We sat in a wide circle in Kathleen’s backyard with so much space between us sometimes we couldn’t hear each other. There were eight of us there, all the regulars from our Bellydancing class.
We hadn’t seen each other since March and now we sat, ate a potluck dinner and talked for three hours. At some point, our conversation came around to dancing again. The Senior Center where the Bennington Beledi Tribal Bellydancers met on Thursday nights for almost 20 years is not reopening anytime soon.
Julz told us about some of the possible places we might be able to meet, but they wouldn’t open up until the fall. Then she talked about the difficulties of meeting outside. If there were neighbors, there would always be an audience she said, and we needed enough space for all of us.
That’s when I said we could dance at the farm. “We have no neighbors and plenty of space,” I told them. When Julz suggested I check with Jon and get back to them, I laughed. “Are you kidding, he’d be thrilled to have us all there.”
Not only did Jon love the idea he wanted to feed everyone too.
So next week we’ll be dancing again for the first time in more than three months. Julz cautioned us not to wear a very long skirt or we’d get grass stains on it. It will be hot and the ground won’t be easy on our feet. I know I’ll be out of shape from only dancing a half hour or so every week.
And I can hardly wait.
It’s one of those books that Jon teases me about, even though he got it for me.
The Language Of Butterflies, by Wendy Williams, tells so many fascinating stories about butterflies, I can’t help repeating some of them to Jon. Usually early in the morning while we’re still laying in bed.
He rolls his eyes and at the same time listens eagerly. “I get all the good stuff,” he says, “without having to read the book”.
This morning’s story was about Monarch Butterfly caterpillars.
As most people now know, Monarch Butterflies only lay their eggs on Milkweed. When the caterpillar hatches from the egg, the first thing she does is eat it for protein. Because she has no defenses against predators, the caterpillar is just about transparent.
She finds safety in being invisible.
After eating the egg, the caterpillar begins to eat the Milkweed leaves which are filled with latex. I was familiar with that white sticky substance that Milkweed bleeds, but never knew it was latex. I also didn’t know it was toxic.
A good percentage of the caterpillars die from eating the latex, but the ones that survive, taste bitter and are toxic to animals that may try to eat them. It’s when they have this protection that their colors begin to change.
The caterpillar goes from being invisible to having bright green and white stripes on their black bodies. Now it’s their visibility that protects them. Predators see their colors as a warning that they are poisonous and stay away. The same is true of their orange wings when they become butterflies.
I immediately related to this story when I read it. It was my story.
For most of my life, I made myself invisible, trying to stay safe. I didn’t speak up for myself. Growing up in my family, I believed I was being kind by giving myself away to other people, doing what they wanted me to do, and being who they wanted me to.
More than anything I wanted to belong. But I was really just hiding, afraid if I showed my true self they wouldn’t like me anymore and I would be rejected.
It took me 45 years, but when I finally began to learn how to protect myself, by doing and saying what I wanted instead of what others wanted of me, the true me started to emerge. The more confident I become with myself, the more I flashed my colorful stripes, the more “toxic” I become to the people and things that weren’t good for me.
And my fears of being ostracized began to come true. My husband at the time accused me of not being “nice” anymore. When I broke with the traditions of my family, they lost interest in me. I grew apart from my friends.
Because, for the first time in my life I was being true to myself, I began to find the people who liked me for who I really was. And the more I like myself, the more my fears of not belonging fade.
It’s a long process. Sometimes I feel like I’m still emerging, still drying my wings. And other times I feel like I’m fluttering my bright orange wings in the face of the unknown, trusting they’ll protect me.
One thing I know for sure, I’m no longer invisible.
I always do my thread drawings freehand. I don’t draw a line and trace it. But I made an exception to that today when I drew the map for this entry on my Corona Kimono. I just couldn’t draw the map of the southern states to make them look recognizable enough.
It was important to my idea that the states were readable as an image without words. So I found a map online, printed it out then cut it out. I pinned it to the Kimono then stitched around it.
Once I put the words in, it reminded me of one of those travel postcards from the 1950’s. I used a grid for the background like the background of a road map. The little circles inside every other square…well…it just seemed to need them.
I’m continuing to work on my quilt “A Gentle Place”. I’m adding more to the top of the quilt, similar to what I’ve done on the sides. Then I’ll be close to having it done.
In a little while, I’m going to be getting together with the women in my Bellydancing class.
Although it the day and time our class was always held, we won’t be dancing. Although many places are opening up, we won’t be able to dance at the Senior Center where we used to. Julz and Kathleen, my teachers, have been trying to find another place to dance, and have a few spaces in mind, but nothing concrete yet.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the women in my class again, my tribal sisters. Julz has kept us all dancing by putting up videos for us to follow, and that’s been wonderful, but there is nothing like dancing together.
I’ve been faithfully dancing alone in my studio since the lockdown started in March, until last week. I think seeing everyone again gets me motivated to dance again. Bellydancing is so good for my body and my emotional well being.
In some ways, it is as simple as… when I dance I feel better.
Well, it happened, despite Etsy censoring my Corona Housewife Magnets, they are now sold out.
I first posted my magnets for sale on June 1st. Two days later Etsy removed them from my shop claiming they would not be selling anything referring to the Coronavirus.
I had a few emails back and forth with Etsy about the issue, but I knew a big corporation like Etsy wouldn’t care about an artist’s intention or have time to bother with something as small as a $7 magnet.
So I began selling them on my blog. And now, only a few weeks later all 100 of them are out in the world bringing their message to everyone who sees it.
So thank you all for buying my Corona Housewife Magnets. As much as I like them, my wish is that they soon become obsolete.
My Corona Housewife magnet has given me some trouble. First Etsy removed it from my shop saying they aren’t selling anything related to the Coronavirus. Then the Paypal button I put up on my blog post on Monday didn’t work. And just yesterday the new Paypal button I put up suddenly started charging people $10 shipping for a magnet.
I’m trying to make buying my magnets as easy as possible but there seems to be some resistance. I’m not sure how to take it all except to keep trying.
So here I go again.
I tested and asked Jon to test the paypal button below and make sure it was working. So far it is.
My Corona Housewife Magnets are Sold Out
$7 including shipping. You can use the button below to buy them using Paypal or your credit card. I’ve already sold 85 magnets and only have 15 still available.
Kim sent me this photo of my quilt “Shelter” that she bought from me. As you can see her dogs are enjoying it and Kim said she’s very happy with it also.
This Black-eyed Susan grew from between the slate on the back porch and between my potted cactus. I love its bright face peeking out between all the cactus spines.
It was too hot to walk in the woods today, so I didn’t go far. When I got to the stone wall which marks the boundary of our property, I sat down on a fallen log and watched this spider web on the wall fluttering in the wind.