Hi all ~ We are a few weeks into a new year and maybe it’s not feeling as shiny as you hoped. So, I hope this post encourages you to find joy no matter how messy or imperfect your days may be. As Christians, we have so much to celebrate – so may you dance (and live) like everyone is watching. ~ Love, Lara
My dance resume is so scant it wouldn’t fill a Post-it note. I took a month of ballet when I was seven-years-old, and a few years later a private jazz class that culminated in a duet with my teacher to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York. The best thing about it was of course the red sequins and fish-net stockings my nine-year-old self wore with scandalous pride. Other than that, my dance career consisted mostly of inebriated moments on the sticky dance floor of some bar where an intoxicating mix of youthful angst and heady independence collided in manic, exuberant moves that made me feel like a rock star but probably looked like I was having a grand mal seizure.
My only other notable dance moments usually occurred when Gloria Gaynor belted out “I Will Survive,” as part of the DJ’s dubious playlist at a wedding. Without thought, I would abruptly end my conversation and hustle out on the dance floor as if it was my sole mission to join in solidarity with the other women to celebrate the rising that comes from a bad breakup. Again, why do they play this at weddings?
Last year, I added another bullet point to my dance resume – a dance class at the YMCA. This is the kind of class where you have to channel your inner preschooler who has more energy than inhibition and more acceptance than austere ambition. At the start of class, the teacher says that the only rule is to have fun. I would add to try not to run into anyone and most importantly, don’t look at yourself in the mirror. (I’ve done both.) The woman I ran into was gracious; the mirror – not so much. When I saw my reflection, I went from feeling like one of the Fly Girls from that 90s show “In Living Color,” to freezing like I just saw the snake-haired Gorgon, Medusa, and turned to stone out of utter fear of my incongruous boogie moves. Trust me, it’s better to just embrace the delusion that you are a Fly Girl, or Rockette, or Beyonce.
The truth is I’m not a great dancer. I’m always a few beats behind the music and I’m more spastic than smooth. Still, dance has been a great teacher. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be good at something to love it. We typically pick our hobbies, our careers, and even our relationships based on compatibility and that can be a huge misstep to our happiness. We can sometimes be reluctant to try new things because it doesn’t fit the image or agendas we’ve created or we don’t have the experience we think we need to simply begin. In a world full of experts and specialists, we forget that we don’t have to know it all to participate. We think we are too old, or it’s too late and we feel silly for even thinking we could try. We prioritize the perfection of self over the expression of self. Our critical voices are the Medusa’s of our mind that keep us frozen in fear; reluctant to try new things.
It’s a new year and every day is a new day. Our lives aren’t meant to be static. We were created for more than a few rote moves. We can add new steps. Shake things up. Wear sequins and change our bedtime. (Okay, that might be taking it too far. A consistent sleep schedule is very important.) The point is when I started dancing it was awkward, yet I laughed a lot too. It was sometimes frustrating to learn the routines, but I also felt so accomplished when I actually did. It was humbling to see how fluidly my teachers moved when I looked like a mechanical bunny with a dying battery. Still, I realized that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we let ourselves try new things, not for the sake of achievement but perhaps from the escape of it.
There’s a saying that encourages us to dance like no one’s watching. But I say dance like everyone’s watching — and you’re on a stage under the bright lights and you know, really know, you were meant to shine. Dance like that. Live like that. And, if by chance you catch Medusa’s stony stare of self-judgment, hypnotize her with your own unique magical moves, so, like Gloria Gaynor, you will survive.