This blog post is an edited reprint from my Simply Celebrate newsletter in 2011.
This morning I attended a dance class in the Mission. At one point during the class, Michael Franti’s, “Say Hey (I Love You)” was playing and we were shimmying all over the place.
The woman in front of me was giggling. The gal beside me had a big grin on her face. I looked in the mirror and noticed women of all shapes and sizes, moving to the music in our choreographed dance.
Then suddenly, I burst into tears.
I was struck with this huge wave of gratitude and joy. And I’ll tell you why.
It was simply this: I was dancing.
I spent most of life wanting to be someone who danced. In fact, for almost 45 years I longed to be the sort of woman who could dance.
I wanted to learn choreography or swing dance. I wanted to samba, salsa, or waltz. I used to watch people dancing to musicals on stage or at weddings with their partners and I’d feel this deep desire to be that kind of person.
I was so envious of people who could dance.
But alas, my mind always told me that I just wasn’t that kind of person. In fact, what I got told was that I was as gawky as a nine-year-old, with no sense of rhythm or style. So many years passed by and I never even considered taking a dance class because the fear around it was so strong.
But then, a few years ago, something happened. I noticed that it was Bay Area National Dance Week and that lots of dance studios were offering free classes. Some courage welled up inside of me and I decided to attend a dance class for beginners. It was choreographed dance moves to all kinds of music.
I told myself that all I had to do was to go to the class and endure it. I didn’t have to be comfortable. (Fat chance of that!). I didn’t have to be able to follow the moves. (Ditto that!). I didn’t have to be graceful or have rhythm or anything. All I had to do was manage to be in the class without crying or throwing up.
And you know what? I did it.
I went to class and didn’t cry or throw up. I survived!
That gave me the courage to go again. And again. And again.
Several years passed and this morning, smack dab in the middle of the same exact dance class I started with way back when, I realized something: Here I am, having a great time. Here I am at a dance class and I am comfortable and following all the moves with my own style.
I am a woman who dances.
I saw so clearly how hard conditioned mind works to keep me small and closed. All those years I believed I couldn’t dance.
What else is it telling me I can’t do?
What other lies am I buying into?
Bay Area National Dance Week is actually here again. It started yesterday. If there is something in your own life that you’re being told that you can’t do, I encourage you to use Dance Week as a metaphor for stepping into life in a new (jiggy kind of) way.
I hereby give you permission to just show up to whatever it is you want to be or do.
Here are the simple tools I used to become someone who dances. I tell myself these things every time I want to learn something new:
- All you have to do is show up and be present.
- You can even cry or throw up.
- Be gentle and don’t judge yourself.
- Just do it and trust that life will help.
- Enjoy participating.
- Remember beginner’s mind.
- You got this. I’m here with you.
I hope you’ll try saying these things to support yourself!
Doing the happy dance as I write to you,
P.S. Please don’t wait to gift yourself by doing that thing you always wanted to do. Dance the night away. Before it’s too late and the music stops.
P.P.S. In a burst of extra courage, I posted a two-minute video from the 2012 Bay Area Dance Week Flash Mob dance I participated in. I was so scared to dance in public! But I did it. You can do it to. Whatever your “it” is! I believe in you.
Photos copyright Christina Shook Photography (Thank you Christina!)