Friday, March 25, 2011
Spring. Pre-adolescence. Adjusting to new jobs. New kittens. New blogs.
WHAT?!?! NEW BLOGS?!?!
Yep. My little blog is all grown up now. You can find it at loriekaufmanrees.com
I hope you enjoy the changes, and while you're there, be sure to check out links to More and The Joy Project. Exciting goings on around here!
See you there!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Their voices are sweet, innocent, self-conscious. How long until she learns to sing with abandon, I wonder? How long until she discovers the thrill of giving herself over to the experience? How long until her joy in the glorious moment overpowers her fear of what other people think?
I flash back to my weekend—singing love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all, with my college choir Saturday night—full heart, full voice, full volume. Complete abandon. Complete accord. Complete joy.
I try to tell Beth about it at breakfast. About how alumni of the Chorale always get to join the choir in the singing of this piece at every concert. About my director and the significant role he played in that very significant time in my life. About how I've never been so happy as when singing with a choir of that caliber. But I can't tell her. Not without tears. Not today.
The Chorale sang—
What can purge my heart
Of the long And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart
Of the sadness
Of the song?
("Song for Billie Holiday," Poem by Langston Hughes)
This sadness cannot be purged by any other means. Song is the remedy. Song is the therapy. Song is the salvation.
There will come a time when Song will be restored in my life. All is healed, all is health… Hearts all whole. ("Sure on This Shining Night," James Agee) I eagerly await that day—when my heart is once again whole. Until then, I merely listen, missing pieces of that which is most essentially me.
My thoughts come back to the 6th graders before me—fresh-faced, fledgling voices lifted up together in praise. I smile, fighting back tears for the second time today. I pray for their song to purge my sadness. And I listen with eager excitement, awaiting with baited breath the moment when they, too, learn the fullness of joy that comes from abandoning one's self to the music. Until they, too, know what it feels like to be Complete.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
"You know what, Buddy?" I say. "I think you're the best boy ever."
He squeezes my arm, wrapped securely around his waist. "And you're the best Momma ever," he replies.
"I mean it, Buddy. I think you are a really neat kid," I tell him, wanting him to get that I'm not just saying this because this is something Momma's say. Wanting him to get that I see him for who he is, and that who he is has value. Wanting him to get that I don't just love him, but I like him, too.
He squeezes again. "I mean it too, Momma," he says. And in a whisper he adds, "You help me when I need help."
You help me when I need help. I am caught off guard by his comment—I smile a "that's an interesting thing to say" smile in the dark. "I'm happy to help you, Buddy. I will always help you when you need help."
It is interesting the things that speak love to a child. So often, they are not the things we think we should be doing. They are the things are children ask for. Snuggling. Praying. Doing something together. Time spent in proximity at the end of a day of separateness. Helping when one needs help. Putting the work aside and playing four square (with two people) when you'd really rather get your work done. I don't do it all perfectly. Some of it I don't even do with mediocrity. But in his world, at the moment, there is a little bit I am doing right.
After my week, I will take it, and rest in that tonight.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Today was spent nursing my 8-year-old back to health, rather than taking care of myself. Some days, we just have to do this. God takes our tidy little agenda and tips it upside down like a snow globe, and all the little "appointments" float around like flecks of glitter and fall in entirely different places. My women's group. My quiet time. Blogging. Working on the manuscript. My healing prayer appointment. All up in the air, and then all just gone—buried under a day full of Mike Rowe getting dirty to my son's gleeful delight.
It would be one thing if I did it well—this caretaking thing. I sat on the couch for as long as I could stand it, reading my book in snippets between Mike's bleeps and blunders, and then I was gone. The itch to be productive would not leave me be and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the computer working on blogging issues and research while Buddy sat on the couch watching Mike alone with his fever and his chicken soup.
I wrestle with this parenting thing. With this working full time/writing part time/parenting full time/exercising part time/dieting full time/socializing part time/taxi-driving full time/repeating sixth grade part time schedule I keep. There is not enough time to do it all, let alone do it well. There is fatigue. There is frustration. There is worry. And there is guilt. There is a LOT of guilt. I worry I've not done this mothering thing well. Not really well. And it grieves me. Because I wanted to do it well.
But there is, occasionally, a light that glimmers like a crystal catching the light of the sun at just the right angle. It reflects back to me something of glory. I sit back, my breath caught, and I just look. That glimmer is hope. And the sun is reflecting more and more of it lately. The hope that God will equip. Will restore. Will sustain. Will guide. If only I will listen and follow. If only…
My devotional for today reads:
Trust me one day at a time. This keeps you close to me, responsive to my will. Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded. My Spirit within you is your resident tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor. Yield to his gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting. (Jesus Calling, March 18)
Yield to his gentle touch, sensitive to his prompting. I wonder how different today might have looked had I done that. I can't undo it now, so I will not dwell there in regret, but move forward in resolve.
Tomorrow, the snow globe gets re-shaken, and the glitter falls where it may. I can only take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is a new opportunity. To listen. To yield. To follow.
To take care.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
A wide range of thoughts and emotions churn in the back of my head making a sound similar to the whirring and grinding my computer does when its busy thinking. I am confused—when on earth did this happen? I am concerned—why is this issue coming up so frequently already? I am relieved—my daughter obviously thinks this is a significant problem. I turn cartwheels quietly in my head at the reassurance she does not think this is appropriate. I am alarmed—how do the parents not know? What's going on? I am apprehensive—do I need to tell them? How do I go about doing that? And how do I protect my daughter, the bearer of information, in the process?
She goes on and on in her concern. For several days. DAYS. She talks to me. She talks to teachers. She cries on their shoulder. She cries on mine. So much drama for such a tender little heart. So much confusion and chaos for such a young spirit. It consumes her life for several days. And, therefore, it consumes mine, as well.
The proverbial winds of change are blowing with a gale force this March. Boys and girls kissing. Friendships shifting. Homework increasing. Expectations increasing. And that's just at school. An exit from the gym. An entrance into physical therapy. An increase in my hours. A change in my husband's employment. Her life is in flux. Flux is not fun.
She tells me in bed last night that she's worried. She sees herself in a row of dominoes. She fears that the choices her friends make will affect her. She frets that if one domino falls, they eventually all fall. I give her a different picture. I encourage her to see herself as a column. A pillar. Tall and strong and rooted in the ground. A domino cannot topple a column. "I like that, Momma. That's a good picture," she tells me, nestling into my shoulder.
Innocence is already beginning to slip away, and my daughter is not yet even twelve. I take a deep breath, and I pull her close, and I pray like crazy for wisdom, for guidance, for her protection. I pray that God will show her in a multitude of ways that he is in control, and he's got this situation in his hands. After amen, I go downstairs, and I look up pillar on biblegateway.com, and this is what I find:
Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Ps 144:12
Our daughters will be like pillars.
He is showing me, in a multitude of ways, that he is in control. He's got my daughter in his hands. I can rest assured.
I can rest, assured.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I've revised the URL to better suit the title and purpose of the blog, and am moving in a bit of a new direction with it. You can now find it at www.thatwhichsatisfies.blogspot.com, but the title remains the same!
Friday, March 11, 2011
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
After an hour spent catching up with emails (after a 12 hour day of clients), an hour spent blog-surfing, and half of an hour spent playing mahjong on my two inch by three inch phone screen, my brain just won't shut off. Or shut up. Which is leaving my husband wondering when I'm going to shut off the light and let him sleep.
It all began with an email from Anne Marie, a very cool and very sweet mom I met this year through my son's class at school. (Interestingly enough, her name is a combination of my and my daughter's middle names. But that's only interesting because it's 1:02 AM and I'm wide awake. But I digress...) After corresponding several times over a project we were working on together for our kiddos' teacher, we'd begun corresponding about blogs and website design, because I'd spent some time poking around her very fun and creative graphic design portfolio.
The topic turned to writing, and that's when this whole mind-spinning-not-sleeping thing began in earnest. Anne Marie told me about a friend of hers, Marla, a local woman who had "authored a few books." My eyebrows raised. I have one of her books. My sister-in-law, who was likewise friends with Marla, had given one to me when she had finished it. Years ago. How ironic was that? I read on, and my eyebrows went up even higher, as Anne Marie recommended to me Ann Voskamp's blog, a holy experience, based on her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Which, of course, was the third time this week someone had recommended her blog to me, and guess what? Yep. I already have the book. ?!?!?
What ensued from there was an hour or more of reading and exploring these women's blogs, and the blogs they were linked to, and the blogs those were linked to, and... you get the idea. 1:25 AM, and still not sleeping.
Here's the thing. Normally, that would have frightened me. Discouraged me. Disenheartened me, if that's a word. (At 1:28 AM, it's a word if I say it's a word.) Normally. But things are not normal around here, anymore. Now, I'm thinking things like, Why not me? Why not now? Why not all the way? Which is really, really cool.
Unless, of course, you're trying to go to sleep.
I'm not any different than any of these women. There is no reason I could not do this, short of just choosing not to try. Out of fear. Out of self-consciousness. Out of complacency.
The truth of the matter is that I have done hard, uncomfortable things before. Many of them were not my idea, but I did them nonetheless, and I lived to tell about them. Obviously. Not one but two master's degrees. (Don't ask. Long, annoying story.) Natural childbirth. (After four hours on Pitocin. Nothing natural about it.) Running a half-marathon, having never run more than a mile before in my life. (Ouch. That's all I have to say about that.) I can do hard things. I just have to set my mind to it.
I am setting my mind. I am pulling it off of its spinning, aimless trajectory, and I am setting it on this path, and I am not letting fear "grab me by the tail and shake me," as my friend Kim quoted to me earlier this week. There is no good reason why, in five years, another woman could not be sitting up at 1:37 AM writing about having been on my blog, not able to sleep because of what it stirred up in her. No good reason.
I'm still not ready to turn out the light, but I'm ready to power down for the night. Six hours of editing await me tomorrow, and you'd better believe the beverage of choice will be caffeinated come morning.
I'll be sure to stop by 3:00PM. Or earlier. Or, perhaps, not...
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
The bad news is, we don't know why it still hurts after almost three months.
Physical therapy resumes tomorrow, after three weeks off to be certain therapy was not aggravating a stress fracture. We are relieved, but in a really bittersweet, I-hate-physical-therapy-and-can't-believe-we're-back-here-again kind of way.
I am not entirely certain, yet, that she's okay. Her grades are slipping. For the first time. Ever. She's unhappy at school. Could be hormones. Could be more. I just don't know.
When you take a kid who is used to nine hours of intense physical activity every week, on top of her normal screwing around, and tell her she has to BE STILL, I've got to think that takes a toll. I've got to think she has to miss it. I've got to think she looks at her trophies and her medals and her pictures and feels a loss, if nothing else. I sure do. But if she does, she doesn't mention it.
She is not broken. My mother-heart can rest in peace tonight. Tonight...
Tomorrow is a new day. We shall see what prognosis physical therapy holds, and how quickly they can put her back together again.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.
Henry David Thoreau
As part of my attempt to determine where I am going from here, I have been looking back over the past five years I have spent writing on this blog. When I began writing for it in 2005, I was still grieving having stepped away from singing professionally. I titled the blog "Finding My Voice" because I saw it as an attempt to replace what I believed was lost. It did not take long, however, for me to discover that this new "voice" fit me well, and I changed the title to reflect that change in perspective.
As I contemplate what writing will look like for me now and in the future, and as I particularly contemplate what role this blog will play in that, I have again been thinking about the title, and continue to find it relevant. Colla voce is a musical term which instructs the accompanist to follow the soloist in a particular passage, giving the soloist the freedom to create their own tempo as they interpret the lyrics or the mood of the piece. The soloist is released to hasten or linger as they see fit, allowing themselves to surrender to the creative force within them, unconstrained by the limits of someone else's tempo and pacing.
In order to sing colla voce, the vocalist must have a certain degree of confidence. The vocalist doesn't follow the accompanist, the accompanist follows the vocalist. Rather than following, the voice is now allowed to lead, which requires both a willingness and an ability to do so. The vocalist must step out and sing with authority—they must command the piece, they must be able to be followed. Once that confidence is acquired, they are free to take the piece where they want it to go, in the manner in which they desire.
My daughter is a beginning vocalist. She is timid. She follows the piano—even if the piano is off, unfortunately. She is young, yet—lacking the self-confidence to be in control, too self-conscious to sing out, to create her own tempo, to take the lead. For too long, I've lived my life in this manner—afraid of getting it wrong. Afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of standing out. For too long, I've blended in the background, following someone else's tempo, singing someone else's song. Not any longer.
Our college director used to tell us, when we were learning a new piece, that if we were going to make a mistake, to make a LOUD one. This was the only way, he explained, for him to know what he needed to correct and be able to correct it early before we learned it wrong. I am forty years old now. I am not in sixth grade any longer. Such self-consciousness is not becoming. I must own my voice. My mistakes. My successes. I must take a deep breath and sing out, lest I waste away in quiet desperation, my song dying within me without ever having been heard.
I have a song to sing. A story to tell. A life to live. I will sing it, tell it, live it. I will take command of this composition, and I confidently will set my own tempo, interpreting these passages of life as I see fit within the grander scope of the style of the piece. I will make my mistakes, and I will no doubt make them loudly. But I will keep on making music out of my life, because, in the end, that is what I am called to do. To let no song be left unsung.
This blog will be where I continue to allow myself to "hasten or linger as I see fit," writing about the topics that are important to me in a way that is meaningful to me. If you find meaning in them, as well, please continue to join me. And in the future, keep an eye out for additional venues to appear, as I continue to hone my voice and search for my unique little space in this vast universe of the written word.
Here's to singing out, and seeing where the voice leads!