Monday, March 8, 2010

The Dance of Life: Finding My Rhythm

During my sophomore year of college, I endeavored to learn how to properly dance.   I enrolled in an early morning dance class.

I am unsure of what I envisioned, but this class was not what I expected.

In between tendus and degages, I realized Jazz Dance was not for me.  Whether it was the teacher's critical--and often demeaning--remarks,or feeling large and ungainly, I can't be sure.  I do know that my attempt at alleviating my stress through some sort of aerobic activity was thwarted.  My stress levels mounted, often leaving me to sob uncontrollably within the confines of my car.

Finding My Rhythm

Jazz dance may not have been for me, but it did teach me an invaluable lesson: I must find my own rhythm.

As with most lessons, this has been extended to many areas of my life, including being a mother and blogger.

My Parenting Rhythm

I leaped into parenting with my head held high, sure that I would land on both feet.  I had, after all, 3 years of education behind me.  I surely would be an omniscient parent.

The birth of Emily caused me to stumble, painfully landing on my knees.

Difficulties arising from nursing, colic, and sleeplessness sent me to books and other publications.  The thoughtless attitudes from these sources did not bring me answers.  I would try to implement their suggestions and inevitably fail. I would then question my worthiness as a mother.  I couldn't even comfort my child!

The months passed slowly.  Emily was an anomaly.  She stopped nursing at 5 months only to refuse a bottle a few months later.  She wouldn't eat rice cereal after only a few months and demanded the food from our plates.  Her wants did not conform to what "normal" children were supposed to like.  I felt helpless.

Imagine my discomfort when I realized I was pregnant again.  I was drowning with one child, what would I do with two?

It was then that I realized this was no longer a solo dance.  I had entered into the ballroom dancing realm.

Before Andrew was born, my partnership with Emily had been established and somewhat weathered.  She taught me to follow rather than to lead.  In so doing, the steps were less frazzled, the flow smoother.

When Andrew came, I was prepared.  I had the experience to know that all difficult stages eventually ended. Nursing was not less painful, but it was easier.  And, as before, the pain gradually lessened. When he also started into the colic, I knew it would slowly disappear.  And it did.

Following is challenging.  It requires that I release my pride and knowledge, and recognize my ignorance.  Yet, when I do, the dance is performed with grace and beauty.

My rhythm will constantly fluctuate, as parenting is not static, but I am better equipped to handle the new steps life throws my direction.

My Blogging Rhythm

When I first ventured into this blogging world, I did so sure in the knowledge that no one would read my words.  When people started visiting and commenting, I became less sure of myself.  I started to write for my readers rather than for myself.  I wanted to write things that would keep people coming back.   The dance became inefficent, unorganized, and clumsy.

After a few months, I began to find my voice.  I tentatively took the lead position.  Gradually, my blog fell into step with my mind's fast-paced rhythm.

I finally gave up the waltz and took up the Samba.

As with parenting,  my voice may need to be altered here and there, but these changes will (hopefully) be less clumsy and more graceful.


  1. I love the whole idea of rhythm in life. It needs to be re-evaluated and re-planned and re-accepted. Great post!

  2. Loved the dancing metaphor...
    Surrendering to life, the dance, is a hard lesson, but in doing so I think we can hear ourselves a little better.

  3. It can be really crazy, always trying to write for your readers, especially in the blogosphere, where you have no idea who is reading your words! It's the ultimate exercise in needing to give up people pleasing! I always feel like there should be a mini-me that pops out of the computer to explain my posts to everyone, explain how they're not intended to offend, really! But, it's silly. We have to write what we feel and what we know and rest assured that we'll attract like-minded people to us, just as we're attracted to blogs that reflect our world view.

    And don't do Jazz Dance - go to Jazzercise! You know I'm a fanatic!

  4. This is lovely, Amber ... and one of the hardest things to do, I think, is to follow. And yet, when it is what we are really supposed to do, it is in that surrender that we can finally feel that we are in synch with the music we hear.

  5. Oh, this is such an elegant, perfect metaphor. I love how you say "this was no longer a solo dance." So much of life is learning to dance with others. I'm going to keep this image in my head all day!

  6. I agree, Amber. There's nothing like the birth of a child to make us realize that we're not in charge!

    And dancing? I can't do it to save my life. I'm a klutz!

  7. I took dance in college also. I am the world's biggest klutz. I use to hope to find a spot in the back of the studio but people still could catch my mess ups. LOL! Oh well...

    We all have our own drummers pounding out rhythms that others don't hear. So when someone wonders who I am singing with or moving to, I just remember that.

  8. Your writing is lovely Amber. Keep it up! I have another blogger friend that I think you would like. Her name is Lindsey. Check her out here I love to read her writing as well.

  9. Love the analogy...great post!

  10. Wonderful metaphor. And keep going with that samba! (Now if only we "women of a certain age" could keep up.)

  11. Yes, re-accepted is right!! I find that acceptance is the hardest part of finding my rhythm because it usually means going a different direction than I originally planned. I hate that! : )

  12. Love the way you've applied this analogy to various aspects of your life - beauteous!

  13. Beauteous? I love it!!

    Thank you! This post came to me in the wee hours of the night. It seemed fitting for my hectic life.

  14. Yes, this was a great post - seriously, it's amazing how kids can control your life. I LOVE for all my baby-not-doing-what-the-books-say stuff... you just type in your question or issue in the search box, and you can read what tons of other moms did in the same situations. It really helped me when Luke didn't want to eat a bite of solid foods until he was 8 or 9 months old. I go there for every question I have before I call the doctor, too. It helps me feel like I'm not alone in the weird baby stuff.

  15. Oh, giving up people pleasing is atrocious!! I have been a people pleaser all my life! Of course, now I'm a baby pleaser....The jury is out on which one is worse...

    You are so right. I know that those who don't return probably did not find something that suited them, and I'm okay with that. I have done that with a few blogs myself.

    Linda, can I adopt your brain? It seems to be full of sage advice. I would only use it for a little bit, I promise!

    P.S. Happy belated birthday!!

  16. And this music, for me, is often contrary to what I want. But, when I finally tune in, I find the music far more pleasing than what I had been listening to. I find myself swaying--in rhythm of course--to the delightful melody.

  17. Yes, and hear the music that is truly made for us.

  18. Thank you! This can be extended to so many relationships--work and marriage especially! I know that my husband and I are still working on our partnership. Every year it gets better and better. Soon we will take our show on the road ... to medical school! Hah!

  19. Ah, but in life's dances I am sure that you will find you have much more grace and poise than you ever imagined. Besides, your cooking is a dance all of its own. And we all know how splendid THAT is!!

  20. Wolf, I think that your dance is more of a ... ChaChaCha. But, I could be wrong. : ) Remember--it is about finding YOUR rhythm!

  21. Thank you, Marvett! I will check this Lindsey out!

  22. In that dance class, I moved from the front (I have poor vision) the back within a couple of weeks. I wanted to get as far away from the teach as possible. Yet, she still singled each of us out. Eck.

    I love to think about that "drummers pounding out their own rhythm" and to imagine the glances thrown in my direction! I know I have had a few raised eyebrows, but it doesn't matter. As you said, I know what I hear, even if they can't hear it!

  23. I should put that website into my favorites, I know that I NEED something for Emily's anomalies!!

  24. I love the metaphors of your post, Amber, and these wise words from Linda about blogging as "the ultimate exercise in needing to give up people pleasing." Both are powerful reminders to listen to own own hearts and voices - and those, I suppose, of the little people in our lives who don't usually have trouble making themselves heard. :)

  25. Admire this post a lot, Amber. You write so well, and your thoughts come across just as wonderfully. You DO have great rhythm.

  26. When it comes to dancing, I'm more of a bootyshaker than a ballerina. But I have fun ... and that's what I try to do on my blog as well. Fun metaphor!

  27. I love the metaphor. Learning the rythmn and how to adjust it as we grow and change is an important lesson. Re-finding a new rythmn is a wonderful feeling!

  28. It is so hard to find rhythm. I think it's because it can change on us without notice. But I know what you mean about writing for the masses instead of for yourself. When you don't do it for you, you become dis-passionate. I have taken week-long sabbaticals from my blog for that very reason. Sometimes you just need a little breather or reminder in order to refocus--catch the rhythm--again.

  29. Very true!
    I had all the plans laid out in my head about how I would be an awesome parent and everything would just fall into place. Umm, not. I'm still learning how to do the mommy-jiggle.
    As for blogging, I find that when I start trying to write for my readers, I don't enjoy it as much and I almost feel stressed out about it. I need to write what I know, I need to write for me. That's when its fun.
    Go Amber!


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