Summer schlummer. Whatever. It’s over.
The great thing about blogging is you’re always blogging in your head. The awful thing about blogging is you’re always blogging in your head.
This one’s been swimming up there for a while, but nonetheless, I give you “The Green Piano Post”.
So. Sometime between 1970 when my parents got married, and 1975 when I was born, my folks spent their hard-earned G.I. money on – No, not a down-payment on a house…No, not stocks in McDonald’s – a piano. God love ’em. Such a beautiful hippie love story, and I’m proud of it to this day. I’m pretty sure they were eating beans and rice or the equivalent, but By God they had a piano, and I know they sat at it night after night and played Kum-Ba-Yah and Puff the Magic Dragon and whatever else the Readers’ Digest Piano Book contained that was in a key that worked for their perfect triad: guitar capo, piano, and vocal range.
Forty plus years later: Their 1970’s flower child who grew up playing that piano now spends hours a week with her hot husband/love/bff/duet partner and his guitar/ukulele cranking out Kasey Musgraves and Symarip and Jack Johnson. The same piano is featured in her newly renovated front room, and it hosts at least 12 different pairs of hands each week.
The variable: Instagram and an obsession with paint. So, you need some background here – I’m the girl who saw curtains she liked, couldn’t afford them, bought some similar curtains and painted each and every stripe the desired color…four pairs of 96″ curtains. She wanted yellow and blue, not khaki and blue. I’m the girl who bought a figure-flattering dress for her role as Grace Farrell in “Annie – the Musical”, but was told she couldn’t wear a red dress because Annie wore a red dress, so she spray-painted it with car upholstery paint until it was some weird form of black with a red sheen. Also the girl who follows Annie Sloan Paint on Instagram because her motto is “Paint Everything”.
So when I saw a painted piano on her feed, I thought “huh. I haven’t painted a piano. I have a piano. I have paint. Why don’t I have a painted piano?”
Now, I’ve painted a lot of things, but nothing has caused me pause and reflection quite like this piano. Nevertheless, with the kickass new home reno and no hope of a baby grand in sight, I just decided to close my figurative eyes and jump in. LOTS of encouragement from hot husband, who, based on his experience with me, couldn’t believe that I talked about it and didn’t make it happen the same day. I told him I needed to process this one.
So, after a couple of weeks of reflection, I stuck the brush into the green paint and touched it to the piano and knew that now I had to do it. It made me a little sick. Until two very strong feelings swept over me consecutively, in a very connected way. In such a way that I’m not sure I’ll do it justice.
First, I was overwhelmed with the realization that those two hippies who could have bought food or a television or something else more conventional – bought a piano. And then they made a baby, and their combined DNA created a baby who wanted to paint everything and play every song and sing every note and love everything deeply. And I realized that they can’t get mad that I’m painting their piano – they made ME, and so it’s their own faultslashcredit.
Then, without warning, I was overcome by the feeling of gratitude for having a Nike husband. To anything I want to do, his response is “Just Do It!” or something like it. And he MEANS it. It my past life (ex-life), I wasn’t even allowed to play the piano when ex was home because it “made too much noise”. I was discouraged from painting all the things I wanted to paint because I would “diminish their value”. So what am I even here for? Something in me was programmed to want to make things different from everything else…What was really going to be negatively affected, the painted furniture, or who I thought I was?
I love my green piano. It is fun. It says, “come play me…I don’t bite…we’re all just here to have some fun while we can.” It speaks volumes about how much I love the way my parents raised me. It sings a melody of the freedom that comes from finding your one-and-only who wants you to just keep being more of you.
And hey (this could have been my life’s motto), if you have to be an upright, be the funkiest one in town.
Today, on the 44th anniversary of my hot husband’s birth, I submit to you a small pictorial sampling of the things he does that make me smile.
The vast majority of these are from events related to music, sports, water, or motorcycle rides (several are even a combination of more than one) – things I enjoy the very most in the whole wide world. Though I would still be the happiest girl in the world if we never did anything or went anywhere and had no money and no friends, I thank my lucky stars every day that I get to ride this ride with him…my dream guy.
I think he was put on this earth to do so many amazing things, and he blesses so many people with his gifts and his love and his passion. But it’s a big enough task to thank him for what he does for little ‘ol me, so I’m sticking to that for this post…
Happy Birthday, My Love!…Thanks, People Makers! 🙂
I just Googled this term, and it’s not even a thing. It was at 510 Brodie when I was growing up. This term, apparently made up by my mother, embodies so many wonderful things about my upbringing and heritage, and so many things I can’t seem to give up.
Are all obsessions bad? I feel like this one is just one of my quirks (I think I’m justifying a lot of these post topics that way lately…) But it is an obsession nonetheless – one that causes undue stress almost every day. I’m not expecting – or even wanting – to turn this one completely off…just moderate my expectations.
If I was going to cast someone to play my mother in a movie about her life, I would have a hard time deciding between the proper Hyacinth (from the BBC) and the oh-so-southern Paula Dean (from the South). She’s the juxtaposition of keeping up appearances and lovin’ Jesus while cookin’ with bacon grease. Her mother (more like a mixture of characters from Dallas and The Beverly Hillbillies) wasn’t too much different in her appearances/housekeeping/presentation standards. On more than one occasion, I called to ask if I could drop by and see her while I was in her area, and she declined because her house wasn’t presentable.
Much like my grandmother, I don’t want people to see my home in any state other than “Magazine Perfect” – the term my mother used to distinguish whether she wanted me to merely clean my room – dust, vacuum, empty trash – or arrange it for the magazine photographers who were inevitably going to drop by unannounced to take pictures of our interior for Southern Living magazine – bed made, throw pillows and blankets strategically staged, frames placed on shelves by height and in odd numbered groupings, and stack of classic novels innocently gracing my desk…and of course I want it to appear effortless. (She never told me these were the things I had to do – I just created that as a definition.) As a kid, I preferred “magazine perfect” to cleaning. It involved throwing un-pretty things in my closet and desk drawers (’cause what kind of wackadoo photographer would take pictures of desk drawers???) and making things look pretty. Nowadays, I enjoy cleaning too, but I still – honest to God – have the thought in my head that a magazine photographer might show up on my doorstep, and By God I’d better be ready.
Like I said, this obsession isn’t ALL bad. I love living in a tidy house. I love the compliments from people who drop by. I love things looking nice. But most people really don’t care. I don’t get that, but they don’t. This probably goes back full circle to my Confidence post. I don’t feel like I judge other people if their houses are messy (I kinda do if they’re dirty), but I do find myself grateful that I live like I do, and I do expect to be judged.
Here’s what I need to focus on: Who do I feel like I need to make happy? The answer should be me and my family. It does take a regular cleaning and a regular picking-up to make me happy. It takes very little to make my family happy – I want them to care, but they just don’t. And I should see this as an opportunity for some freedom from stress…I’m going to try.
*voice in my head* I’m going to be SO mad if a magazine photographer really does show up on a day I’m practicing not caring. SO mad.
(in my head, that’s me below)
In 73 days, this family will make its annual pilgrimage back up to the holy land – known to others as Keuka Lake.
I hear all of the Finger Lakes are spectacular, but Keuka is the one where I’ve perched for two solid weeks of relaxation each of the past three years. My hott husband has been there almost every summer of his life. And last summer, it’s where we celebrated the 50th year of Maga’s Lake House and we were married on the dock in a perfect little gathering.
His family home there is warm and welcoming, its hosts are laid back and gracefully hospitable, the lake is cool and clear, and the people are friendly. But even if these things were not true, there’s something else extraordinary about this place…
They have a time-travel portal.
If you count their horses, the Amish might outnumber televisions, and they definitely outnumber air conditioners. You might find some of what you need at the little grocery store, but you still need to stop at the butcher’s, the Amish market, and the fruit stand. The summer days are long, the tables are large, and the windows are open.
But here’s my favorite part of the time travel there: kids get to be kids – without instructions or a plan or an itinerary or supervision, all day, all the while learning more than we could ever teach them. Our kids and the neighbor’s kids run all day – All. Day. – up and down from the lake to the woods and around again. They fish, build forts, make up games, swim, kayak, sail, paddle, run, run, run, did I mention they run? everywhere? When they’re hungry, they figure out how to eat while running. When someone gets hurt, they clean each other’s wounds. They celebrate the big catch together. They come up with creative things to make out of trash from the gully. At dinner, plates get clean, stories get relived, brothers don’t fight, and a good hard sleep comes easy. They strategize plans to most efficiently accomplish the assigned daily chores. You can’t make this stuff up! But they can. And they do. For four weeks straight. They learn more there without adult supervision than in all the time and money we adults (collectively) try to “invest” in their development. NOTHING is as important at their age as learning things for yourself. That is hard to find in the suburbs, my friends.
It seems like these days, if your kid turns out to be a self-sustaining adult, it almost has to be in spite of us, not because of us. My father-in-law dropped this wisdom on us a couple of years ago – “Don’t handicap your kids by making their lives easy.” But we do it every day.
My adult daughter is a walking reminder of this. It is abundantly apparent what aspects of her life I kept out of and gave her independence, and which aspects I stunted her growth by treating her like she couldn’t do it on her own (well, right, enough, etc.)
Challenge/Reminder: I am going to stop doing for the kids what they can do for themselves. Obviously, there are time constraints and bedtimes, but their ability-level is way higher than we give them credit for…and there’s a lot of things they should know how to do by this age, but they don’t – simply because we’ve never taught them.
So I might be the bad guy around here for a while, but in this whole step-parenting adventure, I’ve learned that my role is sometimes different than the parent – but just as important.
(Pretty sure it would be a big help if we do what we keep saying we’re going to do and cut off the cable…So many of these challenges are actually going to save us money – I’ve saved money on eating out, not drinking, not picking grout ((oops))…Feelin’ Pre-tee Good 🙂 )
My soon-to-be new boss and I shared a few mom-to-mom moments at the conclusion of my interview a few weeks ago. We found out we had both recently married the man of our dreams, both after raising kids and graduating them off to college, both gained young step-kids in the process – mine boys, which I had never done before, and hers a 12-year-old girl who they had permanent custody of, after she had raised only boys.
Early Friday morning, she got a call at work that I can’t even begin to imagine. The 44-year-old love-of-her-life had a heart attack on the treadmill at his gym and died instantly. Gone. There are no words. I can’t think straight when I try to describe how devastated (the English language is inadequate), completely world shattered, stopped, exploded, I don’t even know…can’t even finish the sentence.
How do you go on? How do you even move your body from one spot? My natural reaction to this was to cling to my husband. I felt, in the depths of my soul, the fear of losing him and I began to program my brain and my actions based on this fear. I realized that I was loving him even harder than ever, but it wasn’t fun. It was emotionally draining.
I’ve only had a few long-term relationships in my life (that seems like it should be a given), but in the first two or three – beginning in high school – there were major issues with fidelity and truthfulness. Since these were during my developmental years, I never learned what it’s like to trust – wholly, completely, without fear. Even as much as I know, like KNOW know, that my husband loves me and is committed to me and would never hurt me, I also know we are humans and humans make mistakes, hence there is always something to fear.
I have been working on this for a while now – like intentionally and intelligently, and it’s definitely gotten better. As time goes by, I have less “flare ups”. In fact, I feel like I can truthfully say that I’m not afraid right now. I have realized – finally, and due to the terrible news of a husband’s passing – that if it WERE to happen, it would have happened whether I was a blissfully oblivious wife or a paranoid untrusting one, and which way would I rather live?
With the news of my boss’s husband, I had to make myself make a quick U-turn from deciding to live like I might lose him tomorrow to living like we’ve got forever. I want the same to be true with my trust. I want to live this wonderful life with him and love him madly forever – but not from a place that’s founded in the very things I fear the most. There’s too much fun to be had. Challenge: Cherish and treasure, but relax and enjoy or it was all in vain.
Last night, I was thinking out loud to hott husband on the phone (he’s in Atlanta on business) about what my “E” post should be. Since the theme of Accepting Self(ish)-Improvement Challenges has poked its little head out, I now have parameters. He first said “Exercise“, to which I explained, unsuccessfully, how yesterday’s “Diet” post was really more about Exercise. I reminded him of my theme, and he – without hesitation – blurted out “Expectations“.
I know this is the one thing that sometimes tries to divide us. I’m sure it’s really at the root of most people’s problems. But we’ve definitely identified it as a big difference between the two of us, and my way of managing expectations as being the spark that starts most of our very VERY few conflicts.
Example: I walk very fast. I do everything very fast. I can go to the store with a list of 20 items, get in get out and get home in thirty minutes. I walk in the door, and hott husband says, “Oh my gosh…you did that in like two minutes!” Husband doesn’t do anything hastily. He – as people should – enjoys everything. He loves to look at items in the grocery store, even if he has no intention of buying them. He’ll see jelly with a funny name and make up a song about it, dancing in the aisle for a good solid five minutes. He also doesn’t spend any brain cells trying to strategically plan his grocery run…He might meander from one side of the store and back and back again four times, and it doesn’t stress him out. All being said, it takes him for.ev.er. to make a grocery run. He walks in the door, I’ve been running through the three most rational scenarios that could have caused his delay (accident, phone call from family member, fire in front of the exit), so not only has my expectation of time not been met, but when he walks in the door I’m expecting his “Oh my gosh you won’t believe what happened” story to explain his delay. Instead, he be-bops in the door singing his new jelly song, and the instant he sees “the look“ on my face, he knows what’s about to happen. It shouldn’t be a big deal. It shouldn’t even be a deal. Why do I make it a deal?
He acknowledged on the phone last night that I haven’t done that in a long time. But there are still little cases-in-point from time to time. Not that our relationship is comPLETEly perfect, but it’s pretty dern close. And I can control one of the tiny little things that blemish it on a monthly-ish basis.
I look at him – Mr. Positive – and wonder how it is that he doesn’t even seem to ever have any expectations that those around him need to try to meet. And I realize that’s just it. He’s positive. I am much more of a Negative Nelly when put up next to HIM, and I’ve never had to see myself that way.
I need to let him rub off on me. Not only do I need to Let it Go, I need to not have IT to begin with. This one’s going to be tough. (I think I’ve said that about Acceptance, Boys, Confidence, and Diet. Guess it’s part of the theme too).
In about four minutes I’m resigning from my job. New chapter. I don’t even know WHAT to expect, so I’m going to look at that as a good thing. This might birth tomorrow’s topic. 🙂