After my two year old son climbs into my husband's lap and plops comfortably in the nook of my husband's elbow, he smiles at me as if there's nothing more in the world he needs - and I'm sure there's nothing more in the world I need. Then he snatches the hat off my husband's head and proceeds to put the rather ill-fitted hat on his own head. He covers his face with the brim and says, "Where'd he go? Kai?" and I almost cry.
Everything about the moment - his small hands on the big hat, his adorable pronunciation, his sense of humor - they all have the power to bring me to my knees. Sometimes I feel like the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes too big. My chest heaves, my breath catches, and a sonic boom of gratitude emanates from my body.
I get this feeling at least once a day. Whether it's from seeing my nine month old daughter's dimples, my son carry his bowl of food to the table using both hands and tiny steps, or my personal favorite - Kai making Naya laugh by doing something silly and then they start laughing at each other laughing. One time, Naya actually fell over she was laughing so hard...and then she kept laughing! By the end, we're all red faced and crying for no reason at all... Did you feel that boom?
Now here's my confession: my son was a total Oops! I freaked out when that plus sign appeared on the stick. I'd never even really held a baby before (I did the whole, sit down and put a pillow in your lap, then gingerly place your arms between the baby and the pillow, thing) yet alone planned on having one...or two. What did I know about raising kids? Nothing. Let me rephrase that: NOTHING!
Suffice to say, "terrified" would have been an understatement. I actually wanted to move back to KY where we could be close to family and friends who knew what to do with these little dream suckers. We'd have been gone if my husband, always the wiser, gentler of the two of us, hadn't calmed me down (not an easy task, I assure you) and convinced me we could do this kid thing.
He was right, as usual. The "dream suckers" turned out to be dream fulfillers and happiness personified. The "kid thing" is really the coolest, most satisfying ride of our lives. And not only can we do this - we can't imagine a day of our lives not wanting to do this.
I tell you all this, not to make you run out and procreate (because to be honest, I'm still very new at this mothering thing and I'm sure I'll have lots of epiphanies, not all of them exploding with gratitude;), merely to illustrate - sometimes life throws you a step you don't know. You'll freak out. You'll stumble. You'll want to move to KY. Stop. Breathe. Most importantly: stay on the floor. That step you feared at first, may turn into your favorite dance!
See you on the hardwood:)
Life has a great sense of humor! Just as I'm becoming immobile, my eight month old daughter is learning to crawl. It's adorable to watch! At this very moment, she can't figure out why the sliding glass door leading to our patio is an obstacle. She's nothing if not persistent as she's repeatedly bumps her head into it - and I am nothing if not amused. Hey, I never said I was a good mom!
Watching her learn to move warms my heart as I'm reminded of new dancers. Wobbly, unsure, excited... a wonderfully dangerous combination. The first time she made it two knees before collapsing. The next day was three. Today I saw her crawl eight knees before falling to her belly once she reached the object of her desire, (what is it about computer chords that make them baby crack?), and I was nearly moved to tears.
It's a milestone when a person learns to move. And when a person finally gives in to their lifelong dream of learning to dance - it's an equally important step. Don't laugh. I'm serious:) Once you learn to dance, you have that gift for the Rest of your Life! If you're serious about training your muscles, you'll remember the steps when you're 80! And you'll be half of the cute, old couple dancing at the wedding that everyone talks about afterward. Who doesn't want to be that?;)
It's not as easy as we think it's going to be. But I guarantee you, it's worth the work. I would caution you not to get so frustrated you cry (Naya). We're all going to step on ourselves, trip, and even fall. It's part of the game. We should be grateful because it's an opportunity to better ourselves. So as Fred and Ginger used to sing, "Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again."
Don't waste time worrying who saw your mistake and what they thought of it. If they're on the dance floor, it's either happened to them already, or is in their immediate future. And when it happens to them, be gracious - share your embarrassing moments so they don't feel so alone.
If you're reading this, you've probably already accepted the wonderful gift of Dance, and my heart sings for you! If you haven't, you know you secretly wish you knew at least one kind of dance. Find a local class or teacher and make the time already! Our time and health are our most valuable assets. So instead of answering the question "What did you do last night?" with some half-hearted TV guide review, why not say, "I went to a Tango class!" I guarantee you won't be sorry you did.
And though my daughter might remind me of you, please don't bang your head into a glass door repeatedly and remind me of her. (Or if you do, call me first so I can come over and laugh at you, too;) At least she's not giving up. Why should you? Fight the good fight! I'll see you on the hardwood. (I have to end with it. Nothing else feels right. Eventually it will be true:)
In and out. Innn and Ouuutt. Innnnnnnn and Ooouuuttt. OK, stop - I'm light headed;) Such a simple task and yet, one we commonly overlook, both in dancing and life. One of my students recently confessed she was waiting until she messed up to breathe. Sounds both painful and unfair, yet sadly, it's our first tendency when we're nervous. I still do it when I dance with people who challenge me. What are we, eight?
Breathing is our most basic human right - why do we take it away from ourselves in situations where it would be most helpful? Besides providing that ever so convenient element, oxygen, breathing relaxes our bodies. When we're relaxed, we make better dancers, better wives, and better mothers (sub husbands and dads OR lovers and friends as you see fit;).
We've all seen the movies where Lamaze is exaggerated for the sake of a few laughs. But it's true, breathing correctly can help you cope with pain (something I need to keep in mind in the immediate future). We're supposed to breathe into our diaphragms and allow our bellies to rise and fall. Now, I recently received a lecture from my chiropractor that basically said since women want to appear thin, we don't allow our bellies to move. Instead, we breathe into our chests. As a tomboy, probably until my dying day, I challenged his theory. Now I challenge you:
Right now, I want you to breathe in and out from your chest three times. Then breathe in and out from your diaphragm, that tiny space between your rib cage and belly, three times. Feels better, right? Now let's go all yoga on ourselves and try to breathe all the way through our bodies to our toes, then release. At this very moment, if you really did that (if you didn't, DO IT) I'll bet money you feel calm... almost surreal. And you're probably breathing more deeply right now without trying.
So why don't we do that all the time? Because our coworkers will think we've lost it! I know. But, we can train ourselves to breathe into our diaphragms without looking too suspicious. Besides feeling better, we'll improve our singing:).
When we breathe deeply, we can handle what life, or leads, throw at us with more grace. If you're a lead reading this, you take the tension out of your body with proper breathing, which makes for a better conversation between you and your follow. Start with exhaling. In moments you tend to tense up, exhale slowly and evenly, and watch the tension melt out of your body, (esp. your traps). Then observe the effect that has on your partner. Aaahhh. Yes, you can say it out loud if you want to.
It's easier said than done, I realize that. But we have to fight the good fight. Start once a day, focusing on your breathing. Then progress to three times a day. Maybe you can breathe before meals. You'll probably eat slower, which most of us would benefit from. Or just breathe before you fall asleep. It should be easy to find times to sneak in this Vital part of our day. Let's not get so distracted we forget;)
Since I won't see you on the hardwood, I need a new sign off. I think, until I'm recovered, I'll go with: fight the good fight. That's sure as hell what I'll try to do:) Join me, won't you?
Don't you love those moments when the perfect song comes on your radio at the precise moment you need to hear it? That happened to me today on my way back from the chiropractor's office. It was my first visit to the chiro, and truth be told - I was apprehensive, if not skeptical. But on my way home, even though I was still in pain, I honestly felt (and I apologize for the cliche) that a weight had been lifted. For the first time in two days (maybe a bit longer) I thought, "I'm going to be OK".
Then I heard the lyrics, "Hold your head up high... I know it's hard...there's always a rainbow after the rain...". Sadly, I don't know the artist or song title (comments here would be appreciated;) but I've heard the song before and never paid attention to the lyrics. Now, here they were, lifting me up just when I needed the push. It was amazing! In that moment, the wind blew through my hair with more vigor, the air felt fresher around me, and my car got better gas mileage. It could happen;)
You may be wondering, why a chiropractor? I thought you hurt your knee? You'd be right. But as it turns out, the left side of my body didn't agree to relentless overtime. There was a riot - leaving me completely incapable of
even the simplest task: standing up straight. Go ahead, let your imagination run wild with the fun I had mothering two small, very wonderful, yet needy, children in that condition. So when I woke today with the same excruciating pain, I decided it was time to seek professional help.
The treatment starts tomorrow, and I have to say (since I'm using cliches) I'm giddy as a school girl! For a wife, not being able to move is inconvenient and unromantic (to say the least). For a mother, it's
extraordinarily daunting. For a dancer... it's torture. My mind has been warring against itself since I hurt my knee last Monday. I try to stay positive, my pain kicks me in the hope gland. I try to test the waters, my incapacity scoffs at the naivety. I try to watch a dance movie, my sorrow darn near overcomes me. (Or maybe it was that it was a really bad dance movie, which is encouraging because I write good dance movies! If bad ones get made - mine's in the bag!;)
I think it's safe to say, I could use a rainbow. Not just any rainbow - I'm requesting one of those gigantic double rainbows! Not because I deserve it. I think, as a society, we've gotten downright insane about what we think we "deserve". I know there are a lot of people out there who have it leagues tougher than me. And I'm not complaining. I have a fabulously capable and generous husband, two outstanding kids, and a budding writing career that has only benefit from my gimp-ness. I merely ask for a double because I like to Go Big, Baby! (And I find them fascinating. How do they even scientifically make sense? And why did we never have those in KY? Are all things cool reserved for high altitude? Again, comment;)
So, if it's been raining on you recently, hold your head up high - even if it's hard - and join me in my rainbow hunt. Heck, I may even let you have the pot of gold. Until then, take a spin around the hardwood for me. And don't worry, I'll be seeing you there soon.
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!