You Are Not Alone

“Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”  

-H. Jackson Brown Jr.

*I feel like I’ve written this before. Have I? I have, haven’t I. Welp, even if I have, it feels timely to hit this up again.*

Hitting rock bottom hurts. Have you ever been there? How many times? Am I the only one who seems to carry a frequent flier card to this destination?

I wish we could pull our feet up under us and sit staring at each other across a couch and have this conversation. Face to face. There are so many of us. There have to be.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who sits in a pit so often.

Time can drag on, too, until I remember the only way out is up. Then again, I can wallow at the bottom like I was born to.

Tell me I’m not alone. Because I can confidently state that you are not. Alone.

And when the pit is deep, it can feel bleak. And when it feels dark and disheartening, I can get numb.

I don’t know about you, but once numbness creeps in on me, even music hits different. If I can even hear the music at all. The worst is when the music stops altogether. Sadness slides in. Depression deepens. And sometimes, the music just stops making its way to my ears.

Or worse, to my heart.

If I sit with the pain and the hopelessness of it all and allow myself to just feel all those feelings, one of two things happen. Positively, I will eventually, once again, realize rock bottom is not where I’m meant to stay. Negatively, I burrow down into the angst and allow it to snuff out joy.

When you feel like you are hovering with one step hanging right over the edge of that rock-bottom pit, what do you do? Especially this hot minute as routines have gone haywire and security seems out of reach.

I’m no therapist.

But, I have been fortunate enough to interact with a few amazing ones over the last two decades. Here’s a little something to work with when you feel like you haven’t got squat to work with. It’s a little of what has helped me in the past and is helping me right now:

  • Find something, anything,to be grateful for. Anything. Say out loud to anyone, or no one, what that thing is and how grateful you are for it. (The other day, for me, it was the ability cry. Seriously. I just needed to know I could still feel. And the crying felt cathartic. And I was grateful.)
  •  Look, really look, for something to laugh at or about. Anywhere. Then do it. Laugh. Whether it’s for 5 seconds or five minutes. (I was able to search through my phone for memes that made me laugh. Once I got started, I was able to feel like climbing a step or two up from the bottom of my latest.)
  • Tell yourself that you are not alone in this. Anytime. Say it. “I am not alone in this.” (I had to repeat this to myself a couple dozen times in the shower this past week.)
  • Call, or text, someone. Anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone you are related to or even close to. Just connect with a human to let them know you aren’t doing okay. And if you have no one to call, please call a hotline. Here’s one: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
    Here is another one: SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline, 1-9-800-662-4357.

Most importantly, know that there are so many of us struggling. Isolation is the worst thing for a pit dweller. We struggle to keep hope near.

Please! Please remember…

You are not alone.

You are valuable. To me. To others you may not even know. To The One Who Created You.

You are worthy. Of love. And time. And attention.

You are able. To keep struggling. To climb up. To find joy.

You have help. From professionals and volunteers. From family, or friends, or even acquaintances.

You are not alone.

 

 

Preferable

It’s time to write again.

Because, quite frankly, there’s nothing else to do.

The two extroverts in the house are dying a slow death. The two introverts are thriving. It seems as though there should be a perfect balance to the family dynamic with that two plus two combination. There isn’t.

I’ve cleaned every surface that can possibly be cleaned. I’ve cleaned out almost every closet and shelf that exists in this house. Discipline has been enforced and promised for the minor squabbles that keep breaking out amidst all the Stir Crazy that is setting in within these four walls.

Each human is organizing their schedule for the pending remote learning reality we are all facing. Workspaces have been designated. Playlists have been curated. Movie cues have been arranged – by genre. Books are sorted and stacked in the most desired reading order. The pantry has been raided, sufficiently, thank-you-very-much. Exercise DVD’s are standing at the ready from all said raiding.

A 2,000 piece puzzle is currently spread out over the expanse of the dining room table. Every family member takes a stab at it at some point in the course of the day. Sometimes, we even sit and tackle it together.

Riveting information, I know.

Spotify has introduced me to more new music genres than I ever cared to know exist. Did you know that in addition to House music, there is also Tech house, Deep house, Tropical house and heaven-knows-whatever-other kinds of house music?

Netflix, Hulu, and PrimeVideo keep alerting me to shows/movies I might like. I’ve decided they don’t know me quite as well at they think they do.

My Amazon cart reminds me that I still have 48 books that I’ve saved for later, should I blast through the current 35 I have waiting for me on my nightstand. “Three down and 80 left to go,” I’ve taken to telling myself.

My meme game is strong. I’ve been flexing those social media cruising muscles and finding plenty to lift.

This self-imposed period of isolation has introduced more choice into my life than I ever wanted.

Too much, really.

Choice is exhausting.

A blinking cursor seems less overwhelming than deciding which pantry snack I’m going to have to ration today.

These aren’t even real problems, people.

Having no toilet paper, or food for your hungry kids, or job because your place of employment has been closed for the immediate future – those are real problems.

So, maybe I’m more overwhelmed because I’m faced with the realization that what I’m going through mentally doesn’t quite rank up there with Things to Be Worried Over, after all.

Blowing off a little steam on the page, or screen, seems a preferable outlet for my anxiety over this pandemic than another household chore, snack, movie, or book choice (Although, really, are there ever enough books to be read? Correct answer – no.)?

For now, anyway, the blinking cursor is definitely preferable.

Yes indeedy.

 

 

 

5 Lessons I Re-Learned About Parenting While Filming a Video

I made a mini-rap video for a sweet group of friends, recently. I needed tech support. And a back-up dancer. I recruited Sweetgirl for the dancing and Sweetboy as my videographer. Seemed legit.

And, it worked well enough.

Until I messed up.

By the seventh “take”, however, my filter started to slip.

Then, I remembered that I was in front of little ears. I was reminded that even the tamest of DADGUMMIT’s could be imitated in all the wrong ways.

When the “filming” wrapped up (after Take 14, by the way), I had re-learned a few precious parenting lessons.

1. Whatever dance moves you are attempting, whether poorly or worse-than-poorly, the six-year-old will emulate.  This is not the time to attempt those fly moves (do people say that anymore?) from J. Lo’s latest music video. And for goodness’ sake, it’s not all about that base!

2. Your reaction to a flub up will be on video. The person filming you will be watching intently as he films you. Therefore, he may start stomping around and screaming “DARNIT DARNIT DARNIT” the next time he makes a mistake. You will think he looks ridiculous, and start to tell him so. Until you remember where he got it.

3. The backup dancer is closest to the under-the-breath mutterings. She will hear them. She will ask questions. Questions you didn’t intend to have to answer for your six-year-old.

4. Making up your own words to a song like, say… Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” is all fun and games. Until one child, or both, asks if they can see “the real song” on The YouTube. That’s a whole lot of behinds. And bad hair. And explaining. They get enough of All The Real with media pushing pictures of champagne corks popping and backsides. You will regret choosing that song. You may also end frantically looking up pictures of puppies, instead, with promises to talk to daddy about getting one. To divert their attention, of course. Possibly.

And…

5. Your videographer and back-up dancer will have enjoyed the experience so much, that they will ask you to show them other rap songs that they can change the words to and make videos of themselves singing. You will realize the scarcity of appropriate songs. You will rue the day.

Oh, yes indeedy.

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*A note to The Nana, Ahab, Gammy and Grampy – I did not let them actually see the “real” video. They were far more interested in the adorable French Bulldog puppy video that I was able to switch over to, oh-so-quickly. If we end up with one, I blame myself.

*Also, a note to Sweetman – we may end up with a French Bulldog. I’m sorry.

Beyond the Twenty-First Time

Six years ago, I was bopping along in my car, oblivious to the need around me. A new song debuted on the radio station I was tuned to. As I listened, I had to put my turn indicator on and pull my car over.

To get my weeping on.

Monk & Neagle’s song, The Twenty-First Time was that powerful, for me. It overtook every excuse I had ever given for not recognizing Need. Grace took that opportunity to reach in, grab a hold of my heart, and gave it a much-needed shake.

I hope you can overlook some of the heavy-handed images that were chosen for this video. I am praying that Grace will reach in and touch your heart, in any way, for the good of the deeper message within the lyrics. And I deeply hope that we will all be willing to keep looking way beyond the twenty-first time.

William Shakespeare famously said that “When words fail, music speaks.”

May it be true here, today.

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This post is day 21 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

Flying in a V Fourmation

Sweetboy, and then, Sweetgirl, fell in love with a children’s album by the Bare Naked Ladies, a few years ago.  On it was one particular song that Sweetman felt he could tolerate.  It quickly became “Daddy’s song”. It was titled, “Here Come the Geese”. 

It has a soothing melody, and for that, Sweetman and I are eternally grateful. As, we had to listen to it on repeat eleventy hundred, plus one, times.  Whenever we’d get to the chorus, the word “flying in a V formation” always harked me back to a particular verse from the Psalms.

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I don’t know you very well. And, I certainly don’t know your heart. But, I think most of us are trying very hard to figure out who, exactly, stands with us.

Whether we’re seeking those willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder politically, spiritually, emotionally, or any other -ally, we’re searching.

And when I search, I always find Grace sweeping in to my right, or left. In those moments when I’m looking backwards (and nothing good ever seems to come out of that, for me), He’s there. And when I’m more forward thinking, I can just make out the shadow of Grace, watching.

Isn’t that just like Him? Hemming us in, in all of the right ways. Leading us on, into greater and greater love.

Being our Wingman.

“A wingman (or wingmate) is a pilot who supports another in a potentially dangerous flying environment.”

Even, maybe especially, when we didn’t even know we needed one?

Because, I don’t know about you, but I find myself in plenty of “dangerous flying environments”, on account of all the spunk.

And, an Eternal Wingmate is a lovely way to think of Grace.

Don’t you think?

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This is post 4, as part of my contribution toward the #write31days going on over here.

Two for the Road

Driving is a source of great pleasure to me.  I know I’m not alone.

Although I much prefer to be. Alone. In my car.

My thoughts can breath. Aspirations and inspirations and exultation’s stop getting all mixed up. Moments of clarity become stretches.

How many times have you had a conversation with a parent of kids under 21 who exclaimed, “And, I got to drive for twenty whole minutes, ALL BY MYSELF!”?  How many times?  Maybe it was you who uttered that very thing just this week?

One of the most precious get-away moments comes as I press play on a song that mama wants to hear. Can I get an amen?

Here are two of my favorites. I’d like to share the music, of course. But, I’d also like to share the why, because I like each one for radically different reasons.

If you’ve never heard the words “amazing” and “grace”, together, about a song, then I ask you, where have you been living for the last 235 years?

There is a version of this song that has undone me more times than I care to count. Amazing Grace, (My Chains Are Gone) was the song I first sang upon realizing the extent of my deep need for True Grace to swoop down and save me. It was later the song that ushered in a realization that addiction was part of my DNA. It is The Song that reminds me, again and again, that my chains are exactly that – mine. I’ve truly been set free.

And Grace reminds me that it doesn’t matter what I chain myself to – or how many times I attempt to chain myself to anything other than the God who made me – He. Will. Find. Me.

And set me free.

While I won’t apologize for my taste in music (it is, after all, thinking in sounds), I will say that some things just appeal to my inner need for a beat.  When I first heard “Letting Go”, by Bethel Music, I was on the verge of making some rotten decisions.  The moment the words “you’ve brought me to the end of myself”, I knew.

I knew that Grace would meet me there. At the end of myself.

And He did.

And does.

What tunes go on the road with you? Share please!

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This post is day 2 of the #write31days over at The Nester’s website.

Sometimes You Need a New Station

I love me some Pandora.  There are a handful of stations that I could about listen to right on into the ground.  My Jack Johnson station – uh-huh!  My All Sons & Daughters station. Yup! Hillsong Young & Free? Check! Andy Hunter because, trance! And, the Sade station? God Almighty said there’s a time for everything and let’s just leave it at that.

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And I like listening to my tried and true tunes. Oh, yes indeedy.

Don’t we all?

My heart has been observing some subtle shifts in the rhythms of my life, lately, though.  And it unsettles my soul a bit.

Because shifts indicate change. And change tends to send me one of two ways: if it’s an adventure that I’ve sought out, I grab a hold of it with arms and legs wrapped fully around.  However, if it’s change that I wasn’t prepared for, I can sort of work myself into a full-stop shutdown.

I don’t have any great insights into why these are my two default responses, other than to know that they just are. Knowing this about myself, I can usually see a shutdown coming and head it off at the pass.

Usually.

Once in a while, though, there’s a change that I couldn’t have seen coming if it landed on top of the nose on my face. Before I know it,I find myself tuning toward some station I wouldn’t have chosen if my life depended on it.

Then, I sit stupefied, realizing that I’m humming and bobbing my head to a song about being so fancy.

This leads me to believe that I just might need to seek out a new station or three and enjoy the ride of new rhythms and melodies. There is a season for everything, right?

Even azaleas.

Oh, there are songs we each take comfort in hearing.  And, they bring us back, bring us around, or bring us up. I think we can also probably agree that some music does more to lift our spirit right on up to the tippy top of Happy than any ice cream cone ever could.

But, as the song goes, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…” and all that.  I think I’m ready to tap my toes to some new tunes.

What in the world do all of these words mean?  I’m not sure I can share just yet.  But know this – I will!

Until then, why don’t you try out a new song.  You’d never believe the places you can go with some fresh beats in your ears.

Because sometimes, change dictates that you just need a new station.

If You Give a Mom Some Earphones

Today is International Women’s Day. I’d be remiss if I didn’t honor the women who have worked hard to pave the way for the rights and opportunities that exist for us today.

And, while I consider myself an excellent multi-tasker, this woman right here has learned that she truly can’t do it all.  But, in particular:

If you give a mom some earphones,

chaos may ensue.

She might become oblivious,

as music streams on through.

Things might be forgotten,

kids may be left waiting,

Chicken could be burnt,

all while she’s creating.

If she learns what’s good for her,

the earphones, she will hide.

Otherwise she soon may find

her problems multiplied!

Inspired by one of our family’s favorite children’s books, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff.

Sadly, I’ve come to realize how very much headphones and I don’t work well together. Unless you get an alarm involved.  (And, preferably, not the fire alarm.) Because, lately, every time I put on my headphones, click over to my beloved “All Sons & Daughters” radio station on Pandora, and attempt to multitask, any number of not-that-productive things can happen.

I could forget, for instance, that I put the chicken tenders in the toaster oven and the fire alarm could finally get my attention to let me know.

Or, I might start writing after putting the Sweetkids to bed, with the intention of writing for just a couple of hours, only to look up and see that it is 1:00 in the morning.  And those sweet children will be up and kickin’ again in five short hours.

Then, too, I’ve also had the great displeasure of locking myself out of my house, in my slippers. All because of those blasted headphones! I missed the arrival of the school bus and had to go to my kind neighbor’s house and explain why she had to scoop my kids up with hers.

Because, if you give a mom some headphones…

you should probably make sure that she also has an alarm.

Have you ever gotten lost in thought with your headphones on?  Please tell me other people do this too?

Reggae in Heaven

Doesn’t some music just say home to you?

Now, don’t laugh…but Reggae always speaks soothingly of home to me. Spending my summers in Bimini meant that I absorbed the music and rhythms of those around me.

Whenever I hear some of my favorites, I am instantly transported. I think of The Lady Up On The Hill who made the Johnny cakes and Bimini Bread on the other side of the island, or of the dances done at Brother Ozzie’s downtown bar to “Come Back MaryAnn”, or the radio tuned to reggae as the islanders cracked open the newly fished conchs for all of the tourists.

The music was everywhere. It flooded my soul almost as much as the summer sunshine did.

Reggae makes me relish those innocent summers when I played with the dozens of stray puppies without worry for where they would end up.  I miss doing the ring toss in Brown’s Bar downstairs from the hotel, without concern for anything other than how much candy we’d be overloaded with for all of our wins.  I fondly remember dancing with the Islanders, whose only aim was to teach a young lady how to keep time and rhythm to the flow of the island music.

To this day, put some Bob Marley on and I am instantly taken back to that time and place where I was free from stereotypes and ran the island with all of the other children that called Bimini “home”. That music reminds me that there was a time when there were no adult worries beyond what to rustle up for dinner amongst the things that were freshly caught in the waters that day.

Yup. I’m pretty sure there will be Reggae in Heaven.

Three little birds told me so.

Yes indeedy.

Bimini

What music takes you back?

Tuning In To His Song

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SONG

Go…

Cringing and grimacing are often seen, along with some snickering thrown in for good measure, whenever I sing.  I can’t carry a tune to save my life.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to.

That’s why I find it so laughable that the man I call “husband” has such an amazing voice.

He doesn’t think he does, but, oh, how he can sing.  Not in a you-should-go-out-and-start-a-band kind of way.  No, no.  I’m talking about the I’m-gonna-stop-my-catterwauling-to-listen-to-you kind of way.  Others might move a few rows farther away when I get fired up, or wish they were in a different car.  Not so, when he does.  Others tune in and scootch closer.

He doesn’t think his song is all that special, because his brother sings, too. And well!  As in, already-an-artist kind of way.

But, each time that my man chooses to belt it out, and thinks he’s just blending in with the host of other voices around him?

My own singing ceases (thankfully).

I look up at him.

And I.

Just.

Listen.

To his song.

Because it’s always beautiful.

It’s Five Minute Friday time over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place. Dontcha’ just love it?  Today’s prompt is “song”.  You know you want to read what others had to share about this little word.  Click the button below and you can!

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