Archives for January 2018

I Gave Myself The Gift of Space

Cleaning by Duane Storey on Flickr

I just celebrated a milestone birthday, and while some people dread these milestones, I’m actually very optimistic about the decade ahead. There is a ritual I do every year on my birthday that makes me look forward to it every year, even as my age climbs.

Traditionally, I put up the Christmas tree, decorations, and lights on my brother’s birthday, December 3rd. There has always been a mild day approaching this date to be outside putting lights up, and a cold day or snowy/rainy where we (my kids and I – this is my husband’s busy season, so the holiday preparations are on me) move the toys, sort some into a donation pile to make room, and assemble our fake, but beautiful, Christmas tree. Every year, without fail, there are either extra branches or missing branches. I’ll never understand how that happens but accept it, just like socks disappearing in the wash.

Then from December 3rd on, I may add some accouterments, but we’re well decorated for a good three weeks before Christmas and by my daughter’s birthday, December 10th. With her birthday and then Christmas, space is difficult to find. We live in a small rancher (with a full basement – full in that it is the size of the first floor, but also full in that there isn’t much space down there.) By the time my birthday hits, I’m anxious to have more space. I at least need to do yoga without stuff invading my peace of mind.

While I appreciate white wall space and clear counters and tables, my husband is an accumulator. He’s one of 10 kids, and it never fails when I clear a space, he tends to fill it. We have accumulated a lot over the past 17 years in our house, and even though I started to get much better at cycling more out than in, we still have a LOT of stuff.

For my birthday every year, I make sure the outside decorations come down and get put away, the tree comes down, and the inside decorations go back down in the basement. We manage to find places to put some of the toys the girls received, and get a good idea of what still needs to be donated, which is my Martin Luther King, Jr. project.

I have heard, even recently when reading a blog about the secrets of tidy people, that some people attribute a clean home and empty space to a high-functioning mind, a moral person, or even a “good” family. I don’t make that connection. That seems very superficial and arbitrary to me.

My reality is, I don’t always have space. It feels like an everyday struggle to create space. I value empty space, organization, and order. At the same time, I love my husband, my kids, and my pets and I have had to compromise. My threshold for what I can tolerate in chaos an disorder is much higher than it used to be and probably higher than most. While the life I love to live doesn’t always afford me the time to create or maintain order among my things, I give myself the gift of space every year for my birthday, and it’s a ritual that makes my birthday something to look forward to even as I get older.

When I can’t create order and space in my physical space throughout the year, I meditate to create order and space in my mind. Sometimes this is a ridiculous endeavor – I mean, I do work at home with my kids. This means I have to take time out of my workday while they are in school to meditate, get up before they do (which does not always work out,) do it after they go to bed when I’m sure to fall asleep early and then wake up at 3 AM, or attempt meditating with them at home, or with them. I know meditation is great for them, but I don’t get the benefit of meditation when I do it with them; they can’t sit still, not just because one daughter has ADHD, but because they’re kids. I find if I can manage to take a shower without interruption, it has a meditating effect. I tend to come up with the best ideas in the shower. I’ve even written songs in the shower.

My daughter’s doctor, upon her diagnosis of ADHD, actually suggested that, when they weren’t looking, we get rid of ALL toys in our house, leaving them with wooden spoons and pots and pans. It’s some school of thought she subscribes that associates toys with the death of creativity or the birth of consumerism. I have tried to have my kids participate in the project. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. One daughter can function at a very high level in the middle of chaos, and while I’m sure this will serve her well someday, she tends to not notice the mess, even when she is expected to help clean it. The ADHD daughter doesn’t love to clean, sort and organize, but does get a sense of joy when we are able to achieve it, however how long it lasts. I have learned that they are much more engaged in tidying when there’s something in it for them, like a play date.

I won’t deny them toys – I have uncovered beliefs around worthiness in myself stemming from not having the same toys as my peers and being treated poorly by said peers. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that they aren’t worthy of good things, as in objects. I have faith that they have very strong imaginations and make sure they spend time creating, not just consuming. One of my common questions to them, however, is, “What’s more important, people or things?” I say this a lot when they fight over things. I always want them to value people over things. My ADHD daughter will sometimes play with a new friends’ toys rather than the friend. I watch and manage this thoughtfully.

 

I’m not sure how I’ll manage it with all of my other priorities, but I have created an intention and vision of more space in my home, and believe that by making more space, I am making room for new good things to come into our lives. While I can tolerate a mess and function just fine, I recognize how much better I feel when I can close my drawers without grunting, locate my brush on the bureau, just push play on the yoga video without taking an extra 20 minutes to tidy up, and have room to chop vegetables on my counter and a place to craft and create. Of course, there’s having a home where other people feel comfortable, too.

the space between by dave matthews band lyrics

i do not own. all rights go to dave matthews band. with lyrics

2018 needs an anthem

Music by Jesse Kruger on Flickr

3-5% of the world’s population is apathetic to music…  This post is for everyone else.

I saw posts of heartache from a young woman who had been cheated on. She was exactly the age that I was when my cheating boyfriend and I finally broke up. Only, I was over it pretty fast. Once the full truth came out, I was determined to get back to me.

I went on dates, hung out with friends, especially my guy friends, and started a band with the friend who introduced us. Music was instrumental (no pun intended) in helping me heal and rebound. I remember the P!ink song “There You Go.” Not only was it constantly on the radio, but it was in my head, making me feel powerful and fierce. It was my anthem.

I met my husband within 4 months, even though I wasn’t looking for a relationship. We fell madly in love pretty fast. When I did see him again at a mutual friend’s engagement party, it was like the song was coming true.  That was a beautiful redemptive moment.

I wish I would have thought to use music the same way when I was laid off in 2002. I think if I would have had an anthem, I would have stayed motivated, even when three different companies strung me along for months waiting for financial approval to hire me. Instead of desperately holding on to hope and giving up my power to those companies, I might have charged forward, making things happen as I know I can do now.

The better we feel, the more we can take on.

Do you have an anthem for 2018? If not, I invite you to check out the songs below and adopt one of these. I offer something for everyone, and my reasons for including them.  I have included them on a YouTube playlist so you can play them in succession, as well as individual hyperlinks.

  1. Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles

I have to start out with a classic, one I think most people know, recognize, and a song for which most people have some memory association. I used to sing thing song to my babies as I changed their diaper in the morning.  I would open up the curtain and see them smiling at me.  It makes my heart happy to remember how blessed I felt to start my day that way.

  1. It’s a Beautiful Morning, The Rascals

This is another classic tune I would sing to my girls, and I still do. Sometimes the sun would shine through this weeping willow tree and give the whole bus stop a glow. I’m not a morning person, so I need a little extra help to rise and shine.

  1. One Moment In Time, Whitney Houston

This was recently resurrected for me watching the U.S. figure skating national championships. You might remember this song as the theme song for the 1988 Olympics in South Korea, and it was chosen as the anthem for an up-and-coming future Olympian, Starr Andrews. (She had a viral video 7 years ago.) She, now 16, actually skated to a version of this song that was sung both by her and Whitney Houston. Watch the video and try not to be inspired as she is overwhelmed by one of many moments in time.

  1. Fight Song, Rachel Platten

If you are a music snob like me, you might resist this song because it’s a pop song. I changed my mind when I learned that she was a 34-year-old married woman when this song, her first hit, finally broke through. That is an unheard of age for a breakout performer!  This was literally her fight song. Everyone in her life was trying to help her see that she had to pick a consolation career and this song is her middle finger. I’m okay with my girls loving it and playing it incessantly. It’s a guilty pleasure. Go, Rachel!

  1. Don’t Stop Believing, Journey

I hate to be cliché, but Journey’s Greatest Hits is one of my first CDs. I am a child of the 80s, and I was a small town girl. Eventually, I was also the singer in a smoky room.  We are living just to find emotion. There’s no happy ending in this song, just a call to action to be present in the moment, winning or losing, and to keep hope that a better life is waiting.

  1. Three Little Birds, Bob Marley

The beach is my happy place, and I have fond memories of Jamaica. You don’t have to have travelled there to appreciate Bob Marley and his music, but being there did make an impression on me. It made me wonder if the constant playing of Bob’s music throughout the resort was meant to induce a benevolent brainwashing. If you ever feel like an island, as troubled as that island might be, remember you are a beautiful island, and every little thing is gonna be alright.

  1. Like the Ceiling Can’t Hold Us, Macklemore

I’m going to start to get a bit more niche with this song and the ones that follow. You may not be a rap fan, but this song describes a triumphant journey from poverty to prosperity, from addiction to redemption. Macklemore is a comeback story, an underdog story, and so far has a happy ending. He has repaid loyalty to his girlfriend, now wife, and best friend Ryan Lewis. He used his rising fame to propel a performer, Wanz, who had killed his dreams to test software back into music. Wanz won 2 Grammy Awards for his part in Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” hit.

  1. Shine, Trey Anastasio

Trey is the lead singer of Phish. Phish is a jam band, which means they play improvisational rock much like Miles Davis played improvisational jazz. In my personal opinion, listening to this song on YouTube is 1/100 of the experience of seeing Trey or Phish live. (Yes, I have also seen the Dead, several times, but not with Jerry.) Though you may feel uplifted by the song, the live experience is other-worldly. Being in a musical experience with a large crowd is one of the most connecting experiences there is on the planet, and this is an audience that is for the most part awake to that, which makes it a level-up experience. Yes, listen, but experience it if you can.

  1. Going In the Right Direction, Robert Randolph and the Family Band

It was a Sunday morning at the first Bonnaroo, a mega-musical festival in Manchester, TN.  Robert Randolph was playing. I was raised Catholic, but don’t practice. I had always kind of wished I was Southern Baptist, because they really seem like they are in the music unabashedly. What a way to worship, I thought.  Seeing Robert that Sunday morning put me in a state of glory I had not yet experienced. I would go every Sunday if Robert played!

  1. You Get What You Give, New Radicals

The video perfectly depicts my early work experiences at the mall. The song and video are a plea for the downtrodden, the underemployed, and the suicidal to give the world a chance and recognize your own worth.

 

Share in the comments on your favorite anthem, and listen to the complete playlist, which will be updated with your suggestions.