i made myself go to a ballet class yesterday. it was excruciating to squeeze myself into my 12 year old’s tights and leotard, not because they were the wrong size, but because my ego had to be smashed in order to see my 53 year old body in pink tights and a black leotard, the last time i had seen myself in such attire, i hadn’t had a child…i actually was a child.
taking the contrary action of donning the unforgiving dance wear, walking into a room of strangers (save one woman who’d recommended the class and to whom i’d pledged i’d be there), was no less shocking than jumping into a freezing lake… i knew i had to give myself no exit strategy. put the gear on, make a pact to meet a friend there, and the rest was easy by comparison.
the piano music, the charismatic teacher, a sexy russian “baldwin brother” who was in turn demanding and encouraging, funny and a tad scary made me happy i’d come. the sheer pleasure of taking a ballet class, doing something way out of my comfort zone on the off chance it might be fun. not to mention the treasure trove of sensation and memories that are activated in my body, reminding me once again of the bounty that is kept locked inside, like an attic of abandoned childhood trinkets. my body is the gatekeeper of so many forgotten joys. it holds within it the memory of things my brain has trouble accessing, like proust’s madeleine. fuck yoga, fuck barre method. i want to dance. it makes my body happy. to dance for the sole purpose of pleasure, not to be great, and certainly not to impress anyone, but because i can.
With @clarkgregg at my first @comi_con #ccsd13
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.
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.