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61 weeks | Progress reports | no. 0055
I still don’t yet know what I’m writing about. I do know that all day I have auditioned lines in my head. I have contemplated telling you a story about how I am still learning how to pray, as a mother. And how that has opened up questions for me about why I feel I’m a novice at praying. Where did I get an idea about the “right” way to pray? Probably from years of growing up in my black baptist church with lots of loud, neck-rolling, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, weave-jerking, skirt-flying, soul-shouting women who looked after me in one way or another and called me, among other things, daughter.
There was a way they seemed to know what they were doing. I think I am constantly seeking that knowing. I most times feel like the little girl watching the big mothers do the hard work of saving souls and healing the hurt. I wonder, when do you finally know how to do it? When your kids are grown? When you graduate into wearing foundation everyday? When the young folk add a “Ms.” to your name? Then the other part of me suspects I’ll always feel a bit amateur at prayer, because it’s just my natural inclination to experiment with ways to pray. It’s the curiosity that keeps me opening up new spiritual practices within myself. Currently I’m diving deeper into my liberated booty theories, discovering the power of the spin, roll, and rock, and their capacity to be both containers and accelerators of prayers.
I also considered talking about my process as a movement facilitator. This week I start working with teen girls at a local high school. It occurred to me that the last time I danced with teenagers, I was almost 5 months pregnant with the munchkin and the youth were incarcerated. It was a very sobering scene. Several of the girls were mothers. One of them told me her frightening birth story. I thought about how badly doulas are needed for pregnant teens at the youth jail. I wasn’t expecting to talk about doulas and my own pregnancy with them, but we spent a lot of time on that. One young lady in the group was a few weeks pregnant. She was most amazed that I was dancing with a baby growing inside of me. I remember thinking how glad I was that I took that gig while pregnant, even though it was uncomfortable having to be in a prison to work with them. I thought, maybe I’ve helped them in some small but lasting way. Shown them their bodies are more powerful than ever imagined.
I realize as I prepare to work with this new group of young women, that I am seriously out of touch with their generation. I don’t know the hottest songs, I don’t watch TV, I am just now catching up to last year’s slang, and I am clueless about fashion. I am technically not that much older than them, but it feels like I’m a century behind still. I can’t say I’ve ever really tried to be hip or current. I rely mostly on my honesty and transparency to make connections with people, especially people I’m dancing with. There is something extremely vulnerable about sharing your body’s movement with another person. In my experience I’ve found that no matter how cool someone thinks they are, if they lack a certain confidence in the body, I can read that in the first 10 seconds. It’s my job to help everyone identify the possibilities in their bodies that they may not have noticed, or even known were worthy of celebration. This is how I build trust, no matter where I am. People will love you for showing them how they are even more beautiful or amazing than they thought themselves to be.
Today while I was dancing to test out some of the activities for the workshop, the munchkin just stared at me with a most interesting look on his face. I thought about how important it is that he see his mother dance often. There’s a lot that I can teach him just by being present with my own body. It has taken me this whole first year of his life to understand what it means to move within this new mothering body. I have also developed a different perspective on my pre-munchkin dancing body too. The stories I had to tell with my muscles and bones were metaphors in my search for self. I should add that I was often lost due primarily to poor decision making in relationships with men. Back then, the dance was a way to sort out the tangles and knots I that had began to flourish within.
It was unsettling to be so unfamiliar with my body after the munchkin was born. I didn’t yet grasp that my body was transitioning to begin telling new stories. Now, I see how much of my movement is not rooted so much in that space of tragedy like it was before. So many of the awesome creative projects I did in my past were masked reclamations of a bruised spirit and a broken heart. I was able to produce something beautiful, but I didn’t tell the whole story of what had initiated that artwork. The dance illuminating through me now feels like an ever-expanding enchanted forest. I sense I am onto something powerful whenever I take myself into the creative laboratory. The language for translating my process to others is coming more fluidly. I am embracing that an essential part of my work as a movement facilitator is to also be a storyteller. I have to share pieces of my be(come)ing to illustrate the opportunities one can access through their physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies.
I really feel like I’ve stepped deeper into the work that’s been brewing for years. This past year is the longest creative period of my life where I can say that I’ve not been functioning from some stage of grief or heartbreak. I am still tracing back to archive and document my journey, but I am greatly fascinated with the abundance that awaits me in this newfound mothering body.
From the morning, I knew I’d be here at the end of the day, going through the ritual because it’s what I have to do. I am going to go and join the rest of my people in the wonderful world of sleep. I am tired, but it’s a good, well-worn tired. I will be a bit sore in places from some of the dances I did today. I hope to revisit some of the themes I brought up in later essays when I’m in a better space to elaborate. For now, this is all I have. Today’s well is nearly dry.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.