Last summer I found myself channeling my inner rocker at a Kiss concert with Def Leppard as the opener.
My bare feet slipping on a muddy tarp.
It was bliss.
I felt completely and utterly like myself, and it took me so many years to know that it’s perfectly ok to feel that way.
For far too long, I didn’t allow myself permission to breach the status quo of my own cultural conformity. The things that seemed to put a smile on my face, send chills up my neck or get my feet moving didn’t seem very interesting to those around me. They seemed more interested in running 5Ks, crafting, dieting, sharing recipes, meeting for lunch, processing struggles, along with an endless schedule of churchy to-do’s. So, being a natural conformist who was terrified of what others would think, I just kind of joined in and stuck with it. It all seemed beautiful and good at the time.
Except when it wasn’t.
It took me a long time to realize that shrouding parts of who I am for fear of disapproval or connection wasn’t very authentic of me. And, it usually led to some sort of strange symptom popping up in my life. For me, it was food challenges. It bookmarked my muzzled passion and expression. It was a symbolic substitute for the fun, play and free experiences I was starving for. Imagine a avid runner never running or an engineer never making. It would create chaos in their system, they would become ingrown, uninspired and eventually feel like a victim.
Have you ever complained to others about not feeling any life in your life?
To break this cycle I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and take some action. This started with not taking myself so seriously. I started listening to music again. This led to singing and dancing in my car, kitchen and shower. I only fell once.
By no coincidence, an invitation to an “Authentic Movement” class arrived in my inbox. There, I began to connect with dancers who truly had a passion for the art. Weeks later, I invited a couple of my busiest friends to another dance class thinking there was no way our schedules were going to allow us to pull this off. Somehow we did it, and the floodgates of fun opened up. Dance was finally integrated back into my life. It became my new normal…and as a bonus, my sistas were in it with me! This choice to say yes to life, provoked a new spark of creativity that affected all other dimensions of my life. And as a natural outcome, food was no longer a needed messenger.
And this taught me something that I will never forget.
The limits we place on our life are self-imposed.
Permission was always granted.
Its like God was just waiting for me to get out of the way and show up brave by being myself. Then it all, very quickly and naturally, fell into place.
These days, I still drive a mini van with over 200k miles on it, love family time and look like a midwestern mom nearing her forties. But, don’t be fooled. You’ll never find me at yet another women’s group incessantly talking about my problems. But, you are invited to join me and other women to celebrate what is working in our lives. Just be warned …we may end up dancing to some Salt-N-Peppa like we own the floor. No dieting or running marathons for me, thank you. I prefer a bike ride downtown with a pit stop for amazing guac and margaritas. And for the love and safety of those around me, I will never sew again.
What life-giving things do you tend to deny for yourself for fear of disapproval from others? If there were no limits on what you could do, and you were guaranteed success, what is something new you would try?
If you are unsure about what you really enjoy, think back to what made your heart sing when you were a child. For me that was dance, late 80s hair bands and early 90s hip hop. No shame there. Just own it!
Photo (Flickr CC) by Sarah Reid