Stumbles don't have to become falls.
I tried out for cheerleader when I was a freshman in high school, as a new girl, in front of the entire student body. I tripped during my adrenaline-amped cartwheel/round-off/jump/kick entrance. Tripped, and fell down. In front of everyone. As a new girl. Biggest fear. Happened.
I remember getting up and still going and somehow getting the moves and the words out of me, which felt and looked like the nightmare where you’re stuck and you scream and you can’t move and nothing comes out. Needless to say, I didn’t make cheerleader.
The bright side of being new (and a freshman) is that no one knows (or cares about) you, so somehow I quietly navigated my way through the following days fairly unscathed. But, I still wanted something to do, a sliver of a space to call my own in this scary high school space. Cheerleading had been my thing in junior high. I’d also tried volleyball and softball and well, let’s just say those weren’t going to be my things.
After ensuring tryouts were NOT in front of the student body, I tried out for “pom,” what we called the dance squad, which turned out to be a kinder, gentler, experience. Some jumping, no tumbling, a good thing because my sister inherited those genes.
Turns out, I was meant to dance.
I loved emulating Madonna and Michael’s MTV moves in the living room. I loved practicing and making up dances and finding the right music and shaking my groove thing. It brightened and shaped my high school experience.
College brought feel-the-burn aerobics, sweatbands, leg warmers and thong leotards. We oriented our days around these classes. They felt essential. I didn’t realize how essential until graduation brought pantyhose, retail, 12 hours a day, in a mall, every Saturday, Sunday and holiday. My only joy was in the bags of cookies handed over the Mrs. Field’s counter, just around the corner.
I didn’t understand how important movement was because I hadn’t gone through a significant time without it. I wasn’t mentally, emotionally, energetically equipped to juggle the hassle of figuring out how/where to workout while working, so I gave up trying, which left me exhausted and sad and kinda hopeless. I’ve never felt worse in my body than I did in my early twenties.
Fortunately, friends called. Let’s move to the beach. Jobs aligned, moves were made, and pretty soon, rollerblading worked wonders for my spirit. I was starting to see then, what I now know for sure: I need to move for sanity, not vanity.
My thirties brought a new challenge in the form of the cubicle. Long, morning, beach-y runs kept me grounded and able to navigate my way through married, corporate life.
All that running and traveling and having to be “on,” left me craving an inward, soul-inspiring, lengthening, strengthening, softening. Yoga guided my way through my not married, not working, trying to find my way forties.
Now, in my fifties, all that depth and quiet has sparked a desire to dance. I tried Zumba. Ugh. I didn’t connect to the music or the moves. I tried my nieces’ Saturday morning warm-up-before-ballet dance-aerobics style class. When they started split-leaping across the floor, I knew - this was not going to be my thing.
I wanted to feel like a dancer without having to “be” a dancer. I found it in Tracy Anderson’s online streaming where she choreographs a new “conversation” for your brain and body every week. It’s always changing, striving for balance where there’s imbalance, and I love it.
My point is not to convince you to move my way or even every day.
My point is that when I look back at my life, I don’t remember the problems as much as how I moved through them. Somehow, all the worry about money and work, people and situations, situated themselves.
Stumbles don’t have to become falls. Maybe your stumble is an injury, a surgery, a change, a baby, and that’s okay. The key is listening to what you’re craving. Is it fresh air, quiet, sweat, loud music, being led, being alone, lengthening, strengthening, softening?
It might not happen how you want it to. Like, I didn’t make cheerleader and you might not be able to go to the gym every day like you use to. By not making cheer, I found dance, which brought aerobics, an escape from the mall, to the beach, to a cubicle, to running and yoga, which made me feel like a dancer, which makes me want to dance even more.
The older I get, the more imperative movement feels. It steadies my hormones (that cortisol needs handling). This, more than anything, is guiding my way of aging. I don’t take for granted my ability to move. Some day that might change. I’m getting strong and staying bendy for whatever life brings.
But really, it’s this saying that keeps me moving,
Our body houses our gifts.
We get strong in our body so we can live how we’re meant to live.
We stumble for the chance to practice coming back, to stay more on than off track.
I’m grateful for the stumbles because they’ve embedded in my bones the belief that movement brings magic, however, whenever it happens.