Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Idle Chatter

Social psychologists are now suggesting that gossip is more than just idle chatter. They claim that it is a way for us to "navigate our complex social world." It seems some folks just talk about other people behind their backs to feel out social situations, to gage the reaction of others in an attempt to validate certain feelings or to just add a little spice to the mix.

It is nice of the social psychologists to give us an excuse for our bad behavior and to ignore the consequences of that behavior.

We now have permission from the "they" of the world to badmouth each other. Sew discord! Cause division! Tear others down! That's what we've got to do to survive in this complex social world!

And then run for cover! Because I am sure social psychologists have excuses for the reactions of the people we've been talking about too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stuff that makes a sane woman crazy...

Never in life have I been as obsessive and insane as I have felt this week.

All females are obsessed with something at various times in life whether it's boys or collecting things or buying shoes or the size of their thighs. Women focus intensely on things. That's what women do.

For me, there has to be a trigger of some kind to remind me of whatever it is. Otherwise, I am not even aware that I am supposed to be paranoid and over-sensitive. Usually, I am just cruising along, happy as a clam, minding my own business when I am suddenly smacked in the head by whatever it is.

Now, I don't mean to say that I am naive but sometimes I just don't want to know what's REALLY going on. I am happy with life as it is. Don't need no drama to mess it all up.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 7AM and I was sane. (As far as I can tell anyway and I believe others would testify on my behalf...)

By 7PM, I was completely crazy. Life barged into the middle of my mom's surprise 70th birthday party and grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "HEY! LOOK OVER THERE!" Apparently, hiding somewhere under all my happy clams was a pile of not-quite-the-truth. And it had been there for weeks! I just didn't see it.

In that moment, I lost grasp of my sanity and I haven't seen it since.

Most of my days this week have been spent pretending that I'm OK and holding back tears. I tried to cry tonight and I couldn't. I am afraid the tears might decide to show up again in an inappropriate moment since they won't fall on demand. My stomach is all twisted in knots and I can't sleep. I am a mess.

The funny thing is I haven't really been sleeping for a couple of weeks and had the sense that something wasn't quite right but... I just kept on cruising and ignoring "the signs." (There are always signs.) Now, all that stuff races through my mind over and over and over... I can't stop thinking about it. And when I try I just end up thinking about how I can't stop thinking about it. I wonder constantly. I worry endlessly. And I feel completely helpless.

This is the stuff that makes a sane woman crazy.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Advice is not advice until someone takes it. Until then, it's just your opinion. Did I make that up or did someone else say that? Either way, it's true. And I suppose you don't really know if your advice is good or bad until you've witnessed the result of acting upon it.

I've never really been one for taking the advice or heeding the warnings of others. Headstrong and independent, I tend to charge forward and learn life's lessons on my own. The end result of my bull-headed attitude (my mom's description) has been one part struggle, one part pain and a little surprise, a dash of awe and some satisfaction.

Testing the advice of others is not something I do to be difficult or to prove anyone wrong or right. In most of life's experiences, I just need to know for myself. Sure, part of it is my own trust issue and part of it is my fight to maintain control. But the bigger part is that I need to feel it and experience it and say it and taste it and whatever else. I need it to be real to me.

I wasn't always this way. As a child, I was very obedient. Consequences scared the hell out of me. The unknown scared the hell out of me. Most of the time, my parents didn't even have to tell me not to do something. I just didn't out of fear. As it does for most people, a switch flipped in my teen years and I suddenly felt invincible. My sense of adventure blossomed, my fear diminished and I outgrew my guilt gene. That continued through my twenties and then one day I woke up and I was 30 and I was suffering the consequences of years of ignoring the advice of others.

I realize not all advice is good. And not all advice is relevant. But I should have listened to some of it.

Now, I've reached an age at which I see people around me making the same bad decisions I made way back when... And, now I am the one giving the advice and getting ignored.

never give up

For many people, life unfolds in a way less than they imagined. The outcome is unanticipated, unexpected and, for many, mediocre in comparison to the big dreams they held as children.

I don't know many people who are living their perfect life. That doesn't make you less than anyone else. You are not a failure. But you also don't have to merely survive your remaining days. You don't have to muttle through and make do.

Every day that we wake up, we have opportunities before us. There are choices to make that go beyond which bagel to eat for breakfast or which route to take to work. And making different choices can create a new outcome for your life.

Changing your habits or the patterns of your life does not often come without struggle or pain. But the decision to press on and achieve a life that greets you every morning with joy and excitement is worth it. You focus on the good that will come. And on particularly hard days, you lean on your friends and your family or maybe just your dog.

But you don't give up. You never give up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Confidence Crisis

Over the last week, I have experienced a crisis in confidence that I haven't felt since I was about 14 years old. Back then I lacked confidence so severely that I couldn't even order a pizza over the phone. People who know me today find it hard to believe that I was ever shy. But I was. And it wasn't until I found my voice (my singing voice) that my confidence started to bloom.

Even though I began singing at the age of 9, I wasn't always sure of myself. Adults often complimented my ability but other kids taunted and teased me. It wasn't cool to sing at church. So, it took years for me to get comfortable standing in front of a crowd and it took years for me to truly tap into my talent. Once I reached my singing potential, I drew my confidence from that experience. And it was built up by the applause of the audiences, the approval of strangers. Validation sunk in a lot quicker when it came from people I didn't know, people who didn't have to tell me I'd done a good job.

That pattern continued into my adult life. The stage upon which I have performed has grown. This past summer I sang in front of a crowd of nearly 60,000 people and a television audience of over 1 million. It was the highest point, so far, of my music career. And in my "small" town of St. Louis, people recognize me and kids ask for my autograph.

A few weeks ago, I lost my biggest singing job. It was a regular gig with the St. Louis Blues. Last season, I sang at 22 games. Locally, much of my singing identity came from that job. But this year, the Blues ownership decided to go with one singer for the entire season and they chose another singer over me. The news crushed me, honestly.

This new development combined with a new job and a couple of relationship issues sent me reeling into a confidence crisis.

I haven't heard the applause in a while. And I don't know what to do without it. I don't know how to be me without it. I miss the spotlight, yes. I miss the people more. And I miss singing and feeling the energy of the crowd around me and the release at the end that comes in the applause.

Who am I if I don't sing? And who am I if the people don't clap at the end?

I am that 14 year old girl. Unsure of herself and wary of compliments. Insecure. Paranoid. So sure that, at any moment, everything else will disappear just like the applause did.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Don't say that... unless you mean it

Say what you mean and mean what you say... Also known in some circles as honesty. I believe in honesty. I appreciate honesty. I think most people do. But honesty is not always easy to come by and it isn't always easy to acheive.

As much as I believe in honesty, I also believe that if you can't muster the courage to say exactly what you mean, you should say nothing at all. Save the conversation for a later date when you are more sure of yourself and less worried about the other person's reaction.

The pitfall in many relationships, freindships or otherwise, is that sometimes we talk just to fill space. And sometimes, in order to keep up momentum, we say things we don't really mean. Above all else, we often say what the other person wants to hear to get what we want, to avoid an argument or to find our way out of a conversation. Everybody does it.

There are some things we should never say... unless we mean it.

For example, "I LOVE YOU." Over the years, I have become much more liberal with my use of those three words. I tell friends and family often that I love them. The tricky thing about those words is that the interpretation on the receiving end varies based on that person's feelings for you. If you have never had a conversation with your friend and confirmed that you are just friends, you probably shouldn't say it. Other phrases that fall into the same category as "I love you" might be "you mean a lot to me" or "you matter more to me than..." and most of all "I need you."

There are many other examples including "you look great," "I enjoy spending time with your mother," "I would take a bullet for you," etc.

Think before you speak. If you honestly mean it, then say it. Put it out there. At all costs. But if you are unsure, wait. Or choose your words wisely.

Don't say it unless you mean it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mind reader

I have a friend that I swear has mind-reading abilities. He insists it isn't true and that he is merely a student of human behavior. But his timing is unbelievable at times.

There have been days when I've thought it might be nice to have a mind reader in my life. Then I could stop verbalizing how I feel and what I want.

Remember that Mel Gibson movie, "What Women Want?" He got electrocuted in the bathroom and suddenly he could read the mind of every female he encountered. At first, he planned to use his ability for evil but in the end, good prevailed! And Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt lived happily ever after. And it was fabulous! And I thought, I need a man who just KNOWS what I want so I never have to tell him and worry about being rejected or looking silly ever again.

Shortly after seeing that movie, I started thinking about what I was thinking about all the time. I'd sit in a meeting or in a restaurant or at a ballgame and hope that there were no mind readers nearby. And I realized that I have no control of my thoughts and maybe having a mind reader in my life isn't such a good idea.

I think what this woman wants is someone who is on the same page. Someone who can't read minds but who somehow knows.

Touch me

"I don't know what you want from me."

Sometimes he says it out loud. Sometimes he says it, but uses other words. Sometimes he just says it with his eyes. And sometimes, he just sighs loudly.

I just want you to touch me.

Stand near me. Let your shoulder rest on mine. Lean on me. Place your hand on my lower back when we're standing in a crowded room. I've always liked that.

Sit close to me. Hold my hand. Hold me. Longer. I like the way it feels when it feels like you never want to let me go. Just rest your hand on me. It reminds me that you're there for me and not just there.

I just want you to touch me.

It's that simple... really.

I have two roommates...

I have two roommates... and sometimes I call them "mom" and "dad."

They're older and, I suppose, wiser. They go to bed early and sleep late. They eat dinner at 4:30 every evening. Sometimes, they go for walks and, when they do, they hold hands. They love to go on bus trips. Bus trips to anywhere... In fact, they've been travelers as long as I've known them.

We don't have much in common except for our love of baseball and music.

They watch a lot of television. And they eat German food. They love to shop at Costco and, every week, they make a special trip to the same store to buy lottery tickets. (Ah, something else we have in common.)

They are uncomfortable with modern technology. If they want to use my computer, they call me and I give them step by step instructions... just to turn it on. They read the newspaper every day. They eat donuts and banana nut muffins and they leave the coffee in the coffee pot for days at a time.

They used to be the neatest, tidiest people I ever met. They kept the house spotless. But I guess with all that age and wisdom came the realization that there are only so many hours in a lifetime and you shouldn't spend them all cleaning.

I moved back in with my parents a year ago, for various reasons. And I am seeing them differently then I ever did before. Obviously, I have grown up and my perspective is different but I don't remember when they got old. It must have happened when I wasn't looking. They are so different than I remember as a child. And I am glad I have had the opportunity to get to know them again.

I have learned a lot from my roommates. Above all else, they have shown me in the last year how important companionship is. Just having people near you, with you, beside you... to share in your every day... to eat muffins and watch baseball and occasionally take a walk... Life really isn't about stuff. It's about you and your people.

I never thought I would enjoy having roommates. And while I think I am ready to get back out on my own, this last year hasn't been all that bad.