Sunday, July 8, 2012

Belly Dancing through the Broken Pieces: Cristina's Third Guest Post

I promised to follow the last post with a third guest post from Cristina, whose first two posts can be read by clicking the links below:

I hope this installment will move you as much as the first two did. (Her posts receive more comments than most of mine.)


I’ve been called ‘passionate.’  This might be code for something else, but I’ll go with it.  I am fiercely blue-flamed passionate.  And yet, I somehow feel a need to subdue this passion in order to fit in the world around me.  It makes me feel restless.  Stifled.

My pregnancy was hard on my body.  Months of on-and-off bed rest, two months of constant labor, then finally a C-section that came early.  I almost died in the procedure and my baby girl spent time in NICU.  Recovery was slow for both of us, and when the dust settled we discovered my right hip was blown.  Too much weight and strain on too little of a body frame. 

I hobbled around like an old lady for months.  I felt crimped both physically and emotionally.  My passion dwindled in all areas except for my family.  My children didn’t mind if I stuttered around or took longer to stand up.  My son didn’t notice if my hip gave out.  My baby wouldn’t mind if I couldn’t run anymore.

But I noticed.  And I minded.  I didn’t feel whole anymore.  Physical therapy only helped my hip a little bit, but I still had a great deal of pain.  I still felt as if I couldn’t be the same person I was before I had the baby.  My body was different, obviously; how could it not be?  I had baby weight, I was nursing, I had an old lady hip… but I also felt different.  For so many months I had to avoid being emotionally engaged in order to protect the baby and myself, and now it was as if I couldn’t remember how to embrace myself again. 

I didn’t feel like physical therapy was helping me.  And so I continued to do my exercises at home but stopped going in to the therapist.  Writing was at a standstill, too.  I stopped playing around with photography.  I threw myself in as a mom, and enjoyed every second of it.  I went to bed at night feeling a phantom itch but with no amputations.  My passion wasn’t being used up and my body could feel it.

Without thought into it, I enrolled in belly dancing classes.  I felt tremendously insecure in the first set of classes.  My pregnancy had enabled my depression and agoraphobia, so throwing myself into a dance class with strangers was difficult.  And yet, I also felt at ease there.  My body felt at home in the movements.  With each isolation and curve of my hip, I began to feel better.  My hip loosened up.  The tightness in my chest began to unwind. 

With each set of classes, I began to let go of things from the past.  Belly dancing is a dance of radiating light.  The dance position is one to project light and positivity even from our fingertips.  I could feel it.  My fears from the past, the negativity and sorrows, began to drop from me.  My hip began to feel stronger.  My passionate self began to assert itself again.  Without realizing it, I started to feel whole once more.

I am now in an intermediate class.  My instructor asked me why I had chosen to continue with belly dancing and I told her about my hip and physical therapy not doing much for me.  I explained how my hip feels stronger after dance.  She looked into me (not at me) and said, “I understand, dancing fixed all my broken pieces, too.”  I thought about that as I drove home that night, turning her words over and over in my mind. All my broken pieces – there are many – have dance on my hips along with my coins.  I hadn’t noticed that there seemed to be more coins than broken pieces as each week passed.  I hear her words with every practice now.

It wasn’t even a week later that I received this fortune:  
"Stay close to your inner self. You will benefit in many ways."

How wise.  When I swayed from my true passionate self, I had been in my most pain, physically and emotionally.  I felt the most lost.  When I found my passionate self again, through dancing, I was able to let go of many things that were hurting me.  My broken pieces became whole again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Lot of Small Pieces of Paper (& Eggplant)

This post hopes to achieve two goals: 1) clear the backlog of cookie inserts people have sent me; and 2) encourage you to check back this weekend, when my friend Cristina will guest blog for the third time - a Not-a-Fortune record. Here are Cristina's first two posts: Elephant Kissing & Defying the Stars (2010) and Revisiting Elephant Kissing (2011). They are both compelling, emotional reads.

Since my last post, I visited Peter Chang's China Grill. Calvin Trillin profiled the chef/owner in this 2010 New Yorker piece. I tried the dry-fried eggplant, one of the most popular appetizers:
It was spicy and flavorful, and, as the photo depicts, a meal all by itself. Peter Chang's food is meant to be shared.

I ate there on a Friday night, alone, after leaving work and driving around for over an hour. I couldn't decide where I wanted to eat dinner, had trouble finding parking downtown, and then got a little bit lost, at which point I texted a friend, "I got lost and ended up at the jail," (true story, though a more accurate text might have read "I'm driving past the jail"). My next text: "And now I'm at a graveyard. I wish I was kidding." It finally occurred to me that I should just go to Peter Chang's, even though it was in the opposite direction and near my office, which meant that I could have saved myself an hour of driving had I thought of it earlier. I was so hungry (and thirsty) when I got there and then so satisfied when I left that it didn't occur to me until later that they don't even have fortune cookies. #fortunecookiebloggerfail

I did leave with a small piece of paper that had letters and numbers on it and now I can't go back there unaccompanied, but that's a post for another kind of blog. Really this story is just a long-winded, fortune cookie-less way of saying I shouldn't be left alone on a Friday night. Or ever. It's also a reminder about the dangers of not having a food plan. ALWAYS HAVE A FOOD PLAN.

My co-worker and new friend Jane (a digital media rockstar- check out her site here) tried Ni Hao, where they do offer fortune cookies:
"April showers, brings May flowers."
"A healthy mind, is a healthy body."

As Jane noted when she shared the "extremely disappointing" not-a-fortunes with me, the comma usage is interesting. Did you know commas belong between the subjects and verbs?

At the end of the quarter, my good friend Amy's company catered lunch from P.F. Chang's (it was a big ruse to keep those worker bees at their desks for an extra hour). Given the context, isn't this fortune appropriate?
"Advancement will come with hard work. Many new friends will soon be attracted to your friendly and charming ways."

My childhood best friend sent this proverbial not-a-fortune:
"A wise lumberjack always has a sharp saw."

Wise words indeed.

Hippiechick's co-worker's joke that she gets the worst not-a-fortunes, this one included:
"You are not illiterate."

Don't you just love a cookie insert that insults your intelligence? #sensethesarcasm

My friend V sent me this not-a-fortune (thanks, V, as if I needed another reason to miss you and Austin!):
"Only love lets us see normal things in an extraordinary way."

Maybe by "extraordinary" they mean "inaccurate" or "ridiculous."

Finally, here are three cookie inserts from a childhood friend of mine (I last wrote about him here):
 "Show your true face to the people who really matter."

 "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

"Failure is the Mother of Success."
(And apparently Mother and Success are people, judging by the capitalization. Oh, wait, did I just judge Mother and Success? Does that mean I have no time to love them?)

A big THANK YOU to everyone whose cookie inserts appear in this post. I love that you think to share your fortunes and not-a-fortunes with me.