Moments of Glory

I felt the glorious tonight, and I realized something. There are few times that I feel more sensual, more alluring, more glorious than when I am being slow and slinky in belly dance. When I am being deliberate and controlled, powerful and serpentine, particularly with snake arms. There’s a power in the movement, as well as a power in the one performing it. There is a strength, endurance, and control that the movement requires to be flowing and mesmerizing. There is also a feeling that goes with it, a confidence, a fierceness. I saw it in the raising of my chin, the tilt of my head, the deep, warm light in my eyes (I even had a thought that they could rival Anne Boleyn’s famed “dark hooks for the soul”), and the curve of my lips. It started without, curled and coiled within, and then flowed outward again, suffusing my body, mind, and soul.

It’s been a long while since I danced. Almost a year. Being back in boot camp class–conditioning, drilling, practicing, perfecting–reminds me of the beauty, strength, and the power that I found in the dance. And in myself as I did it. As my calves are so poignantly reminding me after Egyptian “choo-choo” shimmy drills, this dance, like any other, takes power. It takes strong muscles for control and precision in the movements, as well as developed endurance and stamina to make it through open dances and choreography without dropping to the floor. And even though performing really isn’t my thing anymore, I still love the dance. I love the drills, I love the conditioning, I love learning to move my body in new, prepossessing ways. In ways that make me feel beautiful, charming, captivating, mesmerizing (our goal-word when I first started dancing).

I felt the glorious tonight, and I’m holding on to that sublimity.


Muncie Gras 2010. Photography by Rachel Penticuff.



A Long Way from Home – Day 1: Bumping My Happy

Back again in my childhood home. Haven’t even been here 24 hours and already someone in my family has commented that I look like I’ve gained weight. Not “You look nice” or “It’s good to see your face”. Heck, I would have even taken a “You look absolutely exhausted”  after twelve hours of traveling today. But, no, I get “But it looks like you’ve put on some weight.” Thanks. Really, thanks a lot. Sufficed it to say, coming back to my childhood home is almost never good for my self-esteem and, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to change. It’s always been this way. It doesn’t make it kind or right but it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. People who really have no business  commenting on others’ bodies (and often no leg to stand on) make snide comments that are really expected to be taken as a joke when, at best, they are assuming and dismissive and, at worst, can be emotionally devastating.

I have told the story of how a favorite dress (a gorgeous maroon and black cheongsam) was left to fade away into obscurity in my closet because someone thought it was their place and job to thoughtlessly inform me that I looked fat in it. What I will never forget is how confused he seemed when I told him not to speak to me anymore and to go away. As if he just couldn’t grasp why I was so upset. I know I spoke to that young man briefly at least one other time after that, when I was in grad school. This time, he expressed his surprise that I had a boyfriend but wouldn’t explain just why it was surprising. I will admit that I most definitely unfriended, deleted, and/or blocked him on all levels and platforms after that. That was an energy and presence that I just didn’t need.
Energy. I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s an almost perfect example. It’s very, very hard when you expend such energy on your life, on doing what’s good for your family, for your child, for your friends, and for yourself, only to have the only thing remarked on to be your physical weight. Your particular form’s relationships with gravity. Just as you pour your energy out, others pour their energy into you, and deciding what to do with it–to use it to make bricks to add to my path or to sit in it and let it suck me down further–is really hard sometimes. The struggle is so very real when my happy-with-myself gets bumped. I do my best to either reply nicely or not reply at all. This seems like a prime opportunity to practice grace, as well as salting my words and reminding myself of my glorious.

The Weight of Glorious

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a day when I lost that glorious feeling. When the judgements and body shaming of others felt as if it had been directed at me personally. I folded in on myself, wanted to make myself small and to hide. My sense of glorious faded like so much morning mist and I felt like all I wanted was to feel nothing, be no one. It happens and it’s hard.

But then there’s also the opposite of that. When the weight of glorious crowns your head and sits on your being and you feel like you could conquer the world, that you could change the course of history with one strong foot set upon its pages. Those mornings where I wake with a profound sense of my own beauty; those evenings when I step from the shower and find that woman in the mirror positively breathtaking. Those days when I heard the beauty thrum in my voice and I open up my throat and sing with abandon.

That weight of glorious can be utterly breath-stealing. Like “how-did-I-get-here-and-who-gave-me-the-makeover-I-look-damn-wonderful” breath-stealing. I’ve had the weight of glorious knock the air out of my lungs and cause me to stare at my reflection as if it were a person I had never seen before in my life but had instantly fallen head over heels for.

Believe me. It does happen. It happens, and it’s awesome! The weight of your glorious is not a burden; it’s there to be enjoyed, reveled in, and channeled. Pay attention to the next time you feel that weight settle on your spirit. That sense of being glorious. When you look in the mirror and admit you’re stunning, when you finish that project and you know it’s excellent work, when you belt out that tune and feel your joy rise up with it, when someone just stops and stares at you like they have never seen before in their life but have instantly fallen head over heels for you. That moment when all you can do is catch your reflection and smile, even if you’re not entirely sure why, that’s it: that’s your glorious.