I got an email today from a friend who wrote:  “I’m glad to read that you are becoming happier, and (I) miss the more frequent blogs posts from the past.”  I guess it’s true that for a long time, I wrote about the day to day “suffering” and how I was getting through it and now that I truly am happier, I don’t have as much to write (whine) about.  I tried not to whine, but sometimes I think I just had to. 

Anyway, I am happier and I credit dancing.  We watched the Japanese film, “Shall We Dance” the other night and I loved it.  I’d seen it when it first came out and I loved it then too.  I related to the Japanese accountant who was feeling little joy in his life despite having everything he always wanted – a good marriage, a daughter, a wonderful home – but he discovered dancing and became obsessed with it.  Last night, I went to a dance at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) and had a ball.  I was talking to a woman who told me she started dancing when she lost her husband and it helped so much with the grief, she now wishes she could dance all the time.  She’s been studying for five years and was very good!  I look forward to every Thursday night and if there’s a dance, or a special one night class, I take it and I’ve learned so much in just two and a half months, I can’t believe it. 

The interesting news my friend told me in his email is that recently he’d met a woman he really likes.  Years ago we both talked about going on Match.com and how frustrating it is.  Turns out he didn’t have to — he was fixed up by a co-worker, the woman’s daughter!  I guess that just shows you, you never know what life has in store and you might as well enjoy each day and do what you love and make the best of your life as it is.  I am so happy for him, I really hope that the relationship continues – he sounds so excited.  Yay!  Becoming happier…it’s a lovely thing.  I’m grateful that for today, despite the fact that it’s freezing out, and there’s still so much to be sad about in the world – I can appreciate all the blessings in my life. 

There’s a curious saying in Alanon (the 12 Step Program that’s about being obsessed – or “addicted” to taking care of others) that when you “recover” and stop focusing on fixing other people, you actually have the time for a hobby.  I don’t know that I’ve ever really had a “hobby” — there are things I like to do: bike ride, read, go hiking, take long walks, travel, try new restaurants.  I don’t know if any of them would qualify as hobbies –  but recently, after many years of talking about it – I decided to sign up for dance lessons.  

First I thought of tango, because I had a date with a tango instructor and he told me I was good, that I could pick up the steps quickly.  I decided to go for swing dancing first, because that seens a bit easier and I had already studied it a few years ago.

Now that I’m no longer a caregiver for my mother, or a full-time parent, or wife, I have found this outlet for myself that is really challenging and fun.  I’ve been taking classes now for almost two and a half months.  I can’t believe how much I’ve learned — and after going to a big swing dance the other night with two live bands and watching so many really GREAT dancers, I realize I have so much more to learn.  I loved that the people there were 18-80.  They were all sizes and shapes and danced in so many different variations of Lindy, Swing, etc, I don’t even know all the different styles.

I met one of my dance partners there, Rob, he was in the first class I took and we danced together for awhile, practicing what we’d learned. After he left,  I danced with some other men I’ve met who are from the more advanced classes.  They taught me moves and I taught them a few things I’ve learned.  I am so grateful for this new “hobby” – it’s frustrating sometimes, and when I see the really great dancers I know that I can never be that good, but I just enjoy dancing, and practicing, and I guess it’s really too soon to call it a real hobby, but it’s a good start. 

Considering it’s January, and it’s an election year, and the world remains a mess, to have something that actually gives me pleasure each time I step out on the dance floor feels like such a blessing.  I can forget, for at least that hour or so, that the problems in the world are too overwhelming and focus on learning how to do a dip, a yoyo, or a barrel step.