Sunday, December 26, 2010

Authentic Beauty

I believe that each and every day of my life is part of a journey.
I find it true that every experience and moment is a thread.
Like a stream that flows over rocks, through forests, winding to waterfalls.

I am sitting here now at this moment, entirely spent and yet, I cannot rest.
I always write when this feeling overtakes me.
Today, I want to write a little about my journey.
The journey that my life has taken.

I have been broken.
I have been shattered and emptied.
There have been paths in my life that have went places that I never imagined possible.
Crossroads that smashed my heart to pieces.
But through these moments. That seem so hopeless.
I found an amazing truth in my life.

Beauty that is broken, is beauty that is true.
When one becomes truly broken, and finds oneself in a seemingly hopeless place.
Once you have experienced being shattered into the earth.
You become authentic.
Beauty that is broken is authentic beauty. True. Real.

I have felt pain so deep.
I have felt so hopeless.
Yet, it is in this moment when we feel utterly hopeless, that we are presented with a choice that otherwise we would never have.
We can choose to fear. To give up.
Or we can choose to cling to Hope.

Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John)
Love. It is strong it is beautiful. It is forgiving.
Love is a choice.
True love is not based on what we will get in return.
It is given whether or not we will be loved back.
True love. It is a choice to accept, cherish, care, and be.
No matter what.

Authentic Beauty.
Brokenness. Hopelessness. Moments of Fear.
These all lead to a beauty that can be so authentic and true.
We must choose to not be hardened by these experiences.
They can shape us into beautiful people.
People who can truly love. Truly care.
Because we have truly been in moments so shattered.

I cling to one Hope.
He is my Perfect Love that casts out fear.
So I slowly pick up my shattered pieces and love.
I am learning to Love. Authentically.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Place of Missing

I have been in a place of missing.
Missing things. I try not to dwell on the past, because I don't want to become wistful and discontent.
However, some things in my past are so lovely, I feel they deserve the thought.
I don't know if it is the holiday season, or that I am finally slowed down enough to pause and think, but these days I find myself missing many things.

  • I miss standing in a freezing ballet studio selecting music for class, when a little 4 year old comes and gives me a drawing she colored just for me. Or the 3 yr old who brings me a pencil with a puffy-feathered top.
  • Seeing the 9 yr old girl who I know has a broken home, open like a flower, little by little through the months while I teach her to dance.
  • Taking off my point shoes to find missing toenails and blood. Accomplishment.
  • Going to bed and being able to feel every single muscle in my body. Every night.
  • Not having a care in the world, besides thinking of the next adventure to embark on with my siblings and neighbors.
  • Making perfume out of flowers with my next door neighbor.
  • Being able to run fast, and beat all the boys at Awana.
  • My little "brother" Micheal from Ethiopia.
  • Waking up early and running outside barefoot to play in the swing set with my siblings in the early sun.
  • All the holiday parties that my mom would plan for my friends with arts and crafts and yummy goodies.
  • Mick, my cat.
  • My best friend growing up, my older brother.
  • Sunday school.
  • Being able to do 32 fouette turns on pointe without effort. I had no idea.
  • The ballerina that I was.
  • I miss seeing the extreme joy in little girls faces when I autographed their programs and talked to them.
  • Adventuring through the slough with my brother.
  • Running cross-country
  • I miss my great grandma, taking care of her every day. Her sweet tooth.
  • My other great grandma, and her toffee and stories she would tell me for hours on end.

      I miss laying on the grass, almost every sunny day, and looking up at the blue sky.
      For the longest time, just thinking, and dreaming.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Junior Achievement

I want to take a moment to reflect on something that was one of my favorite things this Fall 2010 quarter.
Life rushes on so quickly, and it seems all to easy to move on and forget the moments the shaped us into who we are now in this moment.

This last quarter, I had my first class that actually directly correlated with my currently planned major, elementary education.  I had a course in Intro to Education. It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much about education and teaching through my incredible instructor.

What I learned from the most, was by volunteering with Junior Achievement.
I was able to go and teach in a 1st grade class at Irene Reither.  I was so excited to be able to work with 1st graders, as that is the age I have been hoping to be able to teach after I graduate from a teaching program.  I can not explain the joy that teaching in the classroom brought me.  I was ecstatic to be able to work with the kids. They are so very eager to learn, and all so very different from each other.  Walking in on the first day, I knew that I was in the correct major in school. I felt completely at home with the kids.  Being able to help them with worksheets and projects while teaching them made it possible to be able to interact with each and every one of them on a personal level.  The best part was that each time my teaching partner and I returned to teach a JA lesson, the kids were super excited to see us. They loved us! How could that not melt my heart?!  I love kids, and sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the fact that each and everyone of us has the power to greatly influence the children around us.  We influence children by each and every action, whether it be negative or positive.  So many children come from broken homes, or are abused, neglected, or just overwhelmed the the current circumstances in their lives.  I see teaching as a little way to bring positive joy to children.  Any and every way that you can/are involved in a child's life, should be moments that you take to your very heart.  You never know what a person has been through, or where their life is in that moment. You never know where a person's heart is, whether its broken, crushed, depressed, empty, eager, hardened, fragile, or just putting on a very brave front. Very often it is just that, a very brave front.  Whether children or adults, this is all around us.  Take every encounter that you have, as a moment to just be there for someone. What kind of simple and beautiful difference can you make? We all can make one, no matter where we are in our life ourselves.
Children especially need the power of positive influence and encouragement.  While teaching JA I was reminded of the years I spent teaching several different aged ballet classes.  I saw firsthand the huge influence that a little bit of encouragement makes, and how the act of truly caring made a dynamic difference in my students lives.

I am so very thankful for the wonderful experience I have had while volunteering with Junior Achievement, and for everything that it has taught me.
~This moment is now~

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Culture for Perfection

The Beautiful
Ballet is a beautiful strength.  It is an illusion of the impossible and a striving of creating art beauty.  Although I went through much pain and sacrifice, ballet was my passion. It was something that I loved with such fire and zeal that I put every part of my being into this art.  I was never happier than when I was center stage of a ballet.  I was never more relaxed then after a hard dance class.  I was never more calm when I was dancing "adagio" or more stressed than when learning a solo. I was never more motivated than when I was in the middle of dance class. Ballet was a life of emotion and feeling. Above all, being able to share my passion with others was a joy beyond description. The hours upon hours of sweat and study finally coming together was a sure feeling of accomplishment.

The Ugly
However, under the beauty of ballet, there is much dire to be considered. Ballet is a perfection that is strived after.  It must look one way and be done one way.  With that, thin is what is expected. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  I do not necessarily see this as a bad thing, it is just the way that it is and people should accept that.  That pain dancers go through is immense.  I spent numerous nights unable to sleep because every muscle ached so. The dancing 8 hours, six days a week begins to have a toll on your body.  There were times after class I would take off my pointe shoes to find blue toenails and a shoe full of blood.  The rehearsals spent dancing through injuries, and the lack of energy outside of dance. Ballet has a toll. It has a price, and it is this price that ballerina's must be willing to pay.

It seems to me, that above all, ballet is a pursuit of perfection.  Ballet itself is a striving for perfection.  There is only one correct way to dance a ballet combination. Your body must look one way; even your hair must be worn in a tight bun leaving not a strand of hair even a chance to move freely.  Ballet is a world of competition. Competition is what motivates you to become a better dancer.  In ballet, you will never be good enough.  Dancers know that they can always do better.  Striving to create the illiusion that ballet is effortless is exhausting.  The ballet culture is creating the illusion of the impossible: making pain and hard work inivisble. Striving for will never be good enough.  We are creating something to work for that can never really be attained.  By doing this we cause ourselves to be forever discontent and unhappy with ourselves.  This happend to me, it seemed that no matter how good I was becoming, I was still disgusted with my work.  I needed to dance better, more beautiful, and I needed to lose just a few more pounds. 

Another thing the ballet culture does is create an avenue for conformism.  The identity of a dancer is created by conforming to what a ballerina does and is; body and soul.  It has to be true of each individual, but each individual who is truly a ballerina partakes in thes ballet culture.  Girls conform to what the ballet culture says their bodies should be.  Ballet culture seems to define perfection as its lead role.  The hours upon hours of sweat and tears that I and many other girls poured into dancing the beautiful art of ballet.  The hours I spent after class working on the one move I couldn't get. It is a process that never ends, you will never be good enough, you can always do better.

I thrived off this, always trying to become better and more "perfect".  It motivatied me and its only meant that I could spend more time doing the thing that I loved.  However, it is something that I believe distorts our society today. We are never stisfied, and always need to be better and do better.  We want to be the best or do the best.  We are a society that seems to be striving after perfection.  While striving after perfection, we will never be satisfied.  I believe this leads to a very unhappy life.  We should alwyas strive to do well in all we do, but trying to conform to perfection will never happen and will only lead to disappointment and constant stress.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Broken Dreams

I often am told that I am a very happy person.
My smile is often complimented.
People who are first getting to know me often remark about how I laugh so often.
I am often told that I encouraging, positive, cheerful, and uplifting.

Oh friend if you only knew.
My life is a story, of broken dreams.

When I was a little girl, I loved life so very much. I ran around with a smile on my face, laughing and singing at almost every waking moment.  I breathed joy and loved to help people in every way that my little, childish mind could imagine.  I cannot explain the joy that my life contained as a young girl, it wasn't normal. I realize that now as I look back in time. I loved Jesus, even as a child. I would sing to Him and pray multiple times throughout the day, just because I wanted to talk to my Friend. I do not know how I understood this as a child as young as 5 or 6, but I did.

I danced.
Dancing was my passion. To this day, I am happiest dancing. It exudes something inside of me that is unexplainable. I lived and breathed dancing. For over 13 years, I studied ballet. Starting at the age of 11, ballet became more than a serious hobby to me. It became my life, I was going to become a prima ballerina. Every moment I spent dancing was for a reason, I wanted to dance professionally.  I breathed dance. Dance flowed through my blood. Never was it a chore, even in the blood, sweat and tears. The hours upon hours of study in the studio and at home were moments of joy. 

The moment came.
My opportunity to dance in companies in New York were at my footstep. All I needed to do was commit.

I prayed. I prayed that what I was doing with my life was what God wanted me to be doing. I wanted to do His will, and honor Him in everything that I did. Because I love Him. Everytime I prayed, He answered. Ballet had always been something I brought to Christ. I didn't want to have anything in my life be an idol.
Thoughout all those years, God had blessed me with "yes" in ballet.

Now these moments. To choose my ultimate path in life.
God answered no.
I had prayed. Please slam the door in my face if ballet is a no.
The door was slammed. Twice.

My passion. Was taken away.
To this day, I do not really know the full reason why.
I have grown so much as a person.
I feel God tugging me a certain way in life now, that would have never been possible if I was currently a ballerina in NY. 
To have a love, a passion, something that you breathed pulled out of your life.
It hurts.

When we are broken. We cling to the Healer.
When we fall, we look up.

I struggled, I will not lie. It hurt.  It brought me to a closer love with Christ.
These last few years have been a journey. My own journey on the path to complete contentment in Christ.
Contentment, peace, and love.

So yes, the joy you see in me today is real.
It hasn't always been there. It is not  my joy and happiness.
It is completely Christ in me.