7/10/08 By Sherryl Connelly
Rationalizing your weekly must-have item
There have been any number of books about women abandoning their lives in search of self, but it was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love that seemed to really set off a groundswell.
While Gilbert traveled the world to suss out what she needed to know, Janet Carlson had only to buy the right shoes and show up at a local dance studio.
Still, the journey she describes in “Quick, Before the Music Stops” (Broadway, $19.99) took her quite a way and brought her out in a different place. “Dancing With the Starts” it’s not.
“My heart had gone cold by April 2000,” writes Carlson, the health and beauty editor at Town & Country magazine. “I was only 45, and to be precise, I was half-dead.”
She was living in Hastings-on-Hudson with her husband, Peter, a photographer, and their two daughters. Carlson felt that almost the total responsibility for raising the family and running a house was shoved at her.
Secretly, she also resented that Peter played only a negligible role in deciding the course of their lives.
But he did send them off in a new direction when he unexpectedly presented her with a course of 20 dancing lessons. In her 20s, Carlson had been a successful competitive dancer but had given it up for the siren call of work and family.
Now she was back. As she moved through three teachers, becoming ever more prominent on the local circuit, she came to realize she was learning what it actually meant to partner someone. In or out of dance shoes.
A middle-age woman’s obsessive pursuit of ballroom dancing can sound silly. But what we get from Carlson are those moments of understanding that she used to change her life.
Moving on from her first instructor, a very controlling teacher, she recognizes how she’s similarly over-managed in her marriage.
Whether you’re looking to radically change your life or just settle in for a good read, Carlson’s true tale offers a dose of inspiration.