Congratulations to Mona Rae for Winning the October 2018 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that started with one of these prompts:

Option 1: Oh, I am so sorry, but pumpkin spice latte season ended yesterday! What else can I get you?

Option 2: Mr. Higgins, please tell our viewers how you plan to spend your lottery winnings!

Option 3: All you have to do is step-kick-step-kick-step-kick. Now try it with me.

Mona chose Option 3… and produced an unexpected tale of triumph. Enjoy her winning submission:

“All you have to do is step-kick-step-kick-step-kick. Now try it with me.”

That’s the last thing my hip-hop instructor, Vanda, said before I found myself crumpled up on the dance floor with a big ol’ bruised ego and a quickly swelling ankle.

Dance Spot Dallas was having an Open House in two weeks, and Vanda had been teaching each of her classes new choreography to perform on the big day.

For newbies, we’d come a long way in eight sessions, but with only two practices left, it was “go time.” Splayed out on the floor like a tangled up marionette doll, the only place I wanted to go was in a hole.

Vanda and the five other women in my class circled around me with sympathetic faces.

Looking up at them, I felt like a wounded bird discovered by a few kids on the edge of a playground. Which one of them is going to grab a stick and start poking me? Fortunately, my friends didn’t have any sticks.

“On, no! Are you okay? Do you think you can get up?”

I’m 5’11’’, so it was a long way down. I was still getting my bearings, and tried desperately to protect my ego.


Vanda extended her hand toward me, and another classmate put her hand on my shoulder to help me sit up. That’s when I knew it was broken.

I was sure of it, because when I was in seventh grade, I fell and broke my collarbone while playing in a friend’s yard and the same thing happened. When I went to get up, it was like someone put a sandbag on my shoulder. It just wouldn’t budge. My throbbing ankle wasn’t going anywhere now, either.

The paramedics were called, and by the time I got wheeled outside on the stretcher, a small crowd had gathered around to gawk, not unlike playground kids. Do cell phones count as sticks?

My classmates waved to me as the ambulance doors closed, and even though I had plenty of reasons to feel sorry for myself, I found myself with a big ol’ goofy grin…

I’d done it!

Taking dance lessons had been on my bucket list since 2006. That’s when Emmitt Smith won Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars.

Seeing him shake those hips and have so much fun doing it? Well, as a native Texan and lifetime Cowboys fan, I was sold. I swore to myself right then that my boogieing skills would go beyond the basic line dancing sequences I learned in fifth grade gym class.

I’ll have this big black boot on for at least three months, so there won’t be any Open House hip-hopping for me, but you know what? The whole fiasco was worth it. After 12 years, I finally got to check off “take dance lessons” from my bucket list!

Now let’s see if I can check off “get a comment from a celebrity” after posting this story on Emmitt Smith’s Facebook page…