This past Saturday, I took myself dancing. The evening began with a waltz lesson. Waltzing always makes me think of my dad, his 6'4" frame towering over my little 2-year old self, as we would waltz around the living room, me carried on the toes of his ginormous feet.
Now I am no dancin' queen (well, my private fantasies excluded!), but my elementary understanding of the waltz is as follows: waltzing has a tempo of 1,2,3,4,5,6 with an emphasis on the first and fourth beat. But what I noticed as I would take a turn with different partners, the beginners did not realize that the first beat is always on his left foot and the fourth on his right. And for the ladies, it is the opposite.
But this is what I love about this dance, if I start on the wrong foot, I can always get back on the right foot because the rhythm is so clear to me. Each time I shared this way of keeping ones feet straight, a lightbulb would go off for my partner as well.
During this period in the evening, an old English idiom popped into my head: "We must have gotten off on the wrong foot." If you begin on the wrong foot, inevitably you will kick feet with your partner, or trip, or both. And as I was thinking about this it struck me: I must have gotten off on the wrong foot with my dance partnership with my body.
This statement couldn't be any truer for me. It turns out that the origin of the idiom is actually based on an old superstition that if your left foot was the first to hit the ground in the morning it would supposedly bring bad luck. How many of us have started out on the wrong foot in our relationship with our bodies?
Perhaps we have been co-dependent with our bodies, like a love-hate relationship? How many of us have been involved for years in an awkward dance kicking ourselves in the shin and tripping over our less-than-loving body-concepts? How many of us have no idea how to begin creating a healthy partnership with our body so that this dance is more graceful and fun?
I feel my mind return to the simplicity of waltzing with my dad. How simple it was to just allow myself to be held on his sturdy and trustworthy toes, carried effortlessly. When I think about this newer body-relationship that I am growing into, this is what it feels like: a surrendering of the need to hate my body to be a "normal woman," a truce called on the vicious cycle of warring with my self-concept. It feels like returning home.
It is as though I am back in the dance, but I am no longer trying to lead. A still, small, gentle, loving and clear voice guides each of my steps like the firm hand of a good dance partner. This partner, who I think of as "Soul", tenderly tells me what I need to know to let go of a lifetime of trying to control the dance. I am no longer the leader, the one who needs to control each step and decision. I am not even a dancer, I am the danced.
Stay tuned. This is where we put our foot down (our RIGHT foot) and say, "Enough!" I will no longer settle for having two left feet when it comes to how I treat myself and others. It's time to take back our thinking about body, beauty and self-worth. This is the time to stop giving away our minds to the media, and our money to the multi-billion dollar diet industry, and to start seeing that we are nothing short of sacred.
Come dance with me. If you don't yet know the steps, do not let this keep you away. We will be learning how to hear and heed them together!