...it is not by the sword or the spear that the Lord saves...1Sam 17:47

I will dance and resist and dance and persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than death. “ — Suheir Hammad

Monday, February 23, 2015


I started sorting though my dance gear this weekend  (Give... Sell... Toss) and I admit I was grousing.

Since 1999, when I took that first feeble step toward a proper shimmy, belly dancing has been my therapy, my art, my safe space.  Even when I lived in places without troupes or classes, I found a way to dance.  I made many of my own costumes, coveted intricate designs from Egypt, clapped those zills together 'til the neighbors complained. I've danced with friends, strangers who became friends, landed on my ass a few times, and always ended laughing.  I've put two-sided tape on parts of my body that I wasn't even sure I had!

I've missed it desperately the last couple years when schedules and then my crumbling spine made it difficult to dance with anything approaching consistency.  I missed my dance sisters but stayed away so I wouldn't openly cry.

Then my back had its final say, which was, "No. This is the end of this."

The curious thing about back problems -they are so individual.  One person's back is helped by yoga, another's is destroyed.  One person's back embraces belly dancing, another's completely rejects it.

One particular motion necessary for belly dance but not for "life" pings a particular nerve that makes my legs stop working.  Still, I held on to the hope that with enough physical therapy and hard work and slow practice, I would be back in that hip wrap eventually, tossing my hair during a barrel roll.

The realization dawned on me that I really, truly, will not be able to do this again. 

This was a beautiful, stable, empowering part of my past, but it is not a part of my future.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kayla's Compassion #1000Speak

By now the whole world knows the story of Kayla Mueller, the young woman who died in the hands of terrorists.

In the weeks since her death, I have been hearing over and over again about the amazing young woman she was.  Even as a teenager and an undergraduate student, she was involved in helping others that many would turn away from.

In a letter written during her captivity, Kayla told her family: "I have been shown in darkness, light, and have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it." 

According to someone who knew Kayla and her family personally, Kayla's favorite quote was by author Bertrand Russell: "Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind."

Her tragic end cannot overshadow the brilliancy with which her life illuminated those around her.  From volunteering in the Coconino County Jail to giving her very life to help refugees in Syria, this woman was the face of pure compassion to anyone in need.

Her total giving of self is the stuff of which saints and heroes are made, one decision at a time.  Her compassion is actually something that we are ALL called to do -maybe not in Syria, but at least to those around us -the tired checkout clerk, the burned-out plumber, our sometimes-irritating family members.

Kayla said, “Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make. It’s something you do. It’s something you are. And it’s something you give away.”

May her light shine on forever, inspiring us all to remember that compassion is also something we make.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I like to think of myself as a fairly responsible adult.  I pay loads of taxes, hold down a steady job, eat sensibly and work out regularly.

Then yesterday my water got shut off.

My own stupid fault -I forgot to pay the water bill.  I even remember thinking about this weekend -hmmm, I think I'm late on the utility bill, I should pay that... then promptly forgot even as I was organizing my house.

I learned from the nice lady at the water place that I could pay rather a lot extra -in cash- and have it turned on last night, or suffer through the evening, show up at city hall in the morning and just pay what I owe, plus a small reconnection fee.

I shrugged, meh, I shower at the gym and I have several gallons of water here. I can ignore the dishes for a day. I can handle an evening without running water.

Now, living in AZ, even up here in the mountains, you learn about water conservation.  I never leave a tap running while brushing my teeth, for example.

But there was something about having to measure out potable drinking water for things like washing hands, flushing toilets or rinsing a dish that brought home to me the amount of water I still quite thoughtlessly use.  I kept thinking -what if I had to carry this water every day -like millions of people around the world have to do?  Would I let a tap run while washing my hands or turn it off until I need to rinse?  Would I dump the old water in Roxy's dish down the drain or use it to water plants?

This morning, I humbly paid my bill at city hall and was assured the water would be turned back on today.  So my immediate problem is solved.

Still thinking about water, though.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I just now heard that our alumna, Kayla Mueller, has been confirmed dead.  She had been held hostage by terrorists for a year and half.  A most beautiful soul by accounts from all who knew her.  Her final hours had to be terrifying beyond imagining.

We live in a world where intelligent, caring women are kidnapped from their places of giving to others and die horrific deaths because of NO REAL REASON.  Because there is evil in the world and there are those who will behead every child and torch every blade of grass just to spread the hate around.  (And anyone who thinks she really died from Jordanian airstrikes is living in a fantasy world.)

Will this be the act that galvanizes us to start caring... thousands of Middle Eastern men, women and children have died at the hands of these evil people, but maybe that was too far away, we deny knowing them. We deny they are part of us.

Of course they are -they always have been.  But now it is in our face.

President Obama just said, "Kayla represents what is best about America."

That is why she was murdered. No denying that.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Compassion Towards Me

Being a part of 1000 Voice Speak for Compassion has kept my attention on little daily things where compassion is called into play.

Yesterday... well, let me paint the picture.  I was very tired.  My back sent sharp pain down my left leg when I turned too fast.  Almost falling asleep at my desk at 3:30pm.  But I had to go to Target and couple other places. I really just wanted to curl up somewhere quiet with a heating pad and nap.

I had to go to Target to return prescription medicine that wasn't filled correctly.  There was a line.  So my tired pained body had to just stand there and wait, along with everyone else.

They know me there, so the pharm tech called me up by name.  I explained the issue and that I called the day before to affirm the prescription I was SUPPOSED to have, had been filled, and then we could switch it out.

Then I was informed it had been reshelved that morning.

I did it.  I had an internal meltdown that was RIGHT ON THE EDGE of coming out my mouth.  I gasped, out, NO WAY, then clapped a hand over my mouth, on the verge of angry tired tears.

"But I called and ..." blahblahblah pleading with all that is Holy that there was a mistake.

She was so kind and apologetic.  I did NOT want to be That Customer who loses her mind over small stuff.  I knew I was on the edge of a precipice.

I looked her in the eye.  "I'm sorry.  I do not mean to have a meltdown.  I'm just tired and impatient."

And she was still very kind, "I understand.  You are one of our nicest customers, and trust me, you are nowhere near the level of mean some people can throw out at me!"

I was so grateful to her.  Just that small act of compassion, understanding, forgiveness gave me a bit of space from my raw emotions.  I glanced back and saw that the line was even longer than when I had arrived, but there she was, being patient and unhurried with me, as if I was the only one at the counter.

Then on top of that, they "comped" the medication I was picking up, just to be nice to me for me trouble.

Thank you God, for all the people who show such compassion in their work.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mad at the Risotto

I was cranky and exhausted last Friday.

As you know, I gave up refined sugar and am limiting other carbs.  One night, I had a Moscow Mule, forgetting entirely that there is ginger ale in that!  At that same dinner I had risotto, thinking it was a reasonably healthy choice.

When I looked it up online later, I may as well have had a big ol' piece of chocolate cake.  White rice risotto is hugely inflammatory as well as high glycemic index.

So my moody days after were very understandable, between that and my sugary drink.

I'm not mad at myself.  I don't get mad at myself over food, unless I binged.  I make the best choices I can with what is in front of me, and move on.

I'm mad at the risotto.  There it was, masquerading as healthy food.  I REALLY wanted the mashed potatoes, but no, I was being healthy.  I really REALLY wanted something off the gorgeous dessert menu, but no, I was being healthy.  I could have had either of the things I wanted more than RISOTTO with a zero sum difference in my body.

Stupid risotto.  You will never fool me again.

Friday, January 30, 2015

No Rush To The Altar

I'm a fairly impulsive person by nature, and nowhere is this more evident than in my dating life.  I either get really excited about the possibilities and jump in head first, or the other person sees more potential than I do, but I jump in and hope for the best.

The funny part is that I'm also a commitment phobe.  After the heady rush of the falling in love stage, I'm usually eying the exit.  Took me a while to catch on to that.

Relationships have been a huge topic of conversation this week.  One friend who finally met someone in her life worth marrying is excited about the possibilities in the future.  We talked about how there really is no rush to the altar.  Any timeline is just in our heads.  

I had a very teary talk with another friend with a terminal illness who told me that when she dies, she wants her husband to remarry, and she hopes that his choice is me.  I told her that MY plan is for her to dance at my wedding to someone else, and about four years after she passes away, I will introduce him to my nicest friends. In the meantime, he wil always be invited to our home for Trival Pursuit and BBQ. I then begged her to never ever mention this conversation to her husband because I would just die.  

I'm thinking about how when you know someone is right in your life, there is a sort of quietness about it.  You're excited to see them, but there isn't a do-or-die feel about it.  It's calm.  And it isn't really public.  It doesn't get played out across Facebook. Your friends don't get dragged in.

It's a lovely sort of blossoming that you may not even notice is beautiful, until it is right there in front of you, waiting to be seen.