Life after 50,  Well-being

It’s Your Choice Today: Will You Dance?

I heard it in a song the other day: “I hope YOU choose to dance.”

As I close the book on the first half of 2021, the world moves closer to what we all used to take for granted: socializing freely, concerts and events, and even getting away from home. It’s time to get back out and do the things you love: attend sports events, take in a concert or stage play, return to your favorite yearly festival. 

However, I’m not here to promote jeopardizing your health for the sake of getting out of the house. Let’s face it – no one wants to get sick in any shape or form. So please, take care of yourself and don’t expose anyone to even your seasonal cold.

It is, however, my hope that you choose to get out once more and live your life, to dance.

The DJ on one of my favorite country stations played Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance” the other day. It got me thinking about how the song is a good prescription for living life.

Listen to the song.

Some of the Lessons in the Song

I want to share a few of the lessons for living life that this song presents, including the most important lesson: I hope you chose to dance in your own life.

#1 – Never lose a childlike sense of wonder.

In our house, we probably watch too many short videos on our tablets, but I love the videos of kids learning how to do something, or trying something for the first time, or seeing something for the first time. Just the other day, a parent shared a video clip of their child’s first experience with snow: eyes wide open and that sense of wonder on his face.

According to Webster’s dictionary, “wonder” means “something or someone that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.”

As adults, the stress of life sometimes eliminates the wonder in our daily lives. We don’t take time to see the beauty of something or the originality in something. Sometimes it’s just because we’ve seen it so many times. 

Instead of seeing the first snowfall of the season with the wonder of a child, we run through the mental list of winter preparations that have not been accomplished yet. Our mental listing drowns out the beauty of morning birdsong. Mentally working through our plans for the next day blinds us to the wonder of the fireflies blinking in the backyard. 

Just the other day, I paused to listen to a mockingbird that happened to land on the peak of our roof and run through his repertoire. Since mockingbirds can learn up to 200 songs, I wondered what its song would be like if he were hatched in a concert hall with a symphony playing. I wondered if he ever sat and listened in on my violin or piano practice sessions.

I challenge you to take at least one moment in your day to listen or see with the wonder of a child’s eyes.

#2 – Be hungry for the experiences that life hands you.

What do you do when life hands you the opportunity for a unique experience? Do you grab at it hungrily even if you have been there or seen it before? Or, do you let an experience race past you and wonder later what would have happened “if”?

I was out for a walk earlier this spring when a lady pulled beside me. “I live just down the road,” she said to me, “but I’m too afraid to go out walking alone. How can you just go out and walk alone?”

I had no answer for her. 

“If you ever want a walking companion,” she said, “I live just down the road.” 

I haven’t taken her up on the offer because my walking lacks a schedule and it lacks consistency. 

But, how can I just go out and walk alone?

I’m hungry for experiences.

From an early age, I was out on my bike exploring my neighborhood and my city. In third or fourth grade, I grabbed the opportunity to ride my bike up to the meat market and pick up some groceries for my mom. By junior high school, I rode my bike to the park district pool. 

Last year on our seven-week camping excursion, the opportunity arose to go ziplining. For years, Hubby and I had talked about wanting to try ziplining. We seized the opportunity. By the way, I do have a fear of heights, or I should say did, because as hubby points: I can’t say I’m afraid of heights because at one point we were 500 feet above the forest floor in the Smokies.

Maybe it is second nature or maybe it’s hunger that finds me grabbing the experiences that life hands out. 

I challenge you to find those experiences and hold onto them as you go through life.

#3 – Experience the magnitude of the mountains and the ocean, the skyscrapers, and the countryside

This year we are heading to the mountains and the ocean shores once again. Both make me feel small.

I felt the draw of the Smoky Mountains years ago on a trip to western North Carolina. We parked the camper with the bedroom window looking toward the mountains. The next morning I awoke, startled. The mountains weren’t there. I looked out the opposite window and then the one behind our heads. No mountains. As I lay there wondering, the sun burned off the “smoke” and the mountains began to appear.  

I feel small in those mountains when I hike them, and I feel small when I walk the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

I feel small compared to the magnitude of skyscrapers and the vast amount of land to reach the horizon on the plains of the Midwest. 

#4 – Realize that the next opportunity is just around the corner

I’ve been listening to the news. Many companies are having difficulty finding employees. (I’m not here to debate the ramifications of government assistance money’s role in this.) What I have heard in some interviews is that some people have learned that they get more work done at home in a shorter amount of time than in an office cubicle. Some people have applied for other jobs that better fit their personality. Others have realized that an at-home office is better than the 60-minute commute. Many who were unsatisfied with the work they were doing used their time off to attend online college and retrain for a career more suited to their interests.

The next opportunity just might present itself to you tomorrow, but you shouldn’t just wait around for it. You need to live and learn and grow through what you are going through today so you are ready for that opportunity.

#5 – And remember the importance of participating in life: Dance

What does it mean to dance? It means to take an active role in your own life, to stop letting life roll past you, or complaining that you weren’t afforded an opportunity, or that your boss doesn’t like you, or that you were overlooked for a promotion because of x-y-z. It means you do something about it. 

Not afforded an opportunity? Figure out why: your expertise, your work ethic, your behaviors, your attitude? Once you figure out why, seek to change it.

Your boss doesn’t like you? Have a sit-down and find out why. Then, take an active role in your own personal behavioral development.

Don’t wonder what has happened to your life – go out and live it.

What about you?

How will you dance in your life? Will you choose to dance? Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Until next time . . .

Photo by R. Kojetin & Created with Canva

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