Thursday, August 5, 2010


A few days ago, I was shocked to discover that my left foot sickles. Look closely at the picture. The left foot turns in slightly.

Every day. I warm up my muscles and dance to stirring, exciting symphonic music. It's not hugely strenuous choreography but the movements fit the music. It's fun! It's what keeps me vital, and gives me joy, pep -- energy to tackle everything else in my life.

My choreography requires the left foot and right foot to be un-sickled.

Turn off your pity. Toss away your questions. A sickled foot's a foolish, unimportant minor thing.

Over my left shoulder, my list of blog ideas is clipped to my clipboard -- I need to work on ten new rules for Wall Street, or the horrendous oil spills in Nigeria. But under my chair -- oh dear, my left foot is turned over, toes bent, instep bulging as it's being stretched. It's a lousy stretch. It hurts and reminds me that the sickled, turned-in-ness of the foot was solvable twenty years ago -- there's nothing I can do to fix the foot, unless I do what I did when I was first learning to dance, stretching-stretching all day long.

Why didn't I notice the sickle? Okay, I did, sort of vaguely notice it. Why did I let so much time pass without stretching it?

Other work, other projects that took physical effort were more important. There's no way to maintain a professional dancer's technique without rehearsing at least four hours a day. I maintained overall body flexibility, and didn't want to bother about the foot.

So -- forget the sickle! Do what you can do! This big deal of a turned-in foot is the same as a woman dieting to fit the clothes she wore at age 16 -- it's stupid, time-wasting vanity.

Okay, my dancing "hobby" requires the left and the right foot to be turned out, NOT sickled. The reason I noticed the poor left foot was my turns -- they were wobbly -- I've simplified the choreography, but I can't do a smooth double turn any anymore.

Who cares? I care! If I'm wobbling I am not going to do my dance any more. I'll just do some exercises like an average "older woman."

Yuck -- I hate exercise -- hate calisthenics -- I love dancing.

What would Lance Armstrong do? He'd exercise and keep working on the foot. He'd ignore the fact that it's not possible for me spend time in the studio exercising for more than 40 to 50 minutes a day.

I'm not a Lance Armstrong -- a super athlete -- who defied his doctors, beat cancer, who has a huge motivation to win and win again. I'm a writer -- retired dancer who refuses to give up dancing -- who's been writing about be yourself, admiring Hillary, telling people in India be what you are.

So? Well ...?

Damn hell son-of-a-bitch dammit -- I'm going to stretch that dumb, sickled, turned-in, stupid, stiff old foot and keep dancing!


Carola said...

Definitely keep dancing! Perhaps you can find some dance steps that don't depend so much on a straight foot? Thus, because of a bad hip, I have had to learn to walk the hills of my little town more slowly and with very small steps.

Linda Phillips said...

Where do I begin and not tell my whole life story in reply to your post of today Em?

I have a progressive neuromuscular disease that moves very, very slowly. It has, overtime, changed my life totally. I was once a very vital person I wear leg braces and walk on a walker. Dance????? Ha, ha, ha!!!!!! I studied dance since childhood and it was always a part of my life. There were always things that I couldn't do, which kept me from being a professional dancer, but despite the fact that I could never do leaps as an example...I could dance and danced very well. Now I have difficulty just walking and rely on a walker.

I used to come home from work most every night (I was then a commercial interior designer). I would turn on music and dance. I didn't care what I looked like since no one else saw me...but it was my great joy and I loved it! So that is long gone now.

A few years ago, I began to notice that my voice, at times, was sounding raspy. I assumed it was allergies, but it lasted too long and became worse. Ultimately I learned that even my vocal chords were now atrophied. The choice was to either to have surgery or to see a speech therapist and hope that she could help me.

Luckily, the speech therapy worked. I learned to speak in a higher pitch. Though my vocal chords are still atrophied, at least they are moving now, which they weren't before the therapy...and yes...I love to sing...I have never been a great singer...but I could always "put over a number" because of my acting I was always told that I had a "pretty voice". Now I can barely sing and singing for my own personal pleasure was another one of my great joys. I used to know all of the scores from all of the Broadway Musicals that I had seen over the years....many, many shows and loved to sing them for my own entertainment. Gone now! Another loss of something I loved to do and can no longer do.

I used to love to do needlepoint. It was very relaxing and somehow, filling in those holes with woolen yarn was very comforting, as I watched my pieces turn into pieces of art. No more. I can no longer grasp a needle as my fingers, especially my thumb, are in almost fixed positions now.

The same was true of lost wax jewelry design, another wonderful hobby of mine. The hands just lost the strength to do the work.

Most of my time now is spent online. I love talking to people in chat rooms and other places. I love researching anything that strikes my fancy. I love playing online backgammon with totally unknown live opponents.

Life has changed drastically and I have learned to adapt to it. Am I frustrated???? I would only be lying if I said no.... but it is what it is and I do what I can with what I have!!!!!!

Keep on dancing Em...even if its not the same dance that you used to dance! Its still a dance!!!!!


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