Tripping Over the Light Fantastic: A Late Bloomer’s Tale

Tripping Over the Light Fantastic: A Late Bloomer’s Tale

posted in: Artists | 23

Guest post by Daniela Gitlin

One belly dance performance and I was smitten. I fell like a load of dirt off the back of a dump truck. Forget being fifty. Forget my little insecurities. I had to do it.

Seven years later of twice a week classes, I’ve improved. Given I’m a geezer with no dance experience, that’s not saying much.

Still. I can do pretty hip drops, figure eights and hip circles, mostly on tempo. I can slide my ribcage side to side. I can pod my belly in and out, no problem. My arms are way better. But undulations, those snaky torso ripples that are so cool and so belly dancerish, no.

I’ll figure it out over the next decade. After that, I’ll take on walking while undulating, in time to the music. The project is worthy of deep thought, as fascinating an intellectual challenge as any. It’ll keep me busy in my old age.

In January, my teacher up-ended this retirement plan. She invited me to join her troupe as a junior member. Effective immediately.

I didn’t see it coming. But being mature, I blurted: “But. But. Am I good enough?”

Simultaneously, inside, a dancing child sprang out from under five decades of sludge and shouted, SHUT UP! She’ll change her mind! She’ll take it back!

That dancing child didn’t care it didn’t make sense. Her heart’s desire was affirmed.

And here I thought my heart’s desire was to write. Turns out, that’s a fairly recent aspiration, say three, maybe four decades old. To dance, that’s the primal longing. And I didn’t know it. Or more accurately, had forgotten. Till now.

My Self hissed, Way to go! Question the teacher!

A troupe member saved me, “Do you want to dance with us or not?”

Duh. “Yes!”

I can’t believe my good fortune and my new role in life: the slow one. Smarts are useless and words fail me. I am so lost. And found.

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious. ~Brendan Gill {Tweet this}

danielaAbout Daniela

Among other things, I am a board certified psychiatrist. Hubby (also a board certified shrink), Son, Poodle Oodle and I live in a tiny rural town in upstate New York, just south of the Canadian border.

I practice tai-chi most mornings, but certainly not at 5 a.m. I’m all about fruits and veggies. I belly dance, sort of. And I’m seditious, a (former) secret closely guarded by my nearest and dearest with blackmail threats. Well, now you’ve read this, the word is out.

This article first appeared on Daniela’s excellent blog, Shrink Unwrapped: All About Plan Be. You can read more about her undulations here. Or, if you’re curious about how she became a shrink, she unwraps that here. I’m proud to call Daniela one of my earliest friends of Interwebs. 

23 Responses

  1. florence fois
    | Reply

    Ah, Debra … I might be the first this morning … but not the last. I can trip the life, crooked feet, pigeon-toed and over the second or third hill since the day … and I can laugh at this amazing post.

    Daniela, good for you. The Shrink Unwrapped can dance and laugh at herself and give us all something to indulate about 🙂 Thanks gals. I think I’ll turn the music on and wiggle in my seat !!

    • Daniela
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      Thank you some much for your kind words Florence! As G. K. Chesterton said, “A thing worth doing is worth doing badly.” Ha!

  2. Lindsay
    | Reply

    What a beautiful post to read first thing on a sunny spring Saturday. When I was in my 30s, I took ballet classes — way too late for that but I didn’t care. Recently, I cleaned house — by this I mean a massive job of cleaning/throwing out/reorganizing that took 6 weeks and left me sore and aching six Sundays in a row. Now, I look around and feel like a weight is off my back.

    • Daniela
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      So happy you enjoyed Lindsay! I know what you mean about spring cleaning. Just a few weeks ago, hours of my precious life ended up shredded in five garbage bags. If I drop dead today, I can hold my head up: my desk and underwear are clean.

  3. Anne R. Allen
    | Reply

    Love it. What a fun person! By a funny coincidence, I just got in my inbox a link to a birthday card meant for another friend with a similar name. It’s her 70th. And the card is an animation of a belly dancer with my 70-year-old friend’s face. Seems to be a older-women-bellydancing meme today!

    • Daniela
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      Ha! I’m a fun person! How fun is that?! BIG smile. Thank you, thank you. From reading your Style, Fear and Bias post, your response tells me I’ve gotten out of my words’ way. I’ve got style! (And modesty.) Next step– pun intended– Dance the same way. “Living has yet to be generally recognized as one of the arts.” Karl de Schweinitz

  4. K.B. Owen
    | Reply

    What a fabulous story, Daniela…good for you! I’ll have to live vicariously, though, because I’d probably throw a hip trying those moves, LOL. 😉

    Debra, many thanks for sharing this with us. Maybe it’s time to look into T’ai Chi again…

    ~Kathy

    • Daniela
      |

      Thanks for your kind use of “fabulous” Kathy! I’m delighted to have you live vicariously. As per “Wired For Story,” fab book! 🙂 Loved readingWhy it Rocks to Talk to 6th graders! Just so you know, at 57, I prefer, whenever possible, to learn from material geared to kids. Why? Because it’s stripped down to essentials, thus CLEAR. So efficient compared to the painful excavation of gold from dead-boring adult non-fiction (and way too much fiction). I did tai chi before belly dancing (still do). Do it! Ancient movement forms rock. All the bugs have been tweeked out by achieved masters.

  5. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your secret and have fun dancing through the next phase of your life. I love the quote by Brendan Gill. Growing older should be fun!

    • Daniela
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      Thanks Darlene! I agree. Growing older should be fun. Better than the alternative. 🙂

  6. Jennette Marie Powell
    | Reply

    Daniella, thanks for sharing! I went to a belly dance class once. The classes don’t normally fit into my schedule, but I wanted to try it and was glad I did. One thing that really stood out was that there were women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and ability–and no one cared. Everyone was completely accepting of each other.

    • Daniela
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      You’re welcome Jennette! Yes, it’s amazing how relaxing it is to move your body, however it’s shaped, in ways that come naturally. Like wriggling and wiggling. 🙂 And how that relaxation leads to self-acceptance, and how that in turn leads to acceptance of others. Beautiful.

  7. David Stevens
    | Reply

    Hi ladies,
    This added a sparkle to my step this beautiful morn. Thankyou.
    Be good to yourselves
    David
    Life Coach. Listener. Life Lover.

    • Daniela
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      That my words added a sparkle to your step adds sparkle to mine. 🙂 Thank you.

  8. Daniela
    | Reply

    Debra Eve, Thank you for the thrill of guest posting to Later Bloomer! Readers, thanks for reading! Without you, who would I write for? And Commenters, your kind words make me want to dance! Maybe I will. Excuse me. Gotta go.

    • Debra Eve
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      Thank you, Daniela. And as for writing…I’ve read yours and a much wider audience awaits!

  9. Liz Schneider
    | Reply

    Daniela,
    I loved your story and completely understand how it felt for you. While I always loved to dance and did so pretty freely, the idea of performance dancing is a whole other topic. Beginning belly-dance at age 42 (after the birth of my 2nd child at 41) was one more step in opening me up to being a woman and celebrating my body, exactly as it was. I believe quite strongly that dance empowers a woman from a very primal level, and that it fills her cells with a juiciness that is very nourishing to self-image. Movement is always a part of my photo shoots, for that very reason.

    • Debra Eve
      |

      Hello Liz, I’m not sure Daniela is still checking in, but I just wanted to thank you for your comment and your gorgeous photography! You truly capture the essence of the women in your portraits.

    • Daniela
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      Thank you Liz! Yay dance and juiciness! Couldn’t agree more. Checked out your site and loved your photos. You’ve got It. If only I knew what my “brand” is. I would have you shoot me. 🙂

  10. Lee J Tyler
    | Reply

    ” To dance, that’s the primal longing.” Wow. You have found the core of your being; both physically and to the depths of your soul. Thanks you for this!

    • Debra Eve
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      Daniela is my inspiration, Lee! She’s inspired me to start dancing again (to a DVD right now, but hey). Another writer I admire recently told me she uses dance to get to the core of her story… I love that idea. Thanks for your comment.

    • Daniela
      |

      You are so welcome Lee! And Debra Eve…. Awwwww! So glad you’re dancing. Dancing is totally awesome! However, I don’t seem to be writing much. 🙂 Well, the Muse will provide as She sees fit. 🙂

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