I never was one to keep a diary or a journal. As a kid, it never felt secure enough to actually write my true thoughts and feelings. As a young adult, I struggled because if I was having a bad day, I didn’t want to dwell on it on paper, or to record bad thoughts and feelings that I figured were better cleared away and replaced with positivity.
But now, while I am not actively choreographing as often (which has always been my foremost avenue for artistic expression), I am finding that my art journal and my blogs are becoming very useful creative outlets.
It’s not just about recording or reporting events. I sometimes vent my frustrations in my art journal, but no one else has to see that. And I am careful not to use the blogs that way, because it just seems offensive and juvenile.
But words, like paint, like dance, can express emotion, build story, and create image. I find an idea that inspires me, and the words to paint the idea creatively and encapsulate it into a work of art. It’s the same process as painting or drawing or choreographing.
I certainly don’t mean to say that I am a great writer….or painter….or choreographer. Merely that I enjoy using words and color and dance to express and explore and make sense of the world around me and the landscape of my own heart and mind.
Watched a group of dancers improv this afternoon. It is always such a treat to watch dancers BEING artists in the moment.
Dance is unique among the Arts, because a dancer is a dual mode creature. We are Athletes, working out all the time, improving and refining technique, focusing on details. We are also Artists, with a need to express and our own bodies are our medium.
Some of us are more naturally Athletes and must learn to let our inner Artist emerge, and some of us are naturally Artists and we must work to acquire and maintain the discipline and diligence of Athletes.
Watchin Improv is different from watching choreographed dance. In improv, the Artist and the Athlete unite, and the dancer is not doing, but being. There is a Truth to improv, in which a dancer has no choice but to share her soul. It is open and raw and organic and real.
As a choreographer, I have always loved watching improv as a way to choose dancers to work with. I get to see not only what they can do, but who they are. I like to know who I am working with. I get the most fulfillment out of creating Art on living breathing changing growing responding real persons.
Imagine what painting would be like if the paint were actually alive, with feelings and opinions, and moods?
St Sophia was from Italy, and was martyred in the second century. Her daughters were ages 12, 10 and 9 when they we brought with their mother before the Emporer Hadrian for the crime of being Christians. Sophia was tortured by being made to watch each of her daughters being questioned, tortured, then beheaded, from oldest to youngest.
Sophia and her daughters could have avoided their totures by renouncing Christ, but they knew that an eternity with Christ is not worth sacrificing for anything here on earth. Therefore, the girls endured with radiant faith and the mother offered them encouragement, knowing that God’s love for them is greater by far than even a mother’s love.
Sophia buried her daughters outside the city and mourned and prayed at their Graves for three days. She fell asleep in the Lord at their graves.
The girls names were Pistis (Faith), Elpis (Hope) and Agape (Love). The name Sophia means “wisdom”.
The daughters bravely endured physical torture and death, numbering them among the many Christian martyrs. Their mother’s torture may not have shed her own blood, but her torture was immense, having her heart ripped from her chest by watching the deaths of all three of her young children.
St Sophia, teach me to love Christ as you do. Teach me to love my children as you do, not with the selfish love of this life, but with the immeasurable Godly love that will lead them always to Christ.
St Sophia and her daughters are commemorated on September 17th in the Orthodox Christian Church.
Is there someone in your life, or the life of your child, who has made a significant impact? Maybe a teacher or some other mentor? A boss? A co-worker?
As a teacher, I have had the honor of working with lots of students. Lots of individual humans each on their own unique journey through life. Some I have gotten to know personally, but most I only saw in class, for a season, and then they are gone.
I know my High School Chemistry and Physics teacher, Mr Vitter, was one person who taught me more than science. He taught me to love learning. He taught me to take pride in the work I did, to never settle for less than excellence from myself, and he set a high bar and expected me to reach it. I think of Mr Vitter often, as his is one of those voices that still pushes me, challenges me within my own thoughts.
I have had a few parents and students who have taken the time to tell me that what I taught, or the way I taught it, left a lasting impression, or gave them the courage to attempt some brave creative project.
Its not that we want to hear thanks or that we want to take credit. But it is good to hear that the work we did had a positive impact. It is good to hear that the seeds we sowed bore good fruit.
There are so many bad influences out there. Let us always remember to say thank you to the people who have had a positive influence on our lives and our children’s lives. Let them know they are doing valuable work in the world.
The alarm goes off. You open your eyes and realize that this is not the first time it has gone off. You’ve been hitting the snooze button for the last 45 minutes. Now youre late. And its a big day. Much to do. Too much. And now you’re already 45 minutes behind.
Once again, you have two choices. You could fly out of bed, get ready and go plowing through this day, and hope for the best.
Or you could take another 10 minutes…. to pray. Turn off the frantic to do list in your head, light a candle, face the icon of Christ, and pray. Offer your day to Him and allow Him to bless your efforts.
So? Which do we choose? Which do we wish we would choose? Can we make a better choice each morning? Maybe even for just this week?
You are on your way into Walmart. You’re busy. Late. Trying to squeeze in a little grocery shopping before you pick up the kids from practice. At the front of the parking lot, there is a man who tells you he needs help to feed his family. The only cash you have is a $20 bill. You plan on using your debit card to get your own groceries.
Do you walk by, typing on your cellphone to pretend not to hear him?
Do you give him the $20?
Do you bring him inside and buy groceries for his family as well as yours?
What would you choose to do?
What would you advise your teenage children to do if they encountered the same situation?
A gentle breeze stirs the thick humid air. The taunting chant of the cicadas that just two weeks ago was a deafening symphony of heat song, is now only a small, scattered ensemble. Soon, they will be silent, and we may not even notice that they’ve gone.
Sweat curls the hair of my children as they run, the golden light of the late summer sun glistening on their tanned arms. The light of the sun is just a bit softer, just a bit more golden, as the sun gradually sneaks to the south. The pure white heat of summer has softened ever so slightly into that soft filtered gold. Today, the temperature on the bank sign across the street reads 94. Not long ago, it was flashing 102.
Summer dies a slow, long death here. We are never quite sure when it will be down for good. And then we will move into the cold muddiness that is winter. Winter? Not really a season here, just a brief grayness, with the pecans having dropped their brown flimsy leaves in to the puddles below. Winter is only a comma between the run-on sentences of Southern summers.
But today, there is just the slightest hint that soon we will be reveling in the two or three wonderful weeks of Fall! Cool, dry air, brown leaves to kick into piles, the non-native tallow trees, with their show of reds and yellows. They are foreigners here, and they do like to show off their bright colors amid the browns and grays of our bare oaks and pecans.
It won’t be long, and it’s certainly not New England, but here in the deepest, hottest part of the South, we have learned to embrace and cherish the gift of Fall.
And a quiet hawk draws loose circles in the sky above us.