Monday, June 24, 2013

When We Compare Human Beings, We Lose Our Meaning, our Purpose, and Our Value

 I have always felt uncomfortable around competition, always; yet we live in a world that sears us daily with competition in every area, every footstep, every fiber of our being. From earliest childhood we begin to compete. In infancy, it is written into our code for self-preservation.

As we grow older, it becomes annoying.
It's damaging. It's demeaning. It's restrictive. It's hurtful. It's a burden.
It's unavoidable.

It's life.

Deal with it we must. Somehow.

But putting it {competition} and keeping it {competition} in perspective can go a long way in humanizing us to the level that God wants us to co-exist in love. We have to learn to embrace one another, help shape one another, build up each other, and work together as the Body of Christ.

This feet cannot balance the whole body without the toes.
The hands cannot grasp the tool without the fingers.
Each are necessary. Each are worthy. Each desire the good of the other.
"There is no such thing as competition."

To know that another might be called by Christ to do something we are not called to do is a sign of spiritual maturity.
To know that another might need to do what we are not willing to do is a sign of a blessing.
To know that another might not be able to do what we are having to do is a sign of Christian surrender.
To recognize and joyfully embrace these callings, these blessings, these surrenders; is a sign that we are willing to work for the Body of Christ as a whole and for the good of that Body.

And knowing that it was never about us to begin with.

This quote by Sr. Ruth Burrows is the best I've read.
"Every human person is a unique creation of love and has his or her irreplaceable function within God's glorious plan of love.
 
"There is no such thing as competition; it is senseless to compare this one with that.
 
"Each vocation is totally unique, and the temperament, circumstances, all the elements that go to make up my life are directed towards the shaping of that particular 'form' which is to receive God's love and express his beauty in a way unique to itself, thus becoming a living praise of the glory of his self-bestowing love."
 
~ Sister Ruth Burrows is a Carmelite nun at Quidenham in Norfolk, England. She is the author of a number of best-selling books.
 
 

What Decides Everything Else


 
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
 
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
 
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
 
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
 
~ Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
(Father Arrupe {+1991}was the twenty-eighth Father General of the Society of Jesus)

Books that Walk the Line (Literally)

For those parents planning a library trip this week and whose children can't get enough of the stunt of this guy, I'm offering a few book selections. Not that I'd ever encourage my son to be a tightrope walker, much less walk on a 2-inch wire over and across the Grand Canyon but, sometimes, a simple picture book gives them the excitement, the information, and thrill enough to satisfy their eager little spirits...for now.

Mirette on the Highwire by Emily Arnold McCully

Starring Mirette and Bellini by Emily Arnold McCully

Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls by Emily Arnold McCully

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

{A video from yesterday's gravity-defying tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon}
 
I will say Nik and family make a strong statement regarding their faith in Christ. This is a family who has known fear, tragedy, and faced the unknown. They have lived through death, seen family members crippled, and encountered many factors through generations of their family and still...every single time...they turn to a power greater than themselves and give him glory, for opportunities, for courage, for beauty, for scenery, and for the winds beneath their feet. And they praise Him in the middle of it all.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writing as a Prayer


I'll admit, this has stunted my writing over and over and over again:

"Of all the usual roadblocks to inspiration, such as perfectionism, insecurity, busyness, etc., what stunts my growth most as an artist is my desire to please …well, everyone. By avoiding being “too this,” or “not enough that,”  in an effort not to disappoint, I mute exactly what it is that makes me unique – as we all are and absolutely should be.

"The vulnerability aspect of revealing the tender innards of my soul via creativity is sometimes too intimidating for me to bear, and I hide away. What if I’m misunderstood, or understood and rejected? If I cannot make peace with that, I have no business proceeding to work on strengthening my distinct voice – a voice admittedly “too this” and “not enough that” for many people’s tastes." ~ read the rest here: It is Not for Everybody by Molly Sabourin

* * * * *
 
This is what will pull me out of the self-doubt, insecurity, muteness, and hiding...
 

"What a great surprise yesterday to hear my own words coming back to me from the pulpit! Writing, to me (and probably to most Christian authors), is not a “job.” It’s a need and a prayer. A need to finally express what’s been building up in my mind and heart, bursting to get out. And a prayer that God will use the seeds I sow to bring other minds and hearts closer to Him." ~ Vinny Flynn in A Writer's Confession

Thinking of writing as a form of prayer is freeing beyond anything anyone has ever told me.

I have plans and there are some of you who come here who have inspired me to not hide those plans under a bushel baskets but to carve them out, to sow the seeds, to light a candle, and to send them forth.

God bless each of you who has (knowing and unknowingly) encouraged me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Eats


I absolutely love the outdoors, so I can truly really appreciate Cay's idea for "Summer Eats" below...
Summer Eats

by Cay Gibson
{Originally published July 2009 @ View from the Domestic Church}


The summer sun has not yet smoldered the southland in a bleached
cloud of heat. The nights are still cool, gentle, forgiving. The grass
is refreshing to bare feet newly freed from their winter’s foyer. The
summer solstice is in prenatal form but fixing to give birth. It is
pulsating with life. Why would we miss a moment of it?

The outdoors was God’s first vision of our preferred home. Trees
protect us from rain and sun. Flowers offer the first air freshener.
Crops barter the first food. In keeping with our homes being the
domestic churches, surely, our yards are the bowers into the home.
They serve as a glimpse into a once beautifully spiritual garden.They
welcome guests to our home. They leave pleasant memories in our
children’s mind of a better time, a better life, a better summer.

Susan Hill instructs: “In summer, the kitchen is not for
lingering in, only for preparing food quickly, wrapping it or dishing
it up, and taking it outside.” Until the evenings become
uncomfortably hot and unpleasant, I plan to take these domestic
instructions to heart.

· Do you have a simple patio table outside? What about a
picnic table? If not, perhaps you have a card table you could set
outside under a nearby tree.

· Find an old table cloth, curtain, or bed sheet…preferably of
fabric and with a floral print. Spread it on your table.

· Set a vase in the center. Have the children pick fresh
flowers to go in it.

· On a corner, set a large bowl or tin bucket. Fill with cold
drink cans and ice cubes. Or fill a pitcher with lemonade or water and set in bucketful of ice.

· Fix a simple tray of po-boy sandwiches. Layer them around
the edges. In the center, spread lettuce and tomatoes.

· Present a bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s that simple. It’s that inviting. It’s that summery.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oh, Wait...!

My kitchen this morning smells just like grandma's kitchen.

{Excuse any signs of dinginess...everything here is in use :-) }
 
The way I remember hers' smelling when we walked through the door.

 
Preparations for Father's Day lunch with children and friends.

{Ground Meat for the baked beans and rice dressing}
 
Biscuits on my Pampered Chef stone cookie sheet because husband asked for biscuits for Father's Day breakfast.



 
And the coffeepot was always on, always brewing the love.

 
Yes, definitely smells like Grandma's kitchen...
 
OH, Wait...!!!
 
I am a grandma! ;-)

 
And I work with aunties in the kitchen. {Above, Annie's salad creation for Father's Day}

Thursday, June 13, 2013

First Step Towards Simplifying is to Shut Up

"Beware, beware!  Know how to preserve silence, how to speak with moderation, how to refrain from judging people and their attitudes, except when this is an obligation imposed by Superiors, or for grave reasons.

"On every occasion say less rather than more and always be afraid of saying too much..."

You can read the whole quote by Pope John XXIII here...

 
What these words spoke to me was the realization that we need to carefully discern how LOUD we are being in social media. Of course there wasn't such a thing when Pope John XXIII made this statement but it is still relevant today.

How ANNOYINGLY LOUD we can be with constant twittering and Facebook pops and everything media in the world.

I realized this a while back when a friend lamented to me that someone had complained to her about all the religious messages she shared on FB. What she may, or may not, have realized is that every time she hit "like" those same pictures/quotes/sharings were showing up yet again to her FB friends. Double the goodness, right? Double the awesomeness, right:

Huh, wrong.

I know people who "unfriend" or "block" people who share too much of anything. I'll be upfront...it can be very annoying.

For that matter, as far as I know, some people have probably blocked or unfriended me for these very same reasons. I'm the pot calling the kettle black but as least I know what color I am. I can't do anything about that. We both have freedom of press afterall and we are all very different people in interests and hobbies and crusades and, yes, intelligence. Social media gives us the outlet to speak our mind and, speak it, we do.

Still, I ask myself, when tempted to share a quote/picture/religious view, if that will isolate my FB friends. My FB vine travels from those who know me well (husband, children, parents) to those who haven't seen me since we graduated high school in 1986 on to those kindred spirits I've never met in-real life but who read my little ponderings and feel a connection with me through the communication of written words.

I have tried to be very vigilant and make my use of social media very mediated and mindful.  It might not look that way to everyone. My FB page consists of funny things my children say, links to articles I want to read later and are worried I'll forget about, pictures of family and pictures I love, quotes I adore, thoughtful ponderings, sporadic exclamations, and links to the online places where I write, and postings of friends I enjoy reading.

And I'm just one person!

My! that is a lot of  spillage! especially when multiplied by the other XXX amount of friends one has on FB.

Still, we can't please everyone, right?

My balancing is that I don't do twitter (my blog is set up to automatically post there), I don't play any games online (I mean any---please no more Candy Crust invites because I won't accept it---I don't have time for that), I rarely check email except for work related messages, and I'm decluttering my GoogleReader. I also do a little Instagram simply for fun. It's just a picture-snapshot and no more.

My social media consists of very little but I guess it can look large to people who don't write and don't sell books and don't live in words. I believe there's a difference.

And so I'm always looking at where to cut back, where to reign in, where to reserve my energies...

...WHERE TO BE SILENT!

Recently our Holy Father told us that Catholics must "watch their tongues". Again, the message is silence, in conjunction with Pope John XXIII's message above. I'm still learning that art. Pope Francis is such a wise spiritual father. I just love him.

I'm probably speaking in circles but the point I'm trying to make is that if we are over texting, over blogging, over emailing, over Twitting, over FBing then we don't allow our garden to recultivate itself.  

In the old days, farmers learned that to till and plant and grow a garden in the same location year after year was bad for the land. The soil didn't have time to replenish. It grew exhausted and useless. There are times we need to pull back and restrain from using sacred ground.

It's a holy art because we must eat, we must nourish ourselves and yet...

Sacrifice...in the long run...is good for us.

But, here's the reality check regarding social media...Our recent Holy Fathers have told us that the internet can serve as a valuable evangelizing tool to combat the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad social media that exists out there. So we are called to use these social media forms for the good. We truly are.

And, yet, to hear our voices sing, we overdo.

Too much goodness is like too sweet a grape or too juicy a cantaloupe or too sugary a melon or too ripe a banana. It swells with goodness and explodes...sending life forth, yes, but also the fruit never reaches the palate of the one who needs to eat of it.

That's my point with social media. We can make our FB page so utterly Catholic-oriented that we are speaking only to the choir. Everyone else has left us. The atheist has left the building. The agnostic has slammed the door. The high school friend searching for himself has unfriended us. The friendless cousin of a cousin has blocked us.

It is far better, and the Popes agree, to be silent and let no one guess what we are about until the Holy Spirit reaches out and touches them...not because of us but through us...in silence.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summertime Treats and Thirst Quenchers in June

Cranberry Summer by Wende and Harry Devlin
(Recipe for Cranberry Punch)
~ Out-of-Print...Best chance is to check with one's local library ~
 
Lulu's Lemonade by Barbara deRubertis and Paige Billin-Frye
(Recipe for Lemonade)
~ Easy Hands-on Math book that allows even the youngest children in a family to assist in the kitchen and contribute a summertime treat with a feeling of accomplishment ~ 
The Lemon Sisters by Andrea Cheng/ Tatjana Mai-Wyss
(Recipe for Lemon Ices)
 
Arianna and the Strawberry Tea by Maria Faulconer/ Katy Keck Arnzteen
(Recipe for Strawberry Tea and Chocolate Tarts)
 
The Greatest Potatoes by Penelope Stowell/ Sharon Watts 
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor/ Frank Morrison (no recipe but goes hand-in-hand with the history of the potato chip and the above book)
 
 
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

{Touring the Oak Shaded Estate} Jaunt to the Chicken Coop


Entry One: Why We're Taking an Estate Tour

As the first leg of our estate tour, won't you walk with me on my morning jaunt to my chicken coop.

I get more hits on this blog about raising chickens than raising children so I thought I'd make peace with the people surfing for that particular information and give them a free tour. :-)

I found this pot of rice in the refrigerator and, since I couldn't remember when it had been cooked, I decided the chickens would get a special treat today. They love leftover rice and it beats throwing it in the trash.

Out the door of my house we head to the back of our property...

 
So off we go...
...with my son's Jack Russell terrier rushing ahead of us.
He loves chicken jaunts.
He loves chicken eggs too. :-)

Bale of hay to the left, my husband got this past spring and I'm not sure what it was intended for as winter was over.
For now it's just sitting there.
 
In actuality, we don't have a chicken coop. We have a chicken tractor.
It can be hooked to the back of a tractor or a lawnmower and pulled to greener, cleaner pastures.
I prefer this because the blessed truth is these chicken are disgustingly nasty and messy.
A contained permanent space for a chicken coop would not allow the grass to ever grow and one section of my yard would be forever sickly.
 
In this picture you can see a favorably lush spot where the green-tarped chicken tractor used to be.
Let's just say that grass likes being fertilized...a lot.

 
Chickens will eat anything. And they adore leftovers. One day we had half a cake that wasn't getting eaten so we threw it into their cage.
 
My neighbor told me later that she took her 2 year old son out to the chicken tractor that very day. She asked him what chickens said and what they laid and what they ate, to which he happily declared, "Birthday Cake!"
 
Sweet story! :-)

I'm sure when he starts school, his kindergarten teacher will promptly and effusively correct him.
Luckily his mommy is a teacher as well. ;-)
 
Chickens are also instinctively insane. They will eat anything that worms, squirms and lurches underneath them. My brother-in-law, who raises chickens and owns The Chicken Whisperer Farm in Lafayette, LA, says that if chickens really did evolve from some type of dinosaur chicken, can you imagine one towering over you and instinctively plucking at anything that moves. Scary image! They are ruthless when presented food.

 
I really do love my chickens though. They are fun, very sassy, little creatures to have in one's backyard.
Out of 25 original chickens, we lost one and raised 24.
Sixteen of them were given to a man my husband works with and we kept eight. He loaned us his brooder so we could raise them from infancy then he took the majority of "pets" off our hands. We kept eight baby chicks to sustain our mini-farm.
 He has a full-size hobby farm. Our hobby farm is much like our estate, "minut" and very small in stature.
 
It was an old-fashion style of bartering. No money changed hands. We just helped each other out with what we had. Win~Win!
 
Today, three years later, we still have the eight chickens we originally raised from infancy and they're still laying. We ordered Rhode Island Reds because we wanted layers, not setters or hatchers. We just wanted the eggs.
 
On the day I took these pictures there were are six eggs...which means two chickens did not earn their keep last night. ;-)
 
They always lay their eggs in a back corner of the tractor. I guess where they feel the safest.

 
The good thing about bringing leftover rice to my sassy ladies is that I have a ready bucket in hand to place my eggs, since I often forget the egg basket in the house. Pecan grabbers make the very best egg grabbers.

And here is my son's rabid dog trying to antagonize the chickens on the other side of the chicken tractor. He doesn't attempt this when my husband is around but with me he likes to act "The Beast" with me.





"Come and get me!"
 
He fully expects to be rewarded an egg of his choice after his herding mechanism.
If I collect at least six eggs, I usually let him pick one.
I've heard it's good for a dog's coat and OB has the most wiry hair I've ever seen on a dog.


"Just one more. Plleeease!"
 
He carries it off and usually drills a hole in it then licks it clean.

 
I discover eaten eggs all over the yard and usually toss them back into the chicken coop.
Chickens will peck and recycle their egg shells as well as oyster shells which are known to give them calcium and, thus, harden the shells of future eggs.
(Like I said...chickens will eat anything.)

Broke this one in two. Must have been hungry.
After this, I freshen their water bowl.
It's simply an old water container that my husband cut in half.
See how filthy the bottom is at the end of the day?
Have I mentioned how nasty chickens are?
 
I also must place this tin can lid over the other eggs or OB will just help himself to more eggs.

After rinsing the water bowl, I put it back inside their coop and refill it using the water hose.
I guess not every farmer rinses out these nasty bowls but I find caring for my chickens very relaxing...most of the time. It's meditative in a strange way.
 
They really aren't high maintenance at all.
When I'm lazy or in a hurry, I don't rinse their water bowl. I don't even always fill it. I just make sure they have enough until tomorrow.
There have been times they have run completely out of food and we just open the door to their tractor and let them run loose. They are very self-sufficient.
 
We got them knowing these facts because if there's ever another hurricane evacuation, they will be left to fend for themselves.
 
It's nothing personal. I enjoy my chickens but they are not pets. They are work animals and I fully expect them to produce.
 
OB does too. :)
There have been months were they simply quit laying eggs.
At first I was discouraged.
I threatened them with the chopping block. A friend of mine threatened hers by talking about making a chicken and sausage gumbo.
 
My brother-in-law assured me they would soon restart and they did.
During winter the shorter days makes them sleep longer and they don't produce as well.
 
I mentioned that maybe putting a light in their sleeping quarters would help:
  • first, to keep them warm
  • second, so they wouldn't have such long nights and, by thinking it was day, would lay better.
My husband and brother-in-law looked at me like I had two heads:
  • first, chickens are farm animals and will do just fine in the cold as they will flock together thus warming one another
  • second, did I want them to stay awake all night long and become so exhausted they wouldn't lay or get at least some sleep?
Chickens are funny that way. As soon as the sun sets you won't see a single chicken in the outside section of the chicken coop. They all get on the rafters inside the coop, close their eyes and go to sleep.
Instinctive by nature.

Lesson learned: Chickens do not need a nightlight except if you're trying to hatch the egg without the momma. Most people learn that lesson in kindergarten. Evidently I didn't.
 
Chickens, mine anyway, tend to take a month off every year.
I guess everyone needs a vacation at some point.
The times they take vacations varies.
 
My friend recently texted me for two dozen of my eggs because her chickens had gone on strike.
In comparing notes with her, my chickens had already gone on strike through the whole month of January but were laying so plentifully this month that I was able to share the liquid gold.
 
So that's the first leg of our estate tour.
Hope you enjoyed and maybe learned a little something new.
Be back soon...


Links from Above:
 
 
 
 

{Touring the Oak Shaded Estate}

I got this "touring the estate" idea from The Legacy of Home Blog and thought it had such a nice, gentle, peaceful ring to it that I decided to do a blog tour of our personal oak-lined Cajun-cottage estate as well.


 This might seem strange to some readers, and my husband will definitely say, "Honey, isn't that a little TMI?" ;-) But that just means he's reading my blog along with lots of curious women readers who enjoy such whimsical household information. Even if it is an overkill of neurosis.
 
Men just don't get it. I don't think they "get" the whole blog thing in general or the community of women who gab about it as they once did over the backyard fence or clothesline.
 
Actually, my husband fed my decision to "go there" by the quirky invitation he presents me when we're having coffee in the evening hours.
 
"Wanna go tour our estate with me, honey?"
 
He usually holds out his hand to me and winks. It's one of those quirky inside jokes married couples share.
 
It's funny because our "estate" consists of a mere two acres of land. It's hilarious because we don't own an "estate" in the way people reading this might think. And yet it is our estate. In reality it's land and a house and it's ours, all ours. We own it. As defined by Google, we fit 3 of the credentials (land, house, ownership):
 
*****

Noun

  1. An area or amount of land or property, in particular.
  2. An extensive area of land in the country, usually with a large house, owned by one person or organization.

Synonyms

property - holding - possession - domain
*****
 

If one considers his brother lives to the south of us and our oldest son lives to the north of us and our outside dogs think this means they are protectors of the whole "estate", then our estate actually expands to about 6 1/2 acres.
 
The road about half a mile south of our "estate" declares we are no longer in the city but are country folk. My husband grew up here. During his childhood there were no other houses around. Nowadays houses spot the oak tree-shaded landscape.

And, so...won't you join me on a tour of this little ol' estate in Southwest Louisiana?

Come back soon. Our first leg of the tour will be a morning jaunt out to the chicken coop.

Bouquet of Marriage Prayers ~ Day 40

 
 
Today marks the end of these 40 Days of Prayer for Sacred Matrimony, but it does not mark the end of our Praying for Sacred Matrimony.
 
Please continue to pray for all married couples...those engaged, those newly married, those in the seven-year-itch stage, those in midlife crisis stage, those married during silver times and golden times, those seeking marriage counseling, those who minister to couples preparing for marriage and those administering to couples working through marital problems, those who serve the children of these marriages, and that all married couples will know that, where there was once enough love to agree to a lifetime together, there is always hope and God's mercy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

Goodbye my much loved Google Reader! This is me at the peak of my frustration in finding a new home for all my listings.



I still can't tell you why Google is dissolving Google Reader. I don't have time to focus on show downs. As it was it took my years to climb on the band wagon (I'm a slow learner) and even longer to understand Google Reader. For the longest, I had only 1 or 2 blogs listed there.

Then the computer light clicked on...

Today I'm embarrassed to share how many blogs I have listed there though there are only a handful I check daily. Still, I don't want to miss out on anything and I scan the new updates diligently to see what will help me, items of interest, and listings that will inspire me and my home. As I surf, those yellow stars light my day brightly.

I was sad to see all those many articles, that I promised myself I will go back to reread and blog about and talk about, would be lost into that cloud which rules above and always drifts far out of my reach.

I'm looking at this Google Reader eviction notice much like moving from one house into another. It's a good thing. It's a worthy chance to clean house and declutter and update the fixtures and redo some plumbing problems, in this case, blog listings that no longer contribute to this season in my life.

Three feeds that I've attempted to change my listings to are:

http://www.bloglovin.com

http://www.theoldreader.com

http://www.feedly.com

Since I don't have much time for searching (I'd rather be reading), I found this very helpful site: http://www.replacereader.com   It's a plus right away. You see all the possibilities upfront and center and can see a brief blurb about each to help make your decision. Perhaps you'll find your preference there.

A brief update on my experience and my preference (going backwards as I found them):

Feedly---this seems to be the one everyone is raving about. So, naturally, I wanted to like it. I wanted to use it. I wanted it to work. It didn't. Not for me. As goes most things in life, I'm always the one going in a different direction. I tend to take paths less traveled. I couldn't understand its appeal. After clicking there and clicking some more, I still couldn't connect with it. I gave up and went searching for something more suitable.

The Old Reader--- I found The Old Reader and, though I don't remember how I made my account or got my listings moved over to it, it was easy and prompt to use which works for me. It also resembles Google Reader. That makes me happy. So I have my listings there as well as here...

Bloglovin'---oh, YES!, I am lovin' it. I like the appearance and, after logging in through my FB acct, it was a simple one-click to ensnare all my links into this one spot. The easiest of all so far and I absolutely love the neat, clean look of the site and the one tempting picture that shows up next to the link and blurb.

Now this may very well change as the months click by. I know habit is 90% of the equation. For X amount of years now I've faithfully clicked onto GoogleReader for my updates. That's my habit and it'll be a hard habit to break.

Will my habit become http://www.bloglovin.com or http://www.theoldreader.com ? Or some other home listing? These are the two apartments I'm looking at for now. I'll let you know if I find my true home at one or the other or if I have to clean up and declutter to move yet again.

One last reminder... http://www.replacereader.com is an excellent place to point and guide you towards your new reader real estate.

If you have something else that is neat and clean and super easy to use, let me know. I'm on the lookout for the most friendly neighborhood I can find. I hope this helps you to find yours.


 

Bouquet of Marriage Prayers ~ Day 39


Not a Good Night



 
To say we had a rough night is putting it mildly.
Our littlest dancer got a touch of a stomach bug or food poisoning.
Not sure which. Time will tell.
 
It's been a long time since I was up every 15 minutes to wipe, strip, clean, disinfect, prop trash can, anoint with wash cloth, give back massages, and all the other things nurse-moms do.
 
Poor little heart. She even started to cry that she felt so badly I was getting up so frequently to clean up after her but it was so non-stop and convulsive that she became too weak to leave the bed.
 
Even after a morning shower she was very weak, found a chair, and collapsed.
 
Would appreciate prayers for speedy return of health and energy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Can We Talk Dance?

I need information and I need it quickly.

I'm stepping out  here on the stage and saying in plain view...

"I am not a dance mom. Never have been a dance mom."

Not that there's anything wrong with being a dance mom. One of my dearest friends is a dance mom.
She would also be the first one to tell you how different we are.

Even with three daughters, I've always skirted around the dancing arena. We've danced. We've danced for years. But we kept it in a safe do-able zone: dance studio only. During all those years of dance, the yearly recital was as ditzy as we got.

With our oldest daughter, there were babies at home. That was my excuse. I could not travel to the ends of the earth for dance competition. Just couldn't do it.

I put our oldest in summer dance camps and she took a year of dance before deciding to play soccer like her older brother. Then in junior high she found herself happily back on the plie' and pointe trail. We found a studio across the street and she walked back and forth to perform on a dance line. Then she literally did break a leg (ie: her ankle, to be exact) one forlorn, horrible summer after Meme died and the Blue Bayou Waterpark weekend trip had to be postponed and she missed most of the dance practices and almost all of the performances because of that bad luck send off.


I was busy with her younger siblings and an ailing grandfather. Today I wonder and worry if I tended enough to the broken heart sitting on the front porch with a booted leg and no where to go and nothing to do.

That year set her back. She didn't dance in high school. Her hip ached, but teenagers often have growing pains so we didn't think too much about the aches. Thus ended those happy years of dance. She became committed to her studies instead. She thought she'd like to become a dietician. In college she found out the cause for the hip pain. She had hip dysplasia. She committed herself her studies and became a nurse instead.
{Kayleigh on far right}
Her younger sisters were full stint into dance and we went weekly to a new dance studio with the teacher who had always taught them ballet and whom they loved. Kayleigh had already committed herself to her studies and health.

Before high school, the second daughter turned her pointe shoes in for soccer cleats. There are times she pines for those dance shoes.

That left just one little lady in dance and there were no more babies at home.

Only there is...


Mommy and Daddy must work and that leaves MayMay and the aunties helping to watch him during the week, along with Aunt Krystle. We know our time with him is very special and very needed. MayMay knows more than anyone in this household how quickly these precious years dance by. We are committed to giving his parents much needed support and helping raise this little guy.

I'm not going to say it's easy and all snuggly lavender-scented kisses. Babies press your life on pause. They definitely slow your feet. We've gotten quick paced around this Cajun Cottage. On days Hudson joins us we have to replan our days. Often it's easier to plant our feet at home and home is a strange oasis when one has teenagers.

But he's a very precious part of our weekly dance. He's part of our new normal.


But there is the one little dancer left. She's worked hard this year and has never once complained. She has begged for more dance. She set her goals this year to be on the competition team.

This week Oma helped to get her to the studio and she came home so tired that she showered and put her pajamas straight on then relaxed into the evening. We thought maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't make the team and we wouldn't have to worry.

We wouldn't have to worry about how to say "No"?

I talked to several dance moms and asked for price amounts and travel expense and gleaned information. I'm use to ball travel. That's a fun prospect for me. We've done it. We've done it for over 20 years. We loved it. 

But I am not a patron of back stage anything. I'm the mom who, when she could, sent the oldest sister to the back room on recital afternoons. I'm the mom who gets the older girls and their friends to do the hair and make-up so I don't have to. I'm the mom of three girls who has never learned to French braid hair. I'm the mom who almost never wears make-up anymore. It's become an added chore. And the low-down is that dancing stages seems to exceed ball sports in financial areas.

My husband and I talked. All these years we've told her No. Too expensive. Too busy. Too much on the calendar. Too much of everything else. This year we told Annie she could try out but we could not promise she could be on the team due to the expense and travel time.

How could I justify spending so much money for one little girl to dance!?!

I couldn't.

There are fund-raisers offered. Still...

I'm tired of fund-raisers and they never raise nearly enough money. Never!

What about having to flex tender hearts alongside dance moms who are just that? Dance moms!

That's not my personality. People who are overtly self-confidence and ooz self-assurance make me a tad uncomfortable. By gene-pool, my personality is mild-mannered. By upbringing I am humble. Self-arrogance hinders me.

Then a friend told me that maybe...perhaps...just think...could it be that in thinking these thoughts that I was the one who was overtly confident? overtly self-assured? Not humble enough to face the music. Maybe...perhaps...just think...could it be that I'm the one being self-arrogant in the pirouette of mothers backstage?

Hmmmm....

What I am faced with today is this last little daughter...this last little dancer who is not living in the same world I grew up in. It is not prized to be mildly-mannered. It is not cool to be humble.

This world spins of extroverts. It spins at a dizzy pace. You must spin or you are left in the dark wings with the dust of ghosts who never danced. And you must ask questions.

When is it our dance versus our child's dance?

When is it self-seeking versus soul-searching?

When is it goal-keeping versus God-catching?

When is it ego-leading versus talent-lending?

When does a parent who does not need the applause (introvert), bow recognition to the child who does (extrovert)?

In many ways, by missing the dance, my older daughters learned compassion and understanding concerning the heartache and sufferings of others. They learned lessons and have become wiser people because we could not participate in the dance with them.

Over everything they learned acceptance as a level of maturity sometimes not reached until one is in their thirties or forties.

That's not a bad thing.

In learning acceptance we learn to dance wherever life leads us.


Our last little dancer tried out for the competition dance team last week. I didn't realize how much I cared until saw the nervousness on her face when I collected her after facing a panel of judges. I saw the worry of not being good enough.

To be judged. Gosh, to be judged!

I know that fear. We all do.

I bit my nails that morning and I paced a tightrope made of nerves that afternoon.

How could I say "No"?

Our last little dancer made team last week. She scored a duet as well.

And so there is the concern of expense. And the anxiety of travel. And the swooning of time. And the logistics of leaving responsibilities at home.

And the question peeks out from behind the curtain, "What is wrong with quietly knowing who you are and not needing an audience to give you calm self-assurance about one's life, one's call, one's body, one's personality, one's dance?"

That may be where I'm at, but I'm looking at life through the eyes of an 11 year old. She hasn't learned that solo part of the dance. That beautiful part of the dance. That part of life that teaches you best and, after all the bumps and thumps and breaks and recitals and practices and rejects and mishaps and bad lighting, leaves you firmly on your own two feet.

She hasn't learned all that. Yet.

And she faces a world where people are overtly confident. They're spinning crazily and admired for that craziness. I don't want her a part of the craziness but I need to help her remain rooted as these tornados threaten to throw her off center.

It's part of my job as a parent.

The band plays and we dance this delicate dance together as parents and children. It's the most delicate dance of all...and the most complicated.

It's the longest dance of all. And the most beautiful.

I want to make sure we dance this dance well.
 
Sometimes it means breathing deep and saying Yes.
{very blurred but Annie is in the middle receiving a summer scholarship at recital}



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