It’s mid-afternoon, and I’ve got a roaring headache. My phone just crashed in the middle of an important call. My back is sore, and I’ve still got tons of work to do—but I can tell my body needs a nap. I crawl into bed, setting the alarm for an hour later…and lie there fitfully, unable to drift off to sleep. Eventually, I get up and grab a snack and a glass of water and sit down again at my desk. Now I’m even further behind than I was before, and I still feel unrested. I’m probably going to have to work well into the evening.

 

Or: I can ask myself to dance.

 

No judgment

See, a friend of mine helps run a women’s dance group here in chicago called DDPP: Dance Dance Party Party. The group has three rules: no boys, no booze, no judgment. Twice a week, folks meet and take turns DJing, dancing together for an hour. You can dance however you want, and you can opt out of any song.

It’s freakin’ fantastic.

That part about “no judgment” is the thing that’s getting me on the dance floor tonight. Those two little words are a reminder to me that no matter how I show up, no one there is going to judge me. That’s especially important tonight, because I’m confident I’ll have to sit out a bunch of songs, or at least dance really slowly, perhaps just swaying or bobbing my head to the beat.

 

No self-judgment

I have DDPP in my calendar as a repeating appointment, every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon, but sometimes I don’t go because I’m tired or sore and I won’t be able to dance the way I want to. Or the way I should be able to dance.

Hear that? That is the sound of nasty self-judgment, and sometimes it creeps into my head and stops me in my tracks.

I used to dance every weekend, hitting the club scene in Chicago and staying out til all hours. I prided myself on my ability to dance well past midnight, sometimes multiple nights a week. Since I got sick more than 20 years ago, I’ve had a really hard time accepting the loss of dance in my life. It’s not that I can’t dance at all—I just can’t dance to more than a couple songs at a time, or I can’t do all the moves I want to do.

But that self-judgment is so limiting! It has kept me from pursuing a thing that brings me joy.

 

Tonight, I’m gonna ask myself to dance

Yes, I’ve got work to do…but I know the quality of my work won’t be very good if I work late. Better to aim for a good night’s sleep so I can get up early tomorrow and hustle.

Yes, I’m tired and sore…but I know I can put on my gym shoes and move to the beat a little bit.

Yes, my inner critic is still nagging me about what people will think if I sit down for a few of the songs…but I’m telling my inner critic to shut up! I need to feel the music.

Yes, I feel a bit like hermitting…but I know it’s good for me to see friends, and good for them to see me be vulnerable.

 

How bout you?

Is there something in your life that’s changed since you got sick, something that you miss? Maybe something you can still do, but not in the same way, or “not as well” as you used to be able to? Have you considered that maybe you could approach it differently? I want to know—share your experience in the comments. Thanks!