There are not many things that give me as much pleasure as dancing. My parents enrolled me in ballet classes when I was nine. I thought my dancing skills were decent but not teacher. She said I just wasn’t graceful enough. I would not quit. Nothing cements my determination like a naysayer. I wasn’t the greatest dancer but I enjoyed it immensely. Then about three years ago I discovered Afro-beats. A genre of music that has a beat that is undeniably rhythmic and contagious. My whole being succumbed to the movement, it was almost spiritual. I still feel this way when I hear this music my body moves almost instinctively. Now I know I wasn’t a bad dancer, I just hadn’t found my beats.
prompts – dancing
The sight of men standing or kneeling in solidarity to protest the injustice and abuse of their fellow brethren should be a moment of pride. As always there are those who simplify this action to show of disrespect. Well, is the flag and anthem above protest? They both for stand and applaud freedom from injustice and oppression. This action has forced some to squarely face the imperfections of the place they are so proud to call home. And this is always a painful thing. Others feel that tainting the enjoyment of a most American sport with what they consider racial issues is going too far. Regardless of the motivation behind it they are really protesting a protest. This is the most American thing you can do. This is what makes America great.
I love to draw and paint. Obviously you say to yourself this is an art blog. But stay with me for a moment. I remember the first time I held my Faber-Castell marker set my father had brought me from Germany. Those beautiful pens were a priced possession and I got so much pleasure from doodling. My father cultivated and encouraged art all through my schooling. Then I lost interest in high school instead taking up sewing and crafting. After graduating I briefly went to art school. Again my father pushed me to work on a series of paintings for an exhibition. It was so enjoyable and I had such a great sense of accomplishment. Then I decided to study fashion design in college. My journey has been very unsteady and I believe it is because I had to find the true purpose of my art. Self expression. I had fought it my whole fight. The finally I surrendered. A happy surrender. And I have my father to thank for that.
Last evening I had the pleasure of spending time with some friends in their lovely new backyard. It was an impromptu late summer barbecue. As the evening progressed we discussed all sort of things from food gardens to travel experiences. At one point we had a quite intense discussion about how we react to the plight of those around us. One of my friends said she would let it be known how awful she felt about it. Another offered to contribute money. We further discussed about how emotional reactions however heartfelt did nothing to change the situation for those afflicted. Someone mentioned how as a society we have come to a place where we think that somehow our sympathy compensated for our inaction. There were many examples given about how people stand by in self-imposed helplessness as acts of violence are committed against others. In the end all agreed that we would all endeavor to be more than just sympathizers.
I was five years old when saw a lot of blood for the first time. My parents had rented an upstairs unit in a large compound owned by my aunt where I spent most of my time with my cousins, all boys ranging in age from twelve to five. Needless to say we spent most of our days engaged in mischievous and dangerous pursuits. One particular day our mission was to find and exterminate the huge rat that ran rampant around the compound. We finally had him cornered when my eldest cousin raised the broom in an attempt to crush him. Unbeknownst to him I was in the direct path of his swing. With as much force as he could muster he swung back and caught me in the right side of my face just above my eye. I remember a dull pain, falling backwards and everything going black. I awoke to screams and blood oozing from my forehead running down into my eyes, from my mouth and even my ears. I was probably in shock for I did not cry once. My cousins ran around in a state of panic blaming each other. They knew there would be hell to pay for this accident. My mother rushed me to the hospital where I remember sitting in the doctor’s office while he covered the stitches with an eye patch. He said I was going to be pirate for two weeks. I was forbidden from playing with the boys but that latest for only a couple of days and . I saw the admiration in their eyes as they fussed over my scar and I have never felt more included. I still have a gap in my eyebrow, I call it my battle scar. I don’t remember what happened that pesky rat.
When first moved to the Midwest I heard about these things, phenomenon known as tornadoes. I had only watched the wizard of Oz a few dozen times back in Kenya so I thought only wicked witches need be concerned about them. Actually living in tornado territory was a very different experience. At first early summer drills, siren checks and actual tornadoes were terrifying. Then it dawned on me that they had been dealing with them for years. Tracking, warning, sheltering, damage control and recovery was now an art form. That once they decided this was their home they dealt with them. I think of life the same way. We have no control over disasters but somehow we can learn to deal them. Even though they may be unpredictable, we can develop a strategy to limit the negative impact and channel it into meaning change. Maybe then we won’t be so terrified of the unknown.
This past year I have had an over scheduled existence. In my quest to be independent I took on more responsibility that I could handle and as a result took on a ridiculous amount of work and projects. I had always wanted to live close to the beach and even though I now did, I had yet to set one foot in that sand. That is until yesterday when a surprise visit from a friend I had not seen in awhile had us out and about. As we ambled along the broad-walk catching up and enjoying the cool evening breeze I wished that it hadn’t taken me so long to do so.
Taking your dreams and passions as her own. Rejoicing with you in every success and mourning every failure. Holding up your heavy head, pushing you forward step by step. Offering her hand to crash as you labor in pain and grit your teeth in frustration. Gently wiping your brow when it is done. Staying close by but in the shadows when on you the spotlight shines.
Sand and surf
Sarongs and flipflops,
Sundresses and bikinis,
Sunblock and umbrellas,
Sunglasses and straw hats,
Sliders and salsa
Sangria and agua frescas,
Strawberries and sorbet
Solange and Shaggy
My summertime symphony
When I was young I remember asking my grandmother why she was chewing on a stick. She explained to me that nature had given us this chewing stick to clean our teeth. This stick is known as Mswaki in Swahili. To this very day many people especially in the rural areas still prefer it over toothbrushes. They cut twigs from a shrub that usually grows in the wild. Chewing on these twigs releases juices that are believed to contain a natural antibacterial mouth wash and if swallowed can also aid in digestion. With all these qualities I now understand why the idea of buying a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouth wash must have sounded ridiculous to my grandmother.