Beth Moran shares why it is worth doing something you love.
I can still remember the night I stopped dancing. I was 21. In a nightclub in Liverpool with my now husband and a load of his student friends. They were drinking, dancing and doing what young people do when they`re out enjoying themselves.
I wasn’t drinking – not so unusual. But I wasn`t dancing either, which really was. I loved to dance, often being the first person on the dancefloor, staying there until New York New York or the Grease megamix announced the end of the night.
As leant on the wall, a friend shimmied over (I’m being kind. In his head he probably shimmied. In reality it ended up a stumble). He said, “Come on, cheer up. You don’t look like you`re enjoying yourself!”
I looked around at the shabby walls, the grimy floor, the sweat spraying off the dancers. “Would you be enjoying yourself here if you couldn’t drink or dance?”
I won’t tell you his reply. It wasn’t polite. But he`d got the point.
I was 21, and pregnant. Leaning on dirty walls watching everyone else dance.
I’m not asking for sympathy. I take full responsibility for getting pregnant. It turned out to be the best thing I ever did. I had a wonderful baby a few months later, who is now an incredible young woman.
And yet. In becoming a mother so unexpectedly, when all my friends were still carefree students, or travelling the world on gap years or living it up in poky London flats. In all my wondering about who I was now, and where I fit, and what my future had become, I stopped dancing.
I became the person sat at the side of the dancefloor, watching everybody else. And the truth is, this is just one example of the things I stopped when I became a mother. Looking back it’s as if I put that fun, free young woman, bursting with plans and dreams, on the naughty step. Who am I to get out there and strut my stuff?
Until a wedding nine years ago, when a friend asked me, “Are you coming to dance?”
I looked at her, about to politely decline, as always. But she asked me again, “Why don’t you come and dance?”
And I remember thinking, “Beth, you love dancing. Why don’t you dance anymore?”
In that moment, I made a choice: that I was worth doing the things I loved, even if other people questioned those choices, or looked at me with disapproval (because I am not, and will never be, the best mover on the dance floor).
I got up and danced.
But what if my friend hadn’t asked me? Would I ever have found the courage to start again?
Dancing was just one step in recognising that life is too short to sit it out, whether it’s because of habit, or people’s expectations, or feeling ashamed or not good enough.
I Hope You Dance is about Ruth. A woman living on autopilot, until suddenly her life crash lands. It’s about some fabulous women who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to friendship. It’s about facing the past in order to move into a future worth having. Oh yes, there’s also a crazy stalker, a pretty gorgeous boy next door and, of course, some dancing.
I hope that for some who read it, they are inspired to get up and start moving again.
I hope it encourages someone to find some friends who’ll drag them onto the dancefloor. Or to be the one doing the dragging.
I hope it asks whether your life is how you wanted it to be, and if that’s a good or a bad thing.
I hope it makes you smile, feel a bit sad, anxious, scared and then smile again.
I hope it makes you dance.
Since the death of her partner Fraser in a car crash 18 months ago, Ruth has been struggling to cope with a never-ending mountain of his secret debts while trying to hold it together for her 14 year old daughter Maggie and keep on top of things at work – despite her boss’s sleazy advances. One morning, she has had enough. After a very dramatic and public resignation from her job, there is only one place left to go.
Ruth arrives back at her parents’ home in Southwell, Nottinghamshire after 8 years away – exhausted, thin, and past caring. Will her well-meaning whirlwind of a mother manage to inspire her youngest daughter to seek new adventures and new friendships? Will her estranged father, to whom she has always been a disappointment, ever approve of her and his unconventional wild-haired granddaughter? Will the pink-cagoul-clad Ruby’s friendship with her father threaten her parents’ future happiness? Will the attractive and persistent Dr Carl win Ruth’s heart? Or is there still a chance for Ruth with the boy next door, the childhood sweetheart who broke her heart 15 years ago?
As Ruth settles back unsteadily into life in Southwell, new bonds are formed and secrets are shared. Can Ruth be persuaded to hope, to love and to dance again?
I Hope You Dance is a feel-good tale of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.
After studying biochemistry at university, Beth Moran initially worked in cancer research, and then spent ten years teaching antenatal classes, before giving it up to follow her dream of becoming a writer. She is a passionate communicator, regularly featuring on BBC Radio Nottingham, and is part of the national leadership team of the women`s network Free Range Chicks, which gives her ample opportunity to organise events that include two of her favourite things – food and dancing. She lives in Nottinghamshire (where she grew up) with her husband and three children.