So after all my running chatter last week I got pretty schooled by being cocky enough to try to take both dogs on my run yesterday AND forgetting to take my asthma medication before I left. I also tempted fate by saying yesterday's run (varied intervals of running and walking) would be easier than Friday's (just 20 minutes of running). Just imagine me trying to control two very curious dogs who want to sniff everything but do not want to run while wheezing and being red in the face. Eventually I jerked Cody's leash to try to get him into line and succeeded in breaking the ring on his collar, causing his dog tags to fly all over the street, and causing me to rupture a blood vessel in my hand. I think something must have hit it. This happens once in a while and is highly annoying to me. I got an immediate sting/ache in my hand but continue running. When I got to the halfway point I noticed Cody was now hopping on three feet and had a huge goathead lodged in the pad of one foot. So we turned around and walked all the way home. By the time I got home I had a big lump on the side of my hand which has now turned into an ugly bruise/lump.

Honestly, the worst part of this is that it prevented me from knitting all day. Which was super lame. Serves me right for being smug.

The weekend was pretty fun, singstar/knitting/spinning potluck at Cassandra and Kevin's on Saturday night leading to some *hilarious* drunken antics on Arlen's part (about which I'm sworn to secrecy) and some rad singing by all of us (though I must say I sounded pretty terrible when I sang Good Charlotte, which I don't know very well, instead of opting for Queen, which honestly I would have rocked). Spent yesterday nursing Arlen's hangover and my stupid hand and made Lynn Rosetto Kasper's amazing Corn Chowder recipe from her How to Eat Supper cookbook.

I love to read blogs from beginning to end. Last week I started on an old friend's from the long hair community who I'd lost touch with... I just thought to look for her online and found she had started a blog because she and her family moved to Tuscany (from Tasmania) for a year-long adventure. Anyway, I enjoyed that immensely and will be following along. On Friday I decided to read Jasmin's (of the Knitmore Girls Podcast) blog Better Than Yarn because she's hilarious and a great writer and in a lot of ways I feel like we have a lot in common. It goes back to 2005 but she mentions another blog host where she started out before moving her writings to blogger. The older blog starts in 2004 when she's still in college and it's been interesting to get to know her a little better than it's possible to do through a podcast about knitting. It's amazing what you can learn from someone through a blog. It occurs to me that I started my livejournal (to which I use this to crosspost because for some reason I can't get lj to work at my office) at almost the exact same time, and it's probably very edifying for those random internet people who might be curious about me. The blog I had before that (which is still available online) is about 2002 to 2004, though the site I used from 1999-2002 is under new ownership and no longer has my writings. I downloaded them at some point, but who knows where they are. I also have kept a paper journal on and off since I was 5 years old. All in all, a lot of navel-gazing. I wonder if my offspring will ever find/read any of it. I wonder what they'd think. Probably the same thing I think of my parents and their nonsense. :)

Anyway, back to the grind (which is mostly reading blogs and listening to podcasts, because work is sparse here right now).
Last night was our Scottish Country Dance Valentine's Day party and because I had the night off of teaching duties I had a chance to be a fly on the wall and be a regular student.  It was not a very demanding class and all the dances were ones we had learned before.  There was not a huge focus on technique since there were brand new dancers and it was, after all, a party.  What surprised me was how inhibited people seemed.  I think most of us spend most of our time trying to take up as little space as possible in the world, apologizing for bumping into each other or brushing shoulders, but what I love about dance is that those rules don't apply any more.  In dance we are encouraged to use the space, to carry and use our bodies with energy and vigor, and to truly connect with the people we dance with instead of shuffling past them. 

When Scottish Country Dancing is at its best, to me it feels like what I imagine trapeze artists experience.  I feel as if I fly from person to person, swooping in graceful arcs, catching hands with the other dancers only to be flung off in a new direction.  I have never had dreams of flying, but I've had many dreams where I dance and my leaps gradually become longer and higher until I could bound over buildings and trees.  In order to dance like this dancers need to be present in every inch of their bodies right to the tips of their fingers and toes.  There is no room to curl in upon yourself and try to hide among the others in the set.

I know my experience is different from that of other dancers because I have been dancing my whole life.  My childhood modern dance teacher, Helen, is still someone whose voice I can hear inside my head.  She encouraged us to laugh, leap, run, stretch, and emote.  For a disassociated and shy child like myself, this was pure magic.  With the exception of one or two others in the class, the students in my Scottish dance group did not have the benefit of growing up learning to use their bodies as paint brushes, loom shuttles, kites.

I want to encourage the students to stretch their limbs, look up into each other's eyes, grasp each other's hands, breathe to the deepest parts of their bellies, and hold their heads up high.  This is our one chance each week to not hold back, to not apologize, and to not hesitate in our steps.   I know not everyone in the class can be a perfect stellar dancer.  Some have physical limitations, others find it difficult to learn the complex dances.  What I do know, however, is something every band and choir teacher I ever had repeated ad nauseum.  If you're going to play a wrong note, play it beautifully, play it loud and clear and pure so that even if people hear it and know it's wrong, they are touched by its beauty and grace.  Be brave in the face of inevitable mistakes and let yourself bloom. 
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