Thursday, January 31, 2013


I'm a relatively new to the Pimm's bandwagon but I can say that I have taken to it with gusto.  If you have never drunk Pimm's before it is a a gin-based drink containing a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs.  You generally drink it in a 1:3 ratio with lemonade (7-Up for any US readers), usually with some added fruit.

My first experience of Pimm's was at my gorgeous friend Floss's wedding.  They were married in a garden ceremony at11am.  Straight after the ceremony we had the wedding cake accompanied by Pimm's and lemonade.  I will never forget standing in those gorgeous gardens, eating fruit cake and drinking Pimm's.  It was a really unique wedding and it definitely started a love affair with Pimm's for me.

These days I love to fill my glass with fruit, making it into a kind of Pimm's punch.  A few slices of orange, a couple of strawberries, a stick or two of cucumber and some mint all topped with Pimm's and lemonade makes for an incredibly refreshing beverage.  It really is a perfect summer cocktail, sweet and fruity yet with that distinctive tang.  As a matter of fact I might go pour myself one now!

Friday, January 25, 2013


My childhood summers would make an awesome montage in a film.  A gang of tanned kids playing in gardens, building forts in the paddocks behind the houses and climbing trees.  Our combined families playing street cricket and having BBQs that went from lunch till well after dark.  And then there would be the swimming.

We were lucky enough to grow up with a backyard swimming pool in a street were there were quite a few.  Mum could always tell which house we were at by the echoing screams, shouts and splashes.  My sister and I would spend so many hours in those pools that we would be darkly tanned by the end of the summer.  We were masters at riding a pool pony, could swim multiple laps underwater and were unbeatable at marco polo.  One summer we even taught our Uncle how to swim.  We truly were water babies.

As I grew older I spent less and less time in the pool.  It just wasn't as fun as it was when we were little.  Our firm childhood friends and pool buddies had grown up, gone in different directions and were no long available to play marco polo for hours.  Since I moved out of home the effort of going over with swimmers etc and my annoyance at extra hair washing and drying, has meant that it has been quite literally years since I had been in that pool.

But then this summer arrived with its blaze of heat suited to only one thing - lazy pool afternoons.  For the last two weeks before family dinner S and I have headed up for a swim.  I can see such a difference between us when it comes to the pool.  My years and years of constant swimming mean I'm completely confident and jump right in even though I haven't been swimming for ages.  S has never been a swimmer and he is much more hesitant about the whole thing. 

But we have been having a ball.  Mucking about, playing in the water.  I had forgotten how free you feel in the weightless environment of the water.  I am enjoying swimming laps and feeling that sense of powering through.  And it is just so nice to cool off in this super hot weather.

After hiding away in a drawer for years my bikini is finally seeing the light of day and if this weather continues the way it appears to be I can see many more afternoons in the family pool.  Now just to get a new pool pony!

Have you been swimming this summer? And are there any childhood activities that you haven't done since then that you would like to again?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happiness - Change

Change is probably better associated with angst, fear, sadness and confusion than happiness.  But it is something that happens to all of us, so finding a way to deal with it that maintains happiness is important.  It is particularly important for me at the moment as 2013 has burst onto the scene with a whirlwind of change.  Some is good and exciting, some is bad and sad, some we just don't know yet. 

The first few weeks of the year have seen my circle of family and friends face two marriages ending, two pregnancies announced, a move to a new city, a redundancy, our dance school closing and various plans to open a new one.  For me personally I have landed a new job and have the uncertainty about what is happening with dance, not to mention supporting my friends through their own changes.  I feel that the ground has shifted under my feet so fast that I have no idea what this new landscape is or where I stand in it.  This level of change, actually any change at all, can seem overwhelming and scary.

For a long time in my early 20's I tried to shield myself from change.  I lived life like a calm, still pond - safe, comfortable and predictable.  Of course the reality is that you cannot prevent change it will thrust itself upon you when you least expect it.  And more to the point if you don't change, that calm, still pond will become stagnant, not capable of supporting a healthy life.

Since that time I've experienced many changes in my life.  Good changes, bad changes, surprise changes, planned changes, it has pretty much all happened.  The key I've found to dealing with change in a way that leaves me happy is to do just that - deal with it. And to deal with it I've developed a little process that helps me, I hope it might help you.

Step 1: Understand the change
When a change arrives or is announced you rarely get the whole story in one go.  It can be really easy to have a snap reaction before you even understand what the change is.  So when something arises I try not to have a major reaction till I have the full story - which can be easier said than done.  Sometimes getting the full story can take days or weeks, so you need to start moving on through the steps, but remember till you really understand what this change is and why it is happening, it is hard to respond rationally and logically.

Step 2: Have a moment
I think it is completely unreasonable to expect that you can just accept all change without some kind of emotional reaction.  I'm a pretty emotional person, my first reaction is always going to be emotional and it is ok to have a freak out, or just stand still in shock or cry or jump up and down with joy.  I let myself have that visceral reaction - then I move on.   When I see people who aren't coping with a change it is because they don't move on from that initial emotion.  Don't underestimate how strong it can be.  Grief often accompanies change because change usually means leaving something behind.  The key is to recognise all those emotions are valid and that you will probably still feel them for quite some time but that you need to move on from there.

Step 3: Work out what this means for you
So once you know what has changed and you have had your moment (however long that needs to be), it is time to work out what this means for you.  A time of change is often a great time to reevaluate your goals and it can create opportunities that are larger than just the initial change. 

Step 4: Move forward
When change has happened the path is not always clear.  But no one said you have to move right to the finish line in one go.  In fact no one said you have to get there in a straight line.  The key is that you don't let change become a road block where you are left floundering in emotion.  Moving forward can be as slow as you need it to be - as long as there is movement.

Strange as it may seem, sometimes steps three and four can be reversed.  The change will demand action so you need to start doing things before you have entirely worked out what the end goal is going to be.  This is ok, sometimes it just works like that, it is just important not to skip step 3 and find yourself in a default position which you may not have intended.

Overall the thing I've learned about change is that no matter how huge, terrifying, sad, or annoying it may seem finding happiness on the other side is always possible.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Girls Night

One of my favourite gatherings has to be the girls night.  After all what can be more fun than gathering with a group of your best girlfriends over delicious food and heaps of drink for all the catching up and gossiping we can manage.

Last year was a little short on girls nights.  It isn't that I didn't see my gorgeous possy of girls, it was just usually in the context of one on one catch ups or larger gatherings.  So I decided to kick things off early this year and we have made a promise to hold them more regularly.

I nearly always serve tacos.  They are so easy to make, simple to have gluten and/or dairy free (essential in my circle) and you can dress them up to suit yourself.  We drank Pimms and lemonade, white wine sangria and caprioskas - with some alcohol free punch for the drivers.  We chatted about what is happening in everyone's lives, workshopped wedding scenarios (there are 3 upcoming) and discussed various snippets of news.  All pretty much our standard fare.

The thing about a girls night, however, is they are always so relaxed.  I never worry about what to wear.  Food is casual, conversation is flowing and the laughter rarely stops.  They really are truly relaxed gatherings.  And more to the point these are friends I absolutely trust, so it is the perfect group to talk through anything that is on my mind.

I feel really grateful to have found such a gorgeous group of girls and can imagine these nights will continue till we all have to arrange to be in the same nursing home together.

Friday, January 18, 2013

10 years on

10 years ago today Mum and I went to the movies to see the German film "Mostly Martha" (later remade by Hollywood as No Reservations).  It was great.  I went to work for a bit that day then went and had a massage.  The night before I'd been at my best friend's house where she had made a fish curry followed by homemade apricot icecream.  It was really hot that night and as I left the house kangaroos were sitting on the street eating people's lawns so that I had to drive around them to get out.

These are pretty detailed memories for a random weekend 10 years ago, however the thing is it wasn't just some random weekend - 10 years ago the sky turned black then orange then red as a firestorm raced into Canberra killing 4 people, injuring many more and burning down 500 homes.  In some ways it feels as though it was a lifetime ago, in other ways I can't believe 10 years have passed.

We were lucky, while the fire came within meters of our property we didn't lose anything.  Friends and neighbours helped us fight the flames and we only got the grass fire, not the pine forest fueled firestorm. Friends of ours were not so lucky, there is nothing you can do to fight a giant fireball that lands on your house setting the whole thing ablaze in seconds.

For a long time after the fire just thinking about it made me very emotional.  I think we all had  post-traumatic shock to some extent.  These days I can think about it pretty objectively, (although listening to a montage on the radio that included the emergency message from the day this morning had me in tears) but the one moment that will always move me when I remember it is not because it was sad, it is because it made me really, truly realise what was important.

Before and during the fire we were busy, crazy busy trying to prepare then fight the fire (and me having asthma attacks and coughing fits - I do not mix well with smoke).  But after it had passed we sat around in the family room.  There were my parents, my sister, her then boyfriend (now husband), me and our dogs.  Everyone was exhausted, that post adrenaline rush lethargy.  It was fairly dark, with no electricity and the air heavy with smoke.  The radio was on and the local ABC was reporting suburb after suburb burning.  We knew that houses had been lost and we expected that people had been killed.  Occasionally the phone would ring, friends and relatives checking we were ok, offering their houses where there was still power and therefore hot showers - not that we could get there most roads were cut.  We could barely move for the exhaustion.  I think I was sitting on the stairs as I looked around that room, filled with the people I loved, in the house that had been saved and felt like the luckiest person alive.

Over the next weeks, months and years I've watched as the city rebuilt.  People I know have rebuilt their lives, going from having literally only the clothes on their backs to a full complement of 'stuff'.  The thing it has taught me is that if you have your friends and family, you can start over.  You can rebuild.  You can come out of disaster stronger and happier than before.

Today on the 10th anniversary of the Canberra bushfires, fires are burning around the country.  Houses have been lost this fire season, a lot of them.  I hope the people left behind are supported the way the Canberra community supported our friends and family.

It is a sombre day today, one when I'm sure many tears will be shed.  I however will be celebrating the people who make my life so wonderful by having my girlfriends around for drinks and tacos.  These are the people who I know with 100% certainty will be there to help me pick up the pieces if I am ever unfortunate enough to lose everything.  I can't imagine a better way to spend this evening, celebrating friendship with fun and laughter and once again feeling like the luckiest person alive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Warm Chicken Salad

When the weather is hot I love to eat salad.  I eat it every day for lunch and am still more than happy to have it for dinner.  But when it comes to dinner I want something a bit more substantial and despite the heat I want something warm.

A few years ago the building where I worked backed one of Canberra's better pubs, Debacle.  It is known for its pizza and I have to say many of them were consumed on 2 for 1 Tuesday.  However they also always have a great blackboard menu which regularly included fantastic steak, really delicious mussels and a very nice warm chicken salad.  It was that salad that provided me with the inspiration for what has become a regular meal in our house, my version of a warm chicken salad.

The thing I love about this salad is that you can make it easily in about 30 minutes.  While the potatoes are cooking, you put the chicken on.  While those are cooking you assemble the rest and make the dressing.  I also usually have most of the ingredients on hand - potatoes and chargrilled capsicum (in a jar) in the pantry, chicken in the freezer, baby spinach in the garden, I just need to remember to buy an avocado.

You can alter the salad to suit your tastes.  S doesn't eat avocado so I usually add some cucumber in his.  In spring I often add some asparagus that has been cut in lengths and tossed in the chicken pan for a couple of minutes - really just add what you like but do include the chargrilled capsicum it adds a real depth.  This salad is best enjoyed warm, but even dressed it survives surprisingly well to have as cold leftovers the next day.

All in all, a simple, tasty, nutritious meal that is perfect for these hot summer nights.

Warm Chicken Salad
(serves 2)

6 chat potatos
olive oil spray
sea salt
2 small chicken breasts (1 if you get one of those giant DD chooks)
garlic salt
dried oregano
1 avocado cut in chunks
2 chargrilled capsicums sliced
baby spinach

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp seeded mustard
1 tsp sugar
cracked black pepper

Heat the oven to 200 degrees.  Cut your chat potatoes in half, place on a baking tray, spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for approx 30-40 minutes till golden and crispy.

Trim any fat off the chicken and dust on both sides with the paprika, garlic salt and oregano.  Heat a frying pan over medium high, spray the chicken with the olive oil spray and fry until cooked through and each side has a nice crust.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the pan, rest for 5 minutes and thickly slice.

To make the dressing put all the ingredients in a jar and shake well.

To assemble: in a large bowl add a generous handful of baby spinach per person, top with the sliced chargrilled capsicum and avocado.  When they are done add the chicken and potato while still hot.  Add a couple of tablespoons of dressing and toss.  Eat while still warm.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

When I was 15 I went to Europe on a school trip.  Writing that sentence is somewhat surreal, I mean honestly, a school trip to Europe?  But it did happen and I was supremely lucky to be a part of it.  We spent 2 weeks on the "literary tour" in Paris, then Oxford and finally London.  During the trip we visited numerous museums and art galleries and saw a play or musical nearly every day.  It was an amazing experience which really gave me the travel bug in a way that I'm not sure travelling with my parents would have.  There was an illusion of freedom (after all we were tightly chaperoned by teachers the whole time) that was exhilarating for a group of 15 and 16 year old girls.

That said, we did all get homesick, probably helped by the fact that a shocking cold did the rounds of the group.  I was one of the last to get it and I remember one day when I just couldn't get up, watching everyone else go off on their adventure while I lay sick in a boarding school room.  My homesickness was exacerbated when suddenly in our last week my family stopped answering the phone when I called them.  No matter what time I tried, if I tried the landline or the mobile no one answered.  As it transpired they had gone to the Blue Mountains where they unexpectedly had no phone coverage.

So you now have context, a group of teenage girls, heady with the excitement of being far from home, emotional with homesickness, many still recovering from a shocking cold - a potent emotional mix.  Now add in the West End version of Les Miserables.  Oh yes, we cried our little eyes out.  By the final song I could barely breathe with the emotion of it all.  That night and that musical are seared into my consciousness, so much that every now and then I will find myself humming a song from it.

When the movie version was announced I was rather hesitant about it.  Could it possibly live up to my memories?  Would Hollywood stars be able to sing those difficult magnificent songs?  Could the filming live up to what has to be one of the most spectacularly staged productions ever?  The reviews I read were mixed, but despite all of this I was determined to see it so on Saturday Mum and I went and hid from the heat and saw the movie.

I was blown away.  Seriously, I thought it was magnificent.  I may not have been the crying wreck I was the first time I saw it but I do know the story and more importantly was not a a homesick teenager.  The performances were wonderful and I think the fact that actors sang live is one of the things that made it so brilliant.  As I type the Golden Globes are being handed out and Les Mis is deservedly receiving many of them.

If you don't like musicals, there is no getting away from the fact that it is 2.5 hours of people singing, which is why we left S and my Dad at home.  But if you do like musicals then I'm pretty sure you will love it too.

Have you seen Les Miserables? What did you think?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happiness - the positive thought spiral

As mentioned in my first post of this year, throughout this year I'm going to do the occassional post on my thoughts on being happy.  I am not a mental health professional, so these are just my personal thoughts on happiness and I hope they help you.  However if you are experiencing depression or other mental health issues I strongly recommend seeking professional help.

My first happiness post is about the positive thought spiral, which is an idea I came up with (well I thought of it for myself, others may have thought of it previously) that inspired this blog.  When I began this blog it was to be a record of things that made me happy with the idea being that by focusing on things that made me happy, I would become generally more happy.  Basically it was to be the opposite of a depressive though sprial, where one depressive thought leads to another and another till all thoughts are depressive.  Instead I was going to use happy thoughts to lead to more happy thoughts and so on to a more positive, happy outlook.

Creating a positive thought spiral requires an initial positive thought, which can be easier said than done if life is being particularly difficult or stressful.  So step one of the positive thought spiral is:

Get observant
Positive, happy things are not always big things.  In fact, they are often the quietest, most subtle things, so to focus on them, you need to train yourself to notice them.  For example, my reaction to my alarm clock going off used to be to swear at it, heave myself out of bed and stagger to the bathroom - not the happiest start to the day.  To change the start of my morning to a positive experience when the alarm goes off, I now take just a few moments lying in bed to find something good or beautiful.  It can be the way the early morning sun is creating soft shadows through the curtains.  It can be how comfy and warm I am.  It can be the sound of a bird outside the window.  I find something good and that is my starting point for the day.  From then on throughout the day I've trained myself to look for more good things, many examples of which you will find documented throughout this blog.

The next step is when you notice something positive, smile.  Studies have found that smiles have all sorts of positive health benefits, but the reason I smile is that it is like making a note, or ticking a list.  It is an action that marks the activity of finding something happy and it helps reinforce that you are happy in that moment.

Be vigilant
To keep the spiral going, you have to keep adding positive thoughts.  It gets easier the more you add.  You find yourself smiling more, noticing more happy inducing things and so the thoughts add up.  But stress and negativity are powerful and can creep in, so as soon as I feel those tell tale stresses building up, I take a deep breath, look around, spot something good and start again.

Form a habit
It might sound like a lot of work all this noticing good stuff, smiling, paying attention etc but pretty quickly you will develop the habit and you will find yourself doing it without any conscious effort.  Most of us have probably already developed a habit of noticing negative stuff.  You can probably much easier list the things that have bothered / annoyed / angered you today than you can list the things that have made you happy.  By developing a habit of paying attention to positive / happy / beautiful things and smiling every time you notice them, you can reprogram that focus in a way that makes you a happier person.

So give it a try, become a positive experience hunter.  As I said, happiness doesn't have to be found in big doses, look for just the tiniest things that make you happy and focus on that.  As a first exercise, look up from the computer and tell me what in your immediate vicinity gives you a feeling of happiness.  I'll start, I can see a gorgeous photo of flowers I took in Paris.  The colours and flowers are beautiful and it reminds me of how wonderful that day was - and now I'm smiling.  Over to you ....

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Icy Poles

If you live anywhere in Australia you will be all to aware of the heatwave we are experiencing.  A cool change has come through today in Canberra, it is only 29.  Yesterday was 37 with strong winds.  The heat, wind, smoke and dust in the air were eerily similar to the scene 10 years ago before the major Canberra bushfires.  It had my hackles up, I felt tetchy and uncomfortable all day, obsessively watching the emergency warnings and scanning the skies.

The hot weather will be with us again by the weekend.  If it isn't accompanied by the wind I will be alright.  I actually quite like the heat.  Sure 37 is getting a bit excessive, but aside from when it is associated with bushfire inducing winds, I enjoy the heat.  Actually let me get more specific, I enjoy dry heat (humidity is the devil's plaything) when I have ready access to an airconditioned house, office and car to provide relief when I need it.  So basically I enjoy brief moments of heat on the journey between airconditioned spaces.  I know, I am a wimp.

But I will say that I really enjoy lots of the things that the heat allows me to do.  I get to wear my new sandals, showing off prettily painted toenails.  I get to wear shorts and skirts and dresses without tights, showing off luminously white legs.  And I get to eat my fill of icy poles, frosty fruits and all manner of frozen confection.  Surely a heatwave is bearable if you can spend it eating icy poles.

How are you surviving the heatwave? And have you been enjoying any frozen treats recently?

Monday, January 7, 2013


When I was about 9 I won a desk lamp from the chocolate wheel at my primary school fete.  I still have that lamp.  It still sits on my home desk and works just fine, while I've been through about 5 on office desks.  I think there was something about the thrill of that moment that set me up for a life long love affair with competitions, raffles, lotteries, basically any activity that can result in winning something.

Just before the Christmas break I was having a very busy but good day.  I was plowing through the work, I had an important meeting the outcome of which has set the course for this year, and at the end of the day I got back into the office to do one last quick scan of my email when I saw it.  An email from Jigsaw, my favourite clothing brand.  "Congratulations" it said "you have won a polka dot blouse".  Needless to say I was thrilled - I had that winning buzz and I had a gorgeous new blouse.

Jigsaw clothing is invariably really well made from beautiful fabric.  Everything I have bought from there has lasted and lasted.  My gorgeous polka dot blouse is pure silk and cut with that oh so tricky floaty yet fitting style that is incredibly flattering and just perfect for this heatwave we are experiencing.

Being honest I've won quite a few things over the years, although I have to say this is one of the most exciting things I've ever won.  Thinking about it my whole family could be seen as quite lucky as between us we do manage to win a few things each year.  However I would put that down to persistence and the volume of competitions we enter rather than luck.  As they say, you have to be in it to win it and we are generally in every competition, buy all the charity lotteries and if there is a school fete in the vicinity, well you know we will have raffle tickets.

As a result it probably isn't that surprising that every now and then we come up the winner but the laws of probability do not detract from the excitement of receiving that email or phone call.  There is something so very special about winning a prize.  It is an unexpected present, yet one that has arrived through some skill (in this case writing 25 words or less) or just pure luck.  A real windfall, the kind of surprise that just magically lightens up your life.

Due to our Christmas travel it was only last week that I managed to pick up my prize parcel from the post office and so today my first day back at work seemed the ideal first wearing opportunity.  I'm on a savings kick at the moment so have avoided the sales which makes having something new to wear all that more exciting as I'm very sick of my current wardrobe.  I'm feeling like a winner all over again!

Have you won anything recently? Or won something fantastic in the past?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Everything in its place

Yesterday S went back to work.  I however have a blissful extra three days of holidays.  After a super busy year it would not seem unreasonable to spend those days lazing about, but I just cannot do it.  If I want to relax and do nothing I have to go away, at home there is always stuff to do.

I've already taken down all the Christmas decorations, packing them away into their boxes, carefully storing them to be brought out again next Christmas.  That process is always a little sad, putting away the glitter and sparkle that make the house so pretty all December.  And yet when it is done the house somehow looks extra neat and spacious which is enjoyable in itself.

I've also done a few hard gardening sessions.  The poor garden has suffered with the super hot weather and particularly with us being away not doing any watering.  But now that I've mowed, weeded, pruned and swept it all looks so much neater and tidier, if still a little crispy around the edges.

We did a big spring clean just a few months ago so the house is pretty good, but I've still managed to find things to tidy, work clothes to wash and mend, just generally stuff to do.

When I think back to my younger self a few days of cleaning, tidying and organising would have seemed like torture but it is now one of my favourite January activities.  Somehow a good big cleaning session puts me in the right frame of mind to get stuck into a year of work.  Having everything clean and organised makes me feel calm about the challenges to come.  All in all I know that by the time I hit the office next Monday I will feel refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to get stuck into the year ahead and happy about the clean and tidy house I know I have waiting for me at the end of the day.

Do you do a new year's tidy - or am I heading into crazy cleaning lady land?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Resolutions Anyone?

Happy New Year!  Have you made any new year's resolutions?  I normally don't, mainly because I tend to forget them pretty much as soon as the champagne has worn off, but this year I have made a resolution and it is to do with this blog.  You see after a few years of blogging about happiness some ideas have crystallised for me and so I'm going to start a semi-regular series of posts on what I think being happy means and how to achieve it.

However I'm not starting my resolution today, because I'm hoping that some of you have made the resolution that you want to learn to dance this year.  If you have, I suspect you may be feeling a little nervous, possibly you may believe some of the myths I used to believe.  Every year our dance class gets an influx early in the new year and more often than not people are there because they made a resolution to finally get around learning to dance.  After talking to many of these people over the years I know there were a bunch of reasons it took them so long, so here is the list I have found and hopefully it will give you insight into why you must follow through on that dance resolution.

Myth 1 : You have to go with a partner - I definitely thought this was the case, although I have no idea where I formed this impression.  I can categorically say it is not true and the vast majority of people do not come to dance classes with a partner.  If anything, coming with a partner can hamper you because if you only dance with them, you don't learn from all the other people, so if you do come with someone, make sure you still dance with as many different people as you can.

Myth 2 : Dance classes are really expensive - the average classes I've seen cost somewhere between $15 - $20.  Ok, this isn't cheap, but it also isn't a huge cost, most of us can find $15 or $20 a week for an activity.  Sometimes I do private classes which can cost around $80 for an hour, now that is getting expensive but I learn at a much faster pace and want to learn very technical things because I've been dancing for so long.  For me I find that valuable, but I had my first private class 7 years after I started dancing, so if you are starting out group classes are all you need.  Also keep an eye out on the discount websites, lots of dance schools have special introductory offers at this time of year.

Myth 3 : You have to be really coordinated and graceful - ha!  If that was true there is no way I would be dancing.  I was someone who can fall over her own feet.  It took time to get my balance etc but these days I do cut a reasonably graceful figure on the dance floor.  And I still fall over my own feet.

which kind of ties in with Myth 4 : You have to know how to dance -  Hmmm, yes, I somehow thought you already had to know how to dance at least a bit before you went to class.  Clearly I had not come to terms with the idea of learning.  Most people in the average beginner class have done no dancing before and definitely haven't done that style.  So don't worry, everyone is as clueless as you are.
Myth 5 : You need special shoes - unless you are learning tap dancing or ballet you are unlikely to need special shoes at your first class.  What you will need are shoes with a smooth, non-grippy sole and that strap firmly to your feet.  Crocs, sneakers and thongs are not good choices and yes I've seen people attempt to do a class in each of these.  For about the first 3 months I was learning I just wore a pair of leather sandals with a little heel.  It was only when I had decided I was addicted that I got proper dance shoes.  Same goes for clothes.  I still wear jeans or 3/4 pants and a t-shirt to most of my dance classes, special outfits are just for performances.

Myth 6 : Dance isn't real exercise - I always love it when they have athletes on "Dancing with the Stars" and they say how fit they have got.  A few years ago the ceroc teachers did an exercise where they wore pedometers in class and they managed to do the entire day's recommended steps in a single dance class.  It is hard work, I've never been as fit as I am now, and the only difference in my life is dance. 

Myth 7 : I'm too old to learn to dance - no, no, no, no, no.  There is no such thing as too old.  I've had classes with an age spread of 15 - 70.  The only thing I would recommend is that if you have any health issues you consider these when picking a dance style.  There are loads, from super fast paced - think Brazillian Samba, to much slower, try a belly dance or ballroom class.  If you want recommendations for a dance style, ask the comments below.

Myth 8 : Only cool people know how to dance - yup, I was convinced you had to be in the in crowd to know how to dance.  Learning to dance is cool, but we all have to learn.  I've seen people from 18-80 in classes.  Those who dress fashionably, those who really don't.  And then comes the day when you decide it is more comfortable to wear socks under your dance shoes because what you are wearing, how your hair is done etc doesn't matter - you are just there to dance.  That said personal hygiene is really, really important!

So have you made a resolution? And have I convinced you that dance isn't that scary and you should give it a go?