Tag: thoughts

The Small Yet Big of Modern Life

small yet big lifeBy most reasonable standards I lead a small life.  As Nora Ephron said ‘valuable but small.  And sometimes I wonder do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?’  That question kind of hangs over me and when I’m feeling up to it I ponder its implications.

How is my life small?  Well, I’m single.  I don’t date a lot or hang out with lots of friends.  I used to but most of that has passed on to infrequent yet prized get-togethers with individuals.  Swim season is a bit different because that tends to be a group activity and I do have book club.  Still, there is something about having a marriage partner and children that stretches a person outside the circle of a single influence.

My life is also small because I have chosen to work from home and I am not currently going to school. I have had people tell me I should get a regular corporate job because I’d have a better chance of meeting someone than in my current situation.  You might as well tell me to sign up for a stint in prison because I could meet someone there.  My happiness is just too valuable to sacrifice for the small chance of widening my circle of friends/dates.

Nowhere do I feel smaller than at church.  I am part of a family-based faith.  People are friendly, even bending over backwards to include us single saints, but the difference is always there.  They are living a huge part of the gospel that I am not.  In that sense, it is a smaller life than they get to lead.

But wait…

If my life is small how come I will post a video in a few minutes and it will get viewed by friends (yes friends) in London, UAE, Germany, Florida, DC, California etc? Same is true with my blog posts.  This very post should have between 150-500 views this week alone.

I’ve been having terrible headaches lately and have received advice from people all over the world.  Isn’t that such a weird thing?

So under a certain lens my life is very big. I’ve gotten to the point on my youtube channel (over 800 subs!)  and movie blog that I post most days.  Not only is it a blast going to the movies (and other reviews) but it satisfies such a creative longing I didn’t even know I had.  Every day I write, film, edit, promote, design material for all of my content (and also for work of course).  The creative energy is really quite remarkable.

Then of course you have all the social media that helps us connect with friends and make new friends.  I am soooo grateful for this service in my life.  I can’t tell you how many days I’ve started tweeting or following a post on facebook and it has brightened my day.  Of course, there are the trolls and rude people but isn’t that the case in any group experience in real life or online?  I think so!

At this point I have been blogging for 8 years (you longtimers- can you believe it?).  I’ve been on facebook for 9. I’ve had times where I wonder- do I have anything left to say?  But then an idea will come and my fingers will fly!

So, my life is very small and big at the same time. Perhaps this is just modern life for everyone?

Do you feel that way about your life at times?  How do you deal with moments of loneliness that we all experience from time to time?

Continuing on with the Nora Ephron quote:

“So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.

So good night, dear void…”

Mixture of Thoughts

So today has been a thoroughly strange day.  On one hand I woke feeling hopeful.  Drained but hopeful.  Things in my personal life and my health are looking up and for that I am deeply grateful.  I really felt a wad of stress I’d been carrying around settle and am looking forward to the future.

Wanting to process my life and having the PTO I decided to take some time off today and was feeling great.  I noticed a facebook post from my siblings about the Dark Knight premiere they had been to and how good it was.  It seemed like nothing could burst my bubble.

Then I turned on the TV…

“Massacre in Colorado Theater”.  Horrified I then saw details of the awful shooting at the Dark Knight screening in Colorado.  Initially my bright mood turned to anger, confusion and then finally despair.  I tried to make sense of it for a while but obviously there is no making sense of such an action.

Here are some jumbled thoughts

I think it almost goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.  I can’t imagine facing such a shock and loss.

When it comes down to it EVIL exists. Satan is real and he wants all men to be miserable just like himself. If we let him, He can take a seed of anger or disappointment and work on it until it unfolds in true horror.  He wants us to hurt one another.  He wants us to be angry and resentful and there is no end to the anger if left unchecked.

My next thought I’m going to try to word carefully.  When such things happen people immediately jump to conclusions about mental illness.  That someone must have been ‘insane’ or ‘crazy’.

Here’s where I think we have to be careful.  Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness that are not going to kill anyone.  Mental illness is probably involved in such a case, but a shooter is a bizarre extreme symptom of an illness.  It would be like saying everyone who has the stomach flu is going to die because one woman does pass away. Its an abnormality, a mutant like distortion of the real disease.

The stigma and fears surrounding mental illness are only inflamed when such careful distinctions are not made and then situations like this become more likely.  People who have severe conditions do not get the diagnosis or the help they need because of the stigma and the community in general is not informed enough to encourage or even enforce such treatment.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and the occasional panic attack I will tell you it is a scary experience and I only was able to make healthy choices once I was honest and disregarded the stigma.  Not everyone can do that and not everyone has the overwhelming love and support I am lucky enough to have.

If I was king of the world I would require mental health check ups for all college students because it is such a great time of change and the time when most mental illness such as schizophrenia manifest themselves. Someone may have never dealt or thought about mental illness and then all of the sudden they are dealing with signs and symptoms and yet no treatment is sought out of shame or fear.

Mental illness is just another illness.  It’s a part of our anatomy and sometimes it gets sick just like anything else.

So there I said my peace on that.

One last thought.  My cousin Anne spoke her peace about the violent content in the Dark Knight movie after viewing it at the midnight screening.  She said quite movingly

“I am very saddened about the shooting in Colorado. The news article said they could not identify the shooter’s motivation…. How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bain was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”

Now did the movies cause some kind of hypnosis that made the shooter do what he did?  Of course not, but I do agree with her that as a society we have become increasingly desensitized towards violence.  I’ve felt this for some time.  I remember coming back from my mission and being shocked by the decapitated heads in the final Lord of the Rings movies.  I was horrified at first but then  I started watching 24 with friends.  Slowly I began ignoring more and more violent content until one episode Jack basically hung a terrorist on a chain to get what he wanted.  That was it for me.  My wake up call.

Violence stays in my head and never leaves.  The other day I was watching Project Runway and an ad for some terrible serial killer movie came on and before I could change the channel there it was in my brain.  Nightmares! Thanks Lifetime!

I resisted the temptation to see the 2nd Dark Knight movie for many months until it was out on DVD and finally caved because EVERYONE I knew loved it.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it completely terrified me.   I had nightmares for weeks.  I recognized that it was well made and acted but I did not feel a good spirit while watching and regretted it ever since. I really felt like the only one out of all my friends who didn’t love it.

Even a movie like Ironman that has some torture of the lead in the beginning I found quite upsetting.  As a single woman living alone I’ve found I must be very careful with what I view because it sits there in my head making mischief.  I realize not everyone is in my situation or has my sensitivity level but still I just don’t see how watching such things can be helpful or inspiring.

What really makes me crazy is we have this pretense of an MPAA giving movie ratings but they should just change it to the ‘counting swear words brigade’.  I don’t understand how The Dark Knights and Hunger Games (children killing other children) gets a PG-13 when Bully a movie that might actually help reduce violence is given an R because of 6 words.  How can anyone say that 6 words are worse than murder? It doesn’t make sense. Something has to be so over the top in sexual content and violence to merit the R rating but 6 swear words and an automatic R? Again, to me that makes absolutely no sense.

If I ran the world I would make the MPAA like http://www.screenit.com which provides incredible details of the content you are viewing so you can make an informed decision.  I think it is $25 a year or something like that and I would recommend anyone sign up kids or no kids.

As to whether there should be some type of censorship or monitoring on this type of violent content, I’m unsure.  I certainly think there should be a discussion and its effects should be taken seriously.  We have no problem acknowledging the negative effects of sexual pornography and that industry is regulated fairly strictly.  What’s wrong with applying those same standards to violence?  I’m not expert on stimulus addiction but violence seems as penetrating in the brain as sexual content and clearly can be as destructive to human life.

I don’t know the answer but the human mind has always been attracted to violent content.  That’s Satan’s job, that’s the natural man. In the past a salacious story of Western slaughter or war would excite readers but now the malcontent can be exposed to images, video, dialogue, again and again, with each time needing more intense portrayals.  How can that not have a damaging effect?  Do I have a solution to fix that in a free America?  No.

Except to say this- watch what you watch and what your children watch.  Watch how you rationalize things away and try to stop it. Stop spending your money on things that glorify violence.  Hug your loved one’s.  Resolve differences.  Forgive because you never know when things can change and you’ll miss out on the chance to make things better.

Please go to http://www.bringchange2mind.org/ to sign the pledge to end the stigma against mental illness.  Maybe if we all work together we can stop such tragedies from happening again?  That is my hope.

I started my day hopeful and I’m ending my day with hope. Hope in Christ and His great love. He heals the broken hearted and gives comfort to the weak.  I KNOW that is true.

Walking Hypocrites

The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.

William Hazlit

Here’s the problem with Mr. Hazlit’s statement- are we not all basically walking hypocrites?’  Are we not all living lesser versions of an ideal life? Are we not all espousing greater virtues than we actually display?  Is not the essence of successful human beings an aspiration for something greater than what they currently are?

And yet, few concepts are as inherently repulsive to modern audiences as hypocrisy.  In the world where ‘being open-minded’ is essential the idea of a hypocrite who asserts one thing but does another is a cardinal sin.  I know people that have been unable to commit to much in their life because of a fear of sinking into hypocrisy.   These people seem to say “you can’t enter something unless it is a perfect moral fit, unless you can do it all the way”.  I’ve seen people that the tiniest tinge of hypocrisy they give up and keep searching for something more authentic.  Usually life ends up teaching them to be more practical and less ideologically pure.

“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”

George Orwell

Is not this a high standard for participation in life? Everything that is worth doing will challenge initial goals and presumptions.  If we are not willing to humble ourselves and admit we may have overstated our initial claims, admit to a bit of hypocrisy, can we ever really learn anything?

“I was not a hypocrite, with one real face and several false ones. I had several faces because I was young and didn’t know who I was or wanted to be.”

Milan Kundera

Having a strict abhorrence for hypocrisy sticks people in one spot and never allows them to try on different ‘faces’, to see who they might be if they went another way.  I’ve known people that started out the class clown and could never quite break free from that role. If someone has always been sweet do we not feel betrayed and saddened by an outburst? Would this not encourage someone to never be real and complicated because of a fear of the hypocrite label?

Even Jesus spoke about hypocrites, calling out the pharisees and sadducees, for preaching one thing and then behaving in an entirely different manner.

“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Matthew 6:2

I’ve been thinking about this topic because in many ways I feel like a walking hypocrite.  I am an open book with my life and yet I find it almost paralyzing to deal with any kind of conflict.  I am a romantic at heart and love pink, sappy movies and the whole idea of romance; and yet I am a realist that has a hard time with human physical affection and traditional feminine roles.  I love living alone and espouse it’s virtues but I also thrive off of a wide circle of friends.  I am the epitome of a goal-setter but goals often make me crazy with anxiety.  I am incredibly independent and yet needy in a certain way.  I hate being told what to do but I love mentors. I am a warm, happy (even smiling!) girl who also feels great anger and struggles to forgive. I could go on.

What do you think about hypocrisy? Where is the line between common, every man variety of hypocrisy and the type that Jesus warned against?  When does it become repulsive and at the least irritating? Is it perhaps the vibrato with which a person declares their character (such as sounding a trumpet)? If someone is very fervent in their perfection do we hold their conduct to a higher standard?  Probably but I think there is more to it than that.  I think hypocrisy is the kind of thing that is easy to ignore in yourself but feel appalled by in others.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

So what can we do to be less hypocritical and more authentic? What do you think? My Dad is an extremely honest man who is totally comfortable in his own skin. He is also a man of constant self-examination.  Meaning he wants to be better, he thinks about how he can do things better and then he does it to the best of his ability.  He then is almost always happy with his effort.

Maybe being aware of your hypocrisy and striving to reduce is the key?  Maybe a constant effort to purify our hearts and behaviors of negative tendencies makes those around us less likely to apply the label of hypocrite?  Is this just the process of thwarting the natural man, making the hypocritical parts of ourselves smaller and less pronounced the older we get?

I wonder if the problem with hypocrisy is tied to judgement, either with ourselves or others.  That we judge something to be negative or evil and yet we are not perfect ourselves? Perhaps hypocrisy itself is not bad, only when the ‘pot calls the kettle black’ in judgement?

“We are all hypocrites. We cannot see ourselves or judge ourselves the way we see and judge others.”

Jose Emilio Pacheco

Or are we as human beings diametrically opposed to balance?  Meaning we have left brain/right brain mentalities that are by nature opposed.  This creates conflict with our behavior.  Maybe despite all we can do all of us are a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

“All of us have to be prevaricators, hypocrites, and liars every day of our lives; otherwise the social structure would fall into pieces the first day. We must act in one another’s presence just as we must wear clothes. It is for the best”

O. Henry

What do you think?  How do you judge someone to be a hypocrite and how do you feel about your own hypocrisy?  This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately and forgive me if the above post was a bit esoteric but it was just the way my mind has been contemplating the subject.

I would love your feedback and I promise I won’t find it a bit hypocritical! 🙂

Wilde Wisdom

Today I have had a lot on my mind.  Trying to decide to have surgery, getting immersed in a new ward (which went great btw.  More on that to come)etc.  Where did I turn?- yes to the scriptures, prayer and friends but also to Mr.  Oscar Wilde and his play An Ideal Husband.  Who would have thought that a gay man from the late 19th century would have so much to to teach a Mormon girl in 2012.

The play is about a politician who has a past unbeknownst to all of his friends including the silly Lord Goring. Unfortunately this past is used as blackmail and all pandemonium breaks free.  Well, here are some quotes that made me laugh and some that made me think:

Lord Arthur Goring: Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear. Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.

Lord Caversham: I don’t know how you stand society. A lot of damned nobodies talking about nothing.
Lord Arthur Goring: I love talking about nothing, Father. It’s the only thing I know anything about.

Lord Caversham: Do you always understand everything you say?
Lord Arthur Goring: Yes… if I listen attentively.

Lord Arthur Goring: I’m sorry, Father, but the truth is, this is not my day for talking seriously.
Lord Caversham: Well, what do you mean, sir?
Lord Arthur Goring: I mean that I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday of every month. Between noon and three.

Mabel: Lord Goring, I gather you’re to be congratulated.
Lord Arthur Goring: Well, there’s nothing I like more than to be congratulated, though invariably I find the pleasure immeasurably increased when I know what for.
Lord Arthur Goring: There’s somebody I want to you talk to.
Lord Caversham: What about?
Lord Arthur Goring: About me, sir.
Lord Caversham: Not a subject on which much eloquence is possible.

Lord Arthur Goring: Rather than risk losing your love, he would do anything. Has he not been punished enough?
Gertrude: We’ve both been punished. I set him up too high.
Lord Arthur Goring: Do not set him down now too low.

(I like this one when thinking of couples I know after a break up.  Someone once too high, suddenly becomes too low.)

Lord Arthur Goring: Gertrude, it is not the perfect, but rather the imperfect who have need of love.
Gertrude: You seem to know a great deal about it all of a sudden.
Lord Arthur Goring: Oh, I hope not. All I know, Gertrude, is that it takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it. And even more courage to see it in the one you love. Gertrude, you have more courage than any woman I have ever known. Do not be afraid now to use it.

I think that last one is true of yourself.  Don’t you have those moments where you see yourself in all its tainted glory? I do.  Have had those moments lately (something about turning 31. You must face your own mortality, your own value to the world).  I feel closer to God and Jesus Christ than ever before.  In fact, I haven’t felt their presence as palpably in my life since my mission.

It is certainly true that ‘it is not the perfect, but rather the imperfect who have need of love.’ I’m proof of that!  We all are.  (Unless the perfect man really is out there and if so please show yourself to me at once!)

It reminds me of one of my favorite speeches The Solitude of Self by Elizabeth Cady Stanton:

“To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch the winds and waves, and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman; nature, having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.”

There are moments in life when you get to know yourself- Aren’t those tough? but we need them to see our true potential.  Working on that right now, the solitude of self…

Same Old, Same Old

Oscar Wilde said “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”  Do you think that is true?

I used to think I was an exciting and adventurous person. As a child I could see myself traipsing off to Paris, Rome and the tropics (I evidently also saw an unending bank account!) and trying new and daring things like scuba diving, mountain climbing and cliff jumping (scuba diving is still a goal of mine).  I also thought I would be living in New York, DC or possibly abroad….

While I think there is value in new experiences, I have learned as an adult that I am the near-opposite of the vision for myself I had as a child.  I hate surprises, am completely unspontaneous and will always take the sure thing over an unknown.  Perhaps this is a safe way to live life but if it is what gives you happiness can that be bad?

Rather than being safe I look at it as knowing what I like and being confident in those choices.  For example,  I have read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell at least 3 times a year for the last 4 years and I probably will continue reading it over again for the rest of my life.  I love the experience of reading that book and have yet to find a replacement that is as satisfactory. (I was just talking to a girl who said she has never reread a book in her life.  I wouldn’t read much if that was my philosophy!)

For me repetition does not diminish a good experience.   The things I like I could do again and again.  I honestly think I could eat a jamba juice every day of my life and never tire of it, or spaghetti, or subs.  I love Hawaii and really feel no desire to vacation anywhere else.  I think about going somewhere new and while that sounds exciting my heart keeps tugging me back to Hawaii.  Its what I know I will love and just like Gaskell or jamba juice there is some comfort in a sure thing.

I have always loved to swim and whether it be boating, open water, ocean or pool, I love being in the water.  I could swim every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it.  Sometimes I wonder if I should take up other sports just to keep challenging myself but there isn’t anything else I feel a desire to do.  All I want to do is swim! (In fact, every other athletic activity is somewhat repellent to me including things everyone loves like hiking or dancing).

With movies and television you can see this personality trait. I’ve seen Bringing up Baby, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and You’ve Got Mail untold numbers of times and I still love all 3 and could watch them again right now without any reduction in viewing enjoyment.  The other day I watched the new season of the Simpsons and it is still making me laugh after 22 years. Same basic gags but if they work, they work.

Other examples are in music.  I’ve had a playlist I made a year or so ago that is my go-to.  It has all of my favorite songs and I put it on recycle and listen to it again and again.  The other day I was driving with my sister and she said “Can we listen to something other than the playlist that you have on all the time”.  Sometimes I forget that not everyone enjoys repetition the way I do!

In the first area of my mission there was a sandwich shop we would frequent and every time we went I got a reuben sandwich.  Finally my companion in frustration said “try something different why don’t you!”.  So I did and you know what- it wasn’t as good as the reuben and I left the store wishing I had gotten the sure thing.

What do you think of this trait? Some might say “I’m in a rut” but I see it as being self-aware and cognizant of what makes me happy. Besides, isn’t there a point in life where you stop trying to figure out what you love and just love the things you have? But on the other side I sometimes worry that I don’t push myself and end up as a boring person, which is not what I want.

A few years ago my friend Camille did a post of things we may not know about her and despite knowing her for years and living with her for 2 as a roommate, there were several things on the list that I didn’t know.  I tried to come up with such a list and it was an epic failure.  I couldn’t think of anything about myself that my friends didn’t know.  Not one thing! I am the lamest person to play truth or dare with because I really have nothing interesting to tell! Being so predictable and open seems like a bad thing?

My friend Raelene has this bucket list of all these things she wants to do in life- the places she wants to go, experiences to have, possessions/homes she’d like to gain.  I have never been this type of dreamer.  I am content with what I’ve got and honestly feel no desire to have much more.  If it happens that’s great but I could live in my apartment, by myself, with an occasional trip to Hawaii and be perfectly content for the rest of my life.

Most girls I know hate being single and daydream of a different life.  I really don’t.  I like my life. Its a sure thing and in some ways getting married would be super scary (although if the experience happens that would be great but adapting to a whole new life would be hard). If it happens that’s great but if it doesn’t I’m fine too.

Thoughts? Do you think consistency is good or bad thing? Should I feel compelled to ‘break out of my shell’ or am I fine just the way I am? What do you think about your life and being ‘in a rut’?

What a Week!

Do you ever have those weeks where you think- “How did I survive it all and stay sane (or relatively so)?”

This has been such a week for me.  I feel like I’ve been collecting medical diagnosis’- like a stamp collector but with doctors! It reminds me of a carnival barker yelling “come one, come all- get your diagnosis while they are still hot!’

The thing is I don’t feel like anyone has given me much of anything.  I am the health detective on the case of ‘Rachel’s Body 2011’ and while I’m deeply grateful for my doctors, none of them would have gotten to this weeks conclusions without my copious notes, my obnoxious questions and my stubborn insistence on finding a result.

You see, the problem is many of my symptoms for both the diabetes and the eyes can and have been explained in a variety of other ways. Over the years I’ve heard everything from chronic fatigue to fibermyalgia, to dyslexia and the common cold.

My favorite diagnosis is when the doctor says ‘Just the lose the weight and you will feel better!’  As if I can waive a magic wand and ‘oh the weight is gone!’.  If reading this blog over the last 14 months has taught you anything, you should be well aware weight loss is not an easy thing for me.

The most frustrating aspect to such a flimsy diagnosis is it made me feel like my lack of health was my fault, that somehow I was misusing, neglecting or hurting my body.  For years I subtly bought into this idea but felt there was nothing I could do to solve the problem.  For some reason 14 months ago I decided I was tired of the low energy and the fatigue and that I was going to do all in my power to fix things.

Naturally I started on the obvious route- watch what I eat and exercise.  While this had some marginal results for weight loss it was not what everyone had told me would happen.  In 14 months of exercising I never once felt energized, excited or good about working out.  My body was constantly tired and worn out- even more so then when I had started.  I expected such results for a few weeks but after nearly a year it didn’t make sense.  The weight loss was also slow, slow, slow.

Let’s just say it certainly wasn’t the simple solution to a new me that everyone promised.  Knowing I had done the traditional route and it still wasn’t working I began seeing my endocrinologist in January.  He has been amazing and his entire office has been great at listening to how I actually feel.

In January things started to move with my PCOS diagnosis and treatment.  I still believe in this diagnosis and feel strongly it is something I was born with.  If you look at the symptoms they match up perfectly with the story of my life. Early maturation, unexplained weight gain, inability to lose weight,  energy problems, hormone problems etc.

While this was a significant piece of the puzzle I still felt like something was missing.  I still didn’t feel good. A side of me said ‘well, maybe that’s just how my body is- tired, haggard, weak?’ .  However, I was not willing to give up just yet.  I continued to keep track of my blood sugars and be super strict on my diet.  After 3 more visits with my endocrinologist we finally had the revelation of diabetes on Monday.  Like I said, the doctor may look at it as his diagnosis but I look at it as mine- my victory for my body.

The same story can be told with the eye problems.  I always wondered if there was something wrong with the way I saw things but when you see a certain way since you were born its hard to doubt it.  For some reason this year I asked the questions and have figured out the answers.

If you can learn anything from me don’t accept the lame answers like ‘just lose weight and you will feel better’.  How lame can doctors be!  Be your own health detective and don’t give up!

I can’t tell you what a comfort it is to know that this behemoth of a trial in my life was not solely my fault.  I’m not saying I was perfect in my food and lifestyle but NOTHING I could have done would have solved the problem without this week of diagnosis.  It really is a 20 year burden removed from my shoulders.

A burden I have felt since the first time my parents sat me down at around the age of 9 and told me I needed to lose weight and that I ‘weighed as much as some grown men’.  I will never forget that moment as long as I live- immediately I went from a floating little girl to someone who was unwillingly inflicting an evil on her body.

It seemed out of my control, yet somehow the world told me it should be in my control? I will also never forget the jabs, mockery and frustrations that came in each year that followed.  Eventually I worked out a self-confidence I wish all big girls had but I still deep down thought the weight and the fatigue was my fault.

Ahhh! It wasn’t.  I can’t explain how much that means.  I feel like shouting for joy and wish I could tell the whole world.  (thank you blog for allowing me to do that!).

I still have a long road ahead of me but today I am focusing on having the most calming relaxing day I can have.  After the chaos and emotions of this week I could use it!  I am listening to my Enya cd and enjoying the beautiful spring day (while working of course!). I feel like I’m in the ‘vacant and pensive mood’ described by Wordsworth in his poem Daffodils.  I did it! As crazy as this week has been I know it is monumental in my life and I did it! Wow!   Thank you to everyone who believed in and loved me regardless of my size, energy level or other problems.  You will always be my treasures.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

The Weirdness of Singing

Today I had master class for my voice lessons.  This is a monthly event where we prepare a solo to preform for our fellow students and teachers.  Singing in front of a crowd has always been difficult for me.   Acting and performing the song is easy its just trusting my voice that’s hard.  One of the many weird things about singing is that you don’t hear your voice accurately.  What I mean by that is when I hear myself sing I am having an entirely different experience then the audience.  Something that sounds  over-the-top to me, even shouting, sounds great to them.  Something that seems big to me, may need more emphasis to them.  Its almost as if you have 2 different voices- one the voice I hear, and one the voice everyone else hears.

In my lessons I often have to trust my teacher that my voice sounds good.  In my ear it sounds screeching or off but in her ear it is great.  Today at master class I sang “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray.  For the first 2 verses I did pretty good (in fact my teacher said it was the best belt sound she’d heard in me).  Unfortunately once the chorus came I hit a high note weird and had a hard time fighting my way out of that bad voice moment. It was especially frustrating because I had done it right in practice just hours before.

By the end of the song I was feeling deflated and discouraged, almost wishing I could walk away for the feedback.  Amazingly enough the good job I had done for the first half of the song got very high praise and the weak 2nd half a few minor critiques.  They even said if I hadn’t made it such a big deal in my facial expression they would not have noticed most of the mistakes. My teachers were especially pleased with my performance and said I told the story well, and some of the best  mix/belt I’ve ever sang- even with the mistakes.

This scenario at master class is exactly why I am still taking voice lessons.  When I sing I want to be perfect.  I want to be a skilled singer more than almost anything else in the world.  It satisfies a longing in my heart placed there when I was just a girl.  Naturally wanting to be perfect I notice each flaw in the performance.  Does the audience notice- no, unless I make them notice by my facial expressions? Even more, my actual voice sounds better to the audience then it does in my ear.  Isn’t that strange?

I wonder how many times I criticize myself for something others find beautiful? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.  I have always been pretty open in complementing myself and have a high self esteem; however, with the singing, my voice actually sounds different to my ear.  In a way I have to throw out my ears and listen with other ears- not an easy task.  Once I am hearing myself through their ears then I will hear the beauty of my voice in a new way.  I’ve gotten better at this over the years but still have a long way to go.

I wonder how many other parts of my life I am hearing the wrong voice? I hear the squeaky nervous girl.  Everyone else hear’s the belty/mix girl with a lot of spunk?  Is there beauty within me that I don’t notice but others would applaud? Hmmmm. Makes you wonder?

This is kind of a rambling post.  Hope it makes sense.

By the way….exciting news!  I bought a piano!  It is a Samick SSP10 Digital Piano. It is very well made, looks gorgeous in my room and is drooling in anticipation for its inaugural jam session.  I love singing with my friends, and I hope the piano will make my apartment even more of a gathering place.   It will certainly help with my voice because I can at least plunk out most songs.  It’s awesome!  You should all come and sing/play with me!

My piano!!! Come jam with me!

I am going to continue working on Good Morning Baltimore and eventually I will post my performance online.  It will be awesome.  Tracy Turnblat never sounded so good!