I used to have this whole other life. I try not to think about it all that much because I don’t find it particularly helpful or productive to long for the life I loved and lost, but bits and pieces of this other life just pop up now and again.
Sometimes, these bits and pieces take me by surprise and it feels like they belong to someone else. Like yesterday, when in the middle of an organization overhaul I came across a big fat binder labelled “Genetics, Stats and Cell Metabolism” followed by another one labelled “Physiology 1, 2 and Anatomy.” Were those my binders?! Did I really used to know all that stuff?! Weird.
Other times these bits and pieces bring with them memories that are much more heart achingly familiar. Again like yesterday, when amidst the same organization overhaul I opened up a box with a few pairs of old pointe shoes. I should add that in addition to being full of heart achingly familiar memories, this box is also kind of smelly. Even still, those smelly old dance shoes always make me sad because dance was such a huge part of my life for so many years and I really miss it.
Yesterday, though, I felt a little less sad than usual. I actually even smiled!
But of course, before I tell you why I smiled I shall ramble on for a while with some back story. Pretty sure you know the drill by now!
I grew up dancing. I started taking ballet classes when I was four years old with my best buddy.
I am third from the left with the jellybean tummy and hyper-extended knee…hello early signs of EDS! We were frogs, by the way. A few years later we were bluebirds…I would like to note that I have very clear memories of our mothers posing us for that picture and I’m not sure what they were thinking either.
The older I got the more classes I took…and the more brightly coloured spandex costumes I acquired. As a teenager I started teaching dance. I seriously loved my job, and one of my favourite classes to teach was baby ballet for 3 and 4 year olds. Baby ballet is all about imagination. It was chaotic but also a lot of fun! Plus the little ones always wore the cutest outfits and said the silliest things.
Now, you probably already know this, but I love to crochet. I love it because I’m fairly certain that it keeps me sane, but also for many other reasons that I will write about another time. I don’t have a favourite thing to make, though one thing I always enjoy making is a tutu! Why yes, you can crochet a tutu. Every time I make one I spend a few minutes just bouncing the skirt up and down and watching the ruffles dance. Following this delight, I always say that if I still taught baby ballet I would make tutus for all my little ballerinas as well as one for myself because how much fun would that be? And then I follow that up by thinking about how sad I am that I can’t teach dance anymore and thus have no need for a tutu.
Last time I made a tutu, though, I had a new thought…I thought well why not? Why do I have to be a ballet teacher to wear a tutu? Why can’t I still make myself one?
And so I did! I made a Catherine-sized tutu!
Besides being fun, my tutu is also very wise. When things aren’t going my way, my tutu tells me that I can make my own magic. When I’m worn out and tired of this life, it reminds me that I can still sparkle. When I feel powerless, it encourages me to stand up for myself, even if it means ruffling a few feathers. And when I feel like I’m 24 going on 80, trapped inside this falling apart body, my tutu assures me that there is still a silly, whimsical little girl inside of me.
So when I came across my old dance shoes yesterday I smiled because now I have a tutu. It doesn’t make up for the fact that I can’t dance anymore, but when I miss the whole other life I used to have, the whole other me I used to be, it reminds me that I can still make the best of the life that I have now. Even though nothing around me changes, life just seems a little bit brighter when I put on my tutu. “Ahhh young whippersnapper,” my tutu says, “the way you see the world is up to you.”
And isn’t that such a great reminder as we find ourselves at the start of brand New Year?
We can’t change the past, we have no idea what is going to happen in the future, and we can’t even control everything that is going on right now. We can, however, control how we deal with right now. We have the power to choose to see the best in things and to make the best of things. We can sparkle. We can make magic for ourselves. We can sparkle and make magic for each other, too.
So whether you make grand resolutions or not, whether the end of 2015 finds you struggling or succeeding, and whether you’re hopeful or hesitant about the year to come, my New Year’s wish for you is that now and again in 2016 you make time for a little silliness and whimsy, and that you let yourself sparkle because I believe the world is a better place with your magic in it.
Happy New Year tutu you!