A Thirst To Spend My Fire and Restless Force Tracking My True, Original Course

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;

- Matthew Arnold
The Buried Life



100 Most Influential People

I added an item to the list today, for the first time in years. If you look at the list on the side, and you scroll down to the bottom, you will see that there is now a #114, which I added today.  This week, Time Magazine published their annual "100 Most Influential People" issue.  I love that this issue inspires me in so many ways. I used to see these heroes, these giants of media, activism, art, and politics, and think, "Wow... what drive these people must have! What talent!"  I saw them as extraordinary. EXTRAordinary.  Brave people who have extra courage and extra skill, and they have a drive to do these things that are going to massively change the world.  Me, well, I'm just a teacher.

I'm just one woman, and all I aim to do is make a difference in my little corner of the sky, which isn't extraordinary, and I'm not brave enough to make any real waves. Yeah, I'm outgoing, but if you really knew me, you'd know that I fear confrontation, and that I hate nothing more than when someone is feeling angry at me (which isn't easy, because I am not the most sympathetic person, and I often find filtering myself difficult). You know who the most influential people in the world are?  They are people who are not afraid. They are people who do extraordinary things, fearlessly, who can shake off the comments of people they might offend along the way.

But lately, it seems, the older I get, the more the realize that what I want out of life is so much more important than rejection and the more willing I get to jump into things fearlessly when the stakes mean a lot to me. And so I've been speaking up more about the things that really matter in my life.

And then I saw that Time included an educator this year: Kira Orange Jones. 
She isn't famous; she's just worked, really, really hard to improve things like graduation rate and student choice in New Orleans. She changed a city. If you can change a city, why not a world?

Sometimes, it is easy to get horribly frustrated at a system that is so broken that you feel like change is insurmountable.

But 10 years ago, Marc and I left a church when we refused to apologize for something we knew wasn't wrong -- socializing with gay people and inviting them to church. We left hurt, and I left seriously doubting if I'd ever again truly be able to sincerely support my husband's desire to spend a lifetime in ministry. 

It's been a remarkable ten years, and really, is a decade so long in the big picture? I think not.

And in the past week, two really cool things happened:
1) Time Magazine published a complaint I sent in about how their magazine cover misrepresented Christian's after the RFRA situation in Indiana. My words, apparently, do not go completely unheard.
2) Our church voted to become a reconciling church and officially welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities into our church family, no qualifications or reservations or judgement involved. 

Change is possible folks. It's possible.

And maybe if one hardworking educator in New Orleans can be one of Time's most influential people, so can I.


#103 Get Back on Stage

I added this to my buried list back in 2011, when it had already been far too long.  It's 2014, and I am back on stage, in Willy Wonka, and it is everything I remembered it to be and so much more.
I love listening to the sound of the audience chatter before the show starts and trying to guess how full the house is. I love the energy  and the adrenaline of standing backstage before making your first entrance. I love the feeling I get when I get a laugh on stage. I love being someone else, someone delightfully obnoxious for just a couple of hours at a time. I love when a tiny goof is made with so much grace and so much ensembleriffic beauty that no one but us even knows the mistake was made. I love quoting lines from the show in strange ways that make me laugh. I love making friends who "get" me in a way that really no one else does, like they understand the part of me that is the most special part of my soul.

The only thing I don't love... is the chore of taking off stage make-up.

 Nothing in the world feels better than setting your mind to something you know you want, setting out to accomplish it, pushing hard, and seeing it through.


#113 Have lunch with Joel Stein

So, I have a favorite journalist.  His name is Joel Stein.  He is an amazingly witty, sarcastic, writer who I happen to love reading.  His column used to be the last page of Time every week, which is actually kind of a special place; however, he was recently ousted by some strange 10 questions thing that usually contains painfully boring obvious questions asked of famous people. Anyhow... now he is the second to last page, which is really, well, odd, but I love his column. Except that one time he totally bashed the Common Core standards, which resulted in me sending him a strongly worded
Facebook message, which he surprisingly responded to. Anyhow...

My point is -- I would love to have lunch with this guy.  First of all, because he reminds me of the type of person I enjoy being friends with: people who tell it like it is. Those with whom you always know where you stand. Second of all, I would love to ask him about his thoughts on writing. I'd love to know his process. It would just delight me.

For now, I will watch his funny videos.


Dancing... funk class - take 2

Today I went back to the funk class.  At first, I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is just as hard as before..."

     There were four brand new people tonight. When the teacher asked, "Who is new?" I said, "Well, it is my second time," She waved me away and said, "Aww, second time, you are going to be fine." I did not believe her. Her advice to new people is to come back at least once more, as it gets easier the second time. 

     Three of the four new people left after only a short time in the class.  This made me really proud of myself for sticking it out for the entire class and for coming back. 

     About halfway through the class, I started to realize that there were occasionally moments where my feet were doing what they were supposed to do in a sort of muscle memory kind of way. Like... I wasn't having to think through every single move, some of it was just happening. I still missed quite a few steps, but I also tried to focus on relaxing and just moving a little too and feeling more confident in myself to just allow myself to realize that its okay if I look like an idiot. 

    So, this is growth. Now the difficult part: Jazz is moving to Tuesday nights at 7:15 (it was on Thursdays).  Note that this would have been great had it happened in February.  Sigh...  Funk is from 6:20-7:20 (but it really is like 6:25-7:25).  Boo.  They are about 15-20 minutes apart in driving distance and parking is a bit of a pain in both locations.  I clearly am going to have to choose.  I might split my time 50/50.  Not sure.

     The thing is... I definitely grow more from the jazz class because it is right at my zone of proximal development as a learner (non-educators will probably need to look that up). I am not sure which one is a better workout.  Jazz hurts... but in a good way.  The warm up is I - N - T - E - N - S - E!  The class and the choreography moves much more slowly though, so I rarely break a heavy sweat. The funk class is a bit above my level and moves really fast, so I am pretty much in a constant sweat in that class, but it doesn't really hurt. Is it true, no pain no gain?  Funk, however, is free with my gym membership. Jazz is $15 a week.  Hmmm....   decisions decisions.

     On the plus side, this does open up my Thursday nights to try Laughter Yoga. 


#6 Learn to Dance - A few epiphanies today

Today I pushed forward in my "learn to dance" quest by going to the Zumba class at my gym.  Now, I recognize that Zumba is only 1/2 dance class, because it is really like 1/2 workout, but I clearly just need practice trying to copy choreography, so I figured... dance is dance, and I went.

This morning, my friend Tina had asked me what I thought of Zumba.  I told her that I hated it because I can only follow dance moves if someone breaks it down step by step, slowly and does the same sequence multiple times. Zumba is like: ready, set, GO! You are just supposed to copy the teacher and try to follow along and hope you can figure out what the heck is going on.  I really hate feeling that lost, but I thought, "Well, maybe I've improved since last time I tried."  It was like a year and a half ago, maybe two years.

I guess I have improved a little, because it wasn't quite as hard to follow along tonight. It might also be that the instructor was better. I had a few revelations tonight at this class though.

I realized that, while I have been focusing so much on just watching and figuring out what's going on, I have neglected to count in my head.  I think I was thinking I would figure that out later, but once tonight, towards the end of class, I just figured, "Maybe this would be easier if I tried to count as I do this."  Ya know what... it was easier. Haha. The patterns really became that much clearer and I had a much better sense of when something was about to change.  I think that, instead of trying to remember the actual steps so well, I need to just try counting and remembering the counts of things.

It's a thought.

I also realized that I am more out of shape than I realized I was. Keeping up with that class for a full hour was nearly impossible.  I did, sort of, manage to keep up, but just enough to get the steps and follow along. Forget all the hip shaking and bouncing and stuff that makes dancing look somewhat decent.

Which is another realization I had... I look awful. I mean, seriously, I could not look more awkward dancing if I tried.  I spend most of my time watching the instructor and other good dancers, so I seldom look in the mirrors, but when I do, it is not a pretty sight.  I envy the young, cute, skinny instructor who can do all of it and bounce and swing and twist, all while keeping a smile on her face. I don't think I could keep up with the bouncing and hip shaking, even if I wanted to. Which I realized that... I don't want to.

Which is my final comment... I think I have some sort of awkward block against wanting to shake my hips or bounce or whatnot.  I think I have subconscious body image issues. It's like I feel like am too fat or old for this and like any shaking of any of my body parts is just going to be disgusting.

I don't consciously believe this. In fact, I consciously truly believe that girls with some curves are beautiful and that you can't really "shake your groove thing" if you haven't got any groove thing to shake.  But shaking IT all just reminds me that IT is all there, and I think this is subconsciously why part of me is not willing to give in to trying to dance with rhythm, with a groove. It makes me feel fat. Bleh....

The only solution to this is to lose the weight and get in better shape so I can keep up and try to add some pizzazz to my jazz....


#6 Learn to dance hip hop / #24 Be in a flash dance mob

So, as I was mentioning earlier, I want to dance.  When I wrote the list, I wrote that I wanted to dance hip hop, but I am now realizing that really, I just want to learn to dance... period. Not so much ballet, that doesn't really appeal to me, but everything else, anything else, would be great.

I want to be able to learn choreography in a decent amount of time and try it and remember it and get it.  I want to be able to move my hands and feet together at the same time. Learning this impacts #24, because I have found a flash mob organization, but I have to be able to learn the dance quickly from a video and do it after just a morning of practice.  It also affects #103, because I stand a much better chance of being able to get back on stage if I have the advantage of knowing some dance.

I set out about achieving this goal in January. I think that somewhere in me, I believed that perhaps, because I am musically inclined and have an ear for rhythm, I might have a natural ability and if someone would just show me the steps and stuff, I would be able to get it.  Wow, was that SO not the case.  I started out with a beginners' jazz class at a small studio. This was the perfect class for me -- really small, just a few people, with teachers who were really willing to work with my utter inability to dance and my painful lack of technique.  It was a true beginners class, which was awesome.

Unfortunately, it was also on the same night of the week that my graduate school classes were on, so come February, I had to quit.  I went to about 4 classes before I quit though, and I think I must have learned something. As frustrated as I felt then, I think a few things stuck.

I went to a funk class at my gym tonight and a few of the steps were similar.  In January, simple kick-ball-change steps and padabures were throwing me off horribly. I saw with my eyes what my feet were supposed to do, and conceptualized it in my mind, but somewhere between my head and my feet, there was a lapse in communication, because my feet refused to behave.  How dancers control all of their limbs all at once and make everything do what they want it to do, altogether, is beyond me.

Tonight, however, at the funk class, I nailed the kick-ball-change multiple times (it helped that it was the first step in the sequence) and mostly managed the padabure. The class was really, really hard.  It is a weekly class that had about 30 people in it, many of whom come regularly every week and work on the same routine for several weeks. I was one of the only newbies and it moved really, really fast. We worked on a "warm up" routine that was almost harder than the actual routine, which I think I only got about half of.

Right now, I look terribly ungraceful and miss many steps.  I don't have that natural hip swing or attitude thing going on and it feels very forced to me.  But even in just one hour, I got better. Some of what I learned in January was really helpful, like when the teacher told me over and over again to just focus on the feet before worrying about the hands. Although I felt kind of stupid not trying the hand stuff at some points, when it confused me at all, I tried not to worry about it so I could just work on getting my feet to do what I wanted them to.

I want to go back to the Thursday class. I think if I went regularly, I would learn a lot. It is a little bit pricey and money is tight right now, so I feel kind of guilty spending the money, but I just want this so badly.  The class at my gym is free (well, it is included in what we already pay, which is practically nothing), so at least that is something.  There is also a belly dancing class on Fridays and well... dancing is dancing, so I might check it out.

Maybe all this dancing could help with #67 too. I want terribly to NOT be overweight.

I've gone through moments this year where I have thought to myself, "You are too old for this.  People learn to dance as children, not at 30..." but the woman who teaches the jazz class started when she was much older and at the gym tonight, there were some women who were at least in their fifties, maybe in their sixties, and they appeared to be beginners. There was even a guy who looked like he was probably 70 something. If they can dance... so can I. At least I'm off to a start.