I used to dance. I used to dance a lot. I used to eat and sleep ballet and rehearsals and auditions. I used to find such joy in being able to move and express myself through motion…through twists and turns and pirouettes and pas de chats.
I used to journal. I used to get up early every morning to have a sacred quiet time alone with God and with words.
I used to really really enjoy live music. I used to have butterflies all day as I anticipated a concert on the horizon.
Hmm…I don’t really ‘do’ any of the above three things anymore on a daily basis. I’ve had one too many knee surgeries to dance that much, I’ve had one too many reality checks on the possibility of hopping off to a concert these days and I’ve had one too many late nights (or busy days) with a toddler to find the strength to get up early and savor the silence. Sometimes I feel like Nicole shared in her piece on here a while back…who am I now and what makes me, me?
Recently, I have had hints of these three former ‘dos’ in my life creep up…and it has felt like running into your childhood best friend and finding them still looking and smiling and giggling in the exact same way after 20 some years or so.
- I was playing some music with my daughter and all of the sudden we just broke out into a full on dance session. It was like parts of my soul were screaming…”Finally! Let me move again in this way! There is a lot of story here to be told since the last time you moved this way…let it out! Forget the knee pain, move in other directions…just do something!” And with a happy and confused toddler and tears streaming down my face I realized that dancing doesn’t have to be something that I ‘used to do’.
- These next forty days in the Christian tradition are called ‘lent’. The tradition started somewhere in the 4th century and people would pray and fast for forty days in order to ‘prepare’ their hearts to receive the resurrection of Jesus, as celebrated at Easter. I’ve gone through phases of really engaging this season by committing to new habits or giving up old ones, and at other times I haven’t. This year I decided to ignore the urge to snooze and to get up. To get up when the streets are still quiet and peeps of sunlight are barely reaching my bedroom window. To get up and make tea and get a pen and paper and just be. I did it once already…and I found that the words wouldn’t stop. The words, thoughts, ideas, prayers, dreams just kept coming as I sat in the silence. As I smiled with satisfaction when I heard my daughter waking up, I realized that journaling doesn’t have to be something that I ‘used to do.’
- Lastly, I have to share about the fantastic treat my husband and I experienced last week in London. It all started around a convo that went something like…gosh, we used to be cool and into live music before kids and grad school right? As we lamented and shared fun old concert memories, it was like we were pulling out gentle treasured heirlooms of lace or silk. Pulling them out to share and marvel at them…only to have to put them back for safekeeping. Lace isn’t something you wear everyday, I remember hearing once. This band came to London and we barely got tickets to one of their sold out shows. We hit the big city and were transported back in time…or at least transported somewhere. Somewhere that involves…No deadlines, No papers to mark, No diapers to change, No bills to fret about, No worry about what you look like or what you are wearing, No sense of time or hunger or knee pain after standing for 2 hours straight. Concerts do that don’t they? Good, true live music takes hold of you and draws you in. You feel connected to others around you and all of the sudden everyone in the dingy, cramped music hall in NE London is like a family…all moving and swaying and singing and feeling the energy and joy that is coming from those on stage before us. I hadn’t felt that in a long long time and as we were examining our ‘lace’ mementos from the past, I had begun to wonder if I would feel like that ever again. But alas, as I stood there swaying and smiling, I realized that going to gigs every now and then doesn’t have to be something I ‘used to do’.
I share all of this to ask, “what did you ‘used to do’?” What made you have butterflies or made you feel refreshed and alive? It is easy on this graduate journey to clutter up our lives with so much important and necessary ‘stuff’ that we can easily forget to create time (or even find time) to nurture those things that used to really satisfy and inspire us. There are meals to cook and tutorials to attend and articles to publish. I was encouraged to discover that just because some of my favorite things had gotten a little dusty, it didn’t mean that they were any less a part of me. Even if they don’t look exactly like they used to (I can’t actually take a ballet class at this point sadly, but I can still try to engage this part of me in some new way). Don’t be afraid to brush off the dust and flex some old muscles. Take a moment to dream and remember. It’s surprising how good it feels to bump into old friends and rediscover them in a new season of life.
Are there hobbies or interests or passions that you have long since had a chance to enjoy? Have you rediscovered new ways of enjoying them in different seasons?
2 thoughts on “I used to…”
Totally relate to this! You express it all so well.