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Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day has never been a great day for me.  I've spent many of them alone, and this year, I prefer that to any past experiences I've had.  When I was younger, I longed for the outward display of romance.  Other girls had boyfriends who sent them roses.  I was "just friends" with several of those boys.  I wondered what those girls had that I didn't or if I had an extra eye in the middle of my forehead that was visible to everyone but me.  When I look back at the photos, I still don't see it.  Maybe my bright red hair was frightening for them.

When Rob was my boyfriend (and later my husband), Valentine's Day was always an over the top occasion, as were birthdays.  I just wanted flowers and a dinner date.  Until we got married, he pulled out all the stops.  He didn't understand why I wanted a simpler date when he always made elaborate plans.  I'm not sure I was able to think of the words during that time, but the truth is, I wanted to know that I was loved and special to him all the time.  I didn't care to participate in his game of, "I was really terrible to you last week and I need to make it up to you."  All the celebrations were some elaborate attempt to make up to me.  The last birthday I spent with him, I made him take me to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and to a movie rather than driving to Dallas for a dress to the nines five star something.  I nixed all the fancy plans that year and told him that I just wanted him to be nice to me all year long.  For some reason, it seemed to be news to him that his bargaining, the extravagant things a few times a year, did not make up for his sorry treatment the rest of the year.  I love having nice things and celebrating well, but who wants to celebrate with someone's self-inflicted punishment?  No thank you.

Much later, I met Mark.  In the beginning, he was thoughtful and kind to me.  He frequently gave gifts, flowers, and was great for the first year.  Then the gifts became things he wanted to give rather than him being tuned in to giving things I would like to receive.  Valentine roses and dinner were always nice.  The windshield tinting that he asked me to pay part of was something he insisted on rather than something that was a thoughtful, kind deed for me.  There were the sodium chlorite drops, the various health food products, and the things he insisted I buy for myself.  His attitude reminded be of Hyacinth Bucket's.  At all costs, he had to keep up appearances so that others would see that he has the best because he is the best, and because he's smart enough to know everything.

There have been a few more, but the men have all been disappointing.  I want to love and be loved.  You would think that it is a simple thing to want.  For some reason, it's not.  I don't understand it.  By nature, I am one who loves.  It isn't hard for me to do.  I am able to love most of my patients and their families and support them through their crises.  The attachments I form aren't fakery.  Why is that easy to do for them and yet I'm not quite able to do that for myself?

I'm glad to spend Valentine's Day with my cats.  Not exactly romantic, but they're sweet and snuggly. They're cats.  They feel no sense of duty or self-punishment when they snuggle up next to me.   Maybe next time, I can have love with roots and wings; a sense of belonging and lots of fun.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today

Today is a good day to start something new

No special occasion or milestone in view

To read, to write, to paint, and do chores

Learn to pair my new iPhone with my Mac

and so much more

To celebrate this ordinary day

I'm grateful that in my life

Ordinary is wonderful, in its own way



Saturday, November 22, 2014

I AM NOT A VANILLA SOPRANO!

Surely, I'm not the only one with this disappointment, but there aren't so many singers who read my blog. So, imagine this: Someone sees you in action, doing what you do (in my case, this was singing).  They think you are fantastic and want to hire you, go out with you, or they in some way make you feel as if you hung the moon.  You meet this person again a couple of weeks later to interview, go on a coffee date, or whatever.  You find this person picky, blunt to the point of being rude, and they lack basic social graces.  End of date.  End of interview.  All there is to think of is moving forward.  Yes, this is my story, again.

I was encouraged to attend Unity Church in my adopted hometown.  My friend said that the music department needed a little help and that she thought that I was the one who could lend my voice.  I auditioned, all was well.  The powers that be were excited to hear my voice.  I even got a chatty, excited phone call the following week to work out when we could meet.  I got the time confused, and evidently, that was the beginning of the end.  When we did meet, she was cranky and reminded me of my error (even though apologies had been more than sufficiently offered).  She had previously wanted me to sing in the Christmas concert, but after the meeting, she decided to cut me from the program.  Three songs she brought.  Either she spent time correcting my technique or verbally spitting on me by saying, "No, someone else can sing that better than you can."  She treated me as if I were a lazy diva rather than having been recovering.
April 15th (ish) 2012, I was with my sister and my friend Erich when we decided to spontaneously "sing something."  I couldn't physically make the melody happen.  It was some noise that I didn't intend to make.  I could hear the right pitches in my head, but just as someone with Tourette's syndrome has no control over certain movements and sounds, I had no control of this sound, but the sound coming out was not flowing.  It was more like a vocal train wreck.  I was devastated all over again.  Instead of holding it in and pulling myself together as I had done so many times through so many things, I started crying, and I couldn't stop.

 That was my first attempt at singing.  This week, I'm grateful for the rude woman who doesn't remember the synopsis of my story; for the old crow who treated me like a lazy diva.  My voice has been recovering, and it has done well. I'm almost home!

That story was a sharp contrast to my experience singing to a patient whom I will never see again.  I was sent to do the start of care paperwork for a home health patient who will only be receiving physical therapy visits.  I was wearing my fantastic hoodie that reads, "Keep Calm, or I will use my OPERA voice."  Her daughter prodded me to sing.  The patient was rolling her eyes at me.  As I began with the words, Pie Jesu, I saw her brow furrow in confusion.  As I reached the words, qui tollis pecatta mundi, I saw her brow straighten and  her eyes get big.  As I continued with the words, Agnus Dei, I saw her mouth open a little.  As the aria moved forward, her jaw dropped. As I finished with the words, dona eis requiem, I saw a puzzled look and tears welled up in her eyes.  She had been in significant pain and wasn't feeling well.  She was struggling to find words, and was able to tell me that she loved it but that it wasn't what she was expecting.  I saw her have a spiritual experience in front of my eyes.  It was the power of healing in sound.  The only words she could say were, "That sound vibrated in my whole body!"  By the time I left, she had her back brace on and insisted on walking me to the door (which she did very well).  She was still trying to explain what she felt in her body that was different than when I arrived.  I said that it (the words) didn't matter.  In my most Southern way, I asked, "It made you feel better, didn't it?"  With a sigh of relief and a smile on her face, she agreed.  It had indeed helped her pain and her mood.  This is indeed what IT is all about.  I'm going to keep letting my little light shine.  Here's the melody, if you're curious: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YAC9vJr--Us
A little facial expression: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D99tXZkPFQo


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thinking of Thanksgiving

Yesterday's weather was the first real hint of fall for me.  It was in the 60s.  I brought along my hoodie.  Yes, the hoodie that I have been waiting to wear with the same excitement that a little kid has as she waits for Santa Claus.  I spent Halloween with my friend Tiffany.  We gave out candy to trick or treaters and while keeping warm by the outdoor fire.  I love autumn more than I love spring.  As the weather cools, it is time to be cozy.  My nature as an introvert tends to draw me inward to my own thoughts, creative processes, and ideas more this time of year than in Spring.  Today, my thoughts are on Thanksgiving.As a kid, I hated holidays because I was sick EVERY SINGLE TIME.  However, as I got to college, things changed.  I started hanging out with my cousins, the Oklahoma Yoders at Thanksgiving.  I love being in a crowd of people (meaning: family gathering as other crowds make me allergic) observing.  And laughing.  Last year, the Geek was with me, so we celebrated Hanukkah as well as Thanksgiving with the family.  I've had so much drama this year, but even so, I remind myself that this is not 2012.  For that, I am immensely grateful!  In spite of a break up, a move, and job changes (some of which I sought and some of which I did not initiate) and friendship lost, I am still standing. For the moments of pure bliss and happiness, I am grateful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thank you, Ms. Margaret

I was just in a Facebook conversation thread with my seventh grade Social Studies teacher.  She commented on a status I posted (after hiding someone's Greg Abbott social media ad) agreeing with me about canned social media ads not swaying my opinion regarding candidates.  She said that God gave her enough brains to figure that stuff out for herself and she didn't need help from Facebook, either.  I made another post in which Santa is pictured.  Because he has read our Facebook statuses, our gifts this year shall be dictionaries.  There were quite a few comments on that thread as well as some interaction from Ms. Margaret.  I mentioned that I own a 1987 version of the unabridged dictionary that I could donate to Santa's cause.  It is missing nearly 30 years of techie terms, such as the use of  the word Google, but it has all the important words that we should know and be using (resisting the urge to end the sentence with lol- pun intended).  Then, she just threw it in there, "BTW, I'm proud of you."  Before I said thank you, my mind was racing through all of the students I knew that she taught.  One of my friends has a PhD in French literature.  Many of her students have masters degrees, and I think she also taught Herschel Walker (our math teacher taught him, and she was never at a loss for a story about him).  Some of her children (students) are smarter than I am, and many of them have made better choices than I have, so I am humbled that she is proud.

Growing up, I was always in classes with the smarter, more privileged students, but most of them were not my friends.  I was bullied before there were campaigns against it.  Books were a great escape, and my few friends were welcome companions.  My mom spent my childhood in survival mode, doing the best she could, while my other parents were not over the fact that they were supposed to be grown ups.  Ms. Margaret and EVERYONE I grew up with knew this.  I had "I'm Getting the Hell out," syndrome when I graduated from high school.  I was delayed a year as we moved almost the minute I walked across the stage to get my diploma. However, I did get the hell out the next year.  I didn't have all those offers from all those schools that I had gotten previously, but I did go to college.  Most of the other girls with GTHO syndrome got pregnant and got married, but I didn't have a boyfriend, so that was out.  College it was.  Then I dropped out.  Then I went to nursing school and wondered why I did that. There were and still are things that aren't easy, but through the little education I have, I have been available to afford myself the kind of middle class existence that most of my classmates had.  As a young girl, I believed in myself enough to become the woman I am becoming.

Thank you, Ms. Margaret, for reminding me of the journey!





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oh, to sing again!

One of the dear crones in my life told me one day not to forget my family.  She meant for me to stay in touch with my holistic fair people and my church choir people.  She was disappointed to hear that I had not gone to New York at the last opportunity I had, and she and my other vendor friends had been missing me at the fair.

Honestly, I have less than zero interest in going to church every Sunday morning and having someone tell me what the bible says. (Why would this dear friend encourage such, as I know she prefers to stay home to watch Joel Osteen when she wants some church in her life?)  I know what it says.  I've actually read the whole bible for myself many times.  I wasn't excited at her words to me, encouraging me to participate in choir. Around that same time,  I had been to a funeral where I saw several people I knew and met a few that I hadn't known.  They were shocked to learn that I hadn't been singing and invited me to come and sing with them again.  It made me wonder what I have to say that the church would want to hear.  When I was a church going, bible thumping person, it seemed that no one cared what I had to offer.  There was always more politics than praise happening at any given point.

However, there was tonight.  I was on my way home from my last stop.  I had been near the big church with the big choir that travels to fun places that make you never want to come home.  I was having a moment of inexplicable intuition that told me to go back and go to choir practice.  So, I did.  I had previously been truthful with the director about wanting to sing but having no interest in going to church on Sundays.  Tonight,  I was able to share the same thoughts again about my church feelings with another of this staff,  and was welcomed back again by my old friends.  It is a glorious feeling to be as honest as I have been with those in charge of this choir and to hear the words again, "You are always welcome here."  Right now, I plan to sing for Christmas and for this Sunday.  The Randall Thompson Alleluia is more beautiful than my wish to stay away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday and the Voice Lesson

Wednesday, I had a voice lesson with my long time friend Laurie Cosby of Studio Bella Voce.  We have known each other longer than either of us has been in Texas.  She has helped me recover my voice several times (1995, 2003, 2006, and post 2012). Except my sister, she has been my biggest supporter and the greatest advocate to ensure that I don't quit while there's music left for me to sing.

As most of you know me, you remember the posts and photos from 2012.  As I had to re-learn the simplest of things (like how to get in and out of the bathtub), I found out the most painful way, I couldn't sing at that time.  It is no exaggeration to say that I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.  I still remember the first time I tried.  June took me to see Erich, and when we are together, there is almost always singing. I could not sing a melody line! I could not make it come out.  I could not coax it out. I was shocked and bewildered that this could happen.
 June had to take me home right then.  (For those of you who know Erich, you understand that we went through a phase that singing entire conversations was not unusual.  Our interactions were much like a singspiel with flute overtures (except when in the hot tub, Ember, the flute, NEVER came to the hot tub with us).    When I was able to get back to work, I got my first hospice job, and I started singing to the patients.  I was happy to have some of my voice back, and they all appreciated the effort I made.  I was excited to make that effort as it made the patients feel better, it was help for me in getting my voice back.   Recently one of those first hospice patients passed away, and the family asked me to sing at her funeral.  I think I sang better for her at her funeral than I ever did at her bedside.  (But my church choir gig recently was utterly disastrous).  As I shared my recent experiences with Laurie, she invited me to have a lesson to see if she could help.  After that 45 minute session, I was vocally fatigued, but enlightened.  The injuries from the wreck still need a little rehab.  For those of you interested in the mechanics of breath work and support as it relates to vocal technique, I still have some right sided weakness, especially obvious with the use of the intercostal muscles. As much as I didn't like the discovery, it explains a lot.  It explains the vocal fatigue and pitch control issues.  As we were talking about my voice, I was talking to her about hearing the harmony for my recent funeral song.  I don't have a good explanation for being able to hear that which isn't audible, but a good example of that is the phenemenon that happens when you get a song "stuck" in your head.  For those of you who remember Tommy Two-Tone, the number 867-5309 triggers the melody, and we all begin singing about Jenny.  I also wondered aloud to Laurie about why clairaudience is only seen as cool when a composer is working on her next great work.  Her take on that is that clairaudience isn't weird or just for dying old ladies to hear heavenly music, it is an indication that there's still music in my body that has yet to be sung.