Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dipping my toes

One of the hardest things to deal with in France is my lack of creative outlets and inability to pursue my previous leisure activities. I’m someone who has always been active in and outside of work with multiple interests.

In my youth I was busy with ballet, music, singing lessons with contralto Anthea Moller , violin lessons (I could have done without the sexual harassment though), theatre performances, modeling and acting in musicals and as a member of the Elmwood Players. Later, I took up piano lessons, guitar lessons from Phil Garland (a well-known folk singer at the time), had a pedigree breeding stud for cavies and competed with them in shows too, knitting, jazz ballet, crochet and embroidery, Beginner Japanese, model-making of spaceships (non-fiction and fiction) as well as other forms of transport.

Much later in life I was a keen member of Toastmasters International (ranked second in NZ for impromptu speaking 2007), was a film extra and kept fit by studying salsa and french jive (Le Bop) as well as bellydancing. That lead to costume design /making and performing Danse du Ventre/Raks Sharqi as a solo artist. All through my life I have been an avid reader, cinema-goer, pet guardian and most of all, gardener.

Sadly, the move to France has put paid to almost everything I enjoyed in my personal life. If it’s not a lack of money (almost always) it’s a lack of opportunities. My collection of books is so small now and I tend to have to read stuff in French as a last resort that I can’t enjoy reading as I once did. My books have been sold or given away and I can’t afford many new ones. English versions are very difficult to find here so I would have to resort to Amazon when the wallet approves.

There are no bellydance teachers within 47kms and I have no car right now so lessons of any kind (music or dance) are in the too hard basket. Living with an uncertain future in a studio apartment means I have no pets of any kind and there is no garden. The later is a really difficult thing to deal with. I have my window boxes and my herb garden which is lovely, but I yearn for a garden to design, work in, to leave the planet in a more beautiful state than when I found it.

My lack of outlets needs to find a solution. Working and sitting around in a one-room apartment is not enough for my happiness, intellect and mental health. Action is required; no good brooding and complaining too long.

I’ve started small. I asked JC if I could practice my dance choreographies on his outside terrasse. There’s no room in my studio. I need exercise for health and fitness and to keep the flab in check. So I went over there with my practice gear, CDs and portable stereo. Apart from the evening I put on for JC and some mini practices before-hand, I’ve had no dance lessons or serious practice now for almost a year. So there I was, outside in the open air, dancing with delight in front of the large expanse of lawn, the garden, the enormous trees while JC did his own workout upstairs. The broken concrete played havoc with my dance shoes so I need to find a solution for that. But my body was very grateful. Painful but grateful. I need to do this more often.

A bonus for me was JC taking me to a plant nursery over the weekend to choose plants for one of his languishing sections of garden along the house. I’ve been nudging him to do something about it as I can always see potential for beauty and how to achieve it. It’s nice that he gave me an opportunity to help him with his large property. He certainly helps me a lot and it was a pleasure to muck in.

Working with JC in his garden was a different experience to what I’ve had before in my life. He finds it unacceptable for a woman to have to do heavy digging or anything really physically demanding. He dug out all the old soil, mixed it with compost he’d made, fertilised and raked so that all I had to do was plant the plants, move some others and top up with any compost required. I enjoyed helping him choose the plants even though climate restrictions (the big freeze) are more limiting in Europe.

We discussed, compromised, agreed. I did not find myself doing all the hard work while my partner did his own thing. He likes to find the way of least effort but will put in whatever effort is required to get the best results. What a honey. We were both tired but satisfied with the results.

Dancing and gardening are back on the menu-at least in a small way. Maybe I can now find other interests too. I hope this tentative start will move things along towards new opportunities.


Monique said...

Just pondering about the lack of books. Try www.bookdepository.com they are cheap and in English (and other languages) and have free delivery worldwide.

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.