Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days: Days 17, 18, & 19 {Music & Memories}

When I last wrote,  I told you that one of the hardest parts of writing is weeding through all the stuff in my head. I have so many things to think about, so many things to pray about, and in the midst of that, I seem to question everything.

This weekend was very busy with other obligations and so writing took a back seat.
But as I was driving 3 hours away for a house-warming party, I had plenty of time think and weed through the tall thoughts in my head.

I'm not sure I came to any great conclusions or solved all the world's problems or anything like that, but being alone with my thoughts and a little music was refreshing.

It was on this drive that I was struck again by how much memories are tied to other senses. Music and hearing are big memory triggers for me.
It seems I can remember where I was {in life, more than location} or where I most often heard a particular song just by hearing it again.

I can remember elementary school and my first "boom box" with a radio and dual tape deck. I remember listening to the radio every morning before school and hearing songs like Madonna's Lucky Star and Borderline. Crazy for You is still one of my favorites, even though in college I began to associate that song with my husband versus whomever I had a crush on when the song was popular.

My 6 hours in the car on Saturday involved my finger on the "scan" button often, but I settled on late 80's and early 90's tunes a lot. It's amazing how music and memories can affect your moods! Lucky for me, the music brought smiles of recognition and fond memories from my childhood.

The other thing that happened on my drive and sparked some memories was the siting of my High School Marching band on the road.  Well, not the band themselves, but the truck and trailer they use to transport equipment to and from competitions.

I was in the Rifle Line section of the Color Guard for a brief year in high school. It was both a year of "bests" and a year of worsts for me.
It was my one and only experience with Band Camp.
Some of my strongest sensory memories are connected to band camp.  We weren't too far away from home, but we were away.  We used the campus of a small college a couple of hours from my hometown. It was my first experience staying in a dorm room.

I remember it rained a lot that week, but mostly summer showers.  In case you weren't aware, band practice was generally rain or shine, as were competitions.  The college was keeping the grass well cut since we were learning our "drill" points on a practice football field.

To this day, the combined smell of fresh cut grass and a summer storm take me back to band camp.
I remember the people I was just meeting and getting to know who would become some of my best friends that year.
I remember those I was just getting to know who would make my life hell for that coming year.

Another smell that takes me back, this time of year especially, is the smell of burning leaves.
We had lots of shedding trees in our yard when I was growing up.  After hours of raking them all up, my Dad would gather them in one spot and set them aflame.  Back then, I hated the chore of raking them up, but I can't remember a time I didn't enjoy the fire and the smell of those leaves burning.

With my 20th high school reunion coming up next weekend, I know there are lots more memories coming my way.
So while I may not have gotten rid of all the loud thoughts in my head this weekend, the music and memories gave me a little escape.

What about you? What helps you escape the noise of everyday life? 
Memories, music, writing? 
Something else?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days: Day 16 {Staying Sane}

I never realized how much I truly say the word "crazy" until this 31 Days writing project.

And truly, it was a crazy task to assign myself since I normally post here once a week or less.
The hardest part of writing for me has never been that I didn't want to or that I couldn't make time for it.  The hardest part is weeding through all the "crazy" in my head and in my life, just to figure out what to say.

I love to write and I love to share my opinions but it was never my goal to record writing here that only I would read.
I'm not sure what I thought I might have to offer, but somewhere in my desire to journal and search for grace in everyday life, there existed the notion that perhaps I had something to say that would be helpful or inspiring to someone else.

I mean, really, who doesn't want to help and inspire others?!

I wasn't hoping for recognition for it, I just think it's fun to share and converse with others in a helpful way. I feel when you are willing to help, it's serving.  At the least, it makes two people feel good - the person you help and you too.  At best, good stuff comes back to you when 
you most need it.

But like I said, the hardest part is weeding through all the stuff to get to the heart of the matter.
Today I was driving down the road, running errands before getting the kids from school.  I hit "scan" on the radio and stopped when I heard a 
Pearl Jam song.
It's not the kind of music I listen to all the time, but it was perfect for today.
The noise in my head was so loud I just wanted something ~ ANYTHING ~ to drown it out.

So I rolled the windows down just a crack and cranked the music really loud.
And for about 2 minutes, Eddie Vedder replaced the crazy going on inside my head.

Does anyone else ever feel like they just need a break from themselves?
I just want to turn off my mind sometimes.
So many thoughts - so little room in there; 
you know? 
Even when I lie down in bed, I have a hard time shutting down for the night.

I'm definitely an analytical person and maybe that's part of the issue.

I'm sure some of you already think I am truly crazy; like, check-me-into-a-special-place kind of crazy.

But part of the noise inside my head is me analyzing {you name it - I can think it to death}, part of it is me talking to myself {no, I don't answer myself}, and part of it {a big part of it} is me talking to God.

It took me awhile to realize this about my thoughts.

I used to think that verse about praying without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17) was not only impractical,
 but impossible.
Turns out it's not. You just have to realize that praying is talking to God like you would talk to a friend {or yourself}.  It doesn't have to be a formal conversation every time.  
For me, one of the best things about realizing this is knowing that now, instead of seeking approval from so many other people, I am seeking it from Him.
My constant chatter includes:
"Lord, did I handle that correctly?"
"What was I supposed to learn through this?"
"Is this really what you want me to be doing?"
"What DO you want from me?"

Now, I have to clarify that last's not a screaming, angry question; it's a serious one.
God knows us and what we really feel so why try to hide frustration from Him? 
 I also think it's only natural to reevaluate regularly where He wants you to serve.
Someone told me recently that we all have God-given talents and gifts.  Many of us have more than one.
If we get comfortable using only one of them, how will we ever truly know what He wants from us? Or better, what He has in store for us?

It's a lot to think about, but these are the kind of things that, while noisy and sometimes confusing in my head, actually keep me sane.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days: Day 15 {When the Crazy Threatens to Carry You Away}

The weather got real crazy here today.
In fact it started before 4am this morning with thunder, lightening, and loud rain.
Then there was that weather warning that came through my phone about 4:45 to warn me of the impending flash flood in my area. 
Those are fun.
Especially when you wish you weren't awake yet.

By the time I left to take the kids to school a little after 8am, it seemed things had calmed down.
Just as we were pulling out of the neighborhood, it started to rain.

Then the bottom fell out.

So when I say CRAZY, I mean crazy, hard, 
blinding rain.
My kids actually asked me if that was as fast as the windshield wipers could go.
It was.

So I slowed down and concentrated on the lines on the road.  {They were truly hard to see.}

I managed to get the kids to school safely and 
the rain slacked off a bit as they were getting 
out of the car.
On the way back home, the rain picked up again to the point that seeing what was right in front of me was incredibly difficult.

I couldn't help thinking that life is like that sometimes.
You're trucking along, thinking everything is going well, and then the bottom drops out.
You slow down and you try everything but you still just can't see what's right in front of you.

And what's the answer when you can't see what's coming next?
The same as driving in the pouring rain: 
just keep going.

Slow down if you need to.
Turn your wipers up to high {get help}.
Turn your lights on {get help}.
Trust your instincts on roads you've driven before.

Even if you're creeping along at a snail's pace; just keep going.

Sometimes coming to a complete stop is actually more dangerous than just continuing on.

Today, in a matter of 20 minutes, we went from not-raining to so-much-standing-water-I-thought-my-house-might-float-away.

But later, the sun was out.  The excess water {those large rivers running through my yard, drainage ditches, and driveway} was all but gone in an hour or two.  By this afternoon, the birds were out pecking at the ground and the clouds were clearing.

In life sometimes, the rain stops suddenly, the sun appears, and all traces of the storm are gone 
in a hurry.
Even when you may have thought the storm would carry you away, suddenly the birds are chirping and the clouds are moving out.

Weather, like life, can be crazy.

Today was a good reminder to slow down and not let the crazy carry you away.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days: Days 13 & 14 {On Taking it Back}

I remember plenty of times in the past when I opened my mouth and something came out that even I didn't expect.

A friend of mine calls it being "sharp-tongued."

I never meant for most of it to come out that way; it was almost like my mouth shot off before my brain had time to really process what my mouth was saying, or to think about how it would be heard and perceived.

I seem to have outgrow this atrocious lack of judgement and I'm glad for that.

Unfortunately, I think I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD I ever uttered in this manner as well as the look on the face of the other person or persons in earshot.

It's painful to remember; I know no matter how many times I've apologized, I can't take those words back.


Once they've been spoken, words can't be taken back.

Recently I've been reminded of this fact.  
Not because someone I once offended brought it up again.

No; this time, I was on the receiving end of words that can't be unsaid.
In this day and time, not much is "said" person to person, verbally, or even out loud.

That's the case for me too.
This weekend was quite the wordy weekend.  I got to read about myself -what someone else thought about me or something I'd said or done - in words on a screen.  Text messages, Facebook comments, and email.

I shed quite a few tears over some of these words.  Many of them were harsh.
MOST of them were not true.
I KNOW I'm not the person I was accused of being and that I did not do what I was accused of doing.  I'm trying to think of it as a learning opportunity.

Here's what those situations taught me:

1.) Own your words.
If you offer them up, be prepared to defend them.  If you can't, maybe they shouldn't have been said {or typed} in the first place.

2.) T.H.I.N.K before you speak.  This is something I heard of years ago and have tried to teach my children, especially Sweetpea. Before you say something, ask yourself:
Is is TRUE? {"True to me," doesn't count.  It's either true or false.}
Is it NECESSARY? {This is a hard one; I often think something NEEDS to be said, only to look back on it later and realize I shouldn't have said it.}
Is it KIND? {There's speaking the truth in love and then there's kind speech and unkind speech.}

3.) Be very careful when you share someone else's words. 
It's almost impossible to really know what someone meant when they said something.  So whether you share those words with a spouse or another involved party, be very careful because there may be fall-out.

4.) The "Delete" button is not always your friend. You think you deleted those words you regretted, but the truth is you may not have.  Recently, I realized that some {not all} Facebook notifications come through to my inbox pretty much immediately. Even if the comment is deleted by the original poster or someone else right away, the chances of it being "captured" elsewhere are great.  In my case, my email actually captured the comment that was meant for me but then deleted.  I haven't let this person know that I actually saw what he/she wrote, but it was a good reminder for me too to be careful what I say and attempt to take back.

5.) That trick your Mom used to do so she wouldn't kill you? Yeah, when you're angry, you should count to 10 (or 100) before you respond in any form.
With technology, communication has changed.  Just as it's impossible to know what someone really means with their words, it's the same with tone and inflection in emails.
In person, tone and inflection can tell you a lot about how someone feels and how it relates to what they are saying.
In print, there is no tone and inflection to give you context clues.
Because of this, it's easy to misunderstand, misconstrue, and magnify an issue that may in fact only be in your mind.

In recent years, I've become very intentional about my words because the old "sticks and stones..." rhyme isn't true.
Words CAN hurt you.

In that same time period, I've been working towards being more open, real, and transparent; trying my best to be my true self in real life, online, and otherwise.  I choose to not hide behind the word "fine" when I'm not.

So you can imagine this is a challenging balance, as are most things in life.

I certainly am not perfect with my words or word choices, but I'm trying.

I'm trying crazy hard.