Category Archives: music

90 Days

Last Sunday night I celebrated the closing night of our 4 show run of this little musical I put together. I was scared to death to do it and I wasn’t exactly sure I was going about it right, but I kept trusting the process and failed to panic and get crazed. The designers that worked on the show all worked so incredibly hard to get everything just right and it was a cute, entertaining show.

I can hold my head high in the community that I pulled it off! The children had a blast and all the parents seemed pleased and proud. The energy was amazing and cheerful.

In the midst of a very hectic time, I maintained my yoga and breath work and I continued my hobbies and self-care regimens. I did not even feel tempted to drink. It’s as if this time is just different. I’m done throwing away my one precious life.

I spent two days after my show closed staring at walls and computer screens. Well, and clouds when I could get outside, but I think that is much more positive idle time.

I just worked for ten weeks solid on a musical production with 40 children – staring into space for a couple days seems appropriate. But it’s not the kids or the show that have me this way.

It’s an individual that I had to work closely with that was not a good fit on a number of professional levels. He is concerned with his own ego and is power-hungry and it gets all over me. Unfortunately, his performance was not entirely supportive of the production and it is the truth. I have recorded my notes and I will have faith that the truth will prevail. But it was no fun having that mess all over my perfectly wonderful experience.

I celebrated 90 days without alcohol the weekend of the show – how cool is that?! I cannot express how amazed and proud I am that I pulled it off. Stepping into unknown territory without familiar coping tools. And things were mostly effortless. I felt more in control of my experience and everything remained calm, cool and collected until the very end.

I think that’s something of which to be proud. So what if no one in administration or even the teacher who has the upperclassmen came to see it. Guess they all knew it was going to be WONDERFUL.IMG_1366It was.

I just returned home from some time at my mother and father’s house in Texas. My little brother hosted my son on a wild game hunting trip on the land he leases just 12 miles north of Mexico. It was a wonderful trip for my son and, as it turns out, for me.

I can hardly write for wiping my tears. I’m trying to be discreet as I am not alone and these moments are so personal to me and because I have so little control sometimes, I love for my moments alone to be alone. It just so happens that my study is in the heart of the house.

A house that I have grown to love so much. It cradled me in its arms and spoke gently to me. We grew together and it will be the hardest thing to leave behind when we pack up and head to Texas. Because we have to.

I believe it was Monday night that everyone went to sleep and I still had plenty to think about so I jumped into a Master Class through Mind Valley Academy to embrace my energy body. Since my session with Grace I have been chipping away at educating myself and the classes I’ve found are not lining up with my schedule. It was well explained and I was able to feel the warmth of my energy between my hand as Jeffrey Allen described. I coaxed that block from my sacrum and I replaced it with fresh new expansiveness.

While my mom was taking an afternoon nap and my sweet husband was driving our ten-year old around on the golf cart, I sat on the back porch rocking. I am interviewing for positions in education again this summer in and around Austin and I saw myself driving to the Lake on the weekends to visit my mom. Her respiratory issues are just not good.

She has taken such good care of herself almost her whole life and smoking, combined with toxic chemical exposure, has really  done a number on her ability to breathe and live.

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Cannot be any accident that I have discovered my breath this year. I rocked on her porch, strolled over to the pond and just let all of my thoughts and feelings wash over me. The bitterness from getting the raw end of the deal was absent. Suddenly I felt like I was the lucky one. My boys are 13 and 10 and my brother’s first son is not quite 8 months old.

So I redoubled my efforts and got a few more applications in to other districts while I was there. She had very little energy, having battled bronchitis for three weeks and so there were no big outings or anything so I had plenty of time to do it. Things were very low-key with my Dad and oldest being gone and there was plenty of down time.

I am back home now decompressing and processing the moments of the past few days, which included a digital video interview for a HUGE position in Austin and some crazy little details and connections being revealed that may or not be synchronicity, or as I always called it, as a young girl with a favorite book, Serendipity (1974).

I have been looking to purchase this book for myself for a number of years and I went ahead and bought a first edition, just like the one I used to have. Many of my childhood toys and keepsakes were missing from my grandparent’s basement when my mother and I returned from her first tour in the service. I have always been sad to have lost those things.

About three years ago my mother found “my” Raggedy Ann doll on Ebay, bought it and sent it to me.

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I will be so curious to peel back the cover and see the name of the original owner of Serendipity and that little girl (?) and I will share a moment of acknowledgment that “Knowing who you really are will bring you happiness” as is the theme of the book. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my connection to this book has been steadfast my entire life. I look so forward to re-reading it. Perhaps the next time I head down this spiral, I will treat myself to my other favorite: Flutterby (1976), with the moral: “Be just who you are.”

At any rate, I am feeling a certain pull to the area. Perhaps a real connection to the idea that this is finally the real move that is due. It was no trouble at all to be present in my own skin without being inebriated or drinking at all. Maybe I am ready to surrender to the idea that my Mom is certainly not perfect, but she has done the best that she could for me. Maybe I can learn to forgive her for things that hurt me.

I guess she has probably had to forgive me hurts over the years.

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Independence Day 2016

I bumped into a yoga instructor and holistic healer on social media. It was a bizarre meeting, but we have many things in common and she is conducting a Nourishing Awakenings women’s nature retreat just a few hours from my home. Fire walking is involved and I am very seriously considering going. I contacted her about it and in our conversation it came up that I am trying to get my family to Austin and we’re saving money and all of that and of course, that’s exactly where she was on her travels as we spoke. Anyway, I have saved this much since quitting drinking…I continue to want to reinvest it…2017 word = truth. This could be my celebration of my SELF. My real self. This event takes place post 100 sober days…walking on fire…hmmmm…Just all seems so serendiptous.

We shall see – I have until the musical I’m directing closes this time next week to make a final decision, so the timing could not be better.

This post is a reflection of me at 81 days. Getting clearer and clearer.

Tonic and Lime, please.

10 weeks. 70 days.

For ten weeks I have not allowed alcohol of any kind to pass my lips. Strange that even though my last drink of choice was red wine, the drink I miss the most is BEER.

Ice cold draft beer.

It’s a great time to live in Memphis as there are craft and micro breweries popping up all around town. There are a fair number of outdoor events and the food truck craze is full on here. Couple that with spring weather and a nice afternoon in a hammock…a beer is an excuse to take a break and I sure do forget to do that.

img_4848That one time I spent TEN WHOLE MINUTES resting in my son’s hammock. I likely had an afternoon beer after I snapped this proof that I do stop moving sometimes.

 

When I was looking at how to quit drinking this summer, one of the options I thought to give myself was to allow only beer when out and about at festivals and concerts. In my mind, I was pleased with the image of being “that” kind of drinker. That image appeals to me, but the jury is still out … not sure if I even want to think about what might be in store for me – someday. Gotta concentrate on today.

Based upon the limited recovery reading I have had time to do, it doesn’t sound like a “healthy” relationship with alcohol is likely in the cards for a girl like me. The data indicates that I’ll be fine with a beer or two at first, but that after time, and a short one at that – I’ll be chasing 12 packs and kegs again because those addiction pathways are deep and not easily mended by a little sobriety thrown into the mix.

So, I continue to choose NOT to drink. Went to a concert Saturday night for a college and life-long favorite, Ben Folds. Ordinarily, I’d have “pre-gamed”having at least two drinks before I even left. Then I’d have spent half of the evening wondering how I was drinking so fast and when I could get another drink from the bar without missing my favorite song. Or, I’d have spilled all over myself and been an embarrassment. That last part’s not entirely true, but it has happened before. At minimum, the drinking at the concert would have been automatic. It may well have been my first sober concert ever.

Turns out that I was perfectly happy drinking a tonic with lime. They actually didn’t have lime wedges, so the bartender used lime juice and it was DELICIOUS! It’s like I play a little game with myself – where I used to call it a “treat” to have an alcoholic drink (even though I would have four or more daily), I now reframe it and call my “non-alcoholic replacement drink” a gift to myself. Something about allowing that psychological process to happen is helping to shift things for me.

I have always struggled with self-talk. My inner critic is a blazing ASSHOLE. My mother was (is) very critical. She’s wicked smart, but because she had me at 15, she lost out on many opportunities to advance herself. She made a wonderful career in the USAF and obtained her Bachelor degree in journalism, but she still has untapped potential. She is an authority on just about everything. So, I carry that with me and it’s loudest when I am not perfect. You know, all the time. 

Strangely, I find it easier to silence that critic now that I am free from alcohol. There’s less happening in my brain to confuse the issue. Things are far from perfect and I have a heaping lot of mess to sort through yet, but I can much better discern bullshit from truth.

Good thing, since my 2017 word is TRUTH.

I’m getting plenty of it.

 

Energy Healing

(Monday, January 23rd) This morning I woke up my new thirty minutes early and I set down my blanket and I went through my morning breath exercise and then spent a whopping minute or two stretching. Seriously, I just had to do it half-heartedly, didn’t I?

Well, that’s okay. There’s a lot going on right about now and I am making a lot of really great progress on my journey, so 6 minutes of self-care in the morning is still 42 minutes a week that I wasn’t getting before.

I switched out the essential oil in my diffuser in my classroom. I had settled into a routine with Peace and Harmony for a couple months and it was nice, but I was feeling the desire to get through some of these gloomy winter days with a little Cheer Up Buttercup. Perhaps fueled by the power of suggestion, since we just finished The Princess Bride in film classes.

I left after my last class to make it to my first energy healing session. I have never spoken to anyone who has ever engaged in this type of work, but I have been interested in picking up on the moods of others less and have wondered about energy shielding. It can be challenging to be a sensitive soul such as I. My emotions can get all out of whack and I don’t know what stuff is mine and what is someone else’s. Nothing pleasant about being in a heap of tears when someone with whom you work somewhat distantly, announces their retirement. In fact, it’s awkward.

I have always been this way – in high school I described “seasonal cries”and it’s just been something I have grown accustomed to, though it can be inconvenient, I know it is a gift and I’m open to discovering more of the magic than the detrimental qualities.

I was comfortable from the beginning and the practitioner and I got to talking and come to find out that besides the mutual connection we shared that got me there, I taught her son two years ago and of course, it was a very positive and close experience. I was probably much more at ease because of those shared connections, so I am grateful for that added bonus.

There was at least an hour of eyes closed aromatherapy and energy work. I have very little idea, really, as my eyes were closed under the cloth that held the oils, but there were moments of sensation in various chakras – a warmth in the seventh, or crown, a need to expel some of the mid-January by-products of allergies when she was working with the fifth, or throat chakra, a tingling foot… And the feedback she gave me afterward made me weep with the possibility of healing that could come about were this the truth.

(Thursday, February 2) After the session, Grace touched my shoulder and said softly, “You are complete.” During the feedback she asked me if I believed in past lives (sure, why not?) and told me that she thinks I might have lived in Scotland or Ireland or somewhere where there was lots of stonework and that I may have been killed for being “crazy” and that I may have come into this life running from that label or diagnosis (neither her words). And then she added that perhaps my mother had been my child then and so she had wanted to protect me from that as well because she had seen me die.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has always resonated very deeply with me as have the Salem Witch Trials and many things Gaelic, my maiden name is McCormick, after all. All of that moved through me in the second she said it and all the suffering I had felt in being hindered and unsupported and unloved by my mother vanished in an instant and I wept.

I serendipitously started The Artist’s Way on my first day of sobriety (after years of putting it off – this story sounds so familiar). I leafed through it again this evening more than a week after Grace mentioned it and I see that I had underlined Julia Cameron’s  third in a list of twenty “commonly held negative beliefs” that plague the artist.

“I will go crazy.”

I told her about the respite and psych nurse Barb and how she called me an anomoly and that it sustained me for years. Someone cared enough about me to think of me as different or defying classification. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved myself a lot of road.

I told her about the psych ward and how I was so scared and isolated and alone. Actually, the feelings part came later in thinking about it. But I did share that I now know that I am not any of the diagnoses that were placed on me, but that I have some different gifts that can sometimes wind me into a tizzy, but that I have learned to breathe through those sorts of things now.

But, alas, it was an adventure.

I stalled on reading (and annotating and re-reading and aha-ing and the like) as I got into “Week One” and realized that I am over-committed just now with a family, (more than) full time teaching and directing a play in the evening. I figured I’d get back to it in early April when I could better pace myself with new demands on my time.

The session seemed authentic and true and so positive and affirming. I think working with energy further is something I am as interested in as exploring yoga and meditation. I also am considering trying out the “morning pages component of The Artist’s Way. The breathing exercises haven’t taken a real hold just yet and I do want to expand the writing anyway. It’s been relatively recent that the writing valve has even been open at all.

Looks like my second and third chakras could use some enlivening. Most the others are in great working order and she said I am most certainly “grounded.” We are dealing with the sacrum (second) and the Solar Plexus (or third). She suggested magnesium in epsom salt baths (already a regular), spicy foods and that yellow and orange were my colors.

I immediately set about being attentive to the yellow and orange and healing the chakras and jewelry and pigeon pose to open up those hips and stretch that psoas. I had been led to an orange tea just a few days before, we had been buying clementines – it was just a little uncanny how I seemed to intuitively know what I needed.

 

 

New Normal

I am going to miss these vacation days wherein I have been free to meander through my home and putter around putting things in their place and organizing shelves. My husband took all the same days off work though we did not need them for travel and we have been able to take care of some critical issues in the house (secure the crawl space to keep critters out, repair the wall behind the washer from the last pipe repair, replace the gas tube that runs to the stove – probably compromised due to moving stove in and out to watch traps). In addition, I have been free to feed my soul.

Because there have been no agendas, no plans, no social obligations, no EXPECTATIONS, I have also been free to write, read, reflect, meditate, sing, dance and simply BE. I have found a gentle, loving and patient wife and mother in myself. I purposefully chose these days to be my first days of abstinence and I chose wisely. It is my hope that my life will now consist of many other wise choices. Of course, even sober people make poor choices, but perhaps not as many. And so, as I enjoy these last quiet moments before the rest of the house awakes, I am reminded that I am enough. Everything I need is within me.

I go back tomorrow to semester two with the largest class sizes I have ever had in 16 years of teaching. I go back to some of the most cluelessly disrespectful kids I have ever met. I go back to the grind of being in the classroom when I am so ready for new experiences in leadership. I go back to a hectic schedule with responsibilities and deadlines.

I am not worried that I will be able to keep up my new habits as I feel phenomenal and have absolutely no desire for a drink whatsoever, but I know that living a busy and stressful life crowds out time I need to spend on self-care. By my calculations though, I should still have plenty of time to take care of myself, even with tutoring and therapy for my boys and evening rehearsals for the musical I am directing. I will simply replace time spent destroying myself with things that will nourish me.

Some things I enjoyed doing over the last five days that I may or may not have once endured, resented or omitted because time was short or I was irritable:

  • brewing iced tea
  • lighting candles & incense
  • filling the diffusers
  • vacuuming (full disclosure; I got a robot vacuum for Christmas)
  • grocery shopping (more disclosure; new service in my area – shop online & pick up curbside! I know – I may never set foot in a grocery store again!)
  • cleaning the kitchen counters
  • washing the dishes; teaching the boys to put them away properly
  • organizing clothing in my closet
  • planning a DIY shelving project for my new “study,” a room I have claimed as my own in a centrally located part of the home & not some out of the way closet
  • talking to service personnel about jobs for hire
  • collecting holiday decor to pack away
  • making strawberry/blueberry milkshakes
  • folding the laundry and ensuring the boys put it away
  • soaking & cooking black eyed peas
  • washing my face
  • taking my evening Buspar
  • eating until full
  • noticing my breath
  • eating ice cream
  • stretching my body
  • hugging my husband
  • going to sleep at night
  • waking up refreshed
  • feeling upset and knowing I can trust my feelings because they are mine

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Here’s to an amazing 2017! May you do what makes your heart sing. And remember every note. img_0612

Cheers, blessings and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Everyday Angels

I woke to sunny skies the morning of my third day of sobriety. I love the view from my bed to outside my bedroom window. I love it even more now that I have painted the walls a neutral instead of what we have come to call baby poop green. It was pretty unsettling to say the least. I had had enough and I simply stopped making everything else a priority.

Kind of like I have done with myself.

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I tidied up my dresser just a while after waking and unpacked my jewelry from the trip. I found Dianne’s bracelets – a turquoise & silver wrap. She’s from Montana and I want to have her with me when we begin our family travels out west and even south to Texas. I chose between the earrings I got in Guadalajara with my Grandma Sue some fifteen years back and for the circular ones I’ve worn since high school that remind me of the Earth to match.

I thought about my mother’s sterling and turquoise cross that I coveted, stole and have since returned to her. It was always a favorite because I could imagine what she might be like if she hadn’t had to go such a hardline route to raise me. Wonder what that 15 year old girl had wanted for herself when she got the news about me?

I also looked at the dainty silver bangle with a faint pattern inscribed and smile at the memory of my dear friend. This is her boys’ first Christmas without her and they have gone out west to see her sister and other such adventures. I am not sure if they will be able to make it to where they will release her ashes. This bracelet is exactly the kind I had in mind when I asked my husband for one years ago.

I put them both on slowly and listened to the presence of my friend right there with me, pulling me up and supporting me and sending me love and reminding me that I am an everyday angel, as she was, and now is. I am not kidding. I made space for the moment and walked into the kitchen to be alone in it and remembered the time I was at The Respite Center and they rushed me to the back room and I told them about an angel speaking to me and they rushed me to the Psych Ward.

It’s no wonder I drowned out reality for so long, no? I had been brainwashed to believe that these thoughts and experiences were a sign of insanity instead of self-actualization or enlightenment or TRUTH.

As I sit here and reflect about the moment with my friend Dianne yesterday, I felt an embrace and a presence again. She is a part of me, forever.

Why on EARTH would anyone ever want to rob themselves of these gifts? I don’t. Not anymore.

Everyday Angels

Good Mornin’

I went to bed last night about 11:30, having enjoyed my second day with all that extra time. Yes, I am still thinking about drinking almost as much as I was when I would actually engage at the end of the day (or the late afternoon), but, already I am benefitting from the clarity that comes with not giving up hours to the sauce. I knew it was a gamble, getting that vat of Cherry Coke at the movie theatre, but I wanted a treat. I omitted desserts and most treats for the past 5 years as I had to save my calories for alcohol and would “jest,” “I drink my dessert.”

Not cute. But especially not cute when I drank my meals too.

My first thought when I woke this morning was the Frank Sinatra quote I used to enable myself at the beginning of this habit I found myself in: “I feel sorry for people that don’t drink because when they wake up in the morning, that is the best they are going to feel all day.” Well, FINE. Because I feel fricking awesome this morning.

My husband happened to have some spring in his step yesterday and I managed to hit the sack before he got there. I am a night owl anyway, and especially when I want another “halfsie” of wine, so this rarely, if ever, happens. My husband has some medical issues (bicuspid aortic valve and testing for sleep apnea next week) and has been quite vocal in his sleep. This didn’t bother me really, when I would pass out to get to sleep, but when I would wake at 3 a.m. once the alcohol wore off, I would have the hardest time getting back to sleep with all the ruckus from the other side of the bed. It would be perfectly silent, I’d almost drift, and then a noise-making monster would appear.

For night one I planned to take 5 mg melatonin in place of the booze. I know I have relied on the drink to help me sleep. I had my last few glasses of wine the night before and I slept so fitfully, tossing and turning from 2 a.m. on, so I was “fragile” on the drive home from my parent’s house. Ready to cry at a moment’s notice. BIG tears too – the ones that come with twice as much snot so you can’t be all incognito about it and casually chase a tear away.

Reading Imperfect Birds and The Artist’s Way fit that bill, as did the death of Carrie Fisher. Having the same name was an obvious connection, but as a young actress being eaten up by the pressures of even college theatre, I identified with her struggles in the film industry. Getting a Bipolar diagnosis was another thread to connect us.  I never read her books, but I knew they were there and that she shared her struggles with addiction; I just hadn’t been ready to hear them since, by then, I was in the middle of my own story.

I was tired without all that sugar pumping through me when bedtime came, but I had that uneasy feeling that can come with melatonin supplements similar to when you wake up from almost falling off a building or a cliff in a dream. It was a little spooky and I wanted to avoid taking it again, if possible, though after the initial swooning, I had a decent sleep and a great vacation day puttering around the house.

A friend invited me to a movie yesterday afternoon and I asked what she was interested in seeing. She said, “Fences” but that she was flexible. Having studied August Wilson I was delighted. It’s not just anyone that chooses to watch a film like that and they are usually aren’t asking me along. Mostly, I watch the films I really want to see all alone. That’s what happens when you are a highly sensitive, INFJ with a propensity for sadness. During the first scene where the waterworks begin to flow for me, my friend remarked nonchalantly, “Oh that’s right, you’re an emotional one.”

The film was beauty. Wilson wrote the screenplay himself and Denzel Washington stars and Viola Davis (WHOA) slays in this family drama. I remembered the play moving me, but not really what it was about because it was twenty years ago that I saw it performed in my college theatre program. I highly recommend it in any format you prefer. Of course, at the root of their family troubles is a legacy crippled by alcohol. As with most signs from the Universe, I could have missed this one, but it was not lost on me.

Before retiring to bed, I learned that famed actress and Carrie Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, died after suffering a stroke while planning her beloved daughter’s funeral. I teach her breakthrough film, Singin’ in the Rain to my theatre and film students every year and I sing “Good Mornin'” to my boys when I play the wake up fairy at home. The tenacity with which the 19 year-old Reynolds approached this role with no dance training or experience must surely be akin to the way Fisher and I also approached things. All or nothing. Dancing until there is blood in our shoes.

I’m sticking with staying all out on this drinking thing. And I wish you all a “Good Mornin'”.

Oh, and last night? Almost fell right asleep, except I remembered that I tucked some earplugs into my nightside table…so, last night – no monsters under OR in my bed.

 

Keeping Your Head Up

I am back in my home after travel for Christmas with my family at my parents’ home. So many wonderful thoughts and experiences swimming inside my mind and heart. I have written a million words in the days since I last wrote here, just haven’t the time to capture them all in a keystroke.

But you can bet that I will. Be patient. We can explore that virtue together, but I’ve always lied and said “patience is a virtue I do not possess.”

I am assembling my tools for my recovery and I also realize that I need to  go and sit down next to my husband in the den. I have fallen so in love with becoming a better me and what I need to collect, read, write, do, and color to wade through this soul work that I may just have neglected getting hugs.

Meanwhile – mainly, Day One without the CRUTCH of alcohol has consisted of a heaping lot of “the waterworks.” Only, this time, tears that I wore with a badge of honor. This is the one. I feel it in my bones. I AM DONE. By using the crutch, I was choosing an injury. No thank you, getting rid of that.

Finished Saint Anne’s Imperfect Birds on the ride home and began the other book I also purchased some time ago and put on reserve in my bookcase, and was MAGICALLY led to select for this, of alllllll trips. You can’t make this shit up, y’all. First book finished in 2017 will be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. My life’s story is in the introduction, that’s as much detail as I can spare. If I were to try and collect and explain the signs from the Universe that spilled out for me this time, I might never get that hug, so maybe I can get back to them in some detail later.

I’d have to be an absolute moron to not trust that I am right where I need to be in this very moment and the tears have been the kind that come because you are just in awe with how you are at one with yourself and you cannot remember the last time you felt that way – that you are making the absolute right decision.

I unpacked a little and focused, really focused on listening to myself and using my breath and awareness in the moment to help me navigate the challenges of my life after a nine hour car ride with a challenging family dynamic and what someone besides myself would call a fragile middle-aged woman operating a little (or a lot, on edge). The breath catches a good bit in my sternum, but I talk it into traveling deeper.

And the tears flow and my youngest asks questions and I tell him the truth. And the biggest truth I tell him is that it is okay to cry (I PROMISE that typoed as: “cray”) and be moved and in touch with things and to allow your feelings. I just happen to have A LOT of the weepy ones just about now.

But, I’m good. Really good. Here’s a killer tune to boost your mood or keep it there if you need it. The artist Birdy caught my attention earlier this year. As a child of the eighties, it’s been a rough year for beloved and addicted artists, but SURE AS HELL a 2 x 4 for a knock, if I ever saw one.