Seeking value in life, family and creative endeavour!

To smallish boy :
Why did you feel the need to give Mr M a bear hug in English and stroke is head?
Smallish boy replies:
He looked like he needed a hug and some love

On top of working fulltime and more , being partner , daughter , professional woman and more I am now parent governor. This is in some hope that the school will place some value on me as parent and hope that I can get smallish boy through the next year and half of school and beyond.
Smallish boy receives value in being warm, funny and being quirky and off the wall. I suspect his value was in the attention he received from the class audience rather than Mr M’s response to his kind offer of a hug!

Seeking value is what I have being thinking about. Recently undertaking a coaching and mentoring course my tutor proposed that I was seeking value and affirmation for quality and quantity of my work in all the wrong places. She challenged me to thinking that rather than repeating same patterns of activity to continue to be let down by lack of value I would be best off seeking value in a different activity such as coaching or mentoring where positive results would be visible and experienced. I am working on this but it has made me less inclined to keep seeking value where it cannot be found.

This has really made me think. Let me be clear I do not want validation. I would consider myself as not overly needy and quite confident in myself and own abilities. However finding value in activities and relationships I invest in is important. I feel valued and loved as a mother, partner and daughter. Although the caring nature of me at the moment is stretched in every direction at the moment caring for elderly Mum as well as boys , step daughter and my lovely man. Seeing our young people including smallish and large boy grow into lovely young people places value on my investment. Caring for my elderly Mum on top of the day jobs is proving tricky. But my Mum has made me feel valued as a human being all of my life. Returning care to her when needed has huge value in seeing her safe and secure.

My relationship with my lovely man is full of kindness and activity that invests in home and family life. He is not a man of words but his actions place value on our relationship beyond words. This weekend he has cleared the last of his “man cave” garage ready for the builders to convert into a home for my Mum. I am crying writing this as this has more value than any flash “ I love yous” or big diamond rings.

So in terms of my creative world is the struggle I am having with dance that I am seeking value in all the wrong places?
As a painter , fine artist I found, and still do sometimes , value in the creative activity of making stuff. I am enjoying making this blog. There has for me always been value in attempting to creatively express feelings and ideas. I am currently also keeping a journal and encouraging the creative me to find value in the activity of just doing doodles scribbles writing words thoughts and stuff.

Dance has taken me on an amazing journey throughout the whole of my life it has added and given value to making me into the whole person I have become.
The value I have from dance is being able to connect physically with my body and to express myself creatively throughout dance. I also think that with belly dance in particular it has given me an outlet to share my emotional experience with an audience and to be able to create “dance pictures” with choreographies and solo improvised performance.
As a dance teacher and organiser of events I gained value in making dance classes and events happen to share the joy passion and knowledge and skills of dance. I think receiving value as a leader who could see the value of sharing skills knowledge and ideas with others to improve others experience of dancing is something I am grieving the loss of.

So in writing this I have realised that I the value I am placing on my dance at the moment is like one of my big doodles I create in my journal and notebooks!
I think my dancing is colouring in with nice colours which has value in being fun and very relaxing. But as I want to seek value on “being creative” I am getting frustrated as I want to use the knowledge and experience I have to colour over the lines a little bit or offer a different colour.

So I have been looking and not finding any big dance canvases in easy reach or on offer for me to put my dance colours. There really is little point in seeking activity to give me value when it is not on offer is there? So If happy dance colouring in is my current dance offer then I must remind me of the value in dance colouring in as a joyful activity in itself. I may have to work at this like practising meditation perhaps it will reap benefits the more I do and the more I adjust to juts finding joyful value in the moment of dance .
As I find value in increasing my knowledge and connection of my mental ability to affect my physical dancing I am going to drum more and focus on learning more about rhythms patterns and develop my drumming skills.
For my dance doodling I shall seek value in dancing with my lovely man drumming, and some other shenanigans with like-minded friends. I also must give thought to creative value in other projects. Journalling is one activity I can explore and build creative value into.

So it is seeking value in activity and relationships that gives me positivity and creates feel good me.
I have been out of sorts as I really have been in many aspects of my life seeking value in the wrong places. Writing this makes me realise that my life although challenging is full of value when I look in the right places.

Smallish boy this weekend has confidently dismantled a computer. He now has beautiful shiny mother board and other bits on his floor. What value he seeks in this is what? Curiosity? Beauty in what he has found? Finding out stuff he needs to know?

Smallish boy at dinner table :
Mum can I have a stuffed duck for my birthday?
I say:
Lovely man where did we see stuffed animals recently?
Lovely man replies:
I really do not want to discuss this right now
Step daughter:
Snorts with laughter
Grandma keeps quiet!
There is so much value in loving family life I do not need to be seeking elsewhere


what are all us not bendy barbies but middle aged and passionate about dancing but want a little more than social dancing supposed to do?

I think I am missing dancing and may want to dance a bit more. At the moment I social dance attending a lovely friendly local tribal belly dance class where we get to dance together once a fortnight. This class is warm full of joy and very inclusive and pitched at the right level so everyone can feel good about their dancing. In tricky times in last year on days when work has had my last sane thought, and I am so tired it is this class that has lifted my spirits and filled my heart with fun and joy.

I went to  a different dance class yesterday. It was still full, inclusive and full of joy but the shift was on learning specific technique to improve your personal dance. It was lead and facilitated by a very experienced and qualified dance teacher. She very skilfully unpicked a move, described and made us apply technique and then layered this move up so we started to dance. We were watched and gently critiqued so we all went home feeling we had made some progress and had something to work on!

I do dance at home but not as much as I used to. There was a time in my life when I was always striving to improve my dancing both technically and creatively and I would dance every day. I attended as many workshops as possible and had numerous private lessons to improve my dance.
My dance perspective was always to be as best as I could possibly be particularly when out dancing in front of an audience. I think I took the same approach as a teacher always seeking to offer something new to support my class with also striving to be the best dancers they wanted to be.

As I have written before suddenly a couple of years ago I just lost my mojo. Dancing no longer felt full of joy and my first passion. It became a chore and not something I wanted to do so much. So apart from enjoying myself with dancing and drumming I just stopped. So for the past year and half I have taken up in the circle of the lovely local tribal group. Swishing, shimmying about and having fun. It’s been good to apply my dance skills to a different dance form and meeting some fabulous women to dance with.

So the dance session I went to yesterday was the first time I have done any real dance development for a long time. All enthusiastic afterwards coming home in the car a dance friend and I were discussing the view of seeking more dance development. As soon as this discussion started it all my old knowledge and experience surfaced and I was back there wanting to be a dance leader. I then got into how to organise, where and how would we do more dancing and how would it fit into the belly dance world of friends and social groups and sensitivities at wanting to pursue something more than the local dance offer. I started to think about all that I had to offer as a dancer and dance teacher and to review my CV of hard work and dance study and commitment I have put in over the years both as a dancer and teacher. I wanted to be in it all again.
I came home thinking about workshops and events whether I could set up a class. And you know what? I started to get really stressed about it all.
Here are some of my stressed out head thoughts:
– If I taught I would want a local class and there are already a couple of local teachers and classes I wouldn’t want to stand on toes or upset anyone and anyway why would anyone come?
– Perhaps I could go further afield to a teacher for my personal development? How would I manage such a long drive and anyway it’s the same night. Also what would you do with it? Wouldn’t folk think you were just becoming an arrogant know it all dancer with little talent?
– If I organise a workshop it could end up costing lots and anyway could I organise workshops and haflas if I don’t teach?
– Organising events are really stressful
– If I organise anything people will think she’s right up herself and hate me

Super stressed I have become and I do not like this Jude. I remember of old and she’s not good company to be with. She critiques every dance experience and wants to keep striving for more and better and better all the time. This is how I burnt out and lost my mojo before.
I am so upset with myself and poking about and in my head upsetting the constant I have worked hard at of turning up smiling, taking no responsibility, passing no judgements or views based on knowledge experience or otherwise and dancing for fun.

It has reminded me of all the reasons I stepped away from the dance scene. I have to remind myself that there is some reality behind my stressed out thoughts. As a middle aged woman it is unlikely that many people would really want to come to my class. I am not a glam bendy Barbie and most folk are not interested in me sharing the knowledge and experience I have to offer. Also in my area there are already existing classes so setting up any new local class may offend folk I like and there is also probably no need for an Egyptian belly dance class. Unless I am prepared to drive a long way there is no local class for my serious dance development and I have been here frustratingly over and over again.
The trouble is once you have developed your skills and knowledge about a topic it is quite tricky not wanting to pursue development to improve. You know what you know and not using your knowledge can be quite frustrating. So a little bit more of structured dance development wouldn’t go a miss. Perhaps I need to sit back and hope that someone might make an offer or dangle something nearby.
For now I think I will concentrate in my drumming and indeed my dancing drum solo for next performance! I welcome suggestions thoughts or ideas though …… what are all us not bendy barbies but middle aged and passionate about dancing but want a little more than social dancing supposed to do?

Musings on bringing up boys

Just read my journal from last month …One day smallish boy will grow up into a really lovely young man but for now he is just in silly pants mode. Realised I was about to write the same thing again! The word Twat seems to be major feature in smallish boy’s world at the moment. Excluded twice in a month for using it.
Smallish boy is funny quirky and witty. He tells daft stories, has zany ideas. He seems to be liked at school and has nice group of mates. But he has decided to become the class clown. I have become the Mum of clichés. “You won’t be laughing when you leave school with no qualifications and no job and your fiends have moved on” “I can’t see anything funny in your behaviour” The only person you are hurting is yourself” You letting yourself down, your Mum down and the school down”. I laugh at the situation when I don’t feel like crying.
Mr K and I (Mr K being last part of the week Math’s teacher) are becoming close friends as he rings 3.30pm on the dot every Friday to tell me how bad smallish boy has been. I am thinking of sending him a Christmas card. I am popping into school so often I am definitely building a rapport with his school.
Exasperation is where I am at. This morning I yelled really loud. He grinned even more. He missed the school bus, I flick flacked him with my arms in the car and yelled more in complete and utter exasperation. He grinned more.
We come home this evening after I have insisted that I drive him home (I like the bus Mum it gives me time to think). We then spend an hour cooking together. Chopping vegetables, nattering, stirring and pottering around the kitchen. We discuss:
I might become a cleaner I like cleaning
Me: Snort!
All I really want is to live in an apartment with cats
Me: You like cats
What would you do if I became a pothead?
Me: Why have you smoked any?
No I don’t like smoking
If you were desperate would you mug your own mother?
Me: That would mean I would mug Gran!
Where do you think Dad is?
Me: Why ask me this?
Just wondering?
Me: In Scotland I presume
I point out here that real Dad has been mostly absent for last 12 years of the boys lives. But this last year he has phoned twice. Bit rubbish heh? Trouble is should this affect smallish boy? Is there a direct correlation between absent dad and needing to use the word Twat at school loudly?
Today’s ponderings were am I a bad mother as I am not stay at home Mum? If I was home boy would be in bedroom with headphones in but perhaps he wouldn’t so is my being at work a cause of him acting the fool and swearing in school.
I swear when I am really angry so I must be a really bad mother. I also took smallish boy and large boy to see alternative comedian on Saturday night who swears too so I am doubly bad Mum.
We do not ride bicycles nor swim. We don’t do competitive sports. All of this makes me a bad Mum. Well possibly not as smallish boy has started going to the gym after school after he has completed detentions.
But here is the thing. Boy sits in lounge with me on his phone. He has just eaten big plate of spaghetti Bolognese he has cooked with me. The house is warm. The Christmas tree sits in the corner of the room. We decorated it with big boy on Sunday and it is full of childhood happy memories of baubles and sparkle from Christmas past.
My lovely man, which let’s face it is caring kind gentle step dad pops his head around the door. I ask about homework, we discuss help with work experience and whether there is homework to do.
I think life is good in our family or indeed good enough. My parenting has to be good enough. It is certainly full of love, safety and kindness.
So I am feeling okay.
Smallish boys say:
Mum is you happy?
Me: yes darling are you?
No I am really depressed
Me: What about?
He will drive me to drink!

I wrote the above a couple of days and three dententions and two  “I am so Disappointed Mrs McG” phone calls later. Sat on sofa tonight and long lost Dad phones. No sorry no explanation nothing. Smallish boy leaps up delighted and excited that his Dad has called. Unconditional   love works both ways heh?

A frazzled belly dancing fraud who irons shirts

Smallish boy is now taller than me and is aspiring to be taller than big boy so I shall have to think of new names, or perhaps not as smaller boy will always be small boy to me as I look up at him. He may be physically big but recently he is back physically trying to snuggle up to me on sofa , draping is long arms over me for hug, and at his Gran’s house ( no internet) wanting to sit on my lap, by my feet and not leaving me alone. Something is up but not sure what. Perhaps despite his nonchalant expression to it all he too has been bothered by his level of detentions and school exclusion for calling the Maths teacher a twat. You may laugh but in my world of super Mum it isn’t funny. I am keeping the plates spinning here and school is one plate that needs to keep spinning. It is a lovely school that cares and he needs to learn to reciprocate that care a bit more.

Meanwhile not heard a word from the other one. I must remember to text him. It is not that he is not in my thoughts it is just we keep different hours and he is either asleep or in lectures when I am awake. He is happy enough in his world of Uni life. I often wonder whether I should pursue him more. But I have brought up my son to be independent and go out into the world seeking out his passions, and find his own path in life. I am here if he needs me.

I haven’t blogged for ages and wanted to write today about being part of the squeezed generation or indeed about being Mum, partner, daughter, manager , student , hence the plate spinning activities or indeed is it juggling? Well in my world I normally do a miraculous job at keeping all these roles going. I am not convinced that I do any of them well but a good enough approach is getting me by, just but I am thinking this is not sustainable. I have reached appoint where I need to rethink what is happening about Jude and building in some personal resilience into my life.

Having just pinged off assignment number 2 to my tutor I am considering today how to shift my world about. Surely there has to be a way. So here is a little account of my last week:

• Elderly mother rings on Friday evening she is four hour drive away and not coping home alone and has to attend MRI scan. Despite the 100s of friends who insisted on visiting her a couple of years ago in hospital there is no one available to take her to scan. My mum is lovely and I casually and calmly tell her I will rearrange life to pop down to take her to said scan. Fall asleep on sofa wine in hand.
• Saturday I wake early and work with my lovely man on house chores and we have a little out and about couple time purchasing apple and pear tree and hanging out. Pack a bag ready for trip to Devon. Feel some relief that next week isn’t a school week so no shirts to iron or indeed detentions to respond to. Doesn’t stop me trying to have a serious Mum chat to smallish boy who takes no notice.
• Sunday hurtle done motorway to Plymouth and arrive to see brother with learning disabilities for quick chat about his life, recovery from recent operation and steam trains. Feel need to have some sea air so take small boy to the Hoe and have drink with lovely school friend Mo where amongst other things we swop tips on how to care for the elderly parents
• Monday its quick trip to packed town centre to purchase small boy grow man’s jeans and jacket with no VAT and large price tag. I madly grab some random clothing items to make me feel good (points win prizes) and to show some kind of professional image at work. Mother thinks I am over indulging self on presentation of said self-prizes and I whisk her out for drive and garden centre tea and cake. Full asleep in reclining chair – Mum has two I am asleep on old one and feel like an old woman!
• Tuesday is get Mum to scan day and I enjoy an hour in the Nuffield waiting room reading a magazine observing I do not get offered coffee, must be the differential of being NHS referred and private patient? I hurtle back up motorway for four hour drive home. Undertake food shop and cook tea.
• Wednesday is back to work day including a presentation to keen students who want to be social workers on The Care Act and safeguarding. No email Wednesday causes some dilemmas as I have an inbox full needing response. As much as I am pleased that smallish boy is now out and about I now have to make after work drive to neighbouring town to fetch him. Highlight of week is watching The Apprentice glass of wine in hand.
• Thursday more racing around work day. In between this trying to make phone calls and emails regarding sorting out some personal stuff. This includes a mass photocopy print off document adventure when I come home involving being logged out of bank account several times and large amount of swearing. I burnt the tea as builder turns up to give quote
• Friday is my day off so I get up at 6.30am to undertake my assignment. My one little bit of me time is going for the most beautiful autumnal walk with old friend. Deep breathe the views of the river and trees are gorgeous. Lovely man and I sort boring business out , pop out for a disappointing pub meal and fall asleep watching TV. Smallish boy reappears having been out on the town, gobby whilst being evasive about what he’s been up to.

Today is Saturday and I have happily finished my assignment. (It is a coaching and mentoring course L5).
When I started this blog it was going to be about Judee Tee the dancer but she went missing ages ago. In the last year I have stopped dance teaching so no regular class, hardly attended any events or performed and am managing to attend a fortnight tribal class. I am really enjoying doing a different kind of dance as I love the sisterhood of tribal and if lived somewhere with more regular classes I would attend every week. The group of women I dance with at this group are so lovely they have gone some way to repairing my personal experience of getting close to folk in the dance world and the hurt it caused me. Oh and I drum too again with a lovely group of people and drumming with such a nice group of folk just makes me smile. So it is not all doom and gloom! But I used to love Egyptian dance and the creativity and personal expression it brought me. It was for me an opportunity to create and connect my body and soul.

I am feeling an overweight unfit coach potato belly dancing fraud. I don’t know where Jude the passionate dancer has gone. Is it that in undertaking all the above which if you added the shirt ironing school drama is a normal week there is no room for Jude the dancer? Or is it that without the passion for it I don’t make the time? I looked at gym membership this morning. I know that I am stressed with work and am putting on weight and becoming unfit and middle aged. Work is taking its toll stress wise and I need to build up my personal resilience. I don’t feel good about myself. I hate gyms but I go to work in the dark and come in the dark exhausted, weekends are chores and catching up with lovely man and friends and family.
But as I am lying there with phone on Zumba time table what happened to Jude who dances? So I made myself get up. Not with great deal of zest or passion I add. I got the IPOD out and randomly danced for forty minutes. Myas, drops, snake arms, shimmies, camels the full works. I danced and danced and even to some cracking saiidi felt a little bit of judee tee coming back.
I think too much about it all. I am challenging myself to forget that past and negative experience dance world brought, forget that I am middle aged and no one wants to watch me, there is nowhere to perform or now I have moved to teach anywhere or anyone to teach. I am just going to dance like no one is watching to my favourite music to get fit and try and feel good about me again.
I have written this blog hoping that in the writing and perhaps the reading I may have to hold me to dancing account.

Happy dancing days

I want a stuffed cat and it shall be my friend.

Life is so busy these days it’s hard to find time to blog. So this is a collection of thoughts from last couple of weeks or so. It is a bit of a ramble but captures a bit of family life  :
Step daughter is currently counting days to dance camp. She will be turning up this weekend and we shall be plotting girly things like what shall we be wearing for the fancy dress etc. Large boy has returned from China and isn’t showing any leanings towards work or any meaningful activity. It is amazing how such a clever boy has got there.
Smallish boy has a new idea. He says Mum as you are allergic to cats I was thinking I want a stuffed cat and it shall be my friend. If I have a stuffed cat, says smallish boy with twinkle in his eye I shall call her Susan and she will be my friend. He promptly goes with large boy to look up stuffed animals for sale on eBay and the like and announces that he may have a beaver instead to which large boy snorts in Carry On like manner.
I didn’t much fancy any taxidermy in the house and made my protest loud and clear. I think were safe he’s gone off the idea.
Today smallish boy is painting Pikachu with water colours. He is sorting of dripping blood at the mouth in distinctly artistic manner. Last week as we cut the hedge down he made a walking stick and carved the bark off a trunk.
This is smallish boy’s normal life. When he was younger I was so worried by the time he got to being a teen he would have lost his creativity and his wonderful way of seeing the world. Thank goodness he still wants a Susan the cat with a twinkle in his eye! The thing about smallish boy is he has a wonderful sense of self that is not to be crushed. He really has been and continues to be his own man.

Big boy meanwhile is in his bedroom doing something “game like” on this enormous computer he has built. It is the size of a large suitcase and drains our entire internet. Our internet according to all the kids is rubbish. When I say good night love you to big boy later I go in his room affronted that he hasn’t said “Love you too”. There I stand in my “not for public dressing gown” with big boy pointing to the dozen or so faces at the bottom of the computer screen. His sighs “I am gaming Mum, this is my Mum everyone” and so I wave to several boys waving back at me and  they say Hi Cal’s Mum!

Almost teen stepdaughter comes for the weekend. She is all hairdos and new shoes cropped tops and jeans. Her Dad is struggling to see where his little girl has gone. She wanders around the house with iPhone and headphones and constant girl chats. It is as if several invisible almost teen girls have arrived.

All of the above has happened in the last week or so. It’s the ebb and flow of our family life which has been punctuated by older siblings visiting with lively grandchildren and crying babies. Anyway all of this is part of our family life and I love the memories we create, our quirky waysand home full of laughter. Sometimes I am so busy holding work life food on table cleaning and trying to dance drum and have a bit of grown up time I forget to stop and smile at my family life.

This past week or so almost teen girl has sulked, big boy has sworn, not got up and broken front door, and smallish boy’s room is state and he needed to be told on several occasions to shower! I’ve packed the boys off to their Grans. Cluttering up the house here with their inactivity I put them on the train. Biggest drama was sorting out some internet connection! So I am sitting in a quiet empty house. Ahhhhhh time to self I think. But you know what? I would rather they were all here home all playing their part in our great big quirky blended family. Don’t get me wrong, five minutes back and I will be reaching for the wine!

Dum tak tak Dum tak everybody!

It has been a while since blog writing time. So much is changing and happening in my life. It seems that in 2015 we are all settling into living into our new home. At the moment we are having a new floor being laid. As someone who could normally only afford and indeed be motivated to splash on a bit of paint this feels terribly grown up. I am also quite excited about swooshing around on a new floor. The lounge currently looks like an amazing dance space.

So in order to make this event happen we have had to rip the heart out of the living room. Not only has this meant more binning out it has also enabled the lovely man to let go of his lounge which really only had more of our stuff stuffed in it and we are all embracing the opportunity of change.
As these things never have a way of running smoothly as a family we embraced the challenge and spent last Saturday on our hands and knees hammering tiles out of the floor! As a Mum I was really chuffed that large and smallish boy joined in such a physical hammering activity with such gusto. I must admit the addition of headphones seemed to help but indeed there was more laughter despite the injuries to ourselves!
I am not sure why such a vile activity became such a great bonding activity – every cloud has a silver lining? Hammering ugly 1970s tiles out of the floor somehow managed to get boys out of bedrooms and engage in physical activity, if I had suggested swimming they would have said No! It also meant that we have had to leave the house every day. So one day we went out in the sunshine and off to Ludlow. Again a whole day with my lovely man, and my boys ( step girly with her Mum). With no choice teen boys will leave bedrooms and walk away from computers and play stations. The day started with a bit of grunting and moaning but soon they were resigned to having a day out.
My boys are growing up and it feels we are constantly changing. Not sure if I have blogged about the challenges of a little boy who only ate squirly rolls and a big boy not much better but here is our fussy eating moment of fame link:

So several years’ later smallish boy and big brother are tucking in with gusto to full English all day breakfasts. But it is worth noting tomato is left and there  is still a definite lack of vegetables and fruit in their lives! So a day spent looking at second hand shops and making each other laugh. We are a family of dressing up and searching for the different. The lovely man finds a new hat. Smallish boy excitedly finds a tails coat, and large boy a cool leather trench coat which makes him look like an East German spy. Oh and I little bit of lace for a belly bra project!

The opportunity for change is something I have always enjoyed. I like the energy that change brings, and enjoy being in control of my own destiny by making changes. Moving house and home was so over whelming for me. I had to let go of so much in order to move on , but here in spring 2015 it feels we are reaping the benefits of change. Large boy in car ( after many a moody battle with lovely man) says he cannot imagine his Mum, me without lovely man in my life , he says we suit each other. It indeed feels we are moving to a space not only with new floor but with love, a safe and happy home.

So in the last month my lovely Mum has been and retuned home, I have worked, danced, parented and ripped the lounge up!

The energy that this change brings has kick started some creativity. I know I am too busy and too far to teach my old class but I am missing teaching. As well as missing wonderful women that I knew for years I am missing the discipline of teaching. I loved sharing different techniques with my class and the knowledge I had to share. With everything going on I am missing on developing my technique. I have this week been attempting to put a little bit of dance in where I can. So outside myas whilst the kettle boils, a shimmy whilst folding laundry etc. I wonder how many other dancers with busy lives do indeed practice their dance in this way? I also dance out and about. Out with the kids this week and was having a sneaky shimmy in the corner of a charity shop until the kids said “Mum stop dancing it’s embarrassing”! I also go to sleep every night running through tribal combinations.

Dancing has changed for me this past year too. Reflecting the energy, effort, practice and commitment I once had to Egyptian dance did not in this past year bring many joyful rewards. Dancing for me was a huge source of creative expression. I would spend hours and hours dancing, researching, attending workshops etc. . Dances for me were like paintings to be presented to the world. For me as a middle aged lady with so little performance opportunities it all became “ what’s the point?” and I have had to take a step back and find a new approach.

As I have had to live in our bedroom my new drum has been sat next to me waiting to be played so I have done this every day. I am really enjoying drumming; learning to drum has improved my musicality no end. Rhythms that I could never remember I can now physically beat out and I really connect when I dance to them too. All those years when I listened and listened to try to learn my rhythms never worked. For me the physicality of playing just pulled together what my body danced to naturally. Now I need to get my hands and fingers to do the right things. I think it is a shame that more dancers perhaps don’t see the joy and benefits of being able to drum a rhythm or two, it is a simple physical process that for me just makes me happy. In the midst of the bedroom bedsit chaos lovely man and I have also mapped out a drum solo for a spring hafla. I love drumming and dancing with my lovely man. I love the connection we have and sharing our skills and ideas with each other.

My other dancing oomph this spring is being part of a tribal group and class. I am embracing the sisterhood of group dancing. In the past I perceived tribal dancing as a lacking in authenticity and a bit “ not real”. Now I find its lack of “authenticity” rather liberating and very real in the 21st century Western world. No longer having to seek the impossible Tribal dance for me brings me back to the joy of dance. It is also connecting me into a group of women that I did not know that well with warmth and friendship. After a time of unpleasant falsehoods and spite in my dance world it is a pleasure to dance with such good women again.

I mentioned the excitement of a new drum? It was sat in a window in Totnes waiting for me to buy. For once it was my new drum and not the lovely man’s new drum as I saw it first! Anyway he has a great big new djembe. So in planning our new living space we shall be needing a drum corner!

Dum tak tak Dum tak everybody! x

It is all about the frocks and dressing up!

Dancing, family life and dressing up is my life. I am sat here thinking what I consider the norm of a life of dressing up is not other folk’s realities. I also am sat here thinking how much I love dressing up and share this passion with others.

Yesterday smallish boy and other smallish girls found my wedding dress. I have kept my wedding dress for many years neatly wrapped up carefully in the attic. On moving here I wandered about giving it away but I didn’t. I do not have emotional attachment regarding hanging onto stuff about my ex-husband (missing father of children) which I place on this dress. It is juts that it is a beautiful dress that I wore in my youth when I was happy and full of hope. It has happy memories and remains a very lovely dress.

Anyway the small people all agreed that it was lovely so much so that smallish boy decided to put in on and we added a tiara and veil. He did indeed look beautiful although he repeated several times over that he has no desire to be a tranestiteperson! He loved trying to create fake boobies to fill the dress up and prancing about being a girl, but he also liked the feel of the fabric and how it looked. He afterwards went and put on a leather jacket and a different shirt from Morocco.

Smallish boy last week was wandering around in a very large shirt of lovely mans, the week before his brother’s jacket and for a long time had taken over my fluffy dressing gown until my Mum bought him own for Christmas. He loves fabric and textiles always wanting to feel textures and patterns. His biggest love is unusual T shirts and he has begun to get fussy about the jeans he wears. I can remember large boy undertaking Halloween with great glee in my leopard skin fur coat, heeled cowboy boots, and velvet shirt and zombie makeup. He also had a range of hair colour including pink and blue.

Dressing up in our house has always been a given. When the kids were little we have a huge dressing up back with cloaks, super heroes’ hats and props. As a dancer and performer I have a wardrobe full of fancy frocks and the weird and wonderful. So it is reasonable for my smallish boy to want to dress up and express his identity. It is what we do, dress up parade around and laugh and express joy.
Part of family life that brings happiness and a safe place for youngish boy to explore his identity and who he is. He does this not behind locked doors feeling any shame but openly and publicly with great honesty. What I can see underneath seed pearls and satin is a boy who has a strong sense of self.

When I was a child I had a dressing up box. I dressed up in my Mum’s wedding dress and performed dance routines to old records. A box of silks, petticoats wedding dresses and bridesmaids outfits, friends came to my house to dress up and play make believe. Our house was the place to do this and I can’t remember anywhere else where there was such a dressing up box.

As teenagers we scoured jumble sales every Saturday to come home with bag loads of dressing up which as a group of girls we would dress up and share. As a dancer my Mum made me tutus and all manner of outfits to perform in. I love fancy dress, parties with themes, weddings and occasions to create an outfit. I love clothes and dressing up.

My degree Fine art show and subsequent art work was an exploration of portraits and images of women about dressing up and changing identity. I love clothes, fabrics hats shoes with passion. As lovely man has found out, other folk collect books I collect fancy dresses and fripperies.

I have always said that is one of the reasons women come to belly dance. Watching old videos at a friend’s recently we realised that in the last decade of belly dance women would dress up with all their sequins and Arabian nights in weekly class. I can remember my first class was as much about the dressing up as learning the moves. In order to take the dance “seriously” we have put away our swishy skirts and sequins and janglies for black pants but any hafla you will see an array of wonderful women in their fancy finery. The belly dance world we know is all about dressing up and make believe on a Saturday night.

So many women never had that fancy dress box, nor the opportunity to wear a purple sequined tutu on a stage (I was a jewel in Aladdin’s cave and part of the rainbow). Life is dowdy full of beige and sensible shoes. Clothes are bought to be functional or to “fit in” with the crowd. So the dance world for many creates that “boy in a wedding dress moment”. An opportunity to dress up in fabric that feels lovely, sequins that sparkle and coins that jangle. It is the stuff of fairy princesses and Arabian Nights. There are moments when some of this sparkle may be about being sexy and sensual. But it is also about being pretty, girly and well simply dressing up and prancing about. We are admired by mostly our women friends who spin twirl and prance with us.

At haflas we share the magic of dressing up, the souks and stalls offer more dressing up opportunities from henna to bindi to veils and fantastic frocks and bedlahs it all about the dressing up. We say we love the dancing but our love of belly dance is so wrapped up in the sequins, flowers swishy skirts and finery. We would never survive in just black trousers!

Now the boys have joined us to drum. They are not content to perform in jeans. Smart shirts and trousers have been added to with waistcoats and hats, an opportunity for a medieval fayre making way for galebeyas and fancy Arabian pants! Belly dancing for so many is about having fun and joy. Linked to this seems to be the great big belly dance dressing up box. When we take our dance out to others we always have the bag of belts to share, hip scarves to adorn women over their day clothes. A hen party booked is always about “dressing up” the bride. We love all this fancy dress!

I have recently joined the tribal world and a tribal group. I am really enjoying learning a completely new dance form and enjoying meeting new women and dancing as a group. But also it is a whole new opportunity for dressing up. New swishy skirts to wear and flowers for my hair Judee tee has a new persona to develop!

Last week I put old pictures on Fb that I had found. I had pictures of Elvis outfits, bumble bees, wigs, seventies dresses and a fab hat I remembered and a favourite blue dress and men’s long johns! A history of years and years of dressing up! This month there is the fancy dress challenge of Mad hatters tea party, Mad movies and swishing skirts and tribal! I rest my dressing up case!

Happy dancing and dressing up x