A Homemade Lullaby

One of my Go-To stories to tell is how I thought – until the age of 9 – that I was the BEST SINGER IN THE WORLD. In my head, my voice matched those on the radio and in church I sang loud and strong like I was the leader of the choir. I sang in my room, in my shower, EVERYWHERE. I loved to sing and I was the singingest singer in all the land.

And then – one day in 3rd grade – a girl name Michelle sat next to me at school mass and quietly told me after, “Hey. You really can’t sing very well but you do it REALLY LOUDLY so I wasn’t sure if you knew or not.”

WHAT?

I went home and immediately recorded myself singing on a tape and played it back and HOLY SHIT, Y’all. SHE WAS SPOT ON. I WAS TERRIBLE.

I mean, there’s “kinda bad” and “can’t carry a tune” and then there’s “causes blood curdling agony” and I was much closer to that final level on the scale of terrible singers and I was OH SO DAMN LOUD.

And while that moment was heart-breaking and embarrassing, I’m weirdly grateful to Michelle because I might have gone on to an embarrassing moment on American Idol without her.

But I still love to sing. And I still sing. I just do it much softer AND I make sure I tell my story often enough that everyone around me is aware that I know I’m terrible so they don’t have that awkward moment of hearing my voice and then thinking, “Oh god…” because…It doesn’t matter! Kim knows she’s a terrible singer! So we can just enjoy her terrible singing with her!

Or something like that.

When E was a baby I would do what all parents do, I would sing him to sleep. I often sang church songs because they were my favorite, but I also made up one that I sang the most often because it was simple and easy to sing.


Oh E-li-ah, E-li-ah,
I’ll always
Love you!
Yes I always
Will love you
No matter
What you do!

And I would sing it over and over and over.

Then I had Nikki and it turns out


Oh Ny-oh-ka, Ny-oh-ka,

fits perfectly. So she heard the song a million times too. And then with a slight change in rhythm I was even able to do


Oh Wes-ly, Oh Wes-ly,

and sing him the same song.

So it was my thing, I guess. And lately, Nikki has really wanted the calming lullaby/back rub before bed so I’ve been reviving the tradition of singing my homemade lullaby. Her anxiety hits her hardest at night and she gets sad and scared and she really likes the relaxing effects of a back rub combined with a lullaby and it MAKES ME SO HAPPY because, she doesn’t care how terrible I sing. I love when she asks for it because first – it gives us a little bit of a callback moment to infancy and she’s growing up so fast those moments are cherished. But I also love that my voice and my lullaby can still soothe her even if Simon Cowell would have shunned me.

Truthfully, it’s more of a whisper and doesn’t require much tune so even a terrible singer like myself can’t screw it up too much. When I composed it during E’s infant years I made sure to keep it soft and uncomplicated so that anyone overhearing my lullaby wouldn’t be in too much agony. But it is still singing and I always joke with her about how happy it makes me she wants me to sing to her even though I’m a terrible singer. Last night I laughed and said, “I should record this and do a blog post about it.”

She said, “Mom! Do it! Because it’s a great song and you wrote it!”

HA! So not only does she not mind my out of tune voice, but she is also impressed that I came up with it ALL BY MYSELF. Turns out she also loves that it is customizable. She’s always thought it was pretty amazing that I had a song that I could stick the kid’s names into.

See? Whisper sing. The secret of all terrible singers.

It’s a small moment in her life, this lullaby/backrub moment. But I still think it’s one that will stick with me because she needs me and as she gets older that’s more and more rare. And it gives me ONE THING I can do to help her with her anxieties.

images

Again! With the Pooping On The Joy!

I’ve written before about the trend of pooping on people’s joy and I’ve seen it recently with the popularity of Hamilton. Not in concrete: That thing you love sucks! type of ways. But the more subtle, I’m a special flower because I don’t like what everyone else likes! kind of way which tends to also still be done with a Pooping on Joy flare to it. There’s a lot of things I don’t like that the rest of the world likes: See every grown-up TV show that is currently popular. But I don’t do these hidden self-righteous posts that are all I know I’m going to lose friends but: I DO NOT LIKE GAME OF THRONES. I watched one episode and it was just too ridiculous. which is just such a WEIRD thing to post.

Because I do not like Game of Thrones either, but I’m not even going to support your status because it just sounds weird. Instead I post things like: Reminder: You won’t get any GoT spoilers from me because I don’t watch the show since it’s not aimed at 15-year olds and playing on The CW. Because that’s the truth of it. Give me a teen show on The CW and I’m all in. But give me a show with sex and violence and I get all prudish and MY EYES!.

See? I point out I don’t watch it but I do it in a self-deprecating way so it’s not pooping on the joy of those that DO watch it.

But Hamilton? JEEZ. The snark! The snubbing! The self-righteousness! I know they’ll probably take away my citizenship but I don’t like Hamilton. It’s bad r&b and bad history. THAT IS AN ACTUAL TWEET I SAW. It’s just snarky. And again -it’s not obviously mean – it’s better than “EVERYONE WHO LIKES IT SUCKS!” But it’s subtle in the pooping on the joy. Like, the person wants to make sure the world knows they don’t like this thing and they do it with a snub to it. I POOP ON YOUR JOY!

And now? Now with the Pokémon! EVERYONE IS SNARKING ON POKéMON! Well, at least everyone who is not playing it. Yes. It’s terrible that people are catching Pokémon at the Holocaust Museum and the 9/11 Memorial…but what is the actual problem here? People not being reverent? Because I’m certain there are kids bored at those places snapchatting their friends every day. I know because my Dad drug me to museums all the time and I was always bored, no matter how tragic the topic or how much respect it warranted. I’m still dramatically sighing in the corner and keeping an eye out for cute boys.

Now, if the problem is that it’s an adult doing the Pokéhunting in those museums? Then that adult is an asshole. And should know better. BUT IT IS NOT THE GAME’S FAULT. That person is just an ass. Don’t be like, “Damn game!” Instead be like, “Jeezus, who knew there were such obvious assholes in the world? Too bad the PokémonGo game now spotlights those asshats!”

I actually saw someone snark about it being just another colossal waste of time and let me tell you something: I BEG TO DIFFER. Something that brings someone joy? IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME. Even channel surfing. Or playing facebook casino games. Or binge-watching The Bachelor. If something brings you joy? Even if it’s just because it provides a mindnumbing escape from your stressful life? IT DESERVES MERIT.

(Full Disclosure: I love PokémonGo, even if I’m avoiding fighting anyone or going to any of the gyms because I’m scared of losing my Pokémon.)

If something makes you smile? BE PROUD OF IT. Many people go through life with no things that make them smile, so enjoy your thing! And if other people are smiling about something that does NOT make you smile? Just let them be. No need to snark or minimize their enjoyment. Find your own silly thing to enjoy. There’s plenty out there.

tea

My Unfair Distribution Of Empathy

It is very hard for me to understand how other people don’t get the same information as I do and come to the same conclusions. I know that sounds silly because I’m the queen of empathy – but I seem to have an easier time having empathy for people in TOTALLY DIFFERENT situations as me, than I do for someone who lives a similar life as I do but makes entirely different choices even when exposed to the same information.

FOR EXAMPLE:
Someone over a decade ago pointed out to me that casually throwing around the word “retarded” was offensive to many people with mental disabilities or who loved people with mental disabilities. I was offended at first, I’m pretty sure I even ranted about “political correctness” in my head. But eventually? Once I put my pride aside? I accepted her polite correction and adjusted my language accordingly. YET – the same issue has gotten so big that there’s even an official campaign and people still refuse to change their language because they don’t like being told what they can and can not say.

If an uneducated person who isn’t exposed to people like me constantly posting links to stories about the End The R-Word campaign uses the word “retarded,” I can weirdly empathize with them because that was me 10 years ago. But someone who I know has heard of the efforts to rid the world of the casual use of it, yet still uses it? I struggle desperately to understand their point of view. I find myself getting more angry with them than with the poor Mom without the internet who is struggling just to pay her utility bill – much less have time to learn about campaigns to correct language.

The issue that this relates to currently is the response of “All Lives Matter” as a “protest” of sorts to the whole “Black Lives Matter” movement. At first? I had the same response in the days following Mike Brown’s death when the hashtag first gained popularity. “BUT ALL LIVES SHOULD MATTER!” But then, as usual, someone casually pointed out to me that the point is that all lives don’t matter. That the black community, especially in poor neighborhoods, see unjust deaths at the hands of police officers regularly and no one cares.

Since then there have been at least a million other metaphors used to explain it. There’s all houses matter, there’s the fair share of dinner metaphor. There’s quotes from everyone from John Steward to Trevor Noah. Every day now I see at least 50 GREAT explanations about how/why #alllivesmatter is unnecessary. About how #blacklivesmatter does not negate the value of other lives. Especially blue ones. I see defenses and explanations all over the place and YET…YET…people still insist: ALL LIVES MATTER without realizing that they’re not countering anything. OF COURSE THE #BLM COMMUNITY BELIEVES ALL LIVES MATTER. That’s the point. They WANT all lives to matter. But their deaths often do not.

I just really struggle when someone of my same race/class/education level gets the same information I do and does not come to the same conclusions. The same goes for the idea that many people still believe homosexuality is a choice. Even if a gay person explains to them, “No. This is who I am. I could no more choose NOT to love someone of my same gender than you could NOT to love someone of a different gender.” They still won’t believe it. They justify it with Satan, or blame it on society, or something. They don’t walk away with the same view I do, “Oh. Okay. So that’s just part of who they are. Why would I treat them differently for that?”

There’s really no point to this entry other than vocalizing this struggle lately. I really try to be the queen of empathy. I try to dig deep and understand how people become who they are and how they come to see the world how they do. I see a young black man raised in a broken family turning to crime and ending up in and out of prison his entire adult life and I think, I can see exactly how he ended up there. Put me in the same situation and I might have ended up the same place. I see his life of violence and I actually can empathize in a weird way because it’s so different from my life experience that I can somehow see myself taking the same path if you put me in his shoes.

But give me a middle class white woman in the same community as I am, exposed to the same resources and people, and she still uses the word “retarded,” thinks homosexuality is a choice, and constantly responds with #alllivesmatter to all of her #blm friends and I angrily think, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HER AT ALL! I have an easier time offering empathy to the 60-year old black man in prison for murder than I do the soccer Mom who won’t share a bathroom with a transgender woman.

It’s a fault of mine, I know. And I’m really trying to dig into it to allow myself to be able to show the same empathy to people on my same walk but who have different interpretations, as I do for people on entirely different journeys. I guess I’m just wondering if anyone else has this problem? Anyone else have an easier time letting behavior and attitudes slide from people different from you are than people who seem very similar?

13566919_10154950284903496_7859029678401480069_n

Perspectives.

I actually returned from vacation Thursday evening which I hoped would give me Friday as a way to “ease” into the real world again before getting the full weekend to recover. Unfortunately, towards the end of my work day on Friday I started feeling sick and a mild-but-inconvenient illness kept me kinda useless all night Friday and a good chunk of Saturday. Then we were hosting Family Dinner on Sunday so I had to quickly get into “CLEAN THE HOUSE AND COOK THE DINNER MODE!” bringing me to this morning when I woke up thinking, Wait. What? Monday? Already? But I just got back from Colorado! I’m not ready yet!

Vacation hangovers are terrible. I mean, total First World problem, but still…TERRIBLE.

Also – a tree fell on our fence while we were out of town so I have to WALK my dog first thing in the morning now and I do not do well doing anything without my first 14 cups of coffee. Even walking the dog.

Oh. And let’s also discuss that when I woke at 3am (a time no human wants to be up if he/she has a choice) and went to get clothes out of my closet my husband – who I guess hadn’t been sleeping well all night – loudly grumped, “OH MY GOD. ARE YOU ALREADY UP? JEEZUS. I MIGHT AS WELL GET UP NOW. I’VE BEEN TOSSING AND TURNING ALL NIGHT BECAUSE I GUESS I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO SLEEP.”

He did not get up, by the way. Which is probably good. My vacation hangover and my case of The Mondays and my irritation at having to walk my dog puts me in a mood I call: I HAVE NO PATIENCE WITH YOUR GRUMPS, MISTER.

I tell you all of this because I’m determined to try to take more control of my perspective. Yes! These are the things making me terribly grumpy this morning. I am very overwhelmed and tired and not quite ready for the real world yet. BUT. BUT! I also got to spend a lovely week with my Mom and my brother and his family in beautiful Breckenridge, CO and while the real world is a bit of a jolt, that was a trip of a lifetime. I’m so lucky to have been able to do it. The whole time I was thinking, Dad would love that we’re doing this. And he would have. That we are still close enough to plan trips together. That we do it involving the outdoors and adventures. That we were in a parade. (AND MADE THE LOCAL PAPER!) That I saw a moose. He would have loved all of that.

So I’m back to the grindstone today and I’m definitely overwhelmed with life but I’m trying to keep perspective. The world has been full of real tragedy and real pain that I’m seeing firsthand now thanks to the power of social media. There has always been real tragedy and real pain out in the ether, I just haven’t had to look at it every day like I do now.

Before social media I could choose not to watch the news, I didn’t have a lot of real world friends so unless the tragedy hit the few I talked to daily on the phone – I didn’t know of any of it. But now I do. I see fundraisers for kids with cancer and videos of unjust shootings. I see protests and marches and interviews with grieving widows. I see links to stories about houses being robbed or businesses burnt down. I see friends in the hospital and friends who have lost their children. Every day it’s right there on Facebook, as I’m checking it with everyone’s race results and Independence Day photos. It’s just speckled around the pictures of Red, White, and Blue parades and videos of cats jumping into bathtubs.

So I have a bit more perspective now, about my Case of the Mondays and my Vacation Hangover.

I’ll try to get back into the groove of life today so that I can wake up tomorrow with a little more rhythm and less grumpiness. I’m happy to be home, but I miss my family terribly, already.

Here’s to spreading joy today, in whatever way I can.

1524090051_364ba1e724_z

Productivity v/s Piddling

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post this morning. I was very happy to have discovered I had $114 in my Amazon account from the Amazon settlement and I really wanted to finally buy the perfect bag I’ve been shopping for forever. I found the bag (I don’t know if it’s perfect in general – BUT – it’s definitely going to be perfect for my vacation coming up to Breckenridge.) and had time to kill so I surfed around Facebook for a bit and found this article about the art of piddling.

A piddler does not fix a leaky washing machine, or a slipping transmission, or a hole in a roof. Such work is necessary, and the more necessary a labor is, the farther from piddling it becomes. A piddler may use tools, but only small, light ones, and only on things that are not needed right then. Changing out a car battery in the dead of winter is not piddling, because it is a necessity. But tinkering with a lawn mower in the middle of February is, especially if the grass is deader than Great-Aunt Minnie’s house cat and buried under a foot of snow. Doing a load of laundry is, of course, not piddling. Organizing one’s sock drawer by color and fiber is.

I’ve been debating myself lately about this weird illusion our society has created where success (or PERCEIVED success) is defined by:

1) How busy you are
2) How little sleep you get
3) How much you check off on your To Do list
4) How little time you waste

This has been a debate in myself because I’m an inherit planner (a trick to combat anxiety as mentioned yesterday in the comments) and so time should not be wasted. BUT! I’m also very proudly dependent on my sleep and refuse to sacrifice that if I can avoid it.

I’m often reading or hearing people talk about “how little sleep they get” and here I am doing my best to get in bed by 8pm and feeling suddenly like I’m less because of it.

I love to veg out and watch TV. LURVE IT. But, I often have this one part of me that’s like: GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING because I feel like if I’m not DOING something on my list then I’m a failure. But then there’s another part of me (the part that LURVES sleep) that says, “Life is short. Who cares if the floor is clean. This activity right here is making me happy.”

The article about piddling hit home because I used to piddle a lot more. I used to organize things for no reason other than I liked organizing. I used to rearrange furniture and rearrange the stuff on my desk. I HAVEN’T DONE THAT IN AGES. This article reminded me how nice it is to busy yourself doing something completely unnecessary while convincing yourself it is totally necessary in that moment. I MISS PIDDLING.

I feel like I have two very different parts of my brain battling it out and I think that’s not a surprise as I’ve always showed characteristics of having an engineering-type brain AND an artist-type brain. They’re both there but neither are dominant enough to provide any guidance. I’ve always been good at and and love math, but I’m also a very qualified space case who daydreams and doodles. I don’t do either WELL, but they are both very present and often create these dueling moments which DOES NOTHING TO HELP MY ANXIETY.

Let’s nap! And then let’s color in that new coloring book! And then let’s put all of our Harry Potter memorabilia on that one shelf that is boring upstairs.

The floor is gross. I need to clean the upstairs toilet. I’m behind on my email.

And it’s not even like it’s obvious which one will make me HAPPY because I’m just as happy wasting time with my Harry Potter knickknacks as I am crossing chores off my To Do list. What I’m not happy with is ONE voice in my head berating the other voice when the decision has been made.

And I’m also not happy that society seems to push me towards my “To Do” list more when – WHY? WHY ARE WE CONSTANTLY GOING GOING GOING AND NEVER SLEEPING? WE NEED MORE SLEEP, PEOPLE.

(Says the girl who wakes up before 4am at least 5 days a week.)

I had to cancel several therapy sessions in a row due to an inability to get it in around work as I’m about to go on vacation and need to get paid for as many hours as possible to make up for the days with no paycheck. This is a sucky fact of life that you forget about if you live with a salaried job. By the time I see my therapist again it will have been over a month and while she gave me homework that goes along with a lot of the work we’ve been doing, I think I’m going to shift gears with her instead when I see her and go in this direction. How do I find the right balance for me? How do I avoid neglecting the piddler/artist side of my brain because all of my friends doing ALL OF THE STUFF on Facebook make me feel guilty? How do I find the balance between “Doing what life needs me to do” and “Not forgetting the value of mindless piddling” to keep me at peace and to manage my anxiety?

Also – I gave up training. Not only did I realize I can’t run successfully through the night – thereby breaking me of my goal of 100 miles at my race in September; but I also realized it’s impossible for Donnie and I to both train during the same season. (I know. This is a lesson we already learned but we thought it would be easier since he was just running and not doing multi-sport training.) I’m running maybe 20 miles a week now? And it’s kinda nice. I’m going out for 3-5 mile runs a few times a week and THAT IS IT. And as guilty as I feel as an ultra-runner, it has been SUCH A TREAT not having to plan my life around running.

So, yeah. I need to find the balance because whenever I allow myself time to piddle, or a break from obligations, I am happier because of it. But then the guilt sets in because it feels like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD IS SUPER PRODUCTIVE AND SACRIFICING SLEEP AND I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO NAPS ANYMORE.

Where do you fall on the piddling/productivity scale?