April 26, 2018

The Dancing Queen

A few years ago my daughter gave me a plaque with the inscription Dance Like There Is No One Looking. Tears poured down my cheeks in a surprise outburst of emotion ... my child understood, clearly saw, and acknowledged my spirit.

My family has watched (in horror?) as I "secretly" danced around the house, in the yard, car, and occasionally, publicly, on the dance floor. Elaine Benes on Seinfeld had nothing on me - we shared a unique dance expression.

Seinfeld The Elaine Dance* https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Elaine+Seinfeld+Dancing+Long+Version&&view=detail&mid=837E63003BC598A9F80D837E63003BC598A9F80D&&FORM=VRDGAR

In junior high I attended an occasional dance with my girlfriend where we were mercilessly teased and mimicked by the boys (boys will be boys, sigh). Over the years, as I revisited the memory, my confidence had already been affected to the point where I'd hide my "cool" dance moves. I still danced but for my eyes and entertainment only.

A turning point in my dance-insecurity was at a cousin’s wedding ... an aunt pulled me to the dance floor as the DJ played a particularly popular and fun song. Now this aunt was a wonderful dancer, as are some of my family, so I was hesitant, shy, afraid, and excited all at the same time. My aunt's beaming smile was an encouragement and so I danced albeit stiffly and awkwardly.

The first dance ended and we were having a ball. I felt eyes on us and almost backed off the floor but the pull of the music was too much. We urged some of our children onto the floor and all evening I danced "like there was no one looking". I felt like The Dancing Queen. I twisted, bopped my head, bobbed my rear, even made up dance moves for the lyrics of some songs. Concern for other's opinion went out the window to the lyrics of Y M C A. I just danced! Just danced!

My imperfections are abundant, especially in dancing, but overall and in the scheme of life - who cares? Bullies can impact our future - I absolutely know - but it is so refreshing to rise above the memories and be relatively free of judgers (still a work in progress). Dancing freely as I do now at weddings is so much fun and allows me to express myself, perhaps I make myself a "fool" - I feel at peace with this.

Just remember if you are going to invite me to your family wedding -- I have me some good moves, and I'll use them.

"In Feresten's 8th-season Seinfeld episode "The Little Kicks," the dance has more disastrous effects for Elaine (Benes): Her staff at J. Peterman, after seeing her dance, loses respect for her. When Jerry and Kramer tell her she "stinks" at dancing, she videotapes herself to see -- and wrecks the bootlegged movie Jerry was working on." (from Yahoo! TV Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Oct. 10, 2016)

April 17, 2018

Pursued by a Bear

My breath came in gasps as panic-adrenalin fed my legs allowing me to run faster as a bear chased me, matching step-for-step, loud and intense, my life was about to end. Skip-running frantically in the calf-deep waves of Lake Michigan - a forest on one side and open water on the other - and a bear paralleling me in the woods.

The bear kept pace with me as my legs rose and fell quickly slicing through the cold wavy lake, my only thought was "it" was going to hurt, and hurt badly. 

Terrified of bears since I was a child this was my worst nightmare ... perhaps my last one. 

I ran faster, my wet clothes sloshing and splashing in the water.

I slowed to catch my breath. 

The bear slowed down.

I ran. 

The bear ran.

The waves were too noisy for anyone to hear me scream, as if I could.  My breath was coming in such gasps that I was forced to slow again. I bravely or stupidly looked back.  The bear stopped, and although the forest hid the beast, I felt how close he was, sensed him, smelled his musty fur.

I ran, and the bear started after me again. With each paw step closer, my panic intensified.

As I was about to be crunched in the bear's jaws a funny noise came from my shorts. I slowed down, the bear slowed down. Oh my good Lord, the noise was the sound my wet canvas shorts made as canvas rubbed on canvas making a strangely bear-sounding noise. The bear was the noise of my pants. 

I breathlessly laughed from the tension at my narrow escape from what I thought was a sure and painful death. 

I suppose my take-away is that if you are terrified of something unseen - stop and breathe - the "thing" may be a figment of imagination created from your own wet pants.

The Hardwood Walking Stick

All through my 30s onward, I’ve walked woods from the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains, along with the mountains, hills and valleys of Michig...