I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mid-October already

Gold and green on the trail
I am amazed at how little color there is in the High Country this autumn, compared to previous years. Usually in October there are plenty of brilliant red and orange leaves, but this year the leaves pretty much just turned brown and fell off the trees, due to the severe drought we experienced this past summer. I am hoping that next year we'll return to a more normal (for us) summer. But then again, with climate change, maybe this is the new normal.

After I wrote in here last Sunday, I had a rather interesting day. You might remember that I decided to go barefoot dancing again to the "sweat your prayers" gathering in a big ballroom for an hour and a half. Last time I went I couldn't manage the entire thing, but last Sunday I stayed for it all. I am by far the oldest person there, but I can move with the best of them. I wore a loose blouse and my normal stretchy pants, so I could move unencumbered by clothing. I admired some of the lovely flowing skirts and dresses and think I might just have to spend some time at the thrift store looking for something suitable for me. I sure had fun.

When I first walked into the room and removed my shoes, parking them and my glasses in a safe place, I noticed that maybe a dozen people had already arrived and were lying prone in the middle of the dance floor, stretching and moving slowly to the New Age-type music with little to no beat, just soft relaxing music. As I stood there wondering if I should be doing that, too, most people had already gotten up off the floor and started to move. Whew! I joined them, only a little intimidated by the sheer numbers of us. Little by little the tempo increased, and by the time I'd been dancing with the others for awhile, I was rather amazed at how we rarely touched each other by mistake. Some danced together for a brief moment, and some danced with me, too.

By the time another half-hour had passed, we were all dancing exuberantly alone or with one another. It truly felt as though we had entered an altered state. With the strong beat of the music and the uninhibited movements, I felt myself lifted and totally absorbed in the moment. This went on for awhile, until there was a barely noticeable change in the music; a quiet center began to emerge. We gradually slowed our dancing as the beat gently changed to a progressive swaying, and before long we were all standing or sitting on the floor, as the moderator (with a mic) suggested we breathe more slowly and send our breath out into the universe. She sent us off on our separate ways with a final prayer. It was really a lovely time, and I'll be back. There were at least sixty people in the room from all walks of life, and I was glad to be one of them.

As I walked out into the sunshine, I realized that I had gotten quite a LOT of exercise, and my legs and knees felt rather, well, used. Nothing bad, but I needed to find my car and drive off to the movie theater, where I was to meet my friend Judy. We watched The Martian, which I just loved and wrote about on my other blog here. In fact, several of my commenters also told me they loved the book the movie was based on, so I ordered it on my Kindle last week and just finished reading it yesterday. The movie changed some of the particulars, as they usually do, but basically it followed the story closely. Matt Damon brought the character of Mark Watney totally to life, and I don't know which one I preferred, the book or the movie, since they are both quite good.

Today Judy and I will go to an early showing of the new Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies, so I'll miss the dancing today. But I will be going regularly to "sweat my prayers." Not only is it good exercise, but a different sort than I usually get either hiking or in my aerobics class. I learned about it while on my quest to find a yoga class (and I'm still looking for the right one), and I now have a very fun thing to look forward to on Sundays. It was the only day of the week when I didn't have some way to get some exercise, other than hopping on the treadmill at the gym (boring!) or going for a walk outside. I like the feeling I get after the uninhibited dancing, reveling in my ability to frolic and cavort and lose myself in the moment.

And in just a few short weeks I'll be traveling to Florida to visit my sister Norma Jean. I haven't seen her in almost two years now, since February 2014. Where did the time go? We still talk on video chat every two weeks, but it's just not the same as being with her. I'll hopefully get a chance to swim with her in the mornings, and have a chance to see my two grand-nieces Lexie and Alicia. Allison, Norma Jean's daughter, now lives nearby, after having been transferred from the Pentagon to the military base in Tampa. And Allison has been promoted to the rank of a full Colonel in the Army! Now there is a full life: raising two children alone with a military career like that. I'm looking forward to seeing them all. Norma Jean's son Peter lives with her, too, so it won't be the same as the last time I visited, with her family figuring prominently in her life these days. It will be a lot of family time, and you know I'll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it.

Until then, I'll be spending my time hiking and walking and dancing and just generally enjoying life here in the middle of autumn in the Pacific Northwest. The dog days of summer are far behind us, and the dark days of winter are ahead. Just about the time I get used to one season, the next one comes rolling around. I am so glad that I don't suffer from the long nights like some people do. Several of my friends head off to warmer and sunnier climes for the winter. I'll keep the home fires burning while they're gone.

And just like that, another post has been written and is almost ready to post. It's still dark outside here, as the sun won't come up for almost another hour, and as usual my tea is gone and my partner still sleeps beside me. I love this very special time of the day on Sundays, and the time I spend thinking about what's going on in my life right now. I do hope that wherever you are this fine mid-October day, it will be one you will remember with love and joy in your heart. Be well until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

I'm up a little earlier this Sunday morning, and I see that I am the first to comment on your weekly post. We're up earlier because we went to sleep earlier, tired out after a busy day.
As I glance out of our second story office window, I see the tops of the Full Moon Maple and at Korean dogwood with scarlet leaves mixed with green, as they both slowly begin to put on their autumn finery, as if they too are getting ready to dance. Our next wind storm will supply the music.
I think I am probably too inhibited to do the Sunday morning sweat dancing thing, but I can picture is as you vividly describe it.
We'll be doing a lot more work in the yard this week, like last week, weather permitting. We still try to get in our mostly daily walking, but I forego my exercises when I spend hours stooping and bending and crawling on the ground, cleaning out garden beds, planting bulbs, and lugging bins of pulled and clipped plant material to the compost bin.
Picture that as my "dance", wearing old jeans with muddy knees.
Your Sunday posts always inspire me to write a little, so thanks for the opportunity. It is a good way to start a day many devote to meditation and enriching the spirit.

Tabor said...

Fascinating. Pray for me to be brave enough to do such a thing...if such a thing was here. I really need to stop being so self-conscious as most people notice how unconscious I am during much of my time these days.

Anonymous said...

I would love to join that dance group. David and I took ballroom dance classes for 10 years, but had to give up dancing due to his arthritis.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wow, that prayer dancing sounds like something from the 70's. I've never heard of that but what a marvelous experience. Do hope you find the right yoga class. Yoga is an easy on your joints if not your ligaments exercise.

Elephant's Child said...

Loved reading about your barefoot dancing. What an amazing thing. I can so see how it would be helpful, liberating - and hard work.
Have a wonderful, wonderful love and laughter filled week.

Barb said...

I'm imagining the scene in the ballroom - with a smile on my face. We're expecting our first snow this week. It's late coming this year (thank goodness). We've had an especially glorious fall, maybe because of our wet spring and early summer. My friend just e-mailed me that she saw Bridge of Spies and loved it. When you commented on my blog that you'd climbed one of the Bells, I knew you were hard-core! I've hiked several of the 14ners but not the ones that are truly technical or dangerous. I actually watched a photo slideshow of the climb and decided that I'd have to pass on it in this lifetime! Enjoy the week ahead, D'Jan.

Gigi said...

Can't wait to hear your opinion on the Bridge of Spies - it sounds fascinating. Have a great week.

Sally Wessely said...

You have the best adventures. I can just see you doing the dances. I can only imagine how tired you must have been when it was all done. I want to see Bridge of Spies. What did you think?

Red said...

The dancing sounds like an activity that brings a variety of benefits. I guess you have to have a routine to see a good movie once a week. I need a routine. I can tell you look forward to Florida.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Bridge of Spies is also on my list. Looking forward to your review. The dancing sounds like fun!!

Glenda Beall said...

I love the idea of dancing for exercise. I wish we had such a class. I dance at home alone. Years ago, we had a class in my hometown where we danced to disco music. Boy was that fun! Now I put my Sirius Radio on one of the channels with music I enjoy and dance in my living room. I have thought about how nice it would be to have someone hold a dance exercise in my studio in the winter when I don't have classes.
Here in the southern Appalachians we are beginning to have color in our forests. I imagine further north of us, the fall colors are already covering the mountains and valleys. I will be going up that way the end of the month and hope to have autumn abound in all its glory.
Keep dancing!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Found out today that The Tai Chai classes we went to last winter have been cancelled. Your dance class sounds like great fun! :)

Rita said...

Wow! What a group! Dancing your happy heats away en masse! Sounds marvelous.

And sounds like a real family visit is ahead. Life is good!! :)

Mel said...

We have certainly enjoyed getting outdoors and hiking this fall, though nothing as impressive as your scenery and hikes yet, but we can dream! It's interesting for us here too, how different the leaf color and drop rate are year to year. We had unseasonably warm weather and then dry, so many types of trees just dropped their leaves, while my honey locust turned and dropped in one weekend. Nature is mysterious.
I'm glad you enjoyed the Martian movie and book too, we thought it was the smartest, funniest and most exciting movie we can recall watching. Can't wait to hear what you thought of the Tom Hanks movie. He's always outstanding.
Enjoy the dancing, hiking and pending travel to see your sister! Sounds like fun. :)

jo(e) said...

The dancing sounds wonderful!

Deb Shucka said...

The dancing sounds amazing. I wonder what the benefits will be for you, beyond the obvious physical ones. I love how you're always exploring and trying new things. You continue to inspire me as I follow you on this retirement journey.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I enjoyed reading about your experience "sweating out prayers." It's the first time I've heard of something like that but it sure sounds inviting. For someone who grew up going to a solemn church service each Sunday morning with the parents it sure sounds like a totally different experience! Wondering ... were there men in there or was it all for the ladies? I looked over at your other blog to see what you thought of Bridge of Spies. Sounds like I will see it for sure now that you recommend it. The ads on TV sure look good. One last comment: If I haven't mentioned it before, I've really, really been liking the one photo you choose to start your posts. You are an excellent photographer. I suppose I should look over at more of your posts on the other blog to see if you share more of your photos there. Have a fine weekend. Looking forward to your post tomorrow!