About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Up in flames

As most of you may be aware, forest fire hit my community this past week.  Many people lost their homes.  Gorgeous forest land burned to the ground.  Firefighters battled flames and rugged terrain.  As with every tragedy or battle with Mother Nature, human beings rallied together and demonstrated their great ability for compassion.

I've lived up here for 14 years.  During that time, I've been evacuated and on stand-by to evacuate a few times.  When faced with the prospect of losing everything, it's amazing how little material items matter.

Here's my personal list of what to take if everything else is about to go up in smoke:

  • Photographs and personal videos.
  • Computers 
  • Important documents (insurance, passports, financial papers, etc.) 
  • KIDS (I should point out that these are not listed in any sort of priority.)
  • Animals
  • Jewelry
  • A suitcase of clothing for each of us
  • Important books (my own especially...uh hem) 
  • Any item that holds sentimental value, like a few trinkets from my late grandfather.
  • Televisions (Only if they'll fit after all else is packed)
Everything else can burn.

There are certain things in our lives that hold true meaning and value.  Most of what I listed--kids, animals, photographs, personal videos, jewelry (most of what I own has been purchased during my travels so holds more of a memory than monetary value)--are all that really matter to me when it comes down to the wire.  Material items like furniture, televisions, exercise equipment, china...whatever...is all just a bonus, an illusion of who I am.  

People who lost their homes this past week have reacted with grace born of severe loss.  All of them have hugged the people they loved, have viewed the devastation and said "we'll rebuild".  And they will.  What will be rebuilt will not be the same as what was lost, it will be better because it's being built by survivors.  

It's easy to get caught up in the rat race of "having more" for the sake of impressing someone else or as proof to ourselves of how far we've come in life.  But what I see in my own life...or in the destruction from fire, hurricanes, terrorism, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis or whatever...is that all that matters at the end of the day is love and relationships.  As long as we have who and what we love, then we can rebuild...we can face uncertainty...we survive.  

What would you take if you had an hour or less to evacuate your home?  Think about it.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coin belts, goddesses and the shimmy

When people think of belly dancing, usually images of sultry women sha-shaying with scarves in a tent in the middle of a desert come to mind.  Well, in my beginning belly dancing class, we're more awkward than sultry, although we do wear some pretty cool coin belts.

I started belly dancing class in early February.  My reasons for doing it were pretty basic--I thought it'd be fun and sexy.  What I'm learning, however, is that it's much harder than I expected--both physically and spiritually. (Yeah, I said spiritually.) 

During the first class, my teacher told us that belly dancing is about feminine power--not about men, although they like to think otherwise.  She said it's about telling a story of who we are as women, of connecting to a tradition that goes back for centuries and about accepting ourselves for who we are, as we are.  We had to look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge the positives, rather than negatives.

Then she gave us an assignment--come back to class with a feminine Divine mentor that models our inner beauty, motivates self-expression and inspires us in every role we play as women.  She suggested we ask ourselves the following questions:
  • What qualities, states of being or understandings about yourself does she reveal to you?
  • What does she call forth from you?
  • How does she help you understand yourself as a woman in all of your roles? 
I thought--What the hell? Assignment? I'm here to shake it and have fun, not connect with my inner Goddess. 
Yeah, well, I'm kind of a brat when it comes to "homework", even at my age.  I probably rolled my eyes and sighed--and I was wrong to think that way, even for a minute.

As I've listened to the other women take turns presenting their Divine mentors, I've heard qualities of compassion, empathy, determination, fierceness, love, peace and strength emphasized.  It's all quite beautiful, really.  We, as women, are stunning and fascinating beings.

Aha! Now I get it!  The art of belly dance is more than the shimmy and snake arms--which use muscles I didn't know I had, by the way. The dance is about knowing yourself inside and out, about confidence, about expressing your inner beauty through outward expression, telling your story and accepting yourself.  It's about tradition, power and grace.

This week is my turn to present a Divine mentor and highlight a feminine quality for us to focus on during class.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet.  My ideas are all over the place, but I'm excited at the process.

I love being surprised.  I joined thinking it would be fun--which it is--but it's much more than I anticipated.  I feel like I'm returning to my roots, to a time when I danced as a child and put on shows for anyone who would watch, to the free-spirited me I used to be.  Who knew belly dancing would be all of this?  I didn't.

We laugh a lot in class.  We're learning not to take our mistakes seriously and to accept ourselves for the outstanding women we are from the inside out.

Belly dancing is liberating.  It's fun. It's sexy.  It truly is an art form.  And I absolutely love the sound my coin belt makes when I shimmy...makes me smile every time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Embracing the Shark



I swam with sharks in Belize.  I remember sitting on the edge of the boat with my snorkel mask shoved to the top of my head, my legs already poised to go over and seeing the silhouettes of the sharks shimmy beneath the transparent waters of the Caribbean.  Fear gripped me in that instant.  I felt paralyzed.  No way in hell was I going to do this...I mean, who would leave a perfectly sound boat to jump in with a bunch of sharks?  But then I was falling--and once you're in free fall, you're committed.  


In the water, I forgot all about being afraid. All I could do was marvel at the swaying forms of the sharks as they slid ahead of us and around us--completely disinterested in what we were doing.  I followed them, forgetting about being in the wide open ocean where their nastier cousins could be lurking in the dark.  I found myself reaching out, hoping for a touch...but they eluded me.  


The experience stays with me today.  In fact, I've adopted the shark as a metaphor for the new me.  Why would I do such a thing?  Sharks are ugly, you say.  No, I say.  Sharks are stunning and more beautiful than you can ever imagine--and their beauty runs deep beneath the scars you see on the surface of their skin.  A shark is in constant motion, always swimming, surviving.  A shark possess grace, intelligence, fearlessness, energy, confidence and power.  They're magnificent.  


I'm in a phase of my life where I've survived a lot by constantly moving forward, refusing to stop because I knew I'd drown in despair if I did.  I'm growing in bold and thrilling ways that often surprise me.  I'm not into proving myself ...I don't need to...I've already proven myself to my biggest critic...me.   During the challenges of the past several years, when I felt alone, afraid, clueless as to what to do next, and wondered where I'd get the strength to go on one more day, I'd say to myself, "Amber, you swam with sharks. You can DO this!"  Then I did.  I plunged through the fear, into the unknown and have come out for the better.  I remembered the sharks and it helped me somehow.   


I've evolved from a sad girl into Moxie Girl.  


My life is opening up in exciting ways.  More often than not lately,  I stop and laugh out loud because it's as if I'm living in a movie.  Outrageous things are happening.  Bigger than life people are appearing and showing me a world I'd only imagined.  


I'm back in the game of life after a few years of being scared and riddled with doubts.  My heart is still a bit raw and fragile, but it's coming back around.  A few weeks ago I was out dancing until 5AM--must have been dancing poorly because my arms felt like they'd fall off the next day--but the point is I was out dancing.  (It's been years since I've been out dancing and allowing myself to let go...years of being caught up with surviving instead of living...feels good to be back.) 


I'm considering getting a shark tattoo for my next birthday to honor my transformation.  I am embracing my power and confidence.  


You see, I am like a shark--a lot of us are who've survived trauma or tragedy.  Like the shark, I kept swimming despite the wounds and battles of the past several years.  I had no choice--swim or drown.  Like the shark, I have scars as proof of survival.  Like the shark, I am powerful, wise, graceful, smart and fearless.  


Yes, I remember looking down at their bodies sha-shaying just beneath the surface of the water and being gripped by fear.  It's amazing how I didn't remember the fear at all once I'd taken the plunge.  Life is like that, isn't it?  Once you're immersed in enjoying the other side of fear, it's hard to remember why you were afraid.  


Peace to you--
Amber


 
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