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While You See a Chance, Rest

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

An old picture of me watching tv in bed because I was too tired to take one when I wrote this post.

So I think God speaks to all of us in different ways. Some hear audible voices, and some hear a warning or encouragement from a friend about something that we never told them but has been on our hearts. I believe God talks to me through pop music. Yes, I’ve heard Him in other ways over the years, but often I am going through things in my head and a song will come on the radio that speaks to me in a targeted way. And the song that has been my kiss from above, more than any other song, is “While You See a Chance” by Steve Winwood. Maybe it’s the organ he plays, or his amazing voice, but this song has always gotten to me. Then it really GOT me.

See, there have been times in my life where I was facing big decisions about moving forward into opportunities that could change things significantly for me, and out of the blue, this song came on. The first was 20 years ago, when I was offered the chance to be in a show at the Kennedy Center in DC. It was an amazing thing, but taking it meant I would have to leave the theater company I was on summer break from, and it meant joining the theater professional union. This opened me up to work at a new set of theaters and would include health care and open doors and the chance to tour in this same show the next year. But it also meant less certainty in between because some theaters don’t hire union actors, and it meant looking for other jobs between gigs. I was about to get on 395 South in DC, headed to my dinner theater show, batting all the possibilities around in my head, when that song came on. And it got to the chorus, the “While you see a chance, take it” part, and I swear I heard a “Lynne!!” in there somewhere, and it seemed like a push. And I was grateful, and took the job, and it changed the trajectory of my life. In wonderful ways.

And over the years, I have heard that song when I was wrestling with things, or about to venture into new territory: I heard it in a restaurant while very pregnant, heading to the last meeting for the teaching artist job I had, and pretty much one of the last professional things I was going to do before the baby came. It seemed like a nice segue into a the next season, and to rest in that.

So speaking of rest, this takes us to this past Thursday. That baby is now 6, and he has his own social schedule and things that he needs rides to, and my husband and I have church commitments, and I am teaching drama and directing a show and about to be in a show, and leading worship at church and there is also dinner to make and things to do and although I am trying to order things in an orderly fashion, it’s a lot.

So Thursday, it was a snowy and rainy day here, and my kid had school, and I was preparing for an after-school drama club that I am excited about. I was on the way to a meeting about an opportunity next year, and I was thinking ahead to drama club, and another lesson my son had that evening, and also a networking event I was supposed to go to while he was at his lesson, and I just felt tired. And right before I left, I got notice that the school system was cancelling after-school events because of the weather, and that was sad, but also took something off of my plate. And I thought to myself, “If weather is stinky enough for them to cancel things, maybe I should not go to the other things we had planned tonight.”

I got in the car, and Steve Winwood came on.

And relief and organ music came over me, and that was conviction. I rearranged my son’s lesson, and I sent regrets to the other event. And we came home after school. And I ate dinner in bed.

Sometimes taking chances means going towards something active and exciting. And this time it meant the chance to recover from excitement, and to embrace safety and rest.

Which actually is pretty exciting too.

 


Three years a widow: I really am OK, you guys!

by SweetMidlife

Man, we were hot.

Well, look at that. It’s July 29th again! It’s the third anniversary of my husband Scott’s death! Well, isn’t that…a thing!

The only way that this date is not going to be significant and, again, a thing, is for me to be dead and not know that it’s happening, and since we aren’t planning on that happening anytime soon, I’m going to have to deal with the commemoration of this sucky, life-ruining thing every. Single. Year. The first time, I was resolved to be sad and tipsy and kinda backstroke luxuriously in my grief. Last year, I kind of cried and then said “Screw it, let’s do something fun.”

And today….I don’t want to cry. I still do that, sometimes, with no prompting or sad gauzey Lifetime movie montages necessary. I don’t need to manufacture occasions to miss Scott, because I always will. The loss of him will never be OK. It reminds a stupid glitch in reason and logic and God and I are gonna have a long talk about it when I finally do make it to wherever it is we go and meet God. (If it’s my idea of Heaven, it’s an endless “House Hunters” marathon next to All-You-Can-Eat Pad Thai Night.)

But at the three year mark, Leslie. Is. OK. Leslie can smile, and laugh, and not feel guilty about it. Leslie can think about giving Scott’s extraneous dress shirts and sports shorts that still take up too much space in a closet in a bedroom he never slept in, and not feel like she’s picking off pieces of her own skin. She can talk about the times he was a jerk, and not feel like she’s a bad priestess at the Altar of Husband. She can watch the video of his eulogy and not crumble. Her wedding photos don’t seem like the foundation of an elaborate cosmic joke – on her. She can consider doing things he wanted to do but never got to and feel him laughing with her, and not imagining that she’s doing something wrong by still being alive without him.

And that part’s huge. Leslie’s OK. I’m OK.

So today, when you come onto my Facebook page and you tell me stories about Scott, make them happy ones. Make them funny ones, ones about his Ravens obsession and his bad driving and his sloppiness. Make them about his kindness and larger-than-lifeness. I am not the only person who lost him – as his cousin Kenny says in that crazy eulogy, the dude drew a crowd. He was a man that people showed up for, even if he didn’t always believe it.

I am showing up for Scott Zervitz by being what he would want me to be: OK. Better than OK. I’m good. His son is good. We’re good.

And this time next year, I intend on being able to say the same.


The Discoveries You Find When You Walk Instead of Drive

by SweetMidlife

 

Lynne here! It’s a sunny day in Annapolis today, but yesterday was a different story at one point. It was really rainy in the late afternoon into the early evening, and my son had a music lesson in the downtown arts district of town. I decided to run an errand while he was there, and since parking in that area is dodgy, I armed myself with a large umbrella and took a walk. And it was wonderful. I drive down this street a lot, but I often miss things that aren’t directly in front of me, which is good because driving. But here are some of the things I noticed as I walked to the 7-11 to buy my son Doritos that I may have (and actually have) missed in my car.

Things I didn’t know
When you walk down a street and look at things deliberately instead of driving down it on the way to somewhere else, you find out stuff you didn’t know. Like the Subway I planned to buy chips at originally is gone. And I found out the they are building new things in that district because I had to cross the street to walk on the other side because construction chopped up the sidewalk. Plus, the sweet Irish hotel that my husband and I stayed at once as a present from my mom is now a Hilton Garden Inn with a really cool restaurant next door. And I picked up real estate flyers for cool places I won’t live in because I like my house, and also because I can’t afford it. But I love that kind of thing.

Ooh, and I had also missed a mural of the area painted ON THE GROUND. There was beauty under my feet. That sounds poetic.

Isn’t that lovely? It’s the Maryland State House! Painted on a crosswalk.

People-watching Galore
When you are walking, you can pay attention to the people walking past you, and you wonder about their stories. Like did that guy running down the street get caught in the rain, or is he running on purpose? The guy standing outside of 7-11: does he hang out there a lot? Does he know the lady who was buying lotto tickets inside, or are they making conversation? Do the people getting gas and driving notice the people around, or are they things that happen to be there as they go to where they really want to be? And how nice is the 7-11 manager? And I can answer that: very. Are other people as curious about other people as I am? I don’t know.

Things look haunted and beautiful in the rain and picture-worthy and I like it
I don’t know what it is about rain hitting things, but it makes me want to take pictures of it. The sound of rain often drowns out the rest of the outside noise, and makes this beautiful neutral hum. And it makes me wistful, and casts this natural film over things that looks better than an Instagram filter.

Misty pretty stoplight

So, this isn’t a really deep post, but just one about what happens when you literally slow down and take things in. You get an appreciation for things you see every day but don’t really see.


Grace. Amazing.

by SweetMidlife

Happy New Year! It’s Lynne. There’s something that I wanted to share that’s been rattling around my head.

 

My son has a tablet that he plays games on, and watches videos on, and has fun and learns things, and all of that. And there are times when he gets caught up in it, and doesn’t respond to us calling him because he’s mesmerized by the screen. And this drives us a bit crazy, and we shake our heads at”these kids today”, and screen time, and the like. So one day, my son was walking down the steps with his tablet in hand, eyes focused on the video he was watching, and I said, “Look up at where you are going and put the tablet down”, and as I said that, I had a scene in my head of me walking down those very steps with my eyes on my phone. And I got convicted that I do the same thing. My son has even called me out on it, because we have that drilled into him now, and also because it’s a little kindergarten righteous indignation. Well played, Young Sir.

So I knew that I wanted to write about this, and at first it was going to be about being present in what we do, and being aware of our surroundings and the people in our lives, and that’s a good topic that I have written on before and will again, because it’s an issue for me. But what keeps coming to me in this is how to have grace when you see people doing things that you don’t like that you realize you do yourself. And when that happens, you have several choices.

You can say, “Wow! This is something we both do that’s bad that we need to stop it right now. No excuses”. This is valid. It’s good to recognize when you are doing things that are detrimental, and might cause you to fall down the steps and breaks stuff, and to just cut it out.

Or you can say, “Wow! We both do this thing, and now I understand how easy it is to do it, so now I think it’s not a big deal anymore”. This makes sense in some scenarios, because maybe the thing that you and the other person are doing isn’t going to hurt anyone, even in small doses.

But sometimes the thing is a big deal, or something that could be. And it needs to stop. But stopping it isn’t easy. And you are stuck between cold turkey/no mercy/no excuses and just letting the whole thing go and going back to where you are. But there is something in between, and that is what I think is grace.

But grace looks differently to some people. Some people think that the best way to extend grace is to just let people be, and not say anything, even when they know that the person is in the wrong, or is hurting themselves and other people. They equate grace with speaking nothing negative ever. And I can imagine if their act is something that YOU do yourself, it’s even harder to admit that the thing is wrong.

But here is the in-between. Recognizing that the behavior needs to change. For you both. Even if it requires you to admit fault, or adjust things, or to briefly look bad, or look like a hypocrite. Or say something negative about someone else because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

I think grace looks like this: “We have made choices that can hurt us. We can and should do better. I know it might be hard. But I love you, and I love me, and we know where we need to be. We can get there.” Kind change.

So I have been telling my kid to look where he’s going when he has is tablet in his hand, and I have been putting my phone down when I do the same. We both have places to go. And we’ll get there quicker without the falling. Graciously.


Fear and things

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

I spent a lot of time yesterday making a final decision on the next show that the theater I run (we do shows with professional actors for kids) is going to do, and after a bunch of time going back and forth, I decided on a show about a town of people who are afraid to go outside and live life until someone shows them how to get through that fear, and they get to live full lives. It’s a wonderful message, and I was feeling really great about it. Then I read about the shooting at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale. And on the way to pick up my son from preschool, and while I was there, and then while I was at Trader Joe’s, I realize that I was uneasy, because I began to eye the people around me suspiciously. And I mean everybody. And it was a horrible feeling.

And I wanted to go back to my house and barricade us inside.

Bad things happen. It’s on the news, and it’s in our lives. I have very dear friends who are hurting unimaginably  because of something horrific that happened to a dear friend of theirs.

And life still happens, even in the face of hate, and things that don’t make sense.

I believe in being cautious, and smart, but even that doesn’t prevent bad things from happening.

Fear can come from big and little things.

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Today, it snowed here, and my son has been itching to go outside and play, even though there wasn’t a bunch of snow, and even though it was still snowing. So we put on our stuff, and we went out, and we played with digger trucks in the snow, and we saw 2 of our teen aged neighbors riding their bikes. The little one and I walked up the street to see them doing wheelies, and ride really fast, and on the way back to our house, my son asked if we could ask the boys to come play with us. And I  tried to avoid it. I said we were going in soon, which we were, and I said that the boys were already playing on their bikes and wouldn’t want to stop doing this to come play in our yard. And as my kid looked at me and begged me to PLEASE go talk to them, I realized that I didn’t want to ask them because I was scared. I was scared of rejection, and that they would say no, and that my kid’s feelings would get hurt, or that they would feel obligated because a little kid was asking, and they really wouldn’t want to, and I imagined all of these things, and he still pleaded me to go ask, and so we did. And the boys were beyond sweet, and asked him about bikes, and we talked about my son’s new bike, and the boys rode really fast so he could see them make tracks, and one of them even got off of his bike and raced my son up the street on foot and let him win. And it was lovely and my son now knows about the kindness of big kids.

It’s good.

None of this changes that bad things happen, and that even if you cross all of your t’s and dot every i (and do that), bad things might still happen.

But live, okay? Say hi to new people. Go play in the snow. Travel. Grow things. Be a growing thing. Live.


Marvin Gaye Was Right

by SweetMidlife

IMG_20140114_105806 (2)Hi. It’s Lynne. (And I say in the way of disclaimer that because of Leslie’s job as a journalist, there are things she can’t comment on here, so what follows is from me.)

So, the last time I blogged it was the day after the Presidential election in November, and some people were elated, while others, including me, were not. And I wanted to think about the fact that on a human level, we all hurt, and those hurts and wanting not to have them anymore, often plays into how you vote, and to how you feel when your person wins. Or doesn’t. I was raw.

In the month that has passed, there has been a lot of ugliness, and hate crimes, and generalizations, and just trying to make sense of everything, and how people are feeling, and why they feel that, and whether or not you even care how they feel, because, well, you have to live your life.

Which is how the heck we got here.

So I ask you to take a step back and really look at your fellow humans and ask WHY they feel the way they feel. We have acknowledged THAT we hurt. But do something to figure out why. People aren’t just whining because their candidate lost, and if you stick with calling people Buttercup and deciding that they are just sore losers, or calling them Deplorable and decided that they are all just wretched, you miss why they are sore and bleeding. And it isn’t about losing a daggone election. There are so many things happening that affect real lives on a basic level. Here’s just one of mine: I can say for me, that an administration that wants to deny the existence of institutional racism, and who thinks that profiling people and whether they will commit crimes based on how they look directly challenges the physical, moral and dignity of existence of me and my husband and my son. This is not okay. No. Not. This is what’s going on for me, and I am sure that you have your own things that give you pause, that challenge your existence, that influenced your vote for or against the President-elect, or for or against his Democrat opponent.

I would like to hear it. Like really hear it. Because we aren’t going to get anywhere if we aren’t listening to what’s going on in other people’s lives.

Last month I was at the funeral for my husband’s beautiful sister in Texas, and after the service, everyone went back to my niece’s house for fellowship and the most ridiculously awesome mashed potatoes that had butter swimming on the top. Yes. That is the good stuff. And as we ate, I was talking to a couple from my family’s church, and it turned out that they and my husband had lived on the same military base in Japan, and as they talked and remembered what it was like to drive in blinding white snow, and compared notes on people they knew, and the sights, I didn’t have anything to add to the conversation at the level that they did because I never lived there. But instead of just listening at first, I realized that I was trying to catch pieces of the conversation to turn things back to stuff that I could comment on, not so much because I wanted to be a part of the conversation, but because I wanted something to say in a talk I knew nothing about. And when I realized what I was trying to do, I kinda kicked myself, and just sat there and really immersed myself in the conversation around me, until I could see what they saw because they described it so well. And I learned.

And this is what I challenge us all to do. Really find out what’s going on in other people’s lives who are different from you. I guarantee you that if we did that, we would have less division, because I couldn’t reduce you to talking points, and you couldn’t do that to me. Because people aren’t just licking their wounds. People feel like their lives are being threatened. I am not being dramatic, even though I am an actress and do drama well. Just keep your eyes and hearts open. I promise to do the same. I am not content to saying, “Oh well, we got 4 more years. We can win in 4 more years.” Because seriously, if people were less concerned on either side with winning than they were about making people’s lives better, well, maybe people’s lives will be better. And maybe we would have less “sides”.

Okay, I am starting to repeat myself. But just really try to see what’s going on, okay? What’s going on with you?


Michael Stipe Was Right.

by SweetMidlife

Hi everybody. It’s Lynne here. Leslie can’t make specific comments about the election because of her job as a member of the press. If you want to hear the thoughts she can express, see this. I don’t know if this is going to be an uplifting post or not. It’s going to be real from my heart, as much as I can articulate it. I hope there’s hope in it, because there is hope in my heart, but I can’t gloss over stuff. Because if you put buttercream frosting on a cake made with garbage, you have garbage with a tasty outer layer. But it’s still garbage cake.

People are hurting right now.

Some of us are hurting because a man was voted in last Tuesday who promised to do some things that would hurt people, like take away their healthcare, or deport them or their family members, or invalidate their marriages, or round them up and track them because of their faiths, or arrest and harass them because of their race.

Some of us were hurting because they voted for that man out of their own hurts, because maybe they lost THEIR healthcare because premiums went up and they can’t afford groceries and rent and medication they need to live, or maybe because they lost their livelihoods because factories closed in their towns and there are no jobs.

Some of us are hurting because they voted their consciences because of what the President-elect promised he would do to protect babies in-utero, or because they believed him when he said he would keep them safe. And they are happy with the results, but not with people thinking that they are racists, or don’t care, and they don’t know what to do.

And some of us ARE racists, who voted for this man because they believed he would oppress people. And these people are making their voices known by ripping off hijabs, and wearing black face, and drawing swastikas, and entering black college freshmen into calendars scheduling their lynchings. I am not talking to those people, because you are hateful and I am praying for you that your heart changes. Well, wait, if you guys want to read the rest of this, go ahead. But I know you are real and I know that you exist, and I want people to know that you do because we can’t fight you if we don’t know you are real.

Okay, everyone else. Hi.

Here’s the thing. People voted the way they did or they didn’t because they have hurts, and voted for the president-elect because they believed that he would do what he said he would do to lessen their hurts, and those of us who didn’t voted against him because they believed that he would do what he said he would do to magnify those hurts and bring new ones. Whether or not he actually does those things, we all believed him. And now we are on the immediate other side of this. And we have people who voted for him wishing that the people who are hurt by his election would just move on, while those hurt by his promises who can’t, because they are terrified. And I have to ask myself, being in the group of those who actively did NOT vote for him, what I would say to those friends of mine whose real, tangible hurts influenced them TO vote for him. Would I be telling them to “get over it”? Maybe. I am not proud of that.

When someone wins, someone loses. They are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers. People are hurting.  I know I am using that phrase a lot. That is kind of the theme.

So here is what I think. I have had a million thoughts this election, and post-Tuesday, and I am not even writing all of them down right now. This is not a definitive because grief takes time to work through and live with, and while we sort through this election and the far-away and real-close implications it has on our real lives, we are also still dealing with colds, and flat tires, and disobedient kids, and sick relatives, and funerals and cancer. All of these things weave in and out of our worlds and make real impacts on our lives.

Everybody hurts. We just hurt about different things. And if we truly care about each other, and maybe we don’t, or you don’t feel like you have the luxury to, and I get that, and I am going to talk to everyone left, because we need to be listening to each other’s hurts. Even when it’s unpleasant. Even when you would rather talk about Shark Tank and what you ate for dinner. I am currently brining pork for my family, which I have never done because i don’t eat pork, and this is really trippy. I am gonna post a picture below. But these other fears are real too, and if you don’t want to acknowledge them, it means that you don’t want to see me. And if I don’t listen to you and why you voted for the President-elect because of your real fears for our nation, then I don’t want to see you. And maybe once we see each other, we will decide we don’t like each other at the end. Sad, but I get it. But we will not survive this if we don’t listen.

I am hurting. You are hurting. Brined pork. Shark Tank.

All of these things are happening. You wanna tell me where you are? I wanna hear.

Write me below, or at sweetmidlifelynneleslie@gmail.com.

Have a good week.

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Pork. Brine.

 


Taking Care of Yourself With Massage Envy

by SweetMidlife

Hi everybody. Lynne here. It’s been a turbulent 2016, and the last couple of weeks have been, well, very much so. Leslie and I are going to write more about our thoughts on all that, but in the meantime, I accepted the opportunity to try out the Massage Envy chain of spas. I hadn’t written my review yet, and I thought about delaying it while we get our thoughts together about the world, but then I realized that these things are actually related. Life is hard, and turmoil in the world, added to the duties of our daily lives, leaves us, well, stressed-out. It’s a lot. A very lot. And this is why I thought it timely to write this post. We all need to care for ourselves and this is one way to do it.

So, I have gotten very few massages in my life. I think it’s like less than 6 actually, which is why it’s funny that I have gotten 2 in the last month. First, I won a free massage at a spa in Georgetown, and I redeemed that in June. Then a few weeks later, we got the chance to write about Massage Envy, and I said “Yes, please.”  Now, I didn’t know a lot about Massage Envy before this, except that there is one very close to me, and that Leslie had a membership and talked frequently about how wonderful it was. I did know that it was a chain, and I have to admit to you that my inner snob took over a bit because I assumed that it was going to be kind of fast-food massage. I have no idea what that even means, since, like I said, I am no expert on massages, but I had that in my head as I arrived at the Severna Park, Maryland location. Boy, was I mistaken.  I was greeted by the staff member who made my appointment, and she brought me a cup of water and told me what to expect, and who would be doing my massage. I was given a questionnaire to fill out that asked about my everyday life, and stresses, and places in my body that might carry extra stress, and asked about medical history and if there were parts of my body that needed extra attention, and if there were parts that the therapist should leave alone. This made me feel great, and I was beginning to realize that this was not a one-size-fits-all kind of a place. They wanted to really fit this massage to MY needs.   She then walked me back to the relaxation area where clients waited for their massage therapist to take them back to their massage rooms, and more of my preconceived notions went bye bye.  I think that I thought that, being a chain, it was going to be very clinical, with florescent lights, and not be very relaxing. Well, I was very, very wrong. The room had beautiful low lighting that added a tone of calm. Some people checked their phones, others drank water, and others just, well, relaxed in the comfortable chairs. It was a great vibe, and I was also very impressed with how quickly the therapists came in to get their people AND how relaxed that even was. It was like they floated in, and their clients floated out, but all still keeping the relaxed mood. When Joe, the therapist I was assigned, came in, I was really excited. But excited and chill.

When we went back to the room, which was just as beautiful as the room we had just left,  Joe said that he had read over my form, and went back over some of the things that I wrote. He told me that he specialized in deep tissue massages, but would go easier from the start, and that if I felt uncomfortable at any time during the massage, I should tell him and he would adjust. This made me feel at ease. You ever been in a situation where you are a newbie, and you aren’t quite sure how things work, and you feel uncomfortable, and you feel weird speaking up because maybe what you feel is normal, even though you should ALWAYS speak up, but you second guess yourself? Joe took all of that out of the equation, and it meant a whole lot. That meant I could let my mind go and just enjoy my hour-long massage, and that is just what I did. It was relaxing, so much so that I dosed off at one point. I may have drooled. Sorry, Joe. And when it was over, he said, “Miss Lynne, we’re done.”, and he said he would meet me in the hallway to discuss suggestions on future massages, and then left the room so I could get dressed. Oh, I didn’t talk about that part. If you are uncomfortable with being in your birthday suit in front of people you don’t know, they tell you to get undressed to your own personal comfort level, which is really cool. And then you get under a sheet, so that helps too.

So, I got dressed, and got my stuff and myself together. I was feeling really chill at this point.  Joe was waiting for me outside the room, and he told me some of the places where he had found extra tension in my muscles, and that he has given his recommendations to the front desk, and that he hope to see me again. I went back to the front, where I was greeted by the same person who checked me in, and she gave me the information Joe gave her, and said that he suggested that I get a massage every month. This is where I thought things might get uncomfortable, because I wasn’t planning on singing up for a Massage Envy membership right then, but, as I was getting used to being on this visit, I was wrong. There was no hard sell. I asked for a price list, and they told me how the whole thing worked, and this is what I found out. You can do a la carte massages at an introductory price of $59 for a 60 minute session, or you can do a membership for $69 monthly. This gets you a monthly massage, but also perks, like being able to add your family onto your membership at a special price, being able to rollover your monthly massage if you miss it, the ability to gift an unused massage to a friend (which Leslie had offered to do for me before) at only $10, and the ability to earn free massages and upgrades. You can read more about all of that here. You will also see that they also offer facials., so you can be relaxed AND have glowing skin. That’s good stuff.

So there you have it. I think that Massage Envy is a wonderful investment in your well-being. There is a lot of stress in the air, and making the comment to give yourself set-aside, committed time to relax and be cared for is crucial. It really is. I highly recommend treating yourself to some good at a Massage Envy near you.

Disclosure: We were given a free massage in exchange for this post, but all of the opinions here are valid and absolutely real. 


Something About Prince

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written in a bit because Leslie has been busy at work, and I have been working on getting my theater company off of the ground, and we haven’t been able to talk to you guys as much. But we have had lots to talk to you about, so hi! And the first thing I had to talk about was Prince.

 

Still doesn't make sense to me.

Still doesn’t make sense to me.

This is not an exhaustive report on everything that the music of Mr. Nelson has meant to me over the past 30-some years, because I haven’t figured out the extent of that yet. Because ever since his death last week, I have had his songs and his lyrics running through my head and my heart, and I wish that I had time to take all of them and write a really definitive thing about it, but it’s fluid, what I am feeling. On Thursday, when my Facebook timeline was covered in purple, A friend asked if I was okay, since she knew that I loved Prince. And I did. And what was funny, though, is that I wasn’t a Superfan the way some of my friends are: I had never seen him live (although I wanted to), and I didn’t have the Black Album, and I didn’t know all of the B-Sides. And I have at least 4 friends who I checked in on because of their massive love of the man because I knew that they were crushed. And I myself wanted to cancel all of my plans Thursday night and just sit and listen to his music and read what people who loved him were saying, but I could not. And in the past few days, I have had remembrance upon memory of the little and big places that his music has filled up in my life. Actually, the day before Prince passed away, my husband corrected me on something, and I said “I stand corrected.”, and I promptly launched into “U Got the Look”, and I promised myself that I would look that song up as soon as I got a chance. But the memories go further back. These aren’t all of them.

Hanging out with my older cool cousin when we were like 10 as she freaked out to “Controversy”.

At 13, seeing the video to “When Doves Cry” with him sitting in that bathtub, and me feeling all kinds of ways, like sexy things, when I don’t think I had ever really used that word before, except for singing along with Rod Stewart when I didn’t know what they meant. Prince made me feel what that meant, even if I didn’t have words for it.

Jamming in Cousin Paige’s room to “Let’s Go Crazy”and doing guitar solos while jumping off of her bed.

My late grandmother Streeter seeing the “Raspberry Beret” video and asking us if that was a boy or a girl. “He’s a boy, Grandma”, we said. “Well, he looks like a girl.”, she said. “Well, he’s like SUCH a man.”, is what I would have said but I also valued my life and you didn’t say things like that to my grandmother.

Seeing the video to “The Most Beautiful Girl in The World”, and feeling really SEEN. I was living in Miami working in theater, and I looked nothing like the tall, thin model types on South Beach, and oh my gosh I just remembered that we waited in front of Prince’s club on South Beach once and didn’t get in right away, and the bodyguard asked us to wait and that he would let us in later, but we left. But anyway, in the video I was talking about, there were all different kinds of women in different parts of life, as moms, and as career women, and they sat down to see pieces of their lives, and how all of it made them beautiful. I was struck that Marva Collins, an amazing educator and voice for children from Chicago was in it, because The Artist was saying that minds and voices were beautiful too. And I needed to hear that about myself.

Having a friend in the 90s, who is truly the biggest Prince fan that I know, almost like teach a master class on him in every conversation, and explain the religious things behind the music (how had I not seen it all?), and who also, respectfully, differentiated the music that Mr. Nelson made under the name “Prince”, and that which was made under that symbol, as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, because there was a difference in expression.

And this leads me to probably the thing that stands out to me the most about Prince. As I said, this was in the period where he wasn’t using the name “Prince”, because he was standing against his record label, and the fact that they owned the masters to his recordings and the trademarks to his name. So he stopped using that name, and kept on making music. And it became somewhat of a joke to some people, where they shook their heads like “Oh, he’s crazy”, or more politely “He’s eccentric”, but there was definitely out there this idea, depending on who you talked to, that he was being spoiled, and weird, and that none of it was a big deal. And I have to admit that I didn’t really understand it all either, until I saw him being interviewed by Larry King in December of 1999, and I can tell you exactly where I was. I was on tour in a play for kids and we were in Mississauga, Ontario, and it was a Friday night (I guess that makes it alright), and I sat in my hotel room and watched. I think either my friend Jeff watched it with me, or we called each other during it. But here is what I remember: The Artist spoke clearly on why he was doing what he was doing, and he said, and I am quoting this wrong, but that basically he didn’t own “Purple Rain”, or any of it, and that his label did, and that they were able to use it to do whatever they liked with it, and he was fighting to get that power back over his own artistic output. And a light went off in my heart, and I have referenced that interview over the years. And yes it is significant that it was the last few days of 1999, and that of course, The Artist had talked about that, but that it was a time for new beginnings. But going back to the interview, the things that I took away the most were this:

1. We should all have the right to our own work, and to be able to represent ourselves the way that we want to. Your voice, your words, your art, your dance, your thoughts all belong to you, and you should share it, but you should be able to say how that happens.

2. You should stand up for that right, even if other people call you crazy, either because they don’t understand, or because they benefit from other people thinking that you are crazy, so they get to misrepresent you and reap your rewards. Dance and make music and awesomeness in the face of people thinking that you are crazy. Because when you persist, who looks crazy now?

And The Artist won his fight, and reclaimed his name, and he never lost a step in still producing things that were true to who he was. And he had a big heart, and was a philanthropist, and helped countless people that he never told people about, and he was a man of faith who loved and serves the way he thought his God wanted him to, and he wore a doo-rag on his head as he sang in the rain in the Super Bowl because he was not trying to get his hair messed up, and he slayed everybody at the Super Bowl party I was at, and even the non-fans had their jaws drop, and they had to recognize. Re. Cog. Nize.

Because greatness and humility and humor and intelligence and sexy and kindness and faith don’t often come in the same package. But they did in Prince Rogers Nelson. And I need to stop writing because now I am thinking of more things to say and I need to end this. So I will stop typing, and turn on his music, and dance. Because we still have that.

 


Yay For Us: Some Tuesday Affirmations

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!

This post is to encourage you and me on our journeys to be the best you that you want to be, especially when you aren’t there yet. And it’s appropriate for me as I strive to be organized and meet deadlines, since I planned to do this yesterday. But I am writing it today, which is better than not writing it at all. Yay, me!

I have written before about my struggle to be organized in every aspect of my life, including time management and being aware of what I eat. This is not a linear thing for me. I take many steps forward, and a bunch of steps back, and as I excited as I get about making changes, I get overwhelmed with the effort at times, and I slowly drift back downhill to where I was.  But I knew that I needed some help in getting a handle on my life, but I kept making small changes that didn’t click. Until the day last month when I left the gas on the stove on all night after not realizing that I didn’t turn it off after cooking the night before. Nobody was hurt. But they could have been. That hurts to think about. And that scared me. And it scared my husband. And I know that mistakes happen, but I know that this is a result of me rushing and not being mindful of my life on many levels. That hurts. And it makes me ashamed that my rushing led to that.

So I went straight to the bookshelf in our living room, and I picked up this book called “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys” by Marilyn Paul, a book about organizing with practical tips but more on a spiritual level. I started reading it 6 years ago but never finished it because I got caught up in other things, and there is something poetic about sometimes misplacing and not  making time for a book about organizing. But that has to end. And this book is long and in depth, and it takes you on a direct but kind journey into finding the things in your life that are keeping you from being organized by looking at what you want out of life on a deep level, and how having a handle on things will help you get there. There are exercises in it, and I find that I can’t really do more than one a day for it to really sink in, so me and this book are in for the long haul. So far, I have had 2 big takeaways from this book.

1. To really move forward, you have to come to terms with what not being organized and mindful is costing me and the people around me.

2. Once you figure that out and you start making changes, you should be nice to yourself as you move forward. Because if you don’t, you are gonna end up on the couch ignoring your schedule and eating nachos and cruising Hulu for 2 straight hours.

So, as I move forward on this path and such, I’mma be realistic and also kind. Therefore,

If I rush to get somewhere on time, and I actually make it, I will not beat myself up for the fact that I had on one shoe when I left the house and put the other one on when in the car. Because I made it to the car. Yay, me!

If I make a detailed schedule and don’t get to everything on it today, that’s okay as long as I get the other things done tomorrow. As long as I get them done, if they really need to be done, I am good. Yay, me!

If dinner takes longer than I thought it would because I actually wiped things up and put things away as I was done with them and made sure I cut things off and got rid of sharp knives, then that’s better than the gas and the cutting. Yay, me!

If I only do 8,000 of the 10,000 steps I planned to do, that’s alright, because before I bought this step tracker watch, I had no idea how many steps I wasn’t doing. And now I do. I will get there. Yay, me!

If I realize that having Facebook on in the background is keeping me from finishing this blog post, I will not hang my head and dive back into my feed for 10 minutes in shame. Nope. I will realize that what I am doing is more important, and I will just close the window, like I just did. Yay, me!

If I buy my son a pair of shoes that looks like his old pair, and I realize while we are out that I dressed him not only in one old shoe and one new shoe, but that they were both for his right foot, I just know that I will put him in the correct shoes tomorrow. Plus, he’s wearing shoes. Yay, me!

Different shoes, Same foot. It's a'ight.

Different shoes, Same foot. It’s a’ight.

If I go to a networking event and they have free Ledo’s pizza, and I eat the pizza too fast before I realize how much I ate, I won’t be mad at myself. Because I also had carrots. And even though I did eat a cookie, I waited until I was on the way out to get it because I decided that I really wanted it and wasn’t eating it just because it was there. And I ate it once I got home. Mindfully. Yay, me!

Because there will be days that I don’t get it all right, and don’t get everything done that I planned. But I HAVE a plan, and that’s a start, and I am more likely to get even 50% of my goal done if I know what my goal is. Right? Right. So I am going to keep moving forward, keep making a a plan, and I am going to give myself grace if I work that plan. And I will take care of me, and still watch Netflix but I will schedule me time and not let it take over my day until I don’t care anymore. Moving forward, and sometimes to the left, and maybe a little backwards, but then forward again.

You too, okay? Yay, us!


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