Thursday, February 18, 2010


I had two choices when I first stepped onto the glimmering hardwood floor. I could be timid, unsure, and probably a bit intimidated, or I could stop thinking those thoughts and give it my all. I wanted to dance so much that I was sure I would not hold back. I knew life would be different, once I let myself do what I wanted. It took courage, but I was determined to do something different with my life, to take a risk.

It was the first time that I took dance classes, the ones usually reserved for those of preschool age until their early twenties. That didn’t stop me. I was the only student over 50, actually probably the only one over the age of 30. The instructor/owner of the studio was only 18, but she was gracious and willing to teach me.

We started out with jazz and ballet—ballet being something I did not particularly think would be what I wanted, but she insisted that it was a good foundation. So we began. She was a professional in every aspect and expected the best from me. She pushed me, made me kick higher, made me do everything better, the result being that she knew I would give her what she asked from me.


I soon discovered that two classes a week were not enough, but I consoled myself since there was to be a dance concert in June. I could manage. Ballet lasted about a month, and then I said no more, although at times I still find myself standing in first position. I wanted something fast. A good rhythm, or hip-hop, maybe, and that wasn’t ballet, but it was jazz.

I discovered that dancing is a form of expressing me, of letting go all that I had been keeping hidden inside me. Dancing was something that I had always enjoyed, although as a child I was exposed to it only briefly, through ballroom dancing lessons at school, and square dancing in my hometown. But, it wasn’t until I took jazz classes that I realized just how much dancing was a major part of who I am.

The following June we readied ourselves for the concert. I remember walking out on stage for the first time, looking at the crowd of over 500 people (standing room only), thinking, “This must be heaven.” I loved dancing on stage more than life itself.

The following year, my instructor asked me if I would do a solo plus the class performance. Of course, I said yes rather enthusiastically, and did my solo to “Hello Dolly.”

Both years, after the last of three performances of the concert, it was such a let down, and maybe even a little depression crept in. Classes took a two-month break, but it was too long for me.


I didn’t return for the third year. Many alibis kept me separated from what I loved. Things like not enough money for classes, not enough time for classes, not enough money to buy costumes for the June concerts. I’m sure I thought of more, and that was enough to stop me.

But, the reality was that doing what I loved, what I wanted to do, was a pleasure that I felt I did not deserve, so I couldn’t go back. I had been told many years ago that you can’t make any money in the artistic fields. I wasn’t in it for the money, but I was doing what I wanted, which I knew was forbidden.


Being told I cannot do what I want has only made me more determined to succeed. With the help of my instructor, I knew I could go beyond all expectations. I may not have gotten the support I needed from my parents, but support now comes to me from a different source, from my instructors. They are the ones that tell me how good I am, in front the class. I allow them to tell me how good I am and I allow myself to accept the praise graciously.

Even though I am not currently at a studio, being over the age of 50 has its advantages. I can take line dance classes for a minimal fee and as many as six classes a week. They are offered at the various senior recreational centers and I attend as often as I can. The line dances are the usual country western, but also a ballroom line dancing class, consisting of different styles such as cha-cha, salsa, swing, fox trot and any combination. Line dancing eliminates the need for a partner. The instructors give us enough so that we feel it, we sweat, our heartbeats race.

The instructors in these classes have also commented on how good I am, and with this praise I trust in how good I am, and I push to do even better. My greatest achievement is that I dance in step with the instructors.

I used to be ashamed of being better than others, especially those who are much older than I am, but I’ve since learned that there is nothing wrong with showing my good qualities, with being better than I ever thought I could be.

  • What have you done that took you out of your comfort zone? How did it make you feel?
  • Did you have an instructor, a mentor, or a friend push you to your limits and beyond?
  • If not, think of something you’ve always wanted to do, but never felt you could.
  • What steps can you take toward accomplishing that goal?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Do you slide into old habits, not realizing you have, until it’s too late? I did. Just recently. This pattern is so subtle that I knew it was happening, but I didn’t feel the urgency to stop and make adjustments.

The telltale signs that my body was retaining fat and flab startled me. I wasn’t feeling confident and sure of myself as is the result of working on my core area. What happened?

It only took a few minutes to register that I had quit exercising. I had quit doing Pilates five or six mornings a week. My dance teacher called me the other day reminding me of her classes that I had not been attending. I do a total of three to six dance classes a week and had stopped completely.

I know my body needs a lot of continual movement in order for me to feel good and other than shoveling the snow a number of times, I had quit all other forms of taking care of my body. Worse, yet I was consuming more fat and a lot of sugar. Wow!


Having time was not the issue. I work part time and even fewer hours lately. There wasn’t a physical reason that kept me from exercising.  It was though, the fact that I felt I could not at this time spend any time on me.

Although, I did let my fewer hours at my job, meaning less income, to deter my going to dance classes, which cost under $5.00 an hour. I can reduce my amount of dance classes to two or three.  Can’t say I have that same excuse for Pilates, since I have a Pilates video at home.

Every once in a while what I want and need becomes nonessential. It’s as though I feel I am not worthy and to live up to that feeling, I stop doing good things for me. It happened again. It’s not the time or the money. It is though, the feeling that I am not worthy, I am not good enough. I can make up any excuse I want, but it is how I feel about me that actually makes me stop.


Could it be my mother’s words? Was this message creeping up on me again?

She had emphatically told me that to keep a happy home, the most important person in your life is the man you’re married to, then your children and if you have anything left over, I’m assuming she meant time, money and energy, it is for you. I steadfastly lived by this motto. As I watched my mother this is what she did, so I chose to do it also.

Yes, my mother believed she was last in her family, but she was also clever. She married a man who made a good income and she knew how to manage the money. She saved without needing to skimp. When she decided it was time to have what she wanted, she had the money set aside. She went to the most expensive department store to buy her clothes and for my treat of the day we had lunch in the exquisite dining room on the top floor of the building.

She did though leave out a very important part, teaching me to be clever.


Even though occasionally I need to remind myself to exercise and eat healthy, I can do it so much easier as long as I believe that I deserve to have a strong, slim and healthy body.

I now put myself first as it is essential for my well-being. I intend to be healthy and in a good place mentally and emotionally so that if the need arises I can take care of others.

  •  Think of a situation with which you’re currently dissatisfied
  •  What messages can you recall from earlier in your life that might have contributed to   this situation?
  •  Ask yourself if these messages are still valid.
  •  If they are not, let them go!
  •  Think of positive messages to replace the old ones and say them to yourself every day.