On loss, grief and sticks and stones

When I was in first grade, my best friend died. I wasn’t old enough to understand what caused her death, only to feel the loss and the gap that her absence created. She wasn’t at her desk at school. She wasn’t on the playground. We didn’t walk home together. She wasn’t riding her bike in the church parking lot after we finished our homework. She was just … gone. This was my first introduction to grief. I learned quickly that people grieve very differently.

Grief can make people sad, angry, mean, depressed, dejected, isolated, frustrated. Grief can make people withdraw from others, or reach out to others for support. Grief can lead to kindness and compassion. Grief you can lead to rejection and hurt.

I had never had much to do with my best friend’s older sister. She was seven years older than we were. For the most part, she just ignored us. That is until after her sister died. Then she noticed me. And that noticing, I understand now, created great pain for her that, unfortunately, for me, led her to be mean.

She wasn’t physically abusive, but she was physically, intimidating and aggressive. She was verbally abusive. Almost every day after school, she would wait for me as I walked to my grandmother’s house. She would taunt me and yell at me. I tried leaving school quickly. I tried dawdling after school and walking home slowly hoping she’d get tired of waiting for me and just go home. I tried walking different routes to my grandmother’s house, but grandma’s house was literally one block from school, and there weren’t that many options. I simply could not avoid her.

Often I would reach my grandmother’s house, red faced, and crying. Finally, I shared with my grandmother what was happening. She talked with me about sadness and loss. She talked with me about the pain my friend’s sister was feeling. She told me that my friend’s sister didn’t really mean that she wished I was dead instead of her sister. She just truly missed her sister. I missed her too. At the end of our talk, my grandmother said that the next time she confronted me, I should say “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words can never hurt me.” I knew that was not true. Her words did hurt. But it felt strong and powerful to say. I just hoped she didn’t want to hurt me enough that she would physically hurt me, I also hoped that maybe we could support each other through our shared loss.

As expected, the next day, she and two of her friends intercepted me as I took my most circuitous route to grandma’s after school. The three of them blocked my path. She taunted me with wishing I was dead. I stood up, strong and straight, my lip, quivering, my eyes filling with tears, and I used the phrase my grandma had given me, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words can never hurt me.” She was surprised. I’d never talked back to her before. She and her friends turned and walked away, leaving me there with tears streaming down my face. For the first time I wasn’t afraid of her. Although I was still crying, I was proud of myself for standing up and speaking.

I ran the rest of the way to grandma’s house and told her what happened. She hugged me and told me she was proud of me. She gave me a Kleenex to blow my nose.

That was the last day my friend’s sister confronted me on my way home from school. It took several weeks before I trusted that it was over, but she went back to ignoring me, and pretending I didn’t exist. I much preferred that reaction.

I would like to say that we became friends over the common loss, we shared, but our age difference, our experience differences, and the nature of our grief kept that from happening.

I mourned the loss of my friend for the rest of the school year, acutely feeling her absence every day. Then the activities of summer drew my attention and my grief became less acute. When school started the next year, I was in a different classroom, and there wasn’t an empty desk. My friend’s sister had moved up to high school. There were no obvious reminders of her, but I did still think of her.

My six year old self learned about the pain of loss and the grief of absence. She learned that grief brings out different things in different people. She learned to stand up for herself a little. She learned that words hurt, even if we claim they don’t.

Facing fears and doing it anyway: What I learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and downhill skiing

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes those first steps are the hardest, but, ultimately they can be so rewarding! I offer my experience learning to downhill ski as an illustration. When my son and daughter were little, we lived in Reno, Nevada, just a short drive up the Mount Rose Highway to some of the most beautiful skiing in the world.

Their school offered a ski program. Stefan and Alyssa wanted to learn how to ski. Living someplace as beautiful as Reno with access to downhill skiing, it just had to happen. They started young, in kindergarten and early elementary. Driving ski school was a blast! The children’s excitement was infectious! It was both relaxing and thrilling to spend the afternoon watching them gain skills. I loved watching them bomb (ski straight down as fast as possible) harder and harder hills. One day I watched my son bomb, a mogul filled hill. The run he took was very steep and straight down the center. He was flying! I decided then that I had to learn how to downhill ski.

Three realities had kept me from skiing before. I have a fear of heights, a vertigo level fear of heights. I’m not a fan of speed, and I want to see where I’m going at all times.

The leap of faith necessary to bomb a hill when I couldn’t see what was over the rise was really difficult for me.

My learning to ski was not a smooth process. I took lessons. I bought my own gear. For years, I was content with long, gently sloping green runs (the easiest) where I used drag lifts or t-bars to pull me up the hill, with my skis on the ground.

One afternoon, my son invited me to take a blue run with a couple more advanced elements that he thought I would find beautiful. He told me the run had a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. But to get there, we had to ride an open air ski lift, our feet dangling high above the slopes, not really my comfort zone. So after gritting my teeth all the way up the mountain and getting off the lift, I was faced with a hill that I could not see around or over. Stefan said, “Don’t worry, mom, You just have to get past this part. It’ll be fine. You’re gonna love it! The view is spectacular!”

I couldn’t get beyond the fact that I couldn’t see where I was going. I mean, the hill in front of me had a slight upward grade, and then just disappeared. I tried to walk to it. I tried to pizza ski to it. The snow was too deep. If I was going to ski this run, I had to just go for it. Ultimately, I just couldn’t do it. It didn’t help that we waited until the end of the day to try this. I was tired. I ended up taking a ride of shame with the ski patrol down the hill. On the upside, that ride allowed me to see what actually was on the other side, to see the run that I would be taking if I could get the courage to do so.

I’m one of those people that never wants to give into fear. I’m also one of the people who recognizes that if I have an opportunity and don’t take it, it may not come again. Stef skied to the bottom of the hill, afraid he was going to find me sad and dejected, or at least embarrassed for having ridden down with the ski patrol. I wasn’t any of those things. I was ready. “Let’s do it”I said!Stef just looked at me and smiled. We rode that terrifying lift back to the top of that mountain. I took a deep breath and just went for it. Together Stefan and I skied down one of the most glorious runs I had seen to that point.

I never did become a super skier like many in my family. I still don’t like going too fast and I’m not all that big on heights. I still like to see where I’m going. That day I did face at least 2/3 of my fears and took the first step off the ski lift and into a beautiful run.

Taking the first step didn’t change my fear of heights, my discomfort with speed, or my desire to always know (see) where I’m going. But it did teach me to work through my anxiety and do it anyway.

Responding to the Blowback on Paying it Forward

I’ve long been a fan of paying it forward. I think it’s a delightful gift to do something kind for someone else that is unexpected. I try to do this whenever I can. I do it when I’m especially happy and high on life. I also do it when I’m down and low on life. Both serve different functions for me. The first is sharing the joy that I already feel. The second is giving joy and feeling better about myself because of it.

Here’s the deal. Way too often in daily life we don’t take the time to see one another. We don’t take the time to engage with one another. The kindness of a stranger can truly make someone’s day and I’m cool with it making you feel better about yourself as well. Why not feel good about the good we put in the world?

I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine the kindness I show chaining out beyond the people to whom I am kind. I imagine that the person whose order I paid for it at Starbucks might be kinder to the grocery store clerk who checks them out an hour later or might leave an extra tip for their server at lunch. I like to think that my kindness makes the person who receives it smile, and hopefully have a better day.

I’m frustrated by the memes and posts about “don’t do this; use your money here instead.” as if that was the only choice. For me many times this is a both/and. Not only do I pay for the person behind me at Starbucks, I also give a larger tip to my server, or pay into the lunch fund at a local school. To be clear, I’m a great tipper. If you’re in a service job, I appreciate you, so I share what I can. Making people feel guilty about being kind makes no sense to me. We need a lot more joy. Spreading any kind of joy is good.

Paying it forward isn’t just about buying something for someone else. It’s about sharing a smile. It’s about saying hello. It’s about holding a door for someone struggling with packages. It’s about helping someone pick up items they’ve dropped. It’s about acknowledging other human beings, their existence, and their value.

When I worked at Savanah Bee Company in Boulder, Colorado a couple years ago, I often saw a man selling roses by the side of the street, as I drove to work. When I could, when I had cash from tips, I would buy a rose from him. One day I had a few more tips, so I bought six roses. After I parked, as I walked to the store, I gifted everyone I saw with a rose. Five of the people were unhomed individuals sitting on the street. One woman grabbed my hand and thanked me. She said she couldn’t remember the last time someone had done something kind just to do it. She said it made her feel seen. Some might say people without homes don’t need roses. They need food, water, socks, gloves, warm coats, a place to sleep, etc. While all that is true, they also need to be seen. That day, I had the capacity to give her a rose, to say “I see you”.

My point is this: everyone needs to be noticed. Everyone benefits from a bit of joy. Everyone benefits from a show of kindness. We make the world a better place for both the giver and the receiver. So don’t let anyone tell you you should be doing this instead of that. It’s not their business. Just give what you can, when you can, with an open heart.

Paying it forward is never the wrong option. Paying it forward is never a bad decision.

So, pay it forward in the way that works best for you. If you feel it, do it. The world, or at least someone’s day, will be brighter because of it.

2022 Reflections: Cliff Jumping – Moving Forward into Possibilities

For 2022, my phrase was “do more cliff jumping”. That means I approach my life with openness and curiosity, moving beyond moments of resistance to take opportunities as they arise.

The phrase “cliff jumping” arose in the early 2000s when I was doing ropes courses first with the honors program, then with new cohorts of masters students in what is now the UNR School of Public Health. Our guide helped me manage my height phobia by literally encouraging me to jump off bridges, blind jump off rocks into ponds, and jump off cliffs at night into the star and moon reflected Feather River. “Cliff jumping” became my metaphor for moving forward, beyond fear, into possibilities.

2022 was an amazing year of cliff jumping for Andrew and me. In February, he got his dream job and I gave my first ever commencement address at The American Campus’s (TAC – Mauritius) first graduation ceremony.

In March I did my first international trip since Covid, traveling to South Africa to help plan and facilitate the book launch for Writing about Motherhood Honesty on International Women’s Day. My week in SA was filled with TV, radio, podcast, and print interviews. It was a delightful whirlwind!

In May, my bestie and I traveled to France for what was to be a 22 day cruise adventure of the wine region, Paris, Prague, the Danube and Budapest. We ended up with 3 days on the river, then Covid quarantine (I tested positive), then a flight back home. While not the trip we anticipated, we had several lovely days.

In June, my daughter decided to move to a new home with her partner, leaving our Vegas condo unoccupied. Andrew’s job allows him to work remotely, so, within 48 hours, we had decided to move to Las Vegas. On August 25, we did!

In late July, I did a one-on-one coaching workshop on “Releasing the Past and Embracing the Future” that my client challenged me to turn into an in-person workshop. I would plan and facilitate the workshop. She would market and facilitate the venue. By the end of August, the workshop was set for October. We had a small, engaged group and broke even, but we did it! My first in-person coaching workshop.

In October, I brought the publisher (also co-editor, and story author) of Writing about Motherhood Honesty to an academic conference in Minneapolis. It was her first trip to the US! She presented both her dissertation work and we, along with two other US-based story authors, did a panel highlighting motherhood stories.

During this year I was steadily building my small coaching business through Propel Consulting, LLC, providing professional, relational, organizational, personal, educational, and life coaching.

Then the universe gave me some messages to slow down a bit. I partially detached my left retina, requiring surgery. The evening after the surgery, I stumbled twice, and damaged my right knee requiring an ambulance ride to the ER. They gave me a thigh to ankle brace and crutches and told me to use them until I could see a doctor for assessment after the gas bubble in my eye had fully dissipated. That meant at least eight weeks on crutches. As the gas bubble in my eye causes dizziness and nausea when I move and the crutches make me unstable, the last two months of inactivity have given me a lot of time for reflection.

As I think about 2022, I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for a wonderful partner who cliff jumps with me and cares for me when the universe slows me down. I am grateful for wonderful collaborations and friendships with amazing, powerful women committed to doing unique work well.

The words or phrases we choose at the beginning of a year offer tools both to make choices and reflect on choices made. I am grateful for cliff jumping opportunities. On to 2023!

Long Nights and Cold, Snowy Days: Ending the Year in Relaxation and Rest

For me, the time between Christmas and new years has always been a time of hunkering down, relaxing, breathing, preparing to release the old and embrace the new.

From high school on, this has been my time to pause. In high school, I travelled to Pittsburg Central Catholic High School with the Urbana High speech team to compete in their Thanksgiving classic. In college I balanced speech tournaments and final exam prep, often right up until Christmas. As a professor, I was typically up to my eyeballs in grading until just before Christmas.

So, I developed a pattern of doing as little as possible between Christmas and the new year. Where the rush to the holidays was always a focus on the future and getting things done, the time between Christmas and the new year is about being fully in the present, breathing, resting, relaxing, living in and enjoying the moment. I visit lovely places, like botanical gardens, watch first run movies in theaters, walk every day, have a relaxed conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee. One of my favorite things during this time is to spend the whole day with friends, making breakfast together, hanging out all day and making fabulous dinners together. We listen to music. We dance. We laugh. We enjoy being together.

My focus during this time is on the present. My pattern slows. Rather than rushing, I move more slowly. Long nights and cold snowy days facilitate this calm and rest. The world pauses. So I pause.

I wish you pause, dear readers. I wish you rest as 2022 winds down. As my friend Mel put it, “Experience the peacefulness of “now”.

On self-isolation, asking for support, kitty snuggles, and mental health in the rough moments

Sometimes I get in my own way. I don’t ask for what I need. I feel that I need to tough out situations on my own. I don’t want to bother anyone. All are my mistakes. Writing my last post about sadness as I heal from injury was really difficult for me and some thing I needed to do for several weeks. I don’t like to inconvenience people. I don’t like to make waves. I’m more comfortable with people offering help than asking for it.

What I realized was that my strategy was one of self isolation which exacerbated the feelings of helplessness, loneliness, sadness, frustration, boredom, and depression I was already feeling.

Kitty snuggles always help!

My thinking went something like. “This is a rough time of year for many people. So much loss. So much pain. Do I really need to add to that for anyone?” Or “This is such a special, happy, joyous time for many people. Do I really need to bring them down with my concerns?” Or “Other people are so much worse off than I am. Do I really have a right to complain?” There are fallacies in all 3 of these views that responses from family and friends after reading my last blog helped my articulate.

The first fallacy is about not wanting to make someone else’s situation harder. The reality is that when we share our sorrows we feel understood and seen. We reaffirm important connections; we allow people to share their moments as well – reciprocal disclosure and all that. When we share the load, it’s much lighter for everyone.

The second fallacy – bringing people down when they’re up is equally misguided. People like to show care. Compassion and helping someone in a time of need helps us feel good about ourselves. Side note: Crying is cathartic. Crying with someone else, even moreso. And after someone has heard our pain, our loss, our sadness, the joy in their lives will be there for them to return to.

In many ways, the third message is the most insidious. It leads both to guilt and to undervaluing our own experiences. Repeat after me: “My troubles are not in competition with anyone else’s. Comparison separates rather then unites us. My feelings, my emotions, and experiences are valid. I am worthy of compassion.”

Perhaps, most importantly, no matter how much they love you, no one can read your mind. If you can’t express your needs, they are less likely to be met. So, reach out. Phone a friend or family member. Ask for the support you need. Ask! You may be surprised who responds, and how much better you feel.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, call a crisis center near you or call 988. It’s a free call to help you get support with mental health issues. Similar to 911, 988 is dedicated to anyone in need of mental health assistance.

If someone hasn’t told you lately, you are important. You matter. The world is a better place because of the gifts you bring to it. You are precious. You are unique. You are loved. Happy holidays!

Managing sadness, boredom, loneliness and depression as I heal from injury: Focusing on beauty, breath, and magic

When I’m down, one of the most useful exercises I’ve found is to look around me for something beautiful. Then I concentrate on that beauty, breathe into it, and ground myself.

The last 6 weeks have been hard. My favorite thing about myself is my optimism. I typically don’t let things get me down, at least not for long. My optimism and my ability to stay positive have been sorely taxed by my current predicament.

Because of the nature of my injuries, I am largely immobile. That means I’m alone much of the day while Andrew works and either on the couch or in bed. That also means I’m by myself. I can’t work on the computer long because the neon silver streaks and distortion in my eye cause blazing headaches and even blue blocker glasses don’t help. I have better luck with my phone but find correcting voice notes annoying and typing with one finger tedious.

I’ve been sad, lonely, depressed, and bored. I cry, a lot.

Then, out of the blue, chocolate covered strawberries, my favorite Starbucks drink, flowers, soap, lip mask and lip gloss, a lovely glass hummingbird, tea, chocolates, zatar seasoning, pita bread, and olive oil, or a DoorDash gift certificate arrive. My daughter, my son, a friend calls or texts at the perfect moment. Andrew takes a break to chat or just wrap me in his arms. I am reminded that I am loved, that I am connected.

Closer to home, a wheelchair has allowed me to go out and enjoy Korean BBQ with my daughter and lovely quick or quiet and relaxed dinners with my sweetie, as well as trips around grocery stores, Costco, and our local outdoor mall.

The slog isn’t over, but things are getting better. The surgeon estimates that the gas bubble in my eye will dissipate fully sometime within the next three weeks. That will stop the ongoing game of Pong in my eye that has constantly undermined my balance. It looks like in the spring I will probably need another surgery to remove scar tissue from my retina (which resulted from the first surgery and which is distorting and blurring my vision – think fun house mirror). I don’t know how much vision I’ll ultimately get back, but I am hopeful. I still don’t know what my knee will require to heal. I see a doctor in January. I hope this time in a brace with crutches will allow it to heal on its own. It is feeling better and I’m much more self reliant.

In one of his classes, Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley recommends ending every day by taking note of at least 3 moments of magic that happened during the day. This exercise and mindset help me balance and move forward.

These practices remind me that no matter what is happening in my life, I am always surrounded by beauty. There is always magic to be noticed and appreciated. There is much to be grateful for.

I have to admit that some days are easier than others. Some days it’s difficult to see the beauty, to find the magic, or to feel the gratitude. On those days, flowers, chocolate, the softness of my cat’s fur, a hug from Andrew, or a conversation with a friend or loved one help. Some days I just have to sleep on it and hope that the next day will be better.

Life lessons learned riding a horse on a mountain road in Kyrgystan

Steve Jobs once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backward.” This has been so true of my life. At times I am awed by the seemingly random choices and opportunities that have taken me from point to point throughout my life. This is the story of spontaneous awareness of one such path.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, I had the pleasure of teaching for the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. From 1985 until I left Reno in 2007, I taught over 10,000 judges from around the world. One of my greatest joys in those years was traveling to teach judges in countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, and Canada.

The truth of Steve Jobs words came to me in an unexpected way. I was teaching judges in Kyrgystan when my hosts decided to take us on a picnic in the mountains. They cooked shashlik (shishkabob) over an open fire and we ate fruits and breads.

As we were enjoying our picnic, a man came up the road toward us leading horses. I commented how much fun it would be to ride a horse on this mountain road. It was a passing comment, joy in the moment.

After finishing our picnic, we drove further into the mountain and there was the man with his horses. My hosts smiled at me. “Your wish comes true. Ride.” I was shocked. “Ride?!”, I asked. “Ride horse down mountain road.” they said. The horseman gestured me to a horse and helped me mount. “Go.”, he said. I did! My friends gestured me back down the mountain. “We wait for you.” Everyone else got back in the van and they drove slowly past me. The man took the rest of his horses down a different path.

So I found myself, on a horse, riding alone down a mountain road in Kyrgystan. It was bliss! It was beautiful and silent. It was magical.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed. I realized I l could never have imagined, as a small town girl from Urbana, Ohio that one day I would be riding a horse down a rocky mountain road in Kyrgystan. And yet, here I was. I sat with that for a bit, enjoying my moment of solitude as the horse took me back to my friends. At the end of my ride, I looked back. The path was clear and direct, as was my path from Urbana, Ohio to this mountain in Kyrgystan. It was a straight, clear path I had not foreseen nor even imagined I was on. It was a path I had followed for years through serendipitous event after serendipitous event. And it had brought me here. I wondered where it would take me next.

My life philosophy is to take whatever opportunities present themselves. That’s how I ended up teaching judges at the National Judicial College. That’s how I ended up riding a horse in Kyrgyzstan. That is how I have ended up many places in my life. In a lot of ways, this story isn’t really about teaching judges, or riding horses down mountain roads, or traveling from Ohio to Kyrgyzstan. It’s about recognizing paths. And taking the time to honor them.

I guess if there is a moral to this story it is to take chances, to take the opportunities that come our way, even if we have no idea where they will lead. Take the chance to change paths when they no longer serve. Keep moving forward. And every once in a while, take the time to look back at the path that brought you to where you are. Because when we look back, the path from there to here will be straight and clear.

On excitement, anxiety, and moving to Las Vegas

Why do I sometimes find change to be difficult? I’m always excited about new adventures, but there also seems to be some level of anxiety as well.

Today my sweetie and I leave our beautiful apartment in Broomfield Colorado and move to my condo in Las Vegas. I could not be more excited.

I bought the condo a little over a year ago with the intent of retiring there some day. My daughter has been living in the condo but decided to move out and as Andrew is able to work remotely we decided, “What the heck? Let’s move now.” And within two weeks, we are had a plan. I love the condo. I’m very excited to live there, to make it my own in a way that you really can’t with an apartment. Las Vegas is such an easy place to live. Added bonus, I will finally, after five years, again be living in a city with one of my children. My children are very important to me and I am absolutely delighted that I will be so close to my daughter after so many years.

That said, there’s still a level of apprehension about this move today. It still feels bittersweet. I find myself choking up a little bit, being a little bit weepy, but my children would tell you I’m that way anyway. That’s true; I feel things deeply. I’m not really sure what I’m feeling deeply right now though.

I have loved Colorado. It is stunningly beautiful. I have found favorite places here that I will miss, Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Estes Park and my favorite coffee shop, hiking around Stearns Lake in the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Butterfly Pavillion, being close enough to visit Andrew‘s parents in Loveland for Sunday brunch.

I will miss the beauty of the mountains and and the lovely flowers here. I will miss this place.

Living in Colorado has been an adventure. It was here that we navigated the Covid pandemic, including lockdown and almost two years of masking and social distancing.

It was here that I learned to love people again (while still masked and social distanced) by taking a job at Savanah Bee Company in Boulder so I could learn about mead, honey, bees, and reintroduce myself to my love of people. It worked! I had a blast!

It was in here that I met Victorine Mbong Shu virtually and then traveled to South Africa for the launch of our co-edited anthology Writing about Motherhood Honesty. Our collaboration has continued to Victorine’s participation in OSCLG in October and our work on the upcoming sequel Writing about Fatherhood Honesty.

It was in here that, on an impulse, I took a holiday job at Harry & David in Flatiron Crossing Mall because I loved their products and thought it would be fun. At H&D, I met Emma Jugganaikloo, and started my journey collaborating with The American Campus (TAC) in Mauritius. Through this opportunity, I learned how to teach remotely synchronously and asynchronously. I had the pleasure of going to Mauritius to teach in-person for six weeks. I served as Provost and Academic Vice President to help them get the school off the ground. I was the commencement speaker for our first graduating class (bucket list). It was a wonderful adventure!

It was here that I learned for sure that my relationship with Andrew could weather anything. With him is exactly where I want to be. We were together, literally in the same space, negotiating life day-to-day, during Covid and loving each other all the more.

So many wonderful, serendipitous things have happened while we’ve lived in Colorado.

But I’m also ready to move on to my next adventure. I think the anxiety comes from the unknowing. Is this a good decision? Is this the best decision? Will we be happy in Nevada? These are all silly, futuristic questions that have no answer in the now. And when I look back over the list of things that came into my life during the five years I lived in Colorado, none of them were anticipated. So, I step into the anxiety. I step into the 24 foot U-Haul that I will take the first shift driving across country, and I move forward into the next stage of my adventure open and curious about what the future will hold.

I Hope You Dance! I Will!

Dance has permeated my life. Even before I went to my first ballet class when I was 5, I loved to dance. I still do. My favorite emoji is the dancing woman.💃💃💃 I use it regularly to express joy. I guess that sums it up. For me, dance is joy.

My children inherited their passion for dance from me, and while they far exceeded my abilities as a dancer, they grew up dancing with me. From standing on my feet while I waltzed them around the room to a fusion of swing, jitterbug, and disco that we did to anything with a beat, joy with my children has always included dance.

When we came home from my second Fulbright trip to Russia in the summer of 2001, Alyssa and I were so wound up we couldn’t sleep, so we danced around the family room to Safri Duo’s – The Bongo Song

and Culture Beat’s – Crying in the Rain – which we fell in love with during my first Fulbright in Russia.

We spent over an hour laughing and spinning until we were finally tired enough to go to sleep at about 4 am. Alyssa was 8.

Our last song that night was from our first train trip from Moscow to Kazan, Robert Miles – Children https://youtu.be/z9b09Ljnh0k

While dancing gives me joy, watching my children dance feeds my soul. Dance metaphors have filled my children’s lives and my own. Both were competitive dancers for years and nothing gave me greater joy than watching them dance.

I wanted to sing Lee Ann Womack’s – I Hope You Dance to them in honor of their high school graduations, but I knew I’d never get through it. In addition to being a dancer, I’m a crier. I cry when I’m happy; I cry when I’m sad; I cry when I’m frustrated; I cry when I find something touching. I particularly get choked up by the lines “Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens… When you get a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!” I want my children to live their lives dancing.

Lee Ann Womack – I Hope You Dance

As most of you know if you’ve read earlier posts, I’m going through a rough moment. I had surgery for a partially detached retina and my right leg is in a brace and I’m using crutches until I can get my knee checked out once the gas bubble in my eye dissipates. I heard this song the other day, and as she often does, Pink nailed it! “One thing I’m never going to do is throw away my dancing shoes… We’ve already wasted enough time… I’m never gonna not dance again. So let the music play till the end.

Pink – Never Gonna Not Dance Again

Shattering the cartilage under my knee didn’t stop me from dancing. Breaking both my wrists in a freak dancing accident didn’t stop me from dancing. A partially detached retina and sore knee will not stop me from dancing. I will dance again. Dance, for me, is joy!