Susan's Blog

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Raqs My World

Life is too short to worry about how I appear to others. Or how focused my blog is. The fact is, I put myself out there because I get something out of it. I get interesting and life-infusing feedback. Sometimes I get hurtful stuff. But mostly not. So I write the blog because sometimes I need an outlet and I need the response. I have found from time to time that people get annoyed at me for including other aspects of my life, like the bellydance, like the bellydance photos of myself, as if somehow the pride I take in them is inappropriate.

I don’t really go for that kind of judgment. I am finding, the longer I live, that people’s lives take so many different shapes and forms, that appropriate is a very narrow path. Sure, I would never want to be inappropriate when it comes to my kids or my students, for example, but, otherwise, what, exactly is it about?

The “self-absorbed” accusation I sometimes hear is similar to the “stuck-up” one I heard in high school. It is an outsider looking at my outside and pronouncing me somehow not good enough, even though the form of the insult is an inversion of that.

I really like the admonishment of Voltaire, which is to tend your own garden. I am trying so hard to create garden here, my own Eden, where I can live happily with my loved ones. Sometimes my happiness is as simple as seeing myself in a sparkly outfit, with perfect bellydance form. Sometimes my happiness is a six-month stretch with no outbursts — for Nat, that is. Sometimes my happiness is realizing that Max is succeeding in school in a way that makes my breath catch in my throat. Sometimes my happiness is about predicting exactly when my lowest point of the month is going to be, so on that day I will just pull out all the chocolate I can find. Sometimes it is about Benji asking me about the “vengeful Hebrew God;” or about Ned looking at me that way of his — knowing and sexy — across a tiny candelit table in a beautiful French restaurant that makes me feel like an inexperienced college girl again.

The book I just finished writing is about how we adults — parents of complicated children — need to figure out how to be selfishly happy at times. We don’t just hang up our fun in a back closet once we start changing diapers and holding onto small hands. I think that the trouble with so many adults is that they no longer know how to have fun. But many parents don’t allow themselves so many forms of fun because of that awful word, “Inappropriate.” But people should really think about what truly is inappropriate and what is something okay but they’re scared of doing for fear of looking silly.

I think it’s okay to look silly sometimes. Goofy in love with my husband of nearly 25 years. Dancing alone in my crazy ornate gowns. But to me, it is all a dream come true.

This blog is another dream come true. It is a way to write, but not in a vacuum. I don’t like to write privately. I feel that writing is another kind of relationship, where you put something out there that you have crafted so that it thoroughly expresses what’s on your mind or in your heart, and then it lands on someone else’s consciousness, and stirs their thoughts. A conversation comes out of that, albeit a distant and syncopated one. But a conversation, nonetheless. I like conversations, though not always face-to-face or on the phone. I like knowing what people think (I don’t like getting my feelings hurt, but I do like hearing another person’s thoughts). That is the beauty of this blog. It lets me do just that, and I don’t have to convince an editor somewhere before it gets to happen.

I really think that there are far worse things than being inappropriate or self-absorbed. Like living your life just skimming the surface. Unless that makes you happy, then by all means. If your boat floats that way, I won’t be the one to scuttle it.


Susan, your blog was the very first blog I ever read (found it from the jacket of your book) and I’ve been with you ever since. I think the bellydancing is a true inspiration and a reminder to all of us to find our passions and have fun with them, even in the midst of autism. You do that beautifully. For some, their passion may be writing, or gardening, or scuba-diving, or they may not even have discovered it yet.

So don’t stop giving us the bellydancing photos just because some may have taken offense. Because you never know who will have also taken your example to discover who else they really are.

— added by Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) on Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I like coming to your blog because I never know what I’m gonna get here. I like that you share in such an honest, raw way. Your willingness to deal frankly with whatever is going on in is refreshing. I’m truly inspired by the fullness in your life — the fabulousness, the struggles and everything in between. Keep it up. xo, stacey

— added by stacey on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 1:14 am

Hi Susan,
I am in the middle of realising that I am dealing with the same old issues in disguise again!
Don’t you hate that!!!
I bet your poetry is intersting at the moment.

— added by Sue on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 7:47 am

I don't comment a lot but I had to jump in and echo Betty & Boo's Mommy. I often find myself looking at your bellydance photos and thinking, "Damn, she looks awesome and really happy!" And I am reminded that I need to be a whole person —taking care of *my* needs too— in order to be the strong mama-bear my son needs me to be right now.

— added by Niksmom on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:40 am

listen, YOU GO GIRL!! that’s what i have to say! tend that garden! make is luscious! and rich! and sparkly! and silly, sexy, serious, raucous, introspective, illuminating! connected! honest and true! it’s what you do and it’s all very powerful!

— added by kyra on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:43 am

I think white and gold is one of the most stunning (and hard to pull off) color combinations for a dancer. I was so impressed that I emailed the link to your tabblo to one of my dancing friends. I made half a comment then had to go. Your writing and dancing and writing about dancing is literally half the reason I am in dance now. Raqs on! -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:05 am

I read your blog from time to time…and very rarely comment-I was suprised by some of the comments on your last post. I think that when people get angry or criticise someone-it is because of something that they find lacking in themselves.I think that your blog is very honest. Honesty can be scary. I appreciate yours. Thanks

— added by kathleen on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:08 am

Susan, I enjoy the variety of posts. Your frankness and honesty bring real power to your writing and your willingness to write about all life’s ups and downs shows great commitment to your art and your causes.

— added by Pete Lyons on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:14 am

ATTENTION HATERS: Back off, the girl’s got to dance!

ATTENTION SUSAN: Keep up the good work!

Carry on. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:57 am

Susan, I love your blog in all its variety! I love all the pictures, and I love all the different topics. Don’t ever change a thing!

I totally don’t get people who complain about the content of YOUR PERSONAL BLOG! I say to them– don’t read it, or write your own dang blog! Nobody has any business telling you what to write.

Love, Laura

— added by Laura in L.A. on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:27 am

Susan, I agree with the others. You look amazing and I think it is wonderful that you have found something that makes you happy! My son Andrew is going to be 7 in June. Reading about your life with Nat and the rest of your boys has been very helpful for me. I need to know that there are others like me trying to find that balance between meeting the needs of our families and finding ways that make us happy so we can be better and stronger for them. Keep writing all that you do!!! And posting your beautiful pics!

— added by Eileen on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:52 am

You were the first blog I read too (same as Betty and Boo’s mommy). I read your book, then your blog, then started my own. You rock and even if I don’t comment on every post, be sure that I am definitely reading. I love that you belly dance and have something that is totally yours. It inspires. Keep on keeping on!

— added by KAL on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I come here often. I have never commented. I enjoy your blog. I enjoy your pictures. I met you at the Tatnuck Bookstore a couple of years ago when you read excerpts from your first book. You were interesting, enlightening and a joy to listen to.

Keep doing what you are doing you are touching people in a more positive way than you will ever know. Haters will always be haters. Pushing them aside and moving along is all we can do. For they will always find fault in the littlest things we do.

— added by Anonymous on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Susan, yours was the first book that I read that made me think that it wasn’t all doom and gloom and that we could still be a really fun family, even with autism. I appreciate your sense of self, your humor and your sense of outrage when it’s appropriate. I find myself agreeing with you more often than not. I feel bad for you when your family is having a rough patch. As for the haters,
F… ’em and feed ’em fish heads!

— added by Michael's Mom on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:40 pm

your blog is the first of my bookmarks. i love your dance, your rants, your humor, your everything !!!
keep calm and carry on.

— added by kathleen on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Of course you have the right to have your own life, interests – we do a disservice to our children by becoming only a reflection of them. My mother always quilted, and did other crafts. Sometimes I joined her of course, but overall, the lesson it taught me was that it’s important to be an interesting person, to pursue something artistic if it pleases you. It also taught me the world was not all about me. I am so looking forward to having my child, but he will always know that dance is a part of my life too, and just as he should pursue his passions, I did not stop pursuing mine when he came into my life.

Besides, we can’t really be unselfish unless we give a little to ourselves first. Could you really be such a loving mom, adoring wife and giving teacher if you had nothing for yourself?

well hopefully I’m preaching to the choir at this point.

Keep dancing, keep writing, keeping being yourself.

— added by Nepenthe on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Susan, I agree with all the others. Yours was the first blog I came to dealing with autism. Your book really was the first book that I could relate to. It was not all medical terms, and it dealt with autism in a loving, caring, family way. I still read it to this day, and I still enjoy it. There is so much more to life than just our kids though. In order for me and my husband to be good parents, we need to have time to ourselves to just focus on what we like. We need a break, a release. Otherwise, we are doing ourselves and our children a huge disservice. So, keep dancing girl!!

— added by Amy on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm

It’s good that you know what makes you happy, for a lot of people that–in itself–is a struggle… You are also lucky that there is so much love in you life, to be in love with your husband after so many years … that doesn’t always happen.. You are lucky!

— added by Holly Nappi Collins on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I love reading your blog — don’t ever stop! See you’re younger than I am and, therefore, I’ll get to enjoy it all my life.

— added by Donna on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm