I love to dance, and I particularly love to dance Bharatanatyam (an ancient South Indian classical dance form). Dancing has sustained me and nourished my spirit during some of the hardest times in my life. What is highly unusual about my dancing is that I came to it relatively late in life. When my daughter was 1½ years old, she needed non stop attention and care. My husband came to me one day and told me I should do something for myself away from my daughter at least once a week. He was very concerned that I would burn out with my lack of sleep, fun and contact with the outside world. His love for me led me to one of the greatest gifts of my life.
At the age of 29, I started in a beginner class of an art form where the average age of starting is 4-8 years, and the age of graduation is 14-18 years! I did it for fun. It was a leftover childhood dream. I had no intention of performing or teaching or anything beyond going to class once a week to do something stimulating. But somehow it triggered a deep passion in me, and I looked forward to my weekly classes, my “sanity” breaks. I also found my “tribe”, a team of fellow dancers who shared my passion. But the most important thing about my dancing is that it energized me and kept me going during my toughest times; it always gave me a reason to smile, be happy, feel good and be myself.
The point of this story is this: Do something for yourself that nourishes your mind, body and spirit. Just do it. Sing, dance, read, write, paint, garden, sew, build something, swim, run, hike, play a sport, talk to a friend, paint your nails, get a massage, watch some comedy, play games, meditate, etc. etc. Even if it is just once a week or a few minutes a day, make it a priority to have at least one thing that is just about you.
Now that my daughter’s needs are less demanding of my time, I continue to dance, but also I sing out loud with my favorite songs in the car, I meditate a few minutes a day, I read before I go to bed every night, watch clips of my favorite late night shows on tv and talk to my girlfriends on the phone on weekends. Every one of these things energizes me.
It does not have to be “useful”. It does not have to be important. It does not have to be anyone else’s business. It does have to make you happy, make you feel good, give you comfort, give you strength and keep you going. Give yourself permission to do it.