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How to Carve Out Time for What You Really Love

  October 7

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How to Carve Out Time For What You Really LoveLast week I went to ballet class.

Yes, I checked and I am still 27 and not 7, but there I went – pink tights and all.

It was worth it. It was really, truly great.

I’ve danced my whole life, starting at 2.5 years old. Growing up, I never played any sports. I spent every summer carpooling 45 minutes into New Orleans with my sister and several others girls so that we could do dance intensives for weeks in the summertime. It’s some of my best memories growing up.

Then, I went to a boarding school for high school where there was a huge emphasis on the arts. I went to classes in the morning and then danced every afternoon. I enjoyed each and every moment of that experience. I was a part of an amazing company under an equally amazing director who had a really positive impact on my life.

When Hurricane Katrina rocked my entire world, I made sure I was in ballet class when I enrolled in college classes after all of that madness. It was a very stressful and upsetting time for me, but ballet requires so much focus that it became like my therapy hour every Tuesday and Thursday.

In fact, what I love most about ballet is that it demands lots of brainpower and at the same time lots of letting go – both in the physical sense and in the mental sense. It’s good for me and the way my mind works. The barre is and always has been like home to me.

So, when I started to look for dance classes here in New Jersey, I was so happy to find one right in my little town.

The price of $20/class was a bit steep but you can buy packages of 15 at a time which makes them come out to less.

As I’m sure any mother will tell you, your body doesn’t exactly go back to the way it was before you had kids. I’ve been super fortunate in terms of losing my baby weight, but things didn’t go back quite as I remembered them haha. Basically, I didn’t want to put on a leotard and tights. I feel old for that. But I did.

And… when I went and put my left hand on the barre and closed my mind to the outside world, everything was as it used to be. I was even so relaxed with the teacher because he was male. All of my most influential ballet teachers have been male so it just seemed right.

Anyway, I know budgets are tight, student loans are crazy, and life gets busy but I think it’s worth it to remember your passions and remember where you came from.

It’s crazy to me that I’m a mom of two children now living in a place I never ever thought I’d be doing a job I never thought I’d have – and yet I can go take a ballet class and close my eyes and suddenly the words and the music and the steps take me back to a place I’ve been so many times before.

In sum, find the room in your budget for the thing you’ve been missing.

It’s worth it.

It's crazy to me that I'm a mom of two children now living in a place I never ever thought I'd be doing a job I never thought I'd have - and yet I can go take a ballet class and close my eyes and suddenly the words and the music and the steps take me back to a place I've been so many times before. https://www.catherinealford.com/2014/10/07/carve-out-time/

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33 responses to “How to Carve Out Time for What You Really Love

  1. Ballet was my therapy for many years too. I danced from childhood through college. Then, I found an adult ballet class and kept dancing. I’ve stopped in favor of taking more yoga classes in recent years, but, I can completely relate to putting my left hand on the barre and experiencing a rush of memories. Barre warm-ups, especially, are very soothing–I do them at home a lot. I’m so happy for you that you’ve been able to pursue this! It’s awesome!

  2. I don’t ballet, but my daughters do. I bring them thrice in a week to Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. Aside from basketball and wakeboarding, seeing them do what they really love is one of my way to relax (I am on the bench watching them).

  3. I took ballet for a brief period in my life, now when I feel the need to relax and decompress, I look for yoga classes. It is important as a mom, though, to not forget yourself and who you were before the kids were born. Otherwise, you start to feel lost and disconnected. I am psyched that you reconnected again!

  4. Completely agree you need to take some time for yourself and indulge some interests.

    Running is my current escape – just me and the road, and lots of time to develop my thoughts and just think whilst admiring the scenery.

  5. It is always important to find balance in your life. While the class may be expensive, I think the cost of being stressed to the max would cause my work quality to suffer as well as my relationships. It’s definitely money well spent : )

  6. I was just talking about this with my wife last night….especially as parents we have to find something that is truly and fully just for US. Something that gives us time apart, that we enjoy – it makes us feel like the world of parenting and jobs and running a house, etc, etc doesn’t define and consume us. Doing something we love just for US makes us more ready to do all the other stuff with joy in our hearts. Good for you – hope you keep it up!

  7. That’s so awesome that you found a ballet class. Being able to focus on a hobby definitely helps keep things in perspective, especially when times are hard. I used to take voice lessons, and started them up again once I moved home from college. Despite not having much money, continuing my musical education felt very important, and I learned so much in those three years (unfortunately, my teacher had to cut her hours, as she was having a baby), which I still continue to use now. Having a budget doesn’t mean not having fun. It means planning your fun. 🙂

  8. ha ha no not for me right now, but I totally know exactly what you are saying. I’m lucky in that most of my passions at the moment are free, like beach volleyball, playing ukulele, running on the beach, etc. I didn’t dance growing up (although looking back I really wish my parents put me in some kind of arts classes), but I took dance off and on most of my adult life. I loved hip hop/funk type classes…to ungraceful for ballet. But I loved dance and can see how you can find your flow by going. And if you can find room in your budget, I say it’s totally worth it!

  9. Good for you Cat and yes pregnancy screws with your body type. Even though i officially weigh less than i did pre pregnancy i sti can’t wear all mynold clothes. Im still trying to drop 10more lbs. We’re enrolling Maria in dance next year and i can’t wait. My aunt was a professional ballroom dancer and her Godmother is a classically trained ballet dancer.

  10. I definitely agree with you. I love rock climbing, but it is an expensive sport/hobby/activity/whatever you want to call it. But just because it could get expensive I’m not going to stop doing it. There are ways to find deals on what you want to do. For example, we go to a rock climbing gym that on Mondays it is 2 for 1. So we pay half price on Mondays. There’s also a discount on Thursdays if you join a meetup group. Guess which days we go rock climbing? Yup, Mondays and Thursdays. I haven’t climbed on other days in a looooong time… at least not at the gym.

  11. That’s amazing! I’m not at all athletic, but I definitely think that after a baby (or two! haha) you have to carve out some time for yourself! So happy to hear you’re back to doing something relaxing, and I hope you can find balance!

  12. I saw the picture of you on Facebook the other day and thought to myself “Did she really have twins six months ago?!”. You look fabulous! I almost took some classes at Southern Youth Ballet this summer, but of course the $25 per class price tag deterred me. Luckily, I get to keep my passion alive by teaching, but there is something so calming and familiar about just taking a class.

  13. I’m very happy that you reconnected with your love for ballet!. I think people sometimes forget to nurture what really gives them joy and to try to align their spending/budget to support that to some extent..

  14. This is wonderful Cat! I think we have to continue to pursue our passions and get out of the routine. I think that by doing what you love, in this case ballet, you can gain some new insights about your work because you are putting your mind at ease and getting in the flow.

  15. Whatever your passion is, you have to make time for you too. For some people that will be an expensive hobby which means they only get to indulge once in a blue moon. For others it may be something as simple as taking half an hour a day to relax listening to their favourite music.

  16. You’re absolutely right about how important it is to have some sort of outlet. I’ve recently re-taken up piano, at my husband’s suggestion, and I didn’t realize how much I missed music until I sat down and started working through my old books again. Isn’t amazing how it just takes you back, and you find you can slip into that mindset and that escape almost immediately?

  17. I am also an old person who does sports! The registration form for skating has been in my bag all week to fill and give to my coworker, whose wife is the registrar. You’re getting my butt in gear.
    Great call on dancing, especially with all the different things you are juggling.

  18. I think more important than the financial cost is carving out the TIME. If you couldn’t swing the cost of lessons, you could still put on ballet slippers and practice on your own at home or something – taking the time to mentally find that same spot.

  19. I loved the feeling you conveyed here at the end! This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately – going back to childhood passions. So many of us leave them behind when we start working because we no longer have the time (or brainpower) after work to dedicate to them. But sometimes it’s important to get back to that place. Also, I think you look pretty darn amazing after having twins! Rock that leotard.

  20. I am so glad that you got to go to ballet!! I love ballet. It was my first dance class-I was 4 years old and the smallest kid in the class. I could barely touch the barre. When I got older I really fell in love with Jazz and Hip Hop and was auditioning for a lot of stuff I miss those days.

  21. That’s awesome! I have recently re-discovered my love of taking ballet classes – I have taught for the last 8 years, but not regularly attended a class of my own. This year, my classes ended up with having no students, so I decided it was time for me to return to the barre. And I’m remembering why I love it in the first place! I hope you are able to keep it up – I think every mama needs some time for an activity that is just for her! 🙂

  22. I spend my time divided between taking care of my disability,my family,and school. The more I do for others the more lost I get. But I think your right sometimes a girl needs to be a little selfish and take of what they want and need so that they get perspective on what life is about

  23. I used to be in a hip hop dance group and even choreographed some of our performance pieces. Lately, I have danced at all. I really need to get back into it. Not only is it great exercise, it really helped me stay mentally sharp.

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