Saturday 4 June 2022

Chapter 13. The love of dance

 The Janergy Effect e-book link

I have always loved to dance, whether it was daggy dancing in the lounge room or having a good boogie at a club. The feeling that comes with dance makes you feel so good that when I moved to Melbourne, and sometimes even now, I would usually start my day with a dance before I went to work or anywhere for that matter.

I had always wanted to learn salsa dancing and decided to take a free class at a salsa school not far from home. After one try, I was hooked and salsa class became my rock and hands down one of the best things I have ever done in my life. 

The stairway to dance heaven

Twice a week, I’d go to class and just be in the beautiful moment that was dance. When I walked into class, my world became about concentrating on learning. You had to leave all your troubles at the door as there just wasn’t room on the dance floor for them.

Salsa dancing requires focus. For mental health, I would absolutely rate it as a winner. You are exercising, you are in a safe space, you leave with your endorphins absolutely popping. It’s a beautiful distraction from anything else that may be going on in life and you are living in the moment and that is one of the best places to be.

Salsa also requires you to get really close to others and from my first awkward lesson where I barely wanted to touch a boy, to the times I would be on the dance floor in such close positions that they might be deemed obscene anywhere else, the routine and ritual of dance helped me to gain so much confidence with the opposite sex and also confidence in myself.

For everyone in that first class having to touch another person you didn’t know seemed weird. There was awkward small talk, obligatory stepping on toes, bumping into each other and the chorus of “oops sorry”, “sorry”, “sorry, sorry, sorry”.

And don’t even think about looking into your partner's eyes. That was the ultimate discomfort.

From very early on in the salsa dancing journey, the encouragement to respectfully be in another person’s space became easier, and ever so slowly, the need to keep looking at your feet while you dance disappears, as the auto pilot takes over and it becomes second nature to look into your partner’s eyes and also get up close and personal.

The more you dance, the closer you get to others in more ways than one, so I wasn’t surprised at how many engagements were announced in the few years I was dancing. These lovers would be able to do the best wedding dance moves ever. I however, did not find love on the dance floor.

Salsa is also great for your fitness. I live in a body positive space as a plus size woman and I never talk diets or make commentary on weight, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, but salsa delivered a level of fitness that I was pleased to have found. I toned up, in a way that was only present when I was practicing a strict yoga regimen many years ago. Salsa dancing is fast, even when you are learning.

I also loved to wear fun outfits when I went out dancing and even in class, sometimes, less was more, as it got hawt...

As you will come to know, events unfolded that put my dancing on the back burner for nearly a year. It didn’t diminish my love for it in anyway, but I certainly felt that there was something missing during this time.

I was able to pick up my dancing again and expand from classes to social dancing and with that my outfit choices also became more fun.

Sometimes, it was jeans and a t-shirt. Other times it was sparkles and often things were short and tight. Well, why the hell not. I was always an adventurous dresser, and I was happy to take it to the next level and explore a sexier side of myself that was very much needed. The teachers were also role modelling the looks so I was happy to share mine.

Let's dance

Oh, how I loved this red dress. I had decided to go for my first ever social dancing night and wanted to wear something that was worthy of the dance floor. I remember racing over to town in my lunch time to one of my favourite shops called The Quick Brown Fox which had a mix of new and second hand stuff, and here was this beautiful red dress. It was meant for me and meant for my first night out salsa dancing. The moment I put that dress on, I felt incredible.

DIY dance dresses

As a sewer, I began to make fun dresses and outfits for the dance floor and even went as far as sewing sequins on my undies, so that any flash would be dazzling. And yes, there were flashes, and yes, they were dazzling.

My class was not far from home, and I would walk there and back, always enjoying the beautiful cityscape and cementing my well-worn path as I moved through the changing of the seasons which was one of the joys of Melbourne and this city always put on a show.

The tall apartment on the left is the first place I lived.

Salsa is like learning a second language and one that can be enjoyed no matter where you are in the world.

I will never forget the 1, 2, 3 clap, 5, 6, 7 clap, which is the beat of salsa and even now, it sparks a bit of happy and a little shoulder shimmy when I count the beat. Salsa was one of my fondest memories from living in Melbourne and something I did almost till the time I left a few years later.

I can’t say I ended up being the world’s best salsa dance, but I do believe that the love of dance helped me in so many ways and added to my sense of self and ongoing growth as there is something so liberating and freeing about the movement of dance.

Friday 13 May 2022

Chapter 12. Getting into the swing of things

The Janergy Effect e-book link

It did feel nice to start getting into the swing of things in Melbourne and I began to feel like I had found my place and the routines and rituals that I would build on.

My day to day life was starting to feel good. My work was going great, I had a great friend, I was out exploring and discovering so many wonderful places and things to do.

I had my routines which included work and going to the markets each week, and I had my rituals - my coffee dates, my bubble baths, my newly found salsa dancing and my love of just wandering the city. 

Coffee - one my favourite routines and rituals

From my arrival into Melbourne mid 2015 through to the end of 2016, I felt like I was shedding my skin, being reborn and taking steps towards really becoming the person who I was now free to be and embracing the peace that came with it.

I set about not only on the journey of rediscovery, but also began to create a more confident, happier version of myself, even if it felt like it was a step forward and two steps back at times.

Most of us have things we want to change about ourselves or let go and I am no different. These things are like thorns and like any thorn, if we don’t try to remove them, they will continue to irritate us to the point that their festering takes away from our quality of life.

Life is about expansion, freedom and joy and I am someone who wants my life to expand, feel free and be filled with joy and the only way to achieve those things is through experiences, learning, letting go of our past hurts and through challenging the beliefs that we hold inside. Our life can’t and won’t change if we do nothing.

I think challenging our beliefs and letting go of our past wounds can be one of the hardest things, because some of those beliefs and wounds - thorns, are so deeply embedded that they seem near impossible to remove, but when we make a conscious decision to make change, we have set the wheels in motion to freeing ourself from what is holding us back and that has a great knock on affect for those around us as well.  The happier we are as individuals, means we are more at peace and more enjoyable to be around.

Letting go is hard, but holding on is harder.

Thankfully through all my previous inner work, I didn’t really have any deep hurts from the past festering away inside me, I had day to day things that I wanted to evolve or make better.

One of the things I did was to make a list and that list included some things I wanted to change or enhance in my next life chapter and I got down to business.

The things I wanted to work on included my conversational skills, finding my voice, building my confidence - especially around men, embracing the concept of feeling sexy, and at 50, dating and taking charge of my sexuality. When we master something, regardless of what it is, we no longer have any fear of failure and our self worth rises.  These things might seem strange to some, but I am pretty sure that if I am feeling these, then others may be as well.

I found this bracelet at an op shop - it summed up my life refresh

And why did I want to work on these things? Well....

I still had some doubts around my conversational skills especially when approaching strangers in certain situations, but I was determined to keep working on this. Sure, I could hold a conversation, but I wanted to do it without the inner mental anguish that came from feeling like when you open your mouth, you just babble any old shit.

I had come out of a long-term unhealthy union, where my voice wasn't heard, so this was so important to me. I vowed never to be in a situation where my words were not heard and more importantly I wanted them to be taken notice of and validated. Even if it wasn’t my voice that did the talking, my actions could, and that became such a game changer when I started dating. I wanted to ensure that when I went into my next union (fingers crossed there would be another one) that I felt empowered to not settle. That I would be sure that it was the right person who aligned with my values and I could live with peace and happiness.

Building confidence around men was also really important to me. I never really felt comfortable around men unless I had formed a strong bond, but it was now necessary to break this fear down, as I began to navigate the world of dating.

Speaking of dating, my ability to date was non existent and as a newly single woman, this was something I needed to master.

As for feeling sexy, well I cringe at that word, but I eventually had to accept the fact that I was one very sexy woman and I began to own the fuck out of it and let my va va voom do the ka-boom.

And sex at 50? Yep, I was about to enter my journey of sexploration.

I am going to leave this chapter with one of my favourite books that a friend in Brisbane lent me and I've read it a couple of times and also given it to others. I read it prior to leaving my marriage and it's a beautiful book about change and how we need to act, instead of letting the minutes pass us by. As the title suggests, why wait to be great, it's either now, or too late. And I didn't want to wait, I wanted to embrace every opportunity and live life to the fullest.

This book really helped me to get some perspective right when I needed it

Now where shall we start with this growth list? I know where we wont start and that is dating. It has its own ‘special’ chapter to come, so I will begin with the love of dance which became a special part of my time in Melbourne.