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