Learning to Speak

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I find words to be clunky and imprecise. To communicate in words we first have to define a feeling then match it to a label that may or may not adequately express that feeling. Then we have to string those words together into some sort of cohesive and articulate sentence. It’s grueling.

Dance/figure skating bypasses all of that; you can take a feeling and go straight to expressing it through movement. For me, it feels much more sincere and authentic.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to music and choreographed movement in my head. That’s how I feel the music and it’s how I express the words that my mouth struggles to form.

Watching figure skating on TV when I was younger, I was mesmerized. It was like flipping through channels in a foreign language and finally finding one that I could understand – I longed to find the courage to learn to speak it.

I took a few lessons as a kid but lacked the tenacity to stick with it and decided instead to stay with dance classes where I could trust my feet to stay, at least pretty much, where I put them.

Still, figure skating has always stirred my soul and I’ve loved to watch others soar on the ice with a fearlessness that I never quite mastered.

Over the spring, in honor of new beginnings, I decided to go back to the ice and as an adult, waaay past my prime, finally learn to ice skate.

And it has been everything. In so many ways learning to skate has been a metaphor for all of the things that I’ve been working to improve in my life.

Taking risks, letting go. Falling down & getting back up, again and again. Balance and centering.

Watch a professional figure skater on the ice and they look like they are flying, as if gravity isn’t even a factor. But, it’s exceptionally important to be in touch with the feel of your weight on the blades and the feeling of your blades on the ice. It turns out that you have to be well grounded in order to be able to fly.

Edge work, getting past the fear of going too fast, mindfulness & focusing on the moment. All of these things are integral to learning to skate and just as integral to my learning how to live my life in the way that I want to live it.

I can’t say yet that I’m fluent in this language that I’ve yearned for so long to speak but I’ve picked up some key words and phrases and intend to stick with it until I can recite an elegant sonnet.

And in the process I might just find the voice to sing the song written in my soul.


The Red Thread

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Red String of Fate by KaitiBee

 

According to Chinese and Japanese folklore, the red string or thread of fate/destiny is tied to the ankles or little finger of those who are destined to meet. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.

Here is a story often told featuring the red string of fate:

Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man standing beneath the moonlight (Yuè Xià Lǎo). The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. Yuè Xià Lǎo shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up. The woman is, in fact, the same young girl connected to the man by the red thread shown to him by Yuè Xià Lǎo back in his childhood, showing that they were connected by the red string of fate.

Although the red string is most often associated with the joining of destined lovers or soul mates, such as in the story above, I like to visualize it as the connecting of any two people who are meant to help each other in some way.

I see us all walking around in a metaphorical web of red thread, connected to each other in ways that we cannot see and that most of us don’t even realize.

It’s complex and beautiful in its intricacy, weaving us all together whether for a moment or for a lifetime.

Of course you could say that we’re all cosmically connected and speak of collective consciousness and oneness but I’m speaking in a less universal sense and a more interpersonal one.

For me, the red thread is an understanding between two people, a bond that whispers of wholeness and echoes of eternity.

A feeling as though your soul knows the secrets of another’s even if you’ve never exchanged a word.

It’s a connection that has nothing to do with physical location, time, age, race, gender or any such construct.

Perhaps it’s a simple passing, looking into the eyes of a stranger and seeing something there that you recognize, a shared understanding.

Or the bond between friends that never erodes regardless of distance or the passage of time.

It’s a person who was in the right place at the right time, who was able to help you in a way that no one else could.

It’s feeling like you’ve known someone who you just met for your entire life, or a feeling that you intimately know someone who you’ve never met.

I like to think of connectedness in this way. A tapestry weaving us all together, threads intertwined – stretching across time and distance.

Sometimes I imagine that I can see these threads, it’s like those pictures where if you allow your eyes to go out of focus, an image appears. I feel as though I can occasionally sense them there, discretely tied to me and that if I take a hold of one I can trace it all the way to you.

 

 


Hanging on a moment of truth

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Turning 39 today feels a little bit like standing on the edge of a cliff, toes curled over the edge, looking down at the waters below and not quite knowing what mysteries lie beneath the surface but knowing that you’re going to make that leap…just not quite yet.

I don’t mean to parallel the upcoming transition to 40 with a jump toward death. No, it’s not foreboding. It’s thrilling!! I find that I’m rather looking forward to it so that I might cross that threshold and enter the next phase of my life.

Lately I feel very much like I’m on the edge of something magnificent but that I’m not there yet. Much of my life at the moment is feeling like preparation, like steps toward a goal. I need to stay the course, continue onward and upwards but I find that much of the time I’m not exactly certain of my destination. Each step becomes clear as I take it but the path ahead is unknown. Each small step forward is taken with a certain amount of faith that I’m headed in the right direction. And there is an anxious anticipation that up around the bend is a clearing where I’ll be able to see all around me and wisely choose which way I want to go from there.

Today I need to remember not to get too caught up in contemplating the destination but to stay present in each moment and revel in the ground that is still beneath my feet and marvel at the little details that uncurl and unravel along the way.

I am completely in love with this journey and full of gratitude for everything that is my life!

 


No slave to the ordinary or the play it safers

 

The blog post below is written by a friend, I want to share it because I feel that it’s so important to tell not only our own stories, but to also pass on those of others. It’s what connects us.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

 

Shauna Kai

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A friend put up a link to’ Positive Writer’ on Facebook. Wow! I highly recommend checking out this website and his writing advice. I would not even cap it at writing advice, it seemed it was a lense of a way to process life and is extremely motivational.

His writing advice about blogging was to be specific about your blog and to let readers know what your blog is about and what to expect from your blog. This is ,if you want to build an audience of readers that commit to your blog.

He is writing from a perspective of  failure,  which is where growth seems to seed, that is his point. This writer experienced a failed blog of randomness for it’s content.  I find myself guilty of that randomness on my blog. He discovered and encourages being specific about what you are writing about, a genre or theme.

There…

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I am a Jelly-Filled Donut

On my 18th birthday, I celebrated by getting my first tattoo. Because I was 18 and I could. I wasn’t exactly full of good decisions back then. Really, I’m not much better at them now.

Everyone warned me, “Make sure to get something that you won’t hate in 20 years!” Yeah, yeah.

I gave the design a full 30-seconds worth of thought and chose an arm band with a Chinese character.

This makes me laugh…

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I chose shòu, which translates as “longevity,” along with a bat symbolizing prosperity and a butterfly symbolizing happiness.

I figured in 20-30 years I ought to be able to appreciate a tattoo that means long life, prosperity, and happiness and I proudly showed it off for many years.

About a decade later, around 28 years old, I was sitting at my desk at my corporate job, and noticed a co-worker staring at my arm with her head kind of half-cocked and a contemplative look on her face.

I typically didn’t allow my tattoo to show at work, choosing instead to wear sleeves that covered my upper arm, but on this particular day it was oh-my-god-kill-me-hot outside and dress code allowed us to wear tank-tops with a 3-finger width sleeve.

She saw me notice her looking at it and asked me, “What does your tattoo mean?”

I panicked. I knew this particular employee fairly well, well enough to know that she was fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

I winced and asked, “You don’t know?” She gave me a sympathetic smile and shook her head.

Uh-oh.

I explained to her that it was supposed to be the character, shòu. She stared at me blankly.

“For longevity?” I clarified, questioningly.

“Oooh!” She said, now understanding and correcting my pronunciation (I’d totally butchered it).

Then she just said, “Huh.”

My heart fluttered then sank. “Is that not what it says!?” I asked her.

“Not exactly,” she said, still trying to be so very polite about it.

Crap. For 10 years I’d been walking around like an idiot with a tattoo on my arm that says who knows what!?

She came over and sat closer to get a better look at it and said, “Okay, I can kind of see it.” It’s not the simplified or common use of shòu, she explained. It’s the traditional or more ancient version and it’s not done exactly right.

“Does it say something else?” I asked fearfully.

“Nope, nothing at all.” She said.

It’s now been 20 years since I had that tattoo done, my arm band of Chinese gibberish.

I don’t hate it exactly. It gives me a funny story to tell and at least it doesn’t say “fart bubble” or something terrible. Or, if it does, my co-worker was much too kind to tell me.

 


Lazy days

As much as I try to provide an enriching environment for my kids, some days just look like this…

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…it’s 2pm, they’re still in their pajamas, and they’ve been playing Minecraft for hours.

#SincereSnapshotSaturday


The First Moments of Motherhood

 

It’s “Sincere Snapshot Saturday” – it’s not really a thing, but it is for me! I’d like to start sharing a picture or few on occasional Saturdays.

But not the filtered, perfectly posed, not really reflective of my life (because as beautiful as my life may be it looks nothing like a Pottery Barn catalog) ones. I’ll be sharing the other ones, the real and honest ones.

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some pics from my very first moments as a mother – I don’t typically share these because it still hurts to look at them, but they also bring me tremendous joy because I am so grateful and honored to have this sweet boy in my life and to know that he has grown into an amazing and wonderful 9 year old who fills in all the color to my world.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new“. ~Rajneesh

 

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Behind-the-Scenes

A friend of mine once confided to me that she’d been intimidated to talk to me at first because I always seemed so put-together. I laughed so hard that I snorted wine through my nose when she admitted this to me – when we first met I was struggling with postpartum anxiety so fierce that some days I’d have a panic attack just walking to the mailbox. I was anything but ‘put together’ but she only saw what I tried to project, an image – a quick snapshot of my life during school drop-off. She wouldn’t have thought that of me if she’d seen the rest.

Highlight reel

When the kids were babies, every year we’d take literally 100s of pictures trying to get just ONE good one to use for the Christmas cards. That one where they were sitting still so the picture wasn’t blurry, looking at the camera so you could see their faces, smiling an authentic happy smile. That one where my thumb wasn’t accidentally in the shot or one that would’ve been perfect if it wasn’t for the cat walking by at exactly the wrong moment. Merry Cat Butt Everyone!! We’d eventually get the shot we were looking for… or one that was at least close enough because we were sick of trying for the perfect one.

But it didn’t take long for us to realize in looking back at pictures, that it’s not that ONE good picture that we enjoyed the most. It’s all the others. It’s the mess ups and goof ups because those, those are the honest ones. Those are the ones where life happened and we remember how it really was because life is never picture-perfect.

We started looking forward to our “blooper reels” and to this day, they are still my favorite.  We have them for nearly every occasion. There are the dozens of pictures that we took on the first day of school trying to get one good one to share on Facebook. There are Easter bloopers and Birthday bloopers and Halloween bloopers.

Yet for every big occasion, every  vacation or special trip, I find myself taking picture after picture still trying to get that good one – the one that I eventually share. And then I find again, as if it should be surprising, that years later that’s not the picture that brings a smile to my face. It’s some other one that will come up briefly on my screen saver, some picture that at the time I determined wasn’t ‘good enough’ or ‘share-worthy,’ that’s the picture that makes my heart lurch when I see it.

It’s funny because I know I’m not the only one who does this – who shares only the ‘perfect’ pictures. We are so very selective about what we put out there for others to see and we portray it as ‘real life’ but it’s not.

I’m inspired to try a new project, a true-to-life photo documentary of sorts sharing the real, nitty gritty, imperfect pictures of my day-to-day life.  Sort of like the ‘honest selfie’ of my life. We’ll call it, “Sincere Snapshot Saturdays.” Because, alliterations are awesome.

But today, in honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s one to start us off – from the very first Holiday blooper reel…

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Merry Cat Butt Everyone!!


Tiggers are made for bouncing

 

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I sat on the crowded bleachers overlooking the floor at our local gymnastics center, leaning forward and cricking my neck so I could keep an eye on my little dude, one of 5 boys in the beginning gymnastics class and one of about 40 kids down on the floor at the time.

I marveled for a moment that we were even there, in such a large place which was completely unfamiliar to him. The concrete building echoed with the noise of so many kids practicing all at once, and although the chaos was organized, it was still busy and loud. At one time it would’ve been overwhelming for him to even be in the building, let alone willingly and happily participating by himself in a class.

He told me the night before how scared he was to go but when the time came and the instructors gathered up their classes he excitedly followed the rest of the boys into the gym, bobbing along with his goofy, enthusiastic bounce-walk.

A preschool teacher once described him as always having a “spring in his step and a song in his heart”. In taekwondo they told him to stand still and stop bouncing. Those are two things that my little guy just doesn’t do.

Twice a week for two years we shuffled off to taekwondo. We thought it would be good for him, help him to focus and burn some energy. And, he wanted to be a ninja.

But his mind was always somewhere else and he rather quickly lost his enthusiasm and got bored with it. Eventually I realized that the only reason we were still going was because I was insisting on it, which seemed silly, especially because I had started to dread going as well.

I had stopped watching him in class at taekwondo.  When I did I felt like I had to explain to other parents about his delayed motor skills and sensory processing challenges that make it hard for him to pay attention and learn and control his body like other kids. Then I would feel guilty for feeling embarrassed and I’d come down hard on myself for it.

Taekwondo felt like trying to contort him into a shape that his soul was never meant to take. Why force my joyful, silly, fun-loving, march-to-his-own-beat, little man to stop bouncing? So instead we decided on gymnastics where we could put a spring-board beneath his feet and see how high he could soar.

Also, he still wants to be a ninja and learn to do back-flips off of walls.

Watching him down on the mat, practicing cartwheels, my heart fluttered with love and pride. Not because he was nailing them but because he wasn’t yet he kept trying, one after another, after another. I was proud of him for being him, for being there, for showing up and for trying even though it was hard. I reveled in his enthusiasm and how incredibly hard he works at even the smallest things that most of us take for granted.

And then he landed one, his face beaming with excitement and accomplishment and l wanted to stand-up and cheer – it was as if he had just stuck a perfect landing in an Olympic moment- because for him, it was that big.

After class he asked me, “Mom, did you see me do that cartwheel!?”

I told him, “I sure did baby, and I loved watching you!”

~“Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs.”

Muchly inspired by this post from the ever-wise Rachel Macy Stafford. ❤

 

 

 


A New Spring

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Winter is definitely a time of hibernation for me. I eat enough to sustain a bear and I don’t want to do anything but curl up under a pile of warm, cozy blankets and sleep and hide away from the cold. It’s an introspective, internal time when being social sometimes feels forced and the world sometimes feels gray and bleak.

In the past I have tried to rouse myself, like the bear, come springtime. To rise up and rejoin the world but regardless of the season I would find myself retreating again. Not just inwards but away from – everything. Far more turtle-like than bear-like really. I would enjoy basking in the sun but was quick to hideaway under my shell at the first sign of danger.

This spring everything feels different. I am acutely aware of the change in the seasons, the longer days, the warmth of the sun, the blooming buds and greening grass. But it’s much, much more than that – I feel an emergent energy – the buzzing of potential. I’m almost giddy with it! I feel connected with the world and straight up drunk on love for it.

Much like the little sprouts determinedly poking through the dirt I feel vulnerable and tender but instead of being wrapped up in fear about all the things that might smash me and stunt my growth, I feel excited for the possibility of what might become of me.

I’ve been fighting for this feeling for awhile now – clawing at it– and inadvertently destroying it at the moment that I was close to achieving it. So I stopped fighting. It looked a little bit like giving up. It felt a bit like it as well. But it wasn’t. It took a long time, a lot of clenching and flinching and reflexive tightening but I finally relaxed into it. And as soon as I did, the very instant that I let go, the feeling of freedom that I had been struggling so hard find, flooded through me.

I feel alive with –confidence. That ever allusive sense of self-confidence which I’ve mistakenly been trying to find from others was a gift that only I could give myself.  There’s a quote that has resonated with me for awhile now, beckoning me to understand it and I’m finally there. I’ve let go of the fear and the doubt and returned to love.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson