Wanna see this poem in print? Find it on RedBubble!
When I tell people I used to be a dancer the first type of dance that enters their mind is ballet. Then modern. Then jazz. Then tap. Never hula.
When I say I’ve been a hula dancer for most of my life, a lot of people ask, “Hula hooping?”
“No,” I say. “Think grass skirts and coconut bras.”
I would never call myself a tender person. Ever. I can’t recall a time in my life when I could have been described as tender. Gentle, perhaps. Kind, maybe. But tender …
Tenderness contains clear connotations of softness, lightness, and depths of sensitivity as yet untouched by me. It implies an absence of rough edges and sharp corners and hardness, all of which I carry in abundance in my soul.
How does one reach tenderness when it lies beyond such a harsh environment? Better to leave it alone, untouched, unexplored. Better to not reach so deep for something I have yet to find necessary or useful.
It seems that when I had my daughter, she popped up on the other side of my hardness and sharpness in the sweet, flower-filled field of lavender tenderness. For the last four weeks she’s invited me, called to me, and ultimately demanded me to reach beyond all I dislike about myself in order to meet her there.
To do so, I’ve had to put down plenty of fear, anger, guilt, frustration, worry, self-doubt … baggage too heavy to make the journey to tenderness where the new young soul of my infant basks in the untainted sun. The journey isn’t easy. The terrain is ever-changing. Just when I think I’ve conquered one dark thought, another pops out from around the corner like the nightmare version of whack-a-mole.
But do I have a choice? Don’t I want to see my daughter for who she is, not who I see through my broken and wounded glasses? Isn’t she worth it, to meet her in all her divinity, her pristine, youthful beauty? She’s tiny and intelligent, aware and opinionated … a small but fully-fledged human being who deserves my respect, my love, and all the best of me.
Yet all she asks is a little tenderness. I’m proud to say … I’m doing my best.
I want more from this moment.
I want wonder and awe,
wisdom and faith.
I want silence and stillness,
self-growth and change.
I want a wide open heart,
courageous and brave.
I want a voice for my spirit
that speaks without shame.
I want deep breaths and smiling eyes
and caramel kisses.
I want hugs to shatter all my walls
and kind ears to listen.
Let me not simply push through
to get through the day.
Let me not miss the miracles
whispering my name.
I want stillness and truth,
I want to love with each breath,
to feel alive.
In every moment.