Make it a half dozen

Yesterday marked the six year anniversary of training with ABADA-Capoeira San Francisco. It also marks a year since I last wrote here, but no matter. The idea is that you stick with it, right?

Well, I’d like to think I am a bit more dedicated to capoeira than I am to this blog. But the reason I am writing this is that I want to express my love and gratitude for the people and the place where I can always find what I need to feed my body and soul and more.

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Here are a few things that I love about it, in no particular order:

  1. I never leave class regretting that I went. Even on the days that I drag myself there because I am tired or just defeated by work or life, it always makes me feel better mentally and physically.
  2. I probably don’t have to worry about being tended to if I get injured as there is likely a doctor around. There might even be a scientist, a teacher, a lawyer, an artist, or a programmer should I need one. There’s a lot of knowledge and talent in one room.
  3. I’m almost as likely to hear Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew or French in addition to English or Portuguese. It’s an lovely linguistic melody.
  4. I now have friends and acquaintances in many different places throughout the world because of capoeira. I may even take some of them up on their offer to stay at their homes some day. Watch out.
  5. I’m always finding new layers of things to learn and appreciate about capoeira, and it only gets richer and deeper as I continue to train. Be it the aspects of capoeira’s history, martial arts, music, etc., each time I think I know something, I find that there is something deeper to uncover behind it.

Obrigada capoeira.

Snapshot of my father

Today is the first father’s day that I won’t be able to call my dad on the phone. Not that he ever was much for talking on the phone. Usually if he answered, he’d say hello, followed quickly by “Here’s your mother.”

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Dr. Robert Sieling during a patient consultation in the early 1990s.

It’s been 10 months since he died. I’ve wanted to call him many times to tell him about trips that I’ve taken or stories that I’ve read, and then I remember that I can’t.

In this time I’ve spent many hours trying to sort out my feelings about him. The sadness and emptiness after a death is easy to recognize. But there is something that digs deeper inside of me that pulls out those deep grieving sobs that sometimes emerge without warning. This grieving has been complicated by the added layer of pain left by the ending of a nine year relationship, creating a molasses-like coating of sorrow that makes it hard to extricate one feeling from another.

A couple months ago I was finally able to separate the two. I saw that I not only was grieving over the death of my father, but the fact that I never felt that I ever connected with him personally. My father held many things inside and usually my siblings and I wrote it off to the fact that it was just the way he was. He only gave us little snapshots of his life. He infrequently volunteered stories about big parts of his life like his work as a surgeon or his time during the war in Vietnam, but he always liked to chat about the latest front page story in the newspaper.

I spent much of my life trying to connect with him, hoping to tell stories that would amuse him or impress him with my work. I would feel triumphant if I could make him laugh or smile. He may have been proud of me, but he rarely said so, so I will never really know what he thought about me. It’s something that I hope that I can let go of some day.

Third Anniversary

Today marks the third anniversary of when I started training with ABADA Capoeira. I’ve discussed before how important to me capoeira and the people of ABADA are. With each year, this only grows more.

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That said, I need to commit myself more to training this year. I don’t push myself hard enough and it shows. 

So, I need to set some goals for myself. Here goes:

  • Improve bermibau playing by practicing at home (now possible as I finally bought my own!).
  • Learn to sing at least one new song a month.
  • Accomplish a floreira, maybe a macaco, but to do that move I will need to keep working on rehabbing my knee. That includes continuing my regular acupuncture appointments and strengthening the muscles around my knees with cycling.
  • Improve the most basic of moves, the ginga, because I am still swinging my knee too much. It would also minimize the stress on my knee.
  • Participate more in the roda. Playing more is good overall, but will also help minimize the anxiety I have about playing in general.

 

Like the differences in physical pain, such as a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle, emotional pain comes in a variety of forms. There’s the ache in the hollow of your insides when you lose a loved one, or the sting in the temple of your head when you are embarrassed.

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Then there is the dull weighted pain of unresolved injustices that people inflict within families and link everyone together like yoke on oxen.The weight of this pain moves everyone along in one direction, but without any real progress.

At some point, those who caused the pain may be gone, but the yoke is still there. No one thinks to lift it off. So the pain continues, a burden for the family to bear. The pain becomes familiar, so it feels normal, like if you’ve had a bad back for years. You learn to live with it.

When the weight of the pain is unbearable, some lift the yoke and walk away, leaving the rest to carry the weight. That may free them from the burden, but they will never be able to return without the possibility of picking up that weight again.

Alternatively, everyone could work together as a team to dismantle the yoke, freeing themselves from the pain. This takes effort and forethought, and may seem harder than just living with the familiar pain. Though, the payoff in the end would be that choosing to be together as a family would be based on mutual interest as opposed to a man-made construct.

When we spend time with our families today, or just interact with anyone in daily life, we should think twice about yoking them to the pain of an unnecessary construct. It’s easy to continue moving on as we are accustomed as opposed to making a positive change. But by being patient and treating others with kindness, we can help alleviate much of the pain, not just for others, but for ourselves.

A year later…

Been meaning to post about this for a bit, but didn’t want to be dramatic. Though, it was a pivotal point in my life. That is, the bike accident last year.

It sucked, and I’m still bitter, but I am:

  • alive
  • have a new bike
  • can finally play (and still suck at but love) benguela without significant pain

The physical stuff took me a year to get through, but the fact that I got to the point of life without constant pain or discomfort is what I am happy about.

This is what you get.

Old friends and ghosts

I saw an old friend of mine last weekend. We weren’t close in high school, but I always liked her. She was sweet as hell, could run the soccer ball well, and still go party at a concert afterwards. There’s a lot of good energy in this woman and I was happy and thankful to connect with her after about two decades, and she was kind enough to come meet me. I’ll see her again soon, which is great!

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But weeks before I ran into her, I met up with a ghost of my past. Technically it was a ghost of a friend I hadn’t talked to for over a decade. Without going into many details, this person crafted a story for her world that was false in mine. So false, the characters would have never been able to practice their scenes together. Yet, in her mind it was a reality.

The saddest part is that the details of the storyline never came directly from her. At the time this all happened, it was her birthday. I tried to call her many times to see what she’d like to do, but she never returned my calls. She wouldn’t speak to me, sticking strongly to her fabrication. I only learned of her magnificent lie from others.

The irony of the whole thing is that I kept my friendships with the others, all of whom are part of my life today. The only time that she tried to contact me later, she did the lovely explanation of, “I was going through a hard time and I didn’t mean to hurt you.” No, I did not respond.

And then a few weeks ago she appeared at one of my places of calm, Sunday mornings at the farmers’ market. I thought it may be a fluke, but then she was there the next week, and the week after that. Grrr.

I realize that I have choices, two of which include ignoring her, and the other acknowledging her. At my age, acknowledging her is the mature thing to do, though I really wish she never descended upon my little place of solitude.

Next time I see her, wish me strength.

Flowers

I never order flowers–I buy them, or grow them, but I never order them.  But this week I ordered them for both my mom and my boyfriend’s dad, who are both in the hospital.

Woman pictured here is not my mom, but my own mom made me practice piano, even if I didn’t want to do it. She may have had a dress like that, though.

The good news is that they are feeling better and may get out this weekend.  It’s all my boyfriend and I can ask. Selfishly, we both want them to stay on earth a little longer.

For me, my mom has supported me through anything, even when we didn’t agree with one another, when we argued, or when I said horrible, thoughtless things. She’s been consistent in her love for me, despite disagreements or differences of opinions. I didn’t know how much she put up with until I was older.

She had a hard time this week, but hearing my mom’s voice today on the phone and knowing she was in better spirits was the best thing about today.

Hanging onto that for as long as I can.

Life’s little moments

There’s an ad campaign, something mom/cleaning-related, about life’s little moments.  I’m assuming some ad-exec somewhere riffed on life’s messy moments, but ignored the fact that life’s little moments can also be beautiful, like hot tea on a cold morning, warm sun breaking through the fog, or a man on the train giving up his seat for a pregnant woman.

These are all moments that make us feel warm, safe and OK about being human beings.  They often small, and some would say insignificant, but they propel us along, and push us through days that can be tiresome, tedious, and sometimes painful.

Everyone knows life isn’t always nice, or fun, or beautiful.  In terms of positive things, some people get more, some people get less, but small moments of beauty and/or kindness touch us all, despite our lot in life.

I always assumed that was what was life was about, that is, ugliness and pain interspersed with small bits of beauty and light, but I was always waiting for these good moments to happen, not seeing that they come in many forms, at many times of the day.  If you don’t look for them, you’ll miss them. And so I did, I missed them.

Maybe it was many years of therapy, but now I know, sentimental as it may be, this is what we get,whatever life gives us at one moment, and when it’s good, appreciate it. Now I see beautiful things more often, and try to appreciate them when they happen. And no, I don’t always see it, but I see the good stuff more than I used to. Not that I still don’t see the bad.

What’s the last unexpected beautiful thing you have seen?

Que pena!

I dislike attention. I dislike being on display. I dislike presenting in front of people.  But this year I pushed myself and participated in Carnaval in San Francisco so I could get past some of my shyness. P.S. Can I say “I” and “dislike” more?  Yes, I can!

But the thing is, I adore Carnaval.  I’ve loved it since I was a kid.  No, I never went to Brazil until I was an adult, but I was always fascinated by the spectacle and the energy.  And because of that, upon invitation of a very sweet Baiana friend of mine that I met in my 20s, I went to and was enchanted immediately by the event in Salvador, and have therefore danced in Carnaval in Bahia a handful of times (anyone can do it). So I it’s a “No, duh!” for me to be part of it in my home base.

For the past few months I’ve been rehearsing every Sunday. For skilled performers, the choreography isn’t complicated, but for a newbie performer like me, I needed practice.  LOTS of practice. And up to today, I could have still used more practice, but I committed to it, and that’s all there is to it.

So, earlier today as I drove to our capoeira studio, I commented on how the streets could pose a challenge because they were uneven due to construction (Tucanare, do you recall?).

Now I’m sitting here with an ice pack on my ankle that took a nice roll into the asphalt.

To the following questions I answer yes: Could something worse have happened? Am I frustrated and pissed?  Do I want to try it again?

It’s put a fire in me to give it another go; if not Carnaval, to performing, to practicing, to anything that pushes me out in front of people.  Not because I need accolades, per se, just to prove it to myself that I can do it.

All I can say is, I went out running and dancing with all of my energy, and in that, there can be no regrets.

Back to work

After more than half a year of doing my own thing, I’m giving agency life another go.  Starting next week, I’ll be back working in public relations full-time.

During my time freelancing, I always kept my options open, and an opportunity came up that seems like it will be a good fit.

Do I feel any trepidation? Truthfully, I still feel a mild sting due to my experiences at the last agency, so my my biggest concern is that we all work together well at the new place.  But I hope to take my many lessons from my past work life and apply them to the new job.

Will it be hard going back to a regular work routine?  A little, but I did spend a lot of time in the past eight months exploring my skills in writing, public relations, marketing and branding.  I also got to spend plenty of time with my pup, play capoeira a lot, study Portuguese and travel to Brazil, Canada, New York, Big Sur and Mendocino.

I’ll squeeze the last bits of free time that I have this weekend and take advantage of the ample sunshine and warmth, for Monday, it’s a new job and the beginning of a new story.

Wish me luck!