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“Becoming Ginger Rogers”: How Patrice Tanaka Found Her Joy

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Emotional Health related image Photo: BenBella Books

With the year drawing to a close and a fresh beginning on the horizon, there is no better time to examine the attitudes and strategies we adopt to cope with the vagaries of daily existence.

In her new memoir, Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO, Patrice Tanaka shares the story of how she committed to living in the present while putting joy in her life.

The shattering events of 9/11 are a backdrop to the beginning of Tanaka’s narration. The Twin Towers had been part of the view from her office window. She found herself repeatedly reflecting upon the losses experienced by those in the New York community—and the temporal nature of human beings. She was also dealing with her own struggles, both professional and personal.

Tanaka lays out the health challenges that she experienced from 1989 through 1990, and the illness of her adored husband, “Mr. Sweetheart,” who fought a cancerous brain tumor for fifteen years. During this period of time, she watched her spouse endure surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy treatment. Tanaka became his caretaker, and despite the draining effects recognized a major message on the choice of how we experience life—“as a chore or as a joy.”

At the end of 2001, Tanaka was “exhausted and depressed.” A session in mid-2002 with an executive coach became a turning point for her when she was challenged with the question, “What is your grand mission in life, your true purpose on the planet?” Tanaka, still consumed by thoughts of those who had perished in the 9/11 attacks, kept focusing on the concept of living in the moment in a way that was meaningful.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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