To start off, I'd take brisk walks with the kids, which had a double benefit. Of course it was aerobic, and without the distraction of video games and cell phones and TV, it was also a great way to really get to hear about what was going on in their lives. One of my favorite activities is reading, but I had to find a way to make it active. So instead of sitting on the couch, I bought an iPod and began to download audio books to listen to as I walked while the kids were in school.

Then one afternoon, the call came in from my manager, Karl. ABC wanted to have me on season five of Dancing with the Stars. It gave me pause—really big "deer in the headlights" pause. Only a few months before, I was losing my breath with a wave of my arm onstage. Was I really going to have the courage to ballroom dance on live national television?

My children were my biggest cheerleaders.

Stephen said to me, "It'll be like having a personal trainer work with you every day and you'll get paid for it! Why would you say no to that?"

I ran the idea by three girlfriend coworkers the next day during a doll design meeting.

One of them said to me, "Well, you used to dance on the original Donny and Marie show, right?"

"Not like this!" I answered. "Besides, we didn't really dance, we more or less just grooved to the beat and pointed."

"They'll probably have celebrities on there that are ten or twenty years younger than you," another added. "I'd hate to compete with that. What if there's a model?!"

We all gasped! Of course they would bring in a model. It's tele-vision.

"And the costumes!" I responded. "Between the low cuts and the high cuts, I'll look like a cut of pork roast."

We all shuddered at the possibilities.


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