nurturing Thursdays: …a star is born…

Thirty years ago I gave birth to a rising star. Today she is just that.

My daughter was featured in the recent music video of singer and former American Idol contestant, Danny Gokey. In it he sings the hauntingly beautiful melody…”Tell your heart to beat again.”

In all the madness that is today’s world, a little touch of sanity in the form of music and choreography reminds us that life is really about loving one another.

We exist…

…to love…and be loved in return.

………hugmamma.

(More inspirational posts are waiting for you at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/nurt-thurs-environment/

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nurturing thursdays: the dancer…

…my daughter.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my daughter perform…probably 4 to 5 years. Memory-wrapped images are all that remain, and they get fuzzier as time passes. So I’m very grateful for Youtube.  It’s captured the following contemporary piece in which my daughter was the featured soloist. She danced with Nashville Ballet at the time. I only wish it had shown the actual performance, in which she wore a white, romantic tutu which made her look like an angel. Although I’m not complaining; I’ll take what I can get.

This piece was choreographed by Sarah Slipper, founder and artistic director of Northwest Dance Project in Oregon. My daughter had danced with the company for a couple of summers. It’s performances are cutting-edge, thanks to the amazing talent of Sarah and other choreographers she hand picks to join her in producing a show.

Artists…dancers among them…reflect the beauty of the human spirit. If only we would allow…

…more of that inner beauty…to shine through.

………hugmamma.

(Find more wonderful inspiration at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/nurt-thurs-our-example/

kanye west…for president???

OMG!!! Just heard on CNN that Kanye West might be considering a run for the presidency in 2020??? Reality TV in the White House??? The Kardashians taking over Washington D.C.???

That is even more bizarre than Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Just because we can…all run for president…does it mean we should? 

Tea Party conservatism has dragged in all manner of folks thinking they know what our country needs. Forget the need for wisdom and self-control and experience.

For Heaven’s sake! If I had the energy…I could be President!

Not!!! I know my limitations and strengths. Managing the President’s “to do” list sure as heck isn’t something I’m up for.

What makes Kanye West think he can…interface with our military hierarchy?…world leaders twice or three times his age?…Wall Street financiers?…white constituents who hate black rappers?…and most of all, Tea-Party congressional reps who’d just as soon impeach him, as recognize that he is the executive branch.

Talk about a political stalemate!!!

And who, besides the Kardashian fans…many in other countries, would want to see those women parading around half-naked in the White House? Moreover, it doesn’t seem likely they’d give up their millions as reality TV stars to sit around twiddling their thumbs. I can’t see them volunteering to mingle with the underprivileged at homeless shelters. The sisters would stand out in their stilettos and bouffant hairdos.

The fact that sex is a huge part of the Kardashian brand won’t sit well with conservative evangelists, either.  Come to think of it, neither would liberals with good, old-fashioned values. 

Between Kanye West’s ego and Kris Jenner’s managerial skills, I’ve no doubt they’re thinking seriously about the presidency. After all, Donald Trump is just as qualified. 

Reality TV and real life…

…are they really one and the same???

………hugmamma.

i’m a huge fan…

…of Michael Jackson’s talent. 

Once upon a time I would have done what I could to nurture my dream of becoming an entertainer.

I can remember as a child sharing a passion for music with my mom. Among my cherished memories are the occasions when she would play the ukulele while we sang her favorite Hawaiian songs. Among them, Ke kali neau, The Hawaiian Wedding Song.

My love for dance was initiated by an older sister who taught me…the fox trot and the cha, cha, cha. Later, in my teens, I went on to master and instruct others in…the mashed potatoes, the twist, and the jerk.

In college I entered a talent show. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a competition because I don’t remember any prizes being awarded. However, the next day I got a call which made me feel as though I’d won.

A guy called inviting me to be the vocalist for his band, explaining they did gigs at the local hangout for university kids. Thrilled to be asked, I nevertheless decided against a singing career. For a girl like me, born on Maui in the late 40’s, entertaining was too much of a dream to ever become reality.

The rest is history. At 65 I’m very contented with my lot in life…a housewife for 44 years with a loving husband and daughter who cherish me.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, died a lonely man most of his life. If he’d lived longer he more than likely would have enjoyed some of what I have…in the love of his three children.

I have probably read all that’s been printed about Jackson, before and after his death. Not having kept abreast of his life and career once he separated from his brothers, I wanted to know all that there was about him after he died.

Reading various biographies about Jackson helped me formulate a more balanced perspective of the man. I arrived at my own decisions as to who among all the players in his life were there for the right or wrong reasons. These included…the lawyers, the businessmen and women…the reporters and others in the media…and family and friends. 

Without thinking twice, I’m certain that Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe both loved their husband very much. That Michael Jackson used them to his own advantage is also undeniable. 

Jackson was a master manipulator, having learned from his family and all those who wanted a piece of him financially. Unfortunately, that included everyone who had anything to do with him. How could they resist? He was an irresistible man, personally and professionally, by all accounts. 

Blame for the mess his life became was shared by all, including Jackson himself. It didn’t help that poverty set the scene for the way it unfolded, his parents and siblings grabbing for whatever they could to keep the dream of wealth alive. And Michael spending his way through billions of dollars faster than he could earn it.

It was apparent Jackson was trying to fill the hole in his psyche with all the material things he could amass. That was the reason the number of concerts for This Is It quickly jumped from the initially agreed upon 10, to the staggering amount of 50. He was in hock up to his eyeballs…and some. 

The man was a magician when it came to getting in and out of trouble, personally and professionally. Unfortunately he had to pay up sooner or later. Hence the lawsuits that never seemed to stop, even after his death.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan, reveals the overwhelmingly muddled mania surrounding one of the most iconic celebrities ever to have been born. I could only repeat to myself as I read my way through the book’s nearly 600 pages that it was almost best that Jackson died when he did.

He was like the grey whale at the center of a sharks’ feeding frenzy that I’d seen on a television documentary. There would have been no shred of the man left, had his life continued to spiral downward as it was.

It was interesting to observe that among all the bad people in Jackson’s life, there was no differentiation as to race, creed, gender, age, or social and financial standing. Whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, men, women, young, old, rich, poor…they all shared in the Sodom and Gommorrah that followed the star wherever he went.

The more I read of celebrities who succumbed to the trappings of fame and wealth, the more I’m thankful for having escaped going down that road. Even minor celebs have their share of unwanted drama, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and the self-absorbed Kardashians.

Jackson was a smart man in many ways and determinedly naive in others. In the moment he could destroy all he’d built by shrewd business negotiating. More often than not, the little boy who didn’t have a normal childhood won out when struggling with the man Jackson was trying to become. 

As in all walks of life it seems, if our morals and values are not solidly grounded, we can easily be caught up in the confetti that swirls around us. If we could only remember that all those little pieces of paper eventually find their way…

…downward.

………hugmamma.

(Wikepedia photo)

 

 

thanks!…usher

You read it right.

I’m thanking Usher for bringing together…young and old…black, white and all colors in between…hip and not-so-hip…religious and aetheist…liberal and conservative…and of course, women and men…in celebration of our better angels.

In song and dance, we found common ground to set our differences aside for an evening. Squeezed into seats like those on an airplane, we were shoulder to shoulder with whomever it was that purchased the neighboring seat. We had no say in the matter. Ticket Master played Russian Roulette with our hard-earned cash.

Funny thing. No one turns up his nose at a much sought after ticket. Ask any football fan or tourist at a Broadway show.

When I bought the tickets during the summer I’d no idea what to expect.

Usher was one of my favorite coaches on TV’s The Voice. I admired his sincerity when handling those contestants he’d chosen to join his team. I was also mesmerized by his singing and accompanying dance moves. So I didn’t think twice about seeing him in concert.

Fortunately for me my husband is always game to see and do whatever catches my fancy. Our daughter agrees that it keeps her father youthful. He does too.

Needless to say we were surrounded by hoards of fans, mostly our daughter’s age. Yet no one looked askance at two old fogies looking like they’d mistaken Usher’s concert for some oldie but goodie like Neil Diamond. The man who checked handbags smilingly commented that we were somebody’s parents. We laughed along with him, although I assured him that we weren’t the parents of the couple who filed in ahead of us.

Were my daughter still living with us she would have been my concert companion. Instead, she’ll have to content herself with the video I text her. That is once I figure out how to do it.

As for the concert, the two acts hired to warm up the crowd for an hour or so were fine. I’d not heard of either, although that’s not saying a lot since I’ve no clue who the young folk are listening to these days.

What I do know is that using the colorful, four-letter word preceded by “mother” did not endear me to the second artist. Although I will say he had a splendid voice. The dancers accompanying him were amazing movers. However my husband and I agreed we were glad our daughter doesn’t do…that kind of dancing. A little too suggestive for our taste, what with all the bumping and grinding. Not to mention the skimpy costumes. What were they thinking? Actually it’s pretty obvious they’re not thinking.

Usher did not disappoint. His performance, as well as those of his dancers and musicians, was explosive. So was the production with its lights and smoke and technical wizardry. The staging platforms undulated upward and downward, forward and backward, even reconfiguring before our very eyes. How the female performers kept their footing on stiletto heels…and the male dancers bounced back into standing position from somersaults and floor splits…was mind blowing. It was like watching a three-ring circus. My eyes kept darting back and forth trying to catch every magical twist and turn before it faded from sight.

Nearing the end, the women seated beside me were up on their feet swaying and singing along with Usher. It was beautiful to see the entire arena of devoted fans on their feet joining him in song. Together it was as though the love between artist and fans was enough to change the world outside.

Audience applause brought Usher back for an encore. Before singing he asked for a moment of silence to remember the parents of Michael Brown, the shooting victim in a recent confrontation with a policeman in St. Louis, Missouri. As he sang a song of hope for brotherhood among humankind, tears welled up in my eyes.

Why don’t we invest more of ourselves in the arts where our spirits are allowed to engage with one another, rather than subjecting our better angels to grovel in the dust while our prehistoric instincts to kill or be killed be given full reign? What is our long-held fascination with gladiator-like activities…hunting for sport…or annihilation of those unlike ourselves?

Maybe we wouldn’t have to die in order to see Heaven, if only we would allow Heaven to exist…right here on earth. Something to think about when we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks, Usher. For making my Thanksgiving…

…one for the ages…

………hugmamma.

 

 

nurturing thursdays: happiness…a matter of choice

I very often use my daughter’s professional career path as a means to understanding my life, and life in general. I guess it’s because I can step back more easily and reflect upon its course with twenty-twenty hindsight.

Now that she’s headed in a different direction, away from ballet toward contemporary movement, my daughter is happier. For sure there have been potholes along the way, but is anyone’s life ever without them?

Choices. We’re always confronted with them. Never a day goes by when we don’t have to make decisions. A dancer’s life is no different and yet, whatever is decided alters her career path without it being obvious at the time.

The first ballet company with whom my daughter trained at the age of 16 had no qualms about her going elsewhere to dance when they were on hiatus during the summer months. At least that’s what the company’s dance school director said. She felt my daughter was a smart dancer who could easily transition between time with the company and time away with others.

It was during the summer that my daughter began honing her ability as a contemporary dancer. She felt combining year-round ballet with several weeks dancing a different movement would make her a more versatile performer. And it did. Yet it seems to have come with a price that was not made clear until the die had been cast, so to speak.

Rather than inform her directly that it would have been preferable for my daughter to spend summers with the company, very subtle hints were made by staff. Nothing definite, just little questions like “Do you want to be here?” Of course the answer was always an emphatic “Yes!” How was she to know they meant…”Well then you shouldn’t be seen by other directors who might want to steal you away?”

Ballet companies have the upper hand in deciding who among their many trainees and apprentices might eventually be offered a position. There are no guarantees. All of them are made to feel they have potential, but none of them can claim professional status until they have a signed contract.

So then the decision for the “wannabee” career ballet dancer is “Does she commit herself to a company who is still undecided about her? Or does she explore the larger dance community not only to enhance her skills but also to begin networking with fellow artists…dancers, choreographers, and yes, even directors?”

My daughter chose to broaden her dance horizons. She never did it with the intent to leave the company with which she was training. In fact she was always excited to return to the fold after time away. With renewed energy and confidence she incorporated what she’d learned during the summer into her performances.

Of course there are always different perspectives to any situation. So while my daughter saw her summers as enhancing her dance, the ballet company’s director perceived them as a sign that she wasn’t fully committed to him. When he let her go after 5 years he said “I decided to let you go instead of others because you’ll have an easier time finding a job then them.” At that point, my daughter was glad to finally be out from under a shadow that had been looming ever since she returned after the summer. She hugged her boss and thanked him for the opportunities she had been given while there. And with that she left the studio, breathing in the great outdoors and the promise of better days ahead.

Others who trained alongside my daughter never ventured off during the summers. They faithfully remained with the company. Of those, a few have gone on to become principal dancers. Sadly though they have never seen the broader dance world firsthand. And then there are all the others who were not even offered positions.

Becoming a professional dancer, especially in ballet, is just as much luck as it is talent and hard work. My daughter was fortunate to make it with the second ballet company she joined.

However the journey is never without its bumps. If one’s career stalls or back slides, then a dancer must decide her next move.

My daughter could have remained another 6 years to see where her career as a ballet dancer would take her. Instead she made the decision to change directions, helped in large part by all that she’d gained during her months off from the companies.

Over the course of her summers, my daughter has met hundreds of dancers on their way to somewhere. She’s also met her fair share of choreographers and directors. And then there are the stars with whom she’s paled around…Ethan Steiffel…Misty Copeland. Of them all, however, the most notable person she has met has been…herself.

Finding oneself in life is something for which we all strive. The choices we make, difficult as they might be in the moment, bring us to our own conclusion.

I’ve often told my daughter when she was a dance student, as well as on her way to becoming a professional…”Enjoy the process. As long as you do that, you’ll never be disappointed in the outcome. Happiness lies in the journey, not in the promise of the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’ ”

Did I already mention…

…my daughter is happy…very happy.

………hugmamma.

(Enjoy more inspirational words at
http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/nurturing-thurs-you-are/

 

 

 

dance…like nobody’s watching…

Ever since my daughter first stepped onto a stage at age 8, she had a presence that drew one’s eyes to her. Complete strangers, including a dad, told me they singled my daughter out as the one they watched throughout the recital. Of course, I wholeheartedly agreed that she was indeed the star of the show, even though she wasn’t. Surely, I’m no different from other moms.

As she has worked her way toward becoming a professional, my daughter has experienced a plethora of situations and people  in the dance world. Some good, some bad, some so-so.

There are directors who manage like mini-Napoleons; others who remember what it was like to be a dancer. There are dancers who lord it over others, and dancers who work as a team. There’s stress over roles, in part because dancers are clueless as to what the director and his staff are thinking. And then, of course, there’s always the audience to please.

Appearance is important, especially in ballet. Ever since Balanchine introduced spaghetti-thin ballerinas to the art form, directors have adopted the look as standard. Heaven help the dancer with shapely arms and legs and an ample bosom. Although a little wiggle room is beginning to loom on the horizon. Thanks to the efforts of American Ballet Theatre’s stunning soloist, Misty Copeland.

My daughter’s life as a ballet dancer was the best it could be, given what she brought to the table and the opportunities afforded her as a result. Her decision to switch to contemporary dance seemed a natural evolution, since that’s where she was featured the most.

In her current job, dance is the focus for my daughter and her coworkers. Not appearance. Not roles. Not the director. Learning the new movement is exhausting, painful, and enervating. At day’s end, she literally collapses on the sofa applying frozen vegetable bags to both knees. Later, as she crawls under the covers, her lips form a small smile. She can’t wait to be at it again…

…dancing…for the pure joy of…dancing…

………hugmamma.

 

 

nurturing thursdays: the eaglette has landed…

IMG_0493You might wonder why I write of my daughter’s comings and goings under the heading of nurturing thursdays.  It’s because health and wellness also includes…peace of mind. And knowing that my child is happy in her life…comforts me like nothing else can.

Having left Nashville Ballet a year ago in search of a better fit, my daughter traveled far and wide from Atlanta to Chicago to Germany to Toronto. She even poked around here in the Seattle area. Wanting to expand upon her contemporary dance experience to improve her resume, she opted to return to her mentor and coach who started her own company in the Music City, as Nashville is most famously known.

My daughter’s dance career has been 95% training, 5% performing. Opting to always hone her craft, she has trained elsewhere in the summers when ballet companies are usually on hiatus. In the early years she would have to pay for the training, but as she grew in her profession she was paid, and handsomely I might add.

In the end however, all things considered, the majority of dancers fall under the category of…”starving artists.”

I would compare a dancer’s life to a roller coaster ride. If she hangs on long enough, she’ll adjust to the twists and turns. And if she’s truly passionate, she’ll love the adrenalin rush in spite of being tossed about.

Social dancing was more my speed. Were I in my daughter’s pointe shoes, I’d have “caved” the first time I was critiqued in front of other dancers. Just as I would lose my meal the first time the roller coaster spun me upside down.

Enjoying the company of hardworking dancers once again, my daughter is elated to be back in the studio.

While fledgling, NEW DIALECT promises to thrive as a much-needed alternative dance platform in a city dominated by country music. That it might gain the financial backing of some of that genre’s most influential singers is powerful stuff. It’s not surprising though, since the director, Banning Boudoin is as much a woman with heart as an artist with talent to burn. Both extremely attractive to those wanting to bask in the aura of one poised to do great things.

Like hanging onto a shooting star, my daughter will thrill to the ride of her life as she and Banning soar the universe, exciting others with their passion.

Dancing…

…for the sheer joy…and love of it!

………hugmamma. img_5200.jpg

 

 

…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 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

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

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…

 

nurturing thursdays: believe in yourself

My daughter’s decided that her 2014 New Year’s resolution includes…ferocity.

As she moves forward in her quest to become a contemporary dancer, my daughter’s inner voice is at the helm.

In ballet, dancers are taught to fit within a standard. Rigorous training reinforces discipline which, in turn, often engenders a relationship similar to that of a parent and a child. On the one hand it is highly effective in perfecting a ballerina’s technique; on the other, it may be difficult for the ballerina to grow comfortably into her own skin.

Along with everything else, a ballerina must find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants for herself. Unlike puzzle pieces, the two sides don’t always fit together neatly. In fact, finding the balance between the expectations of others and her own are most likely an ongoing effort. At some point, she either acquiesces and dances on auto-pilot…or moves on.

Every ballet dancer at each stage of her career, from student through professional, must decide whether or not the journey is worth the sacrifices and commitment. No one is holding her feet to the fire unless, of course, she’s the product of a stage mom. God help her if she is.

Change is not easy no matter the profession. A ballerina, however, once enamored of the classics…Romeo and Juliette…Sleeping Beauty…Swan Lake…finds it very difficult to sever the ties that bind her to the beauty she can spin as part of an ensemble.

And as any ballerina will tell you, it ain’t easy getting hired by a company in the first place. It’s true what they say. For every one there’s probably twelve more nipping at her heels, eager to have their go at it.

My daughter’s experience, while not perfect, was promising. Had she waited around another few years, she might have been challenged to do more solo roles. But with the passing of years, 11 to be exact, she finally decided it was time to sever the “parent-child” relationship. It had outgrown its purpose.

Moving into contemporary dance has been freeing. There are no father figures; there are no children. All are artists. The difference lies only in their abilities, their experiences, and their passion for dance.

My daughter feels she can get to the top of her game, no longer hindered by the trappings of the environment in which she dances. Rather than be told “when” and “how,” she’s been asked…”show us what ya got!” And she’s only too eager to comply.

Believing in herself and her passion for her art, my daughter is excited to be auditioning. This week it’s Los Angeles, next month it’s Germany, and in March it’s Chicago.

Fierce is my daughter’s new mantra. Nothing’s impossible since…

…she believes in herself!

………hugmamma.