Year 2020, Skill #10: Pivot

Stefano Placidi and Jamie Barrett of Elite Ballroom Academy, Columbia, SC


“To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3 –also, the Byrds 

“Everything has its season. Everything has its time. Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme.” —Stephen Schwartz, Corner of the Sky, Pippin

“Pee-Voh!” my ballroom instructor exclaimed in his thick Italian accent when he finally understood what kind of turn I was asking to learn. Pivot. I didn’t know what the turn was called, and so I was playing charades—badly—about how we might spin around each other and cross the floor quickly and with flourish. Ah, yes, I said in my best Italian accent, “Pee-Voh!”

Pivot. Change direction. Forward, backward, or sideways. It takes balance, core strength, a little speed, and in the ballroom world, usually a tight bodily connection and interdependence with your partner. And like the song says, it is time to turn, turn, turn.

Spinning around

I am being required to pivot a lot lately, and I am sure you are, too. Change directions. Change courses. Perhaps even change my mind, my perception of what is happening, of what is true. Everyday I read or hear some new piece of information that requires me to think differently about the future. Most days I feel like I am in a constant pivot, an on-going spin, seeing something this way, and then hours later that way, and then a day later another way. And just like in dancing, if you’re not careful and you don’t know how to “spot”—keep your eyes focused on one thing—you can easily get dizzy. (More on this later.)

Change directions. Change courses. Perhaps even change my mind, my perception of what is happening, of what is true.

Others Help Us See

Last week, while facilitating a support group, a member commented that it would likely be a year or more —Fall of 2021— before groups could gather in ways we use to. I was startled a bit, and asked later if he would explain more about that comment. He was referring to the reality that mass vaccinations and the mutating of CoVid was going to require continued social distancing for at least that long. Yes, of course. Pivot.

My daughter and her boyfriend were here with me for Mother’s Day. I was sharing with them about how hard it was to do video sessions for 6-7 hours a day. How my eyes were straining, and how I started feeling disconnected from myself and others by the end of the day. Almost in unison they suggested that I invest in a large monitor and webcam. “You’re going to be doing video sessions as an on-going part of your practice, Mom, even after you start seeing people in your office again.” They are right. Pivot.

Pivoting is Hard

For most of us, changing directions is not easy. It often involves changing our minds, our stubborn, opinionated, rigid minds. We think things should go one way, and they go another. We want the facts to go our way, and they don’t. Pivoting can also involve changing our hearts. Our closed, narrow, greedy hearts.

There is much about the present circumstances that I do not like, and I imagine that is true for you, too. I don’t like not touching and hugging my friends. I don’t like not being able to eat out. (No, I am not going in a restaurant anytime soon…because Covid.) Not dancing is a bummer. Masks are not my favorite accessory, and I will continue to wear one in spaces where I cannot control how close I am to others. Cancelling my long-awaited anniversary trip to Italy makes me sad. I really miss my colleagues and clients in face-to-face conversations. I am not a fan of online worship. Most of the time I don’t like thinking about the changes I need to make in my practice to move into the future.

But Wow!

And yet, when I slow down and breathe, and when I keep my eyes focused, (remember, spotting—) there is something about the pivot that is profoundly stimulating. Oh look, there’s a new way to look at things. Wow! I hadn’t thought about that before. Hey, I am capable of making those changes. Holy Moly, this is going to be a whole new world. And, I get to be a part of shaping it and forming it and participating in a tectonic shift.

And yet, when I slow down and breathe, and when I keep my eyes focused, (remember, spotting—) there is something about the pivot that is profoundly stimulating.

So what helps us pivot? Remember I said earlier that one of the keys to turning or pivoting in dancing is to keep your eyes focused on one thing. If you look all over the place while your body is spinning around and around you will most likely fall over. But if you steady your gaze and keep your focus, you will make a beautiful turn.

Here’s what helps me with my mental pivoting:

Remembering— that everything has a season. This mural by the talented B.A Hohman of Columbia, SC, is painted on the wall of my office waiting room. It is a reminder to me and all who enter that things change, and that perhaps we can use difficult times to find meaning, a skill I wrote about a few weeks ago.



Remember—everything has a season.

Focusing—on the positive potentials, with gratitude. Adding video conferencing makes my practice more accessible to some and more flexible for me. Staying home on the weekends feels luxurious and restful. Cooking all our meals is saving money.

Learning — some new ways of being and doing. If you have the band-width, read a book that stretches your mind. Tackle a new hobby. Learn some new technology.  I have read a few blogs that say this is not the right time to learn something new.  This may be completely true if you are working and homeschooling and taking care of other people.  However, if you are home and bored and binge-watching Netflix, then you might consider learning something. This is no longer an acute situation. We are in this for the long haul. Set some goals. Challenge yourself.

Giving more— if you can because you now have the means. Because you are not traveling, not eating out, not consuming much of anything, you just might. If you read MessyMarvelous you know I believe in giving away more money than you think you can afford. Take what you would spend eating one meal out a week and give it away. If you don’t know where, you can start here.  $30 will feed a family in need. Or here.  Look into the needs of your local community wherever you live and give.

Spiritually, these things may help:

Breathing deeply—This is a marathon and not a sprint. Some things change the world slowly. CoVid is changing the world quickly. It’s ok. This is not the first time in history that the world was changed quickly. We are going to be ok. Breathing deeply will make us more ok.

Praying, meditating, centering yourself— and then listening. Listen to your heart. What are you feeling?  Can you hear a deeper, gentler voice, a more compassionate voice? Keep listening. If you need help learning to meditate or pray, here is a place you can start.

Creating—anything can change our perspective and connect us to deeper parts of ourselves. For me, writing is creating, and also playing the piano, gardening, and cooking. What is it for you?

Helping–a neighbor, a friend, someone more vulnerable than you are.  When we show up to serve others, energetically we are lifted up.  Write a snail mail letter to someone who would really appreciate it.  Drop some cookies by the home of someone who is sick. Make that phone call. Mow someone’s lawn.

When we show up to serve others, energetically we are lifted up. 

Friends, we are all going to have to pivot. We can do this. The more resistance we have, the more we grasp and hold, the harder it will be.  Shout it out with me.  PEE-VOH!


Amy Sander Montanez, D. Min., LPC, LMFT

I have a private practice of individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling in Columbia, SC. A few years ago my book, Moment to Moment: The Transformative Power of Everyday Life, won Spirituality and Health’s top 100 books of the year.  I am passionate about many things in life, but especially about psychology, spirituality, dancing, cooking, marriage, family, friends, writing, traveling, and learning.

You can email me at [email protected]









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