Monday, June 25, 2012

For Today, I Will Dance

I don't know exactly how it happened, but over the past several months I become obsessed with Zumba. For any who are unfamiliar, this would be the workout craze sweeping gyms across the universe: Latin and International music with set dance routines in large, mirrored rooms. I was initially worried about a lot of things: 
1. I can't dance. At all. To say I have two left feet would be a nicety. 
2. I was worried about what others might think of my catastrophic attempts at coordinated motion. 
3. I was doubtful that I would ever learn the moves to any song, ever, in a proficient enough way to feel any measure of success in the class. 

The first five classes I did, I was pretty lost. And I had to swallow that inner hater who was wondering what people might be thinking. Pretty quickly, it no longer mattered. I learned that attending the same class time with the same instructor each week gave me the chance to actually learn the moves - and I surprised myself. I remembered more from week to week than I thought I would. And with that, I was hooked. I began to notice after working 3 classes in per week into my normal 5 day workout routine, I was able to isolate and move muscles in my hips and core that I hadn't known were there. But aside from that, what I've come to love best is the feeling of being in that room. Shimmying my shoulders, shaking my hips, and yes, even sometimes twirling, can evaporate the frustrations of the day in a far more resplendent way than sweating it out on the Spin bike. 

Today, as I was looking over the gym schedule, and in the few minutes I had before I rush off to a 5:00 PM class, I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate Zumba. Thanks to Zumba, working out is fun again. Thanks to Zumba, I've rediscovered my inner-sassyness: gone are the frumpy over-sized teeshirts I used to sport to the gym, ushered in are the racer back tanks and even a sweep of mascara on dance days, because I like to feel good about who I see in that mirror. Mostly, for that hour, I am thankful to be lost in music. I remember, on dance days, why people have gathered for thousands of years to dance together: it's in the celebration of movement that we can remember just how lucky we are to be healthy, strong, impassioned, and alive. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's My Birthday, It's Your Birthday, It's Somebody's Birthday Somewhere!

My name is Signe and I'm a celebration-aholic.
A beach walk celebrates the
completion of a long day

Dinner to celebrate our
friends' visit from Sweden
My husband Eric points this out constantly, and I'm lucky he and my Framily (friends & family)  indulge me, because there is simply nothing I love more than a reason to celebrate something. Holidays, birthdays, and baby showers are obvious no-brainers. Celebration! But what about the other vacant and disused days in the calendar year? Those lonely, lonely Wednesdays in, say, March? (March itself being a dismal month that nobody ever celebrates - excluding the birthday-ers - save if it's mentioned in regard to Julius Caesar getting stabbed to ribbons in the Senate two thousand years ago.) Hasn't March been through enough? Doesn't she deserve a little celebration? So I look at this uncontrollable reflex to celebrate things as merely doing my part. Birthdays and Anniversaries seem to ache for lavish dinners, whether made at home or dining out, trips to a foreign country or even a campy road trip with a book-on-cd. Long day at the office? Let's celebrate being done with work (for the day) by having a glass of red wine and talking while we cook dinner. It's Friday? Happy Hour!! I wrote one full page today: bubble bath. Full moons and things like Summer Solstice? Why not?! We've been celebrating those events for thousands of years. Bring on the bonfire and let's give thanks to our ancestors and make some sparkly sort of punch.

I suppose celebrations are on the brain because today is in fact my birthday, and as I grow older, I find my relationship to the celebration of life events is changing, of course. Obviously at 32, it's no longer about the cake, the party, or the gifts. (Though I'm embarrassed to say I probably out grew this later than some. When I was a little girl and would wish on a star, I would wish that wrapped presents would start falling from the sky, so.....cakes and parties and gifts are nice when you can come by them!) But now it's about the phone call I know I'll get first thing in the morning from my mother. My husband hugging me in the kitchen and calling me his birthday girl. The birthday card coming across the long miles from my sister in Seattle - the one that fills both pages of the card with handwriting and a message that never ceases in moving me to tears in it's meaning. The sweet pings of birthday wishes from friends and readers on Facebook and Twitter from across the globe: a reflection of the incredible people I've met in my life and the rainbow variety of paths that they walk.
Celebrating Mary Alice Monroe's
new book at the SC Aquarium

It's about going to see "Snow White and the Huntsman" and eating mozzarella sticks for dinner.

So yes. I'm a celebration-aholic and proud of it. Because celebration reminds us to live in the moment. It reminds us to take the time to connect, appreciate and reach out to the people we love in our lives. It provides us with a much-needed timeout from the weights and stresses of the challenges of being grown-ups, and being human, giving us a blissful pocket of time to simply be delighted.

So if there's one thing I could encourage you to do, it'd be to remember when you have a bad day, to raise a glass, light a candle, make a wish, and blow it out. Because it's bound to be somebody's birthday somewhere. And life is too glorious and too brief an affair to not celebrate every moment we have to spend.
Why not celebrate four days early?
Sunday's early birthday cookout with The Butler Family.
(With sweet, sweet, wee Grey Butler.)