Save the last dance for me…

This song has a special relevance for me.  I always believed I should’ve been born 20 years before I was born.  I was hatched in 1969.  Yup…quite a crazy year…but being a newborn, it had no relevance for me.  I have always LOVED music from the 50’s and the 60’s.  Actually I have loved music from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s…well you get the idea.  Being raised in a European family, we learned to dance.  We learned to polka and waltz.  We did the “heritage/folkore” dancing so we had the dancing bug early on.  Now, imagine my lucky stars when I met Wiseguy and HE was also a dance fanatic!  This was not disco dance machine stuff…this was Polka at it’s best.  Really?  Really Maryann?  Oh yes!

I am sure you have watched…wait a minute…you probably haven’t.  There used to be an old tv show with accordion music where someone played “Roll out the barrel”.   This is not the same.  Wiseguy and I are all about the super circular speed.  We are velocitous (?) spheres spinning around the dance floor.  We are twirling around without a care in the world.  We dance, we spin, we have eyes only for each other…unless we might collide with other couples.  Very rarely.  The dance floors of today, with bodies only gyrating in one spot…booooooring!  Dancing is all about moving around the dance floor and just enjoying life.  Super sweaty time but so much fun!  Why do I mention this?  I had a recall moment of when I was going to leave hubby for three weeks to hang out with my dad in Europe.  It was the first time we would be apart for this long and we were at a fantabulous (my favourite made-up compound word of fantastic and fabulous…feel free to use it) family wedding.  The kiddies were with us and we were having fun, but also counting down the time to when we would be apart.

Songs and song meanings are very integral in our lives.  I am sure they are part of your life as well.  There are songs that are triggers.  They are reminders of events in your life.  As I mentioned, Wiseguy is a big song guy.  More 70s rock than anything (ugh), but then I am the yang to his yin with my love of pop music.  So imagine me and Wiseguy after two years of marriage, with kidlets in tow, knowing that I had to be at the airport by 2 a.m. to catch my flight to Europe.  Imagine my surprise when I heard one of my absolute favourite songs:  Save the last dance for me.   Initially this was a “Drifters” song, but then Michael Buble sang it…a bit more up-tempo.  Kind of more polka-meets-rhumba.  The last song of the night.  Wiseguy guided me to the dance floor.  Little did we know that our “Princess” (9 yrs old) was taking pictures of us the whole time.

Wiseguy and I have danced at many occasions (weddings, banquets, birthdays, etc.).  Wiseguy’s only rule is:  We are the first on the floor to start the dancing and the last to leave the floor.  We have survived waltzes, polkas, two-steps.  We have done the chicken dance and gagnam style and in the old days we did the YMCA. …ugh to these favourites.  We are glad that some songs have left the DJ list forever.  I now bring you back to this song of mine:  “Save the Last Dance” by The Drifters.  The songs they did have been remade over and over again because they are classics and still apply to every day and every time.  They were and are wonderful!

So, here we were, hubby and I, dancing as the wedding was winding down.  Many of the guests had already left.  No surprise.  It was 2 am.  They had music in the background as the band was starting to pack up.  Suddenly, I heard Michael Buble start singing, “Save the Last Dance”. I looked at my husband.  He looked at me.  We went to the dance floor.  I had removed my high-heeled shoes.  I, 5’5″ and he, 6’4″.   We began to dance.  The floor was ours.  We both knew I was leaving in about 6 hours and we wanted to enjoy our last night (morning) together.  Princess took pictures of us.  We didn’t know until we developed the film in our camera (yup…old day stuff).  Each picture shows how we moved with each other, silently, in the moment.  Joyous.

I do love many, many songs. There are songs to relax to.  There are songs to exercise to.  There are empowering songs.  Songs are here to feed us inspiration.  The reason why I love this particular song (Save the Last Dance) is two-fold:  1)  The beat is incredible and 2) The lyrics are all about love and trust.  Go flirt.  Go have fun.  Go enjoy your night.  I know you will come back to me and come home with me.  Why?  Because we are meant to be together.

Maybe to some it sounds like a stalker situation, but I find this song to be supportive of  a healthy relationships.  You don’t have to be glued to each other.  You can talk to other people.  You can dance with other people.  Why?  In the end, we both know that we love each other and will always end up in each other’s loving arms.  Trust, faith, love.  The bestest (my made up word that should be in the dictionary) kind of relationship.

Moral of the story:  DANCE!

Not “dance like no one’s watching” because everyone will be watching, but who cares?  Just DANCE!  Feel that music in your body.  Feel the buoyancy in your body!  Move across that floor and just live!  Your body is full of electricity and vibrations and it knows that dancing feel awesome!  And…as a small favour…Save the last dance for me.  XOXO.

 

 

 

‘Cause I gotta have “Faith”…

Remember when I was telling you all about the rain drizzle weeks I lived through?  I know, I know “Stop talking about it already!!”  I promise, this is the last time I shall refer to it (this week anyway).  I bring it up because during those weeks I found that people had different coping mechanisms to deal with their SAD.  There was binge watching tv.  Extra snacking whilst watching tv.  Going out to eat instead of cooking.  (Ok, a lot of food references).  Going to the gym to exercise.  Movie night.  Those are just a few ways that folks were distracting themselves.  One that I did not mention, which I know makes a big difference and might be obvious is:  MUSIC!

Has anyone ever asked you, “Who is your favourite band or singer?”  Perhaps they have inquired about your favourite song.  In my younger years, while hanging out at THE bar after work, we used to play the Island game.  “If you were stuck on a deserted island, which album would you want with you?”  Good question!  This was not a judgemental question.  It actually led to a lot of great conversation about the type of music your friends liked and why.  Island living was basically forever so what could you tolerate for that length of time.

During my SAD time, I actually did turn to music.  I will be honest with regards to my listening choices.  In order to escape reality, my favourite thing to listen to is actually stories.  I subscribe to an old time radio show where stories from the 1930s up to the 1955s exist.  I love hearing tales and imagining the scenes in my mind.  It’s a beautiful distraction and my mind is fantastic at creating the scenes.  However, sometimes when I need to get into a better mood it is music that lifts my spirits.  I love upbeat music.  In most cases it is not even about the lyrics.  It’s about the beat.  I need a great hardcore thump-thump beat and there are so many musicians and/or singers that provide this for me.  So, when I hit my slump and I need a boost I turn to my recorded/downloaded tunes and dance away in my beloved kitchen.

Music has so many dimensions.  I used to play an instrument (looked like a mandolin, but it was a tambura).  I also sang in the church choir…from pre-pubescence to adulthood.  Music and song are a strong part of my life.  Listening to music on the AM radio was also a life changing experience for me.  When I finally got my own radio, it made me feel like I was friends with kids at school.  I was the outcast.  Being able to identify with the girls about music on the radio and the “rad(ical)” DJs helped with my un-coolness.  The AM radio phase became the FM phase (which I was not privy to), but music was still a huge part of my life.

Not only was I a member of the church choir, but I was privileged in that my parents let me quit the musical sect of Croatian culture (my tambura…prima) and let me join the dancing sect.  I LOVED (and still LOVE) dancing.  I was beyond grateful for this opportunity.  I sang well.  I played…mediocre.  Dancing…I was born for this!

I started off in the junior group because I had never done it before.  I did great!  I loved it!  I was absorbing everything so quickly that within a year I got to do stuff that I had only dreamt of doing.  I loved my group.  I loved our performances.  I appreciated everyone and everything that led me here.  I was enjoying living my life.  Even better…we got to go back to the “homeland” to perform in several cities there.  Us…from Canada…going to Europe. Pack your bags and your costumes and away we went.

Now, I know I have focused a lot on our Canadian dance group.  We were like a mini family. That was the greatest thing.  Not only were we traveling abroad, but we did have many practices to ensure our professionalism.  We had strict curfews.  Most importantly we were friends watching each other’s backs.  This was a trip that not only inspired us to do our best, but it created new friendships and several friendships led to marriages.  Quite the trip right?  The reason I bring this up is because there was one song that we, as a group, listened to over and over and over and over again in the travel bus.  It became our theme song.  It was a song that most did not know the words to except for one word.  When the tape deck (yes…it was a radio/tape recorder) came to that section of the song, everyone yelled it out in excuberance and happy defiance.  It became the anthem of our dance tour.

Thank you, George Michael, for the song that will always bring fond memories back into my life.  Your passing made me think about my life and how it would effect others.  If you can hear me, I would like you to know that your song “Faith” became a memorable part of our lives and perhaps the lives and memories of many others.  When we yelled out “BABY!” we all broke out laughing at our synchronicity.   You were special and so was your song.  If I were on a desert island, my go-to song for partying would be…

Paul Simon’s:  Me and Julio!

Sorry, not being mean, but truthful.  However our favourite line that we screamed and yelled out on our bus over and over again:  “BABY!”  from your (George Michael) song, “I gotta have faith” would lead me believe that I would be rescued.

P.S.  GM…you were so gifted.   You shared that musical talent with the world even though many did not understand you.  Thank you for pursuing your dream.  You were and are special in my life and the lives of many.  We truly believe that our lives will be great because we “gotta have faith.”

It takes a village…

Wiseguy was a very lucky man today.  No…a VERY lucky grandfather today.  He got to babysit…nope….entertain…little Kennie.  Believe me….she played games with him as much as he played games with her.  A battle of wits.  Entertaining?  Yes.  Tiring?  Absolutely.

Growing up, my mother always told me that she felt bad because I didn’t have grandparents or great grandparents.  “I have to be your mother, grandmother, great grandmother, best friend.”  That never made sense to me.  I thought she was just rambling…you know…the way mothers always do, and it never made sense.

Well, becoming an aunt was a learning experience.  I remember talking to my first nephew and niece (only 17 months apart) and trying to impart words of wisdom without having them burst into tears.  Then later, I became a stepmother.  Mother might have been easier, don’t know, but stepmother, to tweens and teens, not easy either.  Lots of “behind the door” tears because I couldn’t show hurt or failure.  I lived and survived it and learned a lot from that experience. 

Now, we’re at the fun part of  life.  Becoming a grandma at 42.  Although surprising, it was AWESOME!  I still have energy to keep up with the wee wonder-girl!  Our Kennie (who will be 2 years old at the end of august) is just hilarious.  Her two-syllable vocabulary and her imitations are amazing and fun and entertaining and adorable.  You can see how much time her mom spends with her.  She teaches her many things from singing to counting (by the way…counting starts like this..you say “one” and she continues with “two” …there is no “one” in her vocab.  Anyway, toddlers are fun.  Entertaining, fun, and…extremely tiring.

So, when Wiseguy told me that he got to babysit (ahem…hang out with) little Kennie, I was jealous…in a happy way.  It’s nice for him to have fun play time with little Kennie. 

Honestly, kids have an amazing view of the world and what is determined as “fun”.  Grandpa was brilliant.  He decided that it was time to water the flowers in the backyard.  “Kennie do.”  Yup, the hose, full of water, was initially aimed at watering the flowers.  Then it became a fountain, spraying on Kennie and the puppies and everywhere BUT the flowers.  Fun? Totally!  What else did the dynamic duo do? 

They ran around the house.  They drew pictures.  They ate fruit.  They played with the “Gogs” (aka dogs).  They had  lunch.  Then grandma came home at lunch and luckily got to put little Kennie down for a nap.  Nothing like watching a wee child sleep in peace.  Those little breaths in and out and that peaceful look on their face.  Absolute comfort and happiness.

After work, Grandma came home to the welcoming, happy face of wee Kennie and “come”…time to play.  We forget to play.  We adults play, but sadly, it’s usually a play to win situation.  Grandma just had to play with Kennie by dancing.  A little boogie woogie and giggling with mommy.  Then I had Kennie help set the table because “Kennie do” was all I heard.

Grandpa Wiseguy was happy.  He got to have fun playing games with the pre-two year old all day.  She had a two hour nap.  She scarfed down lunch.  She gave lots of hugs and held his hand and helped water the flowers and played drums and just gabbed and laughed and played with grandpa. 

After Princess and Little Kennie went home after dinner, I got a lovely text message “out like a lightbulb”.  I was so happy that Kennie had a  wonderful day with both grandpa and great-grandpa.  I texted back:  Grandpa out too.

Sweet dreams Grandpa.  You done good.

(Just a small note:   I have heard this phrase many times before, but in case you haven’t…it takes a village to raise a child.  The more the merrier.  All hands on deck.  Lots of supervision, lots of love, and lots of different views from different generations.  Yes, it does take a loving village to raise a child.)

Let me entertain you

Going to the movies as a kid was something that I dreamt of doing.  My parents weren’t movie goers.  Why go to the movies when we had a fine black and white television set that worked just fine?  I tried to explain the excitement of seeing a picture on the big screen.  They informed me that they had gone to the movies once.  It was too long to sit through on uncomfortable seats.  It was a double feature.  It was The Ten Commandments.  Honest, I can’t make this stuff up.

The first movie I got to see was “Grease”.  I was nine years old.  The music was good, but I didn’t really understand the whole boy/girl drama.  The theatre was packed so the only seats left were the very front row.  My neck hurt afterward and the sight of seeing such big heads on-screen made it difficult for me to walk among the normal headed people after the movie.  Did I complain to my parents about it?  Heck no.  That would mean no more movie going.

Over the years I had gone to the movies regularly.  When I started attending University I met new friends.  They talked about driving into downtown Toronto to see live shows.  They loved the show.  They would make a whole evening of it.  They would get all dressed up.  They would start with dinner at a restaurant and then the show afterward.  The theatre, where real live people were on a stage performing.  I had always wondered what it would be like to go to one of the shows.  I do recall the price was really high and my meager student budget didn’t have room for this luxury.  So, I lived vicariously through my friends as they told me about the shows they saw.

One day my sister-in-law called and asked if we wanted to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  I looked at Wiseguy with those pleading “just this one time” eyes.  (Note:  Wiseguy and I have never even been to a movie theatre together.  He is very tall and is long leggedy and you just can’t curl up those legs to sit comfortably in the narrow aisles.)   Those older theatres don’t have much leg room either, but those pleading eyes of mine did the trick.  Either that or I just looked soooo pathetic that he didn’t want to have to deal with me skulking around if he said no.  So, off to the theatre!

We dressed up.  We went out for dinner.  We went to the theatre!  I was bursting with excitement.  I was like a kid going to the amusement park for the first time.  I kept whipping my head around to drink in my surroundings.  The outside of the building was brick.  The inside was dark cherry wood with red velvety seats.  Large red curtains bracketed the stage.  There were balconies, just like in the movies…you know, like Pretty Woman when she goes to the opera.  Yes, I was over excited and overwhelmed and beyond happy to be there.  Then, the little ding ding, to tell everyone to have a seat as the show was about the begin.  I held my breath with anticipation.

The singing was so intense that I had goosebumps.  The costumes were vibrant.  The dancers were remarkable.  Even better, Donny Osmond, my childhood crush, was Joseph.  Awesome!  It was Beautiful!  It was Amazing!  Now I totally understood why my friends loved going to the theatre.  Such a different experience from the movie theatre.

Last year I got a pamphlet from our local performing arts centre.  They had an early bird special for a 5 show package.  I wanted to go.  I had to go.  I decided that it was time for me to treat myself.  Interestingly enough, the price for the tickets was quite reasonable.  About $53.00 a show.  Not bad, considering that movie theatre tickets with popcorn and drink comes out to almost $30.00.  Wiseguy didn’t want to sit in a squishy seating place, but he told me to go for it and enjoy.  Even better, he would drive me to and from each show.  Win win for me!  So I got to see Cats and Riverdance and My Fair Lady and Mama Mia.  One more show to go:  Young Frankenstein.  I am hooked on musicals!  I loved every show.  I even got first balcony seating to fulfill that dream as well.

My bucket list has quite a mish-mash of dreams and wishes.  Some days I add to the list.  Some days, I am very happy to be able to scratch some things off my list.

List Item:  go to fancy old theatre and enjoy the live show

Dance like no one’s watching

I watch little Kennie dancing to music and can’t help but laugh.  It’s too cute!  It’s funny!  No matter how much WE laugh she keeps right on creating her own dance moves.  There is arm swinging and some jumping and quickie deep knee bends.  Then there is the stick out your butt move and the rhythmic clapping.   Not to mention the swaying and the laying down and getting back up.  Yup, we laugh.  Really good belly laughs.  Does this make her stop doing what she’s doing or make her run away?  Heavens no!  She is there to dance and have a great time.  Who cares what anyone else thinks?

When did everyone else’s opinion become the most important to us?  When did we forget that we have to love ourselves first.  We are who we are and by loving ourselves we can only shine brighter in anything we do.

I am constantly saying that I can’t draw.  I look at the pictures and sketches that The Artist draws and I am amazed.  I would LOVE to be able to quickly jot down lines and make a beautiful finished product.  I recall my early early sketches.  Drawing family was always the best.  You remember, the stick people wearing pants and skirts.  The curly hair.  There was always a big round sun and birds…well, more like Ms flying around, but we knew they were birds.  And we could draw a million pictures a day and they were ALL the best.  Not one was bad.  All the people in the picture were smiling too.  Yes, everyone was happy and my picture showed it.  When did my drawings go from “Way to Go!” to “Oh No“?

Same thing with telling jokes or making music or singing loudly or boogie woogie dancing.  When we were little we could do anything and everything.  We were invincible!  School started and suddenly it seemed that we were “very good” at some things but at other things we “needed improvement”.  I am not saying the school system is bad or that parents mean to belittle their children.  It was all done to make sure that we would be protected.  Here is the concept:  they will show you your shortcomings so that you won’t embarass yourself and no one will laugh at you and this way you won’t have your feelings hurt.  It’s ok that they, the ones who love you, tell you that you aren’t good enough because they love you.  Makes sense right? 

It never really made sense to me.  What does it matter who actually says it as it will hurt your feelings no matter who says it.  That is, it will hurt you if you are constantly relying on others’ opinions of yourself.  What if we told children and friends and family only about all the good stuff.  Give them that daily boost.  Make them see how wonderful they are.   Think how much nicer our world would be if we consciously decided everyday that we were the best and we could do anything.  You would be happy all day!  

This year I decided that it was time to prove to myself (not anyone else) that I could do the things that I had been moulded into believing that I could not.  It started quite innocently when The Baker came over (thankfully) to help me bake goodies for my niece’s bridal shower.  It is tradition for family (and friends) to bring sweet treats and I was tempted to go to the local coffee shop and pre-order a whack of donut holes that I could stick with toothpicks on a foam pillar.  Yup, if nothing else, I would get bonus points for creativity.  The Baker jumped in and volunteered her time and baking expertise to make me look like a star.  We baked chocolate cupcakes.  We created yummy frostings (one cream cheese and one peanut butter).  We continued with fruit tarts.  Yes, I was nervous.  Yes, I kept saying “no no..you’re the baker, I’ll just help”.  Nope, she would have none of it.  We baked, we frosted, we made simple syrup for the tarts.  Some attempts didn’t work out and others turned out fantastic.  Whose goodies looked great the next day at the shower?  Yup, mine sure did! 

What I realized most was that, yes, it was nice for everyone to oooohhh and aaahhh at the dessert masterpieces, but I just felt so proud and good inside because of what I had accomplished.  I had baked!  Me!  Me the one who tells everyone I have ice cream on hand for dessert because I don’t bake.   Thanks to The Baker for pushing me.  Sometimes a kick in the pants is a good thing.  She never doubted me so why did I?

This year I am going to continue my journey into bakingdom.  From there I am going to sit with The Artist so that she can give me some pointers on how to move beyond my awesome stick people drawings.  I also have all these neato machines needed for scrapbooking (cricut and expressions…amazing stuff) and will be making my own cards.  The Artist made elegant “save the date” cards for her wedding.  Absolutely beautiful.  So I will definitely be telling myself that I CAN DO IT and I will forget about what I had heard for so many years about how I couldn’t do something.

With every new venture I will enjoy the learning and all the hiccups and hardships that come with it.  Most importantly, when someone decides to point out that something doesn’t look nice or I did it wrong, it really won’t matter because I have almost finished learning Kennie’s flamboyant dance moves.  Dance on in life like no one’s watching and be happy!