nurturing thursdays: there’s life…and then there’s…life!

I’m sure many of you are aware of the catastrophic mudslide that has occurred in our state of Washington. When all is said and done, more than one hundred lives are certain to be lost.

Meanwhile, recent news has also covered the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian airliner with more than two hundred passengers on board.

What these two events have in common is the horrific effect upon those whose loved ones are gone forever, and the untimely manner in which their deaths have occurred. 

All of us are in the midst of personal turmoil. No one is exempt from the daily push and pull of life. There’s no permanent state of emotional and physical well-being. Maintaining a balance takes continuing energy and effort.

My daughter’s ongoing hunt for a new job in contemporary dance is our family’s focus at the moment. Of course we go about the business of daily living, but my thoughts are never far from her happiness.

I’m no different from other parents who want the best for their children. It’s often the case that we will forgo our own wants and needs, if only theirs would be fulfilled. 

Stepping back from the edge of my life…I see that others no longer have their loved ones with them. An unimaginable thought…to be without those who give me love and support all the days of my life. 

Without our loved ones…where are we? Picking up the pieces of our shattered lives. Which is exactly what the families of both catastrophes are attempting to do with all the courage they can muster.

Then there’s my brother’s family who is bracing themselves for what seems inevitable. With hospice on the scene it’s almost certain that God will be calling a beloved son home. 

Lives lost effects permanent change. Something to ponder when dealing with changes to the backdrop against which we all live our lives. Somehow the difference brings life into perspective.

My loved ones are still with me…

…thank you, God.

Misc July 2010 00038

…except for mom…my beloved mother-in-law…keeping watch from above…

 

………hugmamma.

 

Advertisements

friday fictioneers: “oh what a tangled web we weave…”

Copyright-John Nixon

Life has become a tangled mess of lamenting.

What coulda, shoulda, woulda…but won’t.

There’ll be no coming together on this.

Dad favors my dating Albert, his financial advisor’s son. I’ll be set for life, according to what I hear when mingling with the jet setters at the country club.

Then there’s mom who’s always pushing Bradford at me. “He’s so good to his mother and his sisters. He’ll treat you like a queen. He already worships the ground you walk on.” Yada, yada, yada.

There’ll never be a good time to break the news.

“Mom and Dad.This is Sheila…my wife.”

nurturing thursdays: quality time…lasts forever

It’s nice being a normal family once again, doing simple things together. 

My husband and daughter are having a rare father-daughter day. They visited the Motor Vehicle Licensing department to switch her driver’s license over to Washington State. Upon entering, they were pleasantly surprised to find they were the only customers. When asked how they could be helped, my husband replied that this was the first time he’d ever seen a government licensing department empty, especially at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The ladies behind the counter chuckled.

Expecting to wait an inordinate amount of time, my husband and daughter found themselves with hours to kill before seeing our tax accountant. Without me offering a myriad of suggestions, they opted to have a nice breakfast nearer the accountant’s office. That ate up an hour. When I called to see how they were doing, they had another couple of hours to waste. They spent it walking around the few small shops in the area. Since both had their Nooks, they figured they’d read or play games to while away the remaining time.

Our family is fortunate to spend so much quality time with one another. It’s been the driving force in our lives. Or I should say…in my life.

Not having had a father, and having to share my mom’s attention with so many siblings while she was our sole breadwinner, meant I clung to whatever thread of stability I could find.

Children crave stability. Without it, they flounder as adults.

With my husband and daughter, I found the home I’d been without for so long. Happily, we will always love and support one another through all the changes life still has in store for us.

Last night I learned from an older brother that our eldest brother is dying. 

I remember Stanley as being shy and gentle, with a nice laugh, and a tall, lanky frame. From what I can recall, he never lacked for female companionship. I think he had 3 wives and just as many children. I can’t be sure because I rarely saw him or them. Sadly, we were worlds apart as to…where we lived…and our life experiences. Bridging the gap never seemed a possibility because he was such a loner.

Nonetheless, I will always remember my brother affectionately for trying to help mend a broken bridge between another sibling and myself. The moment was awkward and she never took up the challenge to right things between us. Being the youngest, and unable to drum up the courage to speak of the past hurt, I clung to my husband seated beside me and kept my head lowered until the moment past. 

Broken families beget broken people who find better lives for themselves…

…and never look back with regret or remorse or bitterness…

……….hugmamma.IMG_1997

…if dogs could talk…

…mine would say “Couldn’t you tell I was in pain? You dummy you!”

Nashville 09-2010 00116About the time Mocha was diagnosed as having a leaky heart valve which causes fluid to accumulate, she seemed to go downhill rather quickly. She’d get out of her bed and plop down on the floor. A little later she’d get up and amble a short distance and…plop! She continued this pattern for days.

The vet had advised that Mocha rest as the spirit moved her. The way she behaved, it seemed her spirit wanted permanent bed rest. And every so often the thought of “putting her down” crawled through my mind. I hated to see her suffer so.

Mocha’s appetite never waned. And when she was outdoors, she seemed her old self.

As the days passed, her body seemed to shrink and lean to one side. She walked around looking lopsided. Her tail wagged less.

When Mocha started looking up at me with a very cynical stare…moreso than usual…I thought she’d had a stroke. She wouldn’t lift her chin, just her eyes. It was as though she was casting an evil eye on me. Spooky. After a couple of weeks, her neck seemed to disappear as she hunched her back.Imported Photos 00004

Dr. Mom’s diagnosis? Old age and arthritis, along with heart disease.

“Poor, poor Mocha” I thought. As I stroked the length of her body, I’d murmur softly . “I know how you feel. I have arthritis. It’s no fun getting old. You’ll be alright. It’s okay. I love you.” The whole while she was probably thinking “You’re making it worse. Don’t touch me.”

I finally decided to get a second opinion, the vet’s, wondering if the end was in sight for my beloved, old pooch.

The assistant asked preliminary questions, all the while observing Mocha who paced, sometimes in circles, head cocked to one side. When the young woman asked if my dog was in pain, my eyes widened. Pain? That never even crossed my mind, especially since she never yelped when I held her, stroked her, walked her.

I hung onto the possibility that pain was indeed the culprit, as the assistant went to fetch the vet. “Mocha’s not dying! She’s just in pain.” Words that kept playing over and over in my brain.  I shivered at the thought that I had contemplated ending her life. OMG.

Lo and behold. The vet diagnosed Mocha as suffering extreme discomfort because of pain in her neck region. Evidently unlike people, dogs can’t turn their bodies to look from side to side. They’re kind of stuck if their necks are immobile. Worse, the sciatic nerve can also be affected, causing added pain.

Oye vay!!! It was like a wall of bricks fell on top of me. Pain, not heart disease was the reason for Mocha’s strange behavior.

If you’re like me, you bypass common sense and go straight to…worse case scenario!

A steroid shot and pain meds, and Mocha’s her old self again. Just old…not decrepit and on death’s doorstep. Thankfully, she has no memory of my idiocy…

…now that she’s back to taking long walks…and getting her treats for going poopy…

………hugmamma.February 2011 00040

friday fictioneers: …finding home…

AdamIckes-boardwalk

I’m taking a different path, and not settling.

It’s risky. I’ve bills to pay, a place to rent.

A friend once said “If you love where you are, you’ll find a job that you like. If you take a job and don’t like where it is, you’ll always struggle to make it work.”

Dancing is my passion. Happiness is my home.

Both are possible.

It’s mine if I remain true to what I want. 

There. Ahead. My oasis.

Home. 

I dance. I thrive.

...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

weekly photo challenge: perspective…

City View. That’s what the ad said for this Waikiki condo. More like a View of the parking lot. Don’t you think?IMG_4456

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romantic seating for two. Or standing room only???IMG_4457

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A scenic view. More like a Value-less view.IMG_4459

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The owner of this Waikiki condo was excited for me to be the first to review it after my family’s visit of several days. I didn’t have the heart to give her my honest opinion.

…she had her perspective…i had mine…

………hugmamma.

it’s sunny where i am…not!

(Written yesterday. Today…the sun is smiling…its glorious teeth shining brightly. Hooray!)

It’s “raining cats and dogs” where I am…in Seattle. Duh. No surprise!IMG_5213

What I wasn’t prepared for is having to bail myself out of rain water every hour on the hour. Somebody didn’t want new gutters installed…back when hubby suggested it. I can remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.

Hubby: “I’m going to change out the old gutters for the ones that prevent pine needles from collecting.”

Me: “How much will it cost?”

Hubby: “$2,000.”

Me: “Are you crazy!!! Let me think about it and do a little more research.”

Twelve years later I’ve no one else to blame but myself for the puddle I’m in.

A portion of the gutter pulled away from the eave of the roof due to the constant pressure of pine needles that formed a dam every fall. Being low maintenance folks…meaning maintenance was low on the list of things we liked to do…sometimes the needles were cleaned out, sometimes they weren’t…until the rains came and forced us into action.

Smart hubby. He left on a business trip just as the rain began falling. And I’m positive he’ll be home AFTER the rain’s gone. That’s just how these things work out.

It’s like the time he left on a business trip while we were living in Redding, Connecticut. It was the dead of winter. Snow piled high on the ground. The heavens opened up and dumped buckets of rain without letup. The field stone basement of our 100 year-old Victorian farmhouse flooded. The old sump pump installed by the previous owners was too small to drain all the water. Guess who was bailing water out in the middle of the night, while cursing out her young husband? You got it! Moi!

With my husband’s tall rubber boots just skirting the hem of my nightgown, I sloshed around in the water, bucket in hand. I had thrown back the wooden basement doors leading to the outside, and proceeded to fill bucket after bucket of accumulated water tossing it out the open doors. Of course it was a totally nonsensical solution to the problem since the water dribbled back down the steps as quickly as I was getting rid of it. Or trying to, anyway. To make matters worse, the water probably melted the snow just outside, adding more water to the knee deep reservoir in which I was wading. Thankfully, my toddler lay fast asleep in her cozy bed a couple of floors above . She never awoke to the mayhem beneath.

Since we’d not resided there very long, I had no one to call except our realtor. If I recall she sent her husband over. That was the good news. The bad news was that he couldn’t do anything. He suggested I call the fire department to have them come out with their long hose to suck out all the water. Their response was “no” because they didn’t want the hose to get damaged by any grit that would likely get sucked up as well. 

More than twenty years later, I have no recollection how I resolved the dilemma. It might be that my husband returned home in time to take charge. I do know that we updated our sump pump so that it would activate quickly and drain the water away from the house. When we purchased the house we were aware there might be flooding, but we had no idea we would need Noah’s Ark.

IMG_4438In my present situation, the water dripping from the broken gutter is saturating the ground in back of the house which, in turn, is soaking through the carpet in our downstairs family room. Luckily I’ve been able to vacuum out the water with our rug shampooer.

In order to capture as much of the overflow as possible, my husband had strategically placed a couple of barrels beneath the broken gutter. One of them is smaller and rolls on wheels. The other is larger and with water filling it to the brim, I would break my back trying to lug it to the edge of the deck where I then upend it to spill the contents along the path leading away from the house. So smart me…I use a pot to bail water from the large barrel into the smaller one. Once it’s filled, I drag it a few steps before carefully turning it on its side. It must sound like a tsunami every time the water splashes out over the garden with a thunderous CRASH!!! Especially at 11 p.m. when the neighborhood is beginning to slumber.

CRASH!!!

While I’m getting too old for this, I tell myself these ordeals make me a survivor. I can take care of myself when I’ve no man to come to this damsel in distress. A good legacy to leave to my daughter…

A woman CAN empower herself…

and

DON’T skimp on home maintenance.

…unless she wants to bail herself out of her own puddles…

………hugmamma.IMG_1545

 

…dancing acrobats…

Had a nice conversation with my daughter yesterday. We covered a lot of territory.

A niece on my husband’s side attends college and works part-time in Chicago. She and her cousin, my daughter, met for brunch, catching up on one another’s life. A little later, my daughter met a dancer friend who just recently moved to the Windy City to be with her boyfriend.

The young lady didn’t decide to audition for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago until the last minute. At first she had difficulty with the online pre-registration. When she finally figured it out, the online registration had closed. She was instructed to call a number and was told she could show up and register in person at 8 a.m., an hour-and-a-half before the first group of 50 was to take class. Upon showing up, my daughter’s friend grew nervous as she watched dancers arriving for their scheduled audition times. Deciding she’d made a mistake to wait until the last minute, she fled never to return. Smart move.

My daughter and I agreed that auditions are not to be taken lightly. Dancers must be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to compete. It’s even more imperative when the company is one of the top choices for hundreds of dancers looking to be hired.

During our conversation, I learned why it was my daughter was one of the thirty dancers cut after the first few seconds of the choreography portion of the audition. She couldn’t hold a handstand quite as long, and comfortably, as those who weren’t cut.

Imagine that! Dancers are now required to include acrobatics in their bag of tricks. Not something my daughter learned to perfect in ballet.

Today’s choreographers are probably incorporating such moves as are found in Cirque du Soleil and street dancing, to “push the envelope” and to thrill audiences.  

Times-they-are-a-changing. And how! Like it or not…we’ve got to adjust…or wither on the vine and die.

I’m no quitter; neither is my daughter. Especially since life offers so much more than we could ever possibly sample. So while it might be trite, it’s nonetheless true…

…when one door closes…another door opens…

………hugmamma.

Nurturing Thursday 35

Exactly what my daughter is striving to do this very moment.
………hugmamma.

Tao of Scrumble

20140227-144404.jpg

The ‘artwork’ in the picture above isn’t ‘perfect’.

It isn’t meant to be, that’s the point.

This is a page from my first Art Journal, recently started in an old sketchbook, the first one that came to hand. I’ve no idea whether I’m doing it ‘properly’, and I’ve no particular theme in mind. It’s simply a device to unlock my creative flow, so it has to be spontaneous ~ unplanned and messy.

I can’t remember where I found the quote ~ probably somewhere on Facebook. (My news feed is mostly inspirational updates from the pages I follow.) It resonated with me and at the time I had no intention of ever making it public, so I scribbled down the words and doodled the flowers around them without censure.

This morning, seeking inspiration for my Nurturing Thursday contribution, I flicked through my journal, (which didn’t take long as I haven’t actually…

View original post 172 more words

nurturing thursdays: …of caterpillars…and butterflies…

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,

it turned into a beautiful butterfly.

Can life get any better than that?January 2011 00049

Two auditions down, one left to do.

While awaiting news of her Toronto audition for Ballet BC, my daughter did Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s audition yesterday. While she made the first cut, one of forty dancers down from the 250 or so vying for one or two positions in the main company and another couple in the second company, she did not make the second cut which shaved the numbers by 30 dancers. Wanting to share the disappointing results, she called me as soon as she exited the studio.

I detected neither devastation nor ecstasy in the tone of her voice. She sounded chipper. I was hopeful, until she gave me the bad news. Except for her words, I didn’t pick up on any major catastrophe. Just the slightest trace of sadness. After all this was her dream company.

On her way to catch a subway back to her hotel, she seemed slightly out of breath as she explained the outcome.

My daughter felt okay at having lost out to phenomenal dancers. She mentioned a couple of the women, one already with Hubbard Street 2, and the other, a 31-year-old who’d danced with Milwaukee Ballet since she was 17. I’d seen the second one a couple of summers ago when she and my daughter danced with Textures Contemporary Ballet. The woman was amazing. And according to my daughter, the Hubbard 2 dancer “moved beautifully” as well.

As with any job interview, dance auditions are a roller coaster ride. Only the hardy get off in one piece, prepared to do it all over again. And that’s my daughter, ready to continue on with the ride of her life. One I would’ve ditched years ago. In fact, roller coaster rides lost their appeal for me after I did a handful of them way back in the day. Besides scaring the bejesus out of me, they made me nauseous.

It takes a certain mindset to survive roller coaster rides…the man-made ones and the ones manifested in our everyday lives. To survive we must establish coping mechanisms…give in or zone out. Either way we have to let ourselves…go with the flow. 

On the subway ride, my daughter sat with another dancer who’d been cut from the audition. Both traded stories of where they’d been auditioning, and what they planned to do in the aftermath of this failed venture. It seemed the young woman was more despondent about her prospects. 

One of the beauties of dancers is how they support one another in good times and bad. They realize they’re all in the “same boat.” They cheer when others break through and live their dream. They empathize when others don’t make the cut. They support one another in their job searches, often suggesting companies they should try.Nashville 09-2010 00036

We continued our conversation once my daughter was in her hotel lobby. We talked of her upcoming four days in Atlanta where she’ll be auditioning during company classes. Always the preferable way to have the director see her among his own dancers, rather than one of fifty in so-called “cattle calls.” Having trained and apprenticed with the company might also work in my daughter’s favor. I say might because six years have passed and there are lots of “other fish in the sea” who might be equally as good or better, as we’ve learned from previous auditions. There’s no guaranteeing who will succeed in being hired to fill the one or two openings available.

The other thing to consider is that unionized dance companies, Atlanta’s being one, must hold auditions even if they don’t have jobs to offer. I’m not sure what the rationale is for this rule. So even after dancers dole out money for head shots, airfare, accommodations, and registration fee…yes, they have to pay to audition…chances are the entire affair was a ruse. As a veteran of the business, my daughter only does auditions where jobs are available. She learns of them through her network of friends or is astute at seeking out companies with openings online.

Auditions are an excellent way for dancers to critique themselves. They see where they stand among their competitors. They learn what specific things they need to improve, perhaps to master, to better their chances of being hired. They can gauge first-hand what companies are seeking in prospective members. 

On a personal level, auditions can be healthy doses of reality. Dancers learn if they’re made for a career that can be very fickle…at times based more upon subjective, not objective, criteria. Appearance matters, whether in the dancer’s look or the lines she creates while moving through the choreography. Directors know in their heads what they’re looking for. Too bad dancers can’t get inside those heads. It might be a lot easier to decide whether or not to even go through the motions.

I’ve been enamored of dance all my life. Growing up I just moved to whatever music was playing on the radio or TV. Except for the requisite hula classes…I’m Hawaiian, after all…I taught myself, and others, to do the popular stuff…the mashed potatoes, the twist, the jerk, the continental. An older sister used me to practice the cha-cha and the swing.IMG_4657

Ballet and I would never have seen eye-to-eye. I’m not one for standing still and moving my limbs. Not when I have no control over my body once the music begins. It grabs hold of me and throws me around like an out-of-control, deliriously excited rag doll.

My daughter is beginning to learn some of why dance appeals to me. Having decided to go more contemporary, she’s learning to take ballet to a new place. Allowing the body to sculpt the movement, rather than confining it within specific structures. Marrying both concepts creates beautiful movement, not unlike ballet in its finished form…on stage.

No matter the form it takes, dance is like magic effortlessly performed.

…like a butterfly…freed of its cocoon…

………hugmamma.Andrea's Portland Pictures 2008 006

friday fictioneers:…trespassers, beware!

Copyright - Danny Bowman

Madame Pele is said to make Kilauea Iki her home.

So when you walk this terrain, know that you are trespassing upon sacred land.

All may seem quiet, but just beneath the surface she rumbles and groans her displeasure at being contained. 

Hawaiians know better than to disregard Pele’s ferocity.

Her anger can quickly explode into fiery bursts of magma which kills all in its path.

If you let it, the stillness will lull you into daydreaming.

Beware.

The goddess of fire surrounds you.

You trespass at your own risk.

I’ve been there.

There I remain.

One with my ancestors.    

…the person…not the label…

IMG_5221While my daughter’s away auditioning for a job with a contemporary dance company, I’m keeping busy putting Christmas away. Yes. Shame on me. It’s March and the ornaments, trees, tinsel, and holiday vintage collections are only now finding their way back into our garage. It usually takes a week or so to get them all up in the first place, so I’m in no hurry to reverse the whole process. And thankfully, my family is fine with the holidays lasting until spring. Then again…they’ve got no choice.

So as I’m organizing my house for the new season, I’ve a lot of time to think about my daughter’s work status which, for the moment, is in a holding pattern. Although not really since she’s a busy, little bee looking to join a new hive, so to speak.

What continually springs to mind is my daughter’s beautiful face, and with that, her great personality. They shine through despite the fact that she’s not yet landed her dream job with a contemporary dance company.

My daughter would’ve loved dancing with Staatstheatre Nurenberg Ballet in Germany. She found the movement quality and the director equally amazing. It seems Goyo Montero would himself demonstrate the choreography if he felt it would help the dancers. At an age when most directors would have stopped dancing, evidently he could still master the moves. That’ll get my daughter’s automatic respect every time.

Although she didn’t get the job, out of 94 from around the world who were invited to audition, my daughter survived the first cut as one of 12 who went on to the final round. Of those only 2 were kept. Since the director was looking for soloists, he was obviously scrutinizing every little detail with regard to their appearance, technique, and performance. That my daughter got as far as she did is a testament to her talent. The competition for jobs in Europe is even stiffer than here in America. 

Last summer my daughter auditioned in NYC for a premier Chicago contemporary dance company. Of the 300 dancers, she was one of 2 remaining. Because auditions had taken place elsewhere in the country, there were a few others being considered for the job as well. A couple of weeks later the director called to say my daughter had not gotten the spot, but that she should try again in the future. And so she’s currently in Chicago taking classes at the company’s studio, gearing up for the audition on Saturday with a call-back on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a job with a Canadian company is also on the back-burner. Its director promised to notify those in whom she expressed an interest at the Toronto audition last week. My daughter’s “holding her breath” for that one, even as she’s moving on to the next possibility. 

Of course as her parent, I would give anything for my daughter to achieve her heart’s desire. That’s every parent’s wish. And yet what I’ve learned from this whole process is that I will love her no matter the outcome. 

It’s difficult, I think, to separate the person from whatever labels we’ve assigned them throughout the course of their lives. My daughter was a ballerina, but chose to leave that position for another more personally satisfying dance job. Yet whatever it is she does, she will remain exactly who she is. And I really like who she is.

Ours is a society which labels people. We’re either upper, middle, or lower class. We’re either rich or poor. We’re either educated or illiterate. We’re either Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. We’re either Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or middle-eastern. We’re either northerners or southerners. We believe in God or we’re atheists. We’re either “in” or we’re “out.” We’re either employed or unemployed. Even housewives like me insist upon the fact that we’re earning our keep.

Parents can get caught up in society’s labeling game so that if our children don’t “make the grade,” somehow that’s a bad reflection upon us. Against our better judgment we tend to turn against our own, siding with society’s expectations. Until we come to our senses, our offspring are emotionally set adrift to figure life out for themselves. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Some children who can’t make it on their own for whatever reason, decide to avenge themselves against the society that labeled them as outcasts. I’m certain I needn’t remind you about all the recent shootings.

Accepting our children for who they are and not what they achieve or don’t achieve in life is often difficult. But it surely makes no sense to turn against them because others do. Who are these other people that come between you and your own? Complete strangers when you come right down to it. And if they’re so-called friends, then it’s best to get new friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies? And even if they’re family…

…i’d do what i feel is best for my own child…

………hugmamma.

Hopes, dreams and byways

A dear friend…whom I’ve yet to meet, someday…beautifully expresses what many moms feel as their children venture forth to find themselves. It’s difficult to let go…but do so…we must.

…hugmamma.

Figments of a DuTchess

~

Plans

and so many dreams

I have for you, sweetheart

your road is paved

with solid bricks

in graceful patters

quick, but with imagination

relaxed, yet with passion

and always forward

~

The road you follow now

has too many curves

to my liking

twists

sideways

even dead ends

but tastes differ

you sense life

and feel it your way

~

I let go of your hand

wave and smile at you

and watch while you take

a different path

with head held high

a byway

that in time

will surely become

your highway

~

140126dromen

View original post