I had to rush out to Staples this afternoon to buy a new planner because my current one only goes through July, and my schedule is already extending into September. 5Rhythms classes throughout the summer; a comedy show in July, a possible kayaking trip, a drum circle; in August, there are kundalini classes, a Phillies game, the return of Biodanza (!), my sister-in-law’s going away party; and in September–already marked on the kitchen calendar with Mickey heads and sunshines–is the impromptu Disney World trip Bryan and I booked last week.

This will be the fifth consecutive Disney trip that Bryan and I are taking together; since 2007, we’ve been going to Florida every September; last year we paid homage to Walt’s baby out in Anaheim; and now this year we’re headed back to Orlando for a week at the Wilderness Lodge. We hadn’t intended to do Disney this year; in fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 was to back off on the Disney trips for a few years and wait until 2014 (our 10-year wedding anniversary) to return for a Disney Vow Renewal Extravaganza with our friends Zak and Cathy.

Instead, Bryan and I tried to discuss alternative vacation ideas. We talked about renting a shore house for a week. I was thinking about skittering off to Kripalu by myself for a few days. We briefly considered a cruise. We talked and pondered and hemmed and hawed, but nothing was getting penned in permanently on the calendar. There were no Mickey heads to draw into September’s squares.

The decision to return to Disney was drawn out over about a week’s time, with back-and-forth debates between Bryan and me a regular nightly occurrence. Then Disney announced the return of its free dining plan…and about 12 hours later, we were booked. I got to draw the Mickey heads on the kitchen calendar once again.

My reasons for being obsessed with Disney are beyond the scope of this post (it all dates back to my first trip in 1987), but, in short, it’s a place where–once we drive through that giant red and purple “Walt Disney World” gate–I am free. I am free to slow dance on the train platform with my husband after the evening’s fireworks show, with thousands of people surrounding us. I am free to wrap my arms around a life-sized Pooh bear, kiss him on the nose, and ask for his autograph. I am free to “Yo Ho” like a pirate in the middle of Adventureland, pretend to be asleep during the biggest drop on Expedition Everest so it gives me something to laugh about when I see the instant attraction photo, and get goosebumps when the character-filled steamboat rolls out during the end of Fantasmic!, even though I’ve seen the show well over a dozen times by now. Bryan and I are free to wear matching Wall•E shirts, I can wear Mickey ears in public, and it’s completely acceptable for a 30-year-old woman to join a conga line led by a giant blue alien.

So it kind of made sense this past Friday when, as my 5Rhythms class drew to an end, I sat up from my final moment in Stillness, joined the group in a sharing circle, and compared 5Rhythms to Disney World.

“It’s a place I get giddy just thinking about. I count down the days to 5Rhythms the same way I do before we go to Florida. I go to Disney World, I can be free. I come to 5Rhythms, I am free. 5Rhythms is the Disney World of dance, a place where you can twirl, jump, and fly down the street without inhibition, a place where it’s OK to be goofy if that’s what calls, a place where magic transpires, dreams are realized, and a place you never want to leave.”

Bryan and I get teased a lot for continuing to return to a destination that’s “for kids.” I never received an official adult rulebook, but if it says that being married and having a mortgage mean that eating Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwiches while watching Tinkerbell fly out of Cinderella Castle is not for grown-ups, well, hell, just call me Peter Pan then. I don’t want to grow up if “adult” = “not allowed to crack a smile when 5-foot-tall Chip and Dale chipmunks fight over who gets to take me out to dinner.”

The same misconceptions are held about dance. As Meg from Spirit Moves Dance has pointed out, we are born dancing. We wiggle in our cribs, spin in circles on the lawn, bust out in toddler hip-hop when a cool song comes on the radio at the grocery store. Gradually–and sadly–this boldness begins to fade as adulthood approaches. It’s a condition called self-consciousness, and it’s what stops us from dancing in the park when the guy on the bench over there is playing a really cool song on his guitar, and man, I’d just like to groooove to that, but then everyone would look at me, and, well, kids can get away with that, but I’m an adult.

A fellow new to 5Rhythms understood my Disney/dance metaphor. He started the class somewhat reserved, simple swaying motions, cautiously moving here and there around the studio. Two hours later, he was running around the bamboo floor, arms spread wide open, smiling from ear to ear: “I look at my 3-year-old daughter. She does this all the time,” he shared afterward. “She just moves freely, twirling, spinning all over the place. I don’t even remember the last time I spun; it’s been forever. It felt great to spin again.”

Another question Bryan and I get about our vacation preference is “Well, is there anything different there this year?, as though there needs to be something spectacularly new to validate our trip. Sometimes there may be a new attraction or show, but we don’t book a week-long trip simply to try out the revamped Star Tours ride. Disney World trips are like snowflakes–no two are alike. When you look at the big picture, sure, it has the same foundation: a castle, a giant golf ball, a sparkly Sorcerer Mickey hat, a fiberglass Tree of Life. But when you focus in on the small things–really pay attention to the details–every experience is unique. Consider, for example, the costumed character Stitch (my favorite). In over the course of just one trip, Bryan and I witnessed him:

• play with my dangly earrings.
• lick his finger and write on my arm, pretending to sign his name in spit.
• embrace me a death grip and wouldn’t let go.


• cover Bryan’s face when the photographer went to take our picture.
• play with Bryan’s baseball cap.
• push Lilo away and kept me all to himself.
• emerge from his break with flowers in his giant ear and one on his head.
• try to take a Stitch backpack off a woman’s back.
• remove a Stitch keychain from someone’s purse and stick it in his ear.

A 5Rhythms class always starts off the same: gentle music, a warm-up to Flowing. Sometimes the instructor even plays a few of the same songs he played during last week’s class. It can be the same studio, same people, same music, but no two 5Rhythms classes are ever the same. Movement there is not choreographed: A tribal drum beat that had me flying from wall to wall last week may inspire me this week to slither on the floor. Last month all I wanted to do was dance differently from everyone else; during this past class, I got the urge to mimic others’ movement and do something of a “shadowing” dance behind their backs. One moment I am gliding across the studio to the Swan Lake score; 20 minutes later, I am thrashing my hair around to techno music.

I think my calendar speaks volumes about what I’m most passionate about. Of course I look forward to seeing comedian Jim Gaffigan in two weeks and taking a kundalini workshop at the end of July, but the things that get me giddy–the events for which I draw Mickey ears and exclamation points and count down the days in my planner–are the core of who I am and what makes me happy.

Disney World and 5Rhythms make me spin; what items on your calendar make you dizzy with anticipation?

Advertisements