These are my kids. Three from my bones and one from my son in that roundabout way where a person becomes a daughter when she marries a son. Pretty cool stuff. So this new daughter, she inspires this writing today in something that she wrote yesterday in celebration of the eve before the wedding that merged her and my son into this quite spectacular unity of love and life and lots of laughter.
She wrote: A successful marriage requires awake, alive, present people, too. The moment you fall into a story about the other person: assume they're going to do what they always do, say what they allllllllways say, react the way they "always" react, it's over. They deserve to be heard for the first time, every time. To be kissed like it's the first kiss. To be thanked, held, encouraged. Every. Single. Day.
Sit with that a minute, because I need to shift the focus to my really cool new drum.
This is a Handpan Drum. I love this drum. It makes the most amazing sound. And the playing of it is a dancing of the hands around the notes. I know this because I have watched videos of people playing it.
I do not know how to play it at all.
I bought it for my birthday, which is coming up quite soon, because I have music in me and - in that not a natural musician way - have been searching for something that will allow me to release the music out.
I've written about music before, my learned piano ability and my quite painful attempt at the cello. The piano still calls but my training is limited to just that: the training and proficiency not that free form letting go and creating that I crave and that the music within me hungers for. The cello..... um.... let's move on.
Ok, my drum. This is how the notes lay out.
So the drum and my by-marriage daughter's thoughts, they connect in me as being the same message.
These wise words - deserve to be heard for the first time, every time - this is the journey round the zigzag notes in the instant that your hands play against the cool metal. Sure, there are melodies that you can learn, and pieces to perfect, just as there are kind and good and nurturing ways that we set up our partnership with this person we are forging a life with.
But there is also the opportunity to just play. To wander round the circle that is this drum and is our relationship with each other, both, and strike a note in any order because how the notes lay out allow for each sound to compliment the other no matter which order they are played.
And so, just as the inspiration of the music is in the moment of the playing, the power that is our partnership with that person we chose to play music with is in the love and growth and wonder of seeing each moment as new. Every. Single. Day.
A short but sweet writing to share an incredible book written by an extraordinary friend.
My dear and gifted friend wrote this book about our soul's journey round the sun in this lifetime we are in. I was lucky to be able to work with her as her editor. And so I know, first hand, that this book is incredible. Smart and on point, mindful and funny, easy to read and stocked full of insight and wisdom and deep understanding.
As you continue on this ride called life, I cannot say enough how helpful and supportive this book will be for you. Buy it, share it, gift it. I know you'll love it!!!!
You can get it on Amazon. Here is the link!
My husband and I went skiing this past weekend. Up at Mammoth Mountain. This is funny to me because I learned to ski at this mountain back in the 70's. I was not good at it. But good enough so that when I met my husband, who is a great skier, I was able to pretend that I was a great skier, too. I am sure this is why he married me. That and my quick wit!.
So, we dated and I skied and we got married and I skied and we had kids and I skied and somewhere along those many roads often traveled I admitted that I really don't like to ski that much. (Or jump off bridges into cold, New England oceans, but that is a story for another day).
Now, to be truthful, I actually do like to ski. Just not in the cold.
For anyone who knows me well, and probably all those who just know me - period - you know that I do not like the cold. As in I moved across the country because I do not like the cold. Or the snow. Or rain. I really do not like rain. Truth be told, I actually prefer snow to rain. I think this is the cat in me. As in perhaps in another life I was a cat and so I hate to get wet. Raindrops hurt my soul.
My dog hates the rain, too. I wrote about this in a previous writing. About my brilliant and amazing and oh so beautiful Doberman puppy and how she does not like the rain. The rain hurts her soul, too.
But not the snow. Nava likes the snow. When we were in Massachusetts this past fall, during our extended east coast stay, Nava had her first snow experience. And loved it. Snow was her thing. As in she could have been an east coast dog. She loved the snow. And had fun in the cold. Running after the ball even as I stood bundled and breathing into my already mittened hands to try and get them to feel a bit warmer. She loved the snow as we walked through the woods near a friend's home, or walked down the path to the not yet frozen lake at my parent's home nearby the farmhouse I was renting for the fall.
So, unlike me, she is is a cold weather gal.
This is very noticeable when we play ball these days here in Ojai. She loves to play ball. Mostly first thing in the morning, before the sun is really up and the temperature is cool...as in cold...as in sometimes thirty-five degrees of cold. She is so happy then. She will run after the ball that I hurl with my trusty ball hurler thing over and over again. Sometimes not resting at all. Other times lying in the wet and cool morning grass as the steam, from her strong and now hot from running so much body, rises off her fur in contrast to the coolness of the ground.
But if I take her ball playing in the middle of the day she is very different. She will chase the ball because she loves the ball but she stops more often. Always in the shade. Always for quite a long time. The sun and her black and shiny fur coat do not match. And so I will only take her out to play midday when I know that there will be shade for her to lay in. And the ball game is short. And then we go home to the coolness of our deck or the comfort of the couch.
So you can see that she is very different from me in this one aspect of our selves. Because I could sit in the midday sun all day if I were able to. The heat against my skin is a favorite thing of mine. The cold is something that I avoid.
And so it is surprising that I went skiing this past weekend.
Because it was so cold. I did not expect this. I was thinking California spring skiing even though it is February. But it was not that. It was freezing. And more, it was snowing. Like snowing so that when we got off the chair lift I could not see the mountain. This makes skiing difficult.
Now, as I mentioned, I learned to ski at Mammoth Mountain but I perfected my skiing on the east coast. As in I am an ice skier. Give me a slippery slope and my MoJo sets it. But give me powder and I am in trouble.
So back to this weekend. We could not see. It was freezing and it was snowing and there was powder. Like a lot of powder. A ton of powder. And because I could not see it, when I hit it, it was not pretty.
But I held my own. And we found trails that were somewhat groomed. And went inside quite often to warm up near a fire and eat this really yummy egg scrambler thing with mushrooms and spinach and cheese.
And have agreed that our next ski trip will be in early May. (My husband is thinking late April...but it will be early May!!)
I was going to write about the Patriots today. As in the New England Patriots, Super Bowl winners and football team extraordinaire. As in players that personify excellence not just in that they won yesterday but that they don't give up. That is the beauty that is excellence to me. Sure the being the best and winning those rings is really cool. Especially if you are a fan like me ( by marriage mind you but I have since made them my own). But true excellence shines through in the steady focus and consistent performance that embodies a great team. It is the connection from teammate to teammate that is the we-are-only-as-great-as-the-whole-of-us-together mentality. And it is the steadfast believing, of each player that everything is possible and the game is not over until the very last second.
The beauty of excellence is in the heart of the game.
It is in the love of the sport and the practice of the craft. It is in the honoring of each player - both those on your own team and those you play against. It is the synergy of the group dynamic creating a dance on the field that can only come about through a deep commitment from each individual player to the whole. It is the desire to win, not just for the recognition and validation from outside but for the true internal knowing that you did your best. That you followed through. That you reached high and that your goal was not out of reach because you dug deep and found the true essence of what it means to be your best self.
This is what I was going to write about, as I was thinking about my writing for today, but what kept coming up for me was dancing. Maybe because the beauty of an exceptional sports team is the lyrical dance that unfolds on the field. Or maybe because excellence, for me, is a dance. Whether I am dancing or not.
Let's start with dancing.
I studied ballet for many years. Very seriously. Like I was thinking that maybe I would be a ballerina. I studied and then I didn't for a while. And then in college I transferred to NYU Tisch School of the Arts, for dance, and considered it again. And then not again. Back and forth like that for a while, knowing that I probably was not going to be a professional dancer but still dancing in the idea of it until I was sure that I was done.
And still I dance. More so recently with a new dance studio that opened in my town where I get my ballet fix with a weekly ballet barre class and have jumped - quite awkwardly - into learning how to tap dance. For me, the ballet skills transfer well to modern/contemporary I think because the lyrical movement and flow matches, though my contemporary moves are ballet driven and my arms are true to form. But tap....
Ah, this is tough.
This is new and difficult and my pulled in and pulled up and reaching high and holding straight and pointing feet ballet body does not quite mesh with the earthly grounding in that tap calls for. My ankles do not easily loosen up, my posture seems too tight and my legs insist on turning out. I am a ballet dancing tap dancer. (If you ask my husband and children they will tell you that I am a ballet dancing runner and tennis player also. My race around a track always ends in a grand jeté and my backhand usually turns into a pirouette)
But this is not the point (haha, like pointing my feet or dancing on point...get it...ok so not so funny). Because for me, what is important is not the perfection of the dance, but the journey of the dance. The excellence is in the movement. It is in the motion of my body and the fluid grace of my soul that gets to experience the ride that I chose to travel on each time I move my feet, whether intuitively during a ballet combination or with solid focus and determination as I learn how to tap my feet on the smooth wooden floor.
The excellence lies in the rhythm and flow.
It lies in the wonder of what I discover I can do while I am honoring what I already have accomplished. It lies in the understanding that I may not be "as good as I was" but that I am as great as I am in the moment that I am enjoying something as simple as the line of my arm or the extension of my leg as it reaches up and away from my body.
And this excellence, it extends outward even past my extension to the me that is dancing through life. And though, in truth, it has taken me quite a while to see this clearly, the rhythm and flow of life - the highs and lows, struggles and successes, teaching and unlearnings, peaceful awakenings and dances of despair - they are all the signs of excellence, too. For just like the my dancing body or the sweet synergy that is a well rehearsed and high performance sports team, the life process we are all on is the purest opportunity to be our best selves.
To not quit. To reach high. To learn and grow and become the greatness that we often forget that we already are.
The beauty of this game last night - this amazing super bowl win for the Patriots - is just this. The team did not forget that they are great. And so all they had to do was ground into the belief of that and there they were.
Imagine who we could be if we can remember this as we dance on our own life's playing field.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.