I love it because it’s my birthday month and I hate it because it usually marks the end of summer.
For that reason this week has been a true struggle.
So here’s a list of 10 things that got me through this week and maybe will help you too:
1. Buying a ticket to An Evening with James Lapine & Stephen Sondheim only because Christine Baranski was the moderator– listen my appreciation for that woman is REAL and I feel no shame.
2. Cooking instead of ordering take-out – maybe it is because I’m the daughter of a chef, but being in the kitchen centers me. Also I love take-out, however in DC it is OVERPRICED (as are most things in this city).
3. Washing dishes while listening to true crime podcasts -I love a good true crime podcasts. Recommendations are welcomed.
4. Dancing it out (channeling earlier Grey’s Anatomy vibes)-mostly to 00’s Janet Jackson music
5. Putting music on the record player again – too often I forget how this uplifts me with such pretentious joy.
6. Going for a walk everyday- even if it was to the grocery store or just to get an iced coffee. I hate advice like this sometimes, but it really does make a difference when you’re able to talk yourself into going for a walk.
7. Inspiration from Newsletters- Josh Spector is always offering great advice in his newsletters. One of the latest thing he suggested was a take on how to write fill-in-the-blank-headlines. I’ve clearly taken note: check it out here.
8. Interacting with writers on Twitter reassuring me I’m just at the eeek part of my 30s and it does get better
9. Mindless, interesting, quick fun way to see how you differ from the “average” person (from Josh Spector Newsletter)- link here
10. Sipping tea remembering that despite birthday depression (it’s a thing..I read it on twitter…), I’d rather not be anything but a Leo sun:
What is one thing or a few that have uplifted your spirits this summer?
Poetry has always felt like meditation in a way, from my perspective. Words that paint a landscape for us if only just for a few stanzas.
When I write my poetry I feel like I am in a zone of only my thoughts and for those moments – I am at total peace.
I have tried to bring meditation into my everyday life for the past few years (recommendation from my therapist, and just something I thought would be better for my mental well being). I started to keep track of the days I meditated back in December, then a good friend invited me to do a meditation challenge for 15 days. *which I was doing well with, until the weekend hit*
Music does something similar – it gives us different perspectives into different worlds if only for a few minutes in a song.
I’ve been trying to think of the songs I turn on when I need to just get lost in the music and be present in reflection. These were some of the songs that came to mind right away for myself:
World Spins Madly On – The Weepies
I don’t know exactly when I fell in love with this song, but I think it happens every single time I listen to it. As I type this and have this song playing in the background – I am reminded how similar poetry and music are. Lyrics are poetry, and I think this song is a testament to that. “And the world spins madly on…”
Baby Can I Hold You – Tracy Chapman
Oh Tracy Chapman, how I could listen to her sing for hours upon hours of any day of the week. When I need to really “feel” I will put on certain songs of Tracy’s. “Baby Can I Hold You” is the song I like to play when I just want to get lost in her voice and her lyrics. A perfect three minute meditation of Tracy Chapman.
Brace feat. Rainsford – Twin Shadow
A couple of years ago I used to listen to this song on repeat on my way to work whenever I was trying to channel myself into a good headspace. I went through a solid few months where I only listened to Twin Shadow. If you’ve never listened to them, I highly recommend adding them to your playlist. I like to seek songs that remind me I am not alone in the way I am feeling, and Twin Shadow tends to have those lyrics I need in the right moments.
Tilted – Christine and the Queens
This is a song I had on repeat for awhile after discovering it on the season finale of Better Things (have you seen this show? Go watch it. Pamela Adlon is a treasure). Mostly because that scene brought me so much joy, but also the lyrics (that are originally in French) are like damn yes a message we all need 100 percent.
Ship to Wreck – Florence and the Machine
I didn’t fully appreciate Florence and the Machine until I saw them live a couple of years ago with a few good friends. It was a special night that I really needed at the time, and I’ll say they were the right group of friends to experience this concert with. I fell in love with this song that night. Also grew a greater appreciation for Florence as an artist. This song pulls me into myself for a couple of minutes and allows me to sing out loud in meditation to cleanse my soul & feel my heart beat a little louder.
Runaway Goliath – Mantaraybryn
No clue how I found this song, I assume it was from a Spotify rabbithole that I tend to go down. For a whole year I had this song on repeat (because my self esteem needed it bad). I loved getting lost in this song- and I still appreciate getting lost in it every now and again. The beauty of music is the power it has of reminding us of our worth or it can just give us hope that darkness isn’t meant to be permanent.
A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley
Jenny Lewis is everything and Rilo Kiley is a musical gift. There are many Rilo Kiley songs that I like to play, so it’s difficult to choose just one. This is a song that, if you aren’t a huge fan, many people don’t know. I think my favorite part is hearing the emotion of Jenny Lewis in the song, how it breaks from her speaking in the beginning and then her emotion continues to build throughout the song. And you can feel it – in the lyrics and her voice.
I Got a Name – Jim Croce
My favorite artist to listen to on vinyl is Jim Croce. I love almost every single one of his songs and know them all by heart. “I Got a Name” always brings me back to my college years and listening to this record in my old apartment when I didn’t know what the future held (I mean, do I know now? No..but you get what I mean). I’ve always been a dreamer, and I think this song sums it up for me….”Like the fool I am, and I’ll always be/I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream/ They can change their minds, but they can’t change me.”
Do you have any of those kinds of songs that you find putting on in time when you need to recenter?
Things I have realized about myself in the past several months since the lockdown of March 2020:
I love lists (and they help keep me sane)
My anxiety has increased with age (or I always had anxiety & just never had the language…but it most definitely has still increased with age either way)
I am happier when I am reading (since I have started to pick up reading more and binge tv less I have noticed I feel more grounded)
Stretching is a necessity for a person like me (who has severe herniated and bulging discs)
Listening to music increases my productivity and brings me joy
I don’t need to completely cut off coffee (I love it too much – there is a thing of balance between coffee & tea)
Creating new recipes & cooking is a way to show my love for others and gets my creative juices flowing in the kitchen (grateful that I have been able to cook for not just myself, but my partner over this time in quarantine..)
Above all else – writing makes me feel whole
I’m sure the list could go on and on (see above, cause ya know…I love lists). The point is though, I’m not sure I fall amongst those that have “accomplished so much over this time” but I know I have learned a lot about myself. I’m sure you all have too, if you take some time to reflect. Sometimes the tiniest of things are actually rewards, just depends on your point of view.
The world is still in chaos, whether we are choosing to be aware of that or not. It just is, and more than likely will be for a bit.
In knowing that, the most important question is – how are you taking care of you?
Remember the flight attendant reminds us (remember flights? Airplanes?…those things in the sky?) before trying to save others we must put the oxygen mask on ourselves first.
If you set goals for yourself in the age old “New Year, New Me” mindset – good for you. If you didn’t, eh no worries – I didn’t either. One thing I will propose you do after you finish reading this post is: think of one thing you promise to do that will be taking care of you this year – one thing that will leave you feeling happier, more loved, healthier, or better taken care of.
What’s that one thing?
And I’ll leave you with a line from one of my favorite poets:
“You are the best thing that has ever happened to you” – Andrea Gibson, ‘Boomerang Valentine’