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Middle-Aged Ballerina

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.—Martha Graham

While watching the Beauty and the Beast ballet at Versailles on Christmas Eve Eve (12/23), I couldn’t stop thinking about pirouettes and coupés.

For nearly four decades I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with ballet—from grade school through junior high plus a few months sprinkled into my 30s and 40s. Today I completed my fifth class at The Washington Ballet and am smitten.

From the pianist who plays through the 75-minute class to taking classes at a school whose performances I’ve attended over the years, I’m delighted to be back donning a flowy ballet skirt and  slippers.

When I mentioned my interest in returning to ballet during a private online event in December, I received this detailed email from Deborah:

As I mentioned, I am also an adult “ballerina”. I have actually been dancing since I was 3 1/2 years old and currently reunited with my childhood ballet teacher… who is now 95 and is still going strong! My teacher, and our adult ballet class was recently featured on CBS news as part of a series that highlights active seniors who are following their passion (it’s only 2 1/2 minutes long):

Here are some classes and studios that you might be interested in. I am looking forward to hearing how your journey back to ballet is going!

Washington School of Ballet:

I highly recommend any classes that Irina Wunder teaches. I see on the schedule that she currently teaches Beginner Ballet classes on Fridays from 12:00-1:15pm.

Ballet NovA:

Any class that is taught by Constance Walsh is sure to be amazing! She is such a supportive and encouraging teacher, and even writes the adult ballet newsletter for this studio.  There are even adult dance performance opportunities a couple of times throughout the year. Irina Wunder also teaches at this studio on Saturdays, and I have heard good things about classes offered by Ms. Perez.

Maryland Youth Ballet:

Julie Miles has been one of my favorite teachers for years! She used to be a teacher at the Washington School of Ballet and she is very “adult friendly”. Lucy Bowen McCauley is also amazing, and she offers dance and “stretch” classes, too. There are many different opportunities for classes offered:

There are a number of really great inspiring Instagram accounts that you may like. It is so nice to see adult ballerinas all over the world continuing their love of dance and sharing it! 

I wanted to share her thoughtful email in case you, too, are local and/or interested in returning to dance. She also shared these great vegan ballet slippers. I’d already picked up a pair of pink canvas Capezio ones (vegan except for the suede soles) to replace my black leather ones, so I’ll keep Cynthia King’s in mind for my next pair. So great to know about compassionate options!

Here are some photos from my early dancing experiences. The bottom one shows the stern and loving Mrs. Ellen giving me a talking to. Can you find me in the top one? I have one word for you: blush! Clearly I applied it all by myself.

While heading home from today’s class I was discussing with a friend how different it is to take ballet now. As a child we were practiced in preparation for our annual performance. Now, it’s simply to savor the process—a completely different mindset.

Ah, there’s that reminder to appreciate the journey again. Which can be quite hard when your muscles are shaking, you keep turning in the wrong direction, and immediately forget all instructions after they’re shown. I mean, so I hear.

Who knows, maybe a recital is in my future? I’d sure love to slip my feet back into toe shoes and a big tutu again. I mean, is there anything more feminine?

Enjoy this inspiring article on middle-aged women who say ballet’s transformed their lives.

Here’s to middle-aged ballerinas (or anything you decide to pick up in your adult years)! Bisous x

A few fun things . . .

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.—George Bernard Shaw

I chose this photo because, let’s be honest, is there anything more fun than a carousel? I think not! This one even had a pink pig on it. Yes, I have photos of her, too!

While prepping to send out a Love Note this week, I wanted to pop in on the blog to share two fun happenings and two recent interviews. See below for all the scoop.

I’d love to have you join us for The Last Pig screening in person or in spirit! You may recall my 2015 interviews of the farmer and filmmaker. Annnnnnnddd, a potbelly pig will also be in the house. Yes, I’m counting down the days!

Wishing each of you a smooth conclusion to January. FYI, most people I’ve talked to have shared how challenging this month has been—from the flu, to settling in post-holidays, to everyday little dramas, to the chilly temps, to the lack of sunlight.

Today’s motto: February is the new January! Bisous. x

On Thursday, March 1st, in celebration of National Pig Day, join Pigs & Pugs Project for the screening of the award-winning film, The Last Pig–the cinematic story of a pig farmer who grapples with death, searches for compassion, and finally finds the courage to change.

This event includes special guests Farm Sanctuary’s Gene Baur and Charlotte of Life With Pigs: Pumpkin, Charlotte and Millie. A Q & A with Gene and Pigs & Pugs Project’s Kimberly Wilson will follow the screening.

TicketsFacebook Event

Sometimes we just need someone to say to us, “You’ve got this!” Join these Trail Makers {including me!} for some love and encouragement. Love Letters start TOMORROW!

Late last year I sat down with the lovely Julie Reisler to chat about my journey. The episode released this week and you can listen here.

When Shelby reached out to ask if I’d chat about my grief journey, I was honored. Grief has been such a transformative part of my life since 2012 and we recently discussed the effects it’s had on me along the way. You can listen here.

On My Mind

A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.—Leo Tolstoy

This morning I lingered in bed longer than usual. The emotional exhaustion and travel from the past few weeks has taken a slight toll.

Tim gifted me a weekend getaway to Seattle to celebrate our 14-year anniversary and we’d planned to take Belle and our new rescue, Gizmo. When Tim tried to lure Gizmo into the travel bag last Wednesday, we knew we had to make alternative plans. He whined and scratched and we had two days to acclimate him. We went into fix it mode.

He hadn’t been to daycare, so wasn’t approved for boarding yet. And, honestly, we hated for him to be with new people for four days. He’s been shuffled around so much since being surrendered by his original owners. Then a lightbulb went off, Mom! We looked into flights and she graciously hopped on an DC-bound plane the next morning. Gizmo and Mookie were in heaven to have such great care and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Our time in Seattle was lovely—a blend of social time, nature, wandering around Pike Place Market, eating amazing food, hitting Elliott Bay bookstore, looking at farmette properties. However, the 11+ hours of plane travel in four days takes a physical toll.

The morning after we returned, Gizmo had three tumors removed and we’re anxious parents awaiting his recovery. He’s snoring peacefully on my lap as I type, yet filled with staples after the removal of tumors and tissue. It’s heartbreaking and, equally, I’m honored to be his new mama and feel blessed to nurse him back to health. He’s such a sweet, tiny boy (only 14 lbs).

In addition to regrouping from the past week, here’s what’s on my mind:

  1. Making Pigs & Pugs Project‘s screening of The Last Pig a success {tickets and details to come}
  2. Getting more exercise. My last yoga and ballet class was two weeks ago and my body aches.
  3. Learning more about farming and gardening. Picked up these two books: Cut Flower Gardens and Woman-Powered Farm. Psst, my dream is to have a farmette in the country with rescue potbelly pigs, pugs, flowers, veggies, and, yes, maybe even a tractor. Pink, of course.
  4. Giving Year of Tranquility everything I have. And then some.
  5. Writing my memoir. I need to return to my writing habit and create a book proposal.
  6. Designing TranquiliT‘s spring collection.
  7. Reading. I’d like to beat my 24-book annual Goodreads challenge and my plan to do so is to tote a book with me at all times. Hello, Kindle app on the phone and a physical book.

I share all this to highlight that if your year isn’t off to a glamorous start, sometimes it just takes a pause to recognize it and regroup. Refocus. Set priorities once we get through the emergencies.

Personally, I have a deep desire to live as the Tolstoy quote suggests. That my work may be of some use. That a quiet secluded life in the country is what my soul craves right now. That books and nature and rest and music and love for all beings are musts.

So if you decide to linger in bed a bit longer or feel drawn to wander the countryside, listen deeply. Your soul knows what it wants and needs. So tell me, what’s on your mind? Bisous. x