Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Grand Night For Singing

Last weekend my family and I traveled back to Samford University for Homecoming. We made the trip in order for me to participate in a weekend tribute to my formal choral conductor/teacher who served at Samford from 1967-2000. Over 300 choir alumni returned for the weekend with their families making the numbers soar even higher. Friday evening was a three and a half hour tribute full of stories, songs, video tributes and messages, instrumental performances, and tears. I watched a former professor who is retired now sit at the nine foot Steinway and play Chopin's A-flat Polanaise like he was 20 years old! I cried all the way through it because I missed my own piano professor so much who died this past year. (I actually had to take a remedial technique class under the man who performed this weekend and my fingers BLED during my time with him....no lie!!!) Even so, I went to speak with him afterward and told him how moved I was to hear him play.

I renewed countless friendships, didn't recognize a lot of people (does that mean they didn't recognize me??????), laughed until my cheeks hurt from smiling so much, lost a lot of sleep, and enjoyed being away with my children and husband for the first time since......well.......I can't remember when. (which means it's been way too long) We took off work and school and decided that life is too short to be tied to schedules and work/school and miss out on opportunities.

I can't even put into words how it felt to sing these songs again. Difficult pieces. Beautiful pieces. There were people in this alumni choir from the 1960's all the way to 2000. It was a wonderful experience. I haven't been able to make that kind of music in a long time.

Back to the tribute night....

The program was billed to go from 7pm-9pm with a reception immediately following hosted by the President of the University. It ended up lasting until 10:30pm and the reception followed that. At 10:30, I had a mini family reunion with a cousin and his wife and children in the aisle of the concert hall. Then decided that we would head back to the hotel and hit the sack! My sweet girls had sat in the concert hall in their Sunday dresses for three and a half hours!!! I told them we were headed home and they looked at me with their sleepy faces and said.....

"But what about the cookies???"

So, of course we stayed. After all, they had behaved so nicely for SO LONG that who could deny them a cookie?

Monday, October 20, 2008

I would love a "do over"....

Unfortunately, there is no such thing in real life. We don't get "do overs". But if I ever wanted one...it was today.

I wasn't feeling very well this weekend and on top of that hosted a slumber party. (see previous post) So, needless to say, things didn't get done over the weekend like they should have. Normally, I spend the better part of my Saturday doing laundry. I would love to say I clean the house EVERY weekend, but it just doesn't happen. In my mind it does. I imagine what it would look like if it were being cleaned. So far no miracle has happened, and the laundry didn't get done.

I awoke to the house like a block of ice because we forgot to set the heat to come on for the first time. As I was getting dressed this morning, I was trying to psych myself of for my Monday. My Monday is the most stressful day of the week for me, with Wednesday being a close second. I began my morning list of reminders for the kids. I began with ballet clothes for after school. Here is where the day went downhill before we even left the house.

The ballet clothes for Janey hadn't been washed and were SOMEWHERE in the pile of laundry waiting to be washed. Now when I say pile of laundry, I am speaking in literal terms. Maybe I should go as far as to say piles of laundry. So the search began. It took me fifteen minutes to sort through all the laundry....but there it was....the blue leotard. Popped it in the dryer with a "make it smell good for one more wear" dryer sheet, and then made it downstairs to find the sink full of dirty dishes.

I knew that any attempt at closing my eyes and picturing the kitchen clean wasn't going to work, so I skipped breakfast and cleaned the kitchen.

That's when it all hit me. The flood of feelings of inadequacy and failure. It wasn't just the laundry and the kitchen sink. The overwhelming sense of having no time to actually rest when you don't feel your best, because you will only fall that much farther behind.

This is where my husband found me quietly sobbing in the bathroom.

It's a gift really. The silent and very ugly cry. It has taken years of perfecting it, but I think I have it down pretty good. You don't want anyone to know you are crying, but you just can't hold it in any longer. If you cry out loud and really release the stress, then the children are ALARMED and ask a thousand questions that will send you into another whole level of stress!  So, one must perfect the silent sob. So, my husband finds me in the bathroom trying to blot my make up before I have to go fix it all over again. By now, I have the "crying headache" and wish I could just crawl back in bed and start again. But, no time for tears. The day must go on.

I forge on through the stressful Monday.  On Mondays I literally run between K-12 classes all day and can barely keep up. Around 12:45, I'm still teaching (class number five of the day---and it isn't even lunchtime) and that's when it happened. I had left my laptop on the floor of my classroom right next to the piano. I was trying to teach and write a memo for the students in the room to take home at the same time. I put the computer down to focus on a particular song we were working on and left it next to the piano. I got up from the piano to go help some students and.........

"CrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrACK!"

Yep. I stepped on the laptop screen. It's ruined. I've never seen a screen look like that before.
Beautiful in a heart-breaking kind of way.

As I looked at the computer screen and it's "cracked" mess, I realized that my life is pretty "cracked" these days. Shattered in so many different places and jumbled beyond recongnition. I wonder who I am at times. I am thankful that God is working to take this cracked and shattered heart of mine and repair it. It is taking some time, but I can feel the balm healing one area at a time.

His mercies are new EVERY morning....not just on the mornings when the laundry is done.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

slumber parties, giggles, pizza, movies, noise, belly laughs!

Five giggly girls celebrated Meredith's 9th birthday. What a night! I am still tired. Girls can laugh and giggle about absolutely NOTHING! And they all talk at once and somehow still know what each person is saying. Unbelievable. I guess women can be just as bad, but we aren't nearly on the same decibel level.


Simple fun....ChuckECheese, sleeping bags, movies, popcorn, and lots of laughter. After arriving home from the pizza place, we spread out the sleeping bags, had cake, opened presents, and then it happened. I knew the day would come, but never thought it would be so soon. I got the inevitable, "We've got it covered, Mommy." (Stab! Pain!) That was the nice way of saying, "Leave!" "Go upstairs!" "No grown ups allowed or invited!"
Sad.
I'm old.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fiddle-dee-dee


My sweet baby girl in her recital dress getting ready for her second violin recital! She wanted the violin to "match" so it got a ribbon!

Monday, October 6, 2008

No...I don't think so......Can't do it......Not this time.......I'm sorry........

No matter how many ways you try to sugar coat it....saying "no" is never easy. Well, maybe it is to you, but I find it difficult. As I get older I am realizing more and more that the problem with saying "no" lies totally with me and no one else. Let me explain.

If people know that from 6:00-7:00 pm on a given day you are not otherwise committed to another activity or responsibility, they automatically assume you are "available" and ready to fill that hour you "just so happen to have vacant". People don't take time to understand that maybe...just maybe... you intended or planned that hour to be open. In a sense you have planned and committed that hour to something. Maybe it's NOTHING, but it's still SOMETHING. Am I making any sense at all?

Life has gotten so crazy that when we have "free time" it is because we have had to bend over backwards (after cartwheels, round-offs, splits and a hurkey or two) in order to find some time that we save for ourselves and even our families.

This summer God grabbed me as I whizzed by to another event and shook a little sense into me.
I had to finally admit that I am not Wonder Woman/Super Mom. See, it's hard to even write it, much less say it. But, after getting that reality out in the open, I felt much better.  But...then I actually had to do something about it.

You see, God never intended me to be a super woman. This is not news to most. I'm just slow. I had the "Sure!"..."Yes"....."I guess"......"That's fine"...disease. Well no more.

God showed me that my home was a wild and chaotic place. God wants it to be a place of peace and rest. Not only was it the opposite of peaceful, we weren't even there very much. After I finally admitted this to myself, I set out on a path to undo what I had created.

In order to "make the change", I had to learn a new word...."NO". Some people have NO problem saying NO. If you had asked me if I had issues with that word before this summer, I would have told you "NO". I quickly realized that I was wrong and began making the necessary adjustments.
I gave up some things that I had been involved in and decided to give that time to my family. Now, this doesn't mean I'm sitting at home doing nothing. In truth, I'm still stretched pretty thin. It just means I'm spending the time on my family....not on everyone else. As soon as I began implementing my "plan"....my plan was put to the test.

"We really need you."
"We can't find anyone else."
"Please?"
"You are SO GOOD AT THIS!"
"You're not doing anything during this time."
"Everyone else is so busy during this time and we can't find anyone who is free that can do it."
"We need EVERYONE committed to this."
"Can you help me out?"

Difficult is an understatement.

I was given a taste of my own medicine through guilt-trips. I got so tired of saying "no", but eventually it got a little easier. I began to go through a time of questioning my decision to back off some things. I started to think that maybe I was wrong. I had to get back on my knees and recommit! It is a daily task. But it's working.

I feel myself slipping into guilty mode every now and then, but I know it's Satan.
I'm sticking to my guns. I'm not giving in. I look into the faces of my husband and children and know that I'm making the best decision. I am reminded by God that many times I thought I was saying "yes" to others, but in reality I was saying "no" to my family.  Life is better. Peace has come back into our lives.

EVERY DAY I am faced with my decisions. People question my lack of participation at times or sudden disappearance in certain areas, but my children and husband haven't complained.

I dug my own hole, and I am now filling it back up with what I hope is good and fertile soil.