Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Won't Expect You To Be What I Want You To Be

Some of life’s lessons have taken me quite a while to learn.  Abstract concepts, complex theories, intricate hypotheses?  I typically have no trouble understanding these.  The most practical knowledge often eludes me, though.  But when I do catch on, I can observe my surroundings with beautiful, crystal-clear vision.

This year (with many birthdays behind me), I was able to put in place for myself, something that I have been touting to others for years.

  • You can’t really change anyone.  You can influence them, but change has to come from within
  • Which ties to somthing much more important:  Appreciate people for who they are.  Others are not here on this planet for your convenience.  (That frame of mind is not only unreal, it’s down-right inconsiderate.)
These realizations did not come like a bolt out of the blue to me this year.  I would imagine that this kind of awareness for other people, as it was for me, comes over a period of time.

This year, a lot of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.  Maybe the planets were aligned. Maybe Mercury was advancing, instead of retrograding.  Doubtful.  I believe that it's just that I opened my ears and listened to the wisdom being shared with me by those who care for me.  Maybe I opened my mind to the reality of common life experiences.  Maybe I was able to open my heart and understand that while people were going easy on me, helping me to understand the world around me, looking out for my best interests, I was able to go easy on myself.

Among those who taught me were:

  • A good friend at work, who always tells me, "Oh...that's just [insert name here]" or “You have to let [insert name here] be [insert same name here].”
  • My husband, who always accepts me just the way I am.  The luxury of this treatment is golden to me, especially when I see other couples who constantly have trouble understanding and accepting one another.
  • My son, who points out to me when I’m being impatient with or not understanding other people.  He has a practical, yet exceptional, way of taking each person that he encounters exactly as he or she is. 
So I’m still learning:

·        From my friend, to be accepting of others.
·        From my husband, to love unconditionally
·        From my son, to love humanity in general

And in the spirit of an Oscar-winner’s acceptance speech. “Thanks to anyone who also helped me who I didn’t mention. You know who you are.”

I don't think that I would be too far off base if I believed that each of us during some point in life felt that they had to satisfy expectations of others.  I could cite numerous instances in my own life.

We are most comfortable around those people who accept us, who understand us; those who we can be ourselves around.  So, let's all go easy on ourselves and each other.  How about it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

As Innocent As I Can Get

Since Labor Day was last week, today was a double-dip Monday.  It was like the extra scoop of Rocky Road that you really didn’t want and certainly didn’t need.  Ok, ice cream is probably a bad analogy.  But Rocky Road…nail on the head, folks.  Nail. On. The. Head.

After I arrived home and wolfed down the tasty pizza that my husband made for me (complete with the black olives and the mushrooms, which he both loathes), I went immediately to the piano.

I noodled around in Burgmuller’s Opus 100 (which is basically a beginner’s book for classical music aficionados), and finally set myself to work on “Innocence,” the number five piece.  I kept having a tough time getting it right.  My electronic keyboard has various voice settings, so after starting in “Grand Piano,”
I always laugh at myself, when I make mistakes
My piano teacher is very familiar with the sound of my laughter
I worked my way through:

·         Electric Piano (better suited for A Flock of Seagulls than Burgmuller)

·         Strings (too saccharine, even for a interpretation of innocence)

·        Church Organ (raised as a good Southern Baptist boy, I almost pulled this off, but the resonance in our music room,...ok...our dining room..., was a bit overwhelming)

·        Harpsichord (brutal in showing all the flaws of my technique – or altogether lack thereof)

I finally landed on “Vibraphone,” the last setting on my piano.   The sound was warm, soothing, and very forgiving of my uneven tempo, my occasional botched notes, my disregard for dynamics, and my clunky runs.

After a Rocky-Road Monday, I needed a bit of mercy and a lot of goofing around on the ivories.
A bit better.
You'll notice how I immediately pull my hands from the keyboard.
This way, I can guarantee there will be no additional mistakes.

(Special thanks to my cinematographing better-half - somehow he always hears beautiful music coming from my keyboard.  And that's only one reason that he's my husband).
Man...I hope my piano teacher doesn't see this post.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wonderfully Away

This weekend was one of my great lost ones.  I didn't do much. 
  • Saturday morning with our Breakfast Bunch 
  • Saturday afternoon with our best friends, helping them move furniture
  • Lots of piano practice
That was about it.

Sunday afternoon, I left the house for my piano lesson a bit early.  I thought that I'd just take my time on the freeways and not have to be in much of a rush.  But that was not meant to be.

When I turned from West Bellfort and onto South Post Oak to get on the West Loop, I saw back-to-back traffic waiting for me.  After living in Houston for almost 20 years, sometimes I'm still stunned at the number of people on the freeways.  Now, if I were more of a sports fan, I would have been better prepared.  The Texans had played at home today.  The game must have just let out (I did check the score later to see that the Texas beat the Dolphins).

For the drive, I had Circuital by My Morning Jacket in my stereo "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" came on.  I put the song on repeat and slowly worked my way in the bumper-to-bumper.  The song can always take me away.  So I did a bit of day-dreaming as I inched north. 

As the song played, I found myself
  • Sailing on a catamaran, off the coast of Cozumel
  • Looking at clouds at Galveston Island
  • Swimming in the waters of Puerto Rico
  • Walking around my sister's yard and enjoying her flowers, planted among the Louisiana pines. 
I was only five minutes late for my piano lesson.  Amazing, since I'd been thousands of miles away during the drive.

Back on the freeway after my lesson, I listened to the same song over and again, all the way home.

I hope you also had the chance to get away from it all this weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day. Yeah, Well…I Did.

On Labor Day this year, the GOP House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, posted a statement on Twitter praising entrepreneurs, and downplaying the importance of our United States labor force.  Makes perfect sense to me.  I do not own my own business; therefore, I ended up working all weekend.

With many of my projects at work wrapping up at the beginning of the 4th quarter, I’ve had competing priorities without a clue on how to decide what takes priority.  So, when many of my gay brothers were spending the weekend partying it up at Southern Decadence in New Orleans or sunning themselves at Last Splash at Hippie Hollow near Austin, I found myself in the office or both Saturday and Sunday.  Additionally, when I left the office on Sunday, I brought my laptop home so I could work Monday as well.

If I’d only taken better notes or paid better attention to my professors in business school, maybe I’d be running my own empire.  And I would imagine that, as a business owner, I still would have worked the weekend.  Running your own business is a tough job.  As a child, I watched as my enterprising father run businesses simultaneously.  Well, I caught sight of him occasionally; the man was busy. 

In addition to doing my day-job work each day of the holiday weekend, I went to my piano lesson (it’s an effort, people, albeit an enjoyable one), I did my yard work (I’m the rare Houstonian who knows how to push a lawnmower around his own parcel of land), I bathed the dogs (you can read what a chore this is here), I cleaned the litter box (yes, I’m a servant to my animals).

If I examine the amount of time that I spent on the activities mentioned in the preceding paragraph, maybe I did have a sufficient holiday. 

·         My piano lesson?  Typically, after practicing for an hour each day, I tend to make the same mistakes over and again at my teacher’s piano, laughing at myself as I play.  But there is that moment of zen, when all falls in place, and I perfectly play a passage that had given me the devil for weeks.  It surprises me, although my teacher says, matter-of-factly and with a smile, “You worked it out.”  Ok, so maybe it’s not work.

·         The yard work?  I watched my grandfather do his own lawn up until the time that his vision prevented him from seeing well enough.  I feel connected to him as I push my mower around the yard.  I plug in my headphone, put some rock music on, and the whole task seems like it’s over in minutes.  (But why does my iPod always offer me “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas?  It’s a pretty, but disheartening song.  I really need to remove it)

·         Bathing the dogs?  They smell so great afterwards.  ‘Nuff said.

·         Cleaning out the litter pan?   Oddly enough, the cats act grateful.  (I mean, who wouldn’t be happy if someone came in to clean your bathroom?)

But I am left wondering how Eric spent his weekend?  Given the perks and privileges offered to a high-rolling politician,  I’m guessing that his was not remotely like mine.