Eight Months to Fifty: The Significance of the Cirque Bag.

 

The thought provoking bag.

The thought provoking bag.

This is my bag.

I like this bag and I hate this bag.  I got it at the Cirque du Soleil store in Downtown Disney a few years ago. My Cirque bag looks like it has many compartments because the artist used zippers to create this design illusion.  It isn’t the kind of bag one would use if you need to carry a lot of things with you. With two very small and rather shallow pockets in the front, the only useful parts of the bag are the two compartments on either side of it.

 

back of bag

Even then, because the bag is a triangle there really is only enough room to hold a small wallet, my phone, a tube of lip gloss, a small tube of hand cream and a pen.  Looking at the bag on the outside, I guess I love it’s soft smooth texture.  I still find it quite interesting to look at and that I see something new pop out at me every time I take in the artist’s zany, whimsical use of colours and patterns.  And while it truly captures the beauty and mystique of Cirque, it can also frustrate me if I happen to have it when I go grocery shopping and have to get in and out of it to retrieve my wallet.  Those are the times the look of the bag is deceiving and I curse myself for not having the good sense to have chosen a more practical bag to take with me when I run errands.

The bag was intended as a gift for someone who was a close friend at the time.   She was house and pet sitting for us while we were on our trip because she wanted to use the time away from her “normal” to sort out some stuff in her life. Of all the cool stuff in the store, the bag stood out and I considered it a good gift for her as, like me, she enjoyed unique, artsy and funky things.  There was a blue one as well and I was going to buy it so I could have one too but (a) I didn’t want to do the “bestie” twin thing,  (b) the blue one was not as bold and (c) the bag wasn’t cheap.  You might be thinking I did a not-so-nice thing when I decided to keep the bag but as you read on you will see this bag is more than the story of me not giving a gift intended for a friend. To me, the bag is a beautiful piece of art that captures the essence of Cirque du Soleil which has a special place in my heart from the days when we lived in Montreal and they still performed there.  It is a reminder of a great family vacation, a wonderful tropical night and is a symbol of a disappointing friendship that was doomed to fail, now that I think about it. It is a reminder of hurt, forgiveness and inner peace and is a grounding reminder to always listen to that inner voice of mine.

rose kennedy Rose Kennedy once said, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’  I do not agree. The wounds remain.  In time, the mind, protecting it’s sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.  But it is never gone.”

If anyone knew pain, it was Miss Rose and as an admirer of hers, I too have subscribed to her observation because let’s face it, the old adage forgive and forget  is so far from the truth because while quite difficult when someone has wronged you and hurt you deeply to forgive them, I believe that forgiveness is possible but forgetting is not only impossible but pretending to is foolish. I rather lean toward the saying “live and learn“.

So why was this woman my friend?  Fair question. When I moved from Calgary, my focus was on getting Adam’s in-home therapy underway, managing our nutrition and getting Logan into school for the first time and basically raising my family and running a household while Tom worked.  He met her at work and thought she and I would hit it off as friends.  With the headway I was making with Adam, I didn’t really want to allow anyone new in my life, let alone get close to them but my mother thought it would be nice to have a break from my daily stay-at-home-mom-and-therapist-and-teacher routine.  Taking my well-meaning family’s good intentions and against my instincts, I made a new friend and as it turned out, we did have many things in common and did enjoy spending time together.  She introduced me to running, I got her practicing yoga.  We shared a birthday and a love of the arts  but there was always something that I couldn’t really put my finger on  at first that made me question if we really were suitable as friends. As time went on, I realized it was her false sense of confidence and her inability to be comfortable in her own skin that never sat well with me. She found the silliest things “cool”  and was a self-professed “whatever” girl who was “carefree”, “kooky”, “wild” and “dark”, glorifying herself as a crazy, haphazard mess, much like one might be at age 15.  I always thought after age 24, the “cool” thing was working to get your act together as a grounded, well-rounded adult. It was frustrating watching her avoid grown-up life – basic things like being accountable for her work or standing her ground as a parent or not showing up at an event she’d committed to, not caring she was becoming notorious for backing out of things at the last second.  She would rather appear helpless than face reality and with all that my family and I dealt with on a daily basis, I was disappointed in her childishness and lost a measure of respect for her because I knew if she made an effort to be a strong independent woman, she could own her world and not have to lean on anyone. I saw her weakness and I was amazed as I was annoyed by it, because she clearly found a way around seeing things through in her life. I blame myself for not cutting the friendship to an acquaintanceship at that moment.  It was the right move to make but when I mentioned it to my mother in passing, she suggested perhaps I was being judgmental and that sometimes, though we have our own troubles and struggles, we do have room to be there for someone else.  She ended her thought the way she always does with a simple sentence that makes me think – looking at me with those ashy grey eyes she said, “It’s okay to be nice Danie.  It’s nice to have a close friend.”  So, I kept on.

Unfortunately, I discovered like my Cirque bag, my friend was lovely on the outside and often shallow on the inside.  Her sweet and at times convenient naiveté drew people to her and made them want to help her.  To be fair, she wasn’t an ogre. I mean, she could be compassionate, kind and generous and she certainly preferred to laugh than sulk even though she had a lot weighing on her soul. But instead of doing something about her life, she chose to sweep every issue, conflict, responsibility and problem under a rug and as things built up and up and up, it spilled onto her children as well.  She never cleaned up her messes because she never learned how nor did she want to learn.  That took strength and guts and hard work.  What she did learn was how to draw attention by portraying herself as a damsel in distress.  She would proverbially throw her arms in the air and I would watch in awe as people would flock to her and wrap their proverbial arms around her, giving her advice, lending her their ear (whether sincerely or not) and assisting her in any way they could in the moment because her helplessness made them want to rescue her while giving them a feeling of being superior to her at the same time. Some people tend to like the misery of others deep down inside especially when “the other” has a tinier waist, a flatter tummy and an upright, firm, albeit artificial bust line.  When “pretty people” flounder or fail, in some bizarre way it arouses a sense of comfort in some people who are less so.  When a proclaimed “goddess” is knocked off a pedestal, suddenly it’s okay for the lowly mortals to not have the prettiest face or sexiest body, allowing the little devil sitting on their left shoulder to smirk once in a while.  I was different with her. I wasn’t competing with her; wasn’t looking to have her at my side to be popular nor did I want to rescue her.  I like strong, confident and hard working and lighthearted people around me.  I wanted her to grow up and take charge.  I was taking my mom’s suggestion and trying to be a friend but I made a major mistake.  I did not accept her for who she was and when I recognized that she couldn’t take the advice she sought from me because it entailed hard work on her part; when she could not get herself to where she needed to be on her own, I needed to take a step back from the relationship we had much sooner than I did.  But much like how I would make my bag work for me; stuffing all the important things I needed in there, ditching all the unnecessary receipts, pens and junk that was taking up way too much space,  I made her ditch her habit of putting stuff off or not dealing with issues. I made her  step up and be accountable for herself and her family and for a while it worked.  But in the end, she was like my bag, nice to look at and only able to hold the bare necessities and not much more.  I was wrong in thinking she could be more.  I was wrong to think that she was going to turn into a strong independent woman, mother, worker and reliable friend.  People can try to change. They can try to turn things around, be resilient and do the very best with what they have and strive for better.  We can all dig deeper and rise higher if we want to.  Not everyone wants to. Not everyone can. In the end, I learned my friend couldn’t be something she was not and I should not have encouraged her because she failed and did not know how to try again.

In the last year as the flame slowly went out on our friendship, I watched quietly as she frantically tried to preserve her youth dabbling in this, experimenting in that.  I watched quietly as her work and things at home unravelled.  I said nothing when I heard the rumours then saw the evidence of promiscuity and her unprofessional behaviour among colleagues which included her attempts to poach work.  Who she was, that unsure, wild teenager who never grew up, rose to the surface and she was considered by many to be nothing more than a vapid, waste of time and a disappointment to the workplace. The “whatever girl”  had nothing left to grasp and in the end all she could do was attach herself to a man (whom she admitted was not her type and one whom she and I agreed was not someone to get involved with until she had her life figured out) and “get the hell out of Dodge”.

When important contents are removed from my Cirque bag, it is mostly an empty vessel.  There might be a receipt or two left in it, maybe a pen and a tube of lip gloss but nothing I would be concerned about if it were lost.  My former friend and I did share some good times and I miss having someone nearby to do stuff in town with. Many of my friends live in cities an hour or more away from me and it was nice to have company at yoga occasionally or someone to have an impromptu breakfast out with on a weekend but now, in her absence, I’m back to doing what I do when I have the opportunity.  I’m back to jumping in my car (mostly in the summer when the roads are better) and going to spend time with women who don’t need propping or fixing.  They have their shit together and are worth the drive and my time.  In a million years, I never would have thought a friend would give up her family and her friendships for a man.  It was kind of like the girl or guy in high school who separated themselves from their friends because they were going steady with someone who was the be all and end all of their lives.  There was no goodbye when she left and I have since heard that she’s been back to visit her children? or family? once? …I am not sure.  I have had people mention to me and try to show me some of her social media posts (which I politely declined to view) that to them, seem dark and sexual and more in tune with the vibe of an angst-filled 18 year old. I don’t know anything about what she is doing now and I can’t comment on what she is posting and I have no intention of reaching out to re-kindle anything with her.  The last communication we had was via text and I let her know then how I felt, that I was verbally ending our friendship and I wished her well wherever her journey would take her.  She responded that she did not know what to do or say about my text.  She admitted that she was avoiding me because, and I quote, “it’s what I do. I avoid things that are hard to deal with.  I’m just an avoider” and she didn’t know what to say to me.  Hmm… upon writing that just now, I realize the only thing I really regret is the amount of time I wasted with her. So much had taken place in the 7 or 8 years we had been close – mostly things with her because after a while, it’s apparent that all the relationships she’s had with friends were rosiest when things, ever so subtly, were about her. It makes me wonder if all the times she stayed here, ate here, cried here in my house…the amount of times I fed her children, made them get their homework done, drove them from school only to have her reciprocate a few times in comparison then distance herself and disappear…I wonder if she was my friend at all or if I was just another really convenient pit-stop for her like so many of her past friends were?  Where was she when her family and friends needed her?  This is why I did not want to open up my life to someone new. This is why I wanted to go with my gut instinct and not get close to anyone else.  I can’t blame Tom or my mom for wanting me to not be lonely in this small and boring place but the only good that came of my experience with this friendship was the affirmation that I am best following my instincts every time.   I have my friends I am happy to drive to Toronto to see and one I have recently promised to fly to a different province to see. I have my friends abroad – my SJC “sisters” I keep in touch with on line after a 30 year reunion that reminded me that everything I know to be true, everything I was, I am and am yet to be was created during my life in Trinidad and the years we spent together – years that transformed us into the incredibly admirable, strong and courageous women we all are today. I have my dear sister, my mother and my girlfriend in Trinidad with whom I am able to Skype when life here gets on my nerves.  I have my  wonderful cousins and friends from Calgary and Montreal and a few people I have come to know and enjoy in the area where I live as well.  We are not “besties” but people –  women who enjoy each other’s company.  No drama, no issues no bull shit.  That’s how it was before and how I’d like to keep it.  No more wasted time on wasteful people.

But as my mother has said to me about all this – we all have experiences in life that help us grow and remind us of who we are.  Nothing, she says is a waste of time (I ain’t so sure about that, but okay).  She told me not all of my friendship was bad and what is most important for me to remember, is even though what happened hurt and at times made me angry and frustrated, she was my friend, and I did help her and she very much knows  that.

I told my friend when I returned from my trip that I got her a box of amazing chocolates in lieu of the bag (why lie?).  Though she really liked it, we both agreed that it was the better move as it may have ended up in the trunk of her car with the zippers broken and the material stained.  I never told her this but worse yet, because of her “whatever” and “kooky” nature,  I might have found the bag strewn on the shelf at yoga just like the way  the shirt (one she really wanted) that I gave her for her birthday along with her worn underpants were left there for God know’s how many days (I shake my head thinking of the poor custodian who had to remove her nasty bits).  Hmm…birthday present you really wanted carelessly left with your underwear on a shelf…kind of like the friendship I suppose that she tossed aside and let fade.  I am aware you can always point a finger at someone but you will always have 3 pointing right back at you.  No one is perfect.  We are all hopelessly flawed and I have some blame in the failure of this friendship. As I head towards age 50, I have learned many valuable lessons from this relationship. I have gone through the anger and the bitterness where I really wanted to hear that she fell flat on her face.  But then there was the lingering of a tiny shred of hurt that has been finally been replaced by forgiveness.  When you forgive someone you can’t wish bad things upon them. I don’t want her to fail.  I didn’t want her to fail when we were friends and I don’t want her to fail now.  I truly hope her “re-do” is a success because she is entering the second half of her life and at some point, she has to make it a better one. That tiny shred of hurt has been the affirmation that the best advice for me will always come from my intuition. I have all I need and there is nothing I am seeking; no thing I want.  This experience with this former friend in the end, I suppose, simply confirms I’m good.

 

For my friend and “word sister” Helen ~ Reading your words about your disappointments and triumphs with regards to your own relationships with others made me realize that admitting I too have experienced the hurt of a failed friendship, doesn’t make me weak.  No matter where you are there are people who are great friends and others who are not.  Your brave candor made me realize that I’m not above having unsuccessful relationships and that I am not too tough or strong to feel that kind of pain they bring because in life it is better to open oneself to all things ( even the not so good ones) in order to truly live.~

 

 

 

 

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Gesture of Goodwill Leaves Bitter Taste Behind

As many of you know, we started Adam’s Hope almost 10 years ago. With creative ideas and a lot of time and hard work (in addition to raising autistic son Adam and his younger brother Logan) we have had the honour of helping families in our community affected by autism, help themselves and get what they needed for their sons and daughters.  Since March, I have gradually passed the torch to three mothers who have the energy and the drive and the enthusiasm among themselves to keep the charity alive and well so it can continue to service our community.  I also have to tip my hat to the families who regularly put on fundraisers to give back to Adam’s Hope and each other time and again, and I hope they continue to do so.  While Tom, Adam, Logan and I will still be involved with raising funds and helping out however and whenever we can, it is time for us to enjoy this new phase of our life.  Our boys are older, more mature and capable and Adam is going to be just fine and we are now allowed to have a more “normal” family life.

In all the years of putting on events and raising awareness, we have encountered the most wonderful people and while every gesture of kindness has been appreciated, one of the more recent and bigger ones, has been a downright fiasco that has unfortunately left a sour taste in our mouths.  The level of disorganization, the lack of proper communication, the insult and rudeness we have been shown by a particular organizing member of a local chapter of The 100 Men Who Care Quinte, has forced me to tell people what really happened.  I believe the members  – the men who show up to the meetings are very well intended.  I believe the organizing committee, (including the one very rude individual), is well intended but they were far too disorganized to get things done in the efficient manner of their counterparts, The 100 Women Who Care Quinte.  Now that I have been told that  the 100 Men Who Care Quinte is blaming their tardiness and shoddiness on the charity I created with my husband for this community,  I am going to tell you and the members of the !00 Men who Care Quinte what REALLY happened.

In late February, Tom and I accompanied our Adam to the National Special Olympic Winter Games where he competed as part of Team Ontario in Speed Skating where he won 2 bronze medals.  Adam’s Hope was represented at the 100 Men Who Care Quinte meeting by someone who was a member of our charity at the time, and after a brief presentation, we were the fortunate recipients of $11,800.00. We would have preferred if Tom made the presentation at the 100 Men Who Care Quinte meeting but this particular and now former member of Adam’s Hope was over zealous and adamant that we should present in the winter meeting.  Anyway, we were chosen and we were happy and very grateful as this money would help get autistic kids to camp, help parents pay for respite and therapy and many other things in the summer which is a hard time for parents, as the kids are home from school and finding activities that they are able to do is difficult and expensive.  This donation also freed us from having to put on numerous fundraising events in a summer when we were changing hands in the charity. So this all started off as a really good thing.   Because we were away, I am not sure how the news got to the local paper as quickly as it did ( I am not a fan of immediate publicity until things are settled) but I started getting calls from families, putting in their request for assistance.  I assured them as soon as the money was received (and I told them to give it at least 3 weeks) I would happily help them out.

Tom began corresponding with the organizer by e mail (as there is no contact phone number) shortly after we heard the good news, thanking the 100 Men Who Care Quinte for their generosity.  Knowing families would need to make down payments for summer camps and services etc., Tom asked when Adam’s Hope could expect the money.  He was told to give it a week or so and that he (the organizer) was on top of it.  March became April and I not only had calls from families but from 100 Men Who Care Quinte members who wrote their cheques to Adam’s Hope and wanted to know why we have not cashed them as yet.  We explained that we did not have any cheques in our possession and that we were still waiting.  I also had calls from members wondering if I would write them a receipt, again for donations I did not yet have.

Since it was taking a long time to receive the funds and any real information from the 100 Men Who Care Quinte, and we were receiving all these phone calls, we were concerned that something had gone wrong.  Tom had sent several e mails that were not responded to by the 100 Men Who Care Quinte.  He has also received a couple very terse ones that say “I’m on it!” and suddenly we began to feel like we were badgering them and that we did something wrong, when all I had been doing was fielding calls from people looking for assistance because they saw the article on the news paper.  I was fielding calls from people who wanted me to cash cheques I did not have, and people who wanted to know when they would receive a receipt from our organisation.  As you can see, we had very little feedback from the 100 Men Who Care Quinte and nothing to offer the families and no answer for donors.  We were waiting. And Waiting…and WAITING.  Charities don’t function on promised money.  The money Adam’s Hope raises is immediately distributed and used to help people with autism because the alternative is endlessly long waiting lists.  There was nothing we could do so to stop my phone from ringing, so I posted on Facebook in May (yes we had already drifted into the month of May) that I had not yet received the money from 100 Men Who Care Quinte and as soon as I did I would be able to give people the answers they were seeking.

Soon after the post, one of the organizers finally gets in touch with Tom at 9:30 pm.  He calls our house and got into a screaming match with Tom  to the point that Adam could pick up on the tension.   He started acting out  asking “What’s wrong?” and “Why is the man in Dad’s phone yelling?” This man kept going on and on how he told us we were going to get the money soon and was angry because my post made them look bad.  Well, Sir, don’t do things to make yourself look bad.  He kept yelling “You’ll get your money!”  Well, Sir, it’s not our money, it’s money the 100 Men Who Care Quinte was highlighted for in the newspaper that they were donating to Adam’s Hope.  Because they could not collect all the cheques in a timely fashion, because they did not have a list of the donors names and addresses so that Adam’s Hope could write receipts, because of their lack of organization, The 100 Men Who Care Quinte is the only entity to be blamed for making themselves look bad.  This man would not let Tom get a word in edgewise on the phone and when Tom was able to, he reminded him very firmly that we were the ones trying to communicate with him and he did so extremely politely every time.  The organizer said we were badgering them (only after just 3 polite e mails in 2 and a half months and getting no response).  So Tom told him if he addressed our concerns with proper communication there would not be a situation where there would be a shouting match over the phone.

Since this gong show of an experience, I have been told by 100 Men Who Care Quinte members that they still don’t have receipts from the first 4 donations they made to other charities who received their assistance. Some members who paid cash also do not have receipts from 4 separate donations. Why is that? (Disorganization…that’s why)  Charitable receipts should be given promptly to donors as they can use them for income tax purposes.  Some members told me they had to keep making sure they had the funds in their spending account to make sure the cheques they wrote (not just to Adam’s Hope but to other charities) through the 100 Men Who Care Quinte organization, would not bounce.  After any fundraiser I have ever had, I deposit cheques within 3 days of receiving them and I issue receipts quickly and any receipts I might have missed I e mail to the donors the day I get the reminder that they are still waiting.

Now I have been told that The 100 Men Who Care Quinte is telling their members that because we were re-structuring a new committee, we caused the delay for the receipt of funds.  That, I assure you is not true! The new Adam’s Hope Committee member was called by the organizers of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte on the day she was at the bank assuming control of the charity’s finances.  She told him she was not able to take the cheques from him that day but would within the the next few days  (we planned earlier in the year to transfer the account control in early June).  Considering we’d been waiting since March, a few days really made no difference at this point.  The organizer also told her that they had not received all the cheques and the was still short about $1000.00.  Incredible, isn’t it? After all that time, they did not have all the cheques?

So to be very clear.  Control of the account regarding the old and new committee for Adam’s Hope happened in early June as planned.  The account was always open and able to receive donations as it had always been since 2007 so it posed no involvement in the delay of the receipt of funds.   The 100 Men Who Care Quinte had from the month March to gather the cheques, give them to our charity, along with a list of names and addresses so that Adam’s Hope could issue receipts, at which time the cheques would have been deposited.  It would have been nice to get the cheques in a timely fashion, so that families would have been able to secure their spots for their kids in the out of town overnight special needs camps, but even if we couldn’t and they communicated to us that they were having problems collecting the cheques I would have been able to communicate that to the people who were phoning me and our charity would have made arrangements to raise the money needed for security deposits for camp. Communication was VERY POOR. 

In closing I would like the very rude organizing member of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte to know this – While I thank your organization for the kind gesture, I will not tolerate your rudeness quietly.  You did not gather the cheques in an efficient manner.  You did not communicate well with us (we have all the e mails to prove it).  You did not give us a list of donors and their addresses so that at least we could mail their receipts.  You had no right to call my home and get into a shouting match with my husband when you were the one who was disorganized and wrong.  Sir, you actually were raising your voice and arguing with a charity… a charity you raised funds for. You created a tension in my household with your phone call that put my autistic son out of sorts.  You had no right to be disrespectful to us.  Why should I field all the upset calls you generated by your disorganization?  I had no choice but to let people know I did not have anything from your organization and until I did, I could not help them. You Sir, made the 100 Men Who Care Quinte look bad by your disorganization.  Perhaps your chapter needs to look to the 100 Men Who Care Kingston, who delivered a cheque to a charity they raised money for last December within 3 weeks of the event.  Look to your female counterparts the 100 Women Who Care Quinte to see how efficient they are.  Adam’s Hope is not ungrateful for the generosity but we did not ask to be chosen and we certainly did not have anything to do with your inability to organize things efficiently.  Do not blame your shortcomings on our charity which has helped this community for almost 10 years with the simplest of fundraisers put on by parents and family and friends of autistic persons.  This has nothing to do with our restructuring and EVERYTHING to do with your chapter being well intended and trying to do good in the community without having the organizational skills to pull it off.  When organizations get popular and grow suddenly as yours has, being efficient is imperative.  Looking good for doing good, is always a popular attraction but the true do-gooders do it right by being organized and efficient and apologetic when things do not go as planned.  While the money will not be able to help our campers this year, we still will use it all to assist families affected by autism in our community in many other ways.  Unfortunately what started out as a warm feeling in our hearts has turned into disappointment.   I want you,  the very rude organizing member of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte to apologize to my husband for your discourteous phone call and poor communication skills.  I hope you step down from the organizing committee of 100 Men Who Care Quinte before you ruin it .  You are certainly in the wrong role.  No one speaks to my family like that and gets away with it.  I will never go quietly when insulted and as much as this money will help others who really need it, I sometimes wish we never chosen as recipients.  Do not try to tarnish the good name of the charity we founded and named in honour of our son.  Adam’s Hope may be a small charitable organization but it has done and will continue to do good work in this community.   I suggest your organization re-group and get organized so that you can do the same. All you had to do was tell us you were having a delay in collecting all the cheques and we would have been able to give people answers.  All you had to do was communicate with us and this would have not become unpleasant.

This is my blog. This is where I state my opinion and where I get to state clearly what I know happened.

Eight Months to Fifty: The Ballet Recital

pointe shoes

After seven months of rehearsal, today was my ballet recital.  Rewind now to the beginning of what I like to call “the gap” – the space that separates the you you were as a youth and the you you had to become as an adult once you started being responsible, organized and paying for things yourself.  This is a little piece about finding the time to fill in “the gap” before the chance escapes you.

Tom and I moved around a lot when he was getting his then career in radio going and we found ourselves at times living in some hokey places where, as the tag along, I had to find something to do with my spare time.  This was of course before children came along and there were many hours in the day.  In Brockville, for example, I took a sailing class and by the end of my 2 years there I had achieved my introductory level “White Sail”.  I also took a fitness instructors course and took it again in French when I moved to Montreal and I was known for teaching lively classes with a Caribbean flare. It was not easy moving from place to place but I always believed in making the most of whatever situation we found ourselves and now Tom and I have a repertoire of things we have dabbled in and hundreds of memories of each and every stop we made along our journey.

Now with 2 sons who have become busy young men,  we are fearful that we are going to lose ourselves or put ourselves on pause as we drive them around to their activities.  When you have been a participant all your life, it is really hard to be a spectator and as much as we love watching these highly competitive and talented athletes of ours, we started feeling that we needed to have something that belonged solely to us.  I found myself wanting something more than my Wednesday “Ladies Night” tennis or the extremely occasional 9 holes of golf.  I wanted something I could commit to – something that moved me.  I wanted something I could work hard at and be passionate about and so, after joining my sister in Toronto, on her birthday for an Adult Master Class at the National Ballet of Canada, I knew I had to wake up the sleeping ballerina inside me. I had tried other dance classes before and it seems, especially in smaller towns, every “Soccer Mom” wanting to dance whether for fun or exercise, always sign up for hip hop which is too bad for three reasons :-

1) mothers with no rhythm who think that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is porn are absolutely horrible at Hip Hop and any form of movement.  (It boggles my mind they were able to conceive children at all)

2)  if you have ever danced and are looking for a challenge for your mind and your body, being in class with these women make you think murderous thoughts

and

3) because these mothers want to be in something they can dabble in and be mediocre at, all anyone can find in the line of Adult dance classes  in a small town is Adult Hip Hop (it would be one thing if the classes were good but damn….they just aren’t)

So over the course of the years when I was desperately looking for a class I would readily find in a large city, I actually found it in Belleville (who knew?) and now I dance at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada and while it is not The National Ballet of Canada (which is an impossible commute for me), I have found something very close to what I had been seeking.

 

dance shoes

After months of learning choreography and perfecting the timing and the steps, it was time for the four Adult Ballet 2 students to perform in front of a bunch of people there to see their young sons and daughters. I was going to be dancing before the three most important men in my life who were thrilled for me from the day I told them I was thinking about performing.  This afternoon was an intimate thing between them and me as this was a moment where I was able to show them a piece of myself they had never seen before and a chance to get them to understand who I was and what moved me.  I had always felt I knew everything about the three of them but they had only ever seen pictures or heard me speak of the things I was passionate about and today they got to see the rest of what Mom is made of.

At 11:30 this morning,  I did my stage makeup, wound my hair tightly in a bun and made my way to the school.  I took two Advil (because that is where the wear and tear from all the sports has me now), warmed up at the barre, stretching my limbs as far as they could before putting on my costume and doing my final dress rehearsal.  When it was time for our performance, I was waiting in the wings and in those brief seconds, every moment I performed at Queens Hall, at Bishops Anestey High School Stage, the hall at Chinese Association and at Dance Works at Syracuse University came rushing back to me.  I felt that exhilaration over the pride and joy of being able to dance in front of an audience and just enjoy what I have always loved to do.  My leg does not go high enough to have my foot by my ear anymore and Christ Almighty, everything hurts but the four of us did that choreography without a hitch and hopefully it looked as good as it felt.  Ballet is a beautiful deception.  It is a commitment at any level and age and it is as gentle and serene as it is difficult and athletic, so you have to work hard to make your body do what your mind wants it to do and it can only come from a place of love for the art, otherwise you are just doing moves.  It isn’t for everyone, but if you have a sleeping ballerina inside you and you are able to find the right classes, go wake her up and get moving not just for your body but for your mind and your soul.  My ballerina is awake again and she is going to dance right to the end of her days.

Today, eight months before my 50th birthday, I had the first ballet recital I have had in what seems like a hundred years and it felt good and I felt alive!