Saturday, November 22

beauty

"You're so brave, Tashoo," Noam tells me when she sees small children at the resort swimming pool staring and pointing.


I tell her my secret is to not look away, to stare back, and maybe give them a wave with Finneas.

"That way they can't make me the strange one," I say.

Noam says she would like to kick them into the deep end.

But there are larger implications when skimpily-clad, slim young women saunter about everywhere you look in this holiday hot spot.

Every photo I take of Noam and show to her, she wrinkles her nose and says, "Ugly. I'm so fluffy."

"You can't change how everyone sees you, you can only decide to be OK with yourself," I say.

I watch a woman, or girl, walking toward the water, her long perfect back growing out of her symmetrical hips straight up to meet her relaxed, carefree shoulders. I'm so jealous.

I never had a back like that. At her age, scoliosis was already crippling my genetically shortened torso. Regardless how carefree my now thirty-something, emboldened spirit might be, my spine will never reflect it.

Yet, I'm angry with Noam's self-criticism and her doubts about finding a man who will appreciate her body. It leaves no room for her wise-beyond-her-years grounding and easy-going, light-hearted nature. When she says, "I love you, Tashoo," it means more to me than most because her sincerity is palpable.


Neta is Noam's mom. I like the way she drives her truck over the rocky volcanic Golan farmland, one arm resting on the door, the other, with several leather bracelets, casually guiding the wheel. She lets her hair hangs long, parted in the middle, like I imagine she has done for a long time. Her work-tough boots move up and down on the pedal.

Her shoulders are broad and strong, but she walks easily without any evidence of stress. Her soft voice and easy laughter exude a natural calm. She brings peace into a room.

I am struck by her beauty. This is the kind of woman I want to be.

One of the brave.

OneArmGirl       

Monday, November 17

the old country

Hello. I'm writing to you from the Golan Heights in Israel, where the world began, more or less.

I have been here in Israel for nearly a week. The jet lag is mostly gone, but after a long day of ranching yesterday, followed by an after dark trek to local hot springs on the Israeli/Syrian border (complete with Jurassic Park style fence), I'm feeling a bit tuckered out.

I'm eating as much humus as I can tolerate; holding as much Hebrew as I can keep in my head; and generally loving the temperate climate--though my hair is still adjusting.

Tomorrow we head to the south, to the beach.

More to come...

OneArmGirl 

Friday, November 7

places

It's showtime! AirDance New Mexico presents Other Worlds tonight at 8pm.

Ok, that's my shameless plug. If you are weary of art featuring me and other company members, in white amidst a flowing red fabric, it will all be over soon. Well, until I pull them from my stock photo file for future posts.

In other news, I am going to Israel. Yes, I'm nearly as surprised by this news as you are. My dear friend Nomi, who is also a therapeutic riding instructor, lives with her family and horses in the land where everything began. I wanted to go to Israel one day, but as usually happens, that day came sooner than I figured.

I hope to post here while I am away, but it may be a little spotty as I search for time and wifi. Please hang in there. I need you. I really do.

Love.

OneArmGirl
   

Tuesday, October 28

plates

I've had a considerable number of plates in the air as of late, and that does not include the ransacked kitchen left in the wake of Little Gen's determined cupboard cockroach hunt.

There's just so much going on between the end of the riding season, increased dance rehearsals, and watching for the mail carrier to deliver $600 worth of brasiers for Little Gen's disability.

Lost you? See this early post.

Fittingly, I was in the middle of changing into rehearsal gear when the package did arrive, and answered the door in nothing but a dance leotard. After the embarrassment subsided, I felt cool, like the kind of person who does art for a living.

"When I think of grace, I think of you," my friend Michelle once said. Obviously she hasn't seen me lately.

Though it does seem that I've always had, or earnestly practiced, a certain grace in moving through the world. When I was eight, my ballet teacher told me I was a natural. I maintain I decided to be graceful rather than have my smallish arm blamed for clumsiness. Grace was my cover.

In college, I carried my cafeteria tray with the greatest of care. A mouse might run over my toes (and I happen to know of one such incident in said cafeteria), but so help me, my plate would never hit the ground.

Still, people generally assume that balance is not my forte. When I toured the weight room at a local YMCA, the trainer seemed overly concerned that I not lose my balance on the machines. I moved slowly and deliberately, trying to humor his fears that I might, at any given moment, topple over from a light breeze. Never mind the 30+ years I've had to develop an understanding of physical equilibrium. I decided not to mention that I'm an aerialist.

Truthfully, I probably have better balance than most. I know exactly what is required to hold a stack of china plates on my knee whilst opening a cupboard door. Balance is essential to my survival. I dare say, I am on the cusp of human evolution in weight distribution.  

So, the next time you see me, standing on a moving horse, holding a platter, atop which a glass ballerina performs pirouettes--do not fear, she's in good hands....err, hand.

In the meantime, I'll keep my eye on the plates.

OneArmGirl

Saturday, October 18

becoming


The fact that it is nearly 12am on Saturday morning, making this post already a day late, attests to my desperate attempt to catch up on a week that beat me to the finish line.

It's been a full one of excitement, sadness, challenge and liberation. But at this late hour, I will just leave you with the following from Kathleen Norris on the tension of being fully alive:

"Between these two poles, it seems to me, we seek to become complete: between shedding our self-consciousness and taking on a new awareness, between the awesome fears that shrink us and the capacity for love that enlarges us beyond measure, between the need for vigilance in the face of danger and the trust that allows us to sleep."

May we all continue to fight the good fight.

OneArmGirl

Friday, October 10

successful suffering

"You can't pity someone you're in awe of," a priest once said of the first resident in his home for AIDS patients.

I read this today in Kathleen Norris' Cloister Walk, which I am proud to say I am just two chapters from completing. It struck me as precisely the ingredient to successful suffering.

Successful suffering? Yes, I said it.

In the midst of typical lunch serving mayhem at the Friary yesterday, an older woman stopped to tell me how frustrated she was with her son when he was younger and seemingly unable to lead a productive life.

"I see people dealing with so much and working so hard," she confided, "and I'd think 'What's wrong with my son?'"

"I guess we all have our own journey," I considered aloud, remembering my own harsh lessons.

When I was younger, I refused to allow anyone to feel sorry for me, warring against pity with personal achievement grenades. It was never good enough for me to survive, I meant to conquer. Thus motivated, even self-pity rarely entered my fortress.

Unfortunately, this drive opened the door to an achievement addiction that I'm still trying to kick. But that's another story.

Managing two mugs and a pot of coffee for a table of presumably homeless people, one woman piped up "I'm so sorry about your arm."

"Really?," I said, "I'm not."

In case you missed it: a homeless woman was feeling pity for me.

The truth is, I don't mean to inspire awe, though it's a nice side effect. But there does seem something special about pain that can inspire greatness--greatness which, otherwise, might have remained undiscovered.

OneArmGirl

Friday, October 3

odds and ends

It's been a busy week here at OAG headquarters.

The riding season is coming to a close soon, but we are hot on the trail of a new home and new horses for next year.

It's strange to think that last year, at this time, I was a month into my Connecticut training to be a therapeutic riding instructor. Now here I am, with nearly a year of experience to call my own.

I'm happy to be home this Fall. Autumn in New Mexico means the end of endless hot summer afternoons and the beginning of roasting green chile.

The next aerial dance show is around the corner, with just over a month to go. Partner Zach and I are working on a lira (hoop) piece this time, with loads of unintentional creativity as per our usual enterprise.

And somewhere in between all the other goings on, I've taken Keeper the dog back to school. Agility school, to be precise. She's a very apt student, when she wants to pay attention. I imagine I'll be called in soon for a parent/teacher conference where I'm told she's very intelligent if she would just apply herself.

Dragon Boy's Mama and I decided to stop eating sugar for one week. I've only almost fallen off the wagon once for a pumpkin spice latte, but I called my sponsor and persevered. I'd like to think my tummy is already receding.

I feel bolstered by the progress I see in my life, if only in small increments. And the bite in the air reminds me that change is invigorating.

For the first time in two years, I want to cut my hair.

OneArmGirl