i hope you dance…

Early this morning, 4:30 a.m. to be exact, my husband drove our daughter to the airport for her flight to Toronto at 6:55 a.m. She’s off on a whirlwind tour of job auditions. After a couple of days in Canada, she heads to Chicago for a week of dance classes at a prominent studio where she will also audition for a position with the resident company. From there she heads to Atlanta where she’ll take classes with a company with whom she might want to work.

There’s a sign hanging in our dining room which reads I Hope You Dance. It’s occupied the same space for quite some time. Regardless of the changing decor to suit the seasons, that sign stays put. It reminds me, and my daughter, that as long as she has a passion for her art my husband and I will do everything we can to support her. 

It takes a lot on all our parts for my daughter to realize all she desires with respect to her profession. She must continually hone her talent and skills; and we, her parents, must be willing to pick up the slack financially. As long as she continues to draw the attention of people at the top in dance, we feel she has a shot at doing what she wants, where she wants, for as long as she wants. Because of our faith in her, we’re willing to forgo luxuries for ourselves in order to sustain our daughter’s dream of dancing until her body gives out or her passion for performing wanes.

What greater gift can we give ourselves than to have our daughter push past obstacles time and again to occupy the place God meant her to have on His earth?

Since neither of us was born into the lap of luxury, my being the youngest of 9 and my husband being the eldest of 12, we want for very little as adults. The fact that our daughter blest our marriage after 16 years is a miracle for which we have never ceased being grateful. That we can celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a gift that keeps on giving.

As any parent of an athlete intent upon making his or her sport a lifetime commitment will tell you…it ain’t easy. I talk to myself, a lot. I argue both sides of every issue. Of course I’m always prejudiced in favor of my daughter. What parent isn’t? Nevertheless I also look at the greater picture and I never, ever ignore reality. At the same time, I choose my words carefully so as not to snuff out the flame that burns within my daughter’s heart for what she loves. And I always remember that she’s an adult, almost 28. She must live her own life. If my husband and I support her endeavors it’s a choice we make freely…no strings attached. Ever.

The greatest lesson I learned as a result of both my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s parenting is to never expect anything in return for what I give my daughter freely and willingly.

My mom’s love came with an entire flotilla of spider webs; my mother-in-law’s love welcomed me back time and again like a sparkling, refreshing fountain from which I could drink whenever I thirsted.

My daughter probably saw both tutus (Hawaiian for “grandma”) a little more than a handful of times. Her fondest memories are of my mother-in-law. Of my own mom, my daughter retains sketchy remembrances of a depressed, frustrated old woman.

Because my mom was all I had growing up, my love for her cannot be severed. She and I shared one another’s lives the longest, most of my older brothers and sisters having left home while still young to make their own way in the world. So while I don’t condone how I was raised, I don’t fault my mom for doing what she needed to survive after my dad died. I only knew that my own daughter was going to go her own way with all the love and support I could muster.

And whatever she does with her own life……is for her to keep…or share as she sees fit. Knowing her as well as I do, I’m certain…

…she’ll always share her life and her God-given gifts…without reservation…

………hugmamma.

...one of my favorite shots of my precious daughter...by martin o'connor photography

…one of my favorite shots of my precious daughter…by martin o’connor photography

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nurturing thursdays: to everything there is a season…

…and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3)

 IMG_4102As winter succumbs to the warmth and charm of spring, I find myself reflecting upon life as I move into my sixty-fifth year.

I can’t help thinking…I’m so lucky to be alive…and living my life.

In our daily struggles it’s so easy to complain about everything that isn’t exactly right.

The house is always in need of cleaning and straightening. Especially if you’re a hoarder, albeit an organized one, like me. Is it my fault if I can’t get let go of yesterday’s nostalgia?

I’m constantly adjusting my diet to shrink my belly, and failing more often than I’m succeeding. Let’s see. When was the last time the tape measure read less than 34 inches?

And when did arthritis and fibromyalgia decide to move in permanently?

All my whining dissipates, however, when I glimpse what matters most to me…my husband, my daughter, and the four critters who make their home with us.

Blest I am to have shared my life with others who make me the center of their worlds. While it means juggling a lot of colorful balls in the air at the same time, I’ve had an exciting time of it. It’s as though I ran off to the circus as a youngster and decided that’s where I belonged. And so I stayed.

Life IS exciting. Every day is never quite the same. The smallest of details can tweak our experiences for the better, or leave us completely befuddled. Either way the decision rests in our own very capable hands.

If we’re positive about life, always looking for the silver lining, however slim it might be, our lives will always dwell in sunshine. And in rainy, dreary Seattle, I spend most days churning out my own brand of homegrown sunlight…with a little help from Edison’s invention.

I’m definitely no Pollyana living in a Disney World setting.  My house has remnants of dust leftover from the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s. I might even have bats in my attic, as well as my belfry.

What I know for sure is that if I’m fortunate enough to live another quarter century or more, I’d prefer to wake up every day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. And the only way I know to do that is by deciding that after all is said and done…things are what they are…

…and accepting life as it unfolds in the moment…with no regrets or self-recriminations…

………hugmamma.Venice 2010 00074So…RELAX…BE HAPPY!!!

friday fictioneers: “lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”

Copyright -Sandra Crook

Busing from the airport in Calgary to Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I kept watching for wild animals…like a moose or a grizzly. 

After riding for miles, I spotted something. It was some distance away so I couldn’t quite make it out. It moved, or so I thought. Squinting my eyes as though they were a pair of binoculars, I was sure the animal had lowered its head. 

My imagination was running away with me,while my common sense struggled to get a foothold.

“It’s a lion!” 

As a truck with bales of hay drove by, the light bulb went “click.”

(Note: I rewrote the last two lines to stay within the 100 words AND to lessen the confusion of readers who thought I was drifting outside the parameters of the photo.)  

trickery over artistry…

Scott Hamill is undoubtedly correct in siding with the Olympic judges who awarded the 2014 gold medal to Russian ice skater Adelina Sotnikova. After all, he and they are the experts.

I’m no expert, however I’m entitled to my own opinion. And in my opinion, South Korea’s Yuna Kim was more deserving of the top prize. 

Sotnikova was, without a doubt, the more athletic of the two women. Aesthetics aside, for we all have our own preferences, the Russian competitor seemed to throw in as many jumps as she could muster beyond the two minute mark just to clinch Olympic gold. The beauty of ice skating went by the way side. All I saw were limbs flailing every which way as Sotnikova hurried  from one jump to the next. While I had been striving to apply some meaning to her movements, my efforts came to a sudden standstill when it became obvious that she was skating to beat the clock with all manner of trickery.

Kim, on the other hand, concluded a perfect free skate. Not only that but she was breathtakingly beautiful, exactly what one expects of a champion. She was not playing to the crowd, although she does that unintentionally. I’m certain the viewing audience on hand and at home held a collective breath, expelling it only minutes later in wondrous awe.

Watching the program with my daughter, we couldn’t help comparing the evolution of tricks as a mainstay for ice skaters and ballet dancers alike. The higher the jumps, the better. The more spins, the louder the applause. The standard of excellence has definitely undergone a transformation from the ice skating performances of Peggy Fleming to the current moves performed by Adelina Sotnikova.

In ballet we had Anna Pavlova…

For a very long time Anna believed that her technical proficiency was curtailed by her physical abilities until one of her teachers, Pavel Gerdt, told her, “Let others perform acrobatic tricks. The thing you consider to be a shortage in reality is a rare gift which singles you out from thousands.”

Anna graduated in 1899 at the age of 18, and her graduation performance in Pavel Gerdt’s Les Dryades prétendues (The False Dryads) was so successful that they were allowed to enter the Imperial Ballet Company. Anna Pavlova was accepted as a coryphée – a ballet dancer ranking above a member of the corps de ballet and below a soloist.

In the next several years she performed in such ballets as The Pharaoh’s Daughter, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère (The Temple Dancer) and Giselle. The public at the time was used to academic ballet performances, and Pavlova’s different style which paid little heed to strict academic rules made a splash. She could dance with bent knees, bad turnout, misplaced port de bras and incorrectly placed tours, but her amazing physicality and the spirituality of the characters she created delighted the public and impressed critics.

Currently, ballet schools and companies are placing a great deal of emphasis on tricks. Gelsey Kirkland, an acclaimed ballerina who now coaches touched upon the subject in an interview.

K: Are there any specific areas of technique you like to focus on?
G: The explosion in bravura technique over the past several decades has been fantastic and I would certainly like to learn some of those tricks! But other, more subtle areas of technique have perhaps been neglected. What I try to do is to see where the need is, and one of the needs seems to be in exploring and respecting the boundaries of classical port de bras and explaining it with an artistic perspective. I like to help people find the beauty inside the restrictions.

 
K: Can we talk about the training system in America?
G: I believe the American training in general is not rooted enough in European tradition. There is no national system of training, as in Russia, to prepare people for the great classics. A training system needs to integrate technique, style, mime, acting, character dancing, and historical dance. These things are essential to putting the puzzle together. The focus of today’s ballet training is often primarily athletic. Beautiful port de bras and épaulement however do not appear out of the blue. They need to be built into the training.

(- See more at: http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/September-2005/Gelsey-Kirkland-Speaking-from-the-Heart#sthash.opj9htrA.dpuf)

Athleticism and artistry should be given equal consideration in both ice skating and ballet. To give one more weight over the other is to favor one type of skater or ballerina over another. In sports that set themselves apart from football, basketball, soccer, hockey and the like, there is an expectation of finesse and refinement. More than that, ice skating and ballet at their best should involve the audience in a story. We should journey with the individual from beginning to end, swept along in their own personal adventure of excitement and hope.

I rode the tide of Yuna Kim’s ecstasy basking in the glory that should have been hers. I wasn’t so moved by Adelina Sotnikova who left me flat and wondering.

…there’s truth in beauty…and beauty in truth…

………hugmamma.

write on edge: it takes two to make an accident

Contrary to what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “It takes two to make an accident,” my daughter and her car were fully equipped to make the unfortunate happen without anyone else lifting a hand, or in this case, driving a car.

After a long, arduous day of dance rehearsals, my daughter got together with some friends to unwind from their very physical jobs. Eight hours as a dancer running through choreography time and time again can be wearing on the brain as well as the body. So a glass or two of wine can go a long way in numbing the mind and the muscles.

Unfortunately, alcohol and sleep do not mix well unless you can fall right into your bed.

On the way home from getting together with her friends, my daughter must have nodded off for a few seconds when she was nearing her apartment. Her car slammed into a car parked alongside the right-hand curb. The impact frightened the heck out of her, and brought occupants of the nearby house running to see what caused all the racket.

At 11 p.m. on a quiet, charming, tree-lined street everyone was probably getting ready for bed. Accidents were a rare occurrence. While not overly-wide the roads were a decent size, allowing for parking on either side with ample room for passing cars. It’s more than likely then that my daughter’s running into a parked car was THE event of the month. The neighborhood was probably abuzz with what transpired for some time to come.

From what my daughter told my husband and me hours later, the aftermath of the accident seemed to unfold in slow motion.

The owner of the car hit by my daughter’s car was not even in town. His girlfriend was minding it while he was away. Imagine her hysteria over her boyfriend’s smashed-in automobile? Evidently, her mom had to calm her fears as well as my daughter’s. A huge task for any mother. And one for which I’m still very grateful. I wished I could have been there to offer some comfort as well.

My daughter called 911 to report the accident. More than an hour-and-a-half later, the police arrived. In the interim she had called her boyfriend to keep her company. With feet bare and wearing only a ti shirt, he showed up minutes later and stood with her on the sidewalk in the cold, night air. Had they known how long the police would take to arrive, perhaps the kindly mom would have corralled everyone inside her warm house. Who knows? I can only speculate what I MIGHT have done under similar circumstances.

Because she had just gotten her driver’s license months before, my daughter was obviously devastated. Besides feeling badly for those directly involved, she felt tremendous guilt about having abused our trust in her living on her own 3,000 miles away. Only nineteen at the time, my daughter was striving to live like a grownup. In her estimation, she had failed.

After taking care of the details with the police, our daughter returned to her apartment with her boyfriend. With him by her side, she called us at 2 a.m. Of course, we awoke to the phone ringing with heightened trepidation. All parents fear the worst when their teenagers are not at home, whether they’re in the same city or thousands of miles away. More quiet than normal and with great sadness in her voice, my daughter revealed what had happened.

My daughter has a tendency to judge herself and deliver the verdict before we even know she’s on trial. She’s struggled with this dilemma since she was a child. Perhaps it’s something she has in common with many children who feel their parents are perfect, never committing any crimes themselves. We’ve since set her straight. Nobody’s perfect.

After listening to her, I quietly explained to my daughter that our concern was primarily with her safety and that of others. Our stress level diminished considerably upon learning that she was fine, and that no one else was involved. The insurance would pay for damages to both cars. Shedding a few tears of relief, my daughter handed the phone off to her boyfriend who thanked my husband and me for understanding the situation. He explained that were he the one calling his parents about causing the accident, they might have bawled him out. It made me feel good knowing that I got something right as a parent.

The next day and for several days afterwards, my daughter had to handle all the issues concerning the accident. She had to communicate with the insurance company to have her car towed, to contract for a rental car, to have repairs to the other car paid, and so on. All the while she was trying to heal her psyche of her self-inflicted wounds. It took some time for our reassuring words to settle in permanently. Quite some time.

Experiencing her first accident propelled my daughter forward into becoming an adult. There was no turning back after that. For obvious reasons her boyfriend was able to pick up where they left off before the accident. He demanded her undivided attention once he felt she’d had sufficient time to brood about what had happened. Unable to give herself entirely over to his needs, my daughter began to realize that she could no longer give herself over to partying like a teen any longer. The accident was her rite of passage.

Now 27, my daughter has weathered other life-altering experiences, some good, some not-so-good. With each she’s grown in her personal and professional life. All the while I’ve looked on with more than a little interest as her doting mom. And as such, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself, and about parenting a child.

It doesn’t always “take two to make an accident,” but it does take two to forge a great relationship. Parenting my daughter has taught me the fine art of stepping back so that she can… 

…own her own life…

………hugmamma.IMG_4744

(I had written this as an entry for write on edge, but unfortunately missed the deadline by one day. I thought you might still enjoy reading it.)

can never have enough moms…

My daughter recently traveled to Germany for a job audition. While she wasn’t hired, the experience was more exciting than she had imagined it would be.IMG_0056

Her first trip alone to Europe came with a little anxiety…on my part, not my daughter’s. She’s crisscrossed this country more times than I can remember during the eleven years she’s lived on her own. Not only does she dance professionally, it seems she’s become a career traveler as well.

As a Valentine’s Day gift I decided to invest in the services of a tour guide for my daughter. Upon the recommendation of travel guru Rick Steves, I emailed Doris Ritter.

Being a mom herself, Doris graciously accommodated me and my endless questions. Most of them to do with whether or not American credit cards were accepted in German ATM machines.

A couple of weeks before my daughter’s trip, my husband suggested we get her traveler’s checks. “Traveler’s checks?” I asked. “Are they still being used?” And “Who sells them these days?” Without batting an eyelid, he replied that, of course, travelers checks were still sold and used. Not easily satisfied with his mater-of-fact response, I continued badgering him about the existence of traveler’s checks. Without any evidence to the contrary, I decided I’d better call in the “big guns”…AAA Travel Services.

Upon calling the local AAA office, the nice, young woman informed me that they’d not been selling traveler’s checks for some time. She went on to say that they substituted a travel card which our daughter could use like a debit card. The benefit of using this and not her bank card was that in the event she lost the travel card, her bank accounts would not be compromised. The thief would only be able to access the money we put on the card. There was a nominal fee of $4 for the first card, and another $1 for a second card. In case she lost the first, our daughter could still withdraw funds after reporting the first one stolen.

You might be asking “What’s the concern with using American credit cards abroad?”

It seems European credit cards no longer have magnetic strips; instead they have chips. Because of that our cards cannot be used in their machines. So if a train station is only equipped with machines, you might not be able to purchase a ticket. And you could only get cash from a bank, not an ATM machine. Our concern was that our daughter would be in a bind if she had an emergency and required more euros than was wise for her to carry on her person.

These are things only mothers worry about. Or is it just me? 

As it turned out, Doris Ritter cared for my daughter as though she were family. Or at the very least, a good girlfriend. Either way, I was delighted they enjoyed one another’s company, in addition to which my daughter got an insider’s view of Nuremberg where she spent a few days. From there she took a train to Augsburg and visited a friend with whom she had danced in the U.S years before.

Doris and I have exchanged emails since my daughter returned home. Having children in common makes moms the world over friends, even sisters. We all have one wish in common…the desire that our children be happy and safe. 

Hugs, Doris…for nurturing my daughter’s love of Germany, and her desire to explore other countries…

…and for putting this mom’s anxieties to rest…

………hugmamma.DSCN0648_Kopie (1)

friday fictioneers: catching jimmy

Copyright - David Stewart

I love playing tag with the boys on the playground. I can outrun most of them.

I like catching Jimmy. He’s cute. I’ve got a crush on him. I think he likes me, but I’m not sure. He seems to like the girly girls. Yuck! They’re always batting their eyelids, and fixing their hair, and smoothing their dresses. Why can’t he see that I’m prettier, and faster than all of them put together? 

Oh, well. I like chasing the other guys around too. Jimmy can wait. I’m having too much fun.

Heck! That dumb bell’s ringing. Recess is over.

“Coming!!!”

weekly writing challenge: my funny valentine

IMG_4789Mocha delights our family so much. We all agree she’s “our funny valentine.”  We’re certain she doesn’t intend to make us laugh with her comedic antics, but she does.  We never know what to expect from her, although she has her own idiosyncrasies which we find adorable.

For starters, Mocha’s ears have teeny minds of their own. One stands straight up; the other folds in half. It perks up only if Mocha needs both ears to hear something unusual. Otherwise it prefers lying down on the job.

The beagle in Mocha gives her that gleam in her eyes. When she thinks she’s done something wrong, she’ll look up with the whites of her eyes showing slightly under her brown pupils. It’s a sad, worrisome look as if to say “How can you scold me, when I’m so sad-looking?” Or sometimes that same look can seem defiant. It’s as if Mocha is thinking “I’m not so sure about you. Sometimes I think you lie.” Or “I don’t trust you. What are you up to now?”IMG_0762

Our Mocha is camera shy, especially if a flash goes off. She’s gotten use to having her picture taken with a cell phone. However any time I whip out my point and shoot, Mocha runs for cover.

 

Mocha grumbling is like music to our ears. She grumbles when we hug one another without including her. So we have to make sure to give her lots of hugs and attention too. She grumbles when we’re too slow getting our act together to take her outdoors. She grumbles when one of her feline siblings gets in her way. It doesn’t happen with regularity, but when Mocha grumbles we have a good belly laugh.IMG_2005

Barking is Mocha’s neighborhood trademark. She’s gotten better about it as she’s gotten older. However she still lets two-legged and four-legged critters know that they’re taking their lives into their hands and paws when they trespass upon her land. And she makes sure she marks every blade of grass when she’s out surveying her acreage.

 

Ever since she was a puppy, Mocha has kept us on our toes as regards what she will and will not, eat. We’ve tried every kibble and canned food known to man. I jest, of course. But it’s been a trick getting her to where she’s at 12 years later.

Mocha’s taste resembles that of a human, so we feed her dog food that we could eat were a catastrophic event to occur. I’d still probably have to hold my nose, and perhaps even close my eyes.

The temperature of the food has to be just right. So when we nuke leftover food, we have to check on it every half-minute or so. Adding kibble is also a guessing game. Sometimes we mix it into the wet food; sometimes it sits on top. Most times Mocha doesn’t care which it is. Other times, she’ll shove all the kibble to the edge and leave it there. Once-in-awhile, she’ll attempt to bury her food by using her nose to nudge the place mat over the plate. We’ve taken that to mean she’s not hungry at the moment, but it’s off-limits to the cats. And though she may walk away, Mocha’s back grumbling as soon as any of them happen to wander by her dinner.

Recently we learned that our beloved Mocha’s heart has a leaky valve. As a result, there’s fluid buildup. To counteract this, she gets a diuretic twice a day. And upon the recommendation of a cardiologist, she gets a “horse pill” twice a day. It’s not actually for horses, but I swear only a horse could get that sucker down its throat! Mocha needs half a pill two times a day, 12 hours apart. Getting her to take one dose can take up to 12 hours!

Most animals won’t be duped into taking their meds no matter how creative we get. Forget Mary Poppins’ supercalifragilistic mumbo-jumbo. Hiding Mocha’s pill in cheese no longer works, even when she gets an extra chunk. Now I’m crushing the horsey heart pill with my beautiful Portmeiron pestle in its matching mortar bowl. Its probably getting more use than it’s ever seen. An upside in this otherwise laughable predicament.

Where before things were a little touch-and-go with our beloved Mocha, now she seems a fraction of her former self. And that’s enough for our family. We’re not about to give up on our Mocha any time soon. After all…

…mocha’s  still our funny valentine…and we love her…to the moon and back!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_2080

friday fictioneers: history rewritten…

Copyright - Janet Webb

For her, I’d give up everything. If I could  magically wish away my reality, I would.

When I’m holding her, we’re like a smoldering flame melting into one another.

Her laughter, like a child’s. She makes me feel like a boy again. A naughty boy.

She’s unlike any woman I’ve ever known. I know my parents wouldn’t approve, although dad would love a roll in the hay with Marilyn.

God! How I hate that man! I’d walk out on him and everybody else if I could.

Dear Caroline and John,

Forgive me. I can’t help myself.

All my love,

Daddy

michelle…my belle…

Remember those words? 

Fifty years ago today, 4 Brits took the world by storm making their own brand of music.

Dressed in black suits like upstanding young citizens, Paul McCartney and his fellow Beatles John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison crooned their way into our lives and…into our hearts.IMG_2635

For Baby Boomers like me, remembering the Beatles is akin to looking back with nostalgia over the course of our own lives.

Where were you when?

Ed Sullivan hosted the Fab Four on his show.

The Beatles and Elvis jammed in his Belair, California home.

Paul’s beloved first wife, Linda Eastman, died.

John and Yoko Ono staged a love-in, refusing to get out of bed for days.

The Beatles fell out of love with one another, and went their separate ways.

December 8, 2011, the night when Mark Lindsay Chapman shot and killed John Lennon.

What made the Beatles special?

Their hunky, good looks.

Their moppy, long hair.

Music and lyrics that touched us to our core.

Their lack of artifice. They were just beatles, after all. Bugs, really. Not kings or princes-in-waiting. Just ordinary blokes.

And they paid their dues…playing in joints all over Liverpool. IMG_2548

We’re lucky that Paul and Ringo are still with us to carry on in the Beatle’s tradition. Together with a rich archive of their songs, the four mop heads from England will live on…

 

friday fictioneers: cinderella’s glass slipper

Copyright - Dawn M. Miller

As I was growing up, our small, $26 a month rental was jam-packed with mis-matched, second-hand furnishings.

On Saturdays, I was Cinderella.

Dusting, polishing, and rearranging others’ cast offs very likely contributed to my love of vintage items.

However it wasn’t until my husband and I moved to New York’s Long Island in the 70s, that I realized my passion for antiques. It was probably triggered by our first major auction purchase, a massive, oak roll top desk.

Now a dinosaur, the roll top reminds us of the loving craftsmanship  rarely seen nowadays.

Builds character. Saves the earth.

Poverty’s silver lining…old stuff. 

IMG_4431