“Let’s dance. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.” ~ David Bowie
I successfully completed Mariann Martland’s 21-day dance and write challenge (#dancewritenow).
The basic concept was dancing to at least one song (more if you feel the urge) every day for 21 days, then write about your experience. Write whatever comes naturally, including documenting the song, feelings and thoughts.
I thought this would be pretty easy, and I was curious to see what I could get out of it. I entered into this challenge with no expectations and a desire to dance and write for no one but me.
I created a playlist of songs about dancing, starting with David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. I soon realized there are a sh*t-load of songs about dancing. I decided to start with Bowie, then shuffle all the songs on my iTunes and see what happened.
“If you dance with your heart, your body will follow.” ~ Mia Michaels
Here’s what happened:
I showed up.
I danced then wrote every day for 20 of the 21 days, and it was pretty easy, since I danced alone in the kitchen before anyone else was awake. If a family member (or the hired contractor working in our master bathroom) saw me busting out my best Beyoncé moves, no one said a word.
I missed day 10, since we were traveling and I forgot. However, I did write a halfway summary that day and doubled up on Day 11. I had to silence my inner perfectionist who wanted to throw in the towel because I wasn’t going to make it 100 percent. Crazy that she showed up to this challenge too.
I went with the shuffle.
Each day, I waited in anticipation to see which song would play. Some days, a slow song had me swaying with my eyes closed while listening to the lyrics. Other days, I was shaking it up and singing out loud. Starting out with a little unknown helped me to remain open-minded the rest of the day. I know it is a small thing, but it was true for me.
I was less flustered, more relaxed mentally and physically, since it is difficult to dance when tense.
I felt happy.
Just as it is hard to dance when tense, it’s also difficult to dance when upset, stressed or in a hurry. Most of my songs hold a memory that would leave a smile on my face and have me thinking about friends and family. Like when some friends and I were dancing on a bed in high school singing Don’t Stop Believing and Lights by Journey, making up the words we didn’t know.
Dancing to all types of songs left me feeling happy, full and connected. I soon found myself softly singing and shimmying my shoulders throughout the day, especially as I cooked dinner.
I want to keep dancing.
The main question I had for myself after this challenge was when did I stop dancing? I remember dancing all the time while participating in and teaching gymnastics, cheerleading and aerobics. Then, when I had three children under four years old, we sang and danced to everything and everywhere we went. Sure, we all dance at celebrations like weddings or while on vacation. And there is always a late night dance party when I am away with my girlfriends. My family often sees me dance after that second glass of wine, with or without music.
It’s the act of dancing, losing myself in the music that I’m sad to admit ended one day. I lost something that added so much joy and energy to my life. It’s difficult to believe I let that end.
They say it takes 21 days to start or break a habit, so I am going to keep dancing every morning to at least one song.
I have already found a dance studio nearby so I can find a class that fits my schedule. I wonder if my husband remembers saying “sure” when I asked him last night if he will take salsa dance lessons with me. If the experience is anything like Ben Stiller’s in Along Came Polly, I will dance every day for the rest of my life!
Author: Tammy Novak
Apprentice Editor: Staci Lerch-Moist // Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Flickr/Vladimir Pustovit