Gotta Dance

There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.  ~Edwin Denby

I haven’t been to Zumba in two weeks and that just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t not dance.  Tuesdays and Fridays belong to me and my Zumba class so leave me alone.  Go wherever you need to go without me.  There I said it, and I’ll keep saying it.  Unless you’re in a hospital bed or my job depends on it, hence the two weeks that have gone by, don’t call me for anything on Tuesday or Friday.  Oh yeah and unless you’re my mother who can’t seem to get the Friday thing down.

Let me just say that I am not a dancer.  Let me also say that I am not an athlete so when my big fat ass started getting bigger and fatter I was in quite the dilemma.  Enter Zumbablast with Melissa Avalo. 

Zumba is a Latin inspired dance class that gets you moving and having a blast while burning between 800-1000 calories per hour depending on your personal intensity.  I am intense, I dance with abandon, and I am in the zone.  Just don’t put me in a room with mirrors it cramps my style a bit. 

Missy is a little dynamo that creates choreography that is inspiring.  As you grow older they say that you should challenge your brain by doing little things that reconnect your synapses in different ways like brushing your teeth with your other hand or going to work a different way.  Seriously, just try learning Missy’s new choreography every couple of weeks and you’ll be fine. I won’t be brushing my teeth with my other hand any time soon. 

There are Zumba girls that I usually dance with but they have lives unlike mine that are filled with school functions and family obligations.  I have learned to go alone.  I understand doing things alone, probably better than most, but this was way out of my comfort zone.

With every drop of sweat that comes out of me I am revitalized.  My troubles are gone, I can think, I believe that I will someday be able to learn salsa dancing and actually go out dancing with someone special (hopefully without having to wear two sport bras, don’t ask).  I missed much of that when I was younger and it remains one of my regrets to be turned into something affirmative.  I’m no Adele, I don’t live in “regrets and mistakes they’re memories made…”

The ride home is always windows open (sometimes regardless of the temperature), radio blaring the dance station and a smile on my very red face.  Once I get home it’s a quick dog walk, a screaming hot shower, two or three preventative aspirin and a great night’s sleep. 

Thank you Missy, you can’t begin to know the gratitude I have for you and your Zumbablast.



Transition Bridge

There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one’s self, the very meaning of one’s soul. ~Edith Wharton


I don’t know what made me look at my phone when we got to PF Chang’s.  I don’t know how many calls I’ve ever gotten that start with: I’m ok, but I’m about to go into surgery. I don’t know how long I held my breath, I don’t know why I listened to Sandra when she said no don’t come I’ll need you when I get home.

I don’t know how I enjoyed my meal, except that I was with my sister. I don’t know how I just opened the gate when I got home and let my Toto pull me off the deck and get away.  I don’t know how she just decided to come right back.  I’d like to believe that she turned around and saw I wasn’t there and came looking for me.  I don’t know how I escaped with only bruises from the fall, maybe because I really don’t mind being compared to an eight year old.

I do know that when she called on Wednesday with her words caught in her throat I would be there by lunch the next day.

Through whatever unfolding of the universe my best friend found herself in Adirondack Medical Center with two broken legs.  I say this because she had been lamenting her excessive travel, her deep need for balance, her concern for things missed, her family making due without her for probably two years and I really feel like White Face heard her.

The emergency surgery on Sunday was highly successful with a prognosis of full recovery.  Luckily AMC is well in tune with the care and anticipated recovery of athletes and practices emergency sports medicine.

Originally Sandra was to be sent home to arrange the surgery on her other leg.  It was some knee related, tibia cabling, meniscus adjusting blah blah blah, that I still don’t really understand, but it could wait.  There is something very important that happens in an emergency room, it’s an immediate trust connection that Sandra had no intention of letting out of her universe. So strings were pulled, schedules adjusted and the second surgery was to be handled later in the week.

Sandra’s husband David took their daughter home on Wednesday resting assured that Sandra’s mother would be there the next day for the second surgery.  God knows what circumstances stood in the way of that but Sandra’s call to me was panicked, fearful and raw.  Can you come?  Like I said….

I did indeed arrive by lunchtime on Thursday in plenty of time for the second surgery.  With hugs and tears and hand holding and recounting and reliving we spent our first couple of hours exhaling.  Off to surgery she goes and off I go to do what I do.  There were groceries to buy, she wasn’t eating.  There were clothes to buy that could accommodate her braces and boot and soreness.  There were websites to explore.  There were Facebook posts to put out.  There were phone calls to take and make.  There was the hand ringing and praying.

Again, another highly successful surgery with another highly confident prognosis of perfect recovery was performed.  What we didn’t realize was that this was a more difficult surgery that would result in more pain, more new physical therapy, and more anxiety more soul searching, and just plain more.

Friday was not going to be the best day.  I’ve known Sandra a very long time.  This year it will be twenty five years to be exact and I know how she thinks and what makes her respond to the adversity that is thrown her way.  She knows the same about me.  She thinks differently so when the physical therapist is telling her to do….whatever this new two legs broken thing is….she would instinctively look to me for the translation she could use.  I love that about us, a wordless glance can instantly translate that all will be well.  I can stop her brain from running away and redirect it; it’s just always been that way for us both.  We got through Friday, we learned more, we did better, we cried, we shared and shed all the toxins that would impede healing.

Saturday would prove to be the sunny encouraging day we had hoped.  Sandra spent the morning getting ready to go home.  By afternoon we were seated side by side in the “lodge room”  Ipads in hand comparing tips and websites (told you I had homework to do) and how the hell to use Facebook and Twitter once and for all.

All the arrangements had been made for her departure in the morning.  And each of us vowed to get a good night’s sleep.  One final hug and I left her in good hands excitedly waiting for her journey home to her family in sound mind and peace.

How much of this she will remember in years to come, I don’t know.  What I know like I know is that a warm hug and the scent of Miracle by Lancôme will bring back memories for her of a friend that is no longer a separate person but part of her very being.  We will laugh about much of this one day, the much that I didn’t document here and we will share our friendship for at least another twenty five years.  Prognosis: perfect.



Angel in the Audience

Yesterday my sister and I went to see Wicked.  Oh was it fun.  So clever and entertaining this show is a must see. It was my gift to her for Christmas, because why the hell do we need more stuff when we can go arm and arm down 51st street toward a wonderful day to remember.

My sister has been known to say that angels walk the earth and are called friends.  Yesterday at that performance of Wicked we met a woman who could clearly be called an angel walking the earth.

At intermission she walked up to us and said to my sister, “Is that a wedding band on the chain around your neck?”  She told her it was and the woman showed her a wedding band on a chain around her own neck.  It had been transformed into the form of a heart.  Her late husband had it made for her out of his wedding band, the one he didn’t want to take with him when he left her.  She couldn’t believe that some people actually bury them with their spouses, Terri couldn’t believe that either.

Then they exchanged a look, that look that only grieving women can exchange with one another, and she gave my sister a hug with eyes filled and walked away.  Our eyes filled as we looked at each other and agreed that Honey was there, no doubt about it, and always.

Up went the curtain for the second half of the show and we sat mesmerized by the performance and warmed by the intemission’s chance meeting with a stranger angel.  Then the moment of the breakout song of the show, “For Good.”

To say there wasn’t a dry eye in the place when these two wonderful singers belted out;

Who can say if I’ve been changed  for the better?

But because I  knew you

I have been changed  for good

would be an understatement.  But I know like I know that there were two women, two complete strangers who were changed for good.  By their loves, by their loss, and by their chance meeting in a theater on 51st Street.




Evidence of a year well lived hangs on a unique clothes-pinned-wire woven frame of a thing in my office.  Collected over the course of the year there are thank you notes that are formal and scribbled and published and printed.   Clippings from the local paper, snapshots, and handmade tokens and scraps of the everyday deemed important.

Thank you notes are the best indicator of how you’re doing in life.  They are concrete evidence of a kindness extended or a task completed with perfection.  They represent appreciation. They always catch me by surprise.

Small hand written envelopes are pulled from the mailbox with utter joy.  I always open them up then and there and read the contents on the way back to the front door. It is becoming more and more unusual for people to take the time to write notes.  When one arrives thanking you  for the smallest of good deeds you truly realize your value.  You realize you’re on the right path to creating your legacy.

Birthday cards are another confirmation of your value, some silly, some snide but well intended and some sent directly from the heart.  I know the person sending it agonized over the myriad of cards and maybe shed a tear or two in the aisle.  I’ve done that, I’ve purchased those cards for the people that I would surely die for and have stood in the aisle flooded with emotion.  I treasure the people who have done that for me.

Snippets of recipes found in the paper, renditions of me made by my niece CJ,  upcoming events I should know about sent by email, clippings of me and my little rescues found in the local paper heralding our fundraising efforts.  Three years running as Queens of the Carnivale!

Pieces of palm from Palm Sunday sent over from Mom to bless me.  She prays and prays that one and I keep telling her God is not unhappy with me.  I think she’s actually starting to believe me.  Doesn’t stop her from praying but I’ll take all the prayers she wants to send.

At the end of each year I pull them down one by one and recall the moment of its receipt and the act that brought it about.  I settle into an afternoon of tea and reflection and solidify my new year’s resolution to live as if my legacy depended on it.

Then, I pack all the snippets into an envelope and throw the envelope into the big old hope chest that resides in my office closet.  At some point someone will open it and find each year’s envelope.  I know like I know that they, too, will settle into an afternoon of tea and reflection and they will know me through the remnants of documented good deeds.


Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
Albert Einstein