For years, Ann Hoscheit’s secret dream was to dance like Ginger Rogers. But aside from a ballroom dance course and a smattering of fitness-themed dance classes, her dream took a distant backseat to more pressing matters: becoming an optometrist; starting two successful practices; marriage; an unanticipated role as a stepmom; and an ongoing battle against all the weight she’d gained while focusing on everything and everybody except herself.
Twenty-eight years after abandoning her dream of dancing, Hoscheit began contemplating her 50th birthday, which was a short seven months away. “It was August of 2011 and my husband was out of town for a week,” she says. “I used the quiet time to take personal inventory; I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be ‘fifty and fabulous.’ Notice that I didn’t say ‘fifty and perfect.’” While driving to an appointment, Hoscheit saw a sign for ballroom dancing: first lesson free! She knew it was time—no more excuses, no more waiting until she hit perfect weight. She called the number from her car to schedule her first lesson, and she hasn’t looked back since.
According to one of those mysterious, widely quoted (but impossible to verify) statistics, as many as 9 out of 10 people never fulfill their dreams. Hell, plenty don’t even remember their dreams. But it’s never too late to revisit your old passions. Don’t let lame excuses cripple your resolve! Time to give your dreams some CPR, stat:
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What exactly was your private dream? To become a tightrope walker? A competitive swimmer? A small town interventional proctologist? A Life Reimagined website editor? Revisit that image of triumph you kept returning to over and over: singing to the masses, standing atop Everest, curing Ebola. Don’t hold back. Bring the vision to back to the forefront of your conscious mind and really feel it—no matter how ludicrous or unattainable it may seem to you now. The first step in this process is to visualize yourself doing what you know you were born to do.
You always dreamed of running off to join Cirque de Soleil, but you have grown-up responsibilities now. Believe it or not, your dream of becoming proficient in the aerial arts doesn’t have to die because of practical obligations. Circus schools are everywhere, offering one-time classes or longer-term intensives. Likewise for almost every situation or discipline imaginable. You might be too tall or heavy to become a jockey but that can’t stop you from learning how to ride a Thoroughbred racehorse. Seriously evaluate the dream, then modify it to fit where you are in life right now.
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Time for a quick reality check: it’ll take time to realize your dream. Otherwise, of course, you’d be there already. Evaluate exactly what kind of preparation will be involved. Classes? An elevated level of fitness? New expertise? A big time commitment? A pile of cash? Whatever it’s going to take, create an on-paper plan to guide you. Don’t let excuses like, “I’m too old,” “I’ll look like a fool,” “I might fail” or “I just can’t find anyplace that sells pure breed ferrets” hold you back. The only question you should be asking at this point is, “How soon can I get started?”
You’ve re-evaluated, modified, researched and budgeted time and money. Now what? With sincere apologies to a certain sportswear company, It’s time to just do it. Excuses and fear may indeed taunt you at every turn so you’ll require a certain measure of courage. Often the biggest hurdle is the first one—taking that initial step toward the dream that’s been lying in wait for you to wake up. Once you’ve overcome inertia, it’s relatively smooth sailing ahead. And remember to be open to serendipity along the way.
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Hoscheit certainly did. Not long after plunging into dance lessons, she was asked to compete in a dance-off to raise money for a local charity and devoted hundreds of hours to perfect an elegant routine. On the night of the event, in front of 500 people, Hoscheit glided onto the ballroom floor in a svelte aquamarine gown and danced her way to the People’s Choice award in the competition, raising $38,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Some people questioned Hoscheit’s choice of going sleeveless, but she didn’t care. “Who made the rule that says only toned, tanned arms are permitted to go bare?” Hoscheit asks.
“If the only thing one sees when I dance is my ‘batwing’ arms, then so be it,” she adds. “What do I see? I see victory; I see that I lost 40 pounds and was the most physically fit that I’d been since I was 30 years old. I see radiance; a twinkle in my eye, a glow on my cheeks and a bounce in my step that says, this is what fifty looks like on me.”
Photo credits: Ginger Rogers: CBS Photo Archive/Getty
Lawrence Welk Show: Bob Willoughby/Redferns/Getty
Ann Hoscheit: Courtesy of Ann Hoscheit