Ramblings from an overly imaginative mind…

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Lucid Dreaming

I close my eyes and I see nothing but black. Then, little by little, I see a small sliver of light creeping across the foreground of my visual field. I look into the light and see my grandmother, but more like I see her spirit. Her physical body is distinctly different from when I last saw her lying in her casket last April. She is all-consuming light and ethereal. It seems as if she suddenly appears out of the nothingness. She is smiling and a low glow emanates from her every pore. She visits me and without saying the words lets me know that she is happy, although the word happy does not do justice to the feelings I pick up from her. In this “dream world” there is no need for words. We can speak directly to each other’s souls. She still has silvery white hair, but there is a youthfulness to her face that I never knew. She is peace personified. She is lovely in all ways that the word can possibly convey.

She comes up to me and suddenly I am mute. I can’t speak. I want to ask her so many questions, but the sheer beauty of her soul is ever-consuming my mind. I just want to bask in the feelings that are exuding from her. It’s like floating in water without any regard for sound or feeling but a hundred thousand times better. In that moment I am overwhelmed with happiness in getting to see her but I’m also filled with sadness because she is no longer here on Earth.

Before I can put two thoughts together she begins to show me how she sees me. It is like looking in the mirror, but I hardly recognize myself. The person staring back at me is beautiful. There is a spark in my eyes that I haven’t seen in a long time. What ever happened to the light within me? What caused me to lose that spark? I don’t notice the difference until I see myself. I look up and she is closer to me. Love is bubbling over as she looks at me. It is at that moment I ask her a question. “What am I going to do? I am a 40-year-old single mother with three boys?” The only words that she says to me in the entire interaction are five words. “Stay away from French men.,” she warns. She turns as if she is going to leave. “Wait!” I say. Before I can even think about what she has said, she turns around and smiles again looking behind me. I look behind me and suddenly see that there is a man who seemingly appears from nowhere. I can’t see him clearly because I don’t want to stop looking at her. I’m afraid she will leave so I only see him in my peripheral vision. He has dark hair and blue eyes. He is looking at me with unconditional love. I’m taken aback by the intensity. When he looks at me I feel vulnerable as if he can see straight to my soul. It doesn’t scare me. I feel a complete and unconditional love emanating from him to me.

She smiles at me one more time and also at the man behind me as if she approves of him or maybe she has sent him to me, I don’t know. Then she fades away and she is gone, but I don’t feel empty. There is someone else with me who loves me just as I am. I “wake” up feeling forlorn but happy that I got to see her again, if only in my dreams……

My next thought is wondering what she meant about my staying away from French men and then like a light bulb switching on it makes perfect sense. My husband is from French descent. My grandmother, when she was alive,  knew about some of the problems that my husband and I have had over the years. She never said anything outright negative about him while she was alive, but I knew how she felt about him. She and I had a special connection. She didn’t have to say the words. I just knew……..

So the eternal question is, did I have a dream? was my subconscious trying to work something out during sleep and dreaming about my grandmother was simply subjective to what my mind has been trying to tell me? or…..did she visit me during sleep? Furthermore, who was the guy standing behind me? Why was he behind me? I don’t know but it doesn’t feel like a typical dream. I can remember all the details as if I really experienced it. It’s also very interesting that I spoke to her of being a single mother when in fact I am married and have been for 20 years. I suppose that maybe this “dream” will make sense at some later point in my life or then again, maybe it will always remain as a highly lucid dream……….. whatever it means – it was wonderful seeing her again, if only in my dreams.

The Gods Will Always Smile On the Brave Women

In last night’s History Channel’s Vikings episode, Blood Eagle, Siggy visits the seer explaining that she wants her power and position back. She has become heavy with bitterness and hatred towards Ragnar Lothbrok, her dead husband’s killer and now subsequent Earl of Kattegat. The seer tells her that “the gods will always smile on the brave women.”  Siggy mistakenly took his words to mean that she should continue on her quest to regain everything that she once had by whatever means necessary. She is not inherently brave so she didn’t understand the seer’s words, to her ultimate detriment. I think Rollo will finally rid himself of the albatross hanging around his neck, Siggy, once he discovers her latest treachery.

Siggy has proven time and again to be a conniving, deceitful bitch. Her only resolve in life is to watch Ragnar Lothbrok fall. She has orchestrated lies, deceit and has plotted brother against brother for several years. Although Rollo clearly does not love her I believe that he, at the very least, feels affection for her. Siggy has proven to put on a good act to get what she wants. In the first season when Lagertha loses her unborn child I can’t help but think that Siggy had something to do with it. In this week’s episode, Blood Eagle, she proved just how far she is willing to go to get what she wants. I don’t believe that she is capable of loving anyone but herself. To sleep with King Horrik’s son proved that she has no principles and is of weak character.

Lagertha, on the other hand, has the strength of character to rival any man . What agony that must have been for Rollo to know that he could never have had Lagertha’s love and devotion for him as she has for his brother, Ragnar. In the first season of Vikings, Rollo expressed his feelings towards Lagertha in the way that only Rollo could do. He was very direct in letting her know of his desire for her. I don’t know if it’s just me, but for the merest of seconds it looked like Lagertha relished the thought. She didn’t come right out and rebuff instantly at first. Maybe she allowed herself to “remember” him in that way, but then the moment passed and she let him know in no uncertain terms to back off. He seemed to have great respect for her. I think Rollo recognizes that only someone like Lagertha could ever hold claim to his heart.

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Also in this week’s episode, Blood Eagle, I think that Rollo finally figured out what a “ho” Siggy has been all along. It will be interesting to see where she ends up in the next episode. I was so glad to see that Lagertha finally enacted revenge on her abusive, alcoholic husband Sigvard. I knew from reading about Lagertha in history that she would eventually kill him. I was eagerly anticipating how his demise would come about. I knew, however, that when she left Bjorn with his father Ragnar that no good could come from her going back to Sigvard. He had beaten her before. As every woman knows, ‘if he hits you once, he’ll hit you again.” One can only imagine how desperate Lagertha must have felt to have ended up with someone like Sigvard anyway. How on earth did he convince her to marry him in the first place? It was very apparent in this week’s episode, Blood Eagle, when Sigvard announces in front of everyone that Lagertha will be sleeping by herself, he has made other plans. He was clearly the culprit behind his wife’s attack. What a coward! I don’t understand why Lagertha felt she had to go back to him in the first place. Yes, she explained to Ragnar that she had responsibilities to her husband Sigvard, but her heart was clearly not in it. Lagertha is a very proud woman and in this week’s episode her pride was her own downfall.

It is apparent that Lagertha still loves Ragnar, but what’s a woman to do when her husband won’t put aside the other woman? Albeit, the other woman, Princess Aslaug, has given Ragnar the sons that he so craved. In the first season of Vikings, Ragnar appeared to be the kind of man who held his family in the highest regard. Family meant everything to him. He already had a farm and a beautiful family but it wasn’t enough for him. He wanted more. I suppose his greatest sin would be greed. He couldn’t settle for what abundance he already had and throughout his choices he almost lost it all. He did lose Lagertha. He lost his son Bjorn for a few years. He lost his original farm and in this season his lost his Earldom for a brief time to Jarl Borg. In last season’s episodes Ragnar really looked like he was the “better” brother, but with each passing episode Rollo looked better and better to me. It took Rollo a while to figure out what kind of man that he wanted to be. Often times it takes something tragic to happen before one finds their true destiny.

I can’t help but wonder if there was something more between Lagertha and Rollo before the first episode of the first season. For instance, why was Ragnar so obsessed with having sons? He already had a son, Bjorn. Or did he? Was Bjorn only Lagertha’s son? If so, who was Bjorn’s father? Could he have been Rollo’s son?

I can’t wait for next week’s episode. There are only four episodes left in the season. At some point Rollo will leave and go on to become the first Duke of Normandy,(according to the history books). I wonder how that event will enfold in the series. Will Lagertha go back to Ragnar and Bjorn? What about Princess Aslaug? It seems that all she has ever done is complain. Ragnar must concede to his current wife’s demands if he wants her to keep popping out sons – the sons he MUST have! Will Siggy leave with King Horrik and become his whore by marriage? Will Bjorn keep the servant girl for himself? What will happen to Jarl Borg? Will Ragnar really give him a “blood eagle?” Finally, let’s not forget Athelstan. He seems to be having some kind of mental breakdown. I wonder if he’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Will he and Ragnar ever meet back up? Furthermore, I think King Ecbert has more up his sleeve for Athelstan other than just simply using him to translate some old documents. Then again, maybe not.

I AM sure of one thing about this show – it seems that those who have risen to great power are more than just a bit nuts; such as Jarl Borg and the skeletal head of his dead wife that he carries around with him everywhere. King Ecbert and his Roman bath. What else does he do in that big bathtub and with whom? King Horrik and his crazy antics? Remember when they went to Uppsala? I don’t understand one of the scenes of the episode, Sacrifice. After a night of orgiastic revelry and some psychedic mushroom consumption everyone finally passes out including the priests. The next morning King Horrik carries a chicken into the sanctuary and throws the flapping and squawking into the hall where the priests have fell asleep. What was that all about? Ragnar and his need for MORE, MORE, MORE….Rollo seemingly wanting only to step out of the shadow of his big brother Ragnar. Rollo seems to really enjoy violence. As much as Ragnar wants to be famous and pass around his prodigious seed to any and all who would carry a precious son for him, Rollo relishes  violence and battle. He has alot of pent-up anger and frustration. He often takes it out on the slave women. However, I don’t think he enjoys that as much as slicing open someone’s skull with that huge ax of his.

Maybe that’s why I love this show so much. I can totally relate to all the characters. All of them have some sort of flaw. Some larger than others. Some of them are downright batshit crazy! However I must confess: Rollo has been my favorite character since the very beginning. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ragnar is hot, but the level of someone’s “hotness” is not always indicative of their true character. For some strange reason of my own, I don’t trust a man who smiles all the time like Ragnar Lothbrok. It’s as if he’s always scheming and planning behind that enigmatic smile. Rollo is just simply Rollo. He’s not hard to figure out. He is what he is. Even through his brutality there is an honesty about who he is. I keep looking for some redeeming quality in him. I thought it was interesting in this week’s episode, Blood Eagle, where he stops one of Ragnar’s men from harming Jarl Borg’s wife while the others are beating up Jarl Borg. “It’s not necessary,” he quietly says. That deadly stare stops the guy from doing any harm to her. Rollo is definitely enjoying watching Jarl Borg get the shit beat out of him. Will he claim Jarl Borg’s wife for his own in the remaining episodes? He also questions Jarl Borg’s fairness to his wife while Borg is stroking and kissing his dead wife’s skull earlier in the episode. There again, Rollo definitely has a penchant for violence, but what woman during that time wouldn’t want a man who could be as vicious as Rollo? The world was not a peaceful place at the time of this story. Yes, survival was contingent upon the adaptability of change, but it was also a time of survival of the fittest.

 

To Thine Own Self Be True……….Let Your Light Shine!

Why has it taken me half of my lifetime to realize who I really am, what makes me happy and what I want to do with the rest of my life? You know what the bitch of it all is? I KNEW years ago the answers to these questions. I KNEW……….but I didn’t trust the answers. I didn’t trust that my 20-year-old mind could possibly understand the seemingly complex answer to the eternal question, “who am I.” Why did I have to take something so dirt simple and turn into a monstrous mud pie? Was it really necessary to slip and slide through the muck of confusion and indecision? Apparently so. I’ve always been a person who has had to learn everything the hard way. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just too stubborn for my own good. So what the crap am I talking about, you might ask?

Here it is – I’m going to say these few words OUT LOUD, so to speak. I am a Musician and Artist. There, I said it. Saying the musician part is easy for me. I have been playing music since around the age of four. It’s a part of my identity. It’s who I am. The artist part still feels foreign to my own ears. Why? I don’t know. Lack of self-confidence? Uhhh….yeah. A big ‘ole HELL YEAH! It’s like I’ve come full circle and I didn’t need to. I could have just continued on in the same direction, in a straight line, instead going in zig-zags throughout my life. If only………..So why am I saying all this to myself and especially to you? If you get nothing else from this long, drawn out tirade, please know this….trust yourself. TRUST YOURSELF. Trust that still small voice….trust your heart. Trust your intuition.

What do you daydream about? What is it that gets your heart racing with excitement? What soothes you? What calms you? What feels “right?” If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one thing you could not live without? What is it that makes you forget everything and everyone in the world for hours on end and when you next look up you realize several hours have passed and you never even realized it? What gets your blood boiling, ( in a good way)? What keeps you up at night? What do you secretly dream about doing, but you are too afraid of rejection? Whatever that “something” is, DO IT. Even though you are afraid or you think that now is not the right time, DO IT. Work towards doing the “thing” that scares you the most. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of failure or are you afraid of success? Don’t wait around until everything falls perfectly in place because it never will. Don’t wait until you have everyone’s approval and blessing. You will never make everyone happy with your decisions. The only person that you should worry about making happy is you. If you are not happy and are only trudging along in life in a state of existence you are denying yourself of happiness and contentment. How would you react to someone who went around telling you that you were stupid all day? How would you feel if someone followed you everywhere you went throughout every day of life telling you that you are not worthy enough to have what makes you happy? What if every time you began to allow hope to swell within your heart someone came along and told you that you were crazy and you will never amount to anything? You would want to hit  them, right? You would want to tell them to go away from you? You would be really angry, right? If you wouldn’t allow others to talk or treat you in that way then why do you let the voices inside your head say those things to you all the time? Why do defeat yourself before your idea has even fully manifested as a simple statement of declaration?

I think that if each one of us were to embrace ourselves just as we are, shout it from the rooftops what our innate talents and skills are and walk around in a state of bliss all day long everyday dreaming up ways to let our light shine…….how much easier would it be to get through each day? What if we stopped judging others? When we judge others aren’t we just simply recognizing our own shortcomings within that person? Instead of trying to fix others’ flaws as a reflection of our external selves, what if we were to look internally first and repair the broken parts within? I suppose that is the eternal question. How do when reconcile the inner and outer most parts of ourselves to create a happy and healthy whole? That is a question that you alone can only answer.

Let your light shine! Peace and Love! May you find it, embrace it and spread it around!

 

 

 

 

One Day………

What if today was the last day of your life? What if in the next 12 hours your heart stopped beating and your brain waves ceased  upon this current plane of existence? How would you live your last day on Earth differently? Or would you? Would you remain unbelieving? What if each of us lived every day like it was our last? How different would our lives look, feel and sound? 

The truth of the matter is that each of us are dying every day. Every 24 hours that passes we are one step closer to death. With each morning we wake up and find ourselves still breathing we begin to become complacent, accepting our lives as they have always been. We get used to the status quo and we don’t find the motivation to do anything about the necessary changes to having a better life. I am speaking from experience. I have been complacent for far too many years, taking life for granted every day as if I have all the time in the world to do any of the things that I most want to do. I have put off following my dreams for so many years that I can hardly recall what they were. The simplest of daily decisions are beyond my grasp. I don’t even recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. Who is that? Why does she look so forlorn? Furthermore, why has she given up?

The answer is simple, really. When  constantly bombarded with obstacles I soon grow lethargic and hopeless. I grow tired of the daily grind. When things are too hard to push through and I don’t  feel like I have a good support system I find myself falling back each time I start to stand. After a while, I no longer have the willpower to stand. I feel as if everything is my fault. He raised his voice to me and called me names…..it’s my fault. He bullied me into to complying with his wishes………it’s my fault. He no longer extends any kindness towards me………it’s my fault. The internal dialogue is my worst affliction. When did I ever begin to accept those words as my own? Why have I allowed myself to be treated so badly at times? Why do I continue to listen to the lies as they flow seamlessly from his vile lips? Why can’t I accept the truth that I am worthy? I deserve to be treated better? Why do I ignore the thinly veiled threats covered by, “oh, I was just joking….you misunderstood me, like you always do.” When does the switch of intolerance spark into life? The glow of its allure is growing. I anticipate its debut. One day I’m going to snap. One day I’m going to fight back and it’s going to be ugly. One day there will be no room for forgiveness in my heart. There will be no more room for his lies. There will be no more pity for his mental health conditions. One day I will run screaming from this house and I will never look back. One day I will be free. One day I will find myself again. One day I will find authentic happiness and it will stare back at me in the mirror with a satisfied look. One day I will be content to live alone in peace and harmony. If only one day was today……..

Southern by the Grace of God

For y’all that don’t know, I am from the south. I am Southern through and through. It is something that I must admit, I was ashamed of most of my childhood. You see, I have relatives spread out all over the country. Some of them live “up north.” One year when I was around 11 years old, my mother decided she wanted to visit her brother who lived in Ohio. He had moved up there many years before and his kids had been raised there. They, of course, knew about their southern family ties, but nevertheless, they proceeded to mock me the entire week of our visit. “Do you wear shoes to school?” they’d ask with a smirk on their faces. “Why do you talk so funny?” On and on and on until I was about ready to slap those nasty grins right off their faces. I had had enough. So one day after I had been picked on several times about whether I wore shoes all the time or not, I explained that I would gladly open up a can of southern fried whoop ass on them and kindly plant my shoes up where the sun don’t shine. For some strange reason, they thought it was funny….maybe it was my accent, I don’t know, but for years after that I really tried to pronounce my words correctly and thus began several years of trying to be somebody that I was not.

Nowadays I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about me. I wish I had felt comfortable enough in my own shoes, (pardon the pun),  back then but hindsight is 20/20, right?

The only thing that bothers me now is I’m finding it hard to write my thoughts using the correct sentence structuring. Sometimes I have to read and re-read what I’ve written to make sure that I have communicated what I’m really trying to say. Those of us who were born and raised in the South quite frequently leave out words. We talk a little slower than the Yankees “up-north” but that is just because we’re still thinking about how to say something nice in spite of however stupid something seems to us. We are nice – at all times, even when we are mad. For instance, the phrase, “well… bless your heart” sounds like a term of endearment, but actually it means, “well….aren’t you a special kind of stupid.”

Now some of you might confuse a southern hillbilly with a redneck. They are not the same. Let me repeat, they are NOT the same thing. A southern hillbilly is simply someone who has been blessed by the grace of God to have been born in the South. A redneck is someone who is usually quite stupid and proud of it. “You might be a redneck if…….” usually follows some outlandish and often ridiculous statement of pride while commencing to acting out some bat-shit crazy stunt that will often end up in the hospital, if not killed – “deader than a hammer.”

Now I know what some of you might be thinking as you are reading this….that we southern hillbillies are dumb because we talk funny. A Southern accent does not equal ignorance. Although, I must admit I’ve met many and maybe even dated a few who were “dumber than a box of rocks.”

However, I am inclined to point out that if any of you ever plan to visit the beautiful mountainous regions of the south – you better be on your best behavior. Most of us are packing, and I mean packing with a capital P. We don’t take kindly to strangers. Oh, we’re nice and all that hospitable shit, but at the same time we expect “outsiders” to have manners and use them well when out and about amongst our family and friends. We all stick together. There might be two people who have grown up together and fought like cats and dogs their whole lives, but as soon as some “outsider” causes some injury against one of our own, we all stick together and open up a can of Southern Fried Whoop Ass on whatever poor soul who had the misfortune to misjudge our friendliness with ignorance. Yes, there are many who are a few bricks shy of a full load, I must admit, but now as I am much older than my former 11-year-old self who was mocked by family “back in the day,” I am finally proud to say that I’m Southern by the Grace of God, through and through.

‘Bye y’all for now!

Excerpt

The following is a rough draft excerpt of what I am currently working on. This is a historical romance set in the late 1700′s near New Orleans, Louisiana

 Soft beams of moonlight caressed the lying form of Veronique Dubois through the open window of her bedchamber. Sleep eluded her as she tried to rest her swirling thoughts and let the sweet tendrils of unconsciousness pull her into the serenity of dreams. Dreams that wouldn’t come… dreams that had long ceased to bring calm and comfort. Dark, thick clouds rolled in across the lush fields of cotton and sugar cane bringing a tempest. Angry streaks of lightning flashed in random. The air hung with a thickness of heat and humidity. A small stream of sweat trickled between her soft breasts and the small of her back, her white sheer sleeping gown sticking to her steaming skin. The fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle permeated the air bringing with it a memory of another kind of scent that was so similar to the aroma of honeysuckle. Inevitably, the night’s impending storm brought flashes of memory that she fervently wished she could forget. But how could she ever forget the sensuous feelings of womanhood that he had awoke within her? He, who must surely be the devil incarnate, had stolen her soul. From the first moment she laid eyes upon him he had captivated her. The pull of his stare had been as electrifying as the night sky this night. There was something not of this world about him that lured her… it made her burn for his touch. Although she had never been touched in that way before it awakened feelings that she did not understand or know existed until him. It was an urge so strong that it frightened her yet elicited feelings that she surely knew to be sinful that even a lifetime of penance would not redeem her. She had been like a woman possessed at the feel of his touch. An earthiness had sprung from within her that surpassed all feelings she had ever felt for anyone before. She lay in deep repose, missing his touch, yet hating him for the otherworldly pull of desire for him. She was no man’s property. She would not be treated as chattel. She was a woman of independent means. She was from a long lineage of kings and French royalty. She would submit to no man upon this Earth. But to her shame and dismay, she had submitted to him, wholeheartedly, body and soul.

Lost in thought, twisting and turning, trying to find comfort in the very large, very empty bed, tears of frustration threatened to erupt from cerulean pools of blue. Her long dark lashes lay softly upon the highness of her cheekbones, evidence of Creole running through her veins. The heavy air gradually changed to a thick stillness. A pregnant silence fell upon the land right before hard, pounding raindrops fell from the dark sky. It was then she felt a presence in the room. Flashes of lightning illuminated the dark recesses and she saw the outline of a man for the briefest of seconds at the window. Her heart began to pound in staccato rhythm with the rumbling thunder, her breath held, a scream stuck in her closing throat. Frozen with fear, she lay stuck to the sticky sheets, waiting…and then it came again, another streak of lightning showed him to be standing at the foot of the bed. A scream of fright escaped her trembling lips, but the booming claps of thunder buffeted the sound. She just knew it was Satan coming to take her soul to hell on this darkest of nights for all the nights of pagan lust she had surrendered to him. His seemingly calm stare belied a simmering heat of anger. It rolled off of him and straight to her heart, stabbing her with a mixture of fear, anger and a desire that surpassed all understanding. His dark hair hung just below his shoulders in thick braids, pulled back by a black leather thong. His stance was one of command that no man in his right mind would ever refuse. No man, woman or child, except her. She had defied him from the very beginning he had laid eyes upon her. Her beauty had mesmerized him just as he was sure every other man alive had, but it was more than that. He had tupped many a young lass in his 26 years, many who had even more lush curves than her and were definitely less vexing, yet it was as if his soul recognized the other half that he had been yearning for since he left the bedside of his dying mother back in Scotland.

Liam MacLeod’s first thoughts as he saw her lying form was of instant lust. Every part of him became alert with a throbbing desire, his heart most affected by her constant denial of him. His first instinct was to strip off his clothes and take her in the softness of the large bed. She would not deny him, even if he had to make her submit to him. He knew deep down that although she would fight him and hate him afterwards, he would surely give her as much pleasure as he knew she would give him, but she would hate him all the more for it. She was such an enigma, possessing both demure inhibitions yet reluctantly, a hearty dose of yearning and want. It was as if she fought herself as much as she fought him. She stubbornly defied him at every turn, struggling with her own sense of what is right and wrong. Her mind telling her to rebuke him, but her body and heart screaming for release. He stealthily approached the bed, his stride purposeful and direct. He would brook all argument from her sultry lips and take what was his. She was his and his alone, whether she liked it or not. She became his on a night very much like this one many moons past. He saw the fear in her eyes at first and then a defiance that would rival any man’s. Without a sound, he ripped the sheet from her, gazing at her perfect form, and momentarily forgot why he was there. Lightning flashed, thunder roared bringing him back to his senses. He reached down, covering her mouth with his hand, none too gently, and heaved her across his rough-hewed shoulder. Through the tempest of the night’s storm he carried her to his awaiting ship. The crew, waiting for his approach, began preparing the rowboat that would take them to his ship further out to sea. His first mate, Connor, would be waiting aboard the ship for further instructions, the captain’s chambers already prepared for the master and his woman. Into the night, a windswept passion of hate and longing, defiance and submission, this dark, dank night, two souls yearning for the other would find love’s waiting embrace.

Wavin’ My Freak Flag Higher

I’ve talked about following my bliss, finding my true north, living my purpose…..blah, blah, blah ad nauseam on here. Here’s the truth of the matter. I was a piano and violin instructor for about 20 years. I gave private lessons to students of all ages. I was a teacher, mentor, counselor, babysitter, telemarketer, desktop publisher, collections agent and then a musician. The part that I actually enjoyed, playing music, was what I did the least amount of time. If I hadn’t enjoyed music as much as I did I would have given up long before I actually did.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I think I learned to sing and talk at the same time. Give my four-year-old self a microphone and I became like Dolly Parton performing on stage. I loved to sing as a little girl and I really did get up in front of people and sing with a complete band ensemble accompanying me. Of course, that wasn’t too hard to do considering that I grew up in a musical family. Soon after my singing debut at the tender age of four I discovered the piano and instantly fell in love. All the pretty keys in contrasting black and white seemed magical like star dust to me. The sound was mesmerizing and watching fingers as they glided across those glorious keys was hypnotizing. It’s like the piano was calling my name saying, “come play me, you’ll never regret it.” My Dad noticed my inclination and he became excited about my burgeoning talent. I suppose I must have impressed him with my bravado. I hadn’t yet learned to care about what others thought of me. He bought me a keyboard and found me a piano teacher.

My first piano teacher was actually one of my much older cousins. She was quite scary to my four-year-old mind. Her house smelled funny and she had an immense temper. It was a common occurrence to sit at the piano playing and all of a sudden she would shout something at either her husband or at one of her sons and scare me to death. She also smoked cigarettes non-stop during my hour-long lesson every week.  I must have smelled like I’d been playing at a bar when I left her house. Alas, the lessons didn’t last long, thank God. After a few short weeks she told my Dad that my hands were too small and she doubted that I would ever learn to play. For some reason, my parents told me what she said and those words laid dormant in my mind for a few years until sometime after puberty hit and my rebellious nature reared its ugly head I decided that I had to prove her wrong. Always being one that could never back down from a challenge, I took piano lessons again around the age of 12 and quickly soaked up everything I could learn about it like a sponge.

Throughout my childhood I learned to play several musical instruments, but the piano was my first love. By the time I was 15 years old I began teaching beginners how to play the piano. I started giving lessons in the basement of my parent’s home. My Dad had set up an amateur recording studio down there and the room was full of instruments, microphones and recording equipment. My Dad had been recording me since I was four years old. My childhood was normal to me and I didn’t realize how different, and fortunate, I was until much later in life. Our family discussions revolved around music. We would sometimes argue over chord progressions and when we weren’t playing music we were listening to it. I grew up in an environment where I was completely immersed in music. I went to bed thinking about it and sometimes I woke up in the middle of night with a new composition in my mind. I wrote many songs during that time.

Ironically, I didn’t go to college to further study music. I taught others to play what I knew. My experiences were of a practical, hands-on approach. I had learned to play with several instruments in a band setting. While other music teachers were teaching a particular section of Beethoven’s Fifth, I was teaching chord patterns and the number system. I played with my students and recorded them often. Most of them loved me. Some of them didn’t like my style of teaching, but all of them left an indelible print upon my growth as a musician and my heart as a teacher.

My violin/fiddle instructor encouraged me to begin teaching others play the violin/fiddle when I was about 20. He entrusted me to teach his students when he became so ill that he couldn’t teach anymore. He was among only a handful of people who were pivotal in my life in the pursuit of finding my purpose. It seemed that everything was falling into place and my dreams of becoming a well-known musician and composer would come to fruition. All I ever wanted to do with my life was to do something in music. I felt that I was born to play and share that love with everyone around me. I couldn’t believe that people actually paid me to do something that I loved doing. I almost felt guilty for taking their money for lessons.

Fast-forward a few years and I had begun feeling the beginnings of burnout. At best, I got paid on time for providing music lessons. At worst, I felt like a glorified babysitter and then to make matters worse, I sometimes had to chase people down to pay me for the month. I had worked for myself for many years teaching from a local music store and also from my home studio. I looked around and saw that my fellow classmates from years before had well-paying jobs, fine homes and nice cars. That was my first mistake. I compared my life to theirs. I thought they were in much better shape than me with their steady paychecks and yearly vacations. Having a 401K and retirement began to entice me. Climbing the corporate ladder looked interesting. Having a “real” job became my new goal. I was tired of everyone thinking I had a pseudo-job/hobby. I was sick of having to explain my self-employment status every time we tried to obtain a car loan. I was sick of living a non-conventional life and feeling like an outsider, a freak, an anomaly.

I decided to leave the music teaching business and began researching what I could do as a new career. I ended up picking something that I only have a nominal interest  in and mediocre skill. I went into the business side of healthcare. I quickly became disheartened by the focus being on money rather than the patient’s health. So for the last three years or so I have been very unhappy comparing my current profession to my last one. There are some obvious benefits such as having a steady paycheck, but the daily stress of working in an environment that it is not conducive to my inherent talents has been devastating to my well-being. In retrospect, I’ve had to reevaluate what I am most able to put up with versus what I do for a living. The lesson to be learned is this: it took 20 years teaching music before I became burned out, but less than five years in healthcare before I began daydreaming about my previous job. Even the worst days of teaching music was better than the best days working in healthcare. I’ve learned and I’ve grown and hopefully become wiser in the process. I no longer care what others think of me and I no longer compare myself to others. I’ve discovered that the most important things in life are the things that no amount of money can buy. Today, I embrace my “freakish” nature and am finally bold enough to say that my “normal” is just that – MY normal. As the great Mr. Hendrix once said, “I’m gonna wave my freak flag higher…..wave on, wave on…”

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