Everything you do in life is a dance.
To Marissa Jarmin Hartwig, from the day a person is born, he or she starts the dance of life—different dances in different stages.
In her book Life is a Dance, soon to be published by Libro Amigo Publishers, Hartwig shares the different changes in her life as well as her memorable experiences as an educator, daughter, mother, wife and friend. The book is a collection of her reflections, thoughts and lessons learned through the years.
“In this book I talked about the different stages in my life and how these stages are like dances. I have different dances from different countries. I have dances from the Philippines, that’s why it’s called Life is a Dance,” Hartwig said.
“In here I only not talked about my life experiences, I’ve talked also about the lessons I learned as an educator, as another human being who has the same experiences that you do. They are not weird or unusual, just the same experiences that I have, that you have but I’ve reflected on the wisdom I’ve learned from it,” she added.
Unlike other self-help books, Hartwig’s book doesn’t give readers any tips, methods or techniques on dealing with different situations in their lives. Instead, it contains stories about the author’s life and how she managed to dance to the different tunes she encountered in her life.
“I’m talking about the things that I did, I’ve learned . . . but they’re my experiences and my lessons so it doesn’t necessarily mean that it could help you. It has worked for me but I don’t want to preach, I don’t want to say na this is how it’s supposed to be, it’s just how I managed and hopefully people will be inspired to think about what are the possibilities, what else is there that I can do to help, ganun lang. It’s really to help people to just think about the possibilities, not exactly to say that this is the way. I’m trying very carefully not to preach,” Hartwig explained.
“I’m just showing you what works for me now whether it’s going to help you or not, I really don’t know. It’s about thinking about possibilities, to think about what else you could do to change your life, you might come up with your own thing, you know, I’m just trying to say that this is how it helped me,” she added.
Hartwig describes her childhood as a mix of American Jive, Boogie and Swing. She explained that she, like other children, was carefree, wasn’t afraid of anything and lived life with no restrictions.
She equates pain and depression with Tango. She explained that Tango is a very emotional dance with strong staccato movements. She admitted that sometimes, she cries when she does the Tango.
“I love to dance. I was never really a professional dancer but I did a lot of performances and a lot of teaching and I still teach little kids. I teach three to six year-old children basic dances. To me when I dance, it’s different, it’s a life changing thing because when you dance you are a different persona and at the same time you’re living somebody else’s life and you translate that into dance moves,” she said.
“When you think about the different movements of a particular dance you can incorporate it to life,” she added.
Hartwig said writing her book was also an emotional journey.
“I write essays, I write short stories, I write poetry, I write all kinds of things. I try to get myself involved in everything that I write but it’s not as deep as writing a book like this because this is my life. I am being very open, I’m being very candid and I hope nobody gets hurt. When I was writing it I was really thinking about how I can translate it into words,” she said.
“There were times when it was hard for me to write and I just had to pray and ask Him [God] to guide me so that the words that would come out are the right words and they’re honest,” she added.
Hartwig said her family and the people who taught her and learned lessons from her were her inspiration in writing the book.
Before she turned to book writing, Hartwig was into theater. She also worked in an advertising agency but felt that it was not the right place for her and moved to another job.
She became a credit card analyst in New York City, but she realized that she wanted to go back to teaching. That’s where she spent the next 20 years of her life.
“This is what I really want to do in my life, this is how I want to be remembered. My legacy, I don’t want to say na pinayaman ko ang ibang tao, to me that was not as important as molding young minds,” Hartwig said.
At present, the teacher and the dancer teaches three- to six-year-olds at the Children’s House Montessori School in Florida the dance of life.