Monday, April 14, 2008

Inspiration From Marlee Matlin

Do you watch the television show Dancing With The Stars? This season, I've caught onto it. Why? Several reasons: I've always been a fan of Adam Corolla's wit and enjoyed the first few shows where he made everyone laugh. Also, I remember when Kristi Yamaguchi won the Ladies Singles event at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Her grace and highly-developed skating skills are helping her compete well for the top. And, these stars are fun to watch compete.

Not only that, but the dancing is pretty impressive! I also aspire to be a better samba, rumba, swing, and tango dancer. As a musician, I appreciate the music. As a beginning dancer, I appreciate the challenge these stars face. They are doing a fantastic job learning a new dance EVERY WEEK! And, these dances aren't easy: they have to impress keen judges. The schedule of this show is so difficult for the stars that they often don't get much time around their family. It is highly demanding upon them mentally, emotionally, and physically.

But more than any of these reasons for loving this season's Dancing With The Stars, I am especially inspired by MARLEE MATLIN.

Why? Well, Kristi has an unfair advantage: she's been performing routines like dancing during her skating routines. The other stars are used to acting, and Marlee Matlin is no exception. But what makes it so much more impressive that Marlee is out there competing and still in the running (as of the time I write this piece) even though Marlee Matlin is DEAF.

I know, so what, just another handicap, right? WRONG. Being deaf, for a dancer, is one heckuva challenge. And Marlee is not just deaf, but PROFOUNDLY DEAF. She really can't hear the music. I've never seen a deaf person dance so well in all of my life. Tonight, she stumbled twice during the samba dance. For those who don't know, samba is fast and really difficult to dance even if you're a dancer and used to hearing the music and feeling the beat.

Here's a You Tube from Week 1 when Marlee came on the show:

The judges:

"What you did out there was SO INSPIRING."
"You had great choreography. You did a GREAT job."
"UNBELIEVABLE. You may not hear, but the music is running through your blood."

"As a mother of four I'm doing it for my kids. Why not, life is short!"

It was SO AWESOME to see Marlee shaking her hips to the beat, taking chances that most people with normal hearing wouldn't even risk, and going for a flip over her head at one point! Amazing. I'm so impressed with the human spirit of this woman.

We've seen Marlee do this before, with acting. She has been acting since a kid, but amazed the whole world in her debut movie performance, Children of a Lessor God, where she won an Academy Award for her performance.

According to Wikipedia, Marlee also has published a book about her childhood in 2002 and in 2004 she starred in one of my favorite movies, "What The Bleep Do We Know?" where she dug into the quantum physics of life experiences.1 If you read Marlee's background you will learn that she is an avid supporter of promoting sign language as a non-verbal form of communication and also is a leader in representing closed caption broadcasts. Not only that, but she also is a MOTHER of FOUR children. How does she do it? In hearing her talk, I could tell that she simply believes SHE CAN and then fights through the adversity to PROVE she can. Yes!

What especially resonated for me in watching tonight's show was to hear Marlee say, in her own words, how much she wanted to be an example for deaf people how they CAN do WHATEVER THEY WANT. Then she went out and showed it with a FUN and SPIRITED dance performance to the challenging samba dance. She talked about how scary it was to slip at one point but recovered, overcame the adversity of slipping again, and finished impressively to score respectably. No, she probably won't win the event - Kristi Yamaguchi and her partner are just too strong - but she is showing quite well and placing in the middle of the group.

Marlee said "dancing the samba was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I fought through it..." and the judges also said they were inspired by Marlee, too.

I was so inspired that I not only wrote this article, I even picked up a phone and cast a vote for Marlee (you can dial 1-800-868-3412 to vote for her, too).

Kudos to Marlee Matlin. Thank you for showing deaf people that there is HOPE and if you want something bad enough, anything you want to do you CAN do. Go for it and represent your cause with all your heart. Marlee's doing it. Are you?

Who has inspired you this week? Are you finding the beauty in other people? They are out there, every day, for us to notice.

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