Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)


Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…


This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!


(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)


Tuesday my son sent me a text message and asked if I would be performing anywhere this year. I texted back, “probably not.” And then, “maybe”.

Depression took this away from me. Can I take it back?

Yesterday I went to the physiotherapist for back, hip & knee issues, only to unpleasantly realize that this is what happens to a body that stops dancing. Her prescription? Start dancing again.

Today while doing homework over lunch, I had a panic thought. It hit me in the middle of my chest: I have stopped dancing! A tear ran down my cheek as I realized what I had done.

My heart, oh my heart!


The Biggest Thing

Today  I’m linking up with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary. She hosts Just Write, the goal being to write about what is happening around you, freely and without editing or censure, what you see, hear, feel, think. I’m nervous because I’m not a writer, and yet I’m linking to a writing blog. Go figure. And also, I didn’t exactly follow the rules – I didn’t write about things going on around me. I wrote about things going on inside of me. I guess these words just needed to come out.

2012 was a horrendous year for me. I broke down. Like an old car, or an old horse that has walked beyond its last step and can now only stand with head hanging low over the fence rail. Unable to move forward or back. I found myself hitched to a wagon, some rusty old thing with sticky brakes and loaded up with chunks of old concrete and rebar. That’s what it felt like. Depression. My body forgot how to dance.  My body and my brain forgot what it was to experience joy. I  remember watching the partly frozen river flowing by and wondering what it would be like to go under the ice. Cold at first. But then warm again.

That was exactly one year ago.

I couldn’t work and was granted a 6-week leave of absence. I saw a doctor. I saw a therapist. I got a diagnosis. I started taking citalopram. I started sharing my story on my blog. I asked my friends for help. I started to get better.

One year later, today, I consider myself recovered. Healed, but with scars that still ache once in a while. Like old bones that have been fractured but still occasionally twinge and complain even after they have closed. I am careful with myself. I am frightened of returning to that state. I am chary of becoming overwhelmed, and have been ginger about putting things on my plate. I’ve taken it slow. I started off by committing to sewing one quilt block a month on an on-line quilting bee. Then last term I enrolled in a course simply because I was interested in the subject, but I worried about my ability to juggle it all. A full-time job, a college course and a quilting commitment? Was I well enough? Would I break down again?  I was. And I didn’t! I successfully did it all – and enjoyed myself, too!  and so this term I have enrolled in another interesting course and have taken on a 2nd quilting commitment (two on-line quilting bees). Though I am nervous, I know it will be okay.

Recently, my body has remembered how to dance.

I haven’t done any formal practice, but not because I can’t…because I don’t feel like it. (Oh how I love being able to say that! I don’t do something “because I don’t feel like it”. How freeing! How empowering!)  Instead, I wiggle around the kitchen to whatever strikes me to move at the moment. I realize that I am still a dancer. Yes I am. Just because I’m not practicing at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dancer. Any less a dance artist. And miracle of miracles…I am starting to miss teaching dance, too. Just because I’m not teaching at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dance teacher!

Do I have a goal for next year? Are you kidding? The biggest thing I learned during my year of illness and recuperation is that my worth isn’t measured by how much I produce or how much I accomplish. I have intrinsic value. I matter.

What began as a curse has turned into a blessing.


Eat your Peas!

I’m back on my balance journey after being knocked off my pins for about a year and a half and it feels great! I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately, so when a particular post from Nancy at A Rural Journey popped into my inbox at breakfast this morning, I could really relate to it. Nancy did such a beautiful job of expressing what I have been thinking about, and so I wrote to her and asked if I could post her blog post on my blog today (say that fast three times, lol!). She very graciously said yes! Which, I guess makes her my first official guest blogger!  Please pop on over and share some love with her for these beautiful words she is sharing with us. Thank you, Nancy!

Eat your peas

~Bill Cosby
Live in the now.
Be present.
Just be.
These phrases, although short and to the point, are often overused – the original intent somehow getting lost on us by virtue of their familiarity.
Yet, there are so many books and poems and notable quotes on the subject, I realize as a society, we must ponder the value of our days quite often — as they effortlessly, predictably –blur into one another.
Necessary daily tasks and routines must be accomplished before we can get to the interesting and motivating parts and pieces.
So it seems.
That’s being responsible.
Eat your peas or there will be no apple pie for dessert.
Not that there’s anything wrong with peas. I love peas.
But I’d rather have apple pie.
So here’s my point —
What if the apple pie never comes?
Do we have the forethought, the insight —
to savor, to appreciate the ordinary “peas”
as if they are something special, something sweet,
a feast?
We should.
Because they are.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
It’s not always easy to do this,
particularly when one day or week
just blows.
Your perfect child is acting up in school; the dryer and the tv decided to go out simultaneously;
you locked yourself out of your internet banking account. Twice.
The trick is finding small moments of each day, each week — to fully inhabit.
Don’t suffer through the peas to enjoy the apple pie.
Enjoy your peas.
Because all we ever have is now

To Dance…that is the question

A dance newsletter came into my inbox this afternoon, and at the end there was a poll about dance names. I answered the questionnaire, which asked how you got your dance name (given by a teacher, a name reference, made it up, etc). I checked the box next to “I dance under my own name.” I dance under my own name because dance wasn’t isn’t about what I do, it’s about who I was am. I used to be am most honestly myself when I’m dancing, and have often said that if you want to know who I am, you must watch me dance.

Which is why I don’t have a dance name.

Which made me think again about why I don’t dance lately.

If I can’t dance anymore, is it because I no longer know who I am? Has the dance truly left me?

I just don’t accept that something that has been at the heart and soul of who I am could totally disappear from me like that. I think back to last winter and spring and the feelings of devastation and grief and loss-of-self that accompanied the depression. I think back to what was happening in my life leading up to that. I see how I could have tangled the dance up in my mind and began to associate it with fear and anxiety.

On the positive side, I also know that my creative spirit did not die…it simply shifted places and has been expressing itself in other ways. That’s how I know the dance isn’t dead. It didn’t die, it’s quilting!

But I hate it that depression has created this dead space inside of me where joy used to reside. I want that hole to go away forever! I want joy back. I want to dance again. Not to teach (not right away)…just to dance. Just for myself, because I don’t feel complete without it, even though it causes me anxiety and fear right now.

And so I have decided to do something about it.
I’m going to give myself a shot of immersion therapy.

The other day an offer to take an on-line dance class with Nadira Jamal arrived in my in-box. Instead of deleting without opening as I have been doing with all dance-related stuff, I read it. then, on a total impulse, I signed up for it.

I am putting dance into my path where I will stumble upon it everyday when the next lesson arrives in my inbox, with no expectations other than that I will read each exercise and be open to trying.

Instead of being a teacher, I will be a student.

I have no expectations of myself on a professional level …instead, I give myself permission to relax and let it happen. And if it scares me, I will breathe deeply, set it aside and look at it again the next day.

The course is about improvisation and the American Cabaret multi-part show style. Yes, this is stuff I’m familiar with, but it’s also an area that I always wanted a good refresher in. Am Cab, with its Turkish influence, requires an exuberance of spirit that is big and bold and unrestrained in a flamboyant way that Egyptian Classical is not. So it’s a form of bellydance that doesn’t come naturally to me – that’s largely unexplored by me. This is good. This is how I hope to reconnect with my dancing body.

As a dance geek, I know that, above all else, there is never anything that cannot be built onto, added into, enriched, re-sized, refreshed, re-examined or re-learned. When one stops learning and seeking knowledge from others, one ceases to grow.

Wish me well – cheers to growth, health and continued recovery!

WIP Wednesday WoW!

Wow – look what we woke up to this morning! It started about 9:30 last night and is still falling. It’s pretty, but some green would be prettier on the May 16th!






Anyway, since today is Work-in-Progress Wednesday, I’m linking in here: (check them out and see what other crafty folk are up to!)








I haven’t given a progress report on my various sewing projects in a couple of weeks, so here goes!

The May block for the In Color Order block-of-the-month quilt-along was posted, and I made that one right away. I’m really enjoying this QAL (quilt along). Every block is made out of 1/2 triangle squares, so it is interesting to see how many combinations there are, and also they are very easy which is right up my alley these days. Cheers to stress-free quilting!  Here’s the May block:

And here it is with its buddies (Jan, Feb, Mar & Apr, plus one extra I wanted to make as an experiment). She’s going to be gorgeous when she’s finished, eh?!

And then after all my angst and anxiety over Nora’s quilt, it finally all came together.  You’ll remember that I had the 12 blocks but couldn’t decide on a sashing colour:

For some reason, the depression just magnified the indecision, which became stressful, which started keeping me awake at night and yada yada yada. Hard to believe one little quilt could cause so much panic in my mind. That’s being ill for you, I guess. I still have absolutely zero tolerance for stresses of any kind…any little stress just throws me right off of my balance beam and I can’t cope.  My solution was to put the quilt on the back burner and move on to something else for a while. I even told Nora’s mom that the quilt was going to take a bit longer than expected. I was still intrigued by stars, though, and made 12 of these little 6″ babies:

Hummm… you see what I see? (said the quilter to the drummer boy). Just to see what would happen, I laid out the original stars together with the new batch of 6″ minis, and Viola!  Nora’s quilt was born!

Now the big job begins…hand quilting this little sparkler!

Also this month I made the May We Be Learning Bee block for Barbara in Oregon. She requested a bow tie block in a theme of our choice. I found some cute country farm fabric, so that is my theme. The block is already in the mail – that is going to be a fun quilt! I’ll look forward to her photos of it when it’s finished. I wonder what themes the other quilters in the group will choose?

My month is June, and I wanted to have everyone make me a bear’s paw block. So I thought I better test the pattern out since I’ll have to post it in a couple of weeks. I tried three times, and just couldn’t make the block turn out the right size. So I guess it isn’t really a beginner block after all. I do love it, though, and will keep it in mind to make when I’m not a beginner anymore. There are so many little pieces in this block that the smallest error multiplies and throws the size right off, so not the best choice for a beginner quilter group if I want to receive 12 blocks that are the same size! I can use the ones I made in a little quilt of my own since my own blocks were consistant, just not the 12.5 inches that the pattern calls for. So I’ve chosen a different (easier) block, but I’ll keep it under my hat for now…you’ll have to wait until June to find out what it’s going to be!  Here are two of my three bear paw blocks:

Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse of my menagerie! Here is Misty, who has decided that I have sewn enough for the day:

And Sammy has had a haircut – what a cutie pie!

Happy Wednesday!