Tag Archives: Joy

…and I go to sleep counting my blessings.

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▶ White Christmas Count your Blessings – YouTube.

As I lay me down to sleep, I peep cautiously out of one eye to see if my son has his eyes closed yet. He used to be infamous for his poor sleep, but he is 5 and a half now. All grown up and a great sleeper. He has placed himself so that his head is on the same pillow as mine and his nose is only 2 inches away, his breath warm on my chin. His eyes are closed but I know his breathing patterns and he is not asleep yet, or at least not deep enough for me to sneak away.

I have time to let my mind wander and so it will. I think about this week of holidays, family time and celebration. I have nothing to complain about. I have no wants. No needs. My biggest problem this week is embarrassing at best: deciding whether to switch from an iphone to a Samsung. Seriously pathetic.

So I let my mind wander to gratitude, where I know I can always come away feeling refreshed and light. To reach out and embrace my children. To have them want to cuddle and play with me. To have a husband who is engaged, honest, and fun to be with. To have a home that is warm and safe. To go to work and use my skills to help others. These are my Christmas gifts. This is my joy. I allow the soft hush of this realization to resonate and bring a peace to my mind.

Christmas as we know it today has become a reminder of what I do not need. I give thanks for all the marketing and lights and bells and whistles as they blare out a message: “If you are not enough, then we can provide. We have everything you need!” And I laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea. Didn’t we grow up watching the Grinch learn this very lesson every single year, trying to stuff joy and love into bags and steal it? So then, even if we know it in our hearts to be true, we may not be ready to become it. To live it. To allow the message to seep in, take root and grow, changing us permanently as it thrives.

I remember the smile on the Grinch and his heart swelling in anticipation. I lay there and count my blessings as I count my son’s tiny breaths. One by one, smiling as they come.

CB

“Balance and fall prevention for Seniors”

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Any style, any time. Photo: artandsoulcanada.com

Any style, any time.
Photo: artandsoulcanada.com

I am back in the dance studio again. There are not many places in this world that I have this reaction to. When I walk into a dance studio, I feel alive. I feel nervous, light, eager, whole and centered. It doesn’t matter what kind of class it is. Dance is dance. The expression of what I feel through my body, be it celebratory, heart-breaking or passionate. It is life.

My return to the studio is taking place in an adult contemporary class. Our weekly class routine consists of an intense, mommy-chub-busting warm up followed by jumps and turns across the floor and then choreography. I couldn’t pick a favorite moment if I tried.

I am, however, experiencing the disappointment of a new inability to do endless amounts of turns across the floor. I used to be able to keep going forever. ‘Turn and turn and, turn-and-turn-and-turn and… you know the type. Spotting the wall. Crisp and perfect.

So imagine my great annoyance to find some bizarre spinning sensation at the end of the room to greet me. Holy crap! I have to fight to stay upright. Kind of like a good night out that was side-swiped by a wayward friend pushing the tequila shots. The happy moment is gone and WHAMO!  You’re left trying to keep it together and not embarrass yourself. The only saving grace in my situation was that I was apparently not alone. The other ‘adult’ dancers were feeling it too. Being all ladies and all mothers we pondered: Is this some cruel postpartum phenomenon or is it non-gender biased?

A detail from an anecdote of my husband’s glimmers in my mind. Something about a ride at the local fair that he took our 5-year-old on and almost tossed his lunch with all the spinning. So maybe this isn’t just a female affliction? 

I used our great accomplice Google to search this new, adult-onset dizziness and was greeted by a website with the heading “Balance and Fall Prevention for Seniors.” Oh nice. Right. Well I suppose that is the extreme case of what I am experiencing. Although I am far from a senior just yet.  But that heading does get me thinking about the mind and the body disconnection that begin as we age or are stricken with a disability.

I can’t help but think that if I were to practice enough, doing turns again and again, that this might improve. Isn’t there some inner-ear muscle that I can pump to give me super-spinning powers again? But that’s very unlikely. And so , I am left with an experience that is reminiscent of old days, yet subtly changed forever. But I am not swayed. Not even an inch. My physical being may not be as pristine, but my mental strength has never been so tenacious. In the realm of dance, particularly contemporary, emotional maturity can be fortifying. At age 14, my heart was relatively unclouded. It had not yet experienced great love and fear, disappointment and shame. I had not yet known immense joy or sadness.

How my heart feels when I dance Source: balletnews.co.uk Photo by Jason Trozer. Northern Ballet dancer Hannah Bateman

How my heart feels when I dance
Source: balletnews.co.uk
Photo by Jason Trozer. Northern Ballet dancer Hannah Bateman

So while I may battle with small challenges of the physical, my heart brings more power to the floor than ever before. A tiny fleck of gray on my canvas, hidden by otherwise radiant color. True art must come from the heart and as long as my body is willing I will write it a love letter every week to remind it… “Dear Body, Keep up! There is so much more to come”.

CB

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

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

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Terrifying Joy

I have had a book on my shelf for over a year. The first time I tried to read it, I felt like it did not make any sense or that it was not written so I could easily read or understand its’ messages. I put it away at the back of the shelf.

Time lapse to 2 weeks ago and my life has taken me down a completely unexpected road. I caught a post on Facebook and watched my first Brene Brown video on youTube. I remembered that had been given that book…one of her’s – ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. I started reading and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that point in my life’s journey.

I am so thankful for instinct and learning and for finding the strength to make bold changes.

Enjoy the video. Lean into your moments of joy.

CB