I’ve always wanted to be a dancer.
It’s a truth that not many know about me! But there it is. In black and white now, for all the world to see. When I was a little girl my mom spoke often of putting me in ballet, but the cosmos did not align in my favor for many things that I wanted as a little girl.
You grow up. You tuck away your childhood dreams and go on.
I admired ballerinas from afar, attended Alvin Ailey performances and with my daughter watched the Nutcracker with awe and wonder.
Fortunately, when she expressed a desire to dance, I was able to enroll her in a little studio not far from our house and I’ve watched with awe and wonder as she’s developed grace and poise in a very short time. When I registered her for the summer the studio owner reminded me, again, that they offer “adult” classes and I told myself, again, that I’m “too old for this” now. My time has passed. I’m past my prime.
It would be a stretch to take ballet at my age…literally!
But, then I thought, why not stretch? Stretching is good! Physically, stretching increases range of motion, prevents injury and improves balance, but psychologically? Emotionally? Professionally? Stretching can be scary. Reaching for goals that are not just beyond my reach, but beyond my zip code! Extending myself to attempt things that are so far outside of my skillset that I have to do research before I can even start? No. My courage is a bit atrophied from decades of settling for tasks that fall safely within the parameters of my paygrade, from sticking with activities that lie limply under the canopy of my job description. So, the thought of crawling out from under that safe, yet confining space was frightening!
When atrophied muscles begin to move, the result is resistance. When we wander into unknown territory, the initial move is hard. To stretch beyond the comfort zone is to pull away from the familiar and to risk pain. That’s why it’s easier to stay where I am, to stick to what’s expected of me at my age, to settle, rather than to stretch.
But, there’s another reality: if I do nothing I die! For years I’ve watched others do things I wished I could do. I’ve spent much of my life on the bench, observing from the sideline. At the end of my life will I be content to say, “boy it sure was fun to watch everyone else living their life!” No! It’s high time I get in the game and do some living myself! Physically, if a person doesn’t move, they will deteriorate. Psychologically, emotionally and professionally the same is true too. Because anything that is not moving is declining; anything that isn’t living is dying!
The bottom line is, I have two choices. I can either get old or I can grow old.
If I get old I stay where I am, in my comfort zone, doing what’s safe, completing the easy tasks that I know I can do, never stretching myself to do any more or to try anything new. And every year I’ll get older.
Or I can step out of my comfort zone. Break away from what’s safe, challenge myself to tasks that seem too hard for me, stretch myself to do more than I think I’m capable of and to try new things that I never thought I could. And every year I’ll grow older. I’ll stretch, I’ll change; hopefully I’ll be stronger and better for the effort and experience.
So, what about you? Do you need to stretch? Have you settled into a safe space and allowed your literal or metaphorical muscles to atrophy? Maybe it’s time to peek out from under your canopy. In the meantime, if, you’ll excuse me, I have some stretching to do, my ballet class will be starting soon!
- Learn more about the benefits of stretching from Prevention
- Learn more about my favorite little dance studio Arabesque Dance Arts
- Also, check out “Hi, I’m K” where I’ve uploaded pictures from my ballerina daughter’s birthday “spa” party!
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