Monday, September 21, 2009

The 40 Year Old Dancer & How Age is Not the Enemy

Turning 40 was tough for me, and in just 2 months, I will be turning 41 but this birthday will be very, very different.

Here's the thing: The concept of aging only becomes difficult when we aren't leading the life we really, deeply want to lead. When we feel like we've missed our chance. We become bitter and stiff -- metaphorically and literally on that second one.

Take me, for example. Though I thought I was living a full and fulfilling life, my attitude toward my birthday said otherwise. It was a red flag that I was holding something back, not being truthful, hiding from or scoffing at my most fragile dreams.

Sure I've been doing a lot of what I want to be doing. My life is filled with love; I do good work. But I still had a few steps to take toward admitting into my life its missing core.

Since my 40th birthday, so much in my life has changed and most of that has happened over the last few months.

Now that I have admitted dance back into my life, now that I live so much more in my body, my overall Happy Quotient has risen exponentially and continues to do so.

Some of you are giggling or even feeling a bit snarky: "She is FORTY! How do you decide at that age to be a DANCER!?"

I think the same thing in my worst moments but those are short lived, and the majority of time, I know my age does not matter. I am not my age.

Aging is a social construct; it is a culturally agreed upon idea. (Different cultures "age" differently. How do you account for that besides anthropologically? They have different ideas about what "old" means.)

As we age, we feel a bit more tired, so we decide not to do so much so we get more tired. As we age, perhaps we feel a bit stiff so we decide not to move so much and therefore get even stiffer. As we age, we decide it's okay to put on extra weight so we eat more. As we age, we decide that you can't teach old dogs new tricks, so we stop looking for opportunities to learn.

You get the idea.

What if we kept doing, kept moving, ate better, kept learning, kept being challenged?

As we get older, we have accumulated wisdom and we know things we didn't know when we were twenty. What if we decided to accumulate health too? What if we decided to accumulate adventure?

I will write more about this tomorrow, but right now? Because I am smarter at 40 than at 20, I dance and work out smarter, so right now? Get this...I am stronger than I have ever been. Right now? I am just as freaking flexible as I was at 16 -- and at 16, I would have just about qualified as an Official Circus Freak.

It is never ever too late. Eventually, we all get a bit wrinkled, eventually, we all die, but I am going out twirling!

What have you put off? Is there something calling to you but you ignore it, thinking it's "too late?"

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed,, 2009)


Tracy said...

Thanks for your beautiful and touching words. I'm loving reading your blog, having discovered it a few weeks ago while I was reading Women Who Run With The Wolves (finished it yesterday and going back to the start). I have my beautiful Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women poster stuck to the wall in my kitchen, and on my laptop desktop.

I'm getting wilder and wilder.

Signed, a 37 yo (soon to be 38 yo) dancer *twirl*

Wild Roaming One (WRO) said...

"What age would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" I heard this somewhere and it's one of those things that stopped me dead in my tracks. And, because of coming here and reading your words, I'll now adapt it into my own life mantra and say...

"And what about your dreams, would they be as age-less too?"

Thanks Christine...I needed to read this today.

WRO xo

Amy said...

"I'm going out twirling!"

I love it. LOVE it. Go, Christine! :)

Lisa said...

Great post, dear BlissChick!

SO true.

Every year I say that, like wine, I get better with age!

I have wellness coaching clients who are in their 60's and 70's and we are doing AMAZING work together. The changes they are making for themselves are quite inspirational.

Age, like weight, is just a number. We need not be slaves to either.

Dianne Poinski said...

Great post! As someone that just turned 50, this topic has been on my mind a lot. What you said is so true - "The concept of aging only becomes difficult when we aren't leading the life we really, deeply want to lead." I love this!
By the way - I decided to really celebrate turning 50 - my birthday is on Bastille Day - a huge holiday in France. So I went to Paris and watched fireworks shot off of the Eiffel Tower on my birthday.

JFKlaver said...

Perfect timing for me! Today is my birthday and I've been soul-searching, deciding to let some things go so more Joy can fill my days. I appreciate your post and your honesty. I know I'm not alone.

mommymystic said...

Bravo! (From a 42-year old fellow dancer)

Tess said...


In terms of the irrelevance of age to contribution and to remaining interesting and gifted, I only have a few words to say:

Leonard Cohen, Helen Mirren, Yusuf Islam, Judi Dench, Glen Close, Eric Clapton, Meryl Streep, Mick Jagger, Annie Lennox, the late Teddy Kennedy, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Wendell Berry, Pema Chodron, Joanna Macy, Mary Oliver, Susan Sarandon, Maya Angelou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, you, you and you.

Screw it, let's live and die with gusto!

Emma said...

Excellent post! =)

differenceayearmakes said...

Ah, you know how appropriate this post is for me. It's ever too late to be who we might have been.

I was in my forties when I began to exercise and get fit and I must admit I was stronger and fitter then any of my previous decades.

svasti said...

Had this very strange dream the other day about getting 'age tested', medically speaking. The results came back showing that I was physiologically only 26!

Honestly, having had my recent 23 year old house guest over, we had a conversation where he expressed surprise at my actual age. And I tried to explain to him (keeping in mind my own lack of comprehension about age at 23) how its very surprising to get to where you're at. Thirty-seven? When did that happen?

Anyway, I don't think it matters one dot what age you are when you work out what it is you want to do/be in your life. So long as you find it and your heart gets to sing. :D

Jbird said...

there is no age that's too old. My roommate (until a few months ago) does vintage dance (1850's stuff)and she is 51. I took up salsa dance two years ago at 35 (after thinking of it for YEARS). my BF is 41 and has begun lessons and is enjoying it. In fact, I just signed for bellydance lessons. BlissChick, you are really onto something with the dance stuff. Movement, dance. if you have a dancer's heart, it never goes away.

Jbird said...

and i forgot to say that my former landlady (until a few months ago) took up tango at the age of 60 after the end of a 20 year marriage. She is still going two years later! guess there's no point in waiting. if you want to dance, sign for a class!???

ladybug said...

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your passion of living. We can all use that reminder from time to time. Dance on my friend!

Deb Owen said...

I turn 41 in 2 months as well. (A little less than 2 months now.) I didn't expect the number '40' to hit me as hard as it did. Age hadn't really ever bothered me before. While things weren't bad turning 40, I do think it 'sped me up' a bit.

So this year?
Even better.

Keep on dancing!
All the best!

Marian said...

Hi! I have been reading your post for a few weeks now and feel as if you are living inside my head! (Welcome, I need your thought provoking words--they really help!) I've just started exploring art and just this morning was wondering what the heck I was doing--after all, I'm 48 and approaching 49 very quickly. Your post put me in an entirely different frame of mind. I turn 50new year on Thanksgiving and that's what I'm going to do--give thanks! Here's to the wild woman in all of us!

Globetrotting Cacti said...

I love this post and have printed it out to carry with me. Some-thing that I need to be reminded of from time to time...

livelovelaugh said...

Just what I wanted to read. Thank you very much for this post. It was liberating to hear that others are going through the same mental/cultural pitfalls. Aging truly is chronological. What matters most are your lifestyle habits and your attitude towards life! I, too, am focusing on my passion for dance at what others would call late in life. I suppose it wasn't meant to be any sooner, so I can't ignore the calling and the passion... thank you!

Ilona Vanderwoude said...

I agree completely! Wonderful words. I'm pushing 40 and getting back into dancing - in a big way! (At least, that is my intention.) Everyone thinks I'm in my twenties and I feel that way, except I'm wiser of course ; )

As long as you are healthy, anything is possible..

Thanks for your great post!

: )

Urban Shrimp said...

Thank you so much! Your words are like awesome burst of sunshine. I am 31 this year and I just started learning hip hop last year. It's been a tough ride not because of the dance part, but because of the mental battle that was going on within me all this while and the kind of cold blanket that people throw on me. In my dance class, I am the oldest. I admit that I may not be the fastest learner yet, but hey I have tried at the very least. And I am twirling. ^_~*

Unknown said...

Ok i just turned 40 and lately i have been feeling like something gas been missing in my life...and i just discovered it was dance and music...its crazy because now i fee l like its so important to live out my life long dream of this crazy of me to think or feel this...lately i have not been happy nothing seems to be satisfying me not even relationships...i feel theres something bigger and better out there and i believe its the art of dance...what steps do i take to begin this process...and oh yea did i mention i dont have kids so i believe that god wants me to do something more nit thst children arent a blessing but that blessing isnt for me...i believe its the dance thats. calling me....

S.B. said...

Thank you...I'm 41 and started taking belly dancing. I feel great sexy and I love it. It was on my kind.. am I too old for this ??.. am I too late in life to start this.. I'm doing it and will keep on doing it because it makes me happy...thanks for the motivation. .. I'm not alone lol... 😆