groovin’ and movin’ in my comfort zone

Hear that noise?  It’s the sound of me stepping, or even shimmying, out of my comfort zone.    This time next month, I will just have landed in Buenos Aeries, the ‘Paris’ of South America… about to embark on a week of self-discovery.  Well, I’ll be discovering if my feet are actually connected to my hips anyway, as I learn to tango in the tango capital of the world.

To prepare me for this little adventure, I’ve been taking salsa lessons, which reaffirmed my life-long held belief that my dancing hips got left in the shop when I was put together. A trip to Cuba a decade or so ago cemented this in stone…. which is about how fluid my hips feel when my feet are counting out the steps. Except, at my last class, it finally came together, and gasp!  My hips moved in the same direction, and to the same beat as my feet!  Now I won’t be slavering myself in orange tan and investing in diamante encrusted bras any time soon, but I think, with more lessons and a new-found mid-aged don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, I’m going to at least look like I’m resembling a Latin dance rather than a Morris dance.

I’m delighted with myself, and my new found talent hobby.  I’ve changed a life-long held view that I can’t do something into a second-half-life-long belief that I can.  It’s all part my promise to myself to undo a lot of the restrictions I, or others, have put on me, and to spend my mid-age exploring myself as much as I spent my youth exploring the world.  I also plan to learn to swim properly and achieve an open-water mile by the end of the year among other things because I’ve always believed I can only swim like my mother, and I hate swimming in the sea – all about to change. (Oh, and making the perfect Gin cocktail just because who wants to spend the second half of their life drinking anything but perfection?).

But stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t quite the backpack adventure into unknown territories it once was. I’ve reached that age when I have spent much of my life trundling outside my zone of comfort without a map and proper footwear, just because life is never a walk in a sunny park.   Sometimes life is great and as you expect, and other times it comes along and gives you a smack in the face.  I’ve had the life-smacks –  miscarriages, parent care, finding out my husband is gay – to name just a few, but I’ve also had more than my fair share of life-hugs too. So when I survive the unexpected, when I’ve walked out of the discomfort zone of grief, or loss or chaos and shock, I have been able to dust myself down and look back at my footprints and think, WOW, I did not expect to go there, but while the view might not have been great, I’m fitter for the trek.

Yesterday was the first time I haven’t spent St Patrick’s Day with my own children. Another zone of discomfort toIMG_8159 navigate. And this Easter will be the first Easter I won’t get to be the Easter bunny and leave eggs outside their bedroom and hide eggs in the garden. Someone took those experiences away from me, so I will create my own. I will take that discomfort and raise it a tango dance. I bought my dancing shoes and my lovely pal bought me a matching tango lipstick and I will spend Easter trying to make my hips connect to my feet, and heart connect to my soul and dance my way into the comfort of this mid-age state I have found myself in.

And maybe the hot flushes will be happening not just because I’ve reached a certain age, but because I’ve reached a certain stage where I can go dancing even though I’m crap, and I’ve reached a certain phase where adventures are available to me and I will sweat and grin my evenings away dancing, and flushing and knowing that wherever my steps in life lead me, I will own them

.. one salsa step, one freezing swim, one gin cocktail at a time.



About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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