On 40

20140130-233400.jpgI’m writing this from a hotel room in Las Vegas after having a fantastic dinner with my honey. Birthday week has been pretty amazing, I have to say.

I’ll admit I was a little panicky the weeks leading up to 40, smacked with the reality that 20 was a long time ago and there are a lot of things I should have achieved by now. I still think about those things, but a few days ago a friend said something that put things in perspective.

He said that the Chinese have a saying for each major age milestone; basically, at 30 you’re independent but at 40 you realize what’s important.

So true!

I absolutely have goals and dreams. But generally I no longer think that achievements by deadlines translate to success or happiness.

So what’s important to me? The people who love me and my relationships with them. Yes, most people will say that. But I think that when you truly believe that being a good loving daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, etc. is what makes you wonderful, that’s success.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

7 thoughts on “On 40

  1. SO excited to discover your blog! I’m in my mid-40s; when very young dance was my greatest passion, but life took me down a different path. Now, with my kids grown, I made the decision: I will not marry a person, I will marry dance. More specifically, Flamenco. I’ve a long path ahead of me – I’m older, out of shape, but oh, there is love and fire in my heart. So, I decided to google my crazy idea of marrying dance – and alas, discovered your blog. So happy I did! Thank you!

    1. Hi Kit – Wow, really? How random and super awesome! Flamenco has been so fulfilling and life-changing for me. Go for it.
      Where are you? Are you taking classes now?

      1. Thank you πŸ™‚ I’m in one of the boroughs of NYC. I’ve been in love with Flamenco since I was a child. I’ve seen a number of performances across my life, including Pilar Rioja performing here in NY 17 times now. I’ve not yet taken a class, but danced often as a child (ballet, tap, jazz, and then several years of Belly Dance in my late teens/early twenties; I performed with a local dance company for awhile). I’m currently going through a life transition. My sons are now both in their early 20s (I had them when young), and I’m trying to stabilize the business I own (it is an online training program) so that I can work far less by this time next year. This year I’m focusing on losing weight, building core strength and flexibility (yoga), and I’m taking a tap class. I have to commute to Manhattan to study Flamenco, and I think that won’t likely start for me until later this summer, when I transition my work life to where it needs to be. For now, though, I’m also working with some dvds, and quite honestly, I’ve been reading and watching everything I can about Flamenco for well, awhile now. However, I will view myself as an absolute beginner when I set foot in a class, nonetheless.

        I was stunned to see the name of your blog. Since I was a child, dance was my first passion, however I got waylaid along the way. I’ve had a good life, but I had my children when young, and now that they are grown, it is time for me to return to that passion. I’ve no goals of making a career of it – I see this as my personal art, something I will invest myself fully in for the passion of it, the love of it. I’m also a writer with work published, and honestly, going pro with my work had taken the passion and fire out of it for me. I’m looking forward to protecting my dance life from that. I don’t care if I perform before an audience, or if others think I’m good – I care about committing myself fully to this, to immersing myself in the experience. Flamenco is so rich, I love the complexity of it, the passion, the fire, the history – everything about it.

        As a writer I’d reached a space where I felt that story burned in me beyond words. I’d become a wordsmith out of a lifetime of trying to find ever better ways of expressing all that matters, and then suddenly I knew: Words were the problem. Sure I found success with words, but I didn’t find the expression I ached for – I wanted something more primal, more honest, a purer delivery of truth. I knew that whenever I experienced flamenco it touched me at core. Flamenco achieved all I ached for, and tried to achieve with my writing. While the canteora may use words, there is so much more range, the value in the delivery and intonation, as well as in the spaces between notes — written story just can’t match it in the same way.

        So it is, upon recently rejecting a marriage proposal from a wonderful person, I decided I wanted to commit myself to pursuing this passion, no matter how crazy it may seem this late in the game (who in their 40s starts such a thing, a friend asked me. Well, apparently I do!). Again, I am not looking to shape a career here, just to pursue my passion.

        I’ve only begun to dig into your site, but I’m looking forward to learning more about your experience. It was such a delight to discover there was a site that popped up when I googled the idea of being married to dance, to flamenco.

        Thank you for this site – it felt like a reinforcement that I’m on the right path πŸ™‚

        And….happy birthday!

      2. Thanks for the b-day wish! πŸ™‚

        I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m a writer at heart (and by training, really) and I enjoy expressing myself that way. It’s one thing to write a blog and have an audience read and react to it privately, and quite another to dance a very passionate dance in front of a group of people where you’re feeding off each other’s energy. Amazing feeling!! There’s nothing like it.

        Ok, one thing I’d like you to do is tell anyone who asks that lots of people take up flamenco “late” in life. In my own class, there are a handful of us who started about the same time five years ago and I’m one of the youngest of the group. I’ve got friends who have recently celebrated 50th birthdays or will soon, and some older — one of our classmates is in her 80s!! That’s the wonderful thing about this art form: it welcomes those of all ages, sizes and shapes. Older dancers are respected because they bring their maturity and experience to performance. Sure, starting at age three is wonderful for building that lightning footwork and such. But those of us who start at age 34-and-a-half and beyond can still become strong, entertaining dancers, and will certainly become physically strong and emotionally/mentally fulfilled in the process.

        I also danced as a child/teen and loved it. No husband or kids here, but I guess life distracted me from sticking with any kind of dance in my 20s. I think if I had known about flamenco back then, I would have taken it up then. Then again, I like to say that flamenco found ME at the right moment in my life. Any earlier and I might not have been ready for such a commitment. Oh, and that’s great you’re not focused on performing. I wasn’t either until I did it once — then I was hooked!! I enjoy performing in general, but had no idea I’d ever be “ready” to dance flamenco before an audience. But I did it 7 months in (group dance) and it was an incredible boost and validation of my effort and potential. We are lucky to have a teacher who organizes student shows once or twice a year; I’ve also had the opportunity to perform elsewhere a couple of times, but turned down invitations because I didn’t feel ready to do it “professionally.” I’m in a place now, though, where I think I could hold my own if I needed to. I guarantee you will get there one day too.

        Kind of a bummer that classes aren’t terribly convenient for you. But you’re doing the right thing by watching everything you can on video. Also, just listening to the music will help you tremendously when you’re finally able to take classes. Let your ear get used to the 12-count rhythms and the structures of the letras. Just soak it all in and you won’t feel like you’re listening to crazy wailing set to an odd beat when you’re in class — haha! I’ve loved flamenco music since I was introduced to it, but couldn’t understand why at first …

        Glad you found me, too! I love hearing from readers from all over. Feel free to ask any questions along your journey. Have you looked into attending the flamenco festival in Albuquerque? It’s a great experience, and they offer a weeklong beginners intensive course. Good way to jump into in. Plus you’re around flamencos from all over the world for a week and you can see amazing performances by Spanish artists. If it’s on this year, you might consider going …

        M

      3. Marissa!

        Thank you for such a wonderful and supportive reply, I cannot thank you enough! I’ve had an incredibly busy week here, and keep meaning to write you back, but this is the earliest I’ve had the chance to sit down and write – didn’t want to type it out on my cell phone while on a bus. Anyhow, I’ve actually been reading through your site – I’m actually almost caught up! Wow, what a journey you have had!

        The blog itself, coupled with your comments above, have been so useful. I love that there is someone in their 80s in your class – that is amazing! It sounds like you have a wonderful sense of community there.

        I will be taking classes in Manhattan this summer, I’m fairly certain. It is just an expensive commute and over an hour each way. However, well worth it, I’m certain. I just didn’t want to take that step until I was a bit stronger. Right now I’ve been doing yoga to build my core and increase flexibility, plus a weekly tap class, thinking it will build up some endurance, and daily I’m doing about 90 minutes of dance fitness classes, the goal being to build up stamina as well as to drop some weight. I feel this will make the commute and expense of the Flamenco classes more worth the while. When I first set out on this path, I had been pretty sedentary for awhile, as I’d been working 70+ hour weeks. However, my life has been changing dramatically over this past year, as I’d transitioned my career in a direction that would allow me far more flexibility. This was intentional, and Flamenco a dream that grew brighter with every turn.

        I will confess to you – I’m confusing the daylights out of those who love me! They think I’ve become addicted! The music, the videos, the books, the Spanish lessons!

        Right now I practice Spanish almost every day, dance and do yoga daily, listen to Flamenco music as my go-to sound, and am deeply immersed in learning everything I can about Flamenco, and its history. I’ve even read a large number of books on Gypsy history, the history of Spain, even the evolution of Spanish language.

        I’m new to all of this – I’m sure there are a lot of holes in what I’m learning, and many dots still remaining to connect. However – I’ve been bitten by the Flamenco bug, most definitely.

        I actually fell in love with Flamenco when I saw a performance at 5 years of age; my folks bought me a beautiful Flamenca Doll, which sat on my dresser for many years. I would obsess over her dress, and more importantly, her posture – I love the pose she in which she was perpetually formed. When I looked at her, I would recall those brightly beautiful flamencas I’d seen perform, and remember the raw power of the music and powerful sounds of their steps. I suspect this has remained in the back of my mind until now, when I, and my life, were ready to welcome Flamenco in with full force.

        When I read what you said about Flamenco finding you, I *totally* understood!

        While there is much about your site that I love, I especially enjoy reading about your journey into this world, and seeing your wonderful progress in the videos! It also makes me feel a bit saner to hear of others as obsessed as I am. When you write of how you feel like you’ve found your people, I breathe a sigh of relief – it isn’t just me, and there are more of us out there! I am SO looking forward to connecting with the community in Manhattan this summer.

        I would LOVE to go to Albuquerque. Quite some time ago I read the novel, “The Flamenco Academy” (see? obsession! Even my fiction choices are driven by it!), and longed to go to the Festival (when reading I of course had to google immediately to see if it actually existed, and was thrilled to see it did!). However, I heard the center burned down this winter. Do you know if the Festival will go on? Oh, how I hope it does! I may not be able to make it this summer, but I’m already planning on going in 2015, if it is held. I’m also hoping to go to Spain to study for at least a month in 2015. Those are the big dreams. But…first the initial steps, getting into that class in Manhattan this summer.

        We have a lot in common, btw. I grew up participating in chorus – I even sang at the lighting of the tree in Rockerfeller center when I was in high school. And….I have been long toying with the idea of learning to play guitar as well, and in fact, have already interviewed a few instructors in the area – though one told me it would likely be easier for me to begin with dance, then move to guitar.

        Anyhow, sorry this is so long! Your blog and comments are just so inspirational, and I’m thrilled to have someone to communicate with who GETS IT! I’ve no clue if I will be any good, but I suspect I won’t be too awful in time. I’m prepared for the hard work, the blisters, all of it. Again, this is it – I realize now that this is going to be a primary focus of my life for quite some time to come. No clue where it will lead me, but I’m thrilled to have boarded this ride πŸ™‚

  2. Happy Birthday! I can vouch that the 40s is better than the 30s. I have more resources at my disposal, I know better how to balance my time and I can indulge in my passion more often πŸ™‚

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