Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas songs

Singing Christmas music is one of the biggest joys of my life at this time of the year.  Thank you to my music teachers, my Sunday school teachers, my mom who played the radio, and eventually the Madrigal singers that I've listened to for giving me the lyrics to a HUGE range of music types.  Now I listen to Pandora at the appropriate time of the year, which will always begin the day AFTER Thanksgiving- thank you very much. I really don't appreciate the season jumping that goes on.

I'd been enjoying my singing (by myself, as I am not positive that this voice should be heard- I don't think I suck at it, but I am not sure it is the best at all) and then the virus from hell hit, and within 3 days I had lost my voice for the most part, and hence there is no singing.  Unless I want to sing the bass parts, which does not fit into the whole scene that plays in my head, believe me.  You guys, this has been one nasty virus.  People don't want to have conversations with me (I think the sound of my voice makes their throat hurt) and if they do they ask if I am feeling any better at all, and if maybe I shouldn't go to the doctor.  Which are totally legit questions, actually.  The answer for all of us is, yes, today I feel better.  The quality of this cough has finally changed and now it is just going to be annoying.  Taking a half day off yesterday was the best thing I could have done for myself.  Le sigh.

Christmas music though, has it's issues.  First of all, some of it is freaking HARD to play on the piano.  Now that was a random  wild veering off topic, I know, but I do like to work through the Christmas music books that are sitting atop my piano right now.  2/3 of my children used to be able to play most of that music pretty well.  I can plink through some of it well, and some of it I want to be able to play so so bad, but NO.  AND there is no way I can play and sing at the same time, as the very unChristmas like words that come out of my mouth sometimes do not lend themselves to Christmas caroling.  So no voice = no sullying of lovely seasonal lyrics with nastiness.  :)

But the real problem I have with Christmas music is it's ability to make me feel sad.  First of all, not the religious Christmas music.  That has so much ingrained history in my upbringing, that all that does is make me want to sing, thanks to numerous Christmas programs at school and church.   Not the fun stuff like Frosty the Snowman and the 12 Days of Christmas, which again just make me want to sing.  No I am referring to other music that plays on Pandora or the radio, the kind that are sort of older sounding, the ones the are songs of loss or longing or other notes of longing that are hard to identify.  It sort of drives me insane.  A perfectly innocuous song begins and it's sung by someone in that nice sort of jazzy style, and then suddenly I am feeling sad and lonely and like I am missing something or someone.  It makes me want to crawl under a blanket with a glass of Baileys and hide.  

Christmas is a real emotional trigger for many of us.  I have worked through a lot of my Christmas issues, but they do lie a bit dormant and cause me issues sometimes. I get caught in feelings of not being good enough, not feeling loved enough.  This season that has  been heralded as a time of great joy and love and jolliness and all should be the best time of all.  Well, I tell you, though I do enjoy Christmas quite a bit, I really like Thanksgiving better- all that's expected of you is food and family.  There is no pressure to be perfect: to have the perfect presents, make your house look festive, keep changing the f***ing  Christmas lights all over the house as they go out, send letters in cards,  send things to the best people ever and feel that your gifts are woefully inadequate.  Then there is the immediate family and considering if you have treated them evenly, if they will be happy, is there anything else I can do to try and make anyone else's life a little bit easier....  I know we all go through this to an extent. No - give me Thanksgiving and all people want is the house to smell like turkey and dinner rolls.  Low pressure and high possibility of total satisfaction.  Christmas seems amazing on the outside, but has that deeply sad undercurrent that crops up occasionally.   I think childhood and the people that are gone from your life are the things that drive these feelings, but I do not want to dwell on it.  I'm done with that.

So, while I have been whining about feeling occasionally blue (thanks Elvis for singing Blue Christmas, you jerk) I've been holding one little thing in reserve here to tell you.  I do not dislike Christmas at all- there are so many fun parts to it, and of course presents.  Sorry  but I like to give and receive.  :)  It is part of my charm- HAHA!!  Anyway, I hear from people once a year who are very special to me.  I am so grateful for these Christmas cards and letters.  I got a letter this year from one of my college housemates, and it blew me out of the water.  This letter basically told me how special I was to her as we were going through our college years together and she saw me in ways I certainly did not see myself.  She saw me as a confident person at a time when I felt far from it, she saw me as a good dancer, which I never imagined myself to be, she told me how she felt about living with me at a time when she was having a very hard time with life.  I wish I would have known.  I loved being with her, but she had some deeply painful times she was going through and it was hard to know what she was thinking.  This letter blew me out of the water.  I never imagined myself to be that important to her, but boy was I apparently wrong. 

I think this year the thing I will do as I write out a few late Christmas cards is remember that the gift of myself is always the best gift.  The gift of listening, the gift of time, the gift of a smile that is just for one of the special people in your life is the best of all.  KNOWING that they are special to you just may be the best gift you could give or get the entire year.  Sometimes you just need to tell them outright and obviously how important they are to you, because they seriously might not know.  I did not know.  And I do now.  And I am going to pick up this gift and carry it with me as I go.

Enjoy these next few days - we all now the anticipation of an event is just as important as the actual one.  And while you are out there, find some joy and spread it around.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life's little surprises

Until the minute I wrote that title I was going to write a general little random post, because it is bothering me that after a strong start to the year (HAHA thanks to my January incident) I have been sliding in the blogging department. It was going to be basically some vague references to a host of things- some big and some little- that have cropped up in the last week/month.

The word surprise here is used in the most general way for some of the most mundane and silly as well as some of the worst things that actually could happen in someone's life.  November proved to be a very busy month for me for a number of reasons, and I just did not get on to write much.  I had a couple posts swirling around but apparently weren't sufficiently compelling.  I found out two acquaintances of mine are the same age as me, and seriously, I am not as old as they are.....  I was pretty surprised.  But, meh.  How self centered can you get??  haha I had funny/sad/interesting encounters with students/friends, but again, this is day to day life and it wasn't enough to move me off of my typical early morning routines.

Then I had news that I can't share that sort of blew my mind and all that other stuff was so unimportant.  So I was mute because I just can't-

At the end of November I got a virus of some sort and all of my overdoing it had to come to a halt.  I tend to push myself all day and fall into a heap in the evening, but with company here I didn't have much time to do that.  Not their fault, by the way.  :) So I, by now, know that if I don't actually listen to my body and honor what it wants, no good things will come of it.  I take care of others most of the time, so I need to be part of that routine.

It is sort of too bad that it took me this long in my life to actually practice self care and pay attention to what I actually need.  But you can't change the past, so now I pay attention.  When my stomach says I am hungry, I take the time to feed it a little. Even if it is a spoonful of peanut butter, I do that.  I now know, inside of me, that I can eat what and when I want, so I do not sit down with the pb jar and yum down the entire thing.  And if I did, all I would feel is full and probably a little yucky from a stomach ache.  I do not feel feelings over my food any more.  If I need to relax, I will!  If I need to go to bed early, I do now....  which is weird, but I do.

Part of my self care in December is to enjoy my Christmas decorations, which I really do.  I LOVE having lights on all over- and I now have 2.5 strings of lights OUT on my roping outside, so I will be fixing those today as part of my self care.....  UGH.  I will always put up brand new lights outside because this replacing thing is for the birds.  At least the weather is warm.

The last little surprise I had this week involved my baby boy, JacPot.  Lol, my 1000 pound baby boy. Earlier this week, he was acting very weird when I saw him in the morning.  Sort of dizzy, sort of out of it.  And his back end wasn't moving right.  He was eating, so that is at least good.  He seemed a little better last night, though he never acted like he was in pain.  He just seemed off- I sort of think he may have had a stroke??  idk, maybe he fell and hurt himself.  He couldn't tell me but I wish he could.  I was terrorized every morning when I woke up and every  day when I was driving home from work.  It was like I lost him every day but then I got a reprieve.  You guys I thought I was going to lose my horse.  I thought I would find him lying on the ground and dead. The writing is on the wall, it is going to be a short time now I imagine.  He is an elderly gentleman.  But that doesn't make it easier.  For some reason, I have been able to talk myself down off the proverbial cliff though.

I have found that identifying the voice of panic, the voice of insecurity within me is easier to deal with if you give it a name.  Whatever that name is, by saying outloud - oh that is just my "....." story and I don't have to honor/pay attention to that right now is so helpful.  Thank you for trying to protect me, but you aren't letting me see things clearly.... that sort of thing.  giving your fears a name takes a lot of power away from them. You may be skeptical, but you should try it.  I even have been able to deal with my Jacpot feelings in a similar way and it is helpful.

So, life sends so many little surprises.  So so many good and so many not quite as good.  I spent a lot of time finding ways to comfort myself over some of these things.....  and there were a few others as well that I didn't even obliquely refer to, but I guess I have now!  In other years I would have gone down the road of stuffing the feelings back with food, or over-exercised to the point of exhaustion or done other self-destructive things....  But now I do what makes me feel cared for, feel content, feel nourished.  I have some friends and my sister who I can always ALWAYS count on and my family who are always nearby.

The trick to dealing well with these moments is to find a way to not blame yourself for all the things that are out of your control.  And almost everything in life is.  So find your comfy chair and enjoy the ride and be nice to yourself and others and take those hard things one at a time.  And yes, Debi, I am talking still to you!  And above all else- find your joy and give some to others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

And suddenly we are well into December

I can't believe it's already the 8th of December- 

Well, I guess I can, I have been occupied with a lot of things since mid-November when last we blogged!  Thanksgiving was quite active, shall we say- company, shopping, more company, deer  hunters, grandchildren.....  it was mostly super great!

I did manage to get sick from a certain granddaughter shoving her little fingers into my mouth at one point on Thanksgiving, but oh well.  Small price to pay for having her up here for 4 days!

I am feeling a bit disconnected lately, haven't had much time to go for photo shoots and I am really missing it.  It is something that is part of my joy, and I have to find this again.

Ironically, one thing that kept me from doing a lot of it over the weekend was the fact that I spent hours working on my photography calendars!  I will say between my internet upgrade a while ago and Shutterfly web improvements, the uploading goes really very fast.  I NEED to work on these calendars before the first weekend of December......  MUST.  Every year I end up hurrying at the end to get them put together so I can get them on time plus get that top discount.  Goodness.

Yeah, you know I will be busy the first weekend of December next year.  That tends to be how I roll.

Otherwise, I am ready for winter to really arrive and give us some snow, and ICE.  I am getting a little concerned that Lake Superior isn't going to be frozen enough to support the Book Across the Bay in 2 months, and I really would love to start snowshoeing.  I was doing that last year at this time, which partially explains the lack of photography.  Taking pix of the same thing with no/little snow is sort of boring.  sigh.

Anyway, I need to get going on my day- this has to be the least inspiring/newworthy/photography filled update I have ever done!  HA  But I needed to do this to get rolling again.  I have a few ideas in process, but didn't have enough time to work it through.  Hope you all have a lovely Dec. 8!

Avoid those joy stealers/energy vampires that stalk you today- don't let them take your joy.  Joy givers UNITE!  ;)