As children, we are often placed in the position of trying something brand new. As adults we are often fortunate enough to exert control over the agenda. Put another way, it's possible to spend a lot of your time doing things that you already know how to do.
That's why I'm still surprised that I've started doing Nia. The Nia Technique was created by Carlos and Debbie Rosas in the 70s. Nia combines dance, martial arts, and yoga. It stresses self-acceptance. You can read more about it here.
Although it is antithetical to the spirit of Nia, I must tell you this: I am terrible at it! But I do want to continue going to the classes. I want to build a practice of it and incorporate it into my life. We have a studio right in our neighborhood. It's a soulful place where everyone exudes the generosity of spirit that one hopes to find in this world but discovers eventually that it is exquisite and very rare.
Caption: The local Nia group did a demo at Lights in the Heights in December. The public was invited to join in. Pearl took them up on their offer.
This past weekend we went to the annual Lights in the Heights celebration in our neighborhood. They close off three streets so that only pedestrians, red wagons, roller bladers, and baby strollers have the right of way. The neighborhood is festooned with the light of candles and electric facsimiles all along the route. Singers, string quartets, bell choirs, and balalaika societies play from the front porches of the houses. Houstonians bake 10,000 cookies that are distributed freely. Lights in the Heights has an old-fashioned spin on fun that I always enjoy.
This year the NIA Moves group had a dance space and welcomed participants to join them. Pearl knows the co-founder Christie from playgroup and yoga, and she had a wonderful time dancing. At first she ran back and forth in front of the group, but eventually she started to pick a a few of those moves. Her happiness was luminous.
Pearl "graduated" from her beginner swim class yesterday. She started the "semester" (9 days ago!) filled with trepidation. There were tears and tremors, but by the last class, she did every single lesson. She even went down the "big big" slide by herself. In case you're wondering, Pearl says she's very "powed" of herself.
One day over winter break Pearl suddenly became interested in broken legs. She asked about the phenomenon of "breaking a leg" repeatedly. Maybe she was concerned that when someone broke a leg it actually fell off?
I reminded Pearl that her cousin Max had a broken foot at his Bar Mitzvah and it had healed. She nodded seriously but said nothing. That night she got a doctor's kit for Hanukkah. There were many *broken bones* that needed tending in our family that evening.
The next day I read that Arnold Schwarzenegger had broken his leg in a skiing accident. Pearl at 2.5 has never seen a Terminator movie, and she doesn't know what a governor is yet. But it just so happens that my cousin Herb works for the governor of California. So I showed Pearl the newspaper picture and explained that this man, Uncle Herb's boss, had broken his leg skiing. This provoked a whole barrage of new questions, such as why isn't the man's broken leg in the picture (it was a file photo of Schwarzenegger's head).
A few days later the whole topic of broken legs disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.
This week, like a boomerang, it returned. Pictures of "that man who broke his leg" were everywhere, and Pearl was curious all over again! We told her a little bit about the news story and showed her this New York Times photo of Schwarzenegger and Uncle Herb sitting immediately to the right of the (virtual) governor.
Even though Uncle Herb is not a Republican, he is the lead architect of California's proposed plan for Universal Healthcare. As you probably know, it was announced this week to great fanfare.
I said that I was going to write Herb a congratulations letter. Marcia asked if Pearl would like to draw a picture for her uncle. She did three drawings.
The first one (in black) is Arnold Schwarzenegger skiing.
The second one (blue) is the Governor with his leg in a cast.
The third one (purple) is Uncle Herb. You can see that the broken leg is still the heart of the story for this little artist. Those pictures are so vibrant.
And if Herb wants to make it to the top of Pearl's list, now he knows what he has to do!
Before Pearl was born, we used to go to the WNBA Houston Comets basketball games regularly. We saw friends there and got jazzed on sports. There was an emotional aspect to watching women's sports that I wouldn't have anticipated. As a child, the only women athletes I remember hearing about were the ones in the Olympics. Then there was Billie Jean King. She was inspiring to me. But really there were very few role models.
I find the opening minutes of each game especially moving. It always makes me think of the fact that nothing like this existed when I was growing up. Then I look around me, and I see all the families having fun, screaming for the players. It makes me hopeful the world really can improve.
Since our baby arrived, we've only been to a few games, but we still try to follow the team's progress. When Pearl's old enough, we'll definitely take her to a game.
Yesterday Pearl was exploring the many stashed-away items in our garage, and she discovered a shrunken basketball. It's her new favorite thing. So far she seems to be handling that ball pretty well. All I have to say is: Watch out, Sheryl Swoopes! Move over, Sue Bird. I think this kid's ready to rumble!