Good Monday Morning From Bedlam Farm 7/17/17

July 17th, 2017

Dancing With Attitude. My First Belly Dancing Class

July 16th, 2017

The Box of Belly Dancing treasures that Kitty gave me.

I stood in naked in front of the full length mirror and placed my hands lovingly on my stomach.  I love my belly, I said out loud.

How many years have I been doing this?  Two or three at least.  It hasn’t completely drowned out the voices and feelings that make me believe my stomach is too big and ugly, even shameful.  But now, when I say I love my belly, I believe it.

For the moment anyway.

I can trace the feelings I have about my stomach back to my childhood, when every night my father would call my mother from work and ask her if she did her sit-ups  (to keep her stomach flat).  But it doesn’t end there, because our societies idea of the “beautiful woman”  also has a flat stomach.   (How awful is the expression “muffin top” I cringe writing it.)  And  my ex-husband’s rejection of  my body for 21 years only reinforced my feelings.

I don’t place this “stomach” judgement on other people, only myself.

It’s the reason I was feeling fear going to my first Belly Dancing class.  I’m embarrassed to show my stomach.  I even find myself still trying to hide it from Jon.  Jon who loves me so much body and soul.  Who has never breathed a word of anything but adoration for my body.  And who couldn’t care less how big or small my stomach is.

It’s one of those irrational fears that have nothing to do with me and my life now.  An old fear of being rejected, mocked and diminished.

I dressed for my first Belly Dancing class in layers.   Leggins and a skirt.  A bra (I rarely wear a bra), a tight-fitting tank top (that I usually wear as an undershirt), a loose-fitting no sleeve shirt over that and a sweat shirt on top of it all.

It felt safe, I could leave it all on, or get down to the tank top depending on how I was feeling.

As I turned out of the driveway onto Route 22 I could feel the fear welling up in me.  I turned off the news on the radio and took deep breaths, trying to ground myself.  As I passed the American Legion I saw the sign for their clam bake that coming weekend, July 15ht.  That’s when it dawned on me that it was my ex-husband’s birthday.

“Fuck you, this is my body, my life,” I thought,  as defiance surged inside of me.  Then, within moments, the fear dropped away.

I was meeting Kitty, who introduced me to  Belly Dancing, at her house.  Then we would go to the class together.  I don’t know Kitty really well, we’re new friends, but she must have sensed my trepidation about the class and offered to go with me to the first one.  Kitty’s been Belly Dancing for years.  She’s one of the original members of the group and only recently stopped dancing with them.

Even though the fear was gone, I was still nervous about the class.   I think a normal kind of nervous  about doing something new.  Being with Kitty at her house before the class was calming to me.  She showed me her gardens and her studio (Kitty and her husband are both artists) and pictures from some of her Belly Dancing performances.

Then she handed me a box filled with clothes and accessories for Belly Dancing.

She assured me that these were extra’s and she wasn’t giving me anything she didn’t want to.  I shook the waist sash with the  “coins” on them, making them jingle and thought to myself,  “I’ll never wear that” as Kitty held up the choli, the bra-like top that dancers wear with their skirts.

A little overwhelmed, I took the cardboard box out to my car.  It felt sacred in my arms, like it held the answer to a question I hadn’t yet asked.

The class is held in the Senior Center in Bennington.  Nothing exotic, a kitchen on one side of the room the empty wooden dance floor on the other.   We left our shoes outside the room and I took off my first layer of clothes.

Inside, we new students filled out a form  and waited for the class to being.  Most of the women wore cholis, skirts and leggings.  Women, who I guessed, were my age and younger.   There was a welcoming feeling in the room, without judgement.   I took the plunge and removed the loose-fitting shirt I was wearing over my tank top. I felt exposed, vulnerable, but no one noticed.  I actually had less of my body showing than most of the people in the class.  No one cared but me.

And I only cared for a little while.  Because once we started the lesson, I was too busy concentrating on moving my hips and legs and feet and arms and hands to do anything else.

The professional Belly Dancers  make it look so easy.  That’s how you know when someone’s really good at what they do.

I had no idea if what I was doing was right.  I didn’t even know if I was standing right.  But I just kept moving.  Sometimes getting the right/left thing wrong, and certain that my arms, hips and hands were all separate entities, doing their own thing, unaware of each other.

Julz, our teacher, was reassuring.  It takes some people a year before they can get the hand movements down, she said. Most people are good at somethings and not so good at other things.

Then she stood in front of the class and showed us the seemingly simple dance movements we would learn in the six-week class.

“You can dance like this,” she said, and went through the movements which looked perfectly fine.  “Or,” she said, “you can dance with attitude.”

Julz made the same movements, but they were entirely different.  It was as if the air around her vibrated.  She was a Goddess a Queen.  Strong and confident and completely present. ” I like to dance with attitude,” she said.

I don’t need to perform, I don’t need to get it all right.  I don’t have to be a professional Belly Dancer.  But I want to dance with attitude.

I’ve spent hours writing this piece and crying in between.  Just by writing about it all the awful feelings about  my body have surfaced again.  I know they won’t go away easily, but I’m determined to do something about it.  And the Belly Dancing is a start.   One way to help me feel better about myself and my body.

I feel like this is all weighing on me and by writing about it and putting out into the world, I’ll be releasing some of it.

And maybe I can stop blowing my nose.

I’ve been hiding for so long, running from my shame.   And now little by little I’m facing  the shame.  Being honest about myself through my art, my writing and now through my body.

I’ve heard and read that the way to rid ourselves of shame is to talk about it.  To bring it from where it lives in  the dark corners of our bodies and minds into the light.  A sometimes terrifying thing to do, but much better than accepting it and living with it for the rest of my life.





“Apple Branch” Sculpture Dill for Breakfast

July 14th, 2017

I thought it was Cosmos growing under my Apple Branch Sculpture, but when someone left me a comment saying they thought it was dill, I remembered throwing the seeds down.

So this morning, after checking on the animals, I broke off a few leaves and smelled them.  It sure was dill.

I brought them in the house and cut them onto the cream cheese I spread on my toast.  Then a slice of tomato and the last of the lox.

It was the best cream cheese and lox I’ve had all year.




Training Gus. Meaning It and Having Fun

July 14th, 2017

I’ve gotten into training Gus as I’ve never been interested in training any of my dogs before.

Maybe it’s because he’s smart and responsive.  Or maybe it’s because I have more confidence and now I really know what I want in a dog and what I don’t.  I’m also not seeing the training as a chore.  I’m actually having fun doing it.

I imagine it’s a combination of things.

A couple of days ago I was feeling really panicky. When I’m in  a panic, I’m not fully present in my body or my mind.  It was the first time since we got Gus  that he wouldn’t pay attention to me.  It was as if he didn’t really want to be near me.

Through Gus’ reaction to me, I could see how “off” I was myself.

After I took a walk in the woods and a swim in the Battenkill (which was shockingly cold and felt wonderful) the panic left me and  Gus and I were back on track.

It’s interesting how much I learn about myself and  how, when I’m aware, I can see myself through the dogs.

I remember when we got Fate, I thought I’d never be able to train a puppy without Jon’s help.  Now I know I could.




Belly Dancing Class

July 13th, 2017

Me and Jon

I’m leaving in a few minutes for my first Belly Dancing Class.

As much as I want to do this, I’m really nervous, bordering on scared, too.

I was so moved when Jon and I saw the Belly Dancing performance a few weeks ago, that my friend Kitty, who used to Belly Dance, asked if I’d be interested in taking a class.

I’m really interested.

I’d love to be able to move my body like the women I saw that Saturday night.  But even more, I want to feel the joy it seemed to me those women felt about their bodies.  They were completely present and confident in their bodies.  I want to know what that feels like.

It’s only one class, maybe the first of many, maybe the first and last.  What ever happens, it feels important to me.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


Studio Gus

July 12th, 2017

Gus fell asleep in a pile of fabric on my studio floor.

A New Kind Of Potholder

July 12th, 2017

1st Potholder

I was inspired by one of the quilt panels I made the other day.  A smaller colorful design in the center, surrounded by a solid (kinda) color.

At first I thought what if this was bigger, quilt size.  Then I thought what if it was smaller, potholder size…

The quilt panel that inspired me. It’s 33″ x 39″

I wanted to finish designing my quilt “Safe in the Woods” today, but the idea of making the potholders had me in its grip.  Just one, I thought, I just try to make one.

When I made the first one and it was close, but not exactly what I had in mind.  So I wanted to try it again…

2nd Potholder

… so I made another….

3rd Potholder (my favorite)

…and another…

4th Potholder

…..and another….

5th Potholder

Then Jon and I did something we rarely do.  We went to the movies, in the late afternoon on a work day.  We got an ice cream cone on the way and saw “Baby Driver”, which was a wild ride, with just one car chase and shoot out too many, but still a lot of fun.

When we got home I made one more potholder.

6th potholder



Liminal Space Quilt

July 11th, 2017

Liminal Space

I put my quilt “Liminal Space” in the mail today.   There’s no question in my mind that I made it specifically for Renate, even though I didn’t know it when I was making it.  It’s been hers since the moment she left a comment on my blog about it saying it seemed a portal to her.

The liminal space is the time in between.  The threshold, or waiting space from one place to another.  Not a physical place, but a place of personal transition.  It’s a place of both unease and excitement.   When there’s no going back and what’s ahead is unknown.

When I was making the quilt I kept thinking that it had so many windows.

Renate wrote to me that…

“…it speaks to me of travel of the mind and searching, but as I mentioned, surrounded by such safety.

Renate said she’ll hang the quilt on her wall so she can gaze at it. I can understand that.  When it was hanging in my studio, it seemed to demand to be looked at.  It was hard for me not to stare.

Gus, Studio Puppy

July 11th, 2017

When I’m working, I leave my studio door open and Fate and Gus have the run of my studio and the fenced in back yard.  They spend most of their time playing outside, or sleeping by the back door.

But sometimes, when Gus is too tired to play anymore, he comes into my studio for a rest.  Fate’s happier outside in this weather and usually sits right outside my door.

Today Gus found a cozy spot under my desk to take a nap.  When I saw he had a scrap of fabric on his back, I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

Gus is surprisingly good about not chewing on the threads and scraps of fabric that litter my studio floor.

The dogs don’t play in my studio. When they start going at it I tell them to take it outside, and for some reason they do.

One “Red” Potholder Sold

July 11th, 2017

Sometimes, especially when it comes to potholders, people order them, I make them, then I don’t hear from them again.

It doesn’t happen often and when it does I understand that things happen, money gets low and priorities shift.

Sometimes I’ll save what ever it is and sell it at the Open House and sometimes I offer it for sale on my blog.

Which is why I have this one “Red” potholder for sale. Sold

I don’t plan on making any more of these, so this is the last one available.  It’s $25 + $5 shipping and I take checks and paypal.  If you’re interested in it, just email me at