How Did You Love?


insp0034First, I need to explain something with this post. Music has been a therapist for me throughout most of my life. I spent a lot of my childhood without a lot of friends and with a mother who really didn’t want me, so I also spent a lot of time alone, doing things that people do when they are alone–reading, writing, getting lost in my imagination and in fictional worlds, listening to music.

To me, music isn’t just background noise. It has meaning; it’s magical; it’s therapeutic. Music sometimes makes me feel the same way as some art does or some pieces of literature or a philosophical quote.

Musicians–and I don’t care if it’s a blues artist, a rock star, a hip-hop artist, or a dubstep DJ–are our modern-day philosophers. Art isn’t just painting or love-music-so-much-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures-810x787sculpting or drawing; art is writing, art is composing, art is dreaming–however any of us dreams–and then finding a way of expressing those dreams to the world, whether it’s in a song, a painting, a sculpture, a dance movement, or a series of words that bring a world or a character to life.

So when I listen to music, it’s not just sound that makes me feel good. I hear all its parts; I savor the melody, the beat, hear the bass, the guitar, the drums, the instrument of the singer’s voice, the words that they’re sharing.

Anyway, Shinedown is one of those bands whose lyrics speak to me; so many of their songs, it feels like they’re speaking directly to me (Bully is an obvious one). In my blog post yesterday, I made a meager attempt to describe how I see the world, and this morning, I heard Shinedown’s How Did You Love while I was getting ready for work, and I realized that it actually is in a similar vein with my post from yesterday.

Nothing ever feels quite the same when you are what you dreamed
And you will never look at anything the same when you see what I see
How we forget ourselves, lose our way from the cradle to the grave
You can’t replicate or duplicate, gotta find your own way woah

No one gets out alive, every day is do or die
The one thing you leave behind
Is how did you love, how did you love?
It’s not what you believe, those prayers will make you bleed
But while you’re on your knees
How did you love, how did you love, how did you love?

This ain’t no cross to carry
We are the judge and jury, we are the judge and jury

I see people every day chasing their tail, trying so hard to be what they think the people around them want them to be, as if it matters what people think of 114192-just-be-yourselfthem. It has taken me a lifetime to realize that what others think of you doesn’t really matter. The only person whose opinion of you matters is the one that looks back at you from the mirror. In the end, it doesn’t matter what people thought of you, all that matters is how you loved; how you made people feel.

I see this in my own life. I was raised by a mother who probably would have been better off not having had children. She is very self-centered and narcissistic, more worried about what people think of her than what kind of person she is. To the outside world, she projects a light that some people can’t see through, and so they think, ‘Oh, what a saint she is.’ But to those of us who know her, she has an ugly heart; she is vindictive and mean-spirited, cold-hearted and entitled. Is it enough for ten people to think, ‘What a nice lady’ when there is even one person who has been on the receiving end of a barbed insult or a flying fist? I don’t think so.

This is the reason that I try so hard to not cause conflict, to not upset people, and when I do? It destroys a part of me. I fuck up sometimes, and I almost never forgive myself; that’s just part of my nature. My mother holds grudges against anyone and everyone; I hold grudges only against myself.

This line right here:

How we forget ourselves, lose our way from the cradle to the grave

That’s the saddest line in the entire song to me. When you look into the face of a child, you see pure truth, innocence, wonder, hope–so many things that we lose rekindle-your-childlike-wonder-bsol-535as we grow and experience the world, and it’s so sad to me that the reason we lose those things isn’t because we’re supposed to, it’s because other people have caused us to lose them. Those things–those are the things I’ve tried to get back over the last dozen years or so…to reconnect with my inner child, to recapture the magic of looking at the world with new eyes, with innocent eyes, and not colored by the perceptions I’ve been taught. We strive so hard for “things” when all we should be striving for is to be ourselves.

Stop trying to be who you think others want you to be. Stop trying to make other people be what you want them to be. Just be you, and know that those people who are supposed to be in your life will accept you exactly the way you are. It doesn’t matter how big your house is or how new your car is, how much money you make or what job you have; in the end, the only thing that matters is how you made people feel. That’s your legacy.


Soul to Soul

human-beings-1So yesterday I was having a text conversation with my bestie Nichole where we were talking about how amazing it is to watch children grow up, to become the people they will become. Nichole said she was a girly girl when she was a kid, and I said I was very much not.

Then I said something that I sorta want to save somewhere because I kinda sorta surprised myself with the words. Half the time, I don’t know where some of it comes from. So just sharing it for posterity here:

I didn’t realize how non-girly girl I really was until just now…hated dresses, played baseball, was the one all the boys got to catch snakes and bugs and stuff because they were chicken, played with hot wheels, read superhero comics, rode my bike over higher ramps than the boys dared….hahahaha!

I think I’m in the wrong body!

What we are on the outside doesn’t always match what we are on the inside. Not talking sex or gender. Talking body and soul. Only when we let our soul out do we share who we really are.

I have no clue where that last bit came from, but it may have been my subconscious mind simply expressing how I feel inside in a way that I actually can understand. Because in thinking about it afterwards, it really is exactly how I feel. And it’s so difficult to express it to other people.

I don’t relate to people as people, but as souls. Like, I am not a woman; that’s just one little part of the whole wondrous being that is “me.” I’m not white; that’s just another part of me. I’m both of those things, but I’m also a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter, a niece, an aunt, a secretary, an artist, a writer, a witch, a weirdo, a genealogist, a friend, a reader, a fangirl, a gamer, an atheist, a liberal, a foodie, a headbanger…all of those things, and then some, melt together to make me who I am. I am not a mother. I am not a sister. I am not an atheist. I am not a headbanger. I am ALL of those things and more. Most of those things aren’t things you can tell by looking at a person; it’s not in the way I look or the type of clothes I wear; most of the things that make me me are not physical traits; it’s something inside.

I think that’s why I (a) don’t see “race” or sexual orientation or gender identity as something to be concerned about and (b) don’t really understand why everyone doesn’t see things this way. Try this. Say these things out loud:

“You are inferior to me because your skin is brown.”

“You are stupid because you are a man and you are married to a man.”

“You are less than me because you have a penis and dress like a woman.”

How stupid did each of those things sound when you said them out loud? How embarrassed or ashamed did you feel verbalizing those things? <–This is how I feel.

Or did it not sound stupid or shameful at all to you? <–This is not how I feel, and I don’t understand it:(

feed-ego-feed-soulI don’t see people, I see souls. I don’t think we fall in love with people, we fall in love with souls. I wish I could make more people see that because it is life-changing when you finally do get it. If we fall in love with souls, then it changes the whole perspective of what love really is. It’s why I think people falling in love with people of the same sex is a completely natural thing; it’s why I definitely don’t believe that “sexual orientation” is a “choice.”

Souls have no gender identity, no sexual orientation, no color, no race, no religion; a soul simply is – it’s everything and nothing, it’s falling in love with a feeling or an emotion, the twinkle in an eye when you hear a child’s laughter, the feeling that washes over you when you hear a piece of music or see a work of art that truly moves you; all of those things are your soul speaking to you and saying, “This. This right here is what is important.”

The older I get, the more I realize that this is part of the reason I’ve had so much difficulty relating to people for probably most of my life – because I don’t see the world the same way 44879-whatever-s-good-for-your-soul-do-that“normal” people do. Things aren’t always black and white. It’s why I end up pissing off both sides in an argument…because I don’t see or acknowledge the limitations that others do.

But then, there are sometimes when it really is a matter of black and white. When I see a person with a black soul, I recognize them for their black soul, no matter how bright they try to shine their false light out into the world. That was something I learned from growing up in an intimate relationship with one of those kinds of souls. The problem with those types of souls is that they’re very easy to spot if you know how…but it’s very hard to convince other people of their true nature because they are masters at hiding their true selves.

Anyway, this is all random, and I wanted to get some thoughts down. So there they are. I’ll come back later and see if they make any sense or if I need to add something LOL!

Little Things

marshI love my nieces and nephew, my sister’s four kids. They range in age from 19 (20 next month!) to 10. The oldest is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the youngest is in, I think, the fifth grade.

My nephew is, of course, a video game aficionado, as are most boys these days (he’s the 10-year-old), and even my nieces love electronic devices. So usually there’s a video game or an electronic handheld or an iPod or something among their birthday or Christmas gifts. But the most fun gifts are often the ones you can enjoy with other people, so I have made it a point to always buy board games. At Christmas, I try to buy at least one per kid, then I tag those for all of the kids so there’s no fighting. We always end up playing several games after all the gifts are opened.

Several years ago, after Thanksgiving dinner (which is always at my house), I sat down with the kids afterwards and we played a few board games. One of the kids said, “This is fun…we should do this more often.”


So I started a family tradition called Spieltag. Spieltag is German for “game day.” Sorta. Technically, I think it should be tag des spiel (“day of play”), but spieltag has a nicer ring. For the record, it’s pronounced shpeel-tahg. We are not German, but I wanted a catchy name for the event, and so Spieltag it is!

We usually do Spieltag at my sister’s house, but occasionally we’ll hold it at my house (usually in the summer when the dogs can enjoy the sun outside while the house is full of kids). We have food, soda, juice, things to nibble on. It’s one of the best traditions we’ve started.

With the number of games the kids have now, there’s no shortage of things to play. The more fun games are the ones that end up making us laugh–games like Would You Rather…? or Cranium, or games that make you do silly tricks like standing on one foot, singing a song, and balancing something on your nose. Then there are the trivia games. For those, they usually all team up against me. Two or three teams of two or three kids against me (yes, teams of two or three kids…because my sister’s kids invite their friends over on game day), and I usually win (in the four or five years we’ve been doing this, I think they’ve beat me once;)

smIn today’s world, with so many people connected with the outside world electronically, with most of our “friends” keeping in touch via Facebook or text messaging, it’s nice to be able to sit down at a table and surround yourself with the laughter of your loved ones. Life is too short and too precious to let it all pass you by. I look around the table at my nieces and nephew, and sometimes I get a flash of memory–my oldest niece at 1 1/2 singing Patsy Kline’s Crazy in the backseat of my car, my middle niece looking like a princess in her ballerina dance costume, my youngest niece smiling at age 4 with a face full of chocolate and a huge smile, my newborn nephew with his little black Chuck Taylors that my brother bought him–and I’m so thankful that I got to experience all those things and that I get to watch these kids grow from babies into the beautiful young people they’re becoming.

Why am I writing about this today? Well, my brain’s been in a little bit of a funk lately. I think it has to do with the bombings in Boston last week. Not that I’m obsessing over them (I’m not), but the whole thing just seems to have drained me. It was too close to home, and it reminded me of how fleeting our time can be in this world. We go about our daily lives, worrying about things that we think are the big things, when it can all be taken away in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

Cherish the little things in life, for one day you
will realize that they were the big things.

happinessYour job and your bills are important, your home and your car, your health insurance, your taxes–all of those things are important. But there are more important things than those, things that may seem pointless or silly–like standing on one foot, singing a silly song, and balancing something on your nose–those are the things that you’ll be remembered for, those are the things that are “little” that are actually quite a big deal.

Cherish the little things…and try to realize NOW that they are the big things.