Listening For Calm

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beethoven_concerto_5

There was a time when I saw music in my head.  As I fell asleep at night, I would listen to my iPod.  I had a special “Sleeping Playlist” that I listened to each night.  I became so familiar with the songs that I could see the music as I listened.  Notes would dance across my closed eyes as I fell asleep.  Their gentle movement up and down the staff lulled me to sleep.  I drifted off as I became part of the music.  My mind was clear, troubling thoughts rarely intruded to interrupt my slumber.  It was just me and the music.  I was at peace with myself and the world around me.  That allowed me to appreciate the beauty and the composition of the music. Continue Reading »

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Yelling Sucks

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Today someone yelled at me.  It was at the end of the day.  I am sick and exhausted.  My energy was already depleted, and the yelling sucked away whatever remained.  Even now, hours later, I am shaking.  I didn’t deserve to be yelled at.  While I spoke in a calm, reserved voice, this person blamed me for causing their lack of control.  No.  No person deserves to be yelled at, and no person can be the cause of another’s lack of control.  Hang up the phone.  Walk away.  Table the discussion.  Mentally healthy adults do not yell…..under any circumstance.  Yelling is a selfish, weak, self-absorbed way to handle a difficult situation.  Yelling is cowardly. Continue Reading »

August Playlists

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In 2010, I began to create a new iPod playlist each month.  I usually copy the entire list from the previous month into the next month’s list, and then I begin the process of adding new songs and deleting songs that I’m sick of hearing.  I have saved all of the lists from the past two years, and it’s been very interesting to see how the songs from each month have had a way of reflecting the events in my life at the time.  Each list tells a story.  Often though, that story isn’t revealed until months later as I look back at the songs and remember the events from that time. Continue Reading »

Rasul

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I pushed through that wall.  The one good thing about all of this is that I have learned to be patient, be stronger, and wait it out.  Redirection.  When things get tough, I try so very hard to redirect my thoughts to thinking that is actually productive.  I try to think about what I have in my life that DOES work.  What can I do to alleviate the negative thoughts? Those thoughts aren’t T’s fault or my kids’.  I own those thoughts.  It is no one else’s job but mine to get things turned around.  I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve read a lot. It seems to have paid off.   Much of it seems to be working.  YIPPEE!  So screw you, Negativity and Depression.  I will not only win this battle, but I will win the war, too.

I have spent too much time these past few years fighting for things that were not worth my efforts.  This time is different.  This time, I’m fighting for me.  I’m fighting for my life, and I know I will win, because I have finally learned to care about ME.  I don’t mean that in a selfish way.  What I mean is that at one time I put so much effort into something that did nothing to benefit me.  I cared for what did not care for me in return.  I was hurt.  My family was hurt.  Everyone around me suffered due to my misguided efforts.  This time is different, because if I fight to get back to ME, then it also benefits the people who love and care for me.  Win.  Win.

Yes, I was in a crappy state of mind for most of the day.  I didn’t accomplish much at all, but I plugged away to the best of my limited abilities.  I suppose that’s the most we can ask of ourselves.  We do the best we can.  If we don’t backtrack, give in, give up, or falter, then we have won a victory for the day.  That is something, my friends.  Self-respect and integrity at the end of the day is something to be proud of.

Tonight as I was driving home from work, I put my hair up in a ponytail, opened the sunroof and all of the windows.  The warm breeze whipped around me.  I stuck my arm out of my window and let my hand cup the warm air.  My iPod was blasting, and a song from my waaaay distant past came on:  Rasul by Spyro Gyra.  It’s an old, old song.  T and I were so young back when we loved Spyro Gyra.  No one we knew had even heard of them.  Rasul was a song that moved me.  Soprano sax is the main instrument.  That was back before Kenny G compromised the poor soprano sax with his greasy, long-haired elevator music.

When I heard Rasul again today, I had such sweet memories.  I remembered the old apartment where we sat on the floor listening to LP’s.  We had no money, but we had an excellent sound system with GIANT speakers.  Sometime in the early 80’s, Spyro Gyra came to a local college for a concert.  We scraped together enough money for the tickets, and I still remember what a fascinating show they put on.  Their percussion section was amazing, the horns, too.  We were transfixed during the entire show.

I listened to Rasul twice today as I drove home, then I called T.  He remembered.  I could hear the smile in his voice when I called him and told him what I had been listening to.  As soon as I got home, I brought my iPod into the living room, and played it on our sound system.  T and I laughed.  We remembered the giant speakers, and laughed as we looked at our surround sound system.  Oh, how things have changed!  Now, there are six tiny speakers strategically placed around the room, and the sound could blow our old big boy speakers out of the water.

As we listened, Emily came running down the stairs.  She said, “Mom!” when she saw me standing in there.  She looked confused.  She had thought I was playing.  I hugged her for the mistake.  I haven’t played my soprano sax, or any other sax for that matter, very much in over  a year.  Someday soon, though, I’m going to get it out.  Someday very soon.

 

 

Energized!

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Ah, what a good day.  How can anyone be depressed with this beautiful Indian Summer weather?  My drive to work was breathtaking.  The fields look like watercolor paintings, all warm and golden.  The earth seems to ripple and shimmer with the bounty of the harvest.  Tractors are out early, and I love watching the grain spewing into the waiting wagon while the air fills with a fog made of silage.

This morning, I enjoyed my music as I was driving along.  Each month this year, I have created a new playlist on my iPod.  This month, I couldn’t decide what type of music I wanted to save in my list.  I’m tired of the depressing lists of previous months.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted rock, or jazz, or country, or bluegrass, or maybe even opera, so I decided to scrap the whole list thing this month.  October is SHUFFLE MONTH, and I have really been enjoying it.  I got rid of every David Gray song on my iPod, and any other “triggers of sadness.”  I have enjoyed the random selections so much.  It has felt like being reacquainted with long-lost friends.

A song by Phish came on this morning while I was driving, “Gin and Juice.”  I smiled and started singing along.  My smile grew even wider when I realized that I was singing this silly song, but I was thinking of something else entirely.  I was thinking about the funding sources for some of our Neighborhood Stabilization Programs.  Ah…for a few moments I was back to being me again, and that felt so good and right.

This afternoon, I got to put on a hard hat and tour a couple of projects that I have been involved with for almost four years.  One of them is a wonderful new, infill project, and the other is a renovation of a brownstone built in 1847.  I loved the dust and the excitement of the work site.  I loved seeing these buildings progress from plans on a piece of paper to actual bricks and mortar.  I loved hearing that the completion dates are only months away now.  I am so excited to see these building filled with people, homes, and businesses.  I love looking across the skyline and seeing these changes and knowing the positive impact they will have on our community.

Today I remembered again, at least briefly, who I am and what this is all about.  I needed today.  I needed the beautiful fields, the silly music, and I needed to put on a hard hat.

Drink Me

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During my lunch break today, I called a friend.  I needed to hear a friendly voice.  I was feeling sad and stressed out.  I needed to talk to someone who cared.    Basically, I needed a friend.  Instead of keeping those feelings bottled up inside,  I called someone I knew would understand.   We talked about many things, but eventually we discussed what depression feels like.  She had written in her own blog a description that I had found terrifyingly beautiful, accurate, and true.  She wrote that depression is “like some thick, wet, blue, velvet cloak trying to smother the life out of your heart….”  I understood.   I have been feeling the weight of my own depression these past few days, and had been describing it in my own mind.  Maybe that’s part of the process, the trying to understand and interpret that crushing, muddled feeling.

Her description is a whole lot prettier than my own.  I told her that my depression feels like cotton.  My mouth, nose, face, every part of me, feels like it is stuffed with cotton batting.  I am unable to make facial expressions.  If someone were to ask me to smile, my brain could not tell my face what to do.  That must be where the “cotton” feeling comes in.  I feel like a rag doll.  I have a face, but it is blank.  Fighting for expression, fighting to act like a human and not a stuffed inanimate object, is exhausting.

Last week, when I received a funny text picture from a friend I see infrequently, I replied.  “Thanks, that made me smile.  In fact, I laughed out loud.”  He responded that he was glad and that I needed to smile more often.  He said that I’m pretty when I smile.  I felt embarrassed.  I knew just what he was referring to.  We had seen each other at a conference in May.  I could see that he felt I had changed.  I was not the same person I had been just a few short months ago.  I was sick.  I didn’t laugh or smile like I once did.  I wasn’t any fun.  I was the expressionless rag doll, and that made me feel ashamed of myself.

Talking to my friend today helped me tremendously.  Our conversation went from serious to silly from moment to moment.  We are two people struggling with loss, fear, pain, and depression, but we are also able to laugh.  God, I find strength in that.   There are good people in this world, and I am learning to reach out to them.  I am learning to accept help when it is right there for the taking.

I’m not sure why I have so often been faced with loss in my life.  Actually, I try not to think about it too much.   I do know that I have had way more than my fair share of bad luck and loss.  It would be staggering if I were to write it all down.  On the other hand, I have had so many wonderful blessings, too.  The one thing I have learned as I have been faced with adversity in my life is that there is an OTHER SIDE.  Climb that hill, keep putting one foot in front of the other, trudge through the crap that life throws your way.  There IS an OTHER SIDE.  Right now, though, that other side seems so very far away.

Of course, I am feeling bogged down.  There is so much on my plate right now, and not much of it is good.  That’s when the depression kicks in.  It’s almost impossible to fight off when life is throwing buckets of crap my way.  I feel myself sinking under, and I’m tipping my head up to try to catch a breath of air.  I need to BREATHE, but there does not seem to be a place of comfort.  I’m trying to trudge along and get to the other side of this.  I want to get to the BETTER SIDE.  I’m trying.  I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but it feels like I am fighting a pretty strong wind.

 

As I drove home from work tonight, like always, I listened to my iPod.  The song “Drink Me” by Anna Nalick came on my player.  Drink me.  That made me think.  The words of the song made me think.  “Drink me, baby.  Slowly, I’ll disappear…  I’ll get smaller with every swallow.”  Wow.  That is how I feel.  Little sips of me have been taken.  Just a little bit at a time.  A little here.  A little there.  My glass, which was once full, is now almost empty.

I allowed it to happen.  “Here, take a little bit more.  Is there anything else you want or need?  Is there anything else I can do for you?  I am strong.  I will bear the weight.  Here, have a little bit more.”  I gave too much.  I emptied out my own glass.

July 2011 Playlist

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In January of this year, I began making a new playlist each month for my iPod.  I took all of my 2010 playlists and dumped them into one big list quite cleverly named, 2010 Playlist.  I didn’t get rid of the songs, but I needed a fresh start.   Each month in 2011, I have created a new playlist.  I have kept some of the same songs from month to month.  Some of them are left over from last year, but each month I change things.  I remove a few songs.  I add a few more.  What started out as the desire to refresh my list of tunes, has turned into something else entirely.  Now that it is July, I can look back at the months of this year and remember what I was feeling and what I was thinking as I created and listened to each month’s playlist.  My musical selections have reflected many of the emotions I was/have been experiencing in my life at the time.  Of course, some of my selections mean nothing more than the fact that I like the song!

On the old blog, I posted my list each month, but I haven’t kept up that tradition on this new blog.  I’ve been too busy, too tired, or too lazy.  I was talking to my dear blogging sister today.  We were discussing music or particular songs.  She wondered about the playlists.  I felt guilty!!  I felt disloyal to my old blog, which I dearly miss.  I felt disloyal to my iPod(s), which have been giving me fits!  I have four iPods, and none of them are working properly right now.  It seems that I am in flux in about every area of my life.  Not much is working very well right now.

The Little White Pod is  just barely able to hold the July Playlist.  I miss having my other songs on my current iPod.  Those songs are just sitting there waiting for me to pull the trigger on a brand new iPod.  I’m not sure which model to buy.  I’ve looked at them, but none of them are speaking to me yet.

Below is the July Playlist.  My newest favorite artist is Amy Winehouse.  WOW!  Her lyrics crack me up, AND she is an awesomely talented musician.  I know her personal life is a bit of a train wreck.  Maybe that’s why I like her.  She makes MY life look tame!  🙂  The girls and I have been enjoying “Perfect Two” by Auburn.  Even T knows all of the words to that song, and it cracks us all up when he sings it!  I’m still hooked on Christina Perri and Adele.  They’re both so fantastic!

“F***** Perfect” by Pink has wonderful (if you overlook the F word!) lyrics.  A friend sent me the link to the video.  I have only watched it twice, once alone and once with the girls, and I cried each time.   (Well, I’ve watched it three times now!)  I’ve decided to include the video at the end of this post.  BEWARE.  The video is  graphic, but LIFE is sometimes graphic, my friends.  I would love to have  your comments on this video.  It says so much to me as a woman, a mother, a person who has been hurt, a person who doesn’t understand so much cruelty in the world, and a person who often feels much less than perfect….

JULY 2011 PLAYLIST: Continue Reading »