Monday, August 15, 2011

Water for the soul and a little insanity

It’s strange how inspiration flows abundantly at times and then at others is so lacking that one all but relinquishes to the idea of trying to fight for it. That’s all you can really do in those periods of drought, struggle through the weighted muck that the creative block inevitably brings, conserving your energies as best you can and using whatever tools you have to remind yourself that if you were once on fire you’ll likely find your way there again. The rain does return at some point. It always does. It’s just that when you find yourself in this place of blah you forget, over and over again, just how simple it often is to get you gears moving again. And then someone shows you the way by merely sharing their light and exposing you to their creative energy. It’s like a kick to the head and suddenly feeling yourself flooded with oxygen after holding your breath for several minutes (or months) all at once. Exactly what you needed. Thank you, Michelle, for reminding me to get my feet wet again.


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I’m not a big fan of reality TV. In fact I find that most people who subject themselves and their families to that kind of absurdity should be stoned for so readily contributing to the dumbing-down of this country. That said, my new favorite show is a horrific Wednesday night reality called “Dance Moms”. And it’s not just the f***ed-up factor that catches my interest. The show catapults me back to my early teens in such a way that I’m caught in a mix of appall, joy, longing, and anger.

My mom prides herself on not having been one of the “dance moms” so accurately portrayed in this Lifetime atrocity. She was, in fact, struggling with severe depression and a three-volume doctoral dissertation through most of my childhood and teenage years and was thus rather absent when it came to things that most of the moms at my small, cheeky dance studio liked to do—namely complain about so-and-so dancer’s solo being too (fill in the blank), gossip about other moms, argue over what shade of whorish-red lipstick best shows up on stage, and when out of earshot of our prudish studio owner, alter our costumes to show a little more skin so we might actually have a shot at competing with the ultra sexy twelve-year-olds from the studio across town. No, my mom didn’t do any of that. She pretty much ran away in fear anytime another dance mom tried to rope her into their circle.

During those years, I thought I had the oldest, strictest, most boring mom around. I felt like I was missing out on a true “Mother-Daughter Experience” when I compared my own to the other fun, uber-involved dance moms ever present at the studio, obsessively watching us practice and contributing their two cents whenever allotted the opportunity. Over the last couple years my relationship with my mother has shifted and I’ve come to understand and appreciate her on a different level. Yet it wasn’t until I discovered “Dance Moms” that I came to understand exactly how lucky I was, having the mother I had as a teenager. I might have thought so at the time, given that she was the one different from the rest, but now I see the truth: she wasn’t a complete whack job like the rest of them.

Come to think of it, this probably explains why the only long-lasting trauma I took away from my dance career was the residual eating-disorder/body image struggle that has carried me through my twenties. Looking at my former dance mates, things could have turned out a whole lot worse…

Love you, Mom

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letter to self

You're close, but don't fool yourself; you still have a ways to go.

Sure, this time you managed to pull yourself rather quickly out of the hole-- you know, that hole you keep falling into, over and over, and every time you do you ask yourself how the hell you got there again, after all the lessons, all the struggle to learn from your mistakes and all the proclaiming to the world that you have evolved, all to misstep yet again and find yourself in that place of feeling utterly stuck, lost and without direction. That place where doubt and fear rule without mercy. This time you actually utilized the momentum gained from the ass-kicking and simultaneously grasped hold of the relentless drive provided by a new friend in order to, as your dear coach has been encouraging you to do for months, get out of your head and do something tangible-- to prove to yourself it's real. You got your body and mind into motion and are already feeling pulled by the inertia you've created. You're still a little scared but you're excited and starting to feel like all of this is finally shifting, the tires have stopped spinning in place and have caught a little traction, just enough to push you to the next level. This is good. But don't get ahead of yourself.

There is still no denying the fact that you're terrified of selling yourself to the world, complacent sitting around waiting for *them* to magically discover what you have to offer without you having to put yourself out there. Your fear of conflict, your incessant need to please others and your inability to say no still get the best of you most of the time. You rarely contact those friends you still proclaim to be your closest, and it kills you that your partner makes it look so damn easy.

You feel satisfied with the newly vacuumed house and clean sheets, yet you let the filth on the car build up in such a way that you "suddenly" couldn't see out the windshield driving home this afternoon. You really need to get around to refilling the wiper fluid, by the way. And please-- next time don't let four days of sweaty running clothes accumulate in the hamper. It's just gross, and a little embarrassing when your uber-clean mother-in-law stops by and asks what smells like garbage...

And let's face it. You are NOT the gardening type. It wasn't a fluke that you killed the cactus you were gifted your first year at MHC...

Nevertheless, you're trying. I commend you for that. You're learning to prioritize-- sort of. And for the most part you're taking care of YOU. Brava. If you can keep building on this, if you can keep pushing forward and little by little adding to the list, a regular call to Granny perhaps, or learning how to use your own website, then you'll really become unstoppable. You'll overcome the fear. You'll REALLY believe in yourself.

And I'd offer you a pony if you were to actually pull this off, as I know the power of bribery works wonders on you, but let's face it: at this point in life, you'd much rather have a chow chow...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Convoluted

Once again this space finds itself in a state of abandonment as daily stresses and lack of routine feed the demons that impede the flow and courage required in writing.

This post is merely an effort to brush off the dust and meet the challenge posed by a friend to, for once, write something succinct and without the use of a single first-person pronoun-- an intimidating prospect to someone bent on creating something meaningful every time she writes and one that has admittedly postponed the revival of this blog.

The photo below, taken inside an elevator at what from the outside appears to be a rather nice hotel in the heart of Ipanema, illustrates, on both a metaphoric and a very literal level, the lesson one repeatedly learns in Brazil: