35:35 Challenge…

Well. I’ll be thirty five years old in a fortnight. Although it’s not old, obviously, it’s a bit of a watershed for me as all my “life” plans ended at 35. I’ve managed what I consider to be the big things – I’m happily married and have two amazing children. I even have a job that is Good Enough – meaning that I can happily spend time on my hobbies and I’ve discovered lots of things about myself along the way. I know how best I study and am working hard on finding a balance to make it all fit.

But (and yes, I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with but, but there it is anyway) there is a bit of me that is wondering if that’s it. I could just do with a bit more excitement. I realise that at at the moment, free time is in short supply, but I want to make the most of what is there.

Recently, I went to my one and only ballet class. I’ve never had a yearning to dance, but I do love to watch the ballet and Eve, my daughter, loves the class she goes to. Mostly, I think I went along because I had a free voucher from the Open Day, and being a good Yorkshire lass, I didn’t want to waste it…

Anyway, off I went to the adult beginner class at the newly opened Northern Ballet building in the centre of Leeds, utterly terrified, to face a class of about thirty strangers and one instructor, the French ex-Principal Dancer, Natalie Leger. Oh, and a man who played the piano. The other students were an interesting mix from those who clearly fancied themselves as future reality TV stars, to a married couple in their sixties who had recently started dancing together. Everyone I spoke to was very welcoming, including the teacher, who, as well as being the tiniest, most sinewy adult I have ever met, was also very warm, engaging and inclusive.

Despite all this, I found the class almost impossible to follow. I know nothing of ballet, and it clearly showed in my lack of rhythm, timing, balance, poise, elegance and all the other attributes you might assign to a dancer. I also apparently cannot count or tell the difference between left and right.

After an hour and a half of utter torment, the class finished, and I left the room, exhausted and sweating,and went to the cold Leeds air. Upon which I burst into tears of exhilaration. Yes, it is true, I cannot dance. At all. Yet, I HAD danced. For a whole class. On my own. I felt so alive and thrilled with my own bravery and achievement and I wanted to do it all over again.

I want to feel like this more often.

So, here’s the plan. I’m going to try thirty five new things in my thirty fifth year. They don’t all have to make me cry, in fact, I’d like them to be a balance of the challenging, exciting, and just good old fun. They must all be something I’ve never tried before, and they must be relatively achievable – so no bungee jumping in New Zealand unless someone else is willing to pay the air fare. Some things I may only try once, and decide are not for me (like sushi) but some things might take hold and become a regular hobby. I’d just like to see.

So, does anyone have any ideas for me?


2 Comments to “35:35 Challenge…”

  1. What a brilliant post, Liz! Great to hear more about your ballet experience, and what it meant to just get out there and DO it!! I love the idea of a 35:35 challenge – perhaps we should all aim to do that for every year of our lives, because it’s just too darn easy to get stuck in a rut and not try out all the amazing things there are out there!

    What came to my mind as I was reading your post is that you should try a high ropes course. It’s an amazing, exhilarating and wonderful experience and you learn a lot about yourself. I did one course in California, but I’m sure you’d be able to find somewhere in Yorkshire that offers it 🙂

    Good luck!

    • Hi Kirsten, Thank you so much for your comments! You’re so right – I spend so much time doing the mundane things every day, and time passes so quickly. Maybe you can join me in trying out a few new things this year! A high ropes course sounds pretty exhilarating, I’m definitely adding it to the list if I can find one in Yorkshire. Now, only 34 things to find…

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