Susan's Blog

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Staying Lifted

Last night I dreamed that I had discovered a pair of windows on the third floor that had several large gaps where the sashes met, and holes in the screens, which were covered in bugs and God knows what else. I realized in terrible sinking fear that bats could have gotten in. Ned was not home, so I had to take care of it myself. I went all the way down to the basement (in my dream) and looked for the steel wool Ned uses to plug up such holes. I couldn’t find much, so I got some foam and some foil, which ran out after I’d pulled out only five sheets.

I went all the way back up to the rickety windows with all this junk in my hands to stuff the cracks, and leaned into the window on the right. A chubby black spider was sitting there. It leaped out. As it leaped, I watched in horror and then amazement as an aqua green spotted tiny tutu and wings sprung out from its body and it became kind of a fairy spider. It landed on my head and I was both horrified and calm. I felt that it would probably be okay because it was actually this beautiful thing.

And so I woke up thinking about, of all things, my bellydancing. Why? I think because I have been searching for just the right teacher, someone who is not too much of a diva, but who also knows how to make a class rich, challenging enough, but not scary challenging. At this point I have had five teachers in less than one year. I have enjoyed and benefited from them all, but still I have not yet found my home. More and more, I like using my DVDs and practicing with them. I don’t know if this is okay, but I want it to be okay. I worry about my tendency in general to withdraw from things and be by myself. I do this sometimes with friends, with groups, with committees, etc. After a while, I need to be in the comfort and safety of my own space. I am trying to honor those feelings because I don’t want to kill this wonderful hobby of mine with “shoulds.” I “should” join a class. I “should” aim for a recital. I “should not” just use DVDs. Those are the negative messages I hear sometimes.

What I need is a new DVD, and I’m waiting for them to arrive from Amazon. I am continuing to look for a class. Last night when I was dancing I realized that I could do every single step and movement in the Drum Solo DVD, so easily that I could concentrate on staying lifted and placement of my hands. The staying-lifted is extremely important, especially with someone like me (there I go again with the negative messages) who does not have the slimmest, longest midsection. Staying lifted means you pull your upper ribcage up as high as you can, separating it from your abdomen and hips.

Last night I did a lot of my movements staying lifted the entire time. That is one of my requirements for doing any sort of public performance; I will have to be able to stay like that as much as possible. Otherwise I feel grotesque. The fascinating thing to me about my doing bellydance is that I have always felt that my belly was my worst physical aspect, even as a smooth-bodied teen. I have hated my belly. So how wildly ironic for me to have alighted upon a hobby that forces me to look at it. I have to stare at it and control its movement and learn to live with it, all the while trying to perfect it and love it, this belly of mine. And slowly, it is happening. But fear and self-loathing will swallow up all the joy. I can not allow this beautiful thing I have discovered to become something ugly and fearful.

I think maybe this dream is a metaphor for the larger aspects of my life as an adult. I find myself alone with this difficulty, of fixing something scary. Ned is out of the house, but I know he will be back. Ned is with me but not always. Some things I do alone, even if they are really hard. I believe somehow that the spider is me dancing. I discovered it in a place I knew nothing about, in my own house, for all this time. It leaped out, scaring me at first with my chubby ugliness, and then fascinating me. I did not kill it, and it morphed into this fairy thing. Given the right chance, it sprouted beautiful wings and a colorful skirt. It landed on me and I was terrified at first and yet I was okay. I actually cannot believe that such a beautiful thing would come out of something so ugly, but there it is.

I know on the surface that I am not ugly, physically or otherwise, certainly not spider-ugly, and yet sometimes I feel ugly. There are some very old messages we carry around from childhood. I think that somewhere along the way I got the idea that my needs and my real self are difficult for others to take. Therapy and growth help dislodge some of these feelings, but every now and then they still jump out at me. The trick is to remember that I am the Fairy, not the Spider, or that perhaps I can live with being both, if I just stay lifted.


oh, susan, you are SO BEAUTIFUL!!! and inspiring. look–i have signed up for my first ever belly dancing class. last week was the first meeting and i LOVE IT!! i, too, am having a hard time with the lifting and the looking straight at my own belly, never one of my favorite parts and even less so as inactivity and age has crept in, but it feels like exactly the thing for me to be doing, so affirming and loving and interesting and deeply satisfying!

i’d love some good dvd recommedations.

sending belly best to you.

— added by kyra on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Kyra, I’m so psyched you are doing it! That is so great!

DVD’s: Sonia and Issam, The Art of the Drum Solo. and Rachel Brice: Tribal Drills.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 5:03 pm

thanks! i’ll jot those down and check them out.

— added by kyra on Monday, March 12, 2007 at 7:40 am

Great dream analysis. You are beautiful. I would love to be as fit as you!!! You are a lesson for us all. I am starting my “Yoga Booty” dvd’s today!!! Ughh, mine to lose weight hopefully.

I too do that draw back into self thing, and know when I am doing it. But…don’t do it too much, because you are a wonderful person who needs to be shared!!!

— added by Laura Cottington on Monday, March 12, 2007 at 9:57 am

I used to get very upset during dance class whenever we would work with our stomachs. I was always taught that part of me could never be thin enough. I think perhaps I worked through those issues in dance. My first teachers (Goddess Dancing) told us that we hold all sorts of psychological issues in our bodies and when we dance, we start to encounter and release those issues.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 9:42 am

My first comment was lost somehow through the wonders of technology.

I was going to say that my first teachers taught us that we hold different issues in different parts of our bodies and we encounter and work through those issues when we use those body parts in dance. I know I had similar seemingly-irrational feelings about my stomach when I started too – to the point where I once started crying during a class where we were learning belly rolls.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 9:43 am

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