Saturday, February 17, 2018

Little Feathers: Just The One Time

Little Feathers: Just The One Time: How did we get here? How did we get to this place of distrust, disrespect and lawlessness? One decision at a time. The one time we decid...

Just The One Time

How did we get here? How did we get to this place of distrust, disrespect and lawlessness?

One decision at a time.

The one time we decided not to let our child face the consequences of a bad decision. Because we wanted to protect them from disappointment or failed dreams. But we knew deep down, even then, that the only failed dreams are ones that don't belong to us anymore because we've sold out.

The one time we decided not to alert the retail clerk to an error in our favor. A little chink in our armor of self respect. But a chink non-the-less.

The one time we decide to jump on the bandwagon of dragging someone down. Anyone. Anywhere. Because mobs are always cool, until they're not.

The one time we get behind the wheel when we know we are impaired. There's just a little ways to go, and a cab would be inconvenient. There can be no finger pointing ever to someone else's bad judgement once we've made that rationalization. The difference between us and them? We arrived safely without killing anyone and they did not.

The one time we let a friend badmouth our spouse without letting them know that is stunningly bad taste. It doesn't have to end the friendship, but we do have to let them know that disrespecting our spouse is not okay. If we can't say it because we fear their reaction, we have made our choice.

The one time we continually watched (oxymoron, I think) a show where the people prove dominance of ideas or popularity by out-screaming each other. The cheapening of dialog starts with not letting someone finish their sentence. (I wish I had a nickle for ever time I've interrupted someone. Then I could send that money to a good cause and resolve, once again, not to do that anymore.) If we don't watch those shows, the money lenders, who are the enablers, will get the message.

The one time we called an elected official a derogatory name. Privately hating them is one thing, and I think we need to do a blood check on the level of hate in our 'stream, but demeaning them because they have a different point of view is another. We can say this is trickle down, starts at the top, etc. But we are not in charge of anyone but ourselves. Are we going to mimic behavior we hate in others?

The one time we fail to stand up for what we know is right, working for change, because we fear what the popular kids think. High school left a mark! Let's erase it. Who cares what someone else does or thinks if we know we need to be/act/talk/argue/ for something? This is opposite, in my opinion, of tearing someone down. It is building up what we know is good and right.

The one time we invented excuses for ourselves because the truth was too embarrassing. Lots of stuff is no one else's business, period. But we don't have to lie. Really. I don't know anyone who hasn't done this. Which is kinda my point.

The one time we let fear stop us. Fear of failure, fear of judgement, fear of losing our stuff. What we need to fear the most is the sellout.

I'm sad that we have come to accept mocking someone for their faith/size/intellect/talent. It's beneath us a nation. As a society. As an individual. I don't want to do it anymore. And since I'm the only one that I'm actually in charge of, I'm wanting to set a goal for myself to do the things I know are right. Just the one time. And the next. But let's start with just the one.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Little Feathers: Turns From The Corner, Lullabies, A Pen, A Paint...

Little Feathers: Turns From The Corner, Lullabies, A Pen, A Paint...: Balance', balance', pique (single), pique (double), prepare and triple (honor demands you try again if you fall out of the first tri...

Turns From The Corner, Lullabies, A Pen, A Paintbrush

Balance', balance', pique (single), pique (double), prepare and triple (honor demands you try again if you fall out of the first triple pirouette, but if you do not pull up sufficiently the second time, you will double the next go round), glissade assemble' derriere (if you eat up enough floor with this, you can add a whole combo to your turn), inside pirouette (single), soutenu. Repeat as many times as you can fit in your diagonal run.

When I think of my teenage self in Miss Van Valey's studio, this is truly my favorite "turns from the corner" sequence. It must have resonated in my bones to be with me 50-some years later. I can hear Mrs. Erhardt playing the modest upright piano in the corner, Miss Van Valey calling out corrections, which were adamant and loud when we missed a position. Never was it an option to finish a pirouette in a questionable position other than the assigned one. I still long for the feeling of exact balance, the string from the crown of my head, a taught helper lifting, lifting, lifting me out the standing hip that can fool one into sinking into the floor, away from the sky that we aspired to inhabit.

I loved to dance. It snuck into my dreams, snuck into my identity. It was ballet only until I went to college. Then I learned that the sky I had longed to inhabit en pointe was open to new, creative, limitless ways to dance.

One day, I traded my dancing for mothering. Another love. Another way to see beyond myself. A gift.  Though there were hard days, tired days, confused days, heartbreaking days, I was a mother to my bones. Maybe my favorite part was singing lullabies, reading to them, praying with them at bedtime.

Another day, in a bid to let the kids grow up to be their own people, I took up a pen. Or, more accurately, a keyboard. I wrote stories. I wrote devotions, and books, and poems and songs and emails and facebook posts and and and and. I was a writer. In my soul. Words made pictures, made conclusions, made unanswerable questions, made me stop stop stop and think.

Last summer, a day came along that put a paintbrush in my hand. At 63, I suddenly saw color and composition as an opportunity to seek that same sky, that rarefied air that called to me as a teen age ballerina. Now I'm painting everything that catches my fancy. I am a baby in the school of art, a novice of the first degree in all things art. But that is not a stumbling block for me, because I have the absolute luxury of learning something new.

I was so blessed that my parents worked hard to give me dance lessons. I was incredibly blessed to mother three of my favorite people. I was blessed to have the time, and support of my husband, and the means to learn to write. And I feel the same now with painting. And I am grateful.

Turns from the corner will inhabit the long-hallowed halls of my memory. Mothering lives on in my heart, long after the children are grown. Writing still calls to me, giving me voice. And painting is an exciting journey into new territory. Hello sky. I see you up there. Waiting.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Little Feathers: Of Garth Brooks, Poets, and Gifts

Little Feathers: Of Garth Brooks, Poets, and Gifts: If you haven't listened to The Gift, you must. Suspend your desire to be sophisticated, suspend your worldly cynicism. Listen to a story...

Of Garth Brooks, Poets, and Gifts

If you haven't listened to The Gift, you must. Suspend your desire to be sophisticated, suspend your worldly cynicism. Listen to a story that is, and is not merely, about a poor girl, a bird, and a gift on Christmas Eve. Because there is so much more to this story.

Now that you've listened, I won't worry about spoiling the ending for you. Because I want to talk about the gift. On first glance (or hearing), the gift is the little bird the girl brought to the manger on Christmas Eve. Garth can make you see the trembling fingers of the sweet one who desires to honor the Christ, but who is intimidated by the offerings of the wealthy. Garth can make you cry (if you are a weeper like me and Jude Law in the Holiday) as he reveals the pure, sweet power of willingness.

Willingness is the loud-striking sound in this soft-hearted song. Because none of us can ever experience the fulfillment of our own gifts without the courage to lay them out there. To open the door where they are kept, confined by the cage of our own device; to lay them next to the riches of other offerings.

Willingness comes with a cost. We have to risk rejection, risk failure, risk everything really. Because the kind of willingness I'm talking about leaves no pretense, no walls of pride to hide behind.
What gifts have we been given that can make life easier, if only for one other person we may never meet?  Sometimes artistic gifts are the ones people think of first. But they are only one kind. There are researchers, engineers, honest and dedicated people in every field who put their souls into the offering of their gifts.

There is a secret hidden in this song, The Gift. For me, in my own mind, I hear the promise of reward for willingness. Not rewards as we may think of them. Not everyone who is willing to give their gifts becomes wealthy or renowned. They don't use the phrase "starving artist" for nothing. And we know even The Bard died penniless. But how much richer is the world for his gifts to us?

If we are the collective-if all creation pulls together in one intertwined river that flows to the sea, then every person who uses their strengths, who is willing to put them out there for the world to see, draws us all forward, upward into the rafters of the ancient church to sing as nightingales. Okay, I'm mixing metaphors all over the place. That's okay. I'm risking it. Hoping you'll listen with open hearts.

My mother first read me these verses by Robert Frost when I was a child. I had no idea at the time what a complex, difficult world this is. I only knew that the cadence, the rhymes, the quiet beauty of the poem spoke to me.

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

After I was grown, I learned that Robert Frost was desperate to find Christmas gifts for his family,
and could not afford them. The sorrow of that now informs the verses for me. I wish he had been paid
for the beauty he gave to the world, and to me. 

I wish the world always rewarded good, always recognized sacrifice, always understood true value.
But even if the world does not, we can. 

Half of the value of a gift is in the giving itself. In the willingness to open the door. And half of the
value is all we will know as the giver. But it is enough. More than enough.  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Little Feathers: The Most Surprising Thing

Little Feathers: The Most Surprising Thing: Everyone I know is looking for freedom. Freedom to be themselves. Freedom to work toward goals formed by hopes and dreams. And freedom from ...