Sunday, November 6, 2022

Beauty-Finding Mission

Yesterday morning, I ended up on a beauty-finding mission.

I didn't know that's what it was when I walked out the door more bundled up than I've been in many months to seize the crisp energy of the cold air. It was such a strange joy to see frost on the grass of our front yard! I loved putting on my scarf and hat, and layering up items for my torso (NO REAL COATS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING, I SAY!).

I feel like I digress, but that's not true . . . my noticing of all this meant the beauty-finding mission had started right when I walked out that door. I think I subconsciously know that this is a major purpose of my wanting to get out on walks, but it really crystalized to the forefront of my mind this morning. It came into focus when I stopped to film the well-distributed handful of bright yellow leaves that were still hanging onto a tree right at the edge of the water of Como Lake. They caught my attention with the way the jingled (ok, that's a sound descriptor, but I feel like that was the motion they were making too!).

When I began to film, I noticed right away that the quiet that had also caught me when I stopped to enjoy the jingling leaves had immediately fled in favor of a car zooming by, an electronic toy truck that a grown-ass man was operating nearby (I LOVE IT!), and some other noise that I cannot recall. At first, I was disappointed, thinking "this lovely, natural moment was just RUINED by all this man-made, technological noise!" After entertaining that thought, I quickly caught myself in its irony: part of what had made this moment so beautiful to me anyway was its relation, in my mind, to the Radiohead-inspired material I am currently working with in my dancemaking endeavors. And part of what I love about Radiohead is the energy-inducing, two-sides-of-the-same-coin clash I feel in their music and accompanying visuals between the natural and the induced.

After taking a moment with that thought, what I was filming became EVEN MORE beautiful. As did the rusty bench on a sun-faded dock in the foreground of rippling water on the lake. That sense of clash, or should I say complimentary opposition, is a delicious dichotomy in which I find so much beauty.




It was after filming the water that I realized I was on a beauty-finding mission this morning. Sometimes we go on fact-finding missions (got thinking about this in relation to needing to prep to vote!).  Sometimes we also need to go on beauty-finding missions. One of the things I love about (a phrase I find myself saying a lot about the subject at hand while I'm teaching :)) art is how its beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I love the subjective nature of it all, how one approach can be seen as beautiful by one and not another, how the same material can be interpreted in whole different way by different people. This is MY kind of critical thinking :)

I know a big reason I love to go on walks alone at the top of a fresh day is because my clear mind and the perpetual motion 1) makes my body feel good, and 2) allows my clear mind space to wander, which 3) often unlocks some potential solves for my various new and ongoing internal conflicts (i.e. fodder of an engagement human always trying her best/ for better). I also know a big reason I love to go on walks alone at the top of a fresh day is because I love to find beauty (and let it find me). That last reason was just in particularly clear focus this lovely, crisp morning.

Beauty-finding. Finding beauty. Letting beauty find you.

It IS everywhere.

All the time :)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Adaptability and Patience

I made this beautiful creature (along with Kristoffer Olson :)), and I knew he'd teach me a lot.



Prior to being a couple months in, I "knew" in concept. Being a month or two in, I think I was still so absorbed by it all that I couldn't back up far enough to reflect on what I'd already learned. Now, I feel I can step out a little to get a sense of all that I've taken in.

Adaptability and Patience. These are the two big 'reimagining' that come to mind when I consider how parenting/ mothering as already expanded who I am.

I'd like to think that prior to this experience, I was pretty adaptable. I am realizing that this trait really only applied in certain situations - controlled adaptability if you will. I'm really good at changing teaching or rehearsal plans on the fly while in the studio with groups of people. I like to think (there I go with that again!) that I'm pretty good at adapting in new social situations, taking to meeting new people with ease and enjoyment. I'm now trying to think of other ways I've been adaptable . . . and I'm finding it challenging!

The truth is, I am a creature who thrives off patterns, routines. I won't go so far as to say 'predictability,' but there are times that is indeed comforting! I suppose this should be not surprise, given that dance is all about sequencing . . . that said, I LOVE to improvise . . . in controlled scenarios in which it is relatively expected :).

I have a morning routine (that has changed/ doesn't look the same every day). I have ways that I prep my food for the week (which have changed/ don't look the same every week). I have a careful system for how I organize my emails that corresponds to how I organize my computer files that corresponds to my to-do list (ok, this hasn't had to change, outside a folder/ list item being added: "Family/ Niko!"). Perhaps these structures are what allow me to enjoy shift when it comes. To be adaptable in all the important places. That is my working theory, at least.

Needing and wanting to respond quickly to the unpredictably predictable needs of my tiny little love has really required me to flex those adaptability muscles. This metaphor feels appropriate, as muscle builds over time when you use it!

I feel the same is happening with my ability to be patient. I won't go so far as to say my 'desire,' as I have never been know to put patience anywhere near the top of a list of concepts that come easily to me. All the same, I can literally feel my patience muscles flexing when I find myself standing at the crib, yet again, gently holding Niko's nook in his mouth with one hand and lightly pressing the other on his chest so he feels the comfort of it's weight and my presence as I try to get him back/ to sleep for the fifth time in 20 minutes. Typing this out reminded me how tedious this can be, but also . . . sometimes the kind of tedium involved in building muscles feels good . . . and this feels GOOD.

I feel like I'm finding new dimensions that have always existed within me, but needed a really good reason to be tapped. 

Niko is a really good reason :)

Reimagining . . . Adaptability and Patience.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Year Intentions 2021 Into 2022

Like usual, the full extent (however abridged it ended up!) of this process is kept to the confines of my journal. With Niko having entered our lives a month ago tomorrow, I am just glad I was able to get any sort of 'process' for this together! It is in the spirit of this that I actually landed on my centering idea for 2022 . . .

REIMAGINING

Reconfiguring (was a little too mechanical)

Reinventing (sounded like more 'trouble' than I think this will be)

Rediscovering (felt closer)

But 'reimagining' . . . this guiding concept has just the right tonality and timbre. 'Re' suggests a having done already of sorts, an amount of experience, a knowing. 'Imagine'/ 'Imagining' implies the WONDER of last year's centering concept, with my values of curiosity and creativity, as well as an intentionality/ sense of consciousness (a centering belief of mine) - when you 'imagine,' you are choosing, you are going out of your way to consider something, to bring it to life in your mind.


(imagine . . . )


(reimagine . . . )

In 2022, I will continue to do what I've been doing here at the end of 2021 with the arrival of Niko: I will continue to reimagine how my life works, what wonder can be squeezed from the everyday, what I will discover, how I will feel, what I will notice . . . having Niko in our lives is allowing me to reimagine what I've already experienced and what I know. I'm so excited to keep reimagining my everyday with him, and to see how this shift will create shifts in how I see other parts of my life - my work, my family and friends, my interests . . . REIMAGINING. 


Along with this guiding idea, I've revisited last year's New Years Intentions alongside the way I think of my values and such, and offer the following to myself as continued riffing:


BELIEFS: Consciousness + Love + Wonder + Vitality + Purpose =

VALUES: Simplicity | Kindness | Curiosity | Creativity | Growth


And that's where this abridged version of new year reflection ends . . . off to reimagine :)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Wonders

This morning, I found the heavy drizzle of snow on top of recently-fallen, colorful leaves alongside the many still on the trees FULL of WONDER.

The sights in my neighborhood - the same one I see every day - were BREATHTAKING to me. I started trying to pinpoint how I'd describe this practice of noticing this wonder, this 'magic in the mundane.' That's not the way - 'mundane' seems far too dismissive. I thought 'everyday wonders.' Also not right - I don't notice sights like this every day, nor do they happen every day. They don't necessarily even happen each Fall into Winter! What about 'small wonders'? That also doesn't seem right: the main sources of my wonder - snow and trees - are arguably HUGE! Not only in stature, but in affect on the world around them.

Perhaps it's not so important to be able to label this warm, tingly phenomenon I experienced once again this morning, out in the crispness of seasonal transition from Minnesota Fall to Winter. Maybe it's more important that I consciously appreciate that it happened.

WONDER.



This writing felt complete, and then I felt the push to add a bit here about another source of wonder, floating quietly (at least right now!) in my abdomen: the human I am growing there. WHAT?! It's still just totally unbelievable to me that this is 1) possible, and 2) that I am doing it right now. I have logically understood for quite while now how pregnancy works, but experiencing it myself puts the idea on a whole new plane.

I've read and had people tell me to be sure to enjoy it, and I'm glad to have come across this advice: as much has it's been physically and mentally challenging in specific ways for me, it is QUITE the WONDER, and I want to be sure I give it's due in this way, before this source of wonder has given way to another.

WONDER.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Not "Ready," But Capable

 We spent most of yesterday painting the basement, and patching and painting blemishes to the walls throughout the house. I suppose this is part of what lots of folks refer to as 'nesting,' or prepping your space for comfort in the arrival of your tiny human. As neither one of us would consider ourselves 'handy' by any stretch (we have other abilities :)), we were thrilled to have my mom there to help. Everything took longer than expected, as it seems to with house-y things, but we ended up really proud of what we did and what we had learned.

Until we noticed that we'd left one patched spot unpainted. All the supplies had been put away and we were wrapping up to finally eat something. I was SO disappointed at first that we could have missed something. The job was incomplete, we'd failed, why had we even bothered doing the rest?! Fortunately, Kris pretty quickly reframed the situation, got laughing a bit and said something to the affect of "We're likely to ding the walls in this area on the next project too, so maybe we've just saved ourselves some time! We'll fix it when the time is right."

While those words were comforting at the time, this morning, as I've thought about this little moment, they've become poignant. Something larger than they were in that moment. They spoke to the idea that while we may not be 'perfect' at something or really 'ready' to jump in when the time comes to try something, we ARE capable.

So we missed a spot. That doesn't negate everything else we did yesterday. 

We also spot-painted the wrong color in several places throughout the house before we realized we'd picked the wrong paint. I was again pretty frustrated and disappointed in myself at first, and you know what we did? We let those spots dry, figured out the paint puzzle, and repainted them. 

Sometimes we are not 'ready,' but we ARE capable.

People have been asking me a lot lately "Are you ready?," meaning are you ready for the kiddo to come. For a long time, I haven't really known what to say. No one wants to hear you say "No!," but that has often felt much closer to the truth than saying yes. For a long time, that worried me, and had me thinking that I won't be able to handle this parenting thing. Not a good feeling when you are entering your last month of pregnancy.

That said, I'm not sure what ignited my shift in thought, but I've been steadily moving toward a different way of thinking, a shift, a reframing that feels really true and good to embrace and share: "I may not feel 'ready,' but I do feel capable." As a sidenote, I feel even more able when I phrase this idea as "WE are capable" - Kris being a crucial part of this equation is everything.

I am capable. I have proven that to myself time and time again. I have met my own challenges and come out on the other side of them with new knowledge, experience, trust and confidence in self, joy. Just as I have been capable of moving through other aspects of my life (creating and sharing new art, losing loved ones, the list the list the list . . . ), I have been capable in pregnancy and I WILL be capable as a mother and parent. When I worry about the fact that I have very little experience changing diapers, for example, remembering this mantra that I am 'Not ready, but capable' makes me feel SO much better about what is to come so soon.

(photo by Bill Cameron, from 11/3/21 Rhythmically Speaking show at Amsterdam Bar & Hall)

When kiddo comes, we will surely have infant + parent versions of missing a spot of paint on the wall or spot-painting the wrong color here and there. If When that happens, we will paint that spot when the time is right, and let the other spots dry and repaint them the proper color when we can.

Not 'Ready,' But Capable :)

Friday, June 25, 2021

Deciphering

Back this morning to creating as a state of mind, a need.

It felt really good for choreography to start falling effortlessly out of my body on my walk this morning, a tune humming in my head and being sung to life in my body as I laid out steps while shuffling down the road back toward home. Class choreography often happens this way - teased out while on a walkabout. Sometimes I think this is a measure of time constraint, but today I'm leaning into the idea that there's an amount of naturalness in progressing from walking to dancing.

What I created on my walkabout this morning, movement to the ABAC head of beloved jazz standard "Summertime," really seems to highlight how my modern and contemporary training and interest deeply inform my jazz. From elongated, reaching lines to suspended rhythms (at least in this case), these sensibilities often show themselves in what falls out of me/ what I make/ how I create. I found myself pondering how this type of movement I make juxtaposes with the type of classes I keep thinking I want to take and the combination videos to which I am drawn on social media.

The movement of the later often features fast paces, sharp hits and really pronounced, curved isolations. I LOVE all of these things, and they are often found in my work too, they just come out so different for me, and I chalk that up to what the music asks for. I am really attracted to creating/ making to jazz and jazz-adjacent music. I am not really attracted to creating/ making to pop and hip-hop music, but I AM attracted to dancing to it/ learning choreography set to it that is created by others. 

While I've long known this, I'm not sure I've put it in writing before, and I'm finding it really helpful in allowing myself the space to embrace this. I find training in hip-hop and adjacent styles really rewarding and informative, but doubt what I create will ever reflect those idioms. And that's ok! I think it's really useful to define why you have what you do in your life, and this is an example of just that.

The thoughts rumbling around my head this morning seem to share the thread of deciphering . . . I suppose this is always true of what ends up in this space; me trying to sort through and make sense of my inner workings. None the less, I'm finding that connecting word 'deciphering' useful today, and now thinking of it in connection to my recent mind meanderings about what my work is going to look like in the future.

When I say 'work,' I tend to mean 'purpose,' and I have to remember that for me, purpose comes in several packages. So I suppose I'll define 'work' here as professional contribution. For my entire adult life, my professional contribution has rotated around dance, and I have fear of what that will mean in my future after bringing a human into the world. I have of course entertained this thought before, more in the context of considering aging, but none the less, the thought has returned and wants to be grappled with.

I have fear that my body won't hold up to what I ask of it. I have fear that I won't find it as interesting as I have. I have fear that if either of these things (or other similar ones) end up true, that I won't know what else I want to do. I have LOTS of interests: music, nutrition, exercise, clothing, sustainability . . . but none of them feel like they could lead to work I could realistically obtain and completely enjoy.

All of this feels indicative of my general dislike for unpredictability. I like to have a plan. I note 'unpredictability' specifically because I actually love a measure of 'spontaneity,' specifically improvising in a framework, planning to have an unplanned day . . . there is still planning in there :)  I think what doesn't sit well with me is that I can try to look down the pipeline of my life and not necessarily be able to see with complete clarity what is around the twist of the next corner/s.

Perhaps part of the problem is my analogy: life isn't so much a 'pipeline' as it is a formation of clouds, swirling, taking shape, clearing completely and beginning that process again. And again. And again, in a beautiful repetition that never quite looks the same twice. I've made this analogy before (and yes, I'm obsessed with clouds): returning to it gives me confidence that its worth consideration :)

Another deciphering this morning: embracing the process of being pregnant. I have to remind myself that I may only experience this once, and that I should relish it, dig into it, observe it, appreciate it. Like much in life, it is so easy for me to fixate on what the future results/ requirements of an action or a happening will require that it is easy to lose sight of what's happening in the moment. Always a good observation to be called back to: I know I don't want to miss out on really taking note of this experience.

I have read that folks experiencing it should keep a 'pregnancy journal': I haven't so much felt moved to note my physical state so much as my mental state during this time, which seems consistent with how I've always journaled, and interesting observation considering how much of my focus I put into relating to my body and the bodies of others. Perhaps it's worth allowing the reminder to consider that physical state in my writing to roll around in the back of my head to see if it manifests. 

Deciphering.