My brain on music

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Anyone whose driven with me knows I have music ADD. I’m going to flip through my Spotify playlists randomly and manically, I’m going to listen to thirty seconds of one song and appear to be enjoying it before changing it to the next. It’s not necessarily true that I can’t find something I like, because it’s my music and I like it all! I’m waiting for, and hoping for, something to stick to me… to make me feel differently than I had a moment before it stuck to me.

And that is why music gets my vote as the coolest thing ever invented.. ever. Because on some days when you feel like you can’t feel, when you’re on autopilot and you don’t remember the last time you felt that tightening in your stomach they call excitement… the right song can make you feel alive again; especially if you sing along, LOUD.

Is music actually making an imprint on us as human beings; Physically, emotionally, mentally?

The answer to that is a resounding YES.

Music is born in and speaks to the most primal part of our brains. We know the beats in songs, the rise and fall of tempo, the expected and unexpected turns a certain song will take because it’s within each and every one of us. The beating of our hearts, the nervous tapping of fingers, breath cycling through our lungs. When trying to calm a crying baby, we bounce him up and down or make humming noises knowing these motions will soothe the baby. Knowing this because it’s what soothes us.

I’ve never felt so bipolar as when I’m listening to music for an extended period of time. In my thirty years on this Earth, I’ve had a lot of experiences. These experiences are all tied to a song or two, and when I hear that song I can be transported back within an instant. Back to my parents house when it was still my parents house and not the house we lived in after my father left. Watching my Dad work on the deck or plant flowers in the yard and listen to Billy Joel. Back to my high school hallways where I held hands with my first boyfriend and DMB played through the headphones we shared. Back to my first pregnancy where I sang Alicia Keyes to my unborn daughter, back to my second pregnancy where my son heard Adele nonstop.

These songs are stepping stones in my life, and have the power to bring me to my knees or lift me above the clouds. Nothing else, no one else, has that power over me. But since music is not perceived as a threat by my welcoming brain, I allow it to happen. My brain sees each chord, each key, each beautiful note as an old friend.

They didn’t have it wrong when the psychological and medical community stated it would be beneficial for young children to listen to music from a very young age. We know now that melody and language are processed in nearly identical brain regions. On top of all the evidence out there, children are naturally drawn to music from birth. Babies love to be sang to, toddlers are entranced by watching people sing or play instruments. There is something in us all that is innately drawn to music.

These artists have our number, though. There’s a little feeling of being manipulated when you listen to a song and feel that it’s being sung about you. How does John Legend know so much about my past relationship? Is my ex helping him right his songs?!

Nope. Even though you feel the lyrics are speaking directly to you, they are directed at the human experience. The inevitable heartbreaks and happinesses we all go through.

For me, Deep Inside of You by Third Eye Blind gets me every time. I feel like crying and I feel like being loved and I feel like having someone kiss me. I don’t think of anyone in particular, I just feel like the writer of the song intensely knew something about the human experience and every time I hear it I FEEL. I love to feel. Even if it’s crushed.

So play on. Flip through songs until you find one that sticks to you.

A true love story…

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I’m not a gusher…

I’m not someone who would ever say “my kids are my life”. I would never say anything was my sole reason for living. I am a multifaceted human being with many interests and motivations. 

But my kids are pretty awesome.

Nevaeh:

12 year old little ball of sass. This girl is a good foot shorter than every other girl in her class, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in mental capacity. I love her for so many reasons, but more importantly, I relate to her. I can’t regret that I had her when I was young because it strengthens me as a parent to a preteen girl. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was a ball of sass (and angst) and I remember all too well the constant roller coaster of emotions that I was on, and that I put everyone else on. 

She grounds me on a regular basis. More than anyone in my life, she knows how to call me on my bullshit and I can see myself through the eyes of someone who has nothing to gain from my fall from grace. I don’t think anyone could ever know the amount of love I have for her, the kind of love that goes beyond the normal unconditional kind a parent has for their child. For a long time it was just me and her, and I will always credit her for saving my life and giving me something to hold on to in a time when everything else was in flux. No matter how many times in the past twelve years I’ve wanted to drop everything and run without looking back, she kept me steady. 

A couple paragraphs could never do this beautiful human being justice. I am beyond proud of the kind hearted person she has already grown into, and it gives me so much anticipation to find out what she can achieve in her life. There are no boundaries or barriers, no glass ceilings or steel walls that she cannot knock down. And if she can’t, I will. 

 

Aidan:

When I found out I was pregnant again, I really wanted a girl. As you can see, I’ve had good luck with girls. Nev was such an amazing, intelligent baby, I wanted a repeat.

Boys are completely different, and he is completely lovable. No one in my life has ever made me feel more important than I feel when he reaches out to me with his chubby arms. At two and a half he has manipulated me more than any man ever has or ever will. I was always told that the relationship between a mother and her son was something that couldn’t be explained or replaced, and I am here to confirm this. 

I feel a lot of pressure… he is so important to me, and I to him. It’s up to me to teach him what it takes to really be a man. His father can teach him how to pee standing up, how to throw a football, how to tie a tie. I have to teach him how to make a girl feel beyond special (though I’m beginning to suspect he was born with that skill). I want him to know that it’s okay to be different, and to let others be the same. It’s my job to teach him to be gentle and sweet, to have a sense of humor in the face of trouble, how to be happy. He’s got a pretty awesome big sister to help him with that stuff, too.

He loves to snuggle and wrestle, most of the time simultaneously. He is a monster, and I can never remain angry with him for more than 12 seconds. 

He’s got a head of curls that Shirley Temple would have envied. And although he is often mistaken for a little girl, I can’t bring myself to cut it. If God plucked his most beautiful cherub off the harps, that would be Aidan. Every morning when I hear him wake up and I go into his room his face lights up and he says, “I love you, Mama”. I grab his rosy, chubby cheeks and I kiss him right on his lips. These moments are the most precious, these moments I see when I close my eyes.

A true love story. Two flawed, cherished, amazing creatures that are here on this Earth because of me. They share my imperfections, and seeing my own faults in such innocence allows me to go easier on myself.

They depend on me, but I depend on them even more. ImageImage

23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23

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Wander Onwards

Marriage

As 2013 wraps up, I’ve been noticing more and more people getting engaged and/or married under the age of 23.

I get it.

It’s cold outside… you want to cuddle and talk about your feelings… life after graduation is a tough transition… so why not just cut to the chase and get married, right?  It’s hip. It’s cool. You get to wear clothing that wouldn’t normally be socially acceptable at the dive bar you frequent with the $5 beers.  Eff it. YOLO. YOMO! You only marry once…

Oh wait.

The divorce rate for young couples is more than twice the national average. Divorce is no longer a staple in a midlife crisis, but rather, something that SEVENTEEN Magazine should probably be printing on. Headlines could read,

“How to budget for your prom AND your wedding in the same year!”

“What’s HOT: Kids raising Kids.”

“Why your Mom doesn’t really…

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Now we’re disappointing ourselves…

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As I find myself five days into 2014, I am truly patting myself on the back for once again, NOT making a New Years resolution. I am well aware that the ringing in of a new year is very symbolic for most people. They see it as a way to wipe the past clean and start fresh with a clean slate. The fact that it is not possible to “leave your past behind you” doesn’t occur to most people, or if it does it’s not something they will be soon to accept. 

Furthermore, why do you want to be someone brand new over night? Is it not true that we learn and grow from our past experiences, whether they be mistakes or not? I live with a strict “no regrets” policy. Life hasn’t been a series of correct and sound decisions, but the decisions I made that were really, really bad… well, they helped me grow. Why in the world would I ever want to wipe that slate clean?

The fact is, from a very young age we are constantly being disappointing to others. Our parents, our teachers, our friends and significant others, our bosses… I know you know, this list goes on. I refuse to add myself to that list. 

There are going to be improvements we should make to ourselves and our lives, and we should recognize them. It’s up to our own inner compass to know how hard and how soft of a judge to be. Changing over night is a lot of pressure, though! New Years Eve, here I am, a flawed human being. New Years Day finds me a new and improved version of my prior self. No transition, no wiggle room. 

I’ll pass. 

So here is a quick list of things you should not give a shit about.

1. Being a couple pounds overweight. Truly this may sound so corny, but loving yourself is first and foremost. If you’ve been working out hard and you want to treat yourself to a candy bar, don’t let someone thinner or better in shape make you feel wrong for wanting it. Life is short, savor that candy bar. It could be your last.

2. Being a bad parent. We are all bad parents, and our parents were terrible, too. We work too much, we sleep too little, and the guilt we pile on ourselves doesn’t lighten the load. But they are going to be OKAY! They are going to be self sufficient creatures who don’t need their mommy’s to make them a grilled cheese. We are the generation that are raising little boys who know how to do laundry and little girls who know how to change a tire. As long as they know you love them, completely and unconditionally, they will be fine.

3. Being too weak… or too strong. This is who you are, and unless it’s severely not working out for you, leave it be. In my case, I’ve been told I have a strong personality and there are those who would like me to feel wrong for this. I know in my heart I mean well, and I know that I’m a good person. When I am wrong, I apologize. As much as I would like to change and be someone who is more diplomatic, more behind the scenes… I won’t finish that sentence. I wouldn’t like that, I’m happy. We should all be happier with who we are.

4. Having vices. I have so many, trying to pick them off one by one would probably take a lifetime. I’m not talking heavy addiction here. Sometimes I like a cigarette, a lot of the time I like to sit in front of a riveting episode of The Good Wife and eat an entire bag of Ghiradelli Sea Salt and Almond Chocolate Bars. I scream violently at other drivers on the road, sometimes I make angry fist motions at them when I drive by only to feel bad that they are elderly. I could drink 25 cups of coffee a day, and not just any coffee. The Starbucks latte kind that contain 450 calories in one beautiful paper cup. My caffeine habit could feed a medium sized African country. Without fail when I walk into a shoe store, my pulse speeds up and I feel like anything in the world is possible! In moderation, or in excess, these things make me really happy. In a sometimes mundane world you need a little thing here and there to look forward to. Don’t take it away from yourself.

This list is not exclusive to me, but it is also not exclusive to you. Make your own. Forgive yourself, be easy on yourself. You are not disappointing. 

Have an amazing 2014. Image