Monthly Archives: August 2013

Soul Music -Top 5 Reasons Moms should take up West Coast Swing Dancing

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My happy place. Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

My happy place.
Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

This week felt like the longest of my life. For no particular reason other than the typical growth and development of my children. Tantrums, heated debates about screen time, being on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from a 1 year old… I really needed a break. Mom-duty is easily the most challenging, rigorous, joyful, and rewarding work I have ever done . Perspective: I work in critical care and emergency medicine.  Mom-duty is WAY harder. Going in to work 12 hour day and night shifts is a BREAK for me. My body and mind cannot usually sustain more than 5 straight days of Mom-duty. (Fist-bump to the single Moms and Dads out there…you amaze me). This week, for the benefit of my liver, I chose to go out dancing to ease my Momitis. There is no better cure in my world for a bad case of Momitis than a night of West Coast Swing (WCS) dancing.

I hear you asking…Why swing dancing? Why not just get some gals together and get my drink on and rock it out at some club? Surely THAT will soothe the most savage case of Momitis?

So here it is: My Top 5 Reasons Moms should take up West Coast Swing dancing:

1) Chat with adults – Behold! Adults to talk to! Adults everywhere and not a child in sight! I can try to fool myself into believing that I am socializing by packing my child’s activty calender with classes and ‘play dates’ but we all know this is just smoke and mirrors. There are still children in the room. There can be no sincere, engaged conversation between adults when your children are pulling on your sleeve asking for more goldfish crackers every 3 minutes. Can you really listen and connect with another parent when you are pulled in two directions?

2) Exercise – There is nothing to describe the glorious feeling of social swing dancing for 4 hours straight (water breaks included!).  Give me 90-110 beats per minute with a good dose of 120bpm on the side and I am in bliss! My legs and butt are getting a great workout and my core and arms work to maintain my frame. When I dance infrequently, I always feel it everywhere the next morning. Cardio joy! PS…take a spare shirt because this will get you sweaty! 

3) Connect and reflect – When I go out to a dance in our Vancouver WCS community, I get to visit with amazing people. We have everything from young adults to retired couples. Wide demographics make it that much more enjoyable, knowing that I can enjoy this for decades to come and maybe eventually get to teach the young whipper-snappers a thing or two! The crowd also helps me to centre myself on where I am in my life. Married, with children and very happy to pop out and dip into this pot of pure delight when i need to. There can always be some level of internal drama in such communities. My advice is to smile, be sincere and just stay with the positive. You will be rewarded in kind.

4) Mommy needs a life too – I love my husband. He is amazing and supportive in every way. He can see the obvious and so he knows the joy I take from getting a night out to dance. He doesn’t feel entirely the same and so he agrees that this is my time.  We do many things together as a family and a few things as a couple (never enough time!) each month but I have to stay rooted in who I am and dancing is all for me. By keeping my hobbies I remain an individual. I resist labelling myself as ‘Wife’ or ‘Mom’. I am Christy; dancer, teacher, respiratory therapist, wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister…you get the point. Taking some time to keep yourself present in your own vision makes it so much easier to give to everyone else when you need to.

5) My West Coast Swing dancing community refreshes my soul – For me, dancing has always been about connection. My connection to the music. My connection to the lyrics. My connection to the deep rooted need for celebration with my whole body. West Coast Swing is a social partner dance. This means I get to add in the physical and potentially mental connection to another human being into an already joyous movement. There are some dances some evenings where the music and the partner are just right. The connection is so present that the rest of the room fades away. It doesn’t matter what I am hearing, it’s about what my leader is hearing. How can I best compliment what he/she feels in the music. Can I create something unique and shared with another being choosing to celebrate with me? What a gift to be able to share this!

West Coast Swing dancing is not just a dance; it’s a movement. Our community uses social media to plan lessons and dances and bring everyone out to enjoy them, but that’s where the human disconnection should stop. We talk, we dance, we celebrate, we laugh and we connect. This is something that any parent could share with their children. Remembering the lost art of manners and etiquette on the dance floor and off. Finding a way to connect with strangers and create new relationships. Finding a way to relieve daily exposure to stress. 

So Mom, drop the smartphone (it’s not really so smart), set the bar for your family, and get out on the floor!

And save a dance for me!

CB

Brave – Sara Bareilles

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Bring it! Show me how big YOUR brave is!

“Brave”

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Written by Sara Bareilles and Jack Antonoff

what Miley taught me about parenting

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Watching this performance was profound for so many. Most in very negative ways. I believe that Miley Cyrus has amazing talent, sings with a unique and powerful voice and has a strong heart. She is no different than many girls as they progress through adolescence. If we do not truly believe in our worth, we challenge absolutely everyone to make them show us that we have value. Any value. We are unable to see our strength because in the eyes of the media and popular culture, we don’t fit. We aren’t right. We are not enough. Unfortunately for Miss Miley, she must live this out front, exposed and judged even as she rebels against having to be compared to all that is impossible to attain. Sending you all my love Miley, in the hopes that you discover your blazing, beautiful heart sooner rather than later.

lindsay leigh bentley

I didn’t watch the VMA’s last night, but one glance at Facebook this morning told me that Miley did something.  I was curious, so I looked it up.  I watched about 10 seconds of her performance before becoming overwhelmed with sadness and turned it off.

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I have a daughter.

It’s a theme that repeats itself over and over in the world of celebrity: young kid gets famous, young kid makes claims for purity and “being a great role model”, young kid gets super famous and implodes right around age 19.

Remember when Jessica was a virgin bride?  When Britney was saving herself for marriage? When Bieber was singing hymns?  When Lindsay was in Parent Trap?

What happens to these children during their teen years that none of them can seem to escape…?

Neither my husband nor I are famous, but spending enough time in the music industry, we have seen…

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Rock it out – Like you know you can!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xh6fxaQkm8

I love this video for a few reasons.

1) I had expectations before he even opened his mouth. You would think I would have learned better by now.

2) Only weirdos would cover the soundtrack from The Bodyguard, right? The cover songs that I typically prefer are infused with originality and new interpretation. This one is not. This guy hits every unachievable note and shocks the pants off me.

3) As long as wonderful things like this are passed along, I will keep using social media. It shows talent, ability, belief, and emotion  – even a dedication to his Mom! There have been a few clips of interest floating around that point toward the hugely negative social impact of FB and other social media sharing platforms. This is the topic of another post, but for now, I will divulge that the positive keeps me coming back for more.

Camping Bites

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Christina Lake Adventures 2013 - photo source: globeimages.net

Christina Lake Adventures 2013 – photo source: globeimages.net

I am still in the throes of the ‘mad laundress’ persona at present. The aftermath of camping. The cleanup and the reorganizing as we all contract to fit back into our home and our lives after a few days of knowing no boundaries. This can easily become a chore but I am striving to allow it to be a reminder of how much we have, what is here to come back to and more importantly what we really need. What I was lucky enough to see and feel on this trip outweighs the work on our return. We stretched and we grew, together.

I had not camped for an entire decade. My last experience was not pleasant. It seems, though, that I had locked away the unpleasantness as resulting exclusively from the environment rather than that combined with poor company. Company being a horde of nasty mosquitos and one miserable (now ex-) husband. Caught by association, I neglected the green forests of B.C. regardless of their majesty. I chose instead to slumber on synthetics piled high within 4 solid walls and thankfully, I chose much better company along the way.  But circumstance intervened and now I was faced with the proposition: To camp or not to camp?

So I sat in front of my Mac considering our inaugural camping trip. (‘Glamping’ to be more accurate as we would be navigating the Crows Nest Highway with 19 feet of RV trailer in tow.) With children ages just shy of 2 and 5, was I nuts? Did I really need to accentuate the challenges of every day by adding a lack of running water and electricity? Aw heck, why not?

And so we went and we survived and we all loved it. Most shockingly, I adored it. Turns out the Gladstone provincial campsite was kind enough to add hot, free showers to their repertoire. That helped. A lot. The pristine, warm water of Christina Lake was exquisite, healing and the perfect remedy for the August heat. My children were so content to be floated about in inflatable boats, marvelling at the mountains, boats and other swimmers. They laughed and ran and made new friends at other campsites. Their inhibition was quite the catalyst for new friendships, as they walked right onto other sites and sat down at neighbors picnic tables. I was apologetic but got waved to join in and stay. Here they were, my children, showing me the way to change and grow. They engaged with other families and helped me see that, in fact, one of the joys of camping comes from a sense of community. Us against nature!

So although it is so much easier to say ‘no’, we revelled in the experience of ‘yes’.  We attempted. We experienced it together and will have stories to tell. Some things worked very well (loving the shower option) and others did not (10hrs of driving in one day). We stretched beyond the known into the unknown. I hope to show them more of this in the future. Mommy should not be so rigid in her ways. Never say never…

 

Though what is unknown is beyond us, what is familiar is in danger of being taken for granted. And we live in between, on the edge of what we know. This is the edge between today and tomorrow, between our foundation and our tenuous growth. How we relate to this edge is crucial, another life skill not addressed in school.”  Mark Nepo – Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

CB

Simple Sugar

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Kissed by the Sun. photo from: keylimepietree.com

Kissed by the Sun. photo from: keylimepietree.com

Some lovely neighbours of ours brought us back a basket full of Okanagan plums last week after their vacation. I love plums. There were dark red ones and some light yellow. I went for the dark red. The first bite was indescribable, but I will try.

The tight skin burst under my teeth and juice exploded out onto my chin. My daughter ‘M’ saw this and begged to have a bite too. There goes that plum. Ok, round two.

Under the skin of plum #2 was the most sensational flavour, sweet like honey but with a hint of vanilla, deepening as you neared the dark mahogany .  The middle was a mush of goodness that could only be prolonged to 2 or 3 bites (4 or 5 little ‘M’ bites).

As we sat in the afternoon sun in pure bliss with our treats (also plum #3 and #4) I could only feel gratitude. The feeling overwhelmed in that instant, drowning out all others like a tidal pool suddenly filling in from the greater ocean. I was grateful for things that were simple, not hard won. Not the clothes on my back or the house we stood in. Here were my thoughts:

I have hands and they help me to hold this fruit. To bring it to my mouth and taste it. I have eyes and they see this gift. They are able to help me wonder at the colors and the beauty of this creation. I have a nose to recognize the scent of vanilla and to associate this, along with the plum, to one of my favorite wines from the same region. I have skin to feel the sun and the soft cheek of my child as I wipe away the sticky goodness from her chin. I have ears that hear her laughter and her asking again for the 3rd time “Is this a plum?”, as she makes sure she stores the memory of taste and sight together for the future.

What small moments we are given, if we can only see them. Moments of clarity and joy. This was a day to practice gratitude and even to be given that I am grateful.

CB

Intuitive Parenting?

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Strive to thrive, not just survive.

Strive to thrive, not just survive.

The active child. The quiet child. The talker. The screamer.

How can we let go of preconceived ideas of what our children should be? How they ‘should’ behave.  Is it really helpful to use someone else’s theories and methods on parenting on OUR own children?

Before I had children I was bombarded with ‘information’ on how to create the perfect baby. How to eat, how to sleep, how to take yoga classes when I was pregnant. Once the little peanut arrived, how to breastfeed, how to make home-made organic baby food, how to create an amazing sleeper. But did anyone once tell me what I really needed to know? That the very act of parenting would release childhood emotions of my own. That the tears and the unrestrained anger exploding from a toddler could elicit responses from my own inner core that were as yet unprocessed and raw.

Here’s a thought… what if you were to ignore all the input from others and learn how to REALLY listen to your child? What if you practiced extreme empathy? Would your child’s behaviour speak to you and tell you the answers? Perhaps you could you do a better job on your own than by using most of the ‘helpful’ suggestions from parenting advisors.

If there is anything that parenting has taught me so far, it is that intuition rules. If I feel like my child needs a day of rest even though he has not played extraordinarily hard that week, I will keep him home from school. If my child continues to hoarde toys and retreat with them into a corner, I’ll declare a day of self-play and quiet. If my daughter is overly clingy and fussy, we will have a day of cuddles and cancel appointments that aren’t necessary. However, if I were to add any other adults into any of those situations, my responses to my children have the potential to change. My expectations of my children’s behaviour can be significantly different with an audience and the social expectation for ‘good’ behaviour. Clingy toy hoarders could be embarassing if I have high expectations for self-sufficiency in my own behaviours. I don’t ‘do’ needy. Needy makes me angry (it’s a long story). Suddenly my behaviour towards my children is completely changed. I am impatient, unkind and NOT listening. Suddenly, it’s all about me. In fact, the problem is no longer the problem, it’s my percepton of the problem that is creating all the drama.

I can no longer listen to my child and even if I did I would not hear what they were trying to tell me. My own, inner child is screaming too loudly, awoken by the crack and rumble of my shifting ego. Unfortunately, it is these emotional moments that most parent choose to try and ‘teach’ their children good behaviour. Urging them to share, threatening them with toy confiscation if they cannot, using time outs. Let me ask you parents… do you learn well in stuations of stress? No. You will both fail huge as you are in no emotional state to remain observant and calm, resulting in you shaming your child with your words and actions. The distance between you is created and it grows on every such interaction. Children are so very forgiving, but are only human. We never forget how a person makes us feel.

If you are willing to accept the fact that you yourself are a work in progress, you may just have a chance to create a wonderful human being. To do this, you will need to let go of becoming a perfect parent.  You will need to admit to your children that sometimes, “Momma is learning too”! If you yourself cannot communicate open and honestly with your friends and family, why would you be able to teach this skill to a new human being? If you fear change, your children will observe and feel your behaviour. Not a one of us came with an instruction manual. We must all battle with our inner child as we help our own children grow.

So where do we start? Try reading  ‘Parenting From The Inside Out’ by Dr. Dan Siegel. LOL, another referral… but this time a book that leads us to answer questions about ourselves and what we bring to the parenting table. More importantly, a resource that focuses on our ability to learn, change and grow in our role as parents. If you are asking your child to do these things, why should you not be practicing the same?

CB

Run for your life.

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On your mark, get emotionally traumatized, take 20 years to get over it,  GO!   Photo source: 941foot.com

On your mark, get emotionally traumatized, take 20 years to get over it, GO!
Photo source: 941foot.com

I don’t run.

I have always looked at people who are running and thought, “What the hell are you running from?”.

Call me judgemental, call me what you will but I have always maintained that it doesn’t look very enjoyable.

“Why the hate-on?”, you may ask? I’m really not sure myself. Maybe it is just habit. Something that speaks to me from when I was much younger. Days in elementary school, dreading gym class because I knew that I was crap at running. I hated things that I was not good at. I didn’t need to be made to feel any more of a failure physically than I already felt. I had a few friends that I fit in with. Looking from the outside, I was included, but it felt like work. Hard, continuous, ominous work. Like my personality needed to be tended like a garden. Cultivated, and trained to be the right way, every day. ‘Don’t drop that mask…they won’t like what they see. So you sure as hell don’t want the humiliation of not performing well. Just stick to what you do well.’ My daily mantra.

I had heard someone say in my youth that I was lazy and even fat (which, I now realize was hateful and untrue). If you hear it often enough, you will believe it to your core. So running… nuh-uh, nope, not an option for me. Can’t do it.

Fast forward 20 years and elementary school is faded like an old photograph. One where I can no longer make out faces or feelings to go with them. I can no longer visualize who stands next to who and more importantly, why. I have built back my inner child, one peice at a time. Like a china doll that was once shattered, I am feeling whole. I am loved, I can give love and I can do anything.

So, I suppose the natural order is to turn a corner and suddenly be staring down that old enemy. I was out walking in the pristine, early morning sunshine the other day – my weekly respite in the morning from children (thank you lovely husband). I felt so full of energy and joy that I just started running. I ran out a full song (thank you iPod), then caught my breath only to find myself running again. Huh. Well, holy crap. This is fun. I started to speculate ridiculous shaming things like, maybe it is easier now because I am not as heavy (hello, you were never overweight!) or maybe I have better shoes, stronger legs. Yep, keep talking self, because you know you are full of it! Truth is, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are probably right  (thanks Henry Ford for the perfect words).

How many things have I talked myself out of over the years because they were equally as daunting? How sad to have missed this enjoyment because of limitations set by the words of others.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be enrolling in running workshops and running marathons anytime soon (I like dancing WAY too much to spend my free time running) but at least it is an option. A great way to exercise when on vacation or I just need a good calorie burn.

There may be days yet when I feel too heavy (both physically and spiritually), too tired, too chicken to go out in the rain. But my decision not to run will never again be made by that little voice. It holds no value. It has no tenacity. I have lived enough beyond the reach of its power to know the truth. My truth. And in that, I am set free.

CB

What I regret most in my life are failures of…

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Funny, heartfelt and compelling. From one of my very favorite bloggers…

Live & Learn

George Saunders

READ THIS.  You will not be disappointed.  It started my day off on the right foot.


From George Saunders’ 2013 “Advice to Graduates” commencement speech @ Syracuse University:

“…Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300…

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