“Dancing with the Stars” is the greatest dance porn since “Dirty Dancing.”

Image

 

It’s a new season on Dancing With The Stars, which means I am once again obsessing over Cheryl Burke, Valentin Chmerkovsky, Mark Ballas and Karina Smirnoff. I’m watching fierce dance routines and booing the judges as if ballroom dance was a football game. The “stars” don’t matter to me (how many “reality stars” are there on TV?). I love the Pros, the dancers who train, teach, choreograph, plot and scheme their way to the mirror ball. Why do I love this world of spray tan, fake eyelashes and glitter so much? Because Dancing With The Stars is the greatest dance porn since Dirty Dancing, and I love dance porn.

I admit I’m a little embarrassed by my obsession. I’m an intellectual feminist with a Master’s Degree and a publishing company. But here I am, every tuesday morning (I don’t have cable, so I have to watch it online,) applauding Emma Slater’s creative choreography. In the middle of the night, I’m scouring Twitter for #DWTS comments. I become frustrated that I can’t vote because I’m watching it the day after, and I know exactly how it feels to have to TiVO a basketball game because you couldn’t watch it live, and then have someone tell you who won.

Dancing with the Stars is my escape from the chaotic, stressful, overly-serious world I live in. It feeds my inner child who longs to be a ballerina. When I was little, I was obsessed with ballet and longed to be a dancer more than anything in the world, but we lived in Lake County, California, far away from any dance classes. So I practiced plies’ in my room while studying a book on basic ballet positions, eventually screwing up my knees. The love of dance never left me and I was finally able to take my first class in college at the age of 19. I danced in a troupe for five years and loved every minute of it, even choreographing three productions. Later, I choreographed two shows for children. Yet again, I live in a town with limited dance opportunities, and being a mom keeps me home. I channel my longing to dance into my writing and publishing, but the desire has never left. I’m too old to be a ballerina, but I know I would be awesome at Tango. All I need is a teacher.

Every day at 4:30, I dance to electronic music on Pandora. Dancing is how I de-stress. At the end of my work day, right before I switch into my mommy day, I shake my ass as fast as I can in my kitchen. My daughter thinks I’m crazy, but sometimes she’ll join in. Occasionally, a Tango rhythm will come on and I’ll pretend that I’m dancing with Maksim Chmerkovsky (and that man can dance a tango!).

We forget to play when we grow up, and before we know it the burdens of life drag us down like quicksand. It seems we only remember to be silly when we’re on vacation, or drunk. Why not do something ridiculous every day, like Tweeting about #DWTS or dancing for 30 minutes in your kitchen? Ridiculous is good for you. Silly lightens the load. Just ask any 10 year old practicing ballet moves all alone in her room. What is better than dance to make you feel alive?

Permission to Rest

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to rest? I mean lie on the couch with a good book kind of rest. Or take a leisurely walk with no particular destination in mind, without the dog, kind of rest. If you’re a parent, the “slow days of summer” is a myth, one you wish you had the time and money to live in. But now the kids are back in school, the days are still hot, the sun still bright, and the garden is bursting with produce. Before you roll up your sleeves to vacuum the last of the sand out of the mini-van, think about what rest means to you.

For me, rest is stopping all outgoing energy, including creative energy. Trying to care for my daughter while writing two books and editing another, running Medusa’s Muse, and marketing books, all while injured, was crazy making. I resented my daughter at home all the time, resented the heat that kept us in the house most of the time, resented the hours spent trying to manage the everyday chaos of home and family. My lap top sat idle, my stress load increased, and my sense of claustrophobia got so bad I started throwing out every book and knick-knack in my bedroom (throwing out books? unheard of!).

While grabbing one precious hour of writing time at the cafe, I opened my lap top and heard a loud “crack”. The hinge on my computer had snapped. Carefully I tried propping the screen up, but it kept slipping backwards. I wanted to cry. My husband, a computer tech, examined it and pronounced it unfixable. My most important tool and toy had just died.

Without money to buy a new laptop, I was forced to stop working. No more editing or blogging or revisions for me. But a funny thing happened while I was being depressed, I also felt a surprising sense of relief. Writing was impossible for several weeks, so during that time I found art projects to do with my daughter, read one of the books I’d been longing to start but had “no time,” and nurtured my pumpkin patch. My heart rate slowed and the tension in my neck relaxed. All of my self-imposed deadlines fell away.

Once I had the cash, I bought a new laptop. My daughter started the 12th grade. My days were still busy, but I had the ability to concentrate on writing again. Claustrophobia was replaced with an opened mind filled with fresh ideas.

We artists spend all of our energy on our art; even when we’re taking care of our children or working at our jobs, more than half of our brain power is spent imagining new ways to create. Rest for me is not simply about relaxing my body, I also need to relax my mind and let go of the need to keep writing. The world will not end if I’m unable to write a new play by Christmas. At least I hope not.

And I gotta say, I am madly in love with my new MacBook Air.