That, is my grandmother. Gigi. In her late 80s leading a conga line at my wedding almost 8 years ago. She will probably do the same at my cousins wedding next month -- she's 94 now and religiously goes to her Zumba class at the Y each week.
Every memory and thought I have of Gigi has her in motion. Walking, Dancing, Dancing, Dancing, doing her "exercises" when I was small and would come to visit, yoga lessons, swimming. That's Gige. A mover and shaker and never happier than when she has good music and a great dance partner.
As I said, she is 94 and still lives alone (with loving assistance from my mother a few streets over), and is pretty darn with it mentally. I'm sure I forget at least as many things as she does and I don't have age as an excuse (just two small children and lack of sleep)
I was thinking of her recently while on my break from practice. I took 4 weeks off after baby boy came along, following midwife's instructions. And what happened? I turned wickedly sour. I got grumpy and tight and annoyed. Not moving my body meant that my heart and emotions didn't have space for movement either. Everything got stuck and I went sad. Of course, hormones were there too.
But, whenever in my life I have stopped moving -- my mood and my heart soon twisted into a downward spiral of depression. It's why when I was working 50+ hours a week I was also running 20 miles and practicing yoga nearly daily. It's why when I took off from dancing each summer as a child I got really really irritated all the time.
The body likes to move. The body has to move! I'd say. It takes all the crummy stuff going on in the brain, mixes it around, and turns up solutions. Like MAGIC. Suddenly mysteries become clear and problems have answers. Suddenly hurt feelings disappear. Chemicals make changes that relax and re-wire us to just feel better. And we are happier.
These days it isn't easy to find the time. We have to prioritize exercise, sneak it in in stolen moments just taking the stairs instead of an elevator or walking to the store rather than driving. Exercise sounds so daunting as a word now, doesn't it? Like a required chore rather than the joy it really can be. (that's why I like to say move better) When I move I am joyful -- even if I only get in 5 minutes between feeding and caring for myself and my children - I am joyful, and it is worth it.
So I move to be healthy. I move to be happy. I move to not worry so much all the time. I move to be in my life without a foggy cloud in the way. Hoping that todays yoga or dance or walk or pilates or whatever I do will lead to longevity, levity and peace. It has worked so far, so I'll keep finding the time for it.