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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cracks, Ruts and Grooves/Be Sad!

Today is Tuesday and I'm back in a groove of sorts. Grooves, ruts and cracks is what I'll talk about today.  Tonight I'm going to a master class my friend Natalija is teaching at the Bloom School of Jazz. She is an accomplished actress and director and the objective of the class is to teach acting to singers. It's not enough to sing beautifully! You've also got to put the song "over" and connect with your audience! This, to me, is a dastardly hard thing to do - I'm not good at it! Wanna be though. For those of you who know how outgoing I am, it will come as a shock to know, when I'm on stage, I actually feel very shy and I have trouble making eye contact. My friend Judy, on the other hand, draws the audience in, singling them out by name, playing around with the lyrics and writing audience members into the song (instead of archaic words like "and Franklin Roosevelt's looks give me a thrill" she'll use the name of some cute old codger in the audience). The really good singers reach out to the audience, almost literally, and invite them to crawl up their arms and into their heart. It's not just about watching a singer with talent, it's an intimacy thing . If the singer is good, you feel like someone has seen your soul and gets you (kind of like the song with the lyric, "strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song"). I want to be able to do that. Natalija is in town because she's directing Spider's one woman show, Roar of the Butterfly. We're all hoping she moves back to Chicago to be closer to family - and us!

Just had lunch with former employee and dear friend, Anna. These days she is a hero, spending every single night at her mother's bedside, providing a level of care that, sad to say, patients don't get when left to staff in an institution. Years ago, her mother suffered massive strokes and was in a coma for a time. The family struggled with the decision to pull or not pull the plug while the doctors counseled an end of life solution. To the doctors' surprise, Anna's mom came out of the coma and regained much of her faculties. When asked if she wanted a DNR should something happen again, she said "no." The woman wants to live even though she is bedridden and can barely communicate. Through it all, Anna has been the most devoted of daughters. For years now, she spends every night babysitting her mother in a facility - there is no end in sight - the mother could linger this way for many more years. I am in awe of Anna's dedication. It would be so easy for her to just live her own life with her lawyer husband and two darling busy daughters and leave the mom's care exclusively to the professionals. Recently she said to me, "She is a good mother. If our roles were reversed, she wouldn't leave my bedside either." Neither of Anna's two siblings have stepped up - one moved away to Singapore to be free of the responsibility. The other sib, a son, is MIA when it's time to make a contribution. As I said, these days, Anna is my hero - she is a "walk walker".

And these days, Sarah is walking her own walk. Some days like today, it's just putting one foot in front of the other, just going through the motions. Do you have days like that when it's a struggle just to show up? It's times like this we need the container we've built around ourselves to "hold" us. For me, the commitment to exercise, diet, getting enough sleep, not drinking, not being a couch potato, scheduling something creative or fun for most every night of the week, making daily human connections - these things are the healthy cocoon that embraces and sustains me even when I find it hard to muster enthusiasm for life. These days there are too many cracks. I'm living in the cracks of life, waiting for some things to end and others to begin. And then there are the scarier ruts - the unhealthy deep tire tracks of habit that risk holding us captive to fearful, negative, sad thinking. Cracks are edgy places to dwell, anxiety producing but promise-filled . Deep ruts, on the other hand, are paralyzing - they threaten to keep us captive forever in the cracks - to keep us always at an arm's length from our dreams. Think of the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz. We gotta break free of the ruts so we can get to the other side of the cracks.

And then there are the grooves. That's when things fall into place, gods smile on you, lady luck kisses you. The groove times are the best times. It's when you're on top of your game, you feel unstoppable, omnipotent, goodwill for others gushes out of you - abundance. These days, I'm banking on the idea that groove times aren't just lucky times - that people for whom everything seems to fall into place are folks who have created their own luck. Six months ago, I was an undisciplined, heartbroken, sloshy container, spilling over everywhere. These days, I'm still heartbroken but I've got true grit going. I'm battling the ruts, living well in the cracks even though it's uncomfortable and finding pleasure in making other people happy. I will continue in that vein - it's the right way to get through this. Today I told Anna that a few month's ago, I toyed with the idea of anti-depressants to numb the pain. Kaveh's response, "You're sad. You have a right to be sad. Just be sad."  He also recently promised me that I will be happy again. That's cool, right? - he all but gave me a money back guarantee!

Challenge today is thinking about your own cracks, ruts and grooves. Cracks are OK - they are transitions where one thing is ending and another beginning - they are to be endured and managed. Ruts are life killing - they are happiness destroyers. What are your ruts? Can you identify them and then project manage your way out of them? - it's possible to rock your way out of ruts with a lot of effort. Example is the silly memorization stuff I keep on my coffee table - I'm retraining my brain  - not allowing my thoughts to be "ruttish". And grooves - if you're in a groove with your job or a relationship, that is something to rejoice about. If you're Spider and feeling triumphant that you finally achieved a lifelong dream, you're in a groove. If you're Aunt Jeanne and in a new relationship after being alone for eleven years, that's a groove. Grooves don't last, so love every minute of them. Or if you're like me - in groove planning mode, do the work, put a healthy container around yourself, show up, put the feet in front of each other and find a bit of joy in every day. Thinking grooves will come in time if we do the work.


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