When I Was Your Age

snow

We all know that times have changed.  It is no longer normal, or sometimes even possible,  for kids to walk 10 miles to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways.  Yet we’ve all done it.  When our kids are whining about some insignificant first world problem that could mean the end of their world we’ve pulled out the “when I was your age” story.

Say perhaps the Japanese restaurant that we are ordering dinner from online is *gasp* out of ahi tuna.  We might say….when I was your age we ate whatever grandma put on the table and we liked it.

Or…..when we wanted to talk to our friends we went into the kitchen and called them on the phone.  That was attached to the wall.  And if they weren’t home we called back.  Because nobody had voice mail. And no, we couldn’t just text them.

Or….when we wanted to see a movie we took the bus to the theatre.  If the movie we wanted to see was no longer playing?  We were out of luck.  Yes, there was only one theatre, not eight.  No, Netflix was not a thing back then.

Or….when we had a research paper to write we had three options.  Got to the library and look up the book on the little cards in the file drawers.  Use the Encyclopedia Britannica that lined the walls of our dad’s study.  Find a Time magazine in the magazine rack that had something relevant in it.  Yes, that’s right.  Books.  Made of paper.

But then last weekend my daughter had the opportunity to dance in the West Vancouver Days celebration.  As we drove down the hill towards Ambleside I remembered when I was nine and had participated in the May Day Parade.  (The 1973 equivalent of West Van Days.). I found myself saying….. “when  I was your age”.  But this time it was different.

When I danced at Ambleside I wore a dress my mom had made for me.  Apparently in 1973 pink eyelet, high collars and long sleeves leg-o-mutton sleeves were all the rage.  I loved it!

may day dress
Olivia in my May Day dress

When we performed our special May Day for the May Queen and her court we did it on the grass and not on a stage.  The West Van Marching Band played our music and we had ribbons and everybody stopped and watched.

When the festivities were over we went for ice cream at Dairy Queen.  (Yes, they had Dairy Queen back then). Granny let me have a root beer float.

froyo
Olivia getting froyo after her dance

Yes, thing are different and sometime the “when I was your age” story gives our kids some perspective.  But it doesn’t have to be a “my life was harder than yours” kind of thing.  It can be a “we are both so lucky” kind of thing.

Sometimes the Best Thing in Life is watching your kids have the same amazing experiences you had.  Only different.

Advertisements

Miss Sam

dance-teacher

If you are very lucky in life, you get to combine two things that you are passionate about into a long term career that you can do anywhere in the world and can easily fit into an already busy family schedule.  This is my dream.  This is my friend Sam’s reality.

And the kicker is that it is such a beautiful thing that she does.  Sam is a dancer who took her love of dance and married it with a strong desire to teach and voila, she became a dance teacher.  Yup I’m going to admit this up front.  I am incredibly jealous.  If she wasn’t such a lovely person I could maybe hate her for having not one, but two, clear passions in her life.  And a supportive husband and three great kids.  Wow, maybe I should hate her.

Sam started dancing at a very young age in Scotland. She started with ballet then highland dancing then added tap and eventually jazz. She danced right through until she was 17 competing in highland dance and completing her RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) exams in ballet.  When she finished school she was thinking about becoming a teacher but she still found it hard to move away from dance and ended up doing a three year dance program in her home town of Edinburgh.

As we walked in the beautiful fall sunshine, with her sweet little dog Dougal, she told me how she trained in Edinburgh and eventually auditioned in London for a job dancing with the Princess Cruise Lines.  Although she still wanted to become a teacher, this opportunity was not one to turn down.  Being paid for doing what she loved and seeing the world at the same time.  Who wouldn’t?

FYI-none of these pictures are actually of Sam

cruise ship dancers

So this shy girl from Edinburg took a plane from London to LA and started training for work on the cruise ship line.  She worked for them for a number of years, eventually meeting her husband and making life long friends along the way.  Although she loved the work, when an opportunity came up back in Edinburgh for her to get her teaching degree she took it.  She was able to go to school during the winter and continue working on the ship in the summer.

I’m starting to think that this women may have a fairy godmother in her back pocket. And yes I’m still jealous.

For the next ten years she taught primary school, ran her own dance school and had three kids.  That would have continued had her husband’s job not brought her and her family here to Vancouver.  And that’s where we met.

Sam, or Miss Sam as the girls call her, is teaching my daughter ballet this year and I couldn’t be happier. When I asked my daughter how her first class with her was she said “Great, but Miss Sam is pretty strict”. Yes, I thought, that’s perfect.  I know that being a good dancer does not guarantee that you will be a good dance teacher but I sense that her approach will work well with my girl.

“Everybody, every child, learns differently and so the way you teach them needs to be different too”.

I came away thinking how incredibly lucky she was to have been able to take her loves and this great approach to teaching and have something she will be able to do for years.  But then, as it usually does, it came to me. Wow, she is a good teacher,because I just learnt something.  The Best Thing in Life is not to be jealous of somebody else’s life but to learn from them and admire their passion.

Breaking Habits

yoga drawing

I am a creature of habit. We all are really. We find something we like and we get into a groove. For some, it’s their morning coffee. Some have a regular exercise ritual. Others find a TV show and can’t get through the week without it. For the past ten months I have gone to yoga every Thursday morning at 9:30am. I love the class. It’s a great mix of relaxation, stretch and physicality. I know what to expect and it never fails to deliver. Yoga is a fairly new thing for me and my introduction was with mixed feelings.  But I have stuck with it and now look forward to my weekly fix of ohms.

My friend and I went for a relatively long and hilly trail run yesterday and my leg muscles were screaming for a good stretch. But it was now Friday. My usual class was yesterday. What to do, what to do? I really needed to stretch. “Suck it up sister and go to a class that is different and where you don’t know the instructor”. Was that really me talking? Me. The one that doesn’t always like to venture out before analyzing all options and thinking about it for a week or two? What the hell was going on in my head. Before I knew it I was logged in and registered for the class. I wondered what it would be like. Would I like it? Would it be close to what I was used to?

The class started and I settled in and closed my eyes. Sitting cross-legged isn’t very comfortable for me. It’s just not the way I roll. The instructor was quietly taking us out of our busy morning and into a quieter place. And then we kept going. And going. Breathing and breathing and breathing. My legs started to cramp and my mind started to wander. Why is she taking so long to get going, I wondered. Just as I got to the point where I was going to unravel (literally and figuratively) she asked us to open our eyes and change position. Thank god. But then she picked up a Hoberman Sphere. It’s a child toy that starts as a small ball and expands out into bigger ball. She was using it to demonstrate how to breathe through your practice. Cool, I thought. Well for the first 30 second it was cool. Three or four minutes later I was pretty sure I had the concept down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to visualize how your lungs and rib cage expand and contract, but I wanted to move on. I was used to moving on.

Hoberman Sphere

Once we started to move things progressed slowly. I like a class that moves along at a pretty good pace. The instructor was good though and careful to show us each move and explain it. I learnt a new way to move into downward dog. All the time she reminded us to breathe and think about the ball. Oh my god, not the ball again. The class wasn’t as challenging as I am used to but I tried to remind myself that yoga is all about doing things at your own pace. I’m no expert yogi, but I enjoy pushing myself a little bit in practice and I like to end up with a feeling of not only stretching but exertion at the end of it all. I enjoy feeling me muscles work and challenging myself in new poses. I wasn’t really getting that today.

Shavasana is the best part of yoga class for me. The relaxation after the exertion. The word Shava is Sanskrit for corpse. Meaning, I get to lie on my back, like a corpse, and let all the stuff clogging up my head float away. So, as we settled in with the lights turned down I was happy to just be. I had noticed a guitar case when I came into the studio and now I heard quiet guitar music. Very cool I thought. Nice touch. But then……the instructor started to sing. Loudly. She had an amazing voice and it was a lovely French song but all I could think of was. “Hey, this is my nap time and, while your singing is lovely, it’s a tad loud.”

shavasna

Will I go back to the class I went to this morning? Probably not. I’m sure that some loved it and got exactly what they wanted out of the class. I just wasn’t one of them. I, as a creature of habit, will go back to my regular Thursday morning class. It’s what I’m used to. However, The Best Thing in Life is listening to that voice in your head and trying new things once in a while and seeing what is out there. Whether you like it or not is up to you.