Monday, October 31, 2016

To do: Simmer down

Do you ever feel like you just need to calm down?
I feel even too overwhelmed, like my brain is buzzing too much, to type this right now.
But I feel, once again, like I've got to get words out in the universe to slow my pulse to an acceptable human, not-at-risk-for-a-stroke rate.
It doesn't work for everyone -- get keyed up, write, quiet the internal buzz -- but it works for me. Usually. God willing.
So I'm willing to try this writing it all down thing, again, for the umpteenth time. And for as long as this works, I'll keep doing it.
So let's talk. Let's dissect the madness coursing through my bloodstream today.
For starters, this weekend was one for the books. In about 60 hours, I prowled Goodwill, finalized a costume (which I've now put on three and a half times (I only put on my mouse ears yesterday, no makeup or Minnie Mouse dress)), rode the train to Pasadena where I conducted an interview for a story, went to a Trunk or Treat event, had dinner and shot pool with Alex, schmoozed at a Halloween party, watched Felicity, snuggled with Max, took a nap, bought a plunger and got my toilet to stop overflowing, sang in church, wrote prayers for church, had lunch with Chels, attended a church meeting, and went to a going away party, where I talked and talked and extroverted some more.
Yes, I just made "extroverted" a verb.
I couldn't even drive directly to work this morning, as I had to stop at the dollar store and get table cloths and chips for a work party (I was supposed to cook soup, but that didn't happen) and more eyeliner to give myself a Minnie Mouse nose.
So, ya know, PHEW.
But this is more than just a busy weekend, or a busy holiday season (which is only the beginning. Grab the reins and hold on tight, Friends).
It's a busy year. A busy life. A busy me.
I don't mean to sound dramatic, or funny -- if one can even be those two things in the same breath.
I'm not seeking sympathy, but I think I'm feeling like certain people won't get it. Won't get the serious buzzing inside me that rarely goes away.
I just emailed a friend and told her I'm so overwhelmed that it borders on making me feel fearful.
Fearful of what, exactly, I'm not sure. That I'll never pull in the reins and be able to rest? That the rest I do know is false? Not restorative?
I know a lot of people have a fear of not being able to get everything done -- they want to read every word of every book/magazine/newspaper, want to go to every social event, want to surpass everyone in their field of industry, and have kids and a chance to sit and watch the football game each Sunday, too.
I don't know if I fall into that category, to be honest. I certainly overschedule and overextend, but I think I'm willing to let things go. Lately I've wanted to just. throw. things. away. Not drive to Goodwill to donate, not ask a friend if they want something, just. get. rid of it.
My fear is not that I can't let things go, but that I'm not sure others will let me let go. I love being involved at my church, but yesterday I had my first twinge of "Uh oh, am I doing too much here?" My worry that I'll let people down by saying "no" is real. Especially in a community that I love and cherish so much.
And my fear, most recently, is that I can't be stopped.
I can't stop traveling. I can't stop buying music. I can't stop acquiring books.
And I don't have time to catch my breath or listen to it all or focus long enough to read the pages, so what's the point?
What's the point of moving so fast?
I have too many ideas for freelance stories. Too many words in my head. Too many cross stitch projects. Too much urge to constantly snuggle Max (seriously, I smooch on him so much in the mornings that I make myself late to the office. Which is ironic, considering the cat's given name: Office Max...).
I have too many.....friends????
I'm always terrified to say that out loud, but it's not a seminal sentiment for me. I'm so in love with so many amazing human beings, and I can't imagine getting rid of any of them. But if I'm being honest, sometimes I feel like I can't keep up with all the correspondence, all the emotion. Even at its highest, I feel like I might burst with love, which is unsettling.
And I feel horrible thinking that. Like I've failed as an extrovert. Like I've failed in loving. Shouldn't I just want to feel boundless love all the time?
Before I met Alex, I craved a relationship where I didn't feel over the moon constantly, because I know how hyper I can get, and I didn't want to live the rest of my life feeling like I'm on a roller coaster that never stops.
(This is a much longer conversation for another time, but after our first date I was over the moon with Alex, and that's simmered to a very beautiful feeling of calm and safety when I'm with him. And I still get really happy, in a crowd, when he walks onto the scene. So if I sound crass for not wanting to feel "head over heels," or if I sound like I'm not in love, well, I would say I'm neither crass nor lacking in love for my partner.)
Let me (attempt) to bring the reins in here for a sec (since I'm pretty sure I just introduced a quadruple negative in that last sentence), and say once again that I promise I'm not trying to be dramatic or seek attention. I'm trying to be totally serious right now. I'm concerned for myself, to be frank, and for others who I know are like me.
I think, and hope, that some fellow extroverts out there can relate to this, particularly those in helping professions, or those with children (of any age).
I don't, and do, want to go out tonight. I don't, and do, want to put on my costume and be out on Halloween and just enjoy.
I also want to stay in and be an adult and catch up on my rest and do laundry and read and feel my surroundings slow in their motion.
But here's where my fear comes in: I don't know what I'll end up doing tonight.
Big deal, right? It's Halloween, go have fun. Do laundry tomorrow.
Ah, but if only it were that simple in the extroverted, mile-a-minute, ENFP mind of Bailey Brewer.
I guess I want to be able to predict my behavior. I want to make decisions and stick with them. I want to decide to go out OR I want to decide to stay in but I want to just know what I'll do. Because I'm an adult, or at least pretending to be one.
I once watched an MTV special that I've never forgotten, called For the Record with Britney Spears.
It's a documentary that was filmed following Spears' 2008 breakdown, once she had found some healing and was getting back on her feet as an artist. Once she was released back into the public, so to speak.
There was some pretty heartbreaking stuff in there, like the fact that she had to have sheets held up around her while she shopped so that no one would bother her. Because people just wouldn't leave her alone. That may not sound heartbreaking to you, but Ack. It just gets to me so bad.
And I'll never forget one thing she said, after her life had become super structured in order to keep her mentally stable.
Spears told her interviewer that her life was "too in control."
"If I wasn't under the restraints I'm under," she said, "I'd feel so liberated. When I tell them the way I feel, it's like they hear but they're really not listening. I never wanted to become one of those prisoner people. I always wanted to feel free."
I hate to hear it, because it's so sad, but I totally connect with what she says about people not listening.
It may be confusing for me to bring that quote in, because I seem to be struggling with the opposite -- I want more control and structure in my life -- but really, I want to be free to make my own decisions. I never want that to be taken away.
But I fear I have no self control. Socially, at least.
I feel like a slob. Not emotionally (well, maybe. Ha!). But literally, like I can't keep my living space clean. And I disrespect myself for that. I feel embarrassed to give people a ride in my over-crowded car. I would be horrified if someone walked into my bedroom right now.
And to be honest, a lot of this is about the orderliness of my surroundings. I've never gravitated toward tidying, and as an adult, it's really affecting me.
I don't hold cleanliness as a priority, and so I don't maintain things like laundry and sorting papers and keeping my bed from becoming a pile of clothes.
OK, I'm losing myself in this tangent, even. Sorry.
I just relate to Britney, in both the fact that I feel like I could lose my mind from being depended on by too many people too much of the time, and not having time to find myself or to find rest, and I also relate to this fear of feeling like I have no free agency. Both prospects really frighten me.
So how do I heal/fix this?
1. I've done myself a huge favor by seeking out therapy and medication. That helps a ton. I'm still me, with creativities intact, but I don't always feel like I'm on overdrive.
2. Part of it is just slowing down. I'm always a little crazed after a marathon weekend of events. So give me some hours and I'll hopefully simmer.
3. I think I need to be honest and maybe talk about these feelings more. Find some validation from people who love me and don't want me to wind up feeling washed up.
4. And finally, I think it could do me good to either write out a plan for myself, or maybe meet with a professional organizer to evaluate my space. I truly think that might help. Someone to look at my calendar and remind me that exercise and laundry need to be priorities sometimes, above karaoke and stitching and eating chips for dinner.
Wow. Congratulate yourself if you made it to this point in the post. I salute you.
I'm gonna stop talking now and try and regroup. Or something. I'm going to try and be nice to myself and enjoy the day. And do some laundry tonight. Or maybe enjoy the evening out -- revel in the holiday, and have some fun for crying out loud -- and bust out the Downy and Tide tomorrow.
Here I go.
Loves to you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How do you forgive yourself?

I got upset with the youth minister at my church when I was in high school.
Because she labeled me an "overachiever."
I don't know that most would take offense to this, (and obviously she wouldn't have said it if she thought it was a bad thing), but I did.
Just this past week, I took an online Enneagram personality assessment.
My result?
[Pause for a fun story regarding the Enneagram test: shortly after I started attending my church, Bethel, and was already falling head over heels for it, our pastor started talking about the Enneagram test and I panicked. I texted my brother to ask him to look it up, to make sure it wasn't some crazy Scientology thing. Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!! I don't know. I think that's hilarious.]
So I took the test and lo and behold, I'm an achiever. I thought I would be a helper or a peacemaker, but nope. (In fairness, I think I was like a tenth of a point away from being a helper).
I've long struggled with my highly motivated personality. What's more, I think I've struggled without largely being aware of it. Until just recently, where I find myself feeling guilty nearly every day.
Let me explain.
If my research is correct, I do believe that high-achieving personalities are usually haunted by some sort of Peter Pan-esque, guilt-ridden shadow.
Why? Because, (again, if my research is correct), we constantly feel like we could be doing more, or doing better.
I got so upset when I was 17 years old and a mentor deemed me an overachiever, because in my book I thought that a bad thing. I thought that meant I couldn't relax. I thought the "over" to indicate "too much," rather than "exceeds expectations."
Today on my lunch hour I went to the dollar store. I bought construction paper, so I could continue to make handmade Halloween decorations for a door-decorating contest at work. I bought candles (because I have an obsession, even though I have about 20 of them at home), candle holders, and decorations and candy for our office Halloween party.
I then went to McDonald's and got a spicy chicken sandwich, a Diet Coke, and a salad. I moved a Pringles container filled with crumbs out of the cup holder to make room for the soda, and placed it among the various stuff on the floorboard of my passenger seat.
I drove back to the office parking lot, rolled down my windows, killed the engine, and let guilt wash over me.
For WHAT?!, you may ask.
Well, let's break it down:
1. I felt bad regarding the money I just spent. I spent just under $20. This was a second trip to the dollar store for me, so altogether I had spent about $40 on decorations for an office party, for which I don't believe I'll be reimbursed. I also bought candles and candle holders, which I don't need, and when I am at home all I feel is how crowded my bedroom is and how I need to get rid of things.
2. I felt not guilty, but overwhelmed, by the fact that I still have to make door decorations. Have I gotten some joy out of beginning to make these decorations? Yes. Am I looking forward to making my own costume? Yes. But do those things take time in an already busy week/month/season? Yes.
3. I felt guilty for the breaded sandwich, covered in mayonnaise, that I was eating. I continued to feel chubby and unhealthy. I didn't even let my mind go to the reminder that I haven't done a workout for my upcoming half marathon in over a week.
4. I felt disgusted by the filth in my car. Why hadn't I thrown out the Pringles can two days ago, when, incidentally, I had chips for lunch (activate retroactive guilt mode for decisions made on Monday).
5. And finally, I berated myself for everything I need to do in my own life to look more like an adult. Clean my room, clean my car, mail a box of stuff that I should have mailed weeks ago. On and on.
I texted Alex from my guilty lunch break, and he texted back: "#1 - be kind to yourself."
My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, preaches the importance of "radical self care." Do whatever it takes to not beat yourself up.
I asked myself this afternoon -- and I of course don't have the answer -- How does one forgive herself?
This in-my-face-every-day guilt thing is new to me, and I've gotta say, I don't care for it one bit. On some level I guess it's motivating, but mostly it just feels crippling. It does nothing to get me off my keister and TCB. If anything, it glues my keister in place, in its usual after-work location: my bed, pinned off to one side because the rest of the bed is covered with all kinds of junk, like the rest of my floor, closet, and desk. It puts my keister in time out to fester over all the things that I don't take care of on a daily basis.
While studying psychology in college, I found relief in identifying myself as an "anal expulsive" personality type. All...ahem, rectal associations aside...I could finally categorize both my generosity of spirit and the disorganization of my physical environments into one, cohesive place.
In a sense, I could forgive myself for being as I was. I was textbook-defined. If it was good enough for Freud, it was good enough for me.
...But that was a decade ago.
And I find myself feeling more guilty than ever. And it's not like I'm an axe murderer.
I'm feeling guilty because I'm participating in an office decorating contest, and over-extending myself to do so. For spending a moderate amount of money to contribute to camaraderie at the office party. For taking some time out for me during my lunch break, eating slowly and listening to music instead of spending the time making my car spic and span. For eating a fattening sandwich, even though I ordered a salad to go with it.
And just. how. backwards. is that???
Again, I don't have an answer to my big question of the day -- how does one forgive herself, particularly for things that shouldn't make one feel guilty?
But I think I'm now in hot pursuit of it.
When I was 17, I'm not quite sure why I wanted to only be thought of as a run-of-the-mill, average achiever. Perhaps I didn't want others around me to feel like they were achieving less than I was. After all, I rarely, if ever, want people to feel badly about themselves on account of me. I always want to build up, not tear down.
Maybe I thought that trying to over achieve meant that one was...greedy? It wasn't enough to be Homecoming Queen, now you have to go and be Student Body President, too? (By the way, I held neither of those titles).
To be honest, I don't know what was making my brain tic the way it did in high school.
But I guess I can say that part of me still doesn't want to call myself an achiever. I want to be successful, of course. I don't want my creativities to be wasted. But I could certainly do without the accompanying guilt.
So while I don't know how to forgive myself just yet, I do believe that in being unkind to ourselves, we're doing our psyches no favors.
Tonight is the Rachael Yamagata concert. It will be my fourth time seeing her live. I spent $20 a ticket, one for me and one for Alex.
I don't feel guilty for that purchase at all. (By the way, I firmly believe Ms. Yamagata is worth so much more than $20 a head. But I love that she makes her music available to the peasants).
I've looked forward to this night ever since this same week a year ago, when I saw Rachael in the same venue that she'll grace tonight.
I love, love, love this woman and the songs she writes. I love her growly, catlike voice. I love her silliness on stage. I love how I sometimes wonder if she'll cry during her more sad songs, and I love that I'm not afraid to go there with her.
I love when her fingers strike those familiar keys, and I know she's about to drape us with the opening lines that are etched in all of our hearts: "If I could take you away..."
I can't WAIT. for tonight. But I can. Because I don't want it to be over yet.
I told Alex I want to see Rachael's opening act, because I want to savor the whole show, and that includes the anticipation of Rachael taking the stage. "If that makes sense," I wrote.
"Sure," he responded.
He gets it. He gets me. And I get to snuggle up in his arms wrapped around me tonight, swaying to tunes I've let ease into my bloodstream, comforting me over and over with their beauty and truth.
I'm not sure how to forgive myself. But I can focus tonight on taking care of myself. Because berating myself isn't going to get anything done. The best I can do this evening is go out and listen and sway and hoot and holler with all I've got. Because nights like this don't happen too often. And I don't want to miss it because I was too busy dancing with the enemy.
Step aside, Guilt. I've found a new dance partner - and her name is Music. Her name is Love. Her name is Peace.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What makes my life mine. Or, life as a frontier woman.

I started out today feeling very negative about Bailey Kathleen.
This was for various reasons, most of which had to do with me not feeling productive enough.
As Alex texted me encouragement, he asked me if I think I'd have some of the same worries if I was a farmer's wife on the frontier.
His point was to point out some of the blessings and curses of living now when we do. As I started rattling off my initial answers to his question, though, I thought it might make for an interesting blog topic. So here goes.
If I were a frontier farmer's wife
by Bailey Brewer
If I were a frontier farmer's wife, I don't know if I'd be upset about it or not.
I'm not sure I'd recognize my calling as a writer in such a context. Seeing as I probably wouldn't be aware that I had such a calling, however, I don't know that I would feel the need to grieve anything. I do wonder, though, over thinker that I am, if I would feel some sort of phantom grief, as if I suspected there were another life for me even if I hadn't ever seen it modeled in the other women in my life. I suppose that must be how people have ever come up with new ideas, yes? It has to be an original thought for one person before it can be modeled for others to follow.
Similarly, as I doubt we would have many books nor time to read them, I wonder if I would recognize my love of reading. Maybe I'd be a vivid storyteller instead. I can't imagine my imagination wouldn't be as intense as it is (I don't say that to say that I have great story ideas, because I don't believe that about myself. But I have a good imagination in that I can quickly jump to worst case scenarios in my head).
I wonder if I would be more introverted. It seems to me that intro- and extroversion are pretty pedestrian and have always been with us, but what if they haven't? What if we've socially constructed them, and once we started living in larger communities, all the extroverts came out of the woodwork.
Wait. But people used to travel in packs, so never mind, scratch that above thought.
Conversely to my initial thought, however, I wonder if people adapted to their surroundings in remote frontier life and developed more introverted personalities in order to survive. I've never thought of evolution as a social thing, but hmm.
As I've gotten older (in my real, 2016 life, not in my hypothetical frontier life), I've developed a greater interest in domestic things. Making things shinier, more organized. Washing sheets. Spraying carpet stains with vinegar, then pouring on baking soda, enjoying the sizzly sound and then wiping up the spot. Cook things for hungry people and watch them smile as their bellies fill.
All that said, I rarely exercise these domestic abilities of mine. I really enjoy doing what I want. I don't like other things or people to create schedules for me.
I just wonder if, without my 2016 context and awareness of what I could be, if I'd feel put upon as a wife, or if I'd just go with it. I do think that exhaustion is timeless, and I would feel that and I'm sure that would make me feel haggard and act nastily to my family at times.
One thing I know I'd be down with in the country life: needlework.
Mm hmm. Sign me up.
I also think I would intrinsically love cats.
I guess, overall, I wouldn't have the luxury I have now of thinking so much. Sure, I'd be thinking all the time because we're always thinking, but I don't think I'd sit around and read and ponder and pontificate out loud. And even when it comes to needlepoint, whereas in 2016 I can let my mind wander as I do that, if I were a frontier wife I'd be most often mending and making clothing. Once I had proven myself with a few samplers, they'd move me on to actual duty work, and I think it'd be hard to separate the garments in my hand from my knowledge of the children who wear them and whom are my constant responsibility.
I wonder if I'd love my husband. Or if he'd just be a protector. A hunter. I wonder if I'd fall in love with him over time. I wonder if a lot of people once had that experience. Maybe "soul mates" are a modern luxury, too, and there's something to be said for shared experiences, combining DNA and births of children, turmoil of a crop lost to locusts -- maybe all that brings you together, no matter what. And maybe, if one of you is a chatty extrovert who expresses feelings and the other's a listening introvert, who respects your feelings, maybe there's no direction possible other than love.
Here's hoping that would be the case. And here's hoping I'd find a quill and some paper in that log cabin, as I'd really like to write, no matter what year I'm living in. Because, as far as I can tell, writing makes my life mine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An organic, unpredictable day

Boy if those words couldn't be more true today. Well, the unpredictable part anyway. 

The above handwriting comes from someone I can't name. Not because I choose this person to remain anonymous, but because I don't know who wrote the words. (We'll come back to this in a bit). 

I was out sick today, and I shuffled through many boxes and papers. I found high school track medals, totes adorb photos like this one, of me and my baby brother: 

I found college papers with such original titles as "I Am Woman, Read Like Me" and "Single is Good!"

Sadly I didn't come across the paper I wrote entitled, "Why I should become a nun" (no, really. I wrote that paper), as that would have completed the trio. 

In any case, I literally laughed as I was taking pictures of the "Single" essay and posting it to social media, remembering all the opinions I had during college. 


I know, I know. (Also: Please, People. We ALL had opinions during college. It's like, required, to be super uber opinionated for those four years. And to suddenly become political.)

Anyway. So the essays. They made me laugh. And my dad made me laugh too, as he is wont to do. So I did laugh today. That's right. But I also cried today. Called my parents so many times I think they half expected it to be me on the phone by the time it rang in their Kansas home -- again -- this evening. 

Sigh. I'm just overwhelmed. October-November-December is always overwhelming, unless you're a kid who simply gets to eat candy and miss school and open presents. When you enter adulthood the holidays can still be fun, but you certainly see them differently, that's for sure. 

OK but let's get back to those anonymous words pictured above. 

When I was in high school, I took a sociology class my senior year. It was an unhappy year for me, probably my least favorite of the four years (though for many students the case is opposite for them). We had an assignment (activity?) at one point during the year, during which we each had to bring in a miniature notebook with our name and picture inside the front cover. Then, for a class period or two, we passed the books around in silence, and in each one, we had to write something to that person that we liked or admired about them. 

It was kind of an awesome thing our teacher had us do, actually. 

Well someone -- and I couldn't tell you who -- wrote that I was unpredictable and organic. 

Such an interesting thing to say. 

I also consider it a compliment. The organic part, anyway. The unpredictable piece could be a gentle way of saying, "Ma'am, you might want to get your mood swings checked out."

Which, in fairness, I have (since high school) gotten my moods checked out and have found ways to keep them in check. 

But I still have days like today, where I'm a mess in the morning, happy in the midday, super irritable and depressed in late afternoon, and then weepy at dusk. 

I hate feeling this way. It's exhausting. 

I'm just grateful I have friends and family who are willing to talk and text and pray me through. 

I attempted to clean up my life today, being bound at home, and made a bigger mess of it, I'm afraid. My bed wasn't covered in items when I woke up today, but now it is a heap of stuff and I am wondering where I shall stick my body 'neath the covers come bedtime. 

I sorted papers, and tossed so much junk. I made progress. But all I see is a mess. And thus, I feel like a mess. 

But there is tikka masala in the oven (not homemade, what are you, crazy?). A fizzy water within reach. A boyfriend on texting standby. 

And there's one thing in my bed (well, besides me) right now that was also there this morning. 

This cutie pants sleeping pie: 

He's not afraid of my mess. He's actually made a bed of it. 

And, thank the good Lord above, there are plenty of other people in my life who aren't afraid of my mess, either. In fact, hopefully, they think me a little unpredictable (in the best way), but also organic. May I always, in my weepiness, in my grumpiness, in my I'm-sorting-papers-and-feeling-good grooves, be organic. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Music spins my head right round

So I've been doing something a little strange lately. Something that only a Bailey Brewer would be weird enough to deem as something worth doing.

Because I'm weird.

So here's what I've been doing. Some weeks back, for WHO KNOWS WHAT reason, I decided that I should listen to all my music (CDs) in the "order" in which they are placed in the sleeves of those zippered pouch CD holder case things.

Let me back up.

Some things you should know:
  • I love music. Like, love. I've been to maybe eight concerts this year alone. Which I think is above average.
  • I have a bit of a spending issue. I buy a lot of CDs.
  • Also I'm old, so I've had many years to purchase many musical albums.
  • Finally, I'm not very organized (except at work, where I'm paid to be organized. And with my social calendar, because I love my peeps).
Because of all these above-listed (I would say "aforementioned," but I feel like they were mentioned too recently in this post to really warrant an "aforementioned," am I right? I'm right.) reasons, I have accumulated several "books" (those aforementioned zippered pouch CD holder case things) of CDs.
Just picturing them in my head, I think I count two of the big cases, which hold about 100 each, plus three more little ones. Not to mention the CDs that won't fit in the cases, because I continue to accumulate silver circles of listening pleasure.
So, for (again) who knows what reason, I recently decided that I should listen to ALL my music, and not put it in any particular order. I should just leave it in the haphazard "order" that it is all currently in, Justin Bieber stuffed next to a recorded sermon on the Gospel of John, and listen to allllll of it, from CD 1 to CD 300, skipping no CDs and skipping no tracks.
Again, don't ask me why I came up with this idea.
But I do want to share some observations I've made so far during this musical journey.
I've made it through about 20 CDs, and it's certainly been interesting so far.
1. I feel like my mind isn't racing as much as it sometimes can.
This could be due to other factors, or just a season in my life, but I feel like the music is to thank for this in some ways. There's a weird comfort(?), I guess, in knowing that the next disc I'll spin in my car is already selected for me. Not that I stress out about my music choices -- at least not in an active way that I'm aware of. But just as there's something freeing about living a square life and having a set schedule dictate your next move, I feel like I'm taking life kind of as it comes, instead of always being in charge of constant change (e.g., changing a CD whenever I darn well please, or skipping a track), and it's kind of nice.
A set schedule and taking life as it comes are probably contradictory, I realize. Don't look at me, People. I just write here.
I guess what I mean to say is I've set a "schedule" -- in the form of a bunch of CDs that are, ironically, out of order -- and now I'm just letting the schedule happen to me. And in that way I'm taking life as it comes. That makes sense, right? OK great, moving on.
2. I'm enjoying myself, and paying more attention.
It's been fun! listening to my music this way. I'm listening to tracks that I almost always skip over, and giving them more of a chance to tickle my musically snobbish ear. Kind of the way we should treat people. By and large, I love people (and also have an open mind for music), but sometimes there are people who just don't interest me as a potential friend. But I find that, basically always, when I talk to them more, I learn little details that endear them to me. I can now say the same for music.
I studied abroad with a guy in college who said he's never heard a music album he didn't like. My friend Samantha used to say the same thing about movies.
I'll admit, I kind of thought they were crazy for thinking this way.
But now I kind of get it. Before, I would ignore probably 40 - 50 percent of my CDs. Just never listened to them. Because they weren't my favorite. They only had one or two songs I really loved.
Before I started this journey, I thought there would be some albums that I would struggle to get through. And I'm sure there will be some eye rolling and strong urges to skip tracks.
But so far, having been "forced" to listen to each CD hasn't been too aggravating. It's been more like, "Hmm. This actually is a pretty sentimental Destiny's Child, which is underappreciated, being outshone by Say My Name."
Anyway. I've liked what I've heard. And sometimes, when I thought I wasn't in the mood to listen to a sermon, well, it went more quickly than I thought.
3. I haven't (so far) grieved my loss of control.
A few times, yes, I've caught myself thinking, "Wait. Why am I listening to this track? I never listen to this one."
But I've found that in resisting the urge to move to the next track, it hasn't been completely unbearable to listen to the songs I don't necessarily love the most.
And, call me an over thinker, but I feel like this is helping discipline me for other things in life. Things like lines in stores. People who talk at us and whose conversation we can't escape for one more favorable. Annoyance. Anger. Sadness.
All these things come at us, and yes it's cheesy to say, but we can't skip the tracks in our own life. And even with unkind memories (which I'll address in point #4), we can't control how and when those will pop into our heads. But we can learn to deal with them in different ways.
We can take deep breaths in line (or play Words with Friends while we wait). We can actually listen to that person and ask him a question about himself. And we can breathe through the memory, examine it, hold it, feel it, and find out what it means and what we're supposed to do with it.
And also, I feel like this musical journey is reminding me not to take for granted the many blessings in my life. I have been so fortunate to hear and own so much music -- not to mention been so fortunate to have so many friends and material comforts -- and I want to fully appreciate it.
I'm getting really philosophical, maybe, but music is more powerful to me, I believe, than even ancient philosophy. It is a miracle that cannot be explained, that breaks us open when we are too stubborn to do so, and unites us under concert hall roofs and on dance floors with people we may otherwise write off. It's amazing, and if it wants to teach me how to live better, I'm all ears.
4. I'm taking an inadvertent walk down Memory Lane. And it kind of feels like really productive, honest therapy. 
I have had some memories come UP in the last week or so. I haven't had a weeping session yet, but everything I listen to has a memory. Even the stuff I didn't think I was that emotionally attached to.
In listening to Destiny's Child "The Writing's on the Wall," for example. If I were to listen just to the hits, I might have a shallow, poppy, albeit fun experience. But then I'd pop in another CD and move on.
But in listening to the whole album, it reminded me of freshman year of high school. Of my oldest brother, who bought me the CD -- for Christmas, I think. Of visiting Manhattan, Kansas during spring break and thinking my friend Annie was so cute and confident (I remember her singing, or referencing "Say My Name," during our visit). The album made me wonder why I've never gotten rid of it. Was I holding onto it for when I have guests in the car (people tend to get very excited when they see my Backstreet Boys and other retro pop CDs)? Or was a part of me keeping it for me?
The album, admittedly, holds a bit of a somber tone for me, because for much of high school I felt on the outside looking in. I know most of us felt that way, but I was a new student at my high school both as a freshman and then at a different school as a junior. So I really felt invisible sometimes. There's something about some of these Destiny's Child songs, that, though intended for the masses in the early 2000s, have an effect on me even today, and not just in a silly, nostalgic way.
As a 31-year-old woman, an Independent Woman (throw your hands up at me) who is largely confident in her life's walk, I find myself driving down freeways in one of the most coveted cities in the world, and I'm humbled and reminded that I'm just a human. A human who once felt lost in high school and who strangely feels like pop hits that are not reserved for any one group are somehow not fully mine. And music should be for everyone. If there's one thing I believe, it is that music is an inalienable right, never ever to be taken away.
I find myself, listening to Destiny's Child, whose music has been, yes, successful, but to this day considered casual, and it's really cutting to my human core. So much so that I find myself suddenly tearful even typing this.
See? This has been therapy.
It's been weird to work through these emotions. Like I said earlier, I haven't cried yet (well, until now), but I've certainly been thinking as various sounds have been emitting from my car speakers. And I think the no-skipping-tracks rule has been one that's helped me sit with some tough stuff and have an opportunity to move past it. To have it in my past, inside of my true self, that I was sometimes unhappy in high school, but to also be released from that pain and set free to just listen to pop music in peace.
For crying (literally) out loud.
I guess if I have one take away for you from this journey of mine, it's to maybe encourage you to take a similar journey. Find something in your life that you ignore, or that you think you pay attention to, and make yourself really look at, and touch, or listen to it. Maybe work through your recipe box, and make yourself actually taste the oatmeal raisin cookies, and taste the grandmother who used to make them for you and everything she meant to you. You might cry. But you might be surprised. And you might find some healing.
Happy listening, Friends. May music never be taken from you, and may it always be a thing of healing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I've decided to be a square this month.
Last night I typed out three goals for October.
Just three.
1. Try not to skip my training workouts.
2. Stay on the wagon until October 26th (that's the day of Rachael's concert, and I plan to treat ma' self that night).
3. Come out in the green financially on
That's it.
Financially healthy. Physically healthy. Mentally clear headed.
I randomly started drinking tea last week, which I'm still doing this week, because I'm sickly. Not in general. I'm just ill right now.
Here's why I'm totes down with being square this month:
I've been running around like a madwoman lately. When I realized, after my recent trip to Michigan, that I didn't have to travel for 50+ days, I was like, "Yesssssssssssssss."
This past week I went to three concerts in three days. My friend Sam called me a concert junkie and I didn't challenge him. I have a collection of t-shirts from shows that are overtaking my closet. (But they're all so soft and full of memories and I just can't not buy one each time I go hear another amazing artist live...).
Now, I love live music (obviously), but I'm not gonna lie to you: I'm pretty happy I don't have one to attend this week.
I'm just tired, and tired of feeling like my everyday life is being neglected. Or the square sections of my life, I suppose. There has been little tea drinking of late. Little reading. Some stitching, actually, yes. But little sitting. Little being-at-homeing. Little vacuuming, sorting of papers, cooking in the kitchen.
I want to change this. I am craving domesticity.
A friend posted on my Facebook timeline today that she is no longer going to let running be an option for her. She genuinely misses the way it makes her feel, and she wants to quit making excuses and get herself back out on the pavement so she can feel that good feeling again.
I responded with much rambling, as I am wont to do, and within the rambling I mentioned that I feel I need to practice both tough love and tough grace with myself.
I need to get stuff done, to not overspend, to lose some weight. Like my friend, I need to quit making exercise an option and just do it.
But I also need to be still, and remind myself that God loves me, with a messy room, with debt, with a fleshy stomach. (Not saying that my friend doesn't have a grasp on this. I'm just talking here.)
And I kind of think scripture preaches both -- being orderly, helpful, working to earn your keep, but also recognizing God's forgiveness and grace. We're asked, if I'm reading the Bible correctly, to strive to be better but not to pretend we're God ourselves.
Also, I'm human, and I only have so much energy.
Yesterday I stayed home sick from work, and I kept looking at the carpet that needed to be vacuumed, papers I could see across the room that need to be tossed. Cat litter that needs to be refreshed.
I took it all in, and you know what I did?
I kept on stitching. I clicked "play" to start up another episode of Felicity, and I rethreaded my needle.
I guess what I'm trying to say with all this is that I need to grasp some Amish(-ish) ways, because I need some order. But I also need some flexible perimeters.
I need to be able to go home at night, and have both the time to throw in some laundry and the choice to neglect it one more day.
Wow, what a privileged sentence. It's clear I live in a first world country and have no kids. Although to have kids is a privilege, I would say.
Anyway. I only have something on the calendar this Monday - Friday week on Thursday. I wish I didn't even have that.
I'm excited to spend tonight doing whatever I want. Restoring some order in my tornado-ran-through-it bedroom, or to stitch some colorful floss in orderly rows. Either way, I'm in.
See y'all in November. I wonder if I'll still be living the square life then, or if I'll be rarin' to go!