When I was five, my mom put me in the car one day and told me she had a surprise for me.
We drove for a while - really just a short distance - but to me it felt like forever.
We arrived at an old school and went inside.
I was confused and nervous.
What were we doing?
We stood in a really, really long line.
And then it happened - she signed me up for ballet lessons.
We then went and bought tights, and leotards, lots of bobby pins and the best part of all . . .
I went to dance lessons and learned to plie, and releve'.
I learned about first position and all of the other positions.
To this day - over forty years later - I tend to turn my feet out when standing.
I learned about working at the barre.
We practiced during each class to a live piano player who spent her afternoons playing classical music for us to point and kick to.
And then in the winter - the best thing of all happened -
we got dressed up in our costumes, had our hair pulled back into a tight bun, had our faces smothered in thick make-up and performed our routine on a large stage in downtown Portland.
This was the same stage that the best theatrical performances were given on, and concerts and all the best talent in our City performed on.
And I got to do my simple ballet routine on it.
The lights were so bright and hot.
The audience applauded for us.
It was magical.
And I became instantly addicted to performing.
I continued dancing for years to come - all the way through college.
Besides ballet -
I experimented with jazz and tap.
I played around with ball room.
If it was performed to music - I tried it.
And as I grew - I discovered my love of theatre and my favorite thing of all was to perform in musical theatre.
There, I was able to satisfy my love of acting, music and dance.
There I found my bliss.
To this day - If I hear wonderful music, it is next to impossible not to move in some way.
But somewhere along the way -
I stopped dancing.
I had children.
The family came first.
Money was tight.
Time was short.
Patience were stretched.
I gained a few (ok maybe more than a few) pounds.
And I stopped dancing on stage . . . in public . . .even in front of my family.
The few times I danced, I confined myself to the safety of my own home when no one was around.
Recently - I watched a movie on dancers.
It was a documentary about young ballet dancers who are driven, and passionate and desperate to dance every minute of their lives.
I watched as they stretched and practiced.
I watched as they extended their legs.
They made it look so easy and fluid. Yet - having been a dancer, I understood the dedication and hard work involved. The ultimate athleticism.
I found myself longing for the bloodied toes and the aching muscles. Those things were almost like "badges of honor" to us dancers.
My heart and muscles almost ached for the feel of dance while I watched the movie.
And the feeling lingered for some time afterwards.
We all have that thing that makes us ache inside -
maybe for you it is music, or a sport, or writing or . . . .?
It was that thing that you loved to do more than anything else when you were young.
It's that thing that makes you feel restless when you ignore it.
It calls to you. It drives you.
Do you answer the call?
Do you still do it?
Do you still pursue that passion on a daily basis?
Why do we let these things go as we become adults?
Somewhere along the way, we become convinced that working on those passions is a sign of immaturity.
Or worse yet - it's a sign of being selfish.
Really? Being true to ourself and doing that which makes us the best that we can possibly be is selfish?
As I have grown and changed, I have developed new passions - my art and writing. These
are passions equal to performing and music and dance.
Does that make me greedy to have more than one?
And if I have such strong desires for my art and writing - am I being greedy to want to pursue the old and forgotten ones?
Does that make me selfish? Or self-absorbed?
I am beginning to challenge that thought in my own life now.
I am wanting to reclaim those lost passions.
I want to DANCE!