As I watched a mesmerizing performance by Missouri Contemporary Ballet a couple of years ago, tears came to my eyes. Tears? Why tears? I experienced the simultaneous feelings of total bliss and deep sadness. The bliss was very easy to understand because I love dance. I love watching dance, and I have always loved to dance (although performing, for me, has been mixed because of the anxiety that goes with it.) On the flip side, the sadness was in response to the loss I felt from not having had any dance in my life for the previous few years. I hadn’t been to any performances, and I hadn’t danced or taken any classes for a long time. What grief I felt as I watched those dancers, yet I also felt uplifted and joyful. No wonder I felt so strange as I watched them move their bodies in exquisite turns, leaps and contortions of strength and flexibility! Such total immersion I felt in the experience of witnessing those dancers perform.
Ballet Classes For Adults!
The dear friend sitting next to me at the performance noticed how strongly I responded and showed me the back page of the program, which advertised ballet classes for adults. BALLET CLASSES FOR ADULTS??? I nearly jumped with joy as much as I was in disbelief at the idea. Really?? I could take a ballet class? But, would they really let me in when they discovered that I wasn’t a young 20 or even 30-something? I had to find out.
I called the number and got the information I needed and found myself taking ballet again — many, many years since I had last taken as a child. After my first class, because I worked so hard to do everything as well as I could and because my body had only faint memories of my childhood classes, I was literally almost unable to walk out without my legs buckling because they were so sore. I burst into tears when I got in my car and wondered if I would be able to continue.
That was two years ago. Not only am I now taking two ballet classes each week, I have also ventured into a tap class, which is delightfully fun yet also quite challenging for me, and I am considering adding a class in modern dance. That last one might push my schedule to its limits, but time will tell. I love each class. Sometimes I leave feeling frustrated that I have not been able to learn steps more quickly or that I am not as strong or flexible as I want to be. But I work with what I have — the age I am, the body I have, and whatever my physical gifts or limitations may be, not to mention the focus and memory that is required!
As is apparent, my passion is dance, and it is crystal clear to me that pursuing my passion has given me energy, joy and confidence. It has become such an essential part of my self-care, not only to go to performances, but also to participate in dance by dancing! There is a life force and an engagement and a focus that comes from participating in what you love to do. For me, it is dance. What is it for you? What is it that calls to you? What is it that intrigues you? What is it that makes you smile, or perhaps makes you cry because it has been missing?
Fitting In One More Thing
I wondered how I would find the time or the money to pursue dance classes. As much as I wanted to try it out (although with a bit of nervousness about whether I could really do it), it felt rather indulgent and even frivolous to proceed. It also seemed on the edge of overwhelming to add one more thing to my schedule. But I also knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right thing to do. I took the next step and made a phone call, even though I wasn’t really sure how it would all work out.
The amazing thing is that adding something that you are passionate about can create more joy. And through that joy, the challenges and stress of life become a bit easier to handle. Perhaps we gain a bit of perspective. Perhaps we actually get better at coping with things. I don’t really know. What I do know is that life improves.
Put something joyful in your life.
Start small. Make a phone call. Do some research online to get more information. Talk to someone who can tell you more. Write down several ideas you have about it. Let yourself dream, and also take some kind of action! You may find that your life begins to improve in unexpected ways. Your joy is an important part of self-care. Taking care of ourselves is more than just eating well, exercising and sleeping enough. It is also about including in your life the things that matter to you and that are important to you.