Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bryan OH Bellydance Classes Winter 2013

Bryan, OH  Parks and Recreation

Belly dance is a powerful way to strengthen the core and tone the body, as well as enhancing rhythm, flexibility and beauty. This ancient art form is the ultimate in feminine exercise. Come and embrace the dancer in you!

Basic Foundations Workshops: These one-night-only classes will provide instruction in posture, isolations, and beginning steps and combinations, as well as the history of belly dance, for new beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on basic technique. Come and find out what belly dance is all about and decide if you want to continue with the following full session. Cost is $20.

Session 1: Monday, January 7 from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m.

Session 2: Monday, February 18 from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m.

Session 3: Tuesday, April 2 from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m.

Classic Tribal Oriental: This class will feature a multi-level format in a synthesis of earthy Beledi, Golden Era elegance, Improvisational Tribal and other American innovations, with an aura of Gypsy romance. Rita Helena’s experience and innovative techniques will provide a beginner friendly atmosphere but will challenge even the advanced dancer. The class will include versatile dance methods, shimmies, layering, personal styling, fluid transitions, graceful arms, fun combinations, invigorating drills, and much more. This style is reminiscent of vintage belly dance of the 1970s, updated for the contemporary dancer (Prerequisite for new beginners: Basic Foundations Workshop). Classes will be held on Thursdays for 5 consecutive weeks, and the cost is $50.

Session 1: begins January 10, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Session 2: begins February 21, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Session 3: begins April 4, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

*All classes will be held at the Bryan Community Center on Buffalo Rd., upstairs. Please call the Parks and Recreation department at 419-633-6030 to register. A minimum of 8 students must be pre-registered, and pre-payment is highly encouraged to reserve your space.

*Students should dress in comfortable clothing that is not too loose, so the instructor can see your movements, and wear a belt or scarf around the hips. You can dance barefoot or in socks or ballet slippers. All classes will include a full body warm up and yoga cool down, for a holistic fitness experience.  Bring yoga mat if desired.

Unapologetically Me

Sometimes I just want to write without reservation, without a plan, about whatever is on my mind. But that's what a diary is for, and I give a high priority to making my blog writing professional. Yet I often feel like I have to hold back. To word things just so. Who might be offended? Will I put some readers off if I talk about this or that, if I give my opinion too forcefully, if I am too passionate? My best friend would say, to hell with it. She really doesn't generally care what other people think of her, and therefore, she can be herself. I admire that. But "they" say that you can only recognize a quality in another human being if you possess it yourself. It's in my nature to be fearless, but I am also sensitive. We can be kind and still be frank and real. So I'm gonna be fearlessly honest and frankly kind from now on.

Today I went to a kids' Christmas party at a neighbor's house, and two grandmothers were there. One of them told the other that she always knew it would be great to be a grandma; what she didn't anticipate was what a joy it is to see her own children being parents. The other agreed, and it was obvious that they are both so proud of the mothering job their daughters are doing. Lucky daughters these, whose mothers look at them with an admiring rather than a critical eye, as so often seems to be the case. In reality it is likely that they have not approved of every little thing. Surely some negative thoughts must occasionally surface. Their conversation struck me profoundly for some reason, perhaps because I had never heard such sentiments about grandparenting expressed in that way, and I hoped that they openly shared them with their children, not just with other people. I think I was meant to overhear this conversation for a reason, and I want to file this away so I can give that sort of cheerleading to my own daughter when she becomes a mother. It was also like a little light in the dark tunnel I was experiencing in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

My sister called me on the day of that massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Her sadness mirrored mine, which was somehow comforting. She told me that she is glad Beezy is homeschooled. This did my broken heart good that day. Some people might scorn homeschooling as overprotective. You can't protect your children from everything, they say. They're going to be exposed to the horrors and bad influence of the world eventually, they admonish. But it is an absolute fact that not having your child in school will protect him from a school shooting. I read in a Catholic homeschooling blog today that the Rose Lima Catholic Church in Newtown has received bomb threats. The blogger's brother is the priest there, Father Luke. What is the meaning of this? Is it anti-Catholicism? Is it just more insane behavior with no rhyme nor reason? The sheer magnitude of hate and evil is overwhelming.

I don't talk much about my Catholic religion on this blog, because I write about it elsewhere. But I can't separate it from the rest of my life. It informs my homeschooling, my natural family living, my response to tragedy, my relationships. There is nothing not touched by it. So why should I keep it under wraps? Who might be offended? Today I don't care. The truth is, I would have been a bloody mess on that terrible Friday if it wasn't for my Catholic faith. I picked up my rosary and immediately began to pray. I have only been Catholic for about a year, and not even officially so until Easter, when I will take my First Communion. This is the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Real Presence of the body and blood of Jesus in the transubstantiated bread and wine. I love my Lord, and he is the one who said this is true. And I love his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I would not have gotten through so many moments of heartbreak and feelings of hopelessness if it weren't for her intercession. I understood more fully than ever, when the news of the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary broke, why Jesus gave her to us from the cross.

So that's what I have to say today, in all its randomness. Life is too short to apologize for who we are, and if someone can't handle my joy, my sorrow, or my unapologetic opinion, life is also too short to spend it explaining myself.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stylish Mom Ensemble #2

As Winnie the Pooh would say, Oh bother! My camera seems to be at the end of its productive life. The quality of photos from my latest stylish mom ensemble was not very good, but a few shots will work well enough. I will most likely not post a new look until I get an improved camera, which I really planned to do anyway, so it all comes out in the wash...

sweatshirt, Shopko Hometown; skirt, Ann Taylor Loft (many moons ago); indigo jeggings, Wal-Mart (a few years back); patent "leather" ballet flats, Simply Vera at; necklace,

I wore this on the day I taught my belly dance class last week, so it was inspired by that vocation. I actually went to class dressed like this, and after warming up, I took off the sweatshirt and just wore a sleeveless top I had on underneath that matches the skirt, also from Ann Taylor Loft. I tucked the skirt up so my students could see my knees, which is very important, so it was a mini skirt over leggings look (very vintage 80s "now").  Too bad I didn't think to take my camera! The necklace is from Tribal belly dance outfitter, Flying Skirts. I highly recommend them! So the moral of this story is to take a particular element of your lifestyle and incorporate it into your everyday look. By the way, Paris fashion week showed designer sweatshirts worn with pencil skirts and heels! This is a more everyday version.  Here are a couple of closer shots of the necklace (my earrings are silver leaves):

For this hair do:  I used Pneuma styling creme and Real Purity styling gel ( on freshly washed hair. Since it is naturally curly and frizzes easily, I dried it only at the roots (with a diffuser), then twisted it up in back and pinned with a large clip.  I flat ironed the fringe. Easy breezy lemon squeezy.

And just for good measure, here I am wearing my eyeglasses by Cover Girl:

Beezy (my illustrious photographer) wanted to have her own photo shoot, so here she is wearing a vintage 20s, velvet tunic vest of mine, tied with a coat belt, and red ladies' gloves that I use for decoration (though I may incorporate them into a future ensemble!):

Special tip:  Line blue eyes with bronze eyeliner or shadow to make them pop!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stylish Mom Ensemble #1

Thanks to what I wrote yesterday about feeling like I was once so stylish but have lost my panache since becoming a mother (and gaining weight and entering my 40s...), I was inspired to create a whole new series! I hired a photographer today. She is 8 years old, homeschooled, and happens to be my only child, Beezy. We incorporated "digital photography" into our school time, and while chilly, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we were able to get some fine, outdoor shots. Having previously worked as a model, I know it can take a whole roll of film to get just a few usable pictures, so the fact that she took less than a dozen, and we came away with plenty to feature here, I'd say she is a natural! It was a lot of work for my husband to format, so I think I can only get away with asking for his help once or twice a week. I'll stockpile, though, in the meantime.

I picked out my outfit last night before bed. I used to do this when getting ready for the next day of high school. I recommend the idea, because it made me excited to get dressed this morning. Sometimes I stay in my pajamas too long and then use taking a shower as a break in the school day. Instead, today I got ready first, and we walked the dog and had lunch in between sessions.  And since I had gone to all the trouble, I was motivated to get out and show off my style! We went to the library and ran errands to the grocery, Family Dollar and Shopko Hometown. Plus we stopped to see my grandparents. Here is the ensemble, shot on my front porch:

The sweater was a Goodwill thrift store find, and the cherry red ankle jeans are from Simply Vera at Kohls, which I bought online at the beginning of fall. My socks are from Target, which have a crazy pattern and are "scrunchable". My sister gave me the Dr. Scholls clogs for my birthday when I was pregnant in 2003, but I haven't actually worn them much, so they are in great shape. The next photo is with our dog, Daisy, taken in front of our 2003 Volkswagon Beetle.  I am wearing  tortoise shell prescription sunglasses by Polaroid and a dusty rose L.L. Bean "barn coat" with brown corduroy trim that I found on Ebay. I bought this when I was in the mode of wanting to dress like an eccentric, "English country" style woman, so of course I also got "wellies" (rain boots) which I'll be sure to feature another time. I still rather like the idea of the eccentric English lady.

I wanted a close up to display my accessories, which did not quite show up as well as I would have liked. The necklace is a vintage 20s style with turquoise beads and gold filigree, and my earrings are feathers connected by a delicate chain. These were purchased at a shop on the circle in Angola, Indiana, but I can't remember its name. You can also see here that I am letting my gray hair come in! This was taken on my side porch:

Notice that I didn't get matchy-matchy. The color of my jeans is not in my sweater, but it works. And my clogs are a different shade of red than the pants, but again, it all flows together. I chose the jewelry to pick up the turquoise stripe in my sweater, and the earrings also have turquoise. By the way, it gets very windy where I live on a regular basis, so a very precise hairstyle simply is not workable. It also is healthier not to wash one's hair every day, especially if it is long, so this is 2nd day hair.

First I turned my head upside down and brushed it. Then I used style extender by Neuma, a natural hair care line available at the Ajave salon in Bryan, to revive my natural curls. I also recommend their smooting creme. I used a flat iron on my bangs only, then sprayed with Jason thin to thick, extra volume hair spray, which can be purchased at That's it! I hope this has inspired you, and please check back for future stylish mom ensembles!! I will leave you with a few more pics from the day.

Special tip:  Rosemary is said to improve mental clarity, so smooth on Avalon's rosemary hand and body lotion ( before dressing in your fab fashions!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reflections of a Once Stylish Mom

I had my home (the downstairs that everyone sees, that is) all clean and decorated for Christmas by Saturday, Dec. 1!  While I told myself that this was an awesome thing, as now I could just relax for the Advent season, I felt let down by the end of Dec. 2.  The reason for this is that I had been working like crazy, preparing for a bridal shower I gave for a friend on Sunday.  All that house cleaning for an event that lasted less than three hours. Was it worth the blood, sweat and tears? Of course, I was more than happy to throw the party for my bosom buddy, and as long as I keep vigil so that clutter does not creep back in, I won't have to do any more stressful house work, well, maybe ever. (Okay, I know myself better than that.) Also, my sister said this was the cutest my home has ever looked! So why am I not satisfied?

Well, I like to beat myself up about the things I might have done better. And I was tired that day, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have. I had to drive to the next town for church that morning, since my RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) class had our Rite of Acceptance, so I couldn't miss it. And I hadn't slept terribly well the night before, in anticipation of the big day ahead. So I felt like I looked tired. My hair had gotten frizzy from running around in the wet mist. My living room was so crammed full of guests that I was sweating and kept having to open the front door. I got compliments on my house as well as my snazzy new ankle pants from Ann Taylor Loft, but I still didn't feel like a morning star.

One of the problems is that I was once so very stylish. I had a nearly perfect figure and could wear one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that I can't fit into now, even if they still worked with my lifestyle. I had the best wardrobe, which came primarily from thrift stores, garage sales, Target, and vintage boutiques. I took risks, I had flair, I was fabulous! Now I live where there are not any shopping malls, or one-of-a-kind boutiques, or even a Target (yes, weep for me now, my sisters...) But that's not really the problem. It used to be easy to look great with only a little makeup. Easy and breezy to throw something on without thinking too hard about it and look hip. Although that's not entirely true, either. I once had the time to play around with my outfits, accessories, hair and makeup. I'd get dressed up and find somewhere to go if I didn't already have plans. Now there isn't anywhere to go. Dress up to walk the dog, run to the grocery, visit the library or my grandparents? And my husband doesn't help--he seems to think I am gorgeous and desirable no matter what. Wait--that's a good thing, right? Well, yes, but it doesn't help me try very hard to find the balance I so desperately need between being stylish and functional.

 Stylish Mom Icon, Katie Holmes

Strange things happen accidentally, though, that can help us see beyond our tunnel vision. Is there no way out of this beauty malaise? One day recently I had gotten hot and had taken my sweater off and was wearing only a tunic length, simple camisole top. When I got chilly, I grabbed the nearest thing, a rose-colored Western style shirt of my husband's. It fit perfectly. I looked pretty sexy if I do say so myself! Even our daughter remarked on how well it suited me. "After I wash this, I'm putting it in my closet," I told my husband. I was serious. I am that desperate.

I have bought new clothes, and I am cheered and inspired for a short time, but then my hair still doesn't work right, or the outfit doesn't work as well as planned, or I compare myself to someone who is thinner and has more money to spend on clothes. Even if I wouldn't dream of wearing shorts with lacy patterned tights in December (like the guest of honor wore to her bridal shower), I want to feel as attractive as she always looks. But I don't want to dress like her; I want to dress like me. How, for the love of all that is chic in the world-- exactly how? I found some great, stylish mom blogs today, and that got me thinking in a better direction. A key theme is to shop your own closet. Comfort is a necessity, but a few festive accessories can glam up an otherwise basic outfit when you need to be dressier. Layers bring out creativity and personality and help you change your pieces up. Getting rid of clothes you don't love and don't wear is a vital step, so that you can see the clothes that you will look forward to wearing.

If the sun had shined brightly today, I might not have fretted so. After all, this is trivial stuff. These are not Real Problems. But there is a long, long winter ahead here in Ohio. I want to feel like the best me I can be in every area of life. I want to feel lovely while I sit in my cozy home all decorated for Christmas. Most of the shopping is even done already! I don't want to waste a moment wishing for a better hair day, or cuter shoes, or a scarf that matches my coat better. So it is time to get myself together, once and for all! Or at least until spring, when I will have to figure out what to wear again. So stay posted. I'm going to be ambitious and put together some outfits with stuff I already have and become one of those savvy mom bloggers. We will get through these dark grey days in color, texture, beauty, and warmth--together!!