Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Monday, November 27

oh yes, ballet IS a sport!

Happy Monday...Today I'm tiding up from the holiday weekend and can now allow myself to enjoy Christmas carols without guilt. Tony Bennett is crooning in the background...ahhh, toss in some Bing Crosby then Andy Williams and I'm in heaven!

Today's thought is this...

YES, ballet IS a sport! Oh I know, that's certainly up for debate with many; they, in my humble opinion, are wrong. After the past several weeks it is crystal clear to me there is no debate needed...and while not competitive (unless the internal struggle counts) ballet is absolutely as grueling for the dancers as football is for anyone who's donned football pads.

For the past several weeks, I've had the opportunity to join my daughter in rehearsals for The Nutcracker ballet. While she's been working to perfect ballet positions I would never attempt, I've been portraying adult Clara and practicing narration while the dancers rehearse. 

Thanksgiving week it all came to life as they had dress rehearsals and moved into the 89 year-old historic theater. The exquisite costumes, beautiful backgrounds, and amazing dancing were accompanied by extremely long days. These dancers, ages 8 to 18, who have been rehearsing since September, run through the complete production twice on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for a total of 11 hours. Friday, the first day of the show, they put in a 10-hour day, then after the last show (where they've been in the theater already since noon, they'll then spend 2 to 3 additional hours packing props, costumes, and cleaning the theater, only to reverse the process back at the ballet studio. Another day of around 8 hours.

I've watched with amazement while these dancers go through the process from learning the choreography, executing the steps to coincide with music, then slipping into and changing costumes all the while giving us a breathtaking performance. (Did I mention many are doing homework in any free time they can find?) 

Sitting on stage as the narrator I could see behind the scenes...the 14 second Sugar Plum quick change my daughter was entrusted to make happen, the last-minute choreography changes, and the adjustments in narration as I was walking toward the stage. Stress-free: No. And yet these young dancers gave their hearts each time they waited for the curtain to rise.

Their heart-felt thanks to an audience that praised the dancers with standing ovations and lifted their tired spirits...we never saw the aching muscles, worn pointe shoes, and the feeling of stress through their beaming smiles.

And so yes, ballet is a sport, I've seen it for myself. And if we need any other vindication, Webster's Dictionary tells us so:

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill...for entertainment."

And what entertainment it was...I was thrilled to be so close to the process!

Wednesday, November 15

simple country pleasures...

Sparkling cold weather, sunrises tinted with rose and peach, orange-red bittersweet, and flocks of birds at the feeder...the days are exquisite and such a gift.  We enjoy every one, a blessed relief after the heat and humidity of a long summer. Even on a gray day with drizzly rain, November is the deepening of the year, and a quiet day spent reading and warming my toes by a crackling fire is a reason to give thanks.

This year, like so many of you, I've tried to slow down...to simplify...to make home a haven from the worries of the world. Not easy in an energy-charged life with teens...and yet, advice to
"...enjoy the season you are in." continues to ring in my mind.

Last year, on Christmas Eve day, I ran to the local convenience store...I don't remember why...tape, milk, bread, something I'd forgotten. And as I left, I noticed they had stocked the shelves with Valentine's Day candy. Sigh...

"Nature has its rhythms and its harmonies.
We would do well to fit ourselves as best we can 
with those cycles
rather than frantically throwing ourselves against them.
Be calm, be patient, be happy with the season you are in."
-Jeffrey R. Holland

And so, as we begin this holiday season, let's make every effort to truly ENJOY this time of year. When you find a minute, read this post by farmgirl Rebekah Teal...she absolutely made me stop in my tracks and take stock. 

Here's a little snippet of her wisdom, just to get you thinking...

News flash!

Christmas is not a competition...
Of how decorated your house is.
Of how perfectly perfect your gifts are.
Of how busy your days and nights are.
Of how much baking you do.
Of how many homemade gifts you can crank out.
Of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).
Let's all. Just. STOP.

Wise words...make time to appreciate each day and the joy waiting to be discovered, be thankful for sweet memories, and look forward to a lovely future.

And NO Christmas music until next Friday!

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