Looking through the rear-view mirror with music

Question: Am I the only one who hears voices in her (his) head? No? I didn’t think so. Wait. Was that just one of the many voices in my head speaking? I’m so confused.

I’m not sure if I am feeling anxious because of the countless voices in my head, or if the countless voices in my head are trying to ease the anxiety I feel. Recently, while watching a program about ADD, I heard someone compare ADD to driving. When driving, the driver needs to focus on the road ahead of him/her, glancing at the rear-view mirror occasionally. However, those with ADD tend to become distracted with looking at the rear-view mirror and are unable to focus on what is ahead of them.

While driving home from work today, I realized the voices in my head are louder when I don’t want look at what is in front of me. On days like today, I don’t want to see the road ahead; instead, I want to look through the rear-view mirror and see what is behind me. I want the option to relive the happy times and reflect on the happy memories. And, by looking through the rear-view mirror, I have greater control with keeping myself in a happy place.

When I am looking back, I find music is the best way to recall the happy times. For instance, I was listening to some incredible music today. The music was off a CD I purchased years ago, consisting of cover songs performed by local musicians. Sadly, I loaned the CD to a friend, and the friend never returned it. Happily, I had friends with the same CD, and they made me a copy of it. Anyway, I found myself looking in the rear view mirror of my life, recalling some great memories, all triggered by the music.

I was in this same crazed-state of mind a few weeks ago, when my friend James was ill and nearing death. When he died, as Rob and I drove to Savannah for the burial, I needed a release from all the voices in my head and all the sadness I was feeling. I found listening to Ozzy Osborn’s ‘Crazy Train’ quite effective. Appropriate, eh? Yes, well, I also found a nice release listening to Evanescence’s ‘Going Under’.

Today, my friend is flying to North Carolina to be with her Mom before her Mom dies. And, as I type, my heart begins to race with the anxiety I felt when I did a similar thing over 16 yrs ago. Please excuse my repetitiveness, because I know I have written about this in a previous post or two…

I flew from Washington, DC to Atlanta, hoping to make it home before my Dad died. To this day, that flight was the longest flight I have ever taken because the time seemed to crawl. As I type, my friend is boarding a plane, carrying with her the same hope I carried with me. And, as I think about my friend, I become overwhelmed with sadness. Cue the music!

Today, four songs off the previously mentioned CD helped me drown out the sadness and/or distract me from the crazy. All of the songs off the CD are cover songs, originally performed by other musicians. The songs, Whole of the Moon, Weakness in Me, Piece of my Heart and The Dutchman, were performed and recorded live at Eddie’s Attic, a music venue in Decatur, GA. Eddie’s was a refuge of mine. A place I would go to hear some of the best acoustic music and hang with the best of friends. Prior to Eddie’s, these musicians, my friends and I gathered at Trackside Tavern. (Eddie managed Trackside before he opened his own place.) Great memories, and great additions to the soundtrack of life.

Have a listen:

 (Whole of the Moon, originally performed by The Waterboys)

 (The Dutchman, originally performed by Michael Peter Smith)

  (Weakness in me, originally performed by Joan Armatrading)

 (Piece Of My Heart, originally performed by Janis Joplin)

Andrea with her Mom, Dad, husband and kids, June 2010

My friend has reached her parent’s house by now. I hope to find out that she made it in time to have several good conversations with her Mom. And, when my friend finds herself overwhelmed with the road ahead, preferring to look through the rear-view mirror instead, I’ll try to help quiet her voices with a soundtrack of happy memories. I’ll probably start with one of Andrea’s favorite songs from the ‘old days’, Seal’s Crazy. It’s a perfect song for the soundtrack of life, because “we’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy.”

One of the Hardest Parts of the Job

Dear Blogary,

I need to vent, please. Yesterday afternoon, I told my son he had to stay in his room, because he did not follow directions. Though I repeated the directions a second time (with the ‘staying in your room’ warning), he decided to throw a toy at me and not comply with the directions.

Blogary, I haven’t a clue where he gets his temper. Oh wait. Yeah. That would be from me. Thanks.

I told my 5yr old he could come out of his room once everything was picked up and put away. Though fits could be heard through the shut door, he did complete the task. When he came out of his room, he went to the kitchen, where Daddy and Charlie were making pancakes for supper.

“Daddy, will you make me some chick’n nuggets?” Joe asked. (Point of fact: We eat soy nuggets. VeggiePatch brand. Quite tasty!)

Daddy said “No.” With Daddy’s response, down went Joe with another fit flare-up. Joe claimed we asked Charlie what he wanted for supper, but we did not ask Joe. Blah, blah, blah, Blogary. And, no, we did not ask Charlie what he wanted for supper.

While Joe is in the midst of another fit, I will share with you, Blogary – Joe misses his naps. He has not adjusted to a full day of school without a nap. Last Monday was another example of several melt-downs, triggered by exhaustion. I am quite confident, Blogary, Joe’s behavior last night was directly tied to a weekend of fun, followed by a full day on Monday with no ‘down time’.

Anyway, Joe’s fit continued. “Joe.” I said. “Get up, and go back to your room.”

“No!” He said.

“Joe. Get up now, and go to your room, or you will go to bed without supper.”

Blogary, I knew Joe was tired, but I also knew this kind of behavior needed to be addressed. This kind of behavior is – to quote Super Nanny – “Unacceptable.”

Again, Joe said ‘no’. So, I got hold of his arm, stood him up and started walking him to his room. As we passed the fridge, he took his other hand and brushed off the magnets and pictures in a huff. I stopped.

“Joe. Pick those up.” Blogary, you already know what Joe’s response was, eh?

“Joe,” I continue, because he said ‘no’. “You will pick them up now, or you will go straight to your room when you get home from school tomorrow.”

Cue Joe’s response: “No.”

“Joe. I’m setting the timer. You will pick up the mess and get to your room before the timer goes off or you will go to bed without supper tomorrow, too.” Too much perhaps, Blogary?! Meh.

Crying, Joe started to clean up and head to his room. And, he stayed in his room the rest of the day. Though, that was not the last we heard of Joe, as he continued pitching fits in the privacy of his own room.

Blogary, at one point, I went to Joe’s room, letting him know there would be consequences if he continued to slam the door on his captain’s bed. Then I went back to join Daddy and Charlie at the dinner table, with dinner already in progress.

As I sat down, I smiled at Rob and said, “Have I earned an excuse to drive to P-U-B-L-I-X?” (Publix is a grocery store chain that sells Ben &  Jerry’s S’mores ice cream. And, I spelled it, because Charlie would understand what I was wanting.)

Rob smiled back at me and said, “Not only have you earned it. Your ‘Gopher’ will gladly go get it for you.”

Now please understand, I am not trying to say that I earned ice cream because I reprimanded and punished my child. The purpose of getting the ice cream was to calm my frazzled nerves. I don’t know a Mom in the world that enjoys hearing their child pitch fits. And, in my opinion, whether the fit is warranted or not – the crying and sadness tugs at my heartstrings. I’ve heard the saying several times, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Well, my child was not happy last night, I was not happy last night, and ice cream could have served as a numbing agent (for both of us, actually).

Joe eventually calmed down and fell asleep, and I worked my way through the emotions without resorting to food. This morning, Joe and I started the day fresh. He will go straight to his room when he gets home from school. However, he will be invited to join the family at the dinner table for supper. I don’t want to go through two nights (in a row) of missed dinners.

Anyway, thanks for listening, Blogary.


My View Today

Tolle writes, “When every thought absorbs your attention completely, when you are so identified with the voice in your head and the emotions that accompany it that you lose yourself in every thought and every emotion, then you are totally identified with form and therefore in the grip of ego.”

Because of the overwhelming awareness of emotions within me, the voice in my head rattles on most of my waking hours. And today, there is frustration and sadness within me. My heart aches for my nephew, and my heart aches for one of my very best friends, who just found out her Mom is battling Cancer. And, as I read Tolle today, the frustration within me increases.

Living in an unconscious state is sometimes a blessing. Generally speaking, drug addicts, alcoholics, bulimics, anorexics, etc. aren’t trying to find their conscious state; rather they are trying to find a state of unconsciousness. Yes, I understand the concept of the mind – the ego – telling you that your life is lacking for whatever reason. I understand the concept of using food to avoid the labels of the ego. But seriously, I am wondering if I am too in tune with my emotional state. I am wondering if I am too in tune with a conscious state. I analyze too much as it is now; reading Tolle seems to encourage further analysis which is overloading the circuits in my consciousness.

One of my Facebook friends had this as her status: ‘In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.’ There is humor and truth to that thought. Humankind is constantly searching for something else. If that statement weren’t true, books would not be sold, and spiritual teachers would not have pupils attending their classes. Even living in the state of consciousness creates a desire to find an even deeper sense of consciousness. Seeking a deeper sense of consciousness risks falling into the trap of always wanting greater fulfillment.

When frustrated or sad (or experiencing any emotion), Tolle suggests one should express the feeling as ‘there is frustration in me’, rather than saying ‘I am frustrated’. Tolle suggests that the emotion has nothing to do with who you are. Honestly, I do notice a difference within myself when I say, “I feel frustrated” vs. “There is frustration within me.” One of those statements seems to remove me from the situation to the point that the frustration seems less intense. However, even though there are tendencies within me to stew on any given emotion at any given time, I don’t recall feeling as though any given emotion was my identity. Unless ‘crazy’ is an emotion.

Seriously, this book is dangerous territory for me. I need not be encouraged to observe my thoughts instead of listening to my thoughts. Listening was never a strong suit of mine, anyway. In the meantime, the frustration and sadness exists within me. My thoughts are consumed with my friend and her Mom. In fact, after reading this, I ask that you take a moment to say a prayer, send a positive thought, or whatever the spiritual side of you does – please send support to my friend and her family. Her brother, while battling a brain tumor, kept these words beside him during his struggle: Strength, Perseverance, Determination, Hope. Those are good qualities on which to hold tight.

And to my friend, I raise a glass of Guinness to you and your Mom. Guinness for Strength; Guinness for Health. I love you.