Footloose at 50 | and so it is

the story from the lens

I dreaded it. For months. Now it’s here. I’m … g-a-g-sputter-choke … wait for it … f-f-fifty. It snuck up on me before I was even ready, dirty rotter! Trying to find some way to accept my fate, my cheesy-ness resorted to coining a unique phrase for my new ‘situation’.

These tumbled through my head and  it quickly rejected all of them:

  • Nifty fifty
  • Fit ‘n fifty (although this is a noble consideration)
  • Fifty ‘n fabulous
  • Fun ‘n fifty
  • Fifty’s the new forty

Determined individual that I am, I refused to give up on my wacky quest and coined the only-for-me-phrase:


Anyone who knows me well knows that I saw the original movie in the theatre at the ripe old age of 19 and that it’s been my theme thread throughout the decades. It was a defining moment for me, one I’ll get to in a bit. Footloose has been one of my most loved songs and the message behind the movie – at least the one in my head – resonates with me to this day. When the remake came out I couldn’t imagine it shining a candle to the 1984 version, but I was SO stoked that someone thought highly enough of the movie that it was worthy of an anniversary re-creation!

So what’s the message in the movie that keeps me coming back for more? There are so many layers to it from grief to rebel causes to love, acceptance and forgiveness; you name the messes we get ourselves into as humans, it addresses a good many of them.

Grief | When someone we love dies or disappears out of our lives for any reason, we react. We’re designed for connection so when that connection is taken from us, we lash out in ways we may never have thought possible. It’s a natural part of the grief process. When teens lose their lives due to a car accident, the dad of one of those teens who also happened to be the preacher, unleashed his pain on the rest of the people and used his power to dictate behavior.

Rebel Causes | If a decision is made out of hurt and anger that affects the masses, challenging that decision-making process can be considered rebellious. Ren wasn’t about to accept the reasoning behind the decision to not allow dancing in the town so risked his reputation, his own emotions and his entire being to take the town to task, to challenge them to think.

Judgmentalism | It’s in all of us in one way or another, not just in religious circles. Seriously. Be honest with yourself. Name it and face it (my name is Shandra and I am your friend). Projecting our own beliefs or expectations on others and gasping in horror if they don’t reign in to our way of thinking is nothing less than mean-spirited. At my core I do not want to be a judgmental human being. I’ve come a long way, I’ll tell you that much, but even at 50 (YIKES I’m verbalizing it!) I know I have a long way to go. To me, love is the opposite of judgmental, and we all know the world could use a whole lotta love. The preacher, the mayor and the city councilors all own the market on this one in the movie.

Love | It’s so clear to me that love is not what was operating in the town after the loss of their teens. Fear basically ruled. To love is to let go of fear. A girl’s love for her dad and wanting his approval, the love of parents for their lost kids, the love that develops out of really getting to know someone instead of making assumptions about their lifestyle or character, there are so many aspects to consider when watching the dynamics of relationship. Love always wins, even if the outcome isn’t what you expected that outcome to be.

Acceptance | The townspeople learned to accept the fact that they’d been harsh, had reacted out of fear and were in fact, crushing the spirits of those teenagers left behind to ‘live’ after the accident. Life doesn’t always play fair so when we’re hit with tragedy or negativity, there comes a point in the healing that requires acceptance of the circumstances before we can truly move on. Forget? No.

Forgiveness | SO much forgiving needed to, and finally did, happen in this tragedy-turned-triumph story. I can’t even begin to describe all the varied relationships that were impacted by the events involved, but what I can tell you is that ultimately forgiveness facilitated the change desperately needed for this town to regain its livelihood, and begin to thrive again. Hmmm let me try to pinpoint some forgiving moments. Reverend Moore with his daughter, Ariel. Ren and the preacher, the teens with their parents, the parents with their loss, the list goes on.

Fun | Fun is not bad or wrong. Laughter is the best medicine so why withhold it or put outlandish rules on it? How can you govern such things?

If you’re stuck in some area of your life, consider where there may be an element of unforgiveness, anger or resentment. Notice what part it plays in your relationships, decision making, health and your ability to truly have fun.

Are there more messages in this life-altering movie? You bet, but these are just a few that I ponder, that mean something to me.

Now that I’ve got that over with, I leave you with the part of me that I have learned to embrace – my quirky cheeseball ways. Here are 50 words I will try to incorporate this next year, to make what I initially dreaded into a life of awesomeness, acceptance and anticipation for all things wonderful, those things I encourage others in my life to live fully. Live now. Never wait.

  1. FOOTLOOSE | of course
  2. Fun
  3. Forgiving
  4. Forgiven
  5. Fierce
  6. Fearless
  7. Fixated | on the good stuff in life
  8. Fabulous
  9. Fit  | I do want this to happen
  10. Free
  11. Fair
  12. Flood | of love
  13. Faithful
  14. Funky | monkey
  15. multi-Faceted
  16. Fanciful | imaginative
  17. Fantastic
  18. Flexible
  19. Fulfilled
  20. Fanatical | about living fully
  21. Feisty
  22. Fine
  23. Financially | abundant
  24. Funny
  25. Fireball
  26. Flavorful |not boring
  27. Flickering | igniting the light
  28. Focused
  29. Footed | grounded
  30. Foresee
  31. Fruitful
  32. Follower | of my heart
  33. Fortress | protector for my kids
  34. Founder | of my future
  35. Fountain | of youth?! … or courage … or hope … or any other good thing
  36. Fresh
  37. Full | of life
  38. Functional
  39. Futurist
  40. Fast
  41. Frisky
  42. Foster | healthy living emotionally, physically, mentally, financially
  43. Frolic | playful
  44. Foxy | 🙂
  45. Forgetful | of that which causes me to spiral
  46. Fluid | like a stream
  47. Folder | of my children’s clothes | less annoying than wrinkles
  48. Fanner | of the flame that is the message of my life
  49. Fixer | of my own ‘stuff’
  50. FIFTY

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  1. #1 by Shelley on October 4, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Great insights about Footloose Shandra. It reflects a lot about how we human beings act or react to things that happen in life. And we all do it… that’s a for sure.
    Love your fifty words. I desire for those things to be evident in my own life and since I’ve already past the big “50” lol, those things have become more important to me than ever before. I actually loved becoming 50. I finally cared less about what others thought and more about what I wanted, needed and was more confident about who I was as a person. 🙂

    • #2 by shandracarlson on October 12, 2014 - 8:40 am

      Thanks for your comments, Shelley. I watched you turn 50 and was in awe of how gracefully you handled it! (good example my friend)

  2. #3 by fforwardflashbackmedia on October 12, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Hit that mark earlier in the year and proud of it! We should enjoy every age especially this one because there are some who never made it to this number. Enjoy it every day. Great post (loved the video!)

    • #4 by shandracarlson on October 12, 2014 - 8:39 am

      You are absolutely right. Treasuring every moment is the only way. Thanks for taking time to read and share your thoughts!

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    "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Jack Kerouac
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