Tuesday, March 28, 2017

List of good things.

It is a known fact that positive thoughts are better than negative thoughts. I understand this, but it's very hard to live it. Things that are GOOD in my present:
The fam!

1) My 4.5-year-old mowed 1/3 of my lawn yesterday. Sure, I sort of Tom-Sawyered him in a "Oh, this is so fun!" kind of way. But he's genuinely curious and very strong. We have one of those old-fashioned reel mowers, and this kid is SUCH a rule-follower that he wouldn't dare step over a chalk-line if I told him not to. Seriously, my friends clench their teeth when they watch him speed off in his scooter, only to then relax when he stops at every driveway, alley and stop sign. I told him not to go anywhere near the blade, and he mowed like a pro. I don't have a photo because, for once, I left my phone inside to enjoy the sweet moments with my children. He asked for 25cents for each time he mows the lawn, though, so we'll probably do it again on Friday.

2) My mom went to swim practice on Sunday and swam laps for 40 minutes. Most likely, that is more than you could swim. She took 2 weeks off scheduled chemo, so has been feeling better for it. I hate that it's the chemo, not the cancer, that is bringing her down.

3) Graham's passport is expiring, so I'm renewing it. This has me daydreaming and pinteresting all kinds of castles and adventures.

4) I'm still going to yoga, but have been trying to be honest with myself and do work when necessary. Yesterday, I had a babysitter for yoga, but it occurred to me that I had a zillion contracts to work on and websites to re-build and taxes to do, so I took that 90 minutes and worked on Brigid Kaelin LLC stuff instead.

5) I still journal in the 15 minutes before yoga, and apparently my fellow yogis don't think I'm a jerk for it. Instead, someone told me they "love your practice of journaling before class and try to respect your space." Yoga people, man -- aren't they great?

6) I went to a THERAPIST yesterday. Are you all breathing a huge sigh of relief for me? I swear, some of you read me like you read Jenny Lawson, just waiting for a breakdown, right? I'm doing okay, but I'm aware that my support system is either dying or has moved abroad or travels a lot or lives many states away. Apparently I need to reach out for help more and also to think about whom I could call at 3am if I needed. I know a zillion people, but I don't know anyone I could call at 3am. This is not a cry for help; it's an acknowledgment that maybe that is a negative about being an only child. Hmmmmmmm. (Insert rubbing chin emoji) I still feel that the $135 spent on therapy could perhaps have been better spent on several flights of champagne with Tara Anderson (she's really smart and good company), so maybe I'll see if I could charge a trip to Louvino to my HSA.

7) My piano is in tune, and I have been playing it more often. Funny how that works, eh? Seriously, though, I played Rhapsody in Blue in its entirely (though several sections slower than I used to be able to play them) this weekend while David got the kids ready for bed. It was so satisfying. I do love me some Gershwin.


April 2, 2017
at Adath Jeshurun Synagoge on Woodbourne Avenue
Tribute to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen
I'm singing "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Famous Blue Raincoat"

April 9, 2017
at Headliners Music Hall, Louisville
(and April 14 & 15 in Berea, KY and Madison, IN)

I'm also playing 3 private events on Derby weekend, but have room for more... HIRE ME!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

8 Self-Care Things That Are Keeping Me Sane.

I'm not in the photo much -- but here I am!
I'm going a little stir-crazy not having a record to tour and promote -- it's still one bass part away from finished, but time is conspiring against me. In the mean time, I've been doing ALL I can to promote my own self-care. Life is tough now, and there are a few things that have kept me sane:

1. Yoga. I'm not sure if it's the endorphins of exercise, the mindfulness of breathing, or the simple fact that with yoga I get an hour without anyone grabbing my nipples, but I leave feeling better. When I find I've gone a few days without going to the studio (simply doing a podcast at home does not have the same effect, as you might conclude from watching the time-lapse video of my toddler grabbing me while I'm bending), I am irritable and not a great parent -- not a great person, honestly. I'm moody, negative, and can throw a tantrum over a crushed Cheerio on the floor or a 4-year-old who decides it's Naked Time. 

2. The Fresh 20. I've been using this meal planning site for going on two years now. Whenever I stray from planning, the family suffers. We spend more than we should at the grocery, or we order takeout because there's nothing to eat. We also eat less nutritious meals, or we end up just grazing all week. Or it's breakfast for every meal. I tried out multiple meal planning websites, and TheFresh20.com is the only one I remotely enjoyed. It's probably an 80-90% success rate on the "Would I order this at a restaurant?" scale by which we judge recipes. I've only had one meal the whole time that I straight up did not like. We subscribe to the Vegetarian annual plan. I don't put ANY thought into dinner now, and I know that I have the ingredients on hand to cook a well-balanced meal every night. It helps that my kids are not picky eaters. The shopping list also means I can send someone else to the store for me. I haven't used Kroger ClickList yet, but I've got a good friend who combines TheFresh20 with the Kroger ClickList and declared it a life-changer. 

Yummy quinoa vegetable bowl.
3. Journaling. Writing has always been the single-most important thing to my sanity. Since having a baby, I simply have not had a good routine and haven't been able to journal. I like doing morning pages -- something I got from The Artist's Way many years ago -- but my kids get up too early for me to do anything in the morning. I've taken to arriving at yoga 15 minutes early and bringing my journal. I sit there, ignore everyone, and just write -- mostly nonsense, occasionally lyrics. I am sure that I look like a jerk with my pen and my notebook in my corner, but it helps immensely. I am actually able to empty my mind a little during the poses because I got a lot of the To Do list out in my morning pages. Also, if I don't go to yoga, I don't write. Then I really am a jerk.

4. Antidepressants. I should have led with this because if we are being completely honest, it's the Prozac that got me enough willpower to sign up for yoga and then leave the house in the first place. I've never had a problem being honest, so I probably should have made this my #1. But I just thought about it, and I don't feel like re-ordering my list. Because it's a blog, and I'm not going to edit if I'm not getting paid.

Me, playing a German polka gig.
5. Work. I'm gigging a lot. Not as much as I would like. But my work is my passion, and I am renewed when I do it. Music is probably the only thing that allows me to zone out and be in the moment.

6. Pinterest. I can check all the other social media apps on my phone, but when I open Pinterest, I actually feel my heart rate slowing and myself relaxing. I think it's like opening a trashy magazine on an airplane. I just look at things -- pretty things, good ideas, lists made by other people. I have no false dreams of crafting tiny hats that look like vegetables, but it makes me happy to see photos of other people's good ideas. Talk about distraction.

7. Novels. Whether it's an audiobook or a late-night Kindle purchase, I am a novel fiend. When I'm not doing great mentally, I like to read really easy books. Now that I'm a mom, I somehow like mysteries -- total #mombooks. I also really enjoy British chick-lit, though I wish there was a better name for it. What else ... Maisie Dobbs and Agatha Raisin books have been perfect distractions over the past 4.5 years since the first wee boy was born. 

8. A cuppa. Tea. Oh, how I love tea. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Henna art and Irish Butter.

This weekend I hired a henna artist -- the amazing Rose Flowers of Bohemian Monkey (aren't all of those words absolutely delightful??) to decorate my mom's beautiful bald cancer head. I scrolled through Pinterest looking at pretty chemo crowns, and now my entire Pinterest feed is stunning hairless paintings. It's the definition of bittersweet.

Farmers' Market in Bruges. Roseberries. 
Anyway, it was a perfect continental spread, though for just 3 adults and 2 kids, I definitely over-bought. My inspiration for brunches is forever the Best Western in Bruges. Best Western sounds like it would be tacky, but can I tell you it was the absolutely most spectacular breakfast spread I've ever encountered -- hotel or otherwise. From sliced Muenster to an entire wheel of Brie, from hard boiled eggs to sliced watermelon, from yogurt to fresh muesli, and miles of croissants... oh, my goodness it was everything. We honeymooned in Bruges, and I am forever trying to re-create that breakfast buffet, even if it's just for a henna-decorating morning. I apparently didn't take any photos of that breakfast, so it lives entirely in my mind, but here are some grand photos of Bruges anyway. I haven't used my passport in a while, so I'm living in my iPhotos.

Also, I've raised a butter snob. When asked by our hostess, "What would you like on your bagel, Graham?" my 4-year-old responded, "Do you have Kerry Gold?"

Thankfully, our host is British, so she knows her butter.

"I most certainly do," she grinned, basically confirming why we are friends -- and also that Graham's expectations are sky-high.

Enjoy the beautiful henna tiara. I think next time, she'll go full-on cap:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cars are the worst. And RIP George.

George, as a puppy.
This has not been a very good week. To quote my four-year-old: First the Volvo died. Then George died. Then the Honda died.

To be fair, the Volvo is my dad's car. The George is my parents' dog. The Honda is my sister-in-law's car. And two of the three can be revived. But we have had the Volvo since my mom's first chemo treatment in December. George has been part of the family for 14 years, and the Honda lives at our house now that my sister-in-law lives here.

Also, David had to go to the ER on Sunday for a ruptured eardrum (that ruptured a couple of hours after my gig at the Monkey Wrench, which makes me think maybe we were too loud ... oops). The dog cost about as much to euthanize as the cars do to fix, but none of those three compare to the cost of an ER visit in America. It's been easily a $3000+ week in our family, and it's only Friday.

But accentuate the positive, right? The people we love are still alive, and we get to see each other. I made it back to yoga twice, despite having thrown my back and SI joint out earlier in the week. It was a glorious 75*F yesterday. I had an alfresco prosecco with two kids in tow (we took the bus), and I even remembered to reapply sunscreen to everyone. Hashtag winning.

George with 3 balls.
The car troubles this week have reminded us that we sold our cars six years ago. That means we haven't had to deal with auto nonsense, tow trucks, absurd pricetags, oil changes, etc, in six years. Having driven my parents' car since December has made me realize how much I can't stand having a car -- not just because they always break and cost too much, but because it means a change in my lifestyle.

Much like the rise of cell phones mean you don't have to make concrete plans with your friends ("Just text me when you're close, and I'll find you" instead of "3:15 at the corner of 10th & Broadway"), owning a car means you don't have to plan your errands. I like not having to make precise plans with my friends, but being able to just pop over to the grocery at a minute's notice means, get this, that I don't actually ever get to the grocery. Then I either eat cupboard crap or I order takeout.

I prefer life when I live deliberately. Yesterday, we took the bus to Ramsi's from Graham's haircut place, walked to the library, then took the bus home. It was a full day. My kids got to see other people and make conversation. We got some things done and had a good time.

Maybe we'll just leave the Honda in the shop.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Confessions and giving up and me being crazy and stuff.

I'm giving up on 40Days to a Personal Revolution. I clearly am much better at accountability when I'm doing things at my own pace. Does that even make sense?

The funny thing is that I was already doing daily yoga and eating mostly vegan and gluten-free before the program. So when it started and the program was only restricting things mildly or more about 'paying attention' to your diet, I figured I'd take that opportunity to have some Reese's Eggs because they weren't off-the-program until week three or four or whatever (it made sense in my head). So then I sabotaged myself and started eating bagels with Kerry Gold and having a glass of wine (I'd done Dry January easily and had only had a slightly damp February), and then I started getting headaches and pulled a muscle around an old hip/back injury because, duh, when you don't eat well, you don't feel well. Now I just give up.

I do better when I set my own rules. My rules were pretty effective prior to this program.

Also, I actually journaled more before the program gave me diary prompts.

Pre-gig. My favorite kilt.
My chaotic living room.
Clearly, I'm one big mess, but I suppose that's to be expected.

Actually, maybe the program has been successful after all. All I'd really wanted was to start being able to allow myself ease. I've got a lot going on now. I need to take care of myself. And forgiving myself my freakouts and my imperfections is coming more easily.

You know what makes me feel best?

My work.

It turns out that writing music and playing music is the best therapy for me. Who knew? Well, apparently my mom did. She knows everything. I just don't like to admit that.

In exciting musical news, Steve finally got that stand-up bass he's been on about for a year now. Yessssss!

Last weekend's Monkey Wrench show was good fun. Also, I don't have any more shows on the books (except for a couple of standing private Derby events), which is completely absurd. Where are the venues, and where are the booking agents, and why can't I just play house concerts for the rest of my life?