Growing Old Together
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the phrase, “growing old together” and how easily we confuse that with the idea of ‘getting’ old together.
For years my husband, Marc, and I have gone on personal retreats. Mostly between December and January. It’s our time to break away from the norm, hunker down in a cozy cabin for a weekend and do a heart check. We eat good food, talk through, pray through and it can get a little intense but we come away closer. We bring resources, whether it’s something we’ve created or something we bought. It’s our intentional time to grow together in a deeper way and potentially make big life changes.
Last month, I woke up thinking about that phrase “growing old together” on the same day Marc and I would start ballroom dancing lessons. I love that he wanted to do this. To give you context, we’ve been virtually a danceless marriage, and that’s my bad. That actually feels a little sad to type after having taken our first lesson. He grew up in a salsa-dancing Puerto Rican family, and I grew up with an introverted Mexican mom. I suspect Marc knew what he was in for. (In my previous post, I talked about how much my mom worked as a single parent and that I was an only child. So, to be clear, I had no exposure to salsa dancing until I was a teenager and in general was not confident dancing in public, unless you include childish flailing and jumping.)
Based on the things I’ve been learning in the past few years, when something makes me freeze up as an adult, I start to wonder, “What happened (in my past, as a child)?” I was already managing a decent amount of anxiety hidden with my signature calm smile when the dance instructor separated the couples. He lined us up sending women on one side of the room, men on the other. Then he said, “Face your partner,” and I froze. Suddenly I was transported to a brutal social experiment from my youth called “square dancing”. For a millisecond, I was back in that elementary school gym where so many other awkward memories had taken place, all in the name of physical fitness. My recollection of that dance experience includes but is not limited to, sweaty hands, being face to face with a boy who was invading my personal space and a man on a microphone shouting “Do-si-do with your partner!” Sir??? I’m sorry, do-si-what!
That night I shared my experience with Marc and started to think, “Dang, maybe God wants to give me some healing in that area too? Alright now!” I’d been listening to the audio book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess by Dr. Caroline Leaf. In hindsight now, it looks like a God-orchestrated set up. She goes into great detail about the process of reframing your memories. The Bible does talk about renewing your mind, yet who knew it was going to be applicable to a dancing trauma.
Dance lessons don’t sound spiritual I know, but they are getting me out of my comfort zone and I believe that most positively is a spiritual exercise! We are more sensitive to listening, curiosity and attentiveness. Just like that, in a rumba lesson, God had my full attention and so did my husband. I was smiling so much, my lips dried in place like Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color. Marc called me giddy. He was right.
Half way through the repetitive foot movements the instructor started celebrating. I was so focused on what my feet needed to be doing that what he was saying wasn’t registering. “You’re dancing!” He shouted, not in a square dance Drill Sergeant kind-of-way like I’d heard it the first time, but in sincere excitement.
So here we are, growing old together, this time one dance step at a time. Thank you, honey.
Until next time, I’ve got to take care of this cough.
What I’m reading/listening to: Soundtracks by Jon Acuff
Song on repeat: Come Away With Me by Norah Jones
BONUS food for thought: What if learning together creates bonding? What if we need refreshed bonding experiences that keep us “growing together”? What if you explored a new city with your spouse, took a few dancing lessons or went on a couples retreat? We got you! We created a resource for couples to connect on a deeper level to better understand and appreciate one another while creating a vision for the future together. It’s called The Oneness Journey and it’s available on Amazon, just click here (cabin not included).