“Dance First. Think Later”
A friend of mine gave me a book by Kathryn & Ross Petras with the above title for my 53rd birthday. The question that opens to the reader is “How should one live life?” Could you answer that question in one sentence or two?
The introduction goes on to say that most of us are obsessed with the “practical” advice about money or success or getting ahead. With that, we lose sight of the big picture. What is the big picture to you?
So to start off 2018 and to finally create a post that is long overdue, we thought we would write about what we have learned and are still learning as I, Melissa, head into my 54th year and Teresa heads into her 55th year on this Earth. Perhaps some of what we say will resonate with you, or perhaps you will roll your eyes, perhaps it will stir up your thoughts, but, hopefully, there will be a few words to inspire you to live life with a smile, kindness in your soul, and love in your heart.
You have to respect yourself, love yourself, and be proud of yourself before anyone else can truly respect, love, and be proud of you. Most of my life I spent worrying what others thought of me, if my thighs were too wide, and if I was smart enough. I used up a tremendous amount of energy worrying and looking down that I lost sight of what was right in front of me. I passed incredible moments and meeting inspirational people because I forgot to look up and be in that moment.
99% of those who have been mean and hurtful to me are fighting insecurities and painful thoughts themselves. So, I need to take a step back and either let it go, discuss it with them, or take a step back and focus better on what they are possibly struggling with in their lives. (The other 1% is just mean – and that’s their problem.)
Laugh more. Find a funny movie or show, funny book, a comedian who makes you belly laugh and watch one of their shows, recall a time when you laughed so hard you almost peed yourself. Better yet, find someone in your life who makes you laugh and spend more time with them. My husband, Tim, is my personal comedian. Also, I love Tig Notaro, Brian Regan, The Big Bang Theory. In fact, I watch an episode of Big Bang Theory just about every night so that I have a smile on my face as I fall asleep.
I need to ease up on myself. Spreading my time and energy until it is so thin that I can’t be my best for anyone is counterproductive. Learning to say no has been one of the most difficult lessons for me. The guilt I put on myself when I couldn’t help someone was so toxic that I actually became ill. So, I had to pull back and take a long deep breath. I am still working on this one.
Having a few sincere, loyal, and understanding friends is so much better than having a crowd full of superficial, only for the moment, because they need something “friends”. Those who nourish your goals and dreams are the ones you should surround yourself with in life. They are the ones who inspire you and who are there through the best and worst of times. Both Teresa and I are learning how to weed out those who try to take the air out of our lives.
Don’t let fear get in the way. I’ve missed out on doing many things in my life because I was afraid to try. I also had the state of mind that I must be incredibly successful at whatever I did, so I was afraid of failure. ( I shake a fist at myself!) I should have just enjoyed the process so that I could say, “At least I tried.” Now I have regrets. But now I have learned and I am enjoying trying new things. ( It also helps that I have encouraging friends!)
So here I find myself well into my 54th year. My question that I often ask is, “Where did all of the time go?”
I mean wasn’t I just twenty-something with the metabolism that allowed me to eat anything my heart desired, never to gain an ounce?
Now fat bulges have appeared on my hips and I ask WTH is this?! I can’t lose an ounce if my life depended on it and my stomach, once taut, has been replaced by a menopausal paunch!
And my ass, I can’t even talk about what has happened to that! It used to sit somewhere high just below my lower back, but now, you can find it resting above the back of my knees.
I know, I know, this is a tad exaggerated, but that’s how it feels to me.
But here’s the thing: Even though time has sped by at rocket speed, and my body isn’t what it once was, I have learned what is most important to me.
The body that appears saggy to me in the mirror is the same body that gave life to two very amazing human beings who I am tremendously proud of today. The body that is no longer a twenty-something year old’s is the body which pulled me through some rough illnesses. It held me up when I needed to be strong.
Each part that doesn’t look the same as in years past has a story attached to it. Some that make me smile or bring a laugh. Some that even make me blush and there are some that bring tears to my eyes. But each one is reflected back from the mirror showing me my life and reminding me how strong I have become in this fifty-something body.
I have learned that even my past insecurities have led me to this point in my life where I finally feel free. Each panic stricken step brought me closer to the more confident woman I see now.
I am happy in my fifty-something years just to love and be loved by my amazing husband, my children, and the friends who have become like family to me. To not be a mean girl and to not let mean people affect how I see myself is something I am proud to have learned to do. I have so much more fun with this freedom from within.
How should one live life? Give in and be happy. Life is so short. Enjoy every minute of it before it’s gone. Be kind and be free.