So I’m 35 today. I’m not overly excited about it. In fact, I’ve been dreading it since turning 34. I’m old. I’m cranky. I’m out of shape. Oh, and I’m tired. Oh so very tired. But in preparing to write this post, I tried to think about what the angle would be. I’m old and I don’t like it? A bucket list of what I’ll do going forward? A list of all I’ve accomplished in my 35 years? Nothing seemed just right. I did start thinking about how I’ve changed – how 35 years of being a daughter, 10 years of being an attorney, (almost) 8 years of being a wife and 4 years of being a mother – has molded me. The surprising thing that came to me is not what all of that life has taught me, but what doing Zumba for the past 12 months has taught me.
I’ve fallen in with a Zumba teacher I like, who makes class fun, gives us a great workout and has created a community within her classes. She teaches four times a week and I aim to attend twice a week, though most weeks I’m lucky to make it to one. (Ironically she has the same birthday as I do too!) Doing Zumba is never something I really thought of as being a “me” thing, but I’ve really come to enjoy it and miss it when I can’t go. But more than just a great hour of exercise and fun, I’ve taken more from this teacher and these classes.
– Be silly. Our teacher is always encouraging us to just let go and do the silly stuff. Don’t be afraid to make the “ham sandwich” hand motion during “Wiggle,” do the running man during “Work It” and just have fun. No one is too cool to be silly. Having kids has helped a lot with this. You go from being self-conscious about so many things to singing and dancing to Baby Beluga in the check out line because it keeps your kid happy while the man in front of you tries to push 14 items through the 10 item express lane.
– No one is watching you. Certainly part of learning to be silly and not take yourself so seriously is learning that no one really cares about you. I don’t mean this in a life is cruel and lonely sort of way. I mean no one really cares what you are doing on a daily basis. No one is judging you – and if they are, who cares. No one in Zumba is watching you dance. They are all doing their own thing. Stop worrying about what others are thinking about and just do the fake Beyonce walk – and yeah, do the Beyonce walk not just in Zumba but in life in general because everyone needs more Beyonce.
– Make it bigger. Our teacher always tells us to “take up more space” or to “be bigger” when we’re dancing. Swing your arms, use all your space. It may sound a little frou frou but these are powerful words. Take up space. Don’t be afraid to be out there. Sheryl Sandburg talks about it in Lean In – women tend to sit on the periphery in meetings and let men sit at the table. Sit at the table. Take up space, tell others you belong there. Make your presence known. I just read that doing a “power pose” before a big meeting can help you to feel more in command. Do the Wonder Woman pose. Take up that space. (You know, being Beyonce is works here too. Maybe we all just need to be Beyonce.)
So that’s it. That’s what I’ve taken from 35 years of life. (Ok maybe a bit more, but that’s what I’m thinking about these days.) As I strive to be sillier, not worry what others think and be bigger in life, I feel better (albeit a little bit better) about turning 35. I live a life that allows me to do these things, surrounded by people who support me in doing it and turning 35 isn’t going to change any of that.