Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Untamed Me

My bestie posted a graphic on FB tonight with a quote from Isadora Duncan: "You were wild once. Don't let them tame you." I reposted with a comment that said, "Lost my way once. Never again."

Never again. For just-this-short of 15 years, it has been a mantra for me. It is a phrase fraught with memories and meanings that take me back to a place I never want to be again.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I showed up at college, wide-eyed and optimistic, trying so hard to pretend that I was far more knowledgeable than I really was. All I knew was what I had learned in my small-town environment, where the overarching lesson was conform or go away. As in, be just like everyone else, blend in, don't make waves, or go someplace where that sort of thing is welcomed. I was already different enough to know in my core that I didn't fit in, that this wasn't a world where I would ever be at ease with myself. But college offered just such a world. I had a lot to learn, and less of it gleaned from books than in discovering more about the person who inhabited my soul.

By the time I left four-plus years later, I had gotten a much better grasp on who that person was. Five years later, I had lost her entirely, and replaced her with a mere shell. Oh, she fought. She fought to get out, she fought to scream that she wasn't dead ..... but a battered, fragile heart betrayed its own best interests. I sold myself short .... no, really, I sold myself out ..... to try to gain another's heart, and in the end, I lost it all. I lost the love I thought I had found, lost my own identity in the process.

And as I sat there in the ashes and rubble of my heart, I heard myself whisper, "Never again."

Never again would I lose my own identity. Never again would I sacrifice my thoughts, my opinions, to please another. Never again would I allow myself to be diminished simply for being who I was.

And my heart screamed. It screamed the anguish and agony that had been bottled up for years. It shrieked in sadness when counting the losses. And it wept, wept bitterly for lost time and lost chances, for energy seemingly wasted. After the shock wore off and the pain subsided, the anger remained. It was an almost-holy anger, a seemingly righteous indignation, and it was the fuel for my life. It was a steely resolve that said, "I will be damned if I let this kill me off. I refuse to give in."

In due time, I rebuilt myself from those ruins, stronger and wiser.

And the next time someone took advantage of my kindness, mistaking it for weakness, I stopped it cold. Never again.

Even now, when I feel like I can't really go on, that every ounce of reserve energy is gone, I remember  my sackcloth-and-ashes days. I remember what it was like to feel that low, to feel no need to bother, since nothing really mattered anyway.

Give into despair? Never again.
Give into hopelessness? Never again.
Betray my soul? Never again.
Live in that much repression? Never again.

It took me years to find the real me, the untamed, unvarnished me, and I'm still discovering her as time rolls on. My big regret is that I lost her once .... never again.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Memories light the corners of my mind....

I'm watching the Oscars and heard the familiar strains of a beloved song from my childhood, and I knew what was unfolding before my eyes. As the curtain opened and I saw Barbra Streisand stand there, and the unmistakable notes of "The Way We Were" pour forth, it was no longer February 24, 2013.......

No, instead it was sometime about 35+ years ago, as sounds poured forth from our family's radio. I don't know when the gift and blessing of music entered my life, but it was there through our family's piano, the radios that were placed all over our house, even in the music from my childhood church which is no longer a solace but a haunting memory instead. It surrounded me, but I was drawn most to those radio sounds, and in particular to the women singers I heard of those days: Carly Simon and Karen Carpenter, whose warm rich alto became the basis for my own alto range (though these days I'm most often labeled Mezzo-Soprano, or among my friends, the Sopraltenator). There was Carole King and Joni Mitchell, women who wrote their own music and sang it with the passion of bringing their own stories to life.

And then there was Barbra Streisand. She was all over the airwaves of the 70s, at least on the stations I heard most often. You couldn't help but hear her everywhere. I remember "The Way We Were" and "Evergreen" and "My Heart Belongs to Me" and so many others. Her music was a thread woven in my life, and one way I learned to sing higher notes. Her breath control was awe-inspiring --- how in the world could she hold and stretch those notes out for all that time?

And seeing her sing tonight wowed me, all over again.

Still a model, after all this time.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

59th Street Bridge Song, revisited

The Universe is definitely trying to tell me something.

Each morning on FB, I post a quote of encouragement, or something positive, or sometimes something thought-provoking. It's a way for me to remind myself to look for the good, to think and hope for the best. So this morning, I found this Thich Nhat Hanh quote:

"For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them."

I'm not sure why, but it really spoke to me. I suppose because in my own life, I am trying to practice some patience in regards to a few things. I'm waiting to see how life will unfold in those particular situations and trying very hard not to drive the bus (so to speak).

Then, in a newsletter I get daily called "The Daily Flame from Your Inner Pilot Light" there were these words:

You may feel like if you let go of the reins, all hell will break loose, you won't get what you want, and everything will fall apart. But what you may not realize is that grabbing the reins and trying to exert control is actually sabotaging all the blessings the Universe is trying to bestow upon you. So darling, please, let go. Surrender. Trust.

Okay, so another part of the puzzle....... and then, this on FB (a graphic I had to share!):

Oh my gosh, what a lesson I am constantly learning..... I want so much to have everything in perfect place, like my life is a play or screen adaptation that I am trying to direct. I want all the angles to be just right. I want the cameras in perfect place and the sky to be the right shade of blue for all the outdoor location shots. And OMG, if the script has just the wrong word...... or an actor is having a bad hair day. And God forbid if the script isn't finished and I don't know how this scene is going to turn out -- WOOP WOOP! Freakout alert! Danger, Will Robinson!

What this "director" needs to remember is that I am not in charge. I am not the screenwriter or playwright. I am merely one cog in the wheel needed to bring the work to life. Granted, I am the one in "control" of things and my decisions will steer the project, but it is not my work. I am merely asked to make it alive and make it real. I have help -- actors, crew -- what? no craft services? (Sigh).......

But I am not the screenwriter. The work is unfinished. I do not know yet how it will end. I have hope. I have aspirations. I have dreams. And I have drive and determination to see the project through. But I have no idea when and how the playwright will come to me and say, "Hey, I have this thing for you and it's gonna be awesome, so throw away that and use this instead."

And dang if the Universe didn't send me yet another, even as I was typing this:


I know the message: slow down. I move too fast (nah. Ya think?)...... I've been running for at least the last couple of weeks with a low-grade sinus infection (hence, headaches galore). So right now, 10 days of antibiotics and hanging on for life. 

Okay, Universe. I'm ready. I'm ready to let you set the scene before I come in to direct. I'm ready to insert pages into the script. I'm trying to let go and let God. So bring it. I'm up to the task!