Friday, February 24, 2012

Getting Better all the Time

My first thirty years were spent living as if I were invincible.  Only my heart seemed to be broken in those years, and broken over and over until the tears began to dry.  My scars showed openly from childhood falls and stitches, while the inward scars slowly healed, and were eventually soothed with a deep abiding love and a houseful of growing children.
Tuck the tummy!

The next thirty some years were spent raising children, sharing my love of literature with the world, becoming a writer, an LPGA teaching pro, and adjusting to those "Senior years".  All the while my back ached until one day I saw myself in a mirror hunched over like an old woman.  That couldn't be me, I thought, because I had worked out by lifting weights, walking, swimming, keeping my weight at a minimum, but there I was bent and constantly fighting pain.  Besides doing my best to keep myself in shape over the years, I swallowed many Excedrin's, muscle relaxers, Advil, and now Tylenol; visited the chiropractor frequently;  learned to apply ice to pain or biofreeze to warm up the muscles.  Massages and hot tub relaxing and stretching allowed me relief for hours at a time.  Then it became so painful I spent three summers visiting rehab, and when at last the neurosurgeon said, "Stay active as long as you can, because surgery will immobilize you."  I took a serious look at my future.
I was fortunate to have a physical therapist who recommended Pilates.  I had discovered through rehab that one simple strength training pose "the Plank" awarded me with a stronger core, but I needed more. At the tender age of sixty-two I began Stott's Pilates using the "reformer" and "cadillac" equipment of a trained Pilates instructor, Karen Larimore.  Within months my back pain was fading and a smile rose from within as I walked my dog, and swung a golf club. Two trips that spring to the desert helped to build my confidence that 'maybe' just maybe my back might be strong enough to play one more year of golf!
Stretch and Tuck.

Then one day Karen announced that she was selling her equipment, and I would have to find another place, another path!  Luckily, Abby Hurst opened "Core Connections" within the month, and I followed right along with a new personal trainer.  It's only been a year and a half, and my strength from head to toe has increased, I stand tall with shoulders back, my belly fat is shrinking (yeah), and my confidence in my backswing and "follow through" has increased.  Even though I'm 64, thanks to Pilates, I'm getting better all the time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Way We Were

For Valentines Day I went searching for the words to tell the story and instead found the pictures that tell the story.  Hidden underneath this first photo I had tucked away this quote.  There is a destiny that makes us brothers.  None goes his way alone,  All we send into the life of others comes back into our own.

The beginning of a great partnership and love affair.
The sparkle of love is still in our eyes.
This is how we started, young and determined.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Story Within a Story

A story a story, let it come, let to begins my storytelling shows at schools and with adult groups.  A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sharing my stories with students at Lincoln and Faris Elementary in Hutchinson, KS.  It had been nearly two years since I'd "been on stage" telling stories and I was honestly quite nervous.  Since I'm no longer teaching full time I discovered the pleasure of practicing my stories without the pressure of still teaching.  My mind was clear to visualize the stories, to practice voice, to pretend, to pace, to play with dialogue, and of course, to pull out my frisky puppets and listen for their input.  

Once I began the journey back to storytelling my heart and soul were fluttering with excitement.  Over the last four decades I've learned and forgotten many many folktales, short stories, poems, and humorous dialogue with my puppets.  Now I could truly concentrate on a few stories that would be ideal for children in grades K-2, 3-4, and 5-6.  Somewhere in the timeline after my parents died in 1989 my stories began to develop a more personal approach, my mind would simply, on its on, float back to a childhood memory and a story just flowed  from my inner self.  I smiled and learned to let the stories come as they chose.  

Once upon a time...
Now my stories may include folktales from the Americas to Africa, from Japan around the globe to Russia, or from my own imagination and experience.  We once lived in a home on Ast.S.E. in Miami, Oklahoma that had been in a giant flood.  Oh, in my child's mind I could see the flood line and imagine what creatures still lurked in the walls.  My imagination was fueled by "a raw and bloody bones" painting in my attic closest, by the hobos who jumped from the nearby train tracks and begged at our kitchen door for food, and by a lady next door, who had died by hanging herself over the basement!  For one little second grader this was a gold mine of future stories.  Before long we moved to Hst. N.E. and new elements entered my life--a bully, and a neighborhood that encompassed blocks upon blocks of kids all nearly the same age, all playing outside in the evenings on those hot muggy summer nights.  We kicked that can, chased that ghost, and forced ourselves through strangle holds in Red Rover Red Rover.   I still have the scars on my knees and arms from falling hard on the asphalt streets, concrete, and gravel driveways!  Tar creek and spring floods also lurked in our lives along with the darkness of tornadoes.  The next thing I knew I was a grown up with a husband named Jack (right out of folktale, I tell you), children, travels, pets, and new memories.  Now they are all a part of everything I do in life.

Future writer and storyteller Jose Saul Torres.
It was some of those stories I shared with the children that day at Lincoln school.  As I peered out to the audience of 5th and 6th graders I took sheer delight in their facial responses to my stories that caused them to jump, scream, laugh, and groan.  Their attention was gift enough for me, but a few days later, I received a truly greater gift.  I was visiting Lincoln to sub for a friend, when another teacher explained that one of his students had something for me.  A sixth grader named, Jose Saul Torres j.r., presented me with a story that he had written.  He said it was gift and thank you for my storytelling.  I was speechless and humbled that a young boy thought enough of the art of storytelling to share his personal story with me.    His story begins, "This is me Jack and my dog named Major...we played tag, soccer, football, anything together...until Major got lost...days later a muddy scratched up dog found his way home...I gave him a nice bath.  He didn't like it because he was bleeding.  After a couple of days he'll be up in no time."  I must go back to Lincoln and have Jose Saul Torres autograph his story and take a picture of us.  I may have met a future Jack London, and all because of stories.  

A story a story, let it come, let it go, take some with you, bring some back.