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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Broken lines

I don't know if this matters to you.... but this is my blog, so I'm going to go ahead and talk about it anyway.

I can't get enough of the Dutch ballet lately! I've been looking for inspiration for my ballet classes by watching endless Youtube dance videos. I somehow came across the choreographer named Christopher Wheeldon, and then I died, and went to heaven (...not only because of his dashing good looks). Then I came back, only to log back into Youtube and watch his dances over and over and over and over again. He uses classically trained ballerinas in such a *new* way. His work is truly revolutionary. Watch and see if you can see the differences, even as an "untrained" viewer. He uses large scale movement, almost like a jazz dance (think of Swan Lake with all of it's fluttery small movements, this is exactly the opposite of that). He somehow creates beautifully broken lines, while still having the feel of a classic ballet. I'm in LOVE.

Providence and Grace

When we moved here about a year ago I noticed the community walking path that had been constructed during the time I lived in California. It is a long path like most cities have nowadays, except for the fact that it dead ends into the city cemetery. I remember driving by and seeing girls in their perky neon sports bras jogging along side the tombstones. The idea of it all didn't sit well with me. In fact, the whole scene kinda skeeved me out.

A beautiful friend along the path 

 For the first four months that I used the path I would always veer South at the fork, and steer clear of the cemetery. Then one day this Spring I was walking with another mommy-friend and she suggested that we walk her normal route, which included the cemetery. As we rounded the corner, under the line of  budding trees at the far end of the cemetery, she pointed out that we were passing the graves of the babies. I looked down at my sleeping son riding along in his Jeep stroller and mentally hugged him as hard as I could. Such a juxtaposition of life and death....  The Good Lord giveth and the Good Lord taketh away.

The smallest rainbow I've ever seen

A few months later I attended a funeral of a friend's grandfather. The minister of the church wore a tie-dyed vestment around his neck, and spoke highly of the grandfather who had devoted his existence to the church in his last few years on Earth. The minister went on to talk about how on Earth we get so caught up into our relationships with our friends, family, and coworkers that we sometimes forget why we are really here. People pour so much time and effort into creating a legacy for themselves, attempting to etch their existence permanently into the face of mankind. And for what?  Then he said, "If you don't believe me that someday we will all be forgotten, then go to the oldest part of the cemetery. There is no one visiting. No one remembers any of those souls." The point of his sermon was that we should devote our life to creating a relationship with Jesus. We are all going to die. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is the relationship that we have created with that one single man.



As Summer begins to melt into something that slightly resembles Fall I find myself walking on the path often. Walking is very meditative to me. In high school I remember my history teacher asking me about a sculpture I had made. He said that he had read somewhere that some artists can see the final sculpture in a lump of clay before they even begin. All they have to do is "let the sculpture out" of the clay. I have had that experience from time-to-time with both my paintings and my written word. Some days it feels like the longer I walk on the path the clearer these images become in my mind. If I can just walk fast enough and keep my endurance up, I will return home to simply let my creations out onto paper or canvas. Other days, each word or brushstroke is a struggle. 


I've now learned that walking and meditating in a cemetery can be a very soul-nourishing thing. Almost like a prayer within my entire body. Last week I took my time and ended up coming across my old music teacher  from grade school's grave. We always thought his name was pronounced Mr.Banjo-hands. It wasn't. It made me smile to think of all the gifts he gave to me in my love for music. As I continued walking I could hear the clinking of metal. It turned out to be a necklace dangling on the grave of my childhood next door neighbor. He was a Senior in high school when he died of a brain tumor. He proposed to his girlfriend before it was too late.  I never had the chance to say goodbye. He was the only person (besides my siblings) who has ever punched me square in the face in my life. It was a fight involving a tennis ball and my pride. His BMX bicycle seat still rests on his grave five years after his death. 



John, you were too smart for your own good.  : )  
Rest in peace. 

Today I meandered into the oldest section of the cemetery. I had been attempting to talk on the phone with my best friend, but the connection kept dropping out. Something was telling me to just be silent, enjoy the walk, think, clear my mind, focus, take it all in. Then, Dustin Kensure's song Consider the Ravens came up on my ipod just as a huge gust of wind wrapped itself around me. 

I've got bills to pay
Taxman on my tail
Just keep prayin' that
the check's in the mail

There are times it seems
when everything's lost
and I'm moaning, I'm tossed
and I see..

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way

I've grown sick and tired
of trying to stand still
I've learned to let the wind
pull me where it will


Throw myself into
the will of the wait
I can never be great
'til we're free

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way

Although I'm walking through
the valley of the shadow of death

evils all around
It's coming from the right and the left

Trust that I will see
the glory above
Oh, your banner of love
flies over me

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not really love at first sight...

When working as a lifeguard in California I became close friends with my shift supervisor and his best friend. These two boys became the big brothers I never knew I wanted. They showed their affection to me by neck-pinching, teasing, and generally making fun of me. One of their favorite phrases was calling me "Hulk legs." Their name-calling was harsh at times but I knew it was code for "You are one of us, and we like you." They introduced me to my future husband, his first words of affection to me - "Wow, you have muscular feet..." And with that I was smitten.



My childhood neighbor was born with deformities in her feet. Her doctor recommended that she take ballet lessons to strengthen her limbs. Our parents registered us both for classes since they were friends and I had buckets of extra energy to exert.  I remember being drawn to my dance teacher because she made me feel like a true unique and special individual. I danced until seventh grade with that studio before feeling like I had outgrown their loving warmth. I wanted something more. 



I knew that I had a some sort of gift in my dance talents. I was good enough to be picked for special small-group choreography, but not good enough to really feel like I was ever the prima ballerina of my studio. Dance classes have a strange sort of internal hierarchy. The premiere dancer of a class always makes herself known much like a strutting peacock might. I dreamed of moving to New York or L.A. and working under my favorite choreographer, Alvin Ailey. By my junior year of high school I started to realize that I would never be skinny enough, or good enough to become a professional dancer. I let my fears get the best of me and thought about registering for college as a visual arts major instead of dance. I buckled down and started thinking about "real" career paths. 


Around this same time I auditioned for a national touring performing arts group. In the middle of my senior year I received my acceptance letter and was invited to move to California. I couldn't believe that my dreams of becoming a dancer were starting to materialize right before my eyes. It wasn't the Russian Ballet, but it was the semi-pros and that was good enough for me. I spent three years with the group before I worked the dancing bug out of my pants. I slowly transitioned into a dance-less life. I gradually stopped attending classes and let my collection of dance shoes sit in a bag in the top of my closet. My work day became focused on autism and behavior therapy instead of port de bras and pliĆ©s.




... until, a few weeks ago when my childhood dance teacher called me on a random Monday night, and offered me a job. So tonight I reached into the heights of my closet and pulled down my dusty dance bag with the puffy-paint writing on it. I strapped on my pointe shoes for the first time in six long years and gained the satisfaction of knowing that my dance days are not over, they are just different. Instead of the bright lights of the stage I will now practice in my kitchen using the fridge door as my barre. As imperfect as my eighteen year-old body seemed at the time, I now slip into my pj's and bare my soft post-baby mamabelly to my reflection in the stove. And it feels incredible. 



People keep telling me that God will never give me more then I can handle. Yesterday he gave me too much pain in one area of my life, and then blessed me with an amazing creative outlet just a few hours later. The perfect balance. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I give up. (for today..)

Some days in the struggle to save my marriage I really just want to give up. I'm so tired of holding it all together. If I let my seams rip, the whole thing will be torn to bits and blown away in the passing wind. I didn't sign up for this.


photo credit

Friday, August 20, 2010

If love is a labor I'll slave 'til the end

Sometimes my husband's ipod tells me the secrets that he can't. 

This is what it whispered in my ear this morning:

 


Wondering when I'll get to hold his hand again...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Surrender to the journey

I reached down and gripped the paper hole-puncher harder then necessary. I checked the date of my last punch, it had been three months since my last hole in the card. My mind flashed between, "Its only been three months since all this happened?" -and- "Wow, this has been going on for a long time now." I found my spot in the corner near the cabinet with framed photos of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and some cheesy real estate looking guy wearing an American flag pin. I unrolled my blue mat with the spongey quilted triangles, laid down and attempted to squirm the tension out of my shoulders. It had been the rotten type of day where I found myself driving without being fully conscious. I remember suddenly looking up and wondering how I had gotten most of the way to class without seeming to be aware, of anything. Had I just ran a red light? ...Or two? Cora's voice cut through my self pity coma and a small smirk spread across my face as I stood up and joined the other students in a simple knee-bend with arm-release warm up. "This warm-up symbolizes throwing away the things that no longer serve us,"Cora instructed, "and really, that means anything that is not important to us here in the present moment." In that moment my mind was probably only filled with things that were no longer serving me: anger, hurt, frustration, guilt, depression, pain, hatred. None of these things were serving me. So I symbolically threw them away, cleared my mind, took a deep heart-breath, and had a fantastically freeing yoga class. The last line that Cora spoke during the end-of-class meditation was, "Surrender to the journey that is unfolding before you." Brilliant.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My gift to the interweb

I was annoyed by the total lack of ideas that the internet had to offer in regard to octopus birthday cakes. I found the most promising idea on OhDeeDoh, and expanded upon their recipe. So please take this gift oh internet. It is all I ask of you.

I started by crafting two pizza boxes together with a little duct-tape to create the perfect sized cake platform. My cake creation uses one box of cake mix, 2 batches of Rice Krispy Treats, and two cans of frosting. I started with a rectangular sheet cake, cut out a circle using another cake pan, and then added in the extra "body" piece. I put dabs of frosting under the cake so it would stick to the foil. I also learned to be sure to spray the entire foil surface lightly with non-stick spray. Because no one likes metal shards in their Rice Krispy Treats. 

Form the tentacles while the treats are still hot. Just dip your hands in butter first, or wear plastic gloves sprayed with non-stick spray.




...added in m&m eyes, and dabs of frosting for the suction cups



...and fruit loop suction cups to complete the cake 

Letter from my one year-old



Dear Mama,
         Hey! Thanks for the super awesome party yesterday. It was great playing with my cousin, until she touched my new horse and I had to unleash the prehistoric screams of an angry pterodactyl on her. Maybe next time she will realize that any item my mouth is chewing on, belongs to ME. I know that I've demonstrated a love for foods of various textures and flavors but please, I beg of you, do not ever attempt to feed me "cake" again. That stuff will send you to an early grave. My favorite flavors are still "floor grate by the door," and "bottom of the swiffer sweeper." Call me when you can bake me a cake made of floor grate mud in a fine frosting of swiffer sweeper sludge. I'm mildly saddened by the fact that my goals for my first birthday never came to light. I guess that since I am now one, and I still have my sight, I should make some new goals. Did you know that I've joined a base jumping class? That is why I've been practicing throwing my body into furniture, diving head first off the couch, and leaping off rocking chairs. After nap time can you lift me up to the top of the fridge? I've been sewing my burp cloths together to make my first parachute for months now. Didn't you wonder why I'd been so good about taking my "early bedtime"?

Love youuuuuuuuu,
                                 Lex

 Despite my best efforts, he still manages to lick this grate no less then two times a day. 



By day I practice jumping from this small scale washer and dryer. 
By night- the real deal. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Last Weekend

Retreat: 
(1.) an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
(2.)  temporarily removing oneself from one's usual environment in order to become immersed in a particular subject matter








A life-changing location for a life-changing moment in time. 
Abundant blessings.
Amen. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Anniversary




Three years: A Trinity in time 


Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.
- Mark 10:9 


Reading and Sketching




"Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a facade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise."  

 - John Eldredge in Wild at Heart

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The phoenix flower

Wow. As I had written before,  I had totally given up on my Calla Lilies. Then this evening I saw THIS:


I just about fainted. I have not given that thing a drop of water in about three weeks. It was a lost cause. And now...? A tiny baby sprout?  : )