Claudine Phillips

How to start dancing again in your 40s

Anytime I hear the words “Let’s Dance”, my subconscious cuts to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” 1983 song, complimented with some righteous 80s dancing in front of my MTV! If you are reading this and have no idea what I am talking about, click here. And you’re welcome.

Those were the days. Care free dancing in the living room with my sisters.

In this day, however, we are afraid to dance. Afraid to “dance like no one is watching.”

I lost my dance. Something happened to that 11 year old. As she grew, she started to believe the lie that she had to conform. Had to be like others to be liked. Had to agree with others to belong. Had to abandon her beliefs and sign up for others’ opinions to survive. She quit dancing.

Like a soldier, I marched the beat of everyone else, while everyone else was marching the beat to everyone else. By the time I hit forty, I found myself  utterly lost and confused. I was unhappy and blamed others for my misery. I was completely exhausted.

Some of this blame was righteous, most was not.  I hit a point of choice. I could keep trying to keep the pace of others or I could dare to be different. Dare to actually walk in my truth. Stand up for that girl who never believed she was enough to exist in this world just as she was.

I chose the 11 year old. I chose to take a step back and make “uncharacteristic” decisions for that 11 year old who quit dancing. Life got so pressing that I forgot how to dance. Through therapy, I took off the load that was too much and not meant for me to carry.  I extended buckets of grace to myself and others to learn this new groove. I forgave and asked for forgiveness. I tried new things and even moved three times before I found where I belonged.

All along, I belonged in His spacious place. No matter the place on the map, I belonged to Him. Once I got this, dancing started to happen again. I began to lean in and not run. I began to face my truth. My beautiful, deep, fun, confident, smart, loving, happy self I gave up on. And I found that she is pretty rockin. I love her and she loves me back for finding her again.

We, the little girl and myself, dance often now. It may not look pretty. It may not look conventional. And it may not be what you would do, but this is me. I am ok if I am not liked for it. I’m even ok if you talk about me because you don’t understand. I used to do that, too. I get it.

Last year my son was having a hard time with a person in his circle of life. This boy would physically push him, get in his space, and verbally harass him. Shad and I would intercede when needed, but we believed it would take our son to make this stop. It would take our son to take the stance necessary for the other boy to back off.

As usual, our son began to tell us “the report” on the situation as we drove home one day. I took a deep breathe, preparing for the complaints. He repeated the same, “he pushed me”, “he was in my face again”, but it ended in a surprising way this time.

He asked, “You know what I decided to do?”

I hung on.

He continued, “I started to dance. When he pushed me, I turned around and danced.”

The heat flushed to my face, tears rushed to my eyes, and goosebumps jumped off my skin.

“You what?” I asked.

“I grabbed the boy’s hands and danced with him, mom!”

“Yes, I saw it! I couldn’t believe it!” shouted sister.

Son smiling.

Pulling myself together. “Buddy, I could not be more proud.”

Son still smiling. Mom still crying. Sister overjoyed.

He found his truth and that other boy never bothered him again.

Let’s dance, my beautiful people. Take her by the hand and let’s dance.