LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION AND JOIN IN THE DANCE ON YOUTUBE
When I was 5 years old, I would spend my late afternoons, that witching and waiting hour while mom was cooking dinner and dad was on his way home, dancing around my living room.
I wasn’t dancing to cheesy 80’s hits, or more endearing 70’s classics. It wasn’t even to Sunday morning church music, which is typically all that blew through the speakers of my house.
It was to something much more random: Ravel’s Bolero.
There’s something about the rhythmic drumming offering a place to nestle into, while the melody twists and turns into a full-on drama. From simple to complicated, order to chaos, sadness to laughter, somber to triumph; it does it for me every time.
At 5 years old, my dance wasn’t the wishful dreaming of being a ballerina when I grew up. It’s just that I could not not move to the music.
I could not not do something that felt instinctual. It’s as if there was no choice. I had to dance.
Fast-forward 33 years. I’ve maybe listened to that track 3 times in the last 3 decades of my life. I’ve put baby in a corner, locked up a part of me that felt so free, definitely misplaced the key.
I’ve told myself that there’s no point in dancing if you’re not going to be a professional. There’s no point spending your time on things that aren’t practical, somehow furthering your career, or making you money; even if they turn you on.
I’ve stopped myself from letting myself love what I love, just for the sake of loving it.
My new rule sounds more like: Only love it if you can figure out a way for it to ‘be a thing’.
I grew up and didn’t let my Little Girl come with me.
I’ve missed her, without knowing it was her I missed. I’ve been tired, carrying my work as if it’s my cross to bear. The muscles in my face have less resistance to gravity because I forget to let myself have good clean fun. The wild and crazy and out-of-the-box ideas that make my eyes light up and my heart start to sing, get added to the bottom of the to-do list that includes: social media, networking group, blog post, execute the business plan.
This morning I tried something different. I danced to Bolero again. In my garden, barefoot, because I wanted to.
A dedication to my 5 year-old-self.
And so this goes out to all our 5 year-old selves. Let us not forget where we came from, who we are, or how to play.
A Letter To: Your Little Girl Playful Self
C/O: Your Grown-up Grumpy Self
In case you forgot why you are here; in case you thought your job was done 30-something years ago; in case you thought you weren’t allowed to have a seat at the big-kids table…
Please come back. You’re welcome here. I need you now more than ever.
You see, I thought that as a woman, I had to be hard, tough. I had to put my big-girl panties on and make sure that no one could mess with me.
I thought I had to prove had I a pair of cojones and ovaries that could out-run and out-smart the best of them.
I thought I had to keep everyone in line, including the dog, especially my man. I thought my house had to look like a show room 24/7, and that not one hair on my head could be seen out of place.
I thought that if my work wasn’t tedious, it wasn’t worth doing.
I thought that if I laughed, it was two steps-back on the productivity line.
And so I created a life that required more of me than I had to give. I got used to living with a shell of me; my meat and bones scattered in one-off experiences around the globe that felt too easy to actually become the heart of my life.
I forgot about you. I forgot what it felt like to dance and prance and twirl and swirl not caring what I looked like, not caring if anyone else cared what I looked like.
I forgot what it was like to just let myself be unapologetically me.
Here’s why I want you, need you, back.
Women of play get more done.
The laundry, the emails, the client, and the dinner I promised to drop off at my mother-in-laws… with you, all of a sudden they become get-to’s not have-to’s. And then somehow they take care of themselves. I don’t even end up doing them.
Women of play walk around with a smile on their face.
They smile because they are happy (go figure). They give themselves permission to only do things that bring them joy.
Women of play like what they see in the mirror.
They look back on their day and are proud of what they accomplished and how they accomplished it. They sway their hips, shrug their shoulders, and flick their tail. Their body’s done good today.
Women of play laugh a lot.
When they fail and fall, they roll over, brush themselves off, chuckle at their humanness, get back up and try it again. When something tickles their senses, they linger and drink it in.
Women of play dance a lot.
They don’t even have to move to music! Yet they somehow satiate their curiosity as they learn new ways to moves through life. They make a mess as they create something unique with their playmates, and they experiment without needing the finished product to be perfect.
Women of play are rested.
They are not weary from all the self-judgement, self-punishment, and self-inflicted shame.
Women of play are contagious.
They accept and delight in themselves. They create safe spaces for others to be accepted and delighted in too.
Women of play are fun to be around.
Even when life throws them lemons, they find a way to brighten the day. They are magnets for everything that makes their hearts sing.
I want to be a woman of play. I want to wake up excited, wondering, ‘What adventure are we going on today?’. I want to create a home where my man and my children are not scared to spill the milk (or the wine). I want to infect my community with joy; where we are pursuing the possibilities and celebrating each step along the way, even when it comes time to say goodbye to ideas that don’t take flight.
Can we try this again? I’ll let you go first and follow your lead. Can you teach my soul how to sing?
Little, playful, Self; Thank You, I love You.
Teaching EMBODY dance classes has played a huge part in reuniting me with my inner Little. It could do the same for you. Find a class near you at www.embodydanceclass.com; you get to move as you need to and play as you want to.
I teach in Swansea and the UK. See you on the dance floor.