Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fabulous Friends!

I'm not going to lie... this first week of school has been difficult. I'm still adjusting to not seeing the people I love everyday and sitting through all of class...

Annie and I had a stitch and bitch today - more bitching (almost 5 hours worth), less stitching. Even though we are both quite confused about what to do and what we want out of life at the moment - we both agree we wouldn't change our time in the dance department for anything. We have learned so much about ourselves, about people, and about the world. I think I have gained a greater sense of empathy after being involved in the fine arts. I have also made some of the best friends I will ever find. I can completely relate to them, and we can finish each other's sentences. The few friends I have seen this week have completely saved it. I am so grateful for them and I know that they are going to help me through any difficulties I might face this year.

Beyond being absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly talented, my friends are also impressively intelligent, caring, and supportive people. I've said this before, but I know they are going to change the world. They have changed me and enriched my life in so many ways!

Thank you April, Diana, and Annie for brightening my week.

I also spent three hours in rehearsal at the dance building this morning on a lovely Saturday. Just like old times and feelin' good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School... or something like it.

Today classes began at the University of Utah. I have mixed feelings. Yes, I am back in class- even after walking around in a silly gown and carrying a diploma in May. I don't know if I would call today my first DAY of class, since I only had one class... and I only have one class tomorrow... and no classes on Friday. This is school??? I'm used to spending all day everyday plus weekends doing school related dance classes, rehearsals, activities, etc. When I first signed up for classes I thought this would be an awesome schedule with lots of free time and plenty of time to work. Still might be true, but seeing as how I am still jobless (I'm not TECHNICALLY a CNA yet- still 3 tests to go...) I am feeling pretty lazy and I don't like it. I'm very restless... AH!

In addition to all that... I'm used to walking into a familiar building I call home, knowing all my professors, knowing and loving all my classmates, dancing away my first day of school nerves, and spending the day with my best friends on the first day of school. Today had none of that. I am just another number in a huge lecture hall with a bunch of unfriendly science nerds.

On the plus side, I'm really interested in physiology and I got to wear jeans to class instead of sweat pants... here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Life in the dance building...

vs. Life in the lecture hall...

Can't blame me for being a little disappointed today!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Growing Old - Part 2

Today was my last nursing assistant clinical.   I have spent the last few days preparing to enter the nursing home and then actually aiding nurses aides (yes- I am at the very very bottom of the healthcare ladder) in some nursing homes in and around the Salt Lake City area.  It has been an interesting experience - one I think I am still in the process of reflecting on. 

Some of the residents amazed me.  For example, I met one fabulously beautiful woman and former model that just had her 100th birthday!  She is one of the few residents still up and walking around and has a beautiful picture of her family on her night stand that includes FIVE generations!  Very impressive - what a long and beautiful life she has lived!

I also met a resident that was new to the home, having arrived only the night before.  Imagine her confusion at being in a new place, with someone completely in charge of her life, dictating what you eat and when, what you wear...  I didn't fully grasp what a difficult adjustment each of these residents have gone through until I saw it today.  I wish her the best...

Mostly- I witnessed my own limitations.  The most basic being that I should probably lift some weights before I ever get a job in a nursing home... my arms are severely lacking in the necessary muscle.  Those CNA's work very hard over there and even with TWO students helping, there was never a restful moment.  After only a few days I am so much more exhausted than I would be after hours and hours of dancing. I commend them all so much for what they do! 

Monday, August 17, 2009

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

I just finished reading All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou.  Maya Angelou has a gift with words and incite on life- we all know this.  I had heard many great things about her, but this is the first book of hers that I have read (sad I know).  This book is part five in her six book autobiography that begins with the greater known I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Why start with book five, you may ask?  Because it is a description of Maya Angelou's life in Ghana - a country near and dear to my heart.

Ground Nut (Peanut Butter) Soup

It was really interesting for me to read this book, having been many of the places she describes.  Being a dancer, Ms. Angelou mentions what a high it is to dance in Ghana - oh how I can relate!  Her talk of plantains, kasava, and ground nut soup had my mouth watering - I know the feeling of walking through the markets in Accra - I remember trying so hard to get that snap at the end of the handshake that is tradition there, and I also have visited the dance department at the University of Ghana.  

The only way out of the "room of no return" at Elmina Slave Castle - onto a waiting slave ship

Angelou also speaks briefly of her visit to the Gold Coast - now known as Cape Coast - where she saw Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle - both sights that held slaves before they were put on boats and sent to the "new world" as part of the slave trade.  I visited Elmina Castle on my trip, and still get the chills when I think about all that happened there.  This was the only place I can remember being in my whole life where just the act of being there moved me to tears.  I felt like an emotional mess while visiting the castle, and to point out the obvious, I'm definitely European in my ancestry.  The place had such a lasting effect on me, I can  only imagine the effect when you know your own ancestors survived through an ordeal like that.  I can tell you that my grandparents were Czech, some Irish... I have that background that I can identify with.  Many black Americans are missing that sense of culture and identity.  Were they Ewe?  Ashanti? Ga?  Were they even from Ghana?  Angelou herself finds some closure on this topic while in Ghana.  

At Elmina Slave Castle

Angelou is also in Ghana during the height of the Civil Rights movement.  In fact, at the same time Martin Luther King Jr. was organizing the march in Washington D.C., black Americans in Ghana were organizing one of a similar nature at the American Embassy.  The march in Ghana also becomes a memorial of sorts for W.E.B. Du Bois, the Harvard educated father of pan-Africanism and a social rights activist who called Ghana his home in his later years.  On my trip I was lucky enough to visit his former home near Accra which has been turned into a museum in his honor.  It was interesting to hear Ms. Angelou discuss her time in Ghana especially during that point in history.  Understandably so, blacks were unhappy with the United States at the time and viewed it as an unjust and racist country; many came to Ghana as a means of escape hoping to find a sense of belonging.  However, they were no longer Africans either, and felt a sense of ultimately belonging nowhere.  What a difficult struggle to overcome.

W.E.B. Du Bois Museum
Ultimately, I don't know if EVERYONE would enjoy this book as much as I did...  but I DO think everyone should go to Ghana, and then you will love this book too.  It left me with much more insight and subjects to ponder upon.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Growing Old

I have spent almost 70 hours this week in class training to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  I am two nursing home clinicals, two tests, and a CPR class short of being ready to enter the job world as a CNA.  

What does a CNA do you might ask?  CNA's work in hospitals and doctors offices, but you will see them mostly in nursing homes, working with the elderly.  They help with the activities of daily living (ADL's).  This means we help residents walk if they are unsteady, eat if they are too weak to do it themselves, go to the bathroom, and shower - all things that can become increasingly difficult and less private as you age.  

Aging is a tricky thing.  You gain so much wisdom and perspective on life, but you also lose some of the basic mechanics of your body- joints, hearing, seeing.  Is it worth the trade? As a dancer, I am acutely aware of how completely amazing the body is in its functions - your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own.  I can't imagine losing my ability to control it, because that is what I take such great pride in.

I am generally a positive person, but I can't say how I would react if I lost control of my body.  Some are continually amazing in their grace; some are forever saddened by their loss of control... who is to say which way you will be...  either way, I think this experience will help me regain my appreciation for my youth and gain a fresh zest for life and its awesomeness... let's hope... we will see when I report for clinicals Wednesday at 6 in the morning... more reflections to come!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conquering my fears

I have lamented in past blogs how completely terrified of heights I am... but this past weekend I took one step towards conquering that fear.  In fact... I have done 2 amazing things in the last year that would have made my knees wobble not too long ago.

Last year I walked over a rope bridge in the rainforest in Ghana.  This bridge was above the canopy... the tallest trees in the forest.  I was scared all day and didn't think I was going to be able to make it across.  I did and it was so beautiful!  I'm so glad I was able to walk over that hurdle, even if  my legs were shaking in the beginning. 

I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my friend Emma (and saw my dad every now and then since we stayed with him while he was at his medical conference).  Among many fun sight seeing activities (strolling near Obama's old crib, Millenium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier...) I was actually the one who suggested a trip to the top of Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower).  Yes my friends, I suggested a trip to a building that held the record of tallest building in the world until 1996.  AND when we were 103 floors up, I actually stepped out onto the skydeck and looked straight down... some major courage on my part.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One wedding down... Three to go!

Yes, my friends, it is wedding season.  Being a college grad, along with all my friends, it is time to get married! (No worries- it is still a far away happening for myself!)  However, many of my nearest and dearest are getting ready to tie the knot!

This past weekend I was a bridesmaid for the wedding of Sarah and Howard Cordingly (formerly Sarah Fields).  Sarah and I were roommates our first semester of college.  We became fast friends! I remember meeting Howard for the first time (only a week or so after she met him) and thinking they were going to get married someday!  They met while Howard was on leave from the army, at the time stationed in Germany.  They talked on the phone everyday for almost a year, and she went to visit him for a European Christmas.  They have been living together ever since his return - very romantic.  

Their wedding was absolutely beautiful.  It took place at Hamilton's Restaurant up in Logan - it was set up beautifully and had delicious food after.  The ceremony was short- just the way I like it- but amazingly sweet.  There were amazing guitar players for both the ceremony and reception - I love guitar -  touching musicians and a blast to dance to.  We continued celebrating the rest of the day at Sarah's parents house with more awesome music and great food.  Sarah and Howard have some amazing friends that are great people and easy to get along with.  After this weekend, I am lucky enough to call them my friends as well!  Sarah was the PERFECT bride!  She was breathtakingly beautiful and amazingly calm and laid back.  The biggest congrats to them both with so much love!!!
The bride and her entourage!
Still to go... Camille and Cameron - a friend from the dance department, Diana and Tyler - my best friend, and Rachel and Nate - one of the few girls I can talk on the phone with for hours and spill just about everything to.  I'm so glad my loves have found love!!!
The wedding party!