Monday, April 26, 2010

the power of a colored pencil

When I was little--maybe not too little--5th grade, maybe--my mom got me these incredible colored pencils for Christmas. I think there must have been 40 colors. All the shades I could imagine. And these pencils could be blended and used with water to change the texture and feel of the drawing.

I don't know what happened to the wonderful ones mom bought for me. Next time I'm at my mom's house I'm going to hunt for those pencils.

Now don't let me fool you into thinking I'm any kind of artist. I can't draw a stick figure.

But give me a drawing, and I'll color it in like nobody's business. I love colored pencils--and crayons, for that matter--for all the shades and textures you can show. A colored pencil is powerful!

My love of color and texture doesn't stop with the pencils. Put me in a needlework store with a painted canvas and I'll give it every shade and texture the thread can imagine.

Now I have my own set of colored pencils. Mine are simple Crayola pencils with just a few colors. But they are mine. Nobody else can use them. Shoot, nobody else can even touch them.

My colored pencils are my release. Sometimes I just think about the fact that I have them. I don't even have to take them out of their hiding place. I just imagine the possibilities they hold. I know it sounds crazy, but they're a breath of fresh air.

That's the power of a colored pencil. Go get your own!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Pointe

There are some days a mom looks forward to more than others. This was one of them.

Today my oldest daughter got her first pair of pointe shoes. For any mom who ever danced, watching your daughter hit this milestone is huge. And when that mom danced on pointe, you reach a whole other level of proud altogether.

I was her age when I got my first pair of pointe shoes. They're hanging on a hook in my bedroom. Yes, it's that big of a deal.

But I didn't work as hard as she has worked to earn hers. Mine were a gimmie. My teacher didn't care about my physiological development or technique.

Earning hers has been anything but easy. She has worked hard in class, two and three times a week for the last ten years, strengthening her feet, ankles and legs. She has learned how to stand, how to spin, how to breathe, where her arms are supposed to be and when. She has trained hard to gain the muscle memory that will allow her to succeed in this next phase of her dance training.

For any of you that think pointe is just the next level of ballet, think again. Point is it's own animal. For one thing, you use the foot differently. Not only does the dancer literally stand on the tips of her toes, she has to balance there with tight ankles, calves, thighs, glutes, abs... you get the picture. Imagine knowing how to drive an automatic car but being thrown into a manual. Now imagine that difference times 10. Same end result--a beautiful dance--different mechanics.

On pointe your feet are squeezed into shoes that by all rights shouldn't fit your feet. Square at the toe, boxed past the ball of your foot, and a shank (sole) with no give. Pointe shoes could double as baseball bats. And this is what she will proudly torture herself with for the rest of her dancing career.

As soon as we got home she pulled her shoes out of the box and showed them off to her dad. Bright, shiny and pink, they'll last through one class that way. But right now they're pretty and new.

After showing off your new pointe shoes you must sew on the elastic and the ribbons. I made her do it herself. She wasn't happy. But sewing on elastic and ribbons is something every dancer must know how to do. Like I said, not a happy girl.

But then she was done, proud as could be, and ready to start the next shoe, she smiled at me and said, "It feels so good!" "What?" "Finishing that shoe!"

Her first class on pointe is Tuesday. She's not allowed to wear the shoes until class when the teacher shows her how to tie them correctly and can watch her carefully as she learns to releve on them. The girls already on pointe are taking bets about how long she'll be able to keep her shoes on that first class. Let the blisters and bleeding begin!

I had my camera with me today as she was trying shoes on. I'll have my camera with me at her first class.

I am one proud mamma!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not to put too fine a point on it...

Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet...

Last year I got a bee in my bonnet. Maybe it was turning 40. Maybe I just needed a challenge. Who knows. I just knew that bee was bugging me.

Last year I decided I needed to run a half-marathon. Why? Of course, there was a bee in my bonnet.

I remember when I thought I'd never be able to run 1 mile. All I could think was how far that sounded. One Mile. Mind you, I'd never really been a runner. Maybe a couple of times in college when I pretended to run, I think mostly to get away from the residents on my hall.

So in February of 2009 I joined a gym. There was no way I was going to run outside in the cold. This Southern Girl can't handle the walk from the house to the car when it's below 40 degrees. Why would I subject myself to an hour + outside? So the gym and the treadmill it would be.

The race was in April. The Go! St. Louis Marathon and Half-marathon. Still thinking I was crazy, I paid my entry fee and was off and running, so to speak.

Remember that mile I thought was so far? Well, it was. Sooooooooo far. But eventually I made it 2, then 3 and eventually 7. Wow! 7 miles.

The crazy thing about running a half-marathon is that training plans never have you run the full 13.1 miles. 11 was the farthest distance I went before the actual race. But I knew my friends had my back. Chris had been encouraging (sometimes annoyingly so) in my training. My facebook friends were cheering me on. People at church cheered me on. Seems everyone I knew was cheering me on. And one friend in particular--Cory--reminded me almost daily that I could do it. And if they believed in me even when I didn't, how could I let them down?

Race day dawned cold and rainy. Yes, you read that right: rainy. But I had made that commitment to run. So run I did.

My goal was to finish. And I really wanted to finish in under 3 hours. Miles 11 and 12 were the worst. So close and yet so far. Water was running off the brim of my hat. I was soaked to the bone. My socks were squishing in my shoes.

But all along the way my family was cheering me on. They drove downtown, jumping the course so they could see me in several places along the way. They ran along side me. They rang their cowbells, and I knew they'd be waiting for me at the end.

And I did it. I met both of my goals: I finished in under 3 hours. JUST under: 59:38.

Woo Hoo!

Well I thought one race would get that bee out of my bonnet. But no, now there's a whole hive in there.

I ran the Mardi Gras half marathon in New Orleans in February, finishing in an amazing (for me) 2:30. Mind you, the course was totally flat. But that finishing time was a big ego boost.

This past Sunday I ran the GO! St. Louis again. Unlike last year, the weather was beautiful. Cool and sunny. And I shaved 12 minutes off last year's time. Still slow, but faster than last year.

Now I'm actually setting goals for myself. I want to get faster. I want to go stronger. I want to someday feel that "runner's high" I've heard so much about.

My next half-marathon will be Aug. 1 (my 42nd birthday) in Chicago, IL. Between now and then I'll run several 5k's. I'll work on my speed. I'll find some new places to train. I'll get out and enjoy the weather. I want to reduce the size of my butt...;-)

39.3 and counting.

Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

to blog or not to blog

that is the question.

seems lately there's a lot to say. i've never been good a journaling, but maybe this electronic thing could work.

so you may be wondering about the title of my blog.

6 years ago--has it been that long--i was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Dr. Sylvia Awadalla, my neurologist extrordinare, sent me to Dr. Keith, neurosurgeon extraordinare. Dr. Keith is no McDreamy. He's as specific and dry as one would expect a neurosurgeon to be.

in my three weeks of interaction with him he only cracked a smile once. yes, once. as i was being released from the hospital after a series of MRIs, a cage screwed into my head, more MRIs, an awake bioppsy of the right motor cortex of my brain and an extended stay in the iCU, i asked Dr. Keith about the hole in my head. he had told me that the hole they had drilled in my skull would not grow back, it would remain a hole.

i asked him if when i leaned over grey matter would fall out. well it worked. ee smiled a real smile as he assured me my grey matter would stay put.

it's been six years since my diagnosis of a "demyelating lesion in my right motor cortex." it's been 4 1/2 since my last seizure.

it's good to be alive. it's good to be fully functional on my left side.

it's good to see my children's many milestones: moo walking, sawyer racing his bike, sarah starting high school. it's good to know i will see many more.

Life is Good!