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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Every Day is an Opportunity to Celebrate

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

I've been thinking lately, now that we are almost a year into our quarantine, about ways I've been changed by all this at home time. Forgive me that I am not writing a little piece about society in general; I will leave that to sociologists, but I can write about myself and think that somehow I represent others of the same age who have been at home for the better part of 11 months.

After nearly a year spent at home, and particularly since November, I seem to gravitate to wearing the same comfortable clothes, the coziest socks, favorite gray pajama bottoms and sweaters that don't itch. My fingers are itching to give myself my own haircut (I will do it soon!). I now cook more and make lots of soup, which has always been a staple and comforting. I've tried my hand at making my own challahs which are pretty tasty even when they aren't painted and shiny. After spending many wonderful dinner hours watching The Great British Baking Show, my husband is experimenting with making his own pitot and we are going to tackle bagels next. I am now making my own granola instead of purchasing it and have been surprised at just how easy it is and how tasty!

There are another two things that I do more of now that I'd like to list here. One, the pandemic has given me the time and the virtual space to connect to friends and family who live far away. I can think of at least three people who have been important in my life forever, but live far away, with whom now I communicate with on a regular basis. Facetime conversations or Zoom dinners with these special friends have opened up a channel to be more comfortable together in a way that emphasizes who we are in the present instead of just recalling the past. When we speak now, we are not trying to catch up on the past 2 or 4 or 20 or 40 years; instead we can reminisce as only old friends can, but we can also talk about the here and now. These connections, which have always been unbreakable, have become so precious over the past months and are real treasures. If you haven't gotten in touch yet with your old friends, now is a great time to do so.

This last change has been an unexpected gift. Next Sunday (2/14/2021) will be my 100th movement and dance class since I began offering them last March. Over the year, a small group of women, both local and from other states, regularly Zoom in for these dance classes. During this time I have had the extra bonus of exploring musical styles from across time and geographical space. Every play list is like designing a box of chocolates and many reflect specific moments during the past year. There are so many gifted musicians in the world and we are their happy recipients.

It's hard to explain in words what the class achieves, but I know that a person may walk into the room feeling low and leave the room feeling energized. Movement (I say movement, because although some of the class is dance, a good part of it is creative movement) connects us in some crazy way to ourselves but also to each other. Although the people in the room don't know each other, they speak to each other on the screens using movement. The net result allows participants to harvest a little spark of extra energy and even a few moments of big smile, big sigh, out of breath joy.

I'll share one small example of what we do in class that has been very moving. I frequently remind participants that every day has the potential to be a Simcha, a time to celebrate. When I think back to some of the happiest moments of my life, I immediately go back to the weddings of our children. The recollection of walking our kids down the aisle and the subsequent wild dancing during the parties, were the height of joy, excitement and fulfillment in our lives. When I plan a movement class, periodically I play "simcha"(joyful) music, to recreate that experience of dancing at a wedding or other joyous occasions. We are missing weddings and other celebrations during the pandemic, but I can try to recreate that energy and the pure abandon that we feel when we lose ourselves in dance during moments of pure joy. For those moments that we dance, we are fortunate to

"be" in the same space together and to feel that energy that is shared among dancers, even if those dancers are dancing in different cities, states and even countries. How glorious!

So, despite a year of challenge for many and a year of isolation for many more, there have been the blessings of powerful moments of connection, friendships continuing to develop in a novel way and even periods of personal growth. I pray for this pandemic to come to an end and for the safety of all of us, but there will be moments that occurred by my computer this year that I will savor in the future. I think that when I hear certain tunes, they will remind me of this time and of dancing in my living room alone, but never really being alone. I only need to glance at the screen and my partners are dancing along with me, smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts.

As I end some of my movement classes,

May your feet always dance May your hands always explore May your eyes always see the best in others And may your heart always love

A few extra notes

* This entry doesn't include anything about how our family has connected. I will leave that for another post.

** If you haven't ever joined in on a movement class, you are always welcome. Screens can be off or on...It is your choice. Just let me know!

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