entire length of the song! It felt soooo good. So right. So freeing. Such a release of tension. I think I might just do that every day! Thanks Dancing Queen Julie!

    • I’m laughing, B.J.

      Wouldn’t we have fun on the dance floor with that song? There was even a blonde and a redhead. You and me.

      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • A blonde and a redhead. Yup, you and me! I thought the redhead had her groove on totally! The blonde was a little bit laid back. I must work on getting down and funky! Hugs!

        • Hahahahahahahahaha, B.J. Sitting here laughing out loud. I thought the same thing. But only about the video. I’m sure you have your groove on too.

  10. marci says:

    What an important lesson! I can’t see the videos, but I have a CD of ABBA with that song. It is amazing how many songs have popped up with Dance in them! Yes, the Lord has a message for us all!

    So often it seems the Lord will whisper something in my ear, and I want to turn around and say “Really, Lord?” since it seems like the opposite of what to do. Like how is that going to work?

    I related to Leafy Julie, when her son was a baby.. I stuggled trying to keep house when my daughter was small, and seemed to just spin my wheels, no matter how hard I tried, until one day I looked at my baby and decided to spend time enjoying her. And not worry about the state of the house. A few weeks later, I noticed, the house was looking pretty good… When I gave up putting the house first.. ..

    When I was driving a tractor, I started to slide on a soft creek bank.. I admit it scared me. Having that big tractor slide.. My 1st reaction would be to steer the tractor away from the slope, but a small whisper said, ..”Steer into the slope”, so I did. Suddenly I had control of the tractor again and the tractor started climbing back to level land. I found a good lesson there too– we sometimes have to steer ‘in’ to a problem instead of trying to ‘fight’ our way out of it. When I was safe, I felt like getting out and dancing!

    It is like you said in your reply to Mary, Sometimes we have to do the opposite—-

    What a nice lesson also -that sometimes we need to play for a while before working..

    I also read this week something that jumped out at me. “Sometimes we have to change our yardstick”.. the things we think we have to accomplish to be a success.

    So thankful for the seeds here that help me/ us, grow! and get stronger on our journey, as we are not walking alone and we cal all be stronger because of that.


    • marci says:

      My typos! I meant to say, We can all be stronger…

    • Mary says:

      I love that you want to turn around and say, “Really, Lord?” sometimes. I am in a bookgroup, and one woman has mentioned that same thing! She said that sometimes, the things that fall in her path just make her stop, look up and say, “Really, God?” But when she does this, she feels God’s presence more stronger — she feels she hears a “Yes, really! I’m right here!”

      She made t-shirts for all of us that say, “Really, God?” on the front, and on the back, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Very cool!

      • LOVE IT, Mary!!!!

        Love how you picked up “Really, Lord” and how your book club did too.

        🙂 🙂 I have the best bloggy-friends.

      • marci says:

        Thanks Mary, It is so good to know I am not the only one that has had that thought, and to have a Tee Shirt with that written on it– that is really neat! That was nice of her to make the tee shirts for all of you. I agree, God does make his presence even stronger.


      Loved reading about how God speaks to you–His gentle warning, that soft sweet voice we can’t deny. Well, we can but….

      thank you, my friend. You’re such an encourager. You’re lifting Leafy and me too. So grateful you learned the lesson early in life about people are more important than things. And especially more important than perfect houses!

      • marci says:

        Dear Julie, So much encouragement from you. Thanks for lefting my spirits by seeing me as an encourager. We all do seem to be growing together here at your blog don’t we?
        I do think— often in writing. And I appreciate you seeing me as having a writing mind. And you are right- no more worrying about typso! There are always typos in life, so I will try to smile and know it’s OK.
        We are watching the weather right now- guess you are too with the winter weather watches. They are saying stay home unless we have to get out. Might be a good time to spend some time writing! 🙂

        • Love your thinking, Marci’a. Yes, we’ll always have typos in life. Until we get to heaven. 🙂

          Yes, it’s a great writing day! My husband is watching car shows on TV and I’m tuning it out, up in my loft office.

          Keep listening to your heart. You are an encourager and a writer.

  11. I love this, Julie! I’m 40K into my new MS. I don’t remember experiencing this on my last MS, but on this one, I keep coming to forks in the road … I could go this way or that. And I have to pick one in order to proceed, or I’ll just be stuck. And I keep getting amazed at those stuck places … the ones that I turn my nose up at … they end up being my favorite before it’s over. 🙂 So … I’m dancing with you. And I love, love, love you for making a big deal about my blog post. Wow … I’ve never had that kind of response before. Karalee was at Venture (Disciple Now), and I sat down and wrote that through tears … had no idea … you just never know. <3

    • Shelli,

      Your blog post deserved a big deal. It touched a spot soooo deep inside my heart. One of my daughters is dealing with infertility issues. So, see? We just never know how our words can change lives. Give hope. Encourage. Inspire.

      40K! What a beautiful number. Would love to talk to you about how you plot. I’m using Scriverner, but still prefer the old whiteboard/sticky note method.


      • I’m more old school than you. I use Scribble. 🙂 I have a journal book, and between my scribbles in it and my brain …. I plot all my main points, but allow room for a little pantser along the way. 🙂 It’s funny to see the places your brain and pants can take you. 😉 I usually go through at least two journal books. I constantly write ideas in it. But I have sections for all the main events. I go through it continually, marking out paragraphs or ideas I’ve already used. So when I finish the book, I have at least two journals of marked out words. 🙂 If that isn’t old school?

        • So…you hand write a lot of it before you get started typing? This is so interesting. My handwriting is terrible. I write so fast I can’t read it.

          I’d love to sit down and compare notes.

          I’m, by nature, a pantser. I know where I’m going and I love the fun watching how I’m going to get there. But I’ve also had to do tons of rewrites. But this time, I’m making myself plot ahead of time. It’s not fun, but it’s working. 🙂

          Another thing I do–I find pics of all my characters. I bet you do that too. And I do a Myers Briggs on each main character.

          • Well, I do hand write a lot … ideas mostly … and I doubt anyone else could read it. Sometimes I write in the dark. 🙂 Or in a hurry, before I forget. I do use my cell phone a lot … I have an on-going text “draft” … and I write notes to myself when I don’t have my journals available or when I’m about to go to sleep, etc. and it’s dark. But I know where everything is in it. 🙂 Yeah, I love the pantser way … I will plot the major points just so I know where I’m going and I don’t get off … but I love the creativity that comes from just seeing where you go. It’s so exciting! I try to find pics … like on my last one, I know what the girl looks like from a music video … but I’m still looking for my guy. 🙂 I know what he looks like in my head. This one now … I have the guy and am looking for the girl. 🙂 I know what she basically looks like … but it would be nice to have a picture and settle on it. I haven’t done the Myers Briggs. I’ve heard others do that … it’s a great idea because it could help with sub-plots … just the different characteristics. I need to do that.

          • So much fun hearing how you write, Shelli. We should email each other and share our “people.” I even use the same eye/hair color as my pics. Make it so much easier.

            Do you do this? I hop out of bed from a deep sleep and jot things down. I guess I’m dreaming answers to plot problems.

            Me too–me too- Love trusting the creative part and just writing. But that does mean more rewrites, I’m discovering. :/

  12. Kim Palmer says:

    I’m a little late commenting, but I totally relate to Marci and Mary. I have many times turned to God and said, “Seriously, Lord!?” Lol! And apparently I practiced what Marci suggested, writing while we wait out this rare southern winter event. I’m sharing because I thought of you Julie through the whole process.

    The Dance

    Watching snowflakes,
    big and small,
    swirl and twirl,
    then glide and fall.

    This wintry dance,
    a pretty show.
    The wind blows fierce,
    snow gathers slow.

    The sun breaks through
    and shines so bright.
    A brief appearance,
    but has no might.

    The dance goes on
    outside I see,
    yet, joy becomes
    inside of me.

    Despite the cold
    and wind so strong,
    a flash of color
    and tweet of song.

    So now I think
    I’ll take the chance,
    go outside and
    join the dance.

    I’m bundling and heading out, with a spring in my step, joy in my heart, a song in my head… 🙂

    • KIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      This is beautiful~~~~~~

      And you shared your heart and your world with us!!!

      THANK YOU!! What a gift! Dancing in my heart. And I might even go outside right now and dance in the snow. We have a dusting in GA.

      THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU! You’re so talented!

  13. Kim says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention: This was Creating, with words, my word for 2016! 🙂

  14. Oh- the snow poem- so filled with insight and beauty! It grows somewhat weary to have the absence of sunshine, and white both all over the ground and in the sky for days on end in the north. I tend to want to hibernate away. What a great reminder to dance on the inside! Or to get out of our head, and get away, and then maybe we’ll see with new light!

    • Beautiful, Vicky. Just beautiful!

      I identify with the hibernation thing–being a writer and an introvert who knows how to fake being an extrovert. 🙂

      Did I tell you we’re leading our Small Group this semester with Choose Joy? This book—oh, this book. Gotta write a blog post on it soon.

  15. Lisa Wolff says:

    Hello, Julie. I’ve been dancing through your blog posts and finally got to the beginning with your first post tonight. I just wanted to let you know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blog! Keep dancing, Sweetie Girl!

    • Lisa, Lisa.

      Happy tears this morning as I’m reading your precious comment.

      Thank you. Made my day, my week, heck my year! This is why I write.

      The Dancing Queen

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