Who’s always with you, never leaves your side, is inextricably linked to you wherever you go, however you feel, like it or not? Your body. It is your faithful dog, waiting on your every move and whim to do your bidding. So why is it so many of us have such a fraught/abusive relationship with this devoted and obedient spacesuit? Lately I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of pain in my severely compromised neck and back and I become irate with it, as if it has betrayed me, or is holding me back from having fun. Or I look in the mirror and am aghast at the bits and pieces that are looking older and losing the taughtness of youth. My body is doing the best it can to serve me, has kept me alive and well for many many years now, and has been especially patient with my outrageous demands. So what can I do to show my gratitude instead of acting like an entitled child who can’t accept limits? Well, for starters I could be compassionate towards her and appreciate being carried this far. She has given me my beloved child, and has won the DWTS mirrorball for me, she happily climbs up the pole at my behest, and provides me with enough endorphins to beat any high made by a pharmacist. Since having my child, I often think “Would I treat my daughter the way I treat myself? Would I criticize her body parts, mercilessly holding them up to some impossible standard?” Never. So why not model for her a little self acceptance and be kind to myself, and my body. One of the reasons I am so crazy about my S Factor class is that there are no mirrors, it is dimly lit and I give my body permission to play and move however she needs to without expectations or judgement. There is just music, and a bunch of women I don’t know outside of class but who’s feminine energy comes in every shape size and are all equally divine, scantily clad crawling on the floor, sliding up and down poles, and for those two hours I am amazed at the abundance of joy my body/soul can produce, and my neck has forgotten that it hurts.
I married the actor, writer, and director Clark Gregg. We have a daughter Stella together. After taking time off to be a full time mother, I started taking a dance class for the first time in 20 years and rediscovered my love of dance. I had thyroid cancer and needed two spinal surgeries and then committed to “Dancing With the Stars.”
I won DWTS that season with the help of my amazing dance partner Derek Hough, but more importantly I had a profound shift in what I want to model for my daughter and how I want to live the rest of my life. Going forward I want to see how much life I can pack into each day, one moment at a time.
Almost nothing makes me happier than to help people.
Don’t get me wrong, not in the saintly way, but quite the opposite actually, in the selfish way. Turning someone on to a face cream, recipe, teacher, book, exercise regime, etc. gives me so much pleasure that it really is very much motivated by a desire to feel good myself.
Since my stint on DWTS, I consistently have women, of a certain age especially, faces aglow, talk to me about how much they loved watching me dance. It gave them a vicarious pleasure seeing someone their age “leaving it all on the floor.”
I think the main reason I said yes to the reality dance contest (something I had never considered doing prior) was the sense that I had relinquished my love of dancing when I got older, and nothing since then had really given me such a direct hit of joy.
I had done yoga for years, then of course I did Pilates forever, and before that I had been a devotee of Jane Fonda. I always eventually grew tired of the sameness and drudgery associated with the gym. I was constantly looking for that new thrill that could get me moving so I could feel good, look good, and stay healthy.
My husband, Clark Gregg, had become obsessed with basketball a few years back, and now lives for his tri-weekly games. It inspired me to consider doing some kind of exercise that made me happy.
Since I was known for being in the movie Dirty Dancing, dancing seemed like a no brainer. But I had long ago decided that, not only was I “too old” to dance, but I had a dirty little secret that I wanted to keep secret: I can’t learn a dance combination. Never could, still can’t. Well, I can, but not until my feet are bleeding. Maybe it’s a “learning difference” of sorts.
Now the only the difference is: I DON’T CARE! I want the best shortcut to JOY, which is what I experience when my body is in motion, good music is playing, and the noise in my brain is turned off temporarily. I am in FLOW*.
I can’t believe that for all those years, 23 to be exact, my ego, thinking that everybody would see I was an idiot or a fraud, kept me so self conscious that I robbed myself of something that had been one of my favorite things to do as a young person. And if that weren’t enough, I was more attached to my own limiting belief systems about being “too old” or some such crap than I was attached to my own happiness.
Now, I have to ask myself, what else did I used to love? What can I reclaim, that has been sitting in some dusty old cupboard of keepsakes in my brain? What if we regularly took stock of what we needed personally, like we do when we are stocking the fridge, and do something to make our spirit sing?
Being a mother and a wife has added so much to my life, but that has had to come out of my pie chart somewhere. So, what yummy pieces of pie can I take back?
If you made a list of what you miss doing, and decided to take one action this week to rekindle that flame, what would that feel like? If you feel your pulse quicken, or if you find yourself smiling as you Google some key words… you might be on the right track.
Me, I want to dance more.
* Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity…Flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.
I love this Dancing With the Stars video that a fan made.