Just for Me . . . Can I Do That?!

I was having a conversation with myself earlier today.  Don’t laugh.  I’m not the only person that talks to herself.  Others have told me they do it too.  Now, if you want to question our sanity, that is an altogether different topic of discussion!  But I digress.

The most recent conversation went something like this –

Me – Excuse me, self?

Self – Yes.

Me – Ya’ wanna know what I miss most from my “growing up” years?

Self – What?

Me – Piano lessons and practicing.

Self – *disbelieving pause* Come again?!

Me – Yeah.  I miss having weekly lessons and having someone – or a couple of someone’s – holding me accountable for practicing during the week.

Self – But there were SEVERAL occasions during the earlier years when we would throw a bit of a fit when it came to practice.

Me – Well . . . yeah.  But in middle school and high school?  We actually liked it then!

Self – True.  It was fun to conquer a really hard piece and see the progress.

Me – Oh!  And remember Senior year?!  Worked ALONE to get a piece ready for Solo and Ensemble and actually got a Division I rating?!

Self – I’ll never forget that!  That Mozart piece was still a personal favorite.

Me – I know, right?!

Self – So why did we stop practicing like that?  We’re a responsible adult now, we could set our own practice expectations.  Why don’t we.

Me – It’s selfish.

Self – *pause* Huh?!

Me – It’s selfish.  There is a family to take care of and work responsibilities.  I mean, we still have rehearsing we have to do for the choral accompanist gigs and the music theater jobs.

Self – But it’s not the same.

Me – *sigh* No.  It’s not even close.

Self – I still don’t get the selfish part.

Me – I’m a wife. A parent. I have responsibilities.  The kind of songs I would want to learn would mean longer practice sessions and that feels like I’m cheating others out of my time or cheating on my responsibilities.

Self – *pause of disbelief* Are you kidding me?

Me – What?

Self – That’s nonsense!  You are an individual with a unique identity that existed before your roles as wife, mother, employee, volunteer, etc.  There is nothing selfish about making sure you don’t stagnate; that your identity continues to exist!

Me – Well, when you put it that way . . . 

Self – So what piece are you going to assign yourself?

Me – Huh?

Self – Now that we have that silly “it’s selfish” nonsense dealt with, what piece are you going to set aside time to learn?

Me – I won’t have anywhere to perform it.

Self – So what?!  Is the purpose a performance or feeding your heart?!  

Me – *feeling a little ashamed* Feeding my heart

Self – Okay.  So I’m asking you again – what piece are you going to start working on.

Me – Well, I haven’t finished learning Moonlight Sonata.  And I still have a copy of Clair de Lune, and I’ve always wanted to . . .

Self – Now you’re talking.

I think you get the point.  This is for me.  The me that existed before wedding vows and nine months of waiting added pieces to my identity that I prize beyond words  The me that has found solace, comfort, consolation, and joy by simply coaxing notes and rhythms from 88 black and white keys.  The piano has always been my favorite instrument and sometimes even felt like a best friend!  In recent years, I’ve restricted my rehearsal moments to those that would benefit others only.  But that’s done.  I have some pieces at home that I have not yet learned to play all the way through and that will be changing.  Soon.  No one else may ever hear them performed but that is SOOOOOO not the point.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have some music to go look through!


Trust me


That word has occupied MUCH of my thinking time lately.  What does it look like?  How do you prove it?

How do you overcome the fear that may get in it’s way?!

I’m not ready just yet to divulge the specific circumstances that have the concept of trust at the forefront of my brain.  Suffice it to say, that I know I’m being called to trust God in one specific way and it’s a little scary.  It means doing something I don’t really want to do.  I don’t understand why and, to sound just a tiny bit whiny, I don’t like it!

If you were to ask me if I trust God, I would say yes.  But words are cheap.  What does that “trust” look like?  If I say that I trust someone to do a task I have given them and then I constantly nag them about the task, questioning their strategy, correcting their method, do I really trust them?!  Should trust come with action?

Then there is the fear.  Sometimes trusting people means giving them access to parts of your heart that are easily broken.  Scary stuff.

If you read this far hoping for something profound . . . sorry. Still chewing on this whole concept.  not sure where I’m going to end up.  The ride sure is intense though!

Growing Pains of a Different Sort

I remember having to explain to my kids what growing pains were.  One of them looked at me and said, “You mean growing hurts?!  Well, that sucks.”

Yep, kiddo it does.

Because all kinds of growth hurts.  Emotional growth, relational growth, spiritual growth – none of it happens without the ache of stretching into something new.

I wish it could be painless.  I wish that letting go of past hurts – after learning important lessons – didn’t have to hurt.  I wish learning to open up to others and trust them with the deepest parts of us didn’t come with risk.  I wish that facing our past, admitting that it happened, and moving on was easy.

But it hurts.  And it does, indeed, “suck”.

There is, however, an upside.

I mean, remember how much fun it was when you realized you were taller than a parent or a sibling?  Or how weird it is to look back at pictures of yourself when you were super little?

There is an upside.  You will be stronger once admit to and deal with the pain.  You will be more compassionate when you admit that you have been hurt but refuse to wallow in it.  You will be able to interact positively with certain people once you release feelings of bitterness and anger, knowing that they will never change (or admit they need too!)

If you can deal with the growing pains and whatever issue they are related to, you will be a person who is more mature, more confident, more fun to be around, and more capable of healthy relationships.

Physical growth hurts because our bodies are stretching to new heights.  Emotional growth hurts for much the same reason.  It does indeed “suck” but the payoff is worth it!

Easier Said Than Done

The Sunday School class I am in has been using the Philip Yancy book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” as our discussion/lesson guide.  While I love Yancy’s writing direct, no-punches-pulled writing style, his subject matter is tough to deal with.

Grace goes against our human nature.  When we are wronged, everything in us screams for justice.  We want the offender to pay and pay big!  But when we offend or hurt another, we desperately seek compassion, understanding and justice.  For me, the “secret” is a matter of perspective.

Disclaimer – there are times when others hurt us so often and so severely that we must make the wise choice to set boundaries with that particular person.  But this isn’t about those moments.

I can be thoughtless and uncaring.  My reasons for those behaviors may be valid – tired, sick, overworked, stressed from the demands of work or others, etc.  and I sincerely want others to be understanding and gracious with me when I’m having one of “those” days.

But what is my first assumption when someone else treats me in a thoughtless, uncaring manner? Do I assume that they are simply having a bad day and extend them the understanding and grace I want in those moments?  I wish I could say an adamant yes.  I wish I could tell you that I’m the walking definition of compassion.  Truth is, I tend to take it personally.  I don’t want to be understanding or caring.  I want to make them pay.

My goal is a simple one – to give others the benefit of the doubt, to learn the skill of taking a deep breath and extending grace.  It’s not going to be easy and I’m not even really sure what that looks like but I’m going to work on it!

On the Face of It

I received a bit of a surprise last night, thanks to a conversation inspired by “The Respect Dare.”  In the particular dare I happened to be working through, I was challenged to ask my hubby how I am doing regarding my speech.  Does he feel I talk down to him?  How could I improve?  You get the idea.

My first thought was, “Nope. Not doing it.”  After all, the book did say I should do it if I was feeling brave and I couldn’t exactly say that was the case.  But after a few moments of dragging my feet, I took the plunge.  You see, I’ve got a history.  I have a pretty wicked barb for a tongue when I am in a mood so I was afraid I would hear that I hadn’t made any changes.

To my delight, hubby assured me that things had been going much better and for a decent amount of time.  Don’t get me wrong – I still need to work on consistency but I was thrilled to hear that steps are being taken in the right direction!

Then he kept talking and I’ve been meditating on what he said ever since!  He told me that he often knew how the conversation was going to go before I even opened my mouth. Want to know how?  My eyes.  Yep, he said the look in my eyes could either draw him in or cause his defensive mechanism to kick in.  He’s told me more than a few times that my eyes were one of the first physical traits he noticed about me back when we met.  Now it’s the first place he looks when I approach him because he will know in an instant whether I am earnestly seeking a conversation or simply seeking to shred him.

There was a phrase that he used that stuck in my head – “seasoned with grace”.  He was referring to the look on my face.  Not my speech, my countenance!  My heart aches a little when I think of the times that he has “interrupted” what I was doing to speak with me and I gave him an exasperated/irritated/frustrated face.  So much for letting him know how important he is!

So my challenge to myself is to make sure that I approach him with a look that is, as he so aptly put it, “seasoned with grace”.  That means I have to make sure everything about my approach is grace-filled and focused on relationship building, not “winning” some ridiculously useless power struggle.  And I’m betting this approach will work with others in my family as well!

How Deliberate was I?

Just a week ago, I posted a blog about some deliberate choices I was going to make this past week.  Since I am a big believer in accountability, I decided to fess up to how I did.  Here is the list and the updates.

. . . take moment to just breathe and be in the moment.  Actually, managed to pull this one off twice.

. . . tell the most important man in my life just how much I respect the amazing person he is and how proud I am of him. Got down to the wire on this one but was able to spend some time on an abbreviated date with hubby last night and point out some very specific things he’s done that I respect.

. . . reach out to those I love and tell them specifically and honestly why they matter so much to me. Didn’t do as well here as I’d like.  Definitely told family members I loved them, but not quite everybody in my extended family nor with the specificity I had hoped.  Guess I need to work on this one this week!

. . . pause from the busy-ness of life and come up with at least ten things to be grateful for that are not food, home or health because those are easy to come up with.  Nailed it!  Of course, I had the mini-goal of at least two a day which would technically give me more than my ten but I made it!

. . . lose myself in listening to a favorite piece of music or album, letting the music be the focus of what I am doing and not background noise. Yes!!  Spent some time lost in two songs that touch my heart!

. . . look for an opportunity to reach out to a friend in need.  I’d like to say I did.  I mean, I definitely tried to reach out.  Just hope it translated to the other person!

. . . do at least three “crafty” or creative things simply for the joy of expressing myself.  New recipes – four of them just tonight – to say nothing of the new song lyrics I started working on!

. . . spend at least an hour lost in a good book. It wasn’t all at one time, but I did get in a total of more than and hour reading.

. . . find one good thing to rejoice in everyday.  Yep!  Of course, working with a great bunch of high school and college age kids on a theater show makes it easy.

. . . laugh often and loudly, not caring who might hear or think I’m weird.  Not as often as I would like, but managed to do it a few times.

. . . start learning a new piano piece (just because I can!).  Yep!  It’s no where near ready for others to hear it, but started.

So I guess I still have a few of my goals that can be worked on this week.  It’s good to have something to work for!