Category Archives: 40

I’m 46 and I’m…. Learning to Dance: How I Found the Confidence to Try

This week, I took a ballet class for the first time in 35 years. Why did I wait so long?

 

IMG_1203
In my ballet dancing days

 

Believing I couldn’t dance

The last time I took a ballet class I was 11 years old.  My teacher had told me I wasn’t any good, after getting a mediocre grade in my exam and  I never saw myself as a dancer from that point on. I learned basic tap as a teen and was part of the dancing team in one show, but I couldn’t keep up with the girls who still attended dance classes.  With hindsight, I should have found a different teacher and a different type of dance. Soon I was pigeonholed as a singer and actress who could move but not dance.

How it held me back

As a musical theatre performer, this obviously held me back. There were parts I didn’t audition for because I would need to dance and parts I didn’t get because others could dance better than me.  There were bitter disappointments, like the time a director called to say they rated my talent but my dancing wasn’t strong enough for this particular show. My breaking point was a show in which I had to sing in the wings with the old people, because I didn’t pass the dance audition. That was the last musical theatre production I appeared in.

 

IMG_1206
photo credit Michael McClary

 

Other obstacles

In my 20’s I tried a few dance classes. Adult tap was fun, until I moved to a different town and the new class made my brain hurt because it was faster paced. I tried a contemporary class but had to travel on the train, which became a pain.  Another class was full of teenagers who had been dancing all their lives and I was completely out of my depth. I really wanted to learn musical theatre dance, but I wasn’t sure what that type of dance was called.  Eventually I gave up trying and resigned myself to never being a dancer.

Perhaps I’ve lived my dance ambition through my kids.  They are all wonderful dancers. I don’t feel like I have pushed them to dance, but perhaps on a subconscious level, I was living my dreams through them.

Now it’s my turn – I’m 46 and I’m trying again.

What changed my mind?

Strangely, it was taking up taekwondo.

IMG_1205

I took up taekwondo three years ago because my whole family attended and I needed a regular activity to make me workout. I really enjoyed the fitness element, as it forced me to push myself to do things I wouldn’t otherwise try.  When I started I couldn’t do a sit up or a press up.  Three years later I could do fifty of each, my weak wrists strengthened and didn’t hurt anymore and hip pain I had been struggling with since my first pregnancy disappeared.

Learning the moves was challenging and sometimes I felt I would never be able to learn the forms or kicks. Over time I began to realise that I was improving, very gradually. I became more flexible, my technique improved and I could remember more complicated poomse.  That’s when it dawned on me.

If I could learn taekwondo in three years, I could apply myself to something I really wanted to learn and in three years time, I could be a dancer.

Finding the Right Class

the studio

As I had discovered in my 20’s, finding the right class as an adult isn’t easy.  It was difficult to find a class during the daytime, when my kids are at school and I have most flexibility. At least this time I knew what kind of class I was looking for.  After watching my daughter at a trial jazz class, it was clear that jazz was the class I had been looking for all these years.

I was so excited when I found a studio that appeared to fit my requirements perfectly.  The Studio, Issaquah, is a dance and yoga studio exclusively for adults. They have a huge variety of classes and class times to suit everybody.   Fear, led to procrastination, but my desire to learn overcame and I booked my first jazz class.

Jazz Class

jazz hands

Within minutes, I felt like my 6-year-old self, excited to be at ballet class for the first time.  The studio has a warm, friendly ambience and the people in the class reflect that and were really welcoming. The teacher Megan, is brimming with enthusiasm and energy, which is totally infectious. It was everything I could have asked for and more. A good core workout, a brain workout as I learn new routines and a mixture of fun and  technique; exactly what I was looking for.  It isn’t an easy class and some of the routines tax my brain, but experience has taught me not to give up. I don’t look at my awkward self in the mirror and lose hope anymore, because I know, soon it will become easier.  My body and my brain will learn to do new things, step by step.

Ballet Class

 

Erin rearshot
Enter a caption

 

I  loved it so much I decided to try the beginners ballet class, to help with dance steps, technique and posture. My children found it highly amusing but I think they pictured me strutting around in a leotard or tutu.

Ballet was a busier class but I didn’t feel lost. Again the teacher was friendly and encouraging and everyone in the class was either new to ballet or hadn’t danced since a child. For years I’d felt like the useless one in the group; here I fitted in. I liked the slower pace of ballet, as it helped me keep up with the routines. Many of the exercises and terms were familiar from my childhood, even if I couldn’t quite remember them properly. I thought I would feel like an idiot in a ballet class in my 40’s, but somehow it felt like coming home.

I keep seeing new classes I’d like to try, like the daytime tap class starting in June. Anyone buying me a gift in the future shouldn’t struggle for ideas – keep fueling my dance account and I’ll be happy.  I’m so excited to see how I will improve over time; maybe I’ll even dance in a show again someday?

 

Disclaimer: All recommendations are personal – no financial incentive was given for writing this post.

 

Advertisements

Getting Your Groove Back – From Non-Runner to Half Marathon

Last week I joined Kate on Thin Ice for her Getting Your Groove Back Blog Hop.  This is a way for mums to share stories about how they are reclaiming themselves after having children. My life is full of such stories, some successful, some not, but I’m working on finding a new me.

This week Kate has asked us to suggest a song that inspires you to make changes and to talk about ways of making your body feel better.

I took up running 5 months ago.  I had run a little bit after the birth of my 2nd child but never managed more than 2 miles.  However, after my third I was determined to get fit again and reclaim the body I had before the children.  My husband suggested a 4 mile route, I reluctantly agreed, expecting to walk the last mile.  I played gentle music and took it slowly and was amazed that I managed to run 4 miles and it didn’t seem that difficult.

My 4 mile route involves running downhill with views of the sea and then climbing back up to home.  I love being outside and seeing the beautiful scenery, with music and my thoughts for company.  I sometimes pass cyclists or other runners and they always smile.  I feel healthy, free and able to conquer the world when I run.  My usual music is Adele 21, not only is it good for keeping a steady pace but also the lyrics help me to feel that whatever life throws at me, I am important and strong. Sometimes I feel compelled to let rip and sing along at the top of my voice, but haven’t yet been brave enough.

The 4 miles soon progressed to 5 and 6 and I still wasn’t finding it particularly difficult.  Couple that with the ability to get out in the sunshine with quiet time to think and the feeling that I could conquer the world and I was soon hooked.  At this point I decided to enter the Bristol Half Marathon.

Training continued until I was able to run 9 miles.  I had no idea if I would be able to run the half marathon distance, but I wasn’t worried as I was happy to walk a few miles if necessary.  I started the half marathon at a slow pace, letting lots of people overtake me, secure in the knowledge that if I kept a steady pace I wouldn’t burn out before the end. After 4 miles I felt good and was still comfortable at 6 and 7 miles.  From 8 miles I kept looking out for my family, I knew they were coming but wasn’t sure where they would be. Before I reached 10 miles I had a message to say that they were near the finish, this spurred me on. The 10 mile point started to climb a hill.  My usual route is very hilly so I knew that I could tackle it and picked up pace.  Also by this point I knew that I would make it and that I would get to see my family cheering me on at the end.  I made it to the end it wasn’t easy but I would certainly do it again.  I have already booked in for my next one in the Spring.

Running has given me a new lease of life.  I have never seen myself as a sporty person but this is something I can do.  My figure isn’t quite what it was before children but it is certainly getting there.  After I have been running I feel really good about my body and in the summer I got a tan to boot.

So how does going running fit in with looking after young children?  Ideally I would like to start the day with a run every morning but I will have to wait until the children are older for that. I don’t run as often as I would like, but I can usually manage at least twice a week and try to use the cross trainer when I can’t get out.  After reading an article in my women’s running magazine about how mums find time to run, I am seriously considering trading in one of my buggies for a running buggy.  My middle daughter starts pre-school soon and I will have more time with just one child, so this could be the answer to not getting out enough.

I’ve tried lots of types of fitness and never really stuck to anything.  What I love about running is that it gets me outside and away from my life as a mum.  It won’t suit everyone but it’s right for me.  I’m just sorry it took me until I was 40 to discover it.

Turning 40 – Aging Well? Comparing Photoshoots 10 years on.

When I turned 30 a friend bought me a photo shoot as a gift.  The photos were stunning and  I’ve always kept one on my wall as inspiration for how I would like to look when I had finally finished my childbearing days.

When I was 30 I felt pretty good about the way I looked, I had just got engaged, was going to the gym regularly, eating healthily and was happy.  More recently however I have come to the conclusion that I have always been too self critical and never really accepted how amazing I looked.

This year I turned 40.  As clichéd as it is, I see this as a turning point.  I don’t want to have anymore children so I now have the opportunity to get my body back in shape, to build a career and to become me again.  I have just returned from a photo shoot for my 40th birthday. In the past 10 years I’ve had 3 kids and 2 miscarriages, I’ve got more wrinkles and spend a lot less time on looking good.  I rarely get a haircut and lots of my clothes are past their sell by date.  However, I have finally stopped beating myself up for not being as slim as I was in my 20’s. For the first time in a very long time I feel good about the way I look.  I think for a 40 year old with 3 kids, the youngest of whom is only 9 months , I look pretty damn good. 

I kept the cat suit from the first photo shoot – I never really believed I would ever be able to wear it again, but today I proved myself wrong.  Ok, I’m not quite as slim as 10 years ago and I did need a bit of help from some Bridget Jones pants but I did it and I think I look pretty good .

So here are some of the photos from my 30th

           

And the one’s I had taken today proving we can still look fabulous at 40

For anyone who wants a special gift for a special birthday I can highly recommend New ID Studios for a makeover photo shoot.  The shoot includes a hair wash, cut and style, makeup and the photoshoot. A lovely day out and a great way to boost your self esteem.

Turning 40

treowen

As my 40th birthday approaches, my plans for celebrating it with all my friends in a large house together have been thwarted.  I had booked a beautiful manor house in Monmouthshire www.Treowen.co.uk , and was looking forward to partying in the huge rooms, playing their grand piano and celebrating with all my friends together.  However, a number of people have had to drop out (for valid reasons) and as it wouldn’t be quite what I had envisaged without them, I have decided to cancel.

So back to the drawing board – how should I spend my 40th birthday?  I have a lot to live up to since I spent my 30th birthday in Paris, was proposed to on the top of the Eiffel Tower, spent the day at the opera house and the evening listening to Mozart’s Requiem .

I asked the children this morning what I should do. My 6 year old suggested I go on holiday ‘ somewhere near here – maybe Wales …. or Japan?’  My 2 year old said ‘ eat biscuits’.  Hmm… Japan sounds good , but not quite in the budget.

So what to do?  Will I be whisked away somewhere romantic?  Could I do that study tour to Reggio Emilia I have always wanted to do?  Or shall I just treat it like a normal day and postpone the celebrations till a later date? 

Maybe I’ll just eat biscuits!