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Archive for June, 2010

Julie in Doug Hamby's Quintet

I’m pretty physically active, however, my talents don’t lie in sports that involve a ball or any flying object. My face is a ball magnet. Balls, frisbees and boom-a-rangs will hit me in the face at one point during the game. On my second date with Dave we went to the batting cages in Fells Point (Baltimore), I hit the ball it flew straight up in the air, I looked up and on its way back down the ball hit me in the lip. I had a fat lip for the rest of the date and for two days afterwards. Even as a spectator flying objects will find my face–During one of Dave’s soccer games a few years ago I was sitting on the bleachers and the game ball was kicked off the field and right into my face. Growing up my sister was very athletic and cool and I always wanted to be like her, but that is just not me–I’m not very cool and when I try to be I get hit in the face with a ball. I am ok with the phenomenon that my face is a ball magnet, competitive sports have never really been my thing and I have always used the hits as a sign that I am not living true to my Self.

I have been a dancer most of my life, I started when I was a child and danced professionally until I had Ella. When Ella was born I stopped dancing to care for her and never thought I would dance again. However, like a nagging relative, dance kept trying to come back into my life. I ignored all signs, thinking “how can I dance when my child will never be able to walk?” Finally, after I devoured three seasons of  the TV show “So you think you can dance…” Dave convinced me to take a dance class at the theatre (http://www.flynncenter.org/) in downtown Burlington. The class was great, the teacher and I became fast friends and we have collaborated on a few projects over the past two years since we met. By allowing dance back into my life many doors of opportunity have opened for me. I have been asked to perform, teach, collaborate and train with many of the great artists here in Vermont. Everyone is supportive of my family and understands that Ella is a huge part of my process as an artist. And to bring it all full circle I have been asked to teach the class that got me back into dance at the theatre this fall. (There will be no flying objects used in the class only flying bodies.)

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In many of my posts I refer to Ella’s terrible sleeping patterns–I’m not sure terrible even describes them. Here’s how it goes.

We put Ella to bed anytime between 9:30 – 10:30 each night. We place her on her belly in bed and wait until she falls asleep and is asleep long enough for us to flip her over on her back (she stays asleep longer on her back and if she stayed on her belly too long her arms get stretched and she will wake crying in pain)–this process takes at least two hours. We either stay up to flip her or go to sleep and set an alarm so we wake up. Ella never sleeps through the night she wakes at least two times a night and the whole process must be repeated. Now this is on nights that she sleeps. There are many, many nights when she is up all night and will fall asleep at 5:00 or 6:00 am and sleep until 10:00-10:30 am.

We can never let Ella take a nap during the day because she will not sleep at all during the night. This process is so much easier when there are two of us, Dave is away on a trip. I am handling everything on my own. It is extremely lonely in the middle of the night when I am trying to get her to sleep. I feel totally worn out.

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Last Sunday I performed a modern dance piece at an art gallery in Middlebury, Vermont. It was a lovely space with a small but very supportive, enthusiastic audience. Ella and Dave were in the audience, not in the front row, but off to the side. All of the people involved in the show and most of the audience know Ella and our family. Ella makes noise, especially now as she is getting over yet another cold. Her breathing is loud and at times, she snorts as she is taking a deep breath. I have struggled in the past getting comfortable with her noisy breathing in public, as people always stare. However as with all the other stares in our lives I have gotten over it to ensure that Ella gets all of the experiences and opportunities she deserves. I always speak to the choreographers/directors of the shows before I bring Ella to make sure it is ok (not that I have to, but I do.) Most times they are super supportive and love having Ella and our family involved. Ella brings such a wonderful positive energy to every room and in my opinion she brings a reality sometimes lacking in the art scene. AND she loves it, she was so engaged during the show, her focus was amazing following every movement, dancer, word and beat of the music—a wonderful experience for her.

…And for me I noticed my one-pointed attention. When I am performing, teaching pilates or yoga, feeding Ella, doing Ella’s therapies, cooking, doing the dishes or looking into Ella’s eyes I am fully focused on the task at hand. This one-pointed attention has developed in me over the past 7 years, it is the only way for me to continue to work and function each day. My mind can very easily drift to Ella, what she needs, where she is, how she is doing, what the future will bring and …well, you get the point. My wandering mind can very easily take over and consume my life, making work and everything else impossible.  This weekend as I danced, my full attention was on my task, performing the choreography to the best of my ability. After the piece was over I was able to detach from the performance and focus on Ella. I was so far removed from my performance that when it was over I was thrown off when I received several compliments on my dancing. Funny, ten years ago that was all I looked for after I performed, accolades from collages and what the dance critics said in the papers the following day. I found this experience very liberating, my dancing not involving the ego so much.  Just dancing as wonderful, positive experience.

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Life has felt a little busy lately. Ella is sick with a cold again (the end of school needs to come so we can get her healthy), I am testing on Friday for my Pilates certification and rehearsing for a dance performance this Sunday. For the past three weeks I have been waking up and walking right past my meditation cushion as I say to myself, “I am too busy to sit in meditation right now, I will find time tonight.” I never do find the time. By the time I get in two hours of ABR  therapy https://juliepeoplesclark.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/back-on-the-ball/ for Ella, cook dinner, feed Ella and get her bathed and ready for bed, I’m pretty tired. I read a little and then fall asleep. So, over the last three days I made a commitment to myself that I would sit in meditation for at least 20 minutes each morning no matter what and I did. It felt like a homecoming for me–ahhh… home at last.

The type of meditation that I practice is Vipassana  http://www.dhamma.org/. As you sit, you move your attention from your head to your feet, observing each and every part of your body by feeling all the sensations that you come across. The observation is objective by remaining equanimous with all the sensations that you feel. Whether the sensation is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, you try to appreciate the impermanent (ever-changing) nature of each and every sensation. You keep your attention moving, never staying in one place or with one sensation too long.  The beauty of this meditation practice is the wisdom that you gain by recognizing and accepting that every experience is impermanent — it will change. This insight can help you not be overwhelmed by all that life throws your way. Helping you to maintaining an inner balance and choose to act in ways that create happiness for you and others. By living each and every moment with an equamimous mind you progress toward the ultimate goal of the practice—liberation from all suffering. A huge goal, which I am not sure I will ever attain, however the practice does help me deal with the day to day and become mindful of my actions and how they affect others.

With that said…

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering,
May all sentient beings never be parted from freedoms true joy,
May all sentient beings dwell in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.

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