Art, body, community, Creativity, Fitness, Music

Fan Dancer

Back in March, we knew it would be a little while. Night clubs shuttered along with gyms, studios, and all the rest of public life. No contra dancing at the Glen Echo Park Spanish Ballroom on Friday nights. No proximity to my absolutely favorite Zumba teacher at the rec center on Saturday mornings. We’d have to figure something out. For this old gal, keeping the spirit intact means movement. Dance is as much a necessity as toilet paper and reliable wifi.

The irony was clear from the beginning: the businesses keeping their doors open were not ones I wanted to support. A few of my more savvy Zumba instructors went virtual, offering Zoom workouts at no cost a couple days a week. It was oddly comforting to catch a  glimpse into the kitchens and living rooms of people I’d only seen at the gym. I felt less alone in my own mess, swinging my hips in the tiny rectangle of space carved out in a condo which absorbed schoolroom, office, and the entire universe of entertainment options on two days notice last March.

That little while stretched into weeks. Then months.

I was definitely going to need new ways to dance.

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community, Friends, Love, neighborhood, Outdoors, Relationships, spirit

Through This, Together


The weeping willow tree stands alone at the edge of the parking lot. In spring and summer, its feathered branches play with light. Now, in the cold, it sways its head of bare tresses.

In the Beforetimes, the willow held my morning. Waiting for the 466 bus to the metro, queuing commuters angled their bodies towards the stop sign up the block where the bus would eventually appear. We do this without realizing it, don’t we? Pin our attention on some absence we want filled by something beyond our control? It eventually occurred to me that fixating on that stop sign was a tragic waste of a few wide-open morning minutes. Holding my packed lunch and metro card, I turned to look across the street instead. The willow. Right there. It gave my gaze a bite of intrigue, some sustenance to carry me through the workday.

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activism, Love, Purpose, race, spirit, Take Action

The Truth of Connection

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York City, April 4, 1967

From this moment on, I choose the truth of connection. You here with me and me here with you. Even when you feel yourself most alone, I am holding you. And maybe you don’t know it, but you are holding me. 

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activism, Poetry, race, Take Action

Out Loud, With Your Very Own Voice

The way the kindergarten teacher called it on the first day of class.
The way the receptionist spoke it into the waiting room before the annual checkup.
The way the librarian whispered it when entering information on the card.
The way the coach boomed it during lineup.
The way the camp counselor hollered it at the YMCA summer Olympics.
The way the local newspaper listed it among the loving grandchildren she left behind.

The way the principal announced it during the graduation procession.
The way the future in-laws enunciated it during that first meeting.
The way the minister intoned it when asking the dearly beloved to witness this holy union.
The way the nurse confirmed it before writing it on the birth certificate.
The way the HR assistant checked its spelling when setting up the job interview.
The way the emcee declared it at the awards ceremony.
The way the children proclaimed it when asked who their people are.

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activism, Children, growth, Parenting, prayer, race

This Sweet Thing We Grow For Him

For me, the honeysuckle does it. Out walking the dog, I pass through that place behind the apartment building where the vine-covered shrubs form a loose fence line with the neighboring townhouses. There, the scent lifts me up from whatever chaos is in my head. I pause and find one underneath, going for the yellow blossom. While the fulsome white catch the eye, I’ve learned from experience. The yellowed, crepey petals store astonishing sweetness.

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Letting Go, Outdoors, prayer, spirit

You Think You Are Small

creek_david-latorre-romero

You think you are small. You crouch at the edge. This one like so many before, the low riverbed where you seek sustenance.

It’s far from a river, really, barely a trickle. You crouch here and watch how pebbles below the surface make water glint. In the copse of trees between one set of houses and the next, the big road bearing down just around the bend, this is the closest you come to a sacred place.

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community, Fitness, Mindfulness, neighborhood, Parenting, spirit

This Bubble, Spinning and Viscous

world-edwin-hooper

Our governor gave us the stay-at-home order yesterday. With presumptive positives surpassing 1000 in the state, it’s a wise directive. That said, judging by the volume on I-66 right outside my condo, only a handful of my fellow Virginians are complying. And no, they still have not finished replacing the sound wall as they ravage the land around us for new express lanes. Which means even as spring explodes from the tulip poplar and cherry trees all around the complex, my balcony door stays sealed tight.

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Family, Relationships

Close Quarters

crowded-house-pau-casals

My university made the announcement that all buildings will be closed starting tomorrow. Some students still live on campus, some international students have not been able to get home. “Essential services,” as we call them now, will remain functional. Grab-and-go meals in a few dining halls. Campus security. A couple of residence halls. The rest of campus shuttered. All of us that can telework are doing so.

In the span of a week, an entire faculty has figured out, more or less, how to teach online — a skill some sizable percentage has been resisting for a decade.

Today I went into my building for the first time since March 10. With a gloved left hand and a “clean” right, I navigated to my office to collect my ergonomic keyboard and a standing desk floor mat. My partner and son have assembled a plywood contraption on casters that will work for me to stand at home. This small condo is quickly shrinking, and it’s good to have a place to work that isn’t the dining table. Especially now that we’re eating three meals a day there.

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