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Friday, August 3, 2012

Practicing Our Dance Moves (for Buttons)

I love the phrase "practicing our dance moves".  It implies that these are important things that will become so useful later that it is imperative that they be practiced.  Perhaps not practiced to perfection, but definitely frequently so that we can do the old ones well and learn new ones.

Life is just a series of dance moves, you know. I learned this from my 5 year old friend.  That is amazing.  In fact, the realization that I can learn from a 5 year old is what gives me the courage to throw caution to the wind and dance in my front yard.

There is no talking during our dancing. Only movement. We shake. We twirl. We wave our arms and kick. No organization or routine at all.  We respond to the music.  She hops and jumps and touches the ground. I bounce and bend and waddle. My friend commands me to do her moves yet finds easier moves because I'm too old and stiff to copy her "dance moves".  If I sing she shouts "NO SINGING!" to remind me this about moving to music and being in touch with my body. 

I've spun around to more than one suprised adult face that splits into a smile they can't contain. I choose to believe they are smiling at all the happiness that has engulfed them and not at the ludicrous sight of a 5 year old and an old woman in a dirty tee shirt dancing in the front yard.  I smile back at them because I know the joy I feel is produced my the inhibition my friend encourages.  I laugh because I know they can't let themselves go and practice their "dance moves" in the yard like we do.  They would be afraid......
Knowing when to respond with kindness or when it is healthy to show anger are some of life's dance moves.  Some of us do them more gracefully than others.  Some don't even try these "dance moves".  This makes me sad, because life has a multitude of emotions.  These feelings run the gamut from tender passion to hot rage and we need to learn to express them all in a healthy way.  Otherwise, we go through the motions of living but become spectators in life rather than participants.  We shuffle along following the leader trying to fit into a mold we didn't define.

I choose not to be a spectator to life.  I don't watch life on the tv set.  Neither does my friend.  This is why we must practice our "dance moves" in the yard.  We are alive and one with our bodies.  We are connecting with the music and dancing without words or instruction.  We are living in the moment.

At my house we dance like there may be no tomorrow.  We practice our "dance moves" and it prepares us for whatever tomorrow may bring.  We hope that when tomorrow dawns we will have another day filled with the satisfaction and joy of knowing we are ready to live life to the fullest because we have some awesome "dance moves" to share with the world!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Friend

When I moved to my present location I watched as my neighbor's pregnancy begat a child.  I watched as they walked around the block with the child in a stroller.  I watched as the child eagerly waved at me from the stroller.  I listened as she learned to say my name and smile and wave each evening from the stroller.  I watched as she learned to walk with her father and their dog each evening .  I listened as they stopped to chat with me in my swing.  I laughed as I observed the "terrible twos" as they stretched into some terrible threes.

She is 5 years old now having just had her birthday.  This past year was a very big year for her.  She went from holding up 3 fingers to show her age to saying "I'm four!" with the confidence unique to her age.  I find it curious that outside her family I am probably her oldest friend and while she may not remember me in a few years if they move away I will always remember her.

You see, I am 4 years old too.  You just need to subtract about 50 from my natural age.  In a way it isn't strange at all.  At 4 we discover the happiness of the world outside our immediate family and also meet tragedy as well. All the while we struggle to understand life and fit it into our understanding.  Life is so complex yet simple at that age.  I feel like the past 50 years of wisdom and life has lead me right back to being 4 years old again.  I relish this unexpected blessing.

We started our evening visits by reading books.  My little friend's mother hovered nearby on the sidewalk nervously the first few times.  I promised not to let her out of my sight for one second.  Yes, she will probably get hurt I told her.  Kids get scratched and cut playing outside.  They get poison ivy.  They get dirty and sweaty.  I eventually earned her trust after a few cuts and bumps and a healthy rash of poison ivy.  The world we adults live in can be scary.  Crazy people lurk around the corner and criminals can snatch a small child from the yard in a second.  I understand these motherly fears.  After all, this child is her most precious possession.  I am honored that she lets me befriend one of the most important people she will ever have in her life.  I hope I don't let her down.

I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are real gems.  I simply cannot waste precious life time with people who do not contribute to my life in a meaningful way.  I have too much living to do.  Like a 4 year old I'm impatient to get on with the important things in life.

My little visitor is learning to be a friend.  To be honest, I had never thought about that.  We learn to be a friend.  This fact smacked me in the face on evening when my friend and I were playing in the front yard.  Yes, I play.  I dance.  I sing.  I tell stories.  My friend dances.  She sings.  She tells stories.  We dance.  We sing.  We tell stories.  We don't have store bought toys either.  We use the random items in my messy yard as props.  A stick comes to life with a voice of its own.  A broken rake becomes a musical instrument. We play with wild abandon letting our imaginations spontaneously combust.

In the midst of this one evening a neighbor walked by and interrupted us.  "So, are you babysitting again Mary?"  I stopped in my tracks.  I'd heard this babysitting term before.  My friend's mother had offered to pay me by calling the time with my friend babysitting.  I declined. It didn't seem right.  You got paid for work.  When this neighbor asked I wondered for a moment.  I looked over at my little companion.  Am I babysitting?  I asked her honestly.  I needed to know what she thought of this question.  A dark look flooded her face and she yelled "NO!!!"  Relieved, I smiled at my neighbor.  "We're friends."  I said.  "Aren't we?" I asked my little buddy.  Happiness filled her face at this realization and she agreed and squealed "YESSSSS!"

This began our journey.  I'm sort of the lead friend as I like to think of it.  I'm older, bigger and stronger.  I have to show my little friend how to be a good friend.  This is a very hard job.  But I have the advantage of 50 years of wisdom and I try to use it.  There are so many lessons to be learned as a friend and I'm still learning them too.  Sometimes I have to let my little friend tell me no.  Sometimes she won't take no for an answer and neither do I.  Sometimes I have to take her home to show her this is not how friends treat each other.

Sometimes, we just "practice our dance moves".