I Hope You Dance

When I had a phone call a few months ago with my friend Andy of Align Coaching to understand more about the coaching process he does, he explained that one of the exercises he guides people through was thinking about five lives you could have. He said, “for example, if you wanted to be a ballerina…”

My mouth dropped open.

My eyes widened.

“Did you know I used to dance?” I (almost) yelled back.

He laughed and said no.

When I was a kid, I’d always wanted to take ballet , but the opportunity and money wasn’t there. When I was in fourth grade, I got a Sweet Valley Twins book that I read over and over, because it had to do with ballet.

After I moved to Albuquerque and got married, for some reason, I started thinking about ballet again, and decided that I’d do it. When I was 23 I walked into a dance studio for my very first class and I fell in love.

It was difficult. I could barely do any of it at first and I felt awkward and uncoordinated. Others with more experience made it look so easy. I was sore the next day. But I showed up again the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Eventually I took two classes a week and over time, I learned and improved.

There were times I practically lived at the studio due to classes, rehearsals for recitals or The Nutcracker, and even just hanging out talking before or after those classes and rehearsals.

Ballet class and rehearsal has always been the one thing where I could go and focus on something without any other thoughts creeping into my head. Dance helped me stand taller and be more confident in myself and be more comfortable in my own body.

And I became good at it.

As someone who enjoyed playing sports when I was younger, but didn’t get much playing time on the basketball court or softball field, it felt great to find something that I loved doing and that I did well.

The studio was more than just a place to dance. The people in that studio were a family, with past family members pointe shoes and pictures hung up on the wall. There is a sense of love and belonging that is hard to find when you walk outside the doors. The people there have different backgrounds, different lives, different faiths, different political beliefs.

But in the studio we were all one.

Ballet was one of the most important things in my life, an that studio represents beauty, peace, love, and belonging; four things that are of such importance to me that they really are a part of who I am.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw

 

I’m Not a Music Person

“I’m not much of a music person.”

I’ve described myself this way numerous times, yet, I’m not entirely sure how it came about. I used to like listening to music, though I can almost never tell you the name of a song or artist, and I don’t have a favorite genre. Over the years I’ve listened to rock, soft rock, pop, country, classical, and probably others I don’t even know what genre they go in. I haven’t ever had to make sure to get anyone’s newest album (well, except back in middle school when I was obsessed with New Kids on the Block, of course).

I’m not musical, that’s for sure. I can’t sing well and even though I had a whole two years of piano lessons, I hated practicing and about all I can remember is the C scale, chopsticks, and heart and soul. I own a guitar, but I can’t play it. There are lots of musical people in my family though; in fact, being non-musical might be more of an anomaly.

And so, though at one time I listened to music regularly, somewhere along the way I gave up on it. I lost interest in having it playing around the house or in the car, and felt like a cranky old person when I thought music at church was too loud, and like something was wrong with me when I got bored singing the praise songs that so many other people seemed to enjoy so much, and then there’s also the unsaid expectations at times that “Christian” music is the type of music that should be listened to, not “secular” music.

I’ve been reading a book called Beauty, by John O’Donohue, and when I came to the chapter on music I thought it wouldn’t be all that interesting, because, remember, I’m not a music person.

He writes:

In contrast to most other forms of art, music alters your experience of time. To enter a piece of music, or to have the music enfold you, is to depart for a while from regulated time.

This is how I often felt during ballet class (which, guess what, involves music). During a 90-minute class, I was able to only focus on dancing; thoughts about anything else in my life didn’t even enter my mind. It was a time-altering experience. It didn’t matter how hard the steps were or how many times we had to repeat something; I was lost in it.

But I’ve been listening to music again in the last few months, to songs that inspire and encourage me, and express what I think or feel, songs that can hold the tension of joy and sadness, faith and doubt; that acknowledge that life isn’t just wonderful all the time, and to music without words that calms me when I’m agitated.

I have enjoyed listening to new-to-me songs as I work in the yard or find peace and solitude in my sunroom, songs that may express what I feel or think, or didn’t know I felt or thought.

I think I’ve decided that it isn’t that I’m not a music person. I just don’t want to feel as if there’s only one kind of music I’m supposed to listen to. There’s such a variety out there that when we write off certain types as something we shouldn’t listen to, it limits our own experience of understanding ourselves and connecting with others, and we can become more isolated and lonely.

Here’s a variety of songs I’ve felt a connection to lately:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7k0a5hYnSI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCg2BoKiuOM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY7HrPIlu-Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwfAKN4r4tM

What music do you most relate to, and why?