Moving Like I Used To

Besides writing a bunch of nonsense in my journal from a young age, there are two things I did without fail.

Dancing and swimming.

I first learned how to dance by watching Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul music videos when I was seven.

I mimicked every move they made and forced my poor dad to video tape solo performances I would choreograph in my bedroom.

Dressing as shitty as possible was the cool thing in ballet class.
Dressing as shitty as possible was the cool thing in ballet class.

Until finally, even though we totally couldn’t afford it, my dad asked me if I wanted to learn how to dance for real.

I was a complete disaster in class, out of control with no technique unlike the other girls who started dancing when they were five.

But, starting dance class was one of the happiest moments of my life. My enthusiasm was unstoppable.

I worked hard with my “bad feet” and “bad turnout” and used my non-dancer’s body to my advantage, often dancing with the boys because I could jump as high as they could.

I performed in every imaginable place—in parking lots, on football fields, in parks, in classrooms, on stages, on the Queen Mary, a Lakers game, some hotels, gyms, classrooms…I know I’m forgetting plenty.

I wore leotards that always rode up my butt and I was probably the buffest ballerina to ever wear a tutu.

The reason why I hate Nutcracker music.
The reason why I hate Nutcracker music.

Dancing was something I did while working through all of the bullshit of growing up.

I danced forever and taught for a decade until two years ago, when I got so burnt out that I stopped.

I got really into Yoga, got certified and taught quite a bit. It was an incredible experience, but along the way, I felt like something was missing.

I missed moving my hips to a gorgeous rhythm. I missed moving my feet faster than I ever thought possible. I missed moving my arms through the air like they were my special wings.

No, I didn’t get back into my pink tights and pointe shoes. About a month ago I started taking Zumba again.

What I love about Zumba is simply this…you just shut up and dance.

There isn’t a post-mortem after every combination, you’re allowed to laugh at yourself for messing up, and you get to shake your ass non-stop.

I don’t feel the negative effects I knew intimately in the dancing world, like perfectionism or an unhealthy body image.

I didn’t want that. I just wanted to effing move.

Since I starting dancing again, I’ve been overjoyed. I returned to a part of me that I tried to ignore, but I couldn’t.

I know, this dive is worthy of an Olympic medal.
I know, this dive is worthy of an Olympic medal.

I was one of the few Southern California kids who struggled with swimming.

Near-drowning moments and claustrophobia made me fear swimming. Hey, when you’re under water, you can’t breathe.

Kids made fun of me for being a bad swimmer and wearing my floaties well past the acceptable age.

More than anything, I was determined to swim, because I loved the feeling of moving through water.

Swimming was like dancing to me. It was tough and beautiful.

And, just like dancing, I threw every part of myself into swimming. I got over my fears and swam like an ambitious fish.

Then, I got busy with being an adult. Then, I moved to places where swimming was hard to come by.

Portland proved to be challenging as well, except for the gym by my work, which (cue angel singing) has a salt water lap pool. So, I bought a bathing suit, a goofy swim cap, and goggles.

I went swimming on my lunch break yesterday. I got water up my nose and felt like I’d been hit by a car after ten consecutive laps. But for the rest of the day I was serene.

Now I have it down. I’m moving like I used to.

Rockin' the velour and Dorothy Hamill haircut. So stylish.
Rockin’ the velour and Dorothy Hamill haircut. So stylish.

What about you guys? Are there activities/passions you used to do as a kid that you’ve revisited as an adult?

50 thoughts on “Moving Like I Used To

  1. yoga and swimming! I’m with you! I just need to find the rythm over there in Paris and find my way back towards them again… Yoga, I’m on my way, but swimming… it’s way too cold right now, I’d rather watch a good movie at the theaters! 😉

    1. You’ll find your way once you get settled, honey! Haha, it’s cool and rainy here, but they keep the indoor pool area nice and warm. Then, when my hair gets wet on my bike ride, it’s no biggie. Since it’s already wet. 🙂

  2. I’d like to try Zumba but from the privacy of my own home. I’m a strictly exercise-at-home kind of gal. Unless I’m traveling and have to face the hotel gym.

    I used to do jigsaw puzzles a lot as a kid, and I started doing those again a few years ago, first with my youngest, but now that he’s lost interest, I’ll still sometimes work on one by myself. It calms my mind.

    Love the pics of you. So cute!

    1. You totally should, love! It’s SO much fun, non-stop movement so you get great cardio benefits. I know there are a ton of Zumba videos out there for you to explore.

      Dude, I love doing puzzles! Unfortunately with cats, puzzles aren’t an option because they play with the pieces and take off with them. 🙂

      1. Ha, yes, my mom’s cat jumped up onto a small table where she had a puzzle about 3/4 of the way completed. The cat knocked the whole thing onto the floor. Oops.

  3. I miss dancing too. It was a part of life that just seemed so carefree and fun for me. I miss all the corrections in class and all the hard work that finally paid off after our performances. I aspired to be a beautiful dancer as you! I miss those times. Maybe one day I’ll step back into class and stand at the bar doing pliés and doing combinations across the floor.

  4. Great pics of the young Britt! I’d much rather see, or work with, someone who has enthusiasm to do their best rather than those more talented that won’t put in the work. (Those that have both attributes come out on top.)
    I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity (and the good health) to play various sports all my life from schooldays forward. And I’m happy to say that I’ve always given them my best shot without ever progressing beyond average 🙂

    1. Haha, yes! Young Britt, indeed. I had to take pix of my old pix with my iPhone, but they turned out okay.

      Agreed about the enthusiasm thing. Time and time again, I noticed that as both a dance and Yoga teacher. The ones that really loved it, tried harder and shined.

      Awesome, Roy! I can see you giving your best shot and not giving a hoot. 🙂

  5. I was one of those dancers from an early age. I miss it, but I still do my barre, because it’s good for me. Ever try them on the floor? OMG.
    Swimming, I love. If it wasn’t for swimming, I’da never been able to keep weight off in those hot Georgia summers, because I pretty much wouldn’t go outside, ever.
    Tennis is a thing I love, and I find that when I’m alone, I enjoy bangin balls against the garage 🙂

    1. Yes, I’ve done floor barre before. It’s tough stuff! Swimming rocks, especially when it’s super hot and other types of outdoor exercise aren’t an option.

      Ooh, I love tennis. But I don’t like playing people. Banging balls against the garage is more my speed. 🙂

  6. I just love these pics of you as a kid, so sweet. For the past year, I’ve gotten back into sketching, something I loved doing as a child and as a teen. I’m having so much fun with it and may even take a class to improve my technique (although it’s fun to learn on my own too, not sure I want to structure my play, you know?).

    1. I did some picture digging this morning after my boulangerie run. It was fun!

      Sketching, that’s so neat! I’m the worst at drawing anything, except flowers and hearts, so I salute you. Classes can be good and bad with art. Sometimes it’s fun to take them for a bit for deeper understanding, then go your own way.

  7. There is such joy and determination in your face. Your writing reflects the way you embrace and welcome the world – the outcome of your love of movement. Life is made for dancing. And I am dancing along side you.

  8. Glad you’ve rediscovered the joy of those things you used to do Britt – they’re so much more enjoyable when you’re not beating yourself up about being ‘good’ at them. That was me and painting – school put me off drawing so I started playing at it as an adult 🙂

    1. Agreed, sweet pea! I spent way too much time worrying about being the best at some of these things, specifically dancing, and it made me stop altogether.

      Same goes with writing. I just want to enjoy the things I enjoy. That’s it. I know you feel me.

      So happy you’re rediscovering your love for painting again! Awesome stuff.

  9. Britt how gorgeous are these snippets of a that gorgeous gal. I can still see her. I cannot dance or swim very well. I suck at both, as I age I realise I need to get back into the pool no matter my lack of skills. I need to start dancing again too. The last wedding I opted out and now I regret not dancing at my baby sisters wedding.

    1. Oh, stop it. Blushing over here across the pond. 🙂

      Swimming is fantastic for everyone. When I was in the pool yesterday, there were two old guys in the laps next to me that were whooping my ass, doing flip turns and everything.

      You should dance, especially at weddings. We are our own worst critics. But at the end of the day, moving to music is one of the best things in life. You don’t have to be “good” at it.

  10. Again I am reminded of why you are one of THE life enthusiasts. So pleased that you have found your rhythm again. I did ballet for a while and loved it, but my real love was swimming where I found grace in movement. if conditions were right I might swim again. When I say right, I mean warm water, sun, and solitude. I am too fussy I think!

    1. Aww…thanks, Gallivanta love! I didn’t know you did ballet! How cool.

      I was picky about my swimming conditions for a while and never thought I’d see the day when I’d join a gym. But, this one has a salt water pool and big windows on a busy urban street. It’s pretty cool to swim and see people going about their business while you’re in the water, I must say.

      1. Yes, a private pool would be awesome. As long as someone can pay and take care of it, because they’re high maintenance. 🙂

        Look at you! The ballerina badger. So cute! I liked this post at some point, but didn’t comment. Must have been in the early stages of our bloggership. 🙂

      2. Haha! I had an ex-boyfriend (boyfriend at the time) who came to class to be around me at all times. It was awkward, especially when we broke up and he kept coming. 😉

  11. Two things: playing the violin, something I did until I was a sophomore in high school. I missed it, so I started playing again–without a teacher, so far. AND, i learned how to swim freestyle properly. When I was a kid, I didn’t realize that you have to breathe out in order to get more air into your lungs, something my teacher didn’t know he needed to tell me. Quite the revelation to figure this out as an adult.

    Good for you for taking up a healthy form of dance. It seems like such an exuberant form of expression that doesn’t depend on body type.

    1. Wow, awesome! I’ve never actually tried to play an instrument, because it’s the last thing I think I can do. I’m in awe of people who can pull it off. Good for you, Jilanne!

      Haha, on the exhaling during swimming! I watched some YouTube videos before I went and I learned so much. Breathing makes a huge difference.

  12. That’s great – thanks for inspiring me to start moving again! I don’t move much because of writing but writing and dancing and swimming sounds like the perfect combination. I haven’t danced in so long that I’m sure I’d look like a clown but at least I’d be entertaining myself along the way.

  13. Riding, I got me a pony 🙂 Ya know riding a horse bareback for hours is WAY easier when you’re eleven. But I don’t mind the aches and pains. Great post Britt, If you get a chance check out my friend Nicola Keegan’s book, Swimming. I think you’d enjoy it. peaceout

  14. Are we soul sisters or something? I too, danced for a bit in my childhood, left it because it got too draining, then got back into it in high school and college. Have been missing it ever since and just need some kind of push to go take a class again or something. I was on a swim team in middle school but after two tough years, quit because I felt so slow compared to everyone else. Again, I’ve been contemplating on starting it up again recreationally but found so many reasons not to. This might be the exact push I need to just go for it. 🙂

    1. Haha! We just might be soul sisters. That’s crazy!

      You should get back into both dancing and swimming if you’ve been thinking about it. I’d say to take it slow and just try doing each once per week. Then, you can see if you still love it like you used to. (I bet you will.)

  15. You sound extremely happy. I could feel the joy through your words. My moments like this come through playing my flute. I was reminded of that during my daughters band concert this week. I couldn’t wait to get home and get my flute out.

    1. Awesome, honey! That’s so neat that you busted your flute out as soon as you got home.

      Kids are really great reminders, because besides school and homework, they are free from responsibility. They keep us playing. : )

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