Well-Being//

What I Learned When I Started a New Hobby

Dancing to the Irish songs that my grandmother loved brings me so much joy.

Yana Vechkanova/ Shutterstock
Yana Vechkanova/ Shutterstock

About four years ago, my eldest daughter started dance lessons. At first, we only went along to the lessons in order to join another family we knew who enjoyed them. I certainly never thought that one day I would be taking lessons myself!

My mum’s parents were both Irish, and I have memories of listening to Irish music at my their house, and on visits to Ireland. They lived in the U.K., near us, and they never moved “home” to Ireland, as my grandmother always called it, but they always loved their home’s traditional music.

I loved the idea of my daughter learning Irish dancing and continuing this heritage. I decided to give it a go when my youngest child started learning too, about 18 months ago. Now we all do it! (I can’t persuade my husband to join us, though.)

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really hard getting out of the house some nights to go to my lessons. I’m not always in the mood for a dance lesson once I’ve made the kids their tea, cleaned up, put them to bed, and then sat down to relax for a few moments. Still, I have never regretted going to a lesson. I love the group we dance with, and I always enjoy it. It’s a friendly class, and we have great fun together.

I also struggle with remembering the steps. It takes me ages to get them in my brain, and to get them to stay there so that my feet will do the right thing. But dancing has been shown to improve memory and learning, and to aid brain function. It’s also great exercise, and so fun that I barely realise I’m working out.

I recommend to anyone to start dancing — and it doesn’t have to be Irish dance lessons, like what I do. Any type of dancing is good for the soul. Finding music that you love and learning to move to it has so many benefits for cognitive, physical, and emotional health.

Dancing is an important part of my week now, and I’m happy to be hopping and stepping around the house with my daughters together as a family. Not only is it fun and good for my brain, but my new hobby is also a beautiful tribute in memory of my grandparents.

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