Tag Archives: fun

Ode to Sadie

Belgium’s greatest gift to the world,

I used to think,

was chocolate,

rich and sweet,

an explosion of flavor

melting on my tongue.

And then I met Sadie,

a Belgian Malinois,

as sweet as chocolate and so much more.

She was bred to herd sheep,

but with no sheep in sight,

she now shepherds me,

walking by my side,

in case I think to wander,

keeping me line and in sight,

making sure I am safe.

Smart, strong, fearless, loyal,

lots of energy and anxious to play,

risking everything for a mid-air catch,

heedless of any danger,

running as fast as the wind.

So much fun to watch,

as I pop another

Belgium chocolate into my mouth.

Rhythm of my heart

(Originally published in Red Tent Living on the theme Woman in Red)

Learning about Spanish culture was one part of my college summer school program in Madrid, Spain, and that meant churches, museums, bullfights, and flamenco dances. There were also many visits to nightclubs—called discotecas—but I don’t think my professors considered those part of my cultural education.

I thoroughly enjoyed every museum and would gladly return to Spain to see more art, but I could have done without the bullfights (they were quite gory) and after about ten churches, I was pretty much churched-out. Flamenco dancing was in its own category though.

Those women in red, flounced dresses, spinning and stomping their feet, touched something deep inside me.

dance-travel-freedom

While I sat still in rapt attention, seemingly quite contained, everything inside me was exploding, and I was joining in the dance. I could imagine myself dressed in a flamboyant red dress, flipping the hem back and forth, creating the impression that I was in perpetual motion.

My love of dance goes back to my childhood when I took tap and ballet classes at the local community center. I was the self-conscious child during recitals whose movements were restrained. On the outside, I was timid and shy, afraid of drawing attention to myself for fear of being criticized. Deep down, I was tapping up a storm and my ballet moves were swanlike, but that movement stayed inside.

Neither tap nor ballet lasted long. I didn’t know how to explain what was happening on the inside, how the dancing was giving me the opportunity to be free, how those tiny movements of my body were amplified on the inside. My mother thought it was a waste of money since I did not seem to be having fun.

In her thirties, a friend took tap dancing lessons, and I went to her recital. She wore a Carmen Miranda hat and danced her heart out. She inspired me to take belly dancing classes, which I did for several years. I thought of it more as exercise than dance, but I did buy a red hip scarf with gold coins dangling from it.

Fortunately, these classes were in a room with no mirrors, so the only image I had was the one in my mind, and in my mind, I was one great belly dancer! The teacher encouraged us to make dramatic movements—hips swaying from side to side with a little oomph for emphasis. It was tremendous fun, and it helped free me to let what was inside out.

A few years ago, I saw Riverdance in Dublin, Ireland, which included flamenco dance. My reaction was the same as it had been thirty-some years ago. I was swept up in the movement and could imagine myself dressed in red, swaying rhythmically.

Dance has always touched something deep inside me. Whether I am distressed, sad, or even happy, I find that dance can help me express my emotions. At home, I often turn on music and dance. It is a great stress reliever, and it helps me get in touch with my body. When I can let go of my inhibitions and let my body move freely, I can also let go of tears. Dance is cathartic.

affirmation-dog-vulnerability

Asking for what I want or need

My dog Detroit is very good at letting me know when someone is at the door or the phone is ringing or there is a squirrel in the yard. Even though I assure her that I know these things and she does not need to bark, it does no good. She will bark incessantly until I answer the door or the phone—or let her out to chase the squirrel.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilityShe seems to think it is her job to warn me of these perceived threats.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilityBut in other situations, Detroit is likely to sit quietly and wait for me to intuit what she wants. Sometimes, I find her lying by the back door waiting to go out or sitting by the pantry that holds her treats. Then I say to her, “Use your words.”

It seems to me that she is good at telling me when she thinks I am in danger, but not so good about telling me what she needs or wants.

I wonder if she learned that from me. Has she watched me sit home waiting for someone to ask me to go out? Is she tired of being hugged because I am afraid to ask for a hug from anyone else?

Sometimes on Saturday mornings when I am cleaning the house, I turn on pop music and dance while I clean. If Detroit comes into the room, I might pick her up and dance with her. I can almost hear her say, Get a life.

I admit it: I am not good at using my words to ask for what I need or want.

What words do I use to let someone know I want a treat—whether it is something sweet or a hug or an affirmation? How do I ask to go out, to be with others and have some fun?affirmation-dog-vulnerabilitySince moving to Michigan four years ago, and leaving behind people who knew me very well, I have been even more challenged to ask for what I want or need. Admitting I need or want anything makes me feel vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable is one of my least favorite things.

After I was here for about two years, my spiritual director commented that it didn’t seem that I was initiating social contacts. She was right. My grief and sadness at all I had lost or left behind had incapacitated me from initiating. I just did not have the energy to risk rejection.

And I could see how harmful that was. I was spiraling deeper and deeper into myself; it was a grand pity party.affirmation-dog-vulnerabilitySince then, I have pushed myself to ask friends to go to concerts or out to dinner, and I do more things on my own, like visiting art galleries.

But, I know I have a ways to go in asking for what I need or want. Telling Detroit to use her words is a great prompt for me look at how well I am doing at using my words.