Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Issue 14 - My Mom, The Swinger


'Those who say only sunshine brings happiness have never danced in the rain.'
    -- Unknown


My mom is a swinger.   Just ask Billy Bob Thornton.   

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this recently widowed 77-year-old in action with Billy Bob.  In a darkened room full of strangers, I gasped, 'That's my mom!' 

She started swinging before my dad died, and now continues without a partner.  More than twenty years ago, friends encouraged my mom and dad to sign up for some life-changing lessons.  'Swing your partner!'  My mom, Doris Ross, is a square dancer. 

'Astronaut Farmer,' starring Billy Bob and Virginia Madsen, was filmed in Sante Fe.  Square dancers from Albuquerque were invited to be extras in the square dance scene.  The scene was filmed about four months after my dad's death.  When she called to tell me about it, I heard a renewed enthusiasm in her voice. She had something to look forward to, something to be excited about.

The movie was filmed on a chilly spring night.  Between takes, assistants brought jackets to the stars, while the extras shivered in their party clothes.

For eighteen months, she didn't know if her scene would hit the big screen or fall victim to the editing process.  On February 23, 'Astronaut Farmer' was released. 

On opening day, my mom went to the matinee with her square dancing friends. In the mall before the movie started, they staged their own show.  The caller cranked up the music and directed three squares (that's twenty-four dancers) to 'do-si-do' and 'allemande left.' 

They took their seats inside the empty theater.  Imagine the curious expressions of the other movie goers as they begin to trickle in.  Here were three rows of very enthusiastic senior citizens, the women dressed in frilly chiffon petticoats under ruffled dresses, the men in matching western shirts and ties. During their 30-seconds of fame, the group exploded with applause.

Four-hundred miles north, my husband and I sat in a theater at the same time.  Imagine the curious expression of the other movie goers when I exclaimed, 'That's my mother!'  People close enough, and thankfully they were few, could see the tear that trickled down my cheek.   She was on screen twice, maybe for a total of two seconds.  I couldn't have been happier for her if she'd won an Academy Award.  She was smiling, having fun. 

I learned love from my parents.  They were devoted to each other throughout my entire life.  I worried about my mom's ability to cope and desire to carry on after my dad's death.  To my great relief and delight, even though she still grieves for him, she's living her life.  Her continued participation in the some of the activities they did together honors his memory.  

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the memories. 


If you'd like to see of video of one of my recent talks, Unity Church in Rockies put it on their web site at


As we move toward the wedding season, remember THE ART OF THE SPARK makes a prefect shower or wedding gift.  Lasting love is what new couples want, so much more than a toaster oven!  For those celebrating an anniversary, give the gift that helps keep the spark alive.


April 11, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
This free, 2-hour interactive workshop is open to everyone.

UCLA Campus, Los Angeles, California
April 28
Not a formal speech, but I'll be talking to anyone who comes by the booth I'm sharing with author and actress Mara Purl.

Saturday, May 19, 10:00 to 3:00
Sunday, May 20, 1:00 to 3:00
Unity Church in the Rockies
1945 Mesa Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80904-1812

This 7-hour highly interactive, entertaining workshop is open to everyone. $100 per couple. Registrations received after May 6 are $125.

2007 RV Rally in Redmond, Oregon
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center
July 19 - 22, (exact date & time to be announced)

The Rally is the biggest Recreation Vehicle Show of the year. RV owners from nearly every state and province are expected. That should be around 10,000 people in 4,500 RVs.  I learned at a smaller rally last summer how romantic these RVers are.


You can host an ART OF THE SPARK workshop in your home.  If at least 5 couples attend, the cost is $25 per couple, which
includes 1 copy of THE ART OF THE SPARK, a $16.95 value.  The hosting couple attends at no cost and receives a free book.  Scheduling is a mutually agreed upon time.  Please plan for a minimum of 2 hours. 

Additional sessions can be scheduled at $20 per couple for 5 couples if you decide you want more time.  Session One covers the basics. In the second session we plan a customized adventure. My husband often comes with me so we can break into two groups and plan surprises for our partners.


If you enjoyed this free e-zine, please forward it to friends.

I care about people and how they celebrate.  If you have any stories you'd like to share with others, please send them to me
at  We can all learn from each other.

Wishing you a life of romantic adventure,
Mary Zalmanek

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