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For the past few weeks I’ve been taking an “Intro to Ballet” class. The course is 5 weeks long, meeting every Saturday, at the Maryland Youth Ballet. This is my second go ‘round with taking the class and now I’ve added “Beginning Ballet” 1-2 per week. I love taking theses classes! Not only is ballet beautiful but what I love the most is that it helps me to SLOW DOWN and focus on one beautiful thing—my body in poised, elongated and sustained movement.
I tend to think, work, walk and move at a fairly rapid pace—all the time (SN: I do everything rapidly except eat; I’m such a terribly slower eater). It’s nice to change that up and get a reasonable workout at the same time. What I’ve learned though, as I’ve added these additional classes during the week, is that the technique of ballet is WAY MORE intense than I thought. Initially my thinking was, “Oh, I’ve done modern and African dance before. I can just transfer those skills into ballet. Give ‘em a little modification and I’ll be fine. No prob.” (le sigh) Then I cashed in that reality check.
Ballet is quite unique unto itself and requires a great deal of concentration (for me anyway) on so many things at once: posture, carriage, turnout, pointed toes, tucked bottom, straight knees, square pelvis, …wait, are my arms in the right position? And, what’s the pas again? (…) Simple things such as body weight and placement are so completely different in ballet than it is in modern, African, or hip-hop—the forms of dance that I am much more familiar with, and it all must be performed while wearing a cheerful countenance and making it appear effortless. How fun!
Lol. No, seriously, it is fun and I’m enjoying it immensely. Even when I don’t perform all of the movements correctly or my arms are in the wrong position, I can still find joy and beauty in the experience. I appreciate all that my body has done and continues to do for me as I age (yes, I’m at the point where those thoughts creep into my mind). For example, I’m thankful for the strength that comes from my legs AND for the need to focus on toning my thighs to improve my technique. I love the gorgeous lines created by my legs in sous sous (demi pointe) AND I realize the added stress placed on my knees when holding some of these positions.
I’m so very thankful to still have full range of motion and the ability to keep growing. I relish the challenge of using my body in a different way in a mixed-gender dance space that’s overflowing with dancers of all ages and varying body types, ethnicities, abilities, and motivations to explore ballet.
It’s a wonderful, exhilarating feeling.
"This was a pretty shameful day for Washington," said an angry President Obama after the Senate voted 54-46 against a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun purchases. It needed 60 votes to pass.
He spoke in the Rose Garden with families of murdered Newtown children and injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at his side. Opponents of the bill "caved to pressure," he said.
Over the past several months, one thing that has truly bothered my soul is when folks send emails with absolutely no context. You know, those emails that come in with just a link in the body of the message (huh?) or a FWD that has not one thing to do with your job or organization or field of practice (hmmm, umm, yea). I mean, what is that about? Do people expect me to read their minds? Do they think their thoughts are somehow being teleported through osmosis on the Internet? Are they speaking in code? Am I on Candid Camera? These are real questions.
Most of us don’t have time in the workplace to investigate what these random emails may be about. I certainly don’t and won’t, even if I did have the time. To avoid being that person in the office, here are a few tips to help you out.
- The subject line is your friend. Clear, succinct and relevant subject lines help readers anticipate what content lies inside the message and will make the email easy to track or reference later. It’s also the first clue that the email may be worth reading to begin with.
- Include a few sentences stating why you’ve sent the email; why it’s relevant/useful to the reader; how the contents may apply to their work or daily life; and what action is required (if any). This takes a few seconds and actually alerts the reader to the fact that you also have read and comprehend the usefulness of the material you are sending.
- Make reference to relevant discussions. There are many times when fervent discussions in the workplace spark ideas. You may later come across material that reminds you of that conversation or that may be useful to the person leading the discussion. Say that in the email to ensure it’s clear why you’re sending the content or FWD. It takes two seconds (ref.: Item #2).
- When regurgitating pieces of others’ email, give them credit. It is so rude to extrapolate portions of a colleague’s email and then send it back out as if it were your own. Simply reference the previous email and add your 2cents. It not only shows that you’ve read your colleagues’ work but also that you’re not duplicating efforts (and it’s the nice/right thing to do).
- If for any reason you hit send before completing the previous steps, recall the message, add context and resend.
Women Living Well, 31 Day Challenge – November 12: Play soft music everyday in your home. Choose worship, classical or another form of peaceful music that the family enjoys. Focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships. Work on gentleness this week.
I’ve had many opportunities this week to use traditional gospel music as a calming, peaceful form of relief and comfort. One song that always speaks to my spirit is Perfect Peace as performed by Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago. It always reminds me of my grandmothers and being back home, down south, in the country.
Blog prompt: What kind of music is playing in your house this week? And how are you doing with pursuing gentle and peace-filled words?
In addition to gospel music, I’ve had Channel Orange (Frank Ocean) on repeat. It’s just been that kind of (emo) week. Throughout the holiday season, I do enjoy listening to gospel and playing all sorts of Christmas music. My favorite Christmas song is “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, but I’m cheesy so I love just about any holiday music.
I’ve had to work diligently this week to use gentle, peace-filled words by being present in the moment and intentionally shifting my focus to what’s in a person’s heart rather than what’s coming out of their mouth. I’ve not been successful in every instance but I’m striving to do better and be more consistent. Words cut so deep and leave a lasting impression, more than most folks will ever know. I’m thankful for this reminder to practice being gentle with others; we may not always know where the tipping point lies.