Re-Discover Your Joy
by Julie Taylor
It can be very hard to try and get your mind around ‘Joy’ when you have been concentrating so hard on just staying alive for so long after a severe trauma… However, without Joy in your life I bet you won’t be able to create much success… Real success – the feeling that all’s well in your life – is as much about Joy as it is about all the other colours of your life.
One trick to help you uncover what pastimes you might enjoy is to think back to when you were a child and make a list of the things you liked to do then - childhood pastimes. These would be the first things for you to try. Ballet and horse riding were two of my favourites, so for me it was natural that I should try dance again to see if I would find it fun now. However, it may be that you didn’t particularly like dancing, but you did enjoy the social aspects that are also linked with dance (this seems to apply to a lot of single guys!) In which case, what would you have to lose by trying?
It’s nice to have some help, brainstorming what it is that you might like to take up again for a hobby or to shine a little light into your world. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, it is useful first to make a list of your likes and dislikes. And then see what hobbies might fulfill some of these requirements. Dancing may not be something you would normally consider – but you may find it fills other needs that you have quite nicely. In that case, I would say it was worth a try? Shine a little light into your world!
Going to dance classes (which is 'safer' and more structured than going to a social evening) might be worthwhile for you as it could lead to a new talent – dance itself - and meeting new people in a social atmosphere. Small talk could well be another challenge for you and a structured social dance lesson would be a good opportunity to practice. It is excellent physical exercise and it could well be that if you talk to your physiotherapist about it she can show you how to incorporate one or two dance moves into your physical therapy. I found that this was the best way for me to do my exercises! I hear music and I move…
Going to dance class is a great tonic in itself - getting showered and dressed and going to a structured one-hour class where you can practice a whole range of skills. As the words of the song say “Music feeds the mortal soul”, along with smiling (therapy in its own right) and being part of a group (another great therapy!). I wonder too - have you heard of
healing touch? I’m sure that’s referring to a therapist putting his hands on you deliberately to heal you. But human touch is another great healer and for me dancing, especially with a handsome partner, can be very therapeutic!
If you are feeling shy and it’s taken you a while to get to the place where you can walk unaided but you are hardly well enough to Jive, a very safe place to start is the local senior citizens community centre. Most often you have to build up your physical strength and stamina before you can dance. There are dance lessons of all kinds at these recreation centres – and one of the most wonderful things about going to a senior’s centre is the patience, acceptance and delight at having someone younger - or just new - in their community. I found their warmth and welcome to be priceless gifts. By the Golden Years it seems that people have wised up to what really matters in life: people, fun and community.
Another thing that I have tried is singing. A friend of mine had been encouraging me to join her choir group for over two years. I was so sure that there was no way that I could succeed…. Wrong! Another friend decided to come with me and before I knew it I was there! Like dancing, I would never have thought in a million years that I would be able to sing and clap and move and remember my words… But I do! And the sense of community and achievement is great.
One of the worst things about needing to rebuild is that often it happens at an age – any age – when your peer group is mostly working, at school/university or otherwise busy. This means that isolation can be a real problem. It is possible to find a dance related activity to attend every day during the daytime in some urban areas. My idea of heaven! One particular senior’s centre got me planning for when I retired! You just need to look for and choose your own activities. Often community centres that offer programs for kids and working adults in the evenings will have lots of programs during the day for seniors or women with small children - I have also seen special rehab programs put on.
Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and just try something… Or do something that you know you used to love and everyone says you ‘shouldn’t’ do. In fact that a guaranteed way to get me to do something: tell me I can’t do it! Recently I was in Texas and spent a couple of hours out on horseback – complete with a real wrangler in cowboy boots and spurs! That was one of the highlights of my year – and life is too short not to have lots of those special moments.
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