Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.


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Dancing: Day 25 of the April Poetry Challenge

Thursday is little girl dance night. This means a bit of organized chaos for our family.

The chaos results from the combination of the location of Princess Imagination’s dance class (the town to the north) and the start time (6:30 pm), which turns a normally 10 minute drive into 20-30 minutes, during which the kids eat sandwiches in the car because there is no way dinner is going to get itself cooked, served, and eaten before 6:00. The commute is followed by 45 minutes of Mommy trying to entertain the Gigglemonster while simultaneously maintaining polite chit chat with the Dance Dads, and then the rush back home to get the kids into bed before Mommy’s dinner-less blood sugar levels dip into irrationality territory.

Despite the rush and the questionable nutritional balance involved in this weekly ritual, it is worth it for the smile on my daughter’s face when she comes rushing out of the dance studio after her class. She isn’t just happy; she is glowing.

This is despite the fact that half of the time it’s a nagging struggle to get her changed into her jazz clothes and into the car by 6:03. Dance is not her life passion. It is not what she was put on this earth to do. She is not even especially talented. (I know its sacrilege to say that about one’s own child, but I am a firm believer in only lavishing praise that is actually deserved, and she gives me plenty of opportunities to do that in other fields of endeavor – don’t even get me started on her math!). The first few months of the class I was wondering why we were even doing the craziness of Thursday nights. Watching on the closed circuit monitor she seemed distracted and unfocused during the class. She wasn’t really picking up the choreography, her timing was about a half-step off, and she nearly fell over every time she tried to pirouette. Exactly why was I paying through the nose to put us all though this once a week?

But then she comes running out of class and there is that bright fire in her eyes, I know this is the evidence I would offer to silence skeptics who don’t believe in heaven. It is right there – in the beautiful, brown mystery of her eyes.

She doesn’t care whether she is a good dancer, or whether she is learning the routine. All she knows is that she has spent 45 minutes dancing and it is more glorious than anything on this imperfect earth should be.

So now, Thursday nights are worth it not just for her, but also for me. Because I get to watch her dance, and learn what that really means.


 

Dancing Like a Little Girl

 

I want to dance like a little girl

free and happy in my own skin,

feeling nothing but the thrill of moving

through the space that hugs me,

as air becomes my joyful dancing partner.

I want to dance like a little girl

completely unaware of watching eyes,

unconcerned with looking graceful,

or sexy,

knowing that I dance not to impress, but to express.

I want to dance like a little girl

with a rhythm that erupts out of my soul,

and with a loose relationship to beat and time,

because the music is a friend

and not a task master,

a friend to join the play, not to set rules.

I want to learn to dance like a little girl.

and once I learn to dance like this.

I want to learn to live this way as well.


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Prayer on the Wind: Day 24 of the April Poetry Challenge

Yesterday I learned about a new form of poetry: Tanka. Tanka is like the big sister of Haiku, a little bigger and maybe a bit more grown-up. Although I understand the syllable count is not a strict requirement, the Tanka adds two lines (each of 7-ish syllables) to the 5-7-5 structure of the Haiku. While offering more freedom, Tanka is also more focused – presenting an image from the natural world and then expressing emotional meaning through that image.

I read that description and immediately knew I wanted to try it. Thankfully the day’s weather offered a perfect manifestation of the natural world to inspire me. The picture window off my dining room presented the picture of a warm New Jersey spring, but the wind that wrapped around my legs and tossed my hair the moment I stepped outside felt more like a mistral – the cold, strong gusts that tug at the Mediterranean coasts during this seasonal transition.

It was disappointing. The Winter that greeted our return to New Jersey has been so cold and long and – frankly – unwelcoming, that I am longing for Spring to really and truly arrive and tell me that this is where I belong. I don’t want to be blown back across the Atlantic when I am trying so hard to build my life here.

But then a memory of another Mediterranean wind blew into my mind and stopped my grumbling. It was the Summer wind that enchanted my daughter and I on the Greek island of Tinos and inspired one of my first ever blog posts. (That post is still one of my favorite things I have ever written – click here if you are curious). Sometimes the power of the wind cannot be measured in physical force.


 

Prayer on the Wind

 

The wind blows today

harder than I want, but then

I remember when

island wind blew through her hair

and taught my soul a prayer.