Beth still fighting…….25th February 2017

As I type this blog I am trying desperately not to be tearful or emotional.  But try as I do the tears will not stop.  My mother, Beth, is fighting the final battle for her life. The damage to her heart is too great and she cannot recover from her stay in ICU. I have never felt so alone and isolated even though there are the same remarkable people who enquire and care and pray.  And still it rains…and the clouds cover every glimmer of sunlight …a little sunlight that will make this terrible heaviness of spirit abate…even for just a little while.
I am praying for this one small miracle that her Father in Heaven to whom she was always so devoted and whom she served in obedience all her life will be merciful towards her. For a healing and a little more time.  Her mind is in terrible anguish and she said to me that she believes she might have Alzheimer’s or the beginning of it.
The hours merge into long episodes of thought and contemplation, prayer and desperation. 

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21st February 2017 and still it Rains….for hours

What small glimmer of hope made me think that this was going  to be a different year?  This evening….night …for the hours move on as I write with a very heavy heart and an exhausted spirit.  Since last Tuesday we have been in ‘dire straits’.  First NooNoo with Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis.  It was a week of constant prayer and endurance for my little dog and for us here at home.  Since Tuesday she was ill.  This Tuesday sees Beth in ICU ….and the rain and emotional stress does not stop or even abate a while.  I have been praying for us….for it is only prayer now that can help this situation and Beth is in God’s merciful hands. I believe one should stop dividing time into years but rather divide the time into phases…phases for life and life’s challenges.
The rain is beginning to be destructive and not redemptive….and that is a sad reality.

The passing of 2016

From way back, even when I was very young and I tried to imagine where I would be in 2016, who I would be and how it would be I knew …I just knew…that 2016 was going to be a watershed year in my life as a woman, a person and a teacher.  I knew that from here on inTime would be measured before 2016 and then after.  It was an unbelievably hard year for me.  I had blessings which cushioned the blows and the insecurities.  I had my mother to help me through the dark hours of extreme anxiety and early morning panic attacks and I ALWAYS had my NooNoo at my side.   My love for them knows no boundaries….its an infinite emotion.
I learnt about ‘inner core’ things and I watched how clever people played manipulative games.  I witnessed how far a mother will go to gratify the expectations of her child.  And I saw the debris left behind by emotional human conflict.  These very real situations made me once more adhere more strongly than ever to the principle I often use….there is no absolute wrong or right…there is only a difference of opinion.   Wrong or right walks hand in hand with moral and religious conviction.  Moral and religious conviction is fashioned and formed by years of training as a young person.  Who is to ‘blame’  or ‘praised’ for the adults people ultimately become?  Who is definitely right or definitely wrong?  While witnessing as I did some of these conflictive situations and watching the effect on the ‘victims’ I realised more than ever before what a precious thing Peace is.  Peace in all facets of life.  I saw how important it was for a child to be able to go to school in a sense of peace…not afraid of conflict. I realised what a priceless gift it was for the parent.  Peace became my ultimate goal week after week.   My spirit was stilled when I could listen to someone speak in positive directions of their daily lives.  I also saw how very strong some young children are and how deep their faith is.  I was humbled, for in their simplicity they taught me many things. 

I am grateful to my Creator for the  continued companionship and life of Beth (my mom). She remains my best friend, my worst critic and my strongest ally in all creative ventures.  Those who know me well know how terrified I am by the endless Gauteng summer afternoon storms.  This December it was bearable and that is only through the Creators grace.  When I see the storm clouds gather I become frozen with fear and much aspirin is taken to ensure a  smooth heart beat! …or at best a rhythmic one!
The passing of time is always to be mourned..even in a small way…Time is not something we can retrieve….not ever. I hope 2017 brings to everyone more stability within. More spirituality. Less violence especially within the family circle.  More kindness towards animals and a better weather pattern.  I am saddened for the loss of people I thought had more kindness within their persona….it hurt terribly in the beginning but it doesn’t matter anymore. We are in His merciful hands….may there be compassion from the Great Creator and judge….for He sees our hearts and most of all…our motives.

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Thankyou to many.

The Magnificat

The Magnificat never really captured my attention.  I knew it was a verse of praise of Mary, mother of Christ and although one was often exposed to the prayer it never really touched my inner being.  Prayer and dialogue with the Creator has always been with me. Even though I strayed from my belief and went through a total loss of faith at 27years of age….I never forgot the dialogue to the Higher Source.  It used to be that I prayed fervently for safety, health and above all protection against the dark forces.  I strayed away from conventional practice’s relating to Catholiscm and sought other avenues.  I learnt a tremendous amount of truths.  There were days, weeks and months in which it felt as though I  was drifting in a desert which had a beginning but certainly no end. The Psalms brought me back…no one did for me what the Psalms did. 
During the past few years I have watched and seen many changes. I experience stress at a level I thought was never possible and always I prayed… help me endure.  But these days…..these days I pray for safety from relentless weather.  It is no exaggeration when I put down these thoughts and emotions that the weather is adversely affecting our lives.  Each day there is a threat of afternoon thunder showers, downpours and impossible wind. I  keep watching the. Sky and I listen for the birds.  If they become suddenly silent you know you are in for a humdinger.
My soul  glorifies  the  Lord,   my spirit  rejoices  in  God,  my  Saviour. He  looks  on  his  servant  in  her  lowliness;   henceforth  all  ages  will  call  me  blessed. The  Almighty  works  marvels  for  me.   Holy  his  name! His  mercy  is  from  age  to  age,   on  those  who  fear  him. He  puts  forth  his  arm  in  strength   and  scatters  the  proud-hearted. He  casts  the  mighty  from  their  thrones   and  raises  the  lowly. He  fills  the  starving  with  good  things,   sends  the  rich  away  empty. He  protects  Israel,  his  servant,   remembering  his  mercy, the  mercy  promised  to  our  fathers,   to  Abraham  and  his  sons  for  ever.                                                                                                                                                     Luke  1:  46-55
Of course I can never presume to be called blessed but the line  ‘The Almighy has done good  things for me…and Holy is His name ‘ is key to coping with reality. The endless Gauteng summer storms.  The fear of hail…the devastation it  can cause.  Each night the evening TV news carries depressing stories of devastation, loss of homes etc.  I silently pray to God for protection and above all Mercy.  I am so tired I no longer function as I should and each day remains a blessing when there hasn’t been the violent weather.  In the solitude of my heart I hear the opening lines of Mary’s Magnificat….and I remember the prayer.

7th October…feast of the Holy Rosary.

I am the product of a generation of Catholics not well educated in the rules of ‘mother church’. By today’s standards my generation knows absolutely nothing of the inner workings of the Church and its doctrinal faith.  Ours was a totally watered down catechism. The late sixties and seventies were decades in which potential catholics were not well informed.  It had a lasting effect on all.  When sleep does not come and pain invades the body I listen to EWTN.  All those Protestant converts who invariably became Catholic Apologetics….the mind boggles and sometimes its too much.  But since my earliest memory nuns, rosaries,crucifixes, old buildings with arches and grottos were a very firm part of my life.  As Life progresses and people move in and out of ones life we loose the things that formed the foundation of life.  Now after even more decades I have begun to research the purpose and meaning of the Rosary.  I struggle with the doctrinal precepts of the Church and I can’t come to terms with such issues as trans substantiation.  We never trained the soul in what is now being ‘pushed’ very hard by the Church.  However it is reputed that Mary gave sixteen promises for those who say the Rosary.  Audio Rosaries are very helpful.  Radio Veritas, the local Catholic station in South Africa have the Rosary on their program each morning but after a few years of listening to it it becomes arduous and totally depressing.  Still…we try to plough on.  
I have studied many doctrinal faiths and I remain a dedicated to the precepts of Buddhism.  But there is one truth that cannot be changed….once a catholic always a catholic (even if one is collapsed).
Pope Francis is becoming very risqué with his opinions but I guess that is all right…he has the power.

22nd Sept. RIP…Rhona Rorick.

Today marks a very special day.  Today is the birthday of a beloved aunt (to me) and sister to my mother. We remember Rhona Rorick with love and respect.  She was a rare person and she died too soon.  My mother Elizabeth misses her desperately.  Aunt Rhona, for whom I was named, had an innate wisdom that could never be easily defined.  She just knew things and just when one thought one knew about her thoughts and directions….one realised one didn’t. An enigma at best.
We hope she is at peace and from wherever her spirit resides she is aware of our love for her. May she always know we have strived to build the bridges of communication stronger than before.  My mother, Elizabeth,is the last surviving member of the family her parents had.  Now as my mother approaches her 88th birthday she remembers and speaks of many things.  It is these memories that should live on in the younger generation….but diversity is a hindrance.
Today is also World Alzheimer’s day…..may all those locked in this anguished condition be treated with kindness and hope…hope that there will be a cure soon. 

Resurrection

It was an enforced Coventry that I imposed upon myself.  There were very strong and valid reasons but oh! how I missed writing the words and weaving the reality. This was not as a result of my own doing….I arrived at ‘Coventry’ through the concepts and precepts of others and so it was wiser – a truly Buddhist gesture – to slip into the quiet and sojourn there for a while.  Did I heal?  Yes….there was a healing process fought against at first because I could not accept ….but once the struggle that my soul felt compelled to exercise, once the flailing arms and angry inner words passed….there was a stillness.  It was like accepting the death of something I once loved with all I ever had. It was a knowing that nothing will be the same as it was….nothing will be as open and honest ….it was gone.  Replaced by…?…? I accept that certain things will never be the same and I have learnt. To what depth my learning? I wish that I could bare my soul and show the scars….they have healed and I have become, I believe, stronger.  I mourn many things….I mourn that my father QM left me with so many hurtful memories. I mourn that I cannot recall ever once calling him ‘father’. I mourn that I could never have told him how badly wounded I was as a child, an adolescent and adult because of his fierce words and temper. I mourn that I could not tell him that material wealth was not a balm for emotional pain.  I still see evidence of his presence at my home and I have worked ceaselessly over the last three years to set his spirit and mine free from the bonds that bound us.  For days and weeks it goes well with not a thing or memory….and then something during the day will trigger an emotion and I have the anxious dreams.  I pray…in my own concepts of prayer….that he is at peace….that his own angry and damaged spirit is healed by the Great Physician of Life who fashions our souls.  I want that for him. In death I want us to be at peace.
This week sees another exam session.  I look back on the months of preparation for these first ever ‘Performance Awards’ and I know I could not have tried harder with the students.  As a teacher I struggled with absenteeism, winter illnesses and conflicting issues within the students psyche.  I could not make the deadline of sewing 16 new Spanish skirts…I fell short with 4.  I had to upgrade the ballet skirts since the students all grew….this I managed. All is as ready as I could do on my own.  My students are participating in the local RACA eisteddfod which happens each year and while I prepare those who wish to participate in Drama I nevertheless once again learn and assess as I listen to opinions of results and concepts of adjudications…..why do I feel fear?
This is a coming week of enforced silence, control and endurance. There is nothing more that I can do….but there is always more that needs to be accepted and endured.  ‘Like a lamb to the slaughter…with no voice’.
The Truth to tell? ….since Truth is reputed to set one free?….I am terribly tired of so many realities I can’t change within my profession.  It’s hurting bad. 
I have discovered a writer of children’s stories called Edit Maud Nesbitt….I cannot believe the brilliance of this woman’s writing.  I have shared her stories with the Drama students by giving them the CD of some of them.  When one needs escape or quiet repose there are always the words that rush like a waterfall over one and washes away all fears.

17th June. For Cara,Monique, Nadia, Chante and Nelmarie.

I write this is short blog early Saturday morning of the 18th June.  It was for us a very difficult and emotionally stressful week.   As a teacher it upset me greatly and this new sense of discord permeated my days. Who is ever right in these kinds of situations???  But my DRAMA students of yesterday gave me a precious and therefore healing hour and a half.  They are not insensitive to the underlying disappointment of realities within my demeanour.  Each one who attended the class gave moments of true inspiration.
Cara…..how beautifully you recited the Afrikaans poem ‘Kersfees Brief’.  You touched my heart. This came from the core of your being and I felt the terminally ill child ask for more time to set things right for those she loves before she reaches her own finality.   Only one other student has had the ability to move an audience in such a way….Chené with her poem ‘Ballade van ‘n straatkind’.  Your reading of ”n rokkie beter as die een’…just the  right amount of innuendo and verbal nuances.  Your rendition of ‘Tandpyn’….near brillant transition of teachers and students voices. I swear for a few moments I also had pain!!!! Cara..you have found your niche and hopefully your future.

Monique…..your rendition of the poem ‘Mama’….I was moved.  Your understanding and questioning of the key issue in the poem was touching without being emotional.  You achieved the same with ‘Kersfees Brief’. While Cara’s rendition of the poem was heartbreaking yours had courage …sincerity….that the child accepted her Fate.  You are reading a very difficult English prose…and you are achieving it with aplomb. Your reading of ‘Jakkals’…..full of light repartee and humour. I see your Jakkals’ (wolf)  dressed in a natty blue check outfit while Nadia’s  wolf is robust and probably without clothes at all!!!

Nadia…oh! No one will ever be able to say ‘Loose Tooth’ as you do….and your handling of the poem ‘Mr nobody’ which is difficult at best and in form and style a bit archaic…but you have it nailed down to perfection.  ‘Jakkals’ what smooth transition of the voice with the characters in the piece….I could clearly see the scene. ‘Greedy King’… That king is fortunate that he did not meet you at the end of the story! This story is from African folklore and you handle it with true African spirit…fortitude and no nonsense.!!!Just as you handle the poem ‘Tandpyn’… a Teachers voice if ever there was one!!

Nelmarie….you are not one of my Dance students…and if the Truth be told you must have found it very difficult to adjust to the way we do things in the school.  You must have also found it challenging to adapt to me as a teacher and there were days in which I despaired of the whole process BUT you have suddenly understood….and you have improved more than 100%. You are saying ‘Bazonka’ without a mistake and as though your really do believe in the word. You are beginning to understand what DRAMA can bring to your life.

Chante..although you are not doing RACA you nevertheless brought something special to the class yesterday. Who will ever be able to say ‘The aliens have landed’ and alliterate the words ‘distressing’ and ‘exudes the stench of foods’ quite like you do. You have mastered the closing line with nonchalant chic like no one else.  Yes Chante…we have walked through many episodes you and I but there can be no doubt that DRAMA (in the words of a famous song) lifts you up where you belong.

Thankyou girls…you restored a balance I was so desperately needing yesterday. Later in the dressing room it brought me to a sense of grateful reflection how you speak and greet your seniors who are mentoring you. I watched their gentle handling of you all and I was enormously proud….most especially of what Cara and her senior Michaela share.  How blessed a day is in which there is peace and harmony.
Namasté my students. As long as we have the music, the words, the movement…we have a moments paradise.

A new phenomenon

Dance has during this past week enjoyed some considerable exposure. In our local paper,which one reads with a sense of peril , we are informed of the arrival of ‘Cuban’ ballet. Prior to this revelation of revolutionary movement there was the arrival of ‘HipHop’ to rival all other HipHop schools.  Culture comes at last to Rand********.  The excitement is at fever pitch. This is surely what everyone has been waiting for. A former CEO of a prestigious Dance Company(why isn’t he anymore?) is at the helm of this project.  When one reads the  ‘blurb’ concerning this proposed project which is going to benefit so many many students…in the townships, in the schools,in the rural areas it almost echoes word for word the vision Miss Dulcie Howes had all those many many years ago when we (and many others before us)as 1st year students were sent into areas such Guguletu to bring ‘ballet’ to the little people of the community.   This was late sixties early seventies. Somewhere somehow in times good or bad there have been projects such as these running under auspicious and inspired teachers who ultimately became disillusioned and stressed  teachers.  When I arrived in Rand*******  I too had this wonderful vision for the marginalised of our country’s peoples.   I taught mainly in all the surrounding townships often risking life and limb as a white person to go in where others feared to tread. I had many good experiences and I had many more really scary ones.   I learned how to understand the ‘coloured’ persons way of thinking. Theirs was a world that defied literary explanation.  One had to live their reality and I did in every sense of the word. I struggled to make a living and was supported by my mother for the best part of ten years while working ceaselessly to bring ‘light’, ‘movement’, ‘drama’ to these special people.  I did not succeed.  I might have touched some lives….but I did not succeed.
I am now asked ‘what is Cuban Ballet’ and low and behold I find myself back where it all started when I struggled so so hard to establish a school teaching Cecchetti when everyone here was doing RAD.  Unless one moves in dance circles one will never understand the rivalry, the bitterness and the vitriolic comment that can exude from teachers and dancers when judging a method of dance training they either know nothing about or are threatened by.  And I was judged….mercilessly.  I had to fight to uphold the teaching methods of Maestro Enrico Cecchetti in this corner of the world.  In the meanwhile I was studying all methods of Ballet training, including RAD.  The best teachers in the country were my source of knowledge.  It is only now as I approach the final curtain that I realise how absolutely sick and ridiculous it was to try and imagine I could as a single teacher make a difference.   But in 1969 when I independently started I had a blind belief that I could and would instill the love for dance in every young persons life I touched.    I was very naive.  When I look back on how hard I tried with every parent and child I want to run into a wall of sorts at the embarrassment and yes, the humiliation of it.  I forgot a very important key factor and it was this.  In a community such as the one in which I made may home I failed to understand the importance of social interaction.  I failed to grasp how important group opinion is of one…..if a social ‘clique’ approved you got a group of little girls in no time…..offend one and you offend all. Alienation of a student is never intentional…every teacher will and is honour bound  to try and make a success of the student/teacher relationship.  So if one mama finds what you said in class unsatisfactory….five other mamas felt the same. It would be OK if it stopped there but now grandparents and aunts and uncles got involved for the discussion of children’s achievements and marks and successes is always paramount at  family gatherings.  The same community that hailed me as the greatest thing since Sliced bread was the very same community that condemned my character, teaching and family years later.  In the end it took four clever mothers two months to dwindle my school to almost nothing through their illiterate comment about dancing and my personal life in They are still in Rand******* today……doyennes in their secure niches. They have no guilt or shame for what their gossip ultimately achieved. I fought back with ever fibre of my being but I could never regain the unconditional popularity I previously experienced. I came back on broken wings. In my memory these unfortunate episodes are burned onto my soul.    For months and years I will never recall the episode and then   wham !! in a dream it resurfaces or the sun will shine just so on a wintery afternoon and a student will say something that echoes the memory.  It hurts….even after all the years it really hurts and depresses.

So…now it is Cuban Ballet…..what defines a good method of teaching?   Is it the structured syllabi of preset movement by which to train the young aspirant dancer.  Is is that it is grounded in Russian principle for arms and head? Or that it is the controlled English way or wait …….what about the French school of movement influenced by the Italian maestros of  the past.? And let us not forget the American Ballet.   South Africans will do almost anything to attach to their training achievements international accreditation.  I believe this insatiable desire for ‘international’ stems from the days of our past history of  Imperialism.   It never really died.  It is still alive and well and manifests itself in many facets of our society.
In my view teaching the art of Dance movement does not depend upon the structured syllabi that a teacher has to adhere to. Success is what is given to a student by a competent and caring teacher. Love for movement and expression through that structured syllabi is paramount and method is secondary.  Learning RAD does not make one a better dancer than the girl learning Cechetti or Vaganova or Espinosa. Quality of teaching from the individual teacher is what renders the method valuable. The rules enforced by a structured syllabus can kill the creative spirit.  Pointless rules,embroideries of movement and theories over simple movements anchors the creative spirit to the earth…the teacher and pupil slowly die together. It is the most painful thing to endure.

I am almost glad that I am near the end of my career as a teacher of Dance. Each day of my life I have thanked my Creator for the gift of Dance movement, the value of words in Drama and above all my first passion…the colours in Art…..I am very grateful to the depth of my being BUT I would NOT choose to walk this way again.  It is has been a hard and isolated life.  I have had to take criticism and condemnation as a teacher and woman with as much fortitude as I could bear.  When praise came I was,almost too afraid to trust the source.   People change and pupils come and go…..they leave a mark on ones life…most of the time there is a sadness attached to it for I as a teacher can ‘see’ their future. I try to instill all the good things in all three genres that I teach……but out there it gets undone and I cannot save the student from her future or herself.
This weekend was very hard for us….my mother and I both have  Bronchitis.  I had a very high fever on Friday evening….and in the delirium the pupils of the past rushed in and out of thought like marathon runners….it was all very confusing.   But they were only shadows of the past and the house remained quiet and still. Isolated as always.