Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Dancing again, I think

Ever since I was four years old when I began taking tap and ballet lessons, dancing filled my soul with joy. Unfortunately, a sexual molestation at age seven and a traumatic incident involving my father at a dance recital shortly after that, caused me to quit for awhile. If you're interested in those stories, they are in the essays/articles tab on this blog and in my memoir as well.

At sixteen, I discovered folk dancing. I was a camp counselor at a Hebrew Day Camp and was assigned to assist the dance instructor, who was Israeli. Folk dances are cultural dances of a country. For example, the Hambo is a cultural dance from Sweden; the Czardas is a cultural dance from Hungary. Our recreational folk dance group does dances from Israel, Hungary, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria, Servia, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Albania, and many more.

 I quit folk dancing when I got married at 19 and didn't dance again until I divorced, at 28. After that it was 18 years before I would dance once more. It's where I met current hubby and it is something we share together. But I've had a series of injuries over the last few years that have kept me from dancing much at all: surgery on my left knee, surgery on my right ankle, a severely sprained left ankle, and surgery on my right shoulder. I am fine if I walk or hike, but dancing seems to aggravate my left knee. If I could just stick to slow, simple dances, I'd probably be fine, but when the music to a dance I love begins, I can't sit still. Then I pay the price--aching knee for several days afterwards.

At what point do we give in to things like that and let go of things we love. This is one of the crucial issues we face as we grow older. When to stop driving, when to let go of certain physical activities, when to acknowledge we can't remember whether we took our pills already this morning.

I'm turning 61 on April 24. I feel great (except for the aching knee after dancing). I am maintaining a 50-pound weight loss, I am singing regularly, my new writing is beginning to take off. Life is so incredibly wonderful. I'm not ready just yet to give up the dancing that I love, or to sit still while my favorite dances come on. Perhaps if I get in the habit of icing my knee after working it hard, and taking ibiprofen, I can eek out a few more years. I'm lucky that singing filled the void dancing left when I couldn't do it. But I'm greedy--I want to do both!

What things would be difficult for you to give up if you had to?



Cyndi said...

I say keep dancing til you drop!!

I would have a very difficult time giving up driving if I had to with reading and writing a very close 2nd and 3rd. Hopefully I still have a few years. :)

Joanne said...

I say keep dancing too, even if you have to modify it a bit to keep going.

I'd find it really hard to stop writing, reading, and going to concerts to hear live music. The writing and the music vie for top billing if I had to choose losing one. Next to impossible!

Sharon Lippincott said...

Can you dance a little every day -- say start with one song and take it easy -- and build up?

What would I have a hard time living without? Definitely reading and writing. My m-i-l's macular degeneration has progressed to the point she is no longer able to read. She eschews large print. She won't even try the mega magnifier machines in her Continuing Care Community. And she won't try listening to books on CD. I do not understand. Yes, she is nearly 98, but ... what is she going to do for the next five years? She was an avid reader and is still in fine health, though wearing out.

I can't imagine giving up that way, but I don't live in her head, and she either chooses not to explain or is unable to.

Mason Canyon said...

Right now I'd have to say driving too. I always seems to be on the go and constantly picking up things for other people. I love just being home and not getting out, but the thought that I couldn't - don't like that.

Keep up your dancing. It sounds fun. I haven't danced in years.

Helen Ginger said...

Keep dancing until you absolutely have to quit. Even then, don't give up music you can dance to in your head.

I hope I never have to give up writing.

Straight From Hel

L. Diane Wolfe said...

All of it!
I'd hate not being able to get around. My livelihood depends on travel. And I love to explore and ride rollercoasters.
Some days my body likes to remind me - you may LOOK 30, but you're not!
I'll just keep fighting it!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I did ballet and tap for years; in fact I still have a pair of old, battered toe shoes. Keep dancing, Karen! If it gives you joy then it's a good thing.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Definitely keep dancing, as long as the legs will let you. Me? If I had to quit playing music that'd be awful tough. My hands are full of arthritis, yet I still play the guitar, even though it is physically painful. The thrill of making music while it's happening had me not even feeling it, and then when the pain comes afterward I just smile and take it ... small price to pay for the enjoyment, hmm?

The Old Silly

Ginny the Sock Monkey said...

Here is the funny thing... dancing should not be painful. You should not have to dance till you drop. Dancing should be energizing, and make you youthful, not tear apart your knees.

I practice a dance technique, that, when practiced correctly, is injury free. Maybe you should find some teachers or people who are willing to work with you to find a way for you to dance within your own limits, making dance joyful again, not painful. Maybe some pilates? Some yoga? I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know that my teacher always tells us that it's not worth losing your body in order to dance when you can have both your body and enjoy dancing with others.

Despite the fact that I am a dancer, and it is my profession of sorts, I think I could give that up. The one thing I could NOT give up is feeling and hearing music, and experiencing it with other people. So, yes, I could give up the technique, but not the joy of dance.

And, very cool that you started up again with folk dance. I love folk dance but don't do it nearly enough. I'm more of a tap dancer myself. But maybe I will try to find some contra or square dancing somewhere, that is definitely my favorite!

arlee bird said...

Driving and walking would be really difficult to give up because I like my mobility and I'm a gypsy at heart. Also, losing sight or hearing would be really bad.
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Anonymous said...

Karen, Gary Diggs is a fountain of knowledge on how to strengthen various parts of the body like knees and shoulders. Possibly if you do the right exercises you can get your knee to the point that it can stand dancing without pain. Ask him sometime. He helped me with exercises for my aching shoulder injured while trying to do a Polish lift. What I could not do without is my friends.

Karen Walker said...

Cyndi, you so don't have to worry about this for a long, long time. I'm so glad.

Joanne, Hopefully, both writing and music will be things you can keep doing for many many years to come.

Sharon, yeah, my dad refused to try listening to books as well as his eyesight deteriorated. Here's hoping we deal with the aging stuff way better.

Mason Canyon, hope you don't have to give up driving for a long time. And if you loved dancing, give it a go - it's so much fun!

Helen, I hope you keep writing as long as you heart desires - even if you have to talk into a thingie instead of type at some point.

Diane, you mean you're not 30? Hmmm, could have fooled me.

Elspeth, I can't believe how much we have in common, except I never acted on stage. Wanted to, though.

Marvin, you are an inspiration. Yes, the joy far outweights the pain that may result.

Ginny, thanks and welcome to this blog. I'm curious what form of dance you do that doesn't cause pain. I did NIA for a long time, but the undulating spine stuff did affect my lower back.

From one gypsy to another, I'm with you. Mobility loss will be tough, as would hearing and seeing. Ah, well, hope we'll never face those challenges.

Simona, that's a great idea. I'll talk to Gary. Thankfully, I don't think we'll ever have to do without our friends until they cross over.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I'd find it really hard to give up reading, writing or my almost daily walk in the park. I hope you're able keep on dancing, Karen.

Ann said...

Hi Karen, I say keep dancing. Just keep the ice pack at the ready.

Jemi Fraser said...

Dance! Even if you have to modify the style, Dance! When you can't, find joy in the music and the dance of others. Never give up the joy!

Things that would be difficult for me to give up? Reading, writing, music, teaching, baking... *sigh* and a lot more

Sybir St. John said...

I gave up writing for a long time. I'm so glad I've come back to it.