How to Return to Simpler Days…

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on February 1, 2008
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I had an epiphany yesterday, as I was sweating my butt off at a hula hooping class. So many of the career-help books I read (and I read many; it’s an obsession) advise getting back into that childhood mindset — or even just remembering your childhood passions — as a means of figuring out the career of your dreams.

In fact, a book I blogged about just the other week suggested putting together a dream collage from magazine photos — a very kid-like thing to do.

Last night, as I was flinging hula hoops around, dangerously close to the heads of other class-goers, I began to think that accessing your inner child is an excellent way to find happiness in other areas of your life.

My recent interest in hoop dancing stems from the amazing performances I’ve seen at a number of Decompression parties. I began researching hoop groups at, and found a number of awesome-looking resources. But when my schedule recently opened up some, allowing me to re-inject exercise and movement into my life, I quickly googled hula hoop classes nyc and signed myself up for a class.

The class — which I attended last night — was a blast, and the ease of keeping a giant hoop aloft (something I used to play around with in my younger years, as you can see in the horrendous picture above) came back to me almost instantly. In addition to the most basic hooping, I also tried out hula hooping with two hoops, flinging a hoop around from hand to hand, and general movement while hooping. We were encouraged to let loose and move with the music and, though I was disgustingly sweaty by the end of class (in a good way), I was also enlivened by the juvenile bit of fun I’d been having.

Now that I’ve used my childlike innocence (haha) to ease back into exercise (I swear, half the reason I signed up for belly dancing last year was so I could get one of those skirts that jingles) and into a career I’ve been wanting since Kindergarten (oh, the poetry I used to write: “A dog and a cat / romp around and play / while the farmer eats some corn / and the cow eats some hay…”), I’d like to challenge myself to think of other areas of my life I could improve in the same manner.

  • Nutrition: In Dr. Gillian McKeith’s Slim for Life, McKeith proves herself a huge proponent of smoothies. Her healthy smoothie recipes are like a grown-up version of the milkshakes and Shirley Temples of my youth! Yum…
  • Love: Back when I was an insufferable little brat (which I suppose I still am, to some degree), I’d scream and cry at my mother until, at some indefinable turning point, we would begin hugging each other, and everything would be okay. In some of my more recent bipolar episodes, when I’ve tried to run away from serious discussion (and out of the condo), my incredibly brave husband has forcefully hugged me until I calmed down. Hugs fix everything!
  • Self-confidence: Magazine articles on shyness and low self-esteem preach to the socially awkward with the admonition that they should just pretend to be confident, and the confidence will come. Easier said than done, but I do find that it’s easier to pretend confidence when I’m also pretending to be someone else. That’s why I like to throw myself into different aspects of participatory culture, which are rife with theme parties. Costuming works miracles (much like those Halloween trick-or-treating trips of yore, where a cute hippie chick outfits would magically yield lots of candy.)
  • Mood Swings: I remember the days when I used to dance in front of my bedroom mirror in my underwear. Um…was that just this morning? So life hasn’t changed much, but I suppose the playlist has. Instead of Debbie Gibson and Styx, I’m now listening to the Killers and Franz Ferdinand (and Styx). An instant mood-booster. Bonus points if you sing along at the top of your lungs.
  • Relaxation: I used to walk around the hallways of my elementary school with a book open in front of me, and now I walk around the subway tunnels of NYC with a book open in front of me. Yes, I’m one of those book-nerds. I also used to read under the covers with a flashlight. Now I use a book light and my husband yells at me. I’m forever grateful that my parents infused me with a love of reading at a very young age. Nothing takes me away from the here and now better than a book I can lose myself in.

So, have you reached back toward childhood lately for present-day inspiration? What have you been able to incorporate from the days of yore in order to make the days of now more livable?


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