spontaneous moments like these


I have become very bad about capturing life under The Big Top with my camera. I still carry my camera with me practically everywhere I go but more often than not I’m just holding it, or worse, it is sitting in my bag. I was thinking that as I looked at this shot that has been living in my camera for a few days now.

And after berating myself for not taking pictures like I used to, I found myself smiling just a little bit because I DID CAPTURE THIS MOMENT…THIS MOMENT OF AWESOME BETWEEN A DADDY AND A DAUGHTER!!!

If I ever find myself doubting whether or not my children realize just how lucky they are that this man is their Daddy, I just have to look to spontaneous moments like this.

They know!

 

 

my plus 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5


Do you remember your first?

Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about politics. Do you remember your first political experience? How about the first time you voted? And the best personal political experience in your lifetime ever? This weekend I had the opportunity to hear some pretty amazing, smart women, women who when they speak politicians listen, share some of their first and best experiences as we gathered together to talk politics…naturally…and women…and women in politics…and healthcare and politics…and elections…and the upcoming midterm elections…and why a dear friend sitting next to me needs to someday soon put herself out there to run.

I remember my first political experience. I was 13 years old. Mommy Dearest dragged me to a political protest against then Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter because of his non-stance on abortion at that point in his campaign; which was kind of awkward and strange all around since Mom was a life-long Democrat and a self-proclaimed feminist because it was the 70s and because she scarcely could talk to me about periods at that time much less the mechanics of where babies came from. Yet there I was, standing next to her holding a sign declaring that God was at war against abortion. I was thirteen years old. My picture appeared on the front page of the Pittsburgh Press holding that damn sign as Mr. Carter walked by smiling and waving. Mom was standing next to me smiling and waving too. Oh gawd, I was mortified!!! I was thirteen.

My best political experience was the 1988 General Elections. I was in college working towards my nursing degree and taking care of prereqs like Political Science. Since we were just four months away from the General Election, our professor deigned to focus on taking us through the California ballot for that year studying each and every candidate and initiative on the ballot that year so that each of us would be able to go to the polls truly informed and voting as such. I aced the course and yes, I entered the voting booth for the very first time as a truly informed, confident voter. I brought my +1 too before it was even cool to bring a +1. Of course we wore our matchy-matchy acid wash jeans and big 80’s hair because 80’s.

I am so sorry Hollie! Truly.

But I will never apologize for taking you and Zoë and Abby and Jodie and Daniel to the polls.

Then again, perhaps my best political experience were the days Hollie, Zoë, Abby and Jodie all voted for the first time. When our government mucks up things that affect these ladies I love to remind them that my kids care and my kids vote. Yeah, my greatest political accomplishment is my kids vote…my kids think and my kids vote. Okay, fine. Four out of five of my kids vote…for now. Then again, 2020 will come soon enough.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to, laugh with and share with some extraordinary women who are committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in their communities. Breaking bread with some of them we discussed healthcare and politics and what I believe to be a poorly written, tugging at your aching-breaking heart proposition that will appear on the California November ballot.

The biggest takeaways from political suite talks I engaged in this weekend? Politics is indeed personal because politics affects us all… we women…our access to healthcare…our children…our community. We can indeed be part of the change and we can make a difference with our words and our actions. We must. Anything we say or do, no matter how big or how small.we might imagine it to be can and will and does make a difference. Discussing what I learned this weekend with my +1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 I know I am because 4 of them vote.

In 100 days is our U.S. General Election. Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself arguing, it’s imperative you are part of the process — along with your +1. In fact, your +1 may vote entirely opposite from you but what matters is you are both at the polls on election day.

 

all we really needed to know we learned at dance competitions


Um, actually no. All we really needed to know we did learn in kindergarten just like Robert Fulghum said. But while dancing competitively and supporting that competitive dancer all these years we certainly put it all into practice.

As Jodie is packing away her costumes and cleaning out her makeup box we are finding ourselves both reflecting on the last seven seasons. It seems like it was only last week or so that we were packing those dance bags for her very first competition. Yet here we are, reflecting on all that we learned and have put into practice at dance competitions and, I imagine, will continue to in real life.

Jodie learned very quickly to be gracious always in victory and in defeat. At one of her very first competitions, we witnessed first hand a sweet little dancing snowflake express her disappointment in the judges’ result by smashing her trophy in the parking lot as her dance mommy did her best to soothe her angry, disappointed snowflake. Jodie observed correctly (before I could even say a word) that if she did that she would likely never be allowed to dance again.

True that!

Through the years, Jodie has scored many trophies, ribbons, plaques and pins as the shelves her daddy installed above her dance barre prove. The diamonds, platinums, lightning golds, high golds and golds she is very proud of and were all accepted graciously and humbly. But not to be forgotten are the emeralds, high silvers and silvers which were also accepted with gratitude. At Nationals this last week she received a high silver for one of the dances that she danced in. Disappointed? Oh yes she was…very much so…but one would never know watching her accept that award and shake the judge’s hand nor did they know as she left the stage and walked with me back to our hotel room that night.

As with any competitive sport/activity, Jodie learned to be responsible for her own crap, er, equipment, shoes, makeup, costumes, props. Sure I helped over the years to take inventory, pack it up, hang them up and carry them everywhere we should go; but ultimately everything she needed for dance was her responsibility. Her teachers taught her that as did her parents because are we really going to be there to take care of all these things as she goes out on those auditions? Um, no.

Being part of something bigger than herself, Jodie learned a lot about what it really means to be a part of a team. One must show up and honor their obligations to the people who are depending on them to show up and give their all to the team effort. Sadly, a few times while dancing competitively she has been partnered with dancers who sometimes just didn’t show up physically or mentally. It was hard for her and the rest of the team to fill in those gaps but they did. Under their teacher’s instruction and their families encouragement, they learned that is what you do when you are a part of a team…as you do in real life.

She also learned that everyone really is replaceable.

Opportunities have come and gone. Thanks to her teachers’ instruction, encouragement and connections, Jodie has taken classes, learned choreography and danced with a lot of professional dancers and choreographers and she has taken each opportunity as a chance to learn, grow and make friends. Not once has she ever taken for granted these opportunities.

And as with awards and critiques, be gracious always for those opportunities for you never know where they might take you.

Much has been learned over the years. It is bound to take her far in  life through many adventures whether she be on stage or not.

A friend of mine, whose daughter wants to dance competitively, asked me recently what was she getting herself into. I assured her that there will be all kinds of money spent, all kinds of drama, all kinds of exhaustion guaranteed. I also promised her there would be so many teachable moments for her little girl on the dance floor, in the studio and traveling on the road. Adventures definitely await her and her tiny dancer; and with an open heart and mind and a willingness to work hard and learn much god only knows where they will end up.

For us, for Jodie, the next part of the adventure is just beginning.

 

 

 

 

what happens in Vegas (with children at dance nationals)


Well, you know how the saying goes.

Most of the drama, the marley burn, the sunburn, the blood, sweat and tears, the headaches and especially all that water under the bridge we are leaving behind on the dance floor…as every good dancer does. It is our final dance competition, dance nationals as dancer and dance mom and yes, there was all of that and more that happened here in Las Vegas.

I wouldn’t want to go through this eight year-long adventure with anyone but my tiny dancer.

But let us all pause briefly and take note that I look so damn skinny in this picture standing next to my daughter who dances for hours every day. I did. We did.

Because what happens in Vegas stays there…for now…until we get home. That’s going to be a whole ‘nother adventure.

little me


Last summer when Hazey-Face auditioned for the Dance Stars team, she told her dance coach that more than anything she wished to do a duet with her Auntie Jodie.

She really does look up to Jodie.

Kind of hard not to when your auntie’s feet seem to rarely touch the ground.

Since this was to be Jodie’s last recital as student and teacher, Hazel’s wish was granted today.

Little me

Yeah you got a lot of time to act your age,
You cannot write a book from a single page,
Hands on the clock only turn one way,

Run too fast and risk it all,
Can’t be afraid to take a fall,
Felt so big but you looked so small,

Wish I knew back then,
What I know now,
Wish I could somehow,
Go back in time and maybe listen to my own advice…

You gotta speak up, you gotta shout out,
And know that right here, right now,
You can be beautiful, wonderful,
Anything you wanna be,

Little me

How fitting that they would choose this song, Little Me, since Hazel is basically Jodie’s mini-me. True story, at dance competitions people backstage will ask if Hazel is Jodie’s little girl…which would mean that Jodie was a mommy at age 12…

Um, NO!

Not that I have never seen that happen. Sadly, I have. Jodie would have been so grounded forever if that ever happened to her. Don’t think I wouldn’t. Why not ask if they are sisters…you know, since they share the same last name?

I’m sorry.

There I go again, off on another tangent.

Back to the sweetness…

Isn’t this so sweet?

Aren’t they just adorable?

Don’t they just make you want to cry because of the sweetness, the tenderness, and the years just blurring by as we witness the magical moment between Jodie and her Little Me?

Hazel’s mommy and I have decided that these two are so grounded for like forever for making us (and pretty much everyone in the audience) cry today.

Thankfully, their dance coach knew this just might wring my already emotional because-it-is-Jodie’s-last-recital heart out and she was prepared with her gift to me.

Today I learned that after nine years of dancing and recitals and competing, when it is your kid’s last dance recital as student and teacher, you get wine…because Dance Moms do like their wine. Harmony knows me so well…perhaps too well.

Jodie and Hazel are still in so much trouble.