The dreams we let die and the song and dance of redemption.

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She asked us to dance what it feels like not to have gone after a dream we’ve held really dear to our hearts.

I felt an immediate rush of heartache. Regret welled up. Tears started flowing freely.

I thought about myself at 13 when I quit going to dance class. I said I didn’t like it, but really I thought I didn’t have the right body for it. So I stopped pursuing the very thing that made me the happiest.

I thought about myself at 22 after having gone back to dance.

I was on the verge of graduating from college. I’d just completed a final performance for our spring showcase, and I had loved every moment of working on and performing that piece.

I grieved for the young woman who never even attended a dance class in New York City (where I moved very shortly after graduation), let alone an audition, because I was too scared and thought I didn’t look the right way to be a dancer. College was one thing, but this was the real world.

Rochelle Schieck, my dear friend and founder of Qoya, a movement practice for women to remember their wise, wild, and free essence, reminded us all week at the retreat that it didn’t matter how it looked. The way we knew we were doing it right was that it felt good – good meaning true and honest.

With my eyes closed and my back facing the other 30 or so women in the room, I relived how bad it felt to give up on a dream that a part of me had wanted so badly.

In the pause between songs, Rochelle asked us to go through a simple yoga sequence as though it were a prayer.

“How would you move if your movement were a prayer?” she asked.

A solitary guitar playing a simple melody wafted into the room as we all took our spots at the top of our mats in a giant circle. As we inhaled, lifting our arms to the sky, the song began, “Old pirates, yes they rob I, Sold I to the merchant ships, Minutes after they took I, from the bottomless pit.”

Redemption Song. How apropos.

Rochelle said something about redemption and dreams, the specifics of which I cannot recall, as we cycled our breath through sun salutations, moving as prayer.

And on a final step forward after a downward dog it occurred to me:

“I am dancing.”

My dream had always been to dance. And I was dancing.

I realized the likelihood was that, even if I’d pursued dance auditions in NYC and some sort of professional career in dance, I likely would have ended up in the very same place.

Rochelle shared about competing in dance competitions all throughout her childhood and then pursuing a dance degree at the university level. She shared how freeing it was to dance Qoya, knowing that it doesn’t matter how it looks, it matters how it feels.

I knew that even if I’d gone on to do pirouettes for a living, I would have wanted to come back to how it feels eventually. I’ve always come back to how it feels. And there I would have been, standing in a circle of 30 women, sweating out our grief, moving our prayers through our bodies, and dancing our hearts out.

There was this crystallizing moment where I knew that no matter what I had chosen to do with the previous ten years of my life, I would have ended up right here, dancing.

And dancing was what I had wanted to do all along.

My granny, Edna Northrup, was interviewed about her lifelong dream of going to Everest and actually making that dream a reality at the age of 84 by climbing the 100 miles and thousands of feet to Base Camp. (You can see the interview below.)

“Sometimes people have a dream and they don’t pursue it at all. But there’s always time to pursue it in some form,” she said.

I’d seen this interview many times, but somehow I’d never heard the wisdom in those words so clearly before.

We make all kinds of decisions about why we can’t do certain things and start dropping dreams off the possibility list.

We’re too fat. We’re too old. We’re not smart enough. We’re not creative enough. We don’t have enough talent. We don’t want other people to feel bad.

Granny redeemed her dream of going to the top of the world when she was in her eighties. I decided to redeem my dream and be a dancer from here on out.

As I let my movement be my prayer, I felt an erupting joy that my dream to dance was not only still very much possible, it was actually happening.

With the cloak of regret pulled outside my line of vision I could see clearly that while I hadn’t pursued my dream exactly as I might have imagined it, I had pursued it nonetheless.

All that mattered was that I was there, dancing, living the dream.

OVER TO YOU:

What dreams have you let fall to the wayside? Which ones still burn in your heart? How can you live those dreams in some form right now?

P.S. The Annual Hay House World Summit starts on May 9th.  Designed to empower, heal and transform, this summit bring together over 100 leading experts, authors and spiritual teachers. I’ll be sharing some new insights about money and worth that you won’t want to miss during the summit. For more information, click HERE.

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61 comments

  • I felt like I was there with you dancing. You write so beautifully. Thank you.
    And as for Edna – what an inspiration.

  • What a gift your granny is- her wisdom and grace makes me laugh with joy and bring tears to my eyes. My time with my gram was some of the most special moments of my life; I love seeing other sweet grandmother/granddaughter connections. Great blog post- and loved hearing your granny’s story.

    Well wishes,
    Kate D.

  • Reading this brought me to tears… The regret of the dancer, the performer, comes to surface from time to time for me as well… And yet, the dancer in me as never left… She ever so softly nudges me to connect to her and I have hushed her away with my criticism of the body not being perfect enough, too much time away, the pain of not being able to lift my leg as high, the fear of breaking my foot like the last time I did, giving everything I had to the dance floor, when my body couldn’t support my effort. Thank you for this Kate… It is what I teach and yet it comes up again and again for me to make peace with and to come back to. I so appreciate your beauty, your wisdom and your words… Sharing yourself so openly with all of us. Love to you fellow dancer! – Meg

  • Alexandra

    I too wanted to dance — to be a great ballroom dancer and to be a great business woman – self-employed and offer financial support to those that needed a home, clothes and food and help abused animals. The one’s that still burn are to dance, offer financial support and help animals. I am in a new city and haven’t found my soul tribe but want to take tango lessons, I work for a cancer non-profit and have a rescue kitty.

    • Kate Northrup

      I love that Alexandra! My mom picked up tango in mid life and it has been absolutely transformational from her PLUS she’s met an entirely new, amazing tribe through taking classes.

  • Wow, Kate! What a gorgeous post. I am a trained actor and while I love being an entrepreneur, I have been feeling like I still need an artistic outlet. I’ve been contemplating taking a painting class for the past year and I think I’m going to have to do that for real this summer. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Kate Northrup

      I would definitely recommend it Alionka. You’re going to feel so nourished when you give yourself that outlet!

  • Oh my gosh Kate, that’s beautiful! You touched me and made me realize the truths in what you said. I can see now that my regrets are futile because I am living them now and that I turned out to be exactly who I needed to be. I will continue towards who I am meant to be and in letting go of regret, I feel lighter and ready.

  • Kate, I just LOVE this story and how you keep listening to your inner guidance.

    And, I LOVE Edna :) Such an inspiration.

    Thank you and your family for letting your joy shine so powerfully.

  • hi Kate how are you?I see myself in the same situation.I always wanted to be an artist and i never had the courage to do so.many ways,different roads and one day i saw myself on stage showcasing for my drama course for the very first time.It was a beautiful experience.now i m about to finish my book.so much illusion,such as i m not good enough,till the day i noticed my feeling(real one)was more important.By the way i became a zumba instructor.
    hope one to see you dancing zumba(maybe in my class).God bless you and congrats for your new baby!!!
    Renato Oliveira

  • I used to mourn letting go of a dream, but I have found that the really true dreams come back around in a different form; they just needed more time to mature in order to be birthed. 3 examples: When I was halfway through my MFA program in creative writing, I found an old journal from one of my English classes when I was working on my B.A. in which I recorded a deep longing to become a full-time writer. Now I am one. When I was 22, I lost touch with a dear high school friend who I was secretly in love with and longed to marry. 23 years later, we found each other on FB and have now been happily married for over 3 years. When I was 25, I dreamed of creating a gym/youth center to serve inner-city teens. I recently shared the remnants of that long abandoned dream with my husband, only to find a similar compassion and dream in his heart. We’re working on a 3-year plan to birth the gym/youth center.
    None of the dreams were “ready” to be fulfilled the first time around. As I gained the life experiences, skills, and resources needed… back around they came!
    I’m so grateful you’ve been addressing this topic in your recent posts, Kate, as it has made me slow down and be mindful of ALL of my dreams. Thank you!!

    • Kate Northrup

      Wow Joanna – I love your examples of dreams that came back around. This is so gorgeous and so true. And I love that you married your love 23 years later. That is incredibly inspiring.

  • Lauren

    Funny I open this today. Last night I did have a dream a dream so real I had to wake myself up to change it and I did!!! Yes, the dream I had last night was not my dream, it was something that was going to happen…I did not want it to happen thus I woke myself up and changed! I do have a dream and yes, MY the dream the one that I possess will come true!!! Positive thinking and the belief that all things are possible with the help of God and the universe I trust and I believe and I know my dream will come true …. I have no doubt in my mind

  • Beautiful post, Kate! I can so relate to this. I always thought I would pursue ballet, but I also quit early in childhood because I didn’t think I had the right body type. Throughout college I danced, but nothing very serious, and after college I took ballet classes on and off. Since having children, I have felt a deep heaviness and sadness in my body from having to “give up” dancing. I’m happy to say that I went to my first ballet class in years last Monday, and I intend to keep it on my schedule from here on out. It brings me too much joy and feelings of grace to let it go too easily. Thanks for this post! XO

    • Kate Northrup

      Wow Josie – I didn’t know you were a dancer. How perfect. I love that you’re going to ballet again. So beautiful!

  • Wow Kate! I can not even believe how absolutely perfect this is to hear for me right now. I am heading now to dust off my ballet shoes. Thank you and Much love!

  • Rose

    Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Beautiful, Kate! I loved this. Makes me feel a lot better about the dreams I have on the backburner and the ones I’ve set down for awhile. Thank you xo

  • Genna

    I cried along reading this Kate. Thank you for the incredibly vulnerable, beautiful share. I wrap that teenage girl in so much love.

  • This is so beautiful, Kate! I’m tearing up all over again at Edna’s video and remembering the amazing breakthroughs from SWEET Retreat :) I don’t think I’ve necessarily let go of many dreams but I’ve been worried about making choices and in that process having to give up certain things, so this is a wonderful reassurance that it all works out!

    xoxo Thanks for always shining your light for us!

  • Thank you for this beautiful post, brought tears to my eyes.

    I’m in love with your grandmother:)

    Love & Light,
    ~Seema

  • “Knowing that it doesn’t matter how it looks, it matters how it feels” is absolutely priceless. What a beautiful reminder to all of us to dance in whatever expression it may be. Thanks for showing up in my inbox with your golden nuggets of inspiration.

  • This was such a beautiful expression of how our dreams don’t have to take the form we had idealized for them.. I grew up horseback riding and competing and had to give it up due to finances. This was the thing I loved most as a kid so to have to relinquish it was a painful process that I have regretted for years.. I’ve recently considered getting back into riding.. even if I don’t become a gold medal equestrian.. using that oneness with the horse and enjoying the ride {literally and figuratively!} is enough. Thanks for this encouraging reminder Kate!

  • Oh Kate,
    This post brought tears to my eyes. Was right there with you, and it spoke so beautifully to songs that have sang in my heart.

    I thank you.

    <3
    Lisa

  • CLAUDIA

    Life is but a dream; live it, love it, dream it. You have reminded us all that to truly live we must dream. It is the love of the dream and the reality of it that makes us each what and who we are. Thank you for such an inspiring story, Kate. And your Granny…wow~

  • Whoa, sooo very many regrets, hard to know where to start.

    However, this leads me to consider beginning with one, just ONE, that I can revive, begin anew, add to my list, and take one step.

    Thanks, Kate!

  • Kate, I love your spirit. The way you open yourself up and share in a way that touches our hearts.

    I remember being so jealous when I was a little girl because some of my best friends were in ballet but my mom wouldn’t let me take lessons. I think about that now and I know I never would have stayed with it. But I now marvel at how the Universe is revealing to me how everything that has happened in the past is making it’s connection in the now. I would not be the person I am today if I had not traveled the path that I did. I would not know what I want…really really want if I didn’t know what I didn’t want. I feel my dreams now more than ever. I rest in the knowing that the past has paved the way for my most magnificent dreams to appear.

    My dream is now to stay willing. Willing to be the person I came here to be this lifetime. Willing to love without boundaries. Willing to step into my own power. Willing to be the gift God created me to be.

    You are a gift Kate. Thank you for sharing.

  • lu

    w0w, I feel something that touched a nerve. Thank you Beauty <3

  • Oh Kate!! That video has me in tears. I lost my mum when she was young, 59 and I was in my mid 30’s. I lost my nanna when I was 19, so I don’t have a living mum or nanna any more. I miss that I wasn’t wise enough to hear their stories, their dreams, their joy.

    Thank you so much for sharing this video. It meant so much to me.

  • Emma

    As always, I enjoy your posts. I think I have shut down several dreams and hopes I had for myself when I was younger. Your post has given me the desire to really think about some of the dreams I let go of and bring the ones that still mean something to me to life. You Granny’s wonderful. Also, congratulations on your wonderful pregnancy news. xx

  • Kate,

    I just wanted to add that I am also a fellow dancer and I cant remember why I referenced you recently but I spoke to someone about having seen one of your presentations and how brilliant it was that you incorporated hip rolls into your money love talks since we hold so much emotion there. I very clearly see you as someone who incorporates dance (& body wisdom) into another emotional subject, talking about money. To me, I saw it as getting to the root of money, which is pretty genius & trail-blazing.

    I think if dance is one of our deep passions, I dont think we ever stop being a dancer even when we momentarily stop dancing. I have three passions, dance, art, and science & even if if I’m not currently being paid to do one, it’s still who I am, just waiting for me to pick up the thread. With dance, I picked that tread up again while going through a job loss and having ended an engagement. In feeling so broke down, I realized it was an opportunity to redefine my life so I started doing what I loved again, dance. I tried out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at age 39 (remembering that it was a dream I’d had when I was 5!), cellulite from being a mom & all and honestly it was so much fun dancing & seeing myself in a sexy new light that I quickly forgot about the ex, but best of all, let go in an amazing way!, of limiting beliefs of myself. Like your Grandma, we can all still reach for the stars, our absolute largest dreams at any time, I definitely got more out of trying out for the DCC at 39 than I would have at age 21.

    Thank you for posting this inspiring post, it comes at a perfect time for me.

    Love, from one dancer to another,

    Tammy

  • Hi Kate,

    Reading this was like reading my own journey, I loved to dance and wanted to be a dancer but my body didn’t match the expectations.

    I did a movement therapy class and realized I stopped dancing because I feared this. Recently I took up dancing again, daily as a pray.. it just felt right, it was always a pray.

    Love Sile x

  • Linda

    I love that Edna says “I wake up in the morning and look out and say ‘Wow, what a privilege I’ve had all these years to live here and have a good family'”. What genuine gratitude for the true blessings in life. I also love the part about all the people at Base Camp chanting her name! Can you imagine how many more wonderful things would happen on this planet if each soul experienced, just once, a group of people chanting their name in encouragement and support! Holy Sherpa! Thank you for sharing that interview. It is heart warming. :)

    My dream is currently breaking out of it’s chrysalis. I can feel it but don’t quite yet have the clear vision. Two years ago May 5th the trajectory of my world changed in one phone call, you know the one where the person on the other end of the phone says “Your daughter is being transported……..”. My daughter is alive, healthy and strong now. I never would have imagined my life now is what I was manifesting however two weeks ago I drove alone across the United States from Washington to South Carolina to be the caregiver of an old friend who was about to have brain surgery. (Doing well). I find as I reflect on all the events of my life, especially over the last 2 years, that these events are the laying of the foundation of the dream I seem to have forgotten. The dream of traveling, writing, encouraging and uplifting others in some fashion is beginning to breath life of its own.

    Thank you for your writings. I believe everyone needs to feel connected and encouraged, and you do this so well.

    Finally, Congratulations on your new nugget! Such wonderful news!

  • Love the message in your post, Kate. An important reminder to unveil the illusion that we can’t live our dream in some form now. Also — your Gran is a total badass! Thanks for sharing your and her inspiration.

  • Emie

    As always, this is exactly what I needed to hear at the right time. I’ve always loved to dance just like you and I guess it shows since people tell me how well I move. I never took “professional” classes but I dream of giving dance workshops. However it seems hard for me not to feel like a fraud when I get in the trap of comparison. Thank you Kate, you remind me that I need to follow this burning fire inside of me.

  • marianne

    dear Kate, I love youre blogs. I got married young, too young te realise any of my dreams. Had 3 children and was widowed at the age of 26. No time or money for dreams. Now Iam 67 and they have all left home. I started to pursue my dream of becoming an juwelier.I love to make make beautifull things.I can afford to buy the materials now. I have the time and the space to do it. I allways knew I would, one day. But my most beautifull work of art is my life. And Iam still working on it every day. I am learning every day, I have wonderfull teachers like you and do many others which I did not have before the internet. When I die what I want to leave behind is whom did I love and who loved me? That is the real gold. Thank you so much for everything.

  • I was a single mom at a very young age, so I sacrificed some dreams. Now so much has changed in my life that the timing is right for me to rekindle a dream. I’m finally building a career that I love. This post is just perfect timing for Mothers of all kinds… because we often sacrifice our dreams for our families. P.S. Your Grandmother is an sweet inspiration!

  • freya

    great video moved to tears what a lady! But why do you have to sell everything? She is not Usana she’s your grandmother and an awesome lady sharing her story

  • Rachel Northrup

    Kate man you do it for me every time! How you are able to share so intimately is a gift and I really enjoyed receiving this one today~ Similarly I remember changing my major to dance for a minute in college and being in ballet class… the only one with muscles:) I love how you embody that we really can not choose wrong. “What is for us can not go by us” You are a dancer and I love witnessing you and being inspired to dance my dance right along with you~
    LOVE
    R

  • Gosia

    Wow Wow Wow! What a profound post! Thank you Kate! And thank you for introducing me to Qoya and Edna! It happens that at the beginning of this week, I felt guided to join a dance formation and “come back” to dancing after 20 years. I have missed it so much. I danced all my childhood till 15 back in Poland. I moved to the States at 16 and have not really gone back except a few occasions. I have been yearning for it all this time. I’m a little nervous as I’ve never danced a Broadway type of piece but I’m jumping with all my feet ;-) Also, your grandma reminds me of my Lithuanian grandma who is 83 and unstoppable. We are so blessed to have these women in our lives! Much love to you and your precious family! And thank you for all you do!

  • Kate, I think of Josh Groban’s song ‘So she dances’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTe4SSFyuiw when I read your story… Edna is the poster girl for what we all hope to aspire to… God bless all your family…

  • […] Now is a good time to reflect on those dreams; the dreams that hold a special place in your heart. Consciously choose to let them go with grace or rekindle them in some way.  It’s never too late to incorporate an activity that you LOVE doing into your life.  (Kate Northrup wrote a beautiful piece about this.) […]

  • Veronica

    Kate,

    First of all, congratulations!!

    Thank you for such a wonderful and inspiring post. I adored your grandma’s video: pure inspiration!

    Much love,

    Veronica

  • Oh Kate – what a wonderful video! It’s so inspiring and I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with my friends.

    As for regret, I agree with you and your Granny completely – even if I had made other choices earlier in my life, I would be where I am right now and there is time to pursue dreams in different forms.

    As always, thank you.

    bb

  • Evfa

    Ahhh, Kate! So wise! I love your revelation! I have been to this place and had this same revelation about a dream I had of being an artist. I realized that I was destined for the path I am on, and that creativity comes in many forms of expression. I chose a spiritual path early on in my life (20’s). I’m about to be 58, and doing Shamanic Healing work. I’ve always been a spiritual healer, and that is my form of creative expression. And though when young, I painted and drew, I now use photography as a way to connect with Nature and the Sacred. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Evfa

    P.S. Your family rocks! I love the spirit that your family has. I see they have passed that along to you as well. Edna, what an inspiration!

  • Wow what a wonderful video – You must be so proud of Edna! I too gave up dance when I was 14, recently I took a course of adult ballet and I do lots of classes at the gym where I act like a dancer!

    http://www.conversationswithcaroline.com

  • Belinda Lee

    thank you Kate, you are an incredibly wise young woman
    I feel blessed to have met you through the Hay House Summit, and I am looking forward to many more interesting ‘readings’
    I have just come to realise that the dream I once held of becoming a veterinarian was not mine but my parents! So now I am free to ‘become’ an environmentalist and make a difference in the world.
    Both yourself and your grandmother have inspired me, I am not too old to dream a new dream and pursue it
    Blessings

  • Hi Kate, this is beautiful. I never thought of considering doing yoga as if it were a prayer. It is so true that it matters more how we feel than how we look. I dream of being a writer, of having a successful blog and books, whether non-fiction, fiction, or both. I have gone through my waves of getting excited and then feeling like I am giving up. I am not as worried as I have been in the past that I have given up. I believe that my dreams will come true. Thanks for the inspiration!

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