My Life in Song and Religion

I know my posts tend to be, “woe is me-ish”. but I’d like to hopefully depart from that… sort of.

I wish I could insert pictures, but for some reason that hasn’t been working for me of late. Pics seem to want to accumulate at the bottom of the post. I’d like to change my site photo, but I’ve yet to figure how to access that feature as well.

So, until I figure out the changes WordPress made two years ago, I keep posting, as is. I know I might start out sounding like I’m in despair, but that is not my intention. So, this post I hope will end up being a departure from that.

I survived my abusive childhood listening to music, you could find me singing out in the wilderness to my hearts content and at the top of my lungs. That’s how I got through life and interestingly it was enough to brighten my day and lift me up. I salute the artists who wrote the songs and the many artists who produced the many films I sought refuge in. In life, if you met me, you would not see a down spirited person. I’m always upbeat and cheerful. I used the tools and gifts God gave me and that is why.

Religion and church offered me sanctuary, a safe haven. Attending meant I wasn’t home and God was pretty neat to talk to. I prayed so much as a child. I was baptized Catholic only to have mother adopt the Jehovah’s Witness religion when I was five, I didn’t grow up learning Christian Hymns, but I love singing hymns. I didn’t learn those until I was in my 50’s when I joined the choir in Alabama. Southerners love to sing. In high school, I snuck out and attended the Catholic Church with my Catholic friends. Being a Jehovah’s Witness was not easy, but it provided me a place to feel like I belonged. The downside of attending the Catholic church then was that everything was in Latin, so not easy to sing to. I attended a Pentecostal Church once as a child when I was being babysat by a neighbor and that was totally different. I would go on to study the LDS faith. Church was my safe place and God my protector. Even as a child, I’d sit in a corner and daily, close my eyes, open the bible and point and that’s where my lesson or bible readings would start and I did this on my own. God and I were buddies.

When I was in Alabama, a friend I’d made there introduced me to jamming in country barns where all the farmers gathered with whatever instrument they played. Those who didn’t play, sang. Then she took me to a FaSoLa gathering. I guess knowing I grew up in California, she oughta teach me my heritage and get a taste of the south. Once a year in summer, there would be this remote, really remote church in the middle of nowhere, where followers would meet, some coming from all over the states and globally. FaSoLa, also referred by some as Sacred Harp or Shape Note singing, uses basically just those shape notes and it is acapella. The one in Alabama would take a whole weekend where everyone brings a dish for potluck. It’s very old timey and the origin of Shape note singing is heartwarming. Dang! I sure wish I could transfer my clips. No matter, check it out.

See: fasola.org/singings/

MUSICALS AND OTHER SONGS –

If you want to know my favorite songs and the early ones I remember singing often, were those that talked about escape. The Wayward Wind, was a favorite. I’d climb a tree and belt it out. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Someday My Prince Will Come, Singing in the Rain, to name a few. I love the To Kill a Mockingbird soundtrack, as well as many animated Disney soundtracks. Soundtracks of the old musicals in general were so cool. Even if I didn’t know the words, I’d love to sing loudly with the one or two words or phrases and lines I knew well. Usually the refrains. Ever done that? I even sang to foreign singers such as Yma Sumac and Miyoshi Umeki.

I got a picture in. lol. A sunrise from my backyard Yay!

When Daddy had his electronic set up, I could sing using the microphone and blast the neighbors, when no one was home of course. I especially liked the vocal range of Yma Sumac and would challenge myself to mimic her songs and hit all those notes. I almost had them, but my voice was still young and I managed fairly well, but not well enough. Still, it was an outlet and it served me well in school, because I always got to do the solos, no one else could handle.

Rock songs were for fun. Musicals like Westside Story, with the typical youth misunderstood lyrics, were sad but catchy and passionate. South Pacific, Oklahoma and sadly, My Fair Lady were just a few I loved. I hate to say and wish it wasn’t true, but I’m horrible at memorizing words, so as much as I would have loved to sing professionally, I’d fail… but I follow along well. I can’t carry a tune on my own but I can read music, so if you give me a sheet of music, I can do it. Some people can belt a song out without anyone giving them that first note, but I can’t. Just so you know, I know my limitations.

If it was a musical, be it with Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Gypsy, Music Man, the King and I, Guys and Dolls, Meet me in St. Louis and Porgy and Bess. Summertime was a favorite and for fun, oldies like Oh Susanna! I can’t dance well, but I can pretend I do.

I remember once embarrassing the hell out of my step-dad when, after watching Westside Story, I was hanging out the window on a warm summer day, singing Officer Cruptke and shouting, “I got a social disease!” and summarily being yanked back into the car, not knowing what it meant, of course. I still get a chuckle out of that memory. When I learned what a social disease was, I too, was deeply humiliated. How could they put that in a song? I will admit, that even though mother was prone to much verbal abuse, my step father was much loved. To see him, he looked kinda grumpy, but when he smiled, it was like sunshine and even though we had a rocky start, he turned out to be a good guy. I can say I loved and respected him and even though I was, by then in my late teens, I at least had enough time to appreciate him and his endurance and care for mother, who was so difficult.

Later in life, of course there were many tunes that I took shelter in. Music and song are my sanctuary.

Phantom of the Opera got me through many a long trip, but didn’t show up in my life until I was older. My son, Ian and I would split the vocals. I’d do Christine and other female parts and he’d do the Phantom and any male parts. He has a beautiful voice. I miss singing with him. We used to have the best time in Alabama because people were always fighting over him to carry the tenors. I’ll never forget his first time, he sat with someone that was so flat, that he had a hard time tuning the poor guy out and we went home laughing so hard. He eventually got strong enough. Singing in parts is hard at first, but we both loved singing enough to give it all we had. It was fun.

I’ll never forget the time, I tried to keep from falling asleep while driving cross country by rehearsing songs from our upcoming Easter pageant. I’m singing at the top of my lungs thinking I’d stay awake. Trust me, it doesn’t work, you can sing while asleep. Unfortunately, it was raining and I spun out and ended up in a ditch. I remember facing oncoming traffic and thinking, “oh shit, I’m dead!’ as this huge semi, looking like it was coming at me, went past me. Nothing wakes you up quicker. Another thing, my life didn’t pass before me. No, it was just, “oh shit, I’m dead”. Not funny, but funny.

Today, I get lost in songs by Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran and yes even Justin Bieber. I love Maroon 5, the Weekend and have added them to the many old artists, I used to listen to. Peter and Gordon, Beatles, Elvis, Animals, Dave Clark Five, Petula Clark, Louis Armstrong and more.

For awhile I was collecting vinyls and one time I got the mother lode of vinyl at a yard sale, but before I could go through them, when I awoke the next morning, my grandson had already tagged the ones he wanted. Music has given me life, dreams and sustained me through three marriages, raising children, grandchildren and now three great grands. What’s interesting is how much music transcends our generations. It’s something we can all share and love.

Latest Great Grand, Jovi Olson and her momma. Like I said, I’m having trouble with photos, but pretend they are side by side, lol. SIGH… BTW, how many of us can say we looked that good after giving birth?

Yeah, I want to say, sometimes I sound like I live on the dark side of the moon, but truly I have a lot of good in my life. My life isn’t Donna Reed or Leave it to Beaverish, but I have great kids, siblings and family. Despite some of our rough patches, love does abound, we love to sing and dance in our own fashion and I’m grateful. There’s nothing like it when we get together and Tina tells Alexa to play 60’s 70’s favorites that we don’t all break out in song.

Is there someone in my life? Too soon to tell how that will work out, but who knows? I’m taking a page form my friend Caralyn of Beauty Beyond Bones who always says, “trust God” and how it got her through tough times and how, in so doing, she’s now got her happy.

I’m doing my best to “Be Optimistic”… and not be a grumpy – Another great song (Shirley Temple) did I ever tell you about my nice visit with Shirley Temple Black? And so it goes. There’s always going to be a memory attached, right?

I get much uplifting support from my fellow bloggers, some old, tried and trues and new ones now. I thank you all!

Try singing and I’ll keep singing because it’s how I get through the tough times. Try it!

PS

If you want to be inspired, try some of the songs from The Greatest Showman, I love A Million Dreams, Never Enough and well, all of them!!

The workman on my street, love it when I walk by belting these songs and Keith Urban’s Blue Aint’ your Color or Wild Hearts. They tell me I have a good voice. I guess anything they can hear over their jackhammers has got to entertain, lol. These are easy songs to download and walk and sing. I’ve been known to get a few Kpop tunes out as well. Free yourself up!

Guilt, Broken People & Stolen Childhoods

I was reading an article on Quora about a woman who discovered the past of an odd uncle she barely knew.  In going over his belongings after his passing, the family discovered his hidden past.  He had been a victim of  sexual abuse by a priest.  The why of the idiosyncrasies and oddities of this relative came to light.  Her putting the pieces together after going through his stuff was a feat in of itself.   She says about his life:  “It was a lousy life filled with sadness, failure, misplaced loyalty, an inability to nurture relationships. ” The person writing felt guilty even though she had not even been born at the time all the abuse transpired and obviously had nothing to do with it.  Why is it, abuse makes the victim feel guilt when the guilt is not theirs?  Sometimes this carries over to others who care about us. It’s a hard thing to wrap your head around, isn’t it?  Please understand, I am not a therapist.  My observations are that of a former victim.

Guilt.  It is a sad burden to carry, why does it torture us?  I can’t imagine her why.  Perhaps, because of their shared DNA, she felt compelled to shoulder some of his pain? I can’t say because I just don’t know.

Some people can overcome the trauma of abuse even if not forgotten. Some cannot. I can only imagine the suppressed anger and guilt, he must have kept inside all those years which stymied his growth, kept him from successful relationships and contributed to his reclusive later life.  One never knows what was in the mind of this person.

What many people don’t know is how much guilt is shouldered by victims and how that guilt affects all facets of their life. Guilt?  Yes, guilt. 

I have been doing my three pages every morning as my assignment and as I study the book, The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  My assignment in Chapter Three is to describe my childhood room and what it was I liked best about it and what my favorite things were.  I had none.  NONE!  No memories. I could not describe my room! After stretching my memories a while, I could only remember a bunkbed that we kids would roll off the top of and that’s it!  Did the room have windows? Were there other beds?  I don’t remember anything other than my dad sneaking into the room at night to single me out for his perversity.  I’ve always wondered, where were my siblings? I couldn’t say.  I couldn’t sleep tonight, mourning the loss of innocence, the loss of not having a fond memory, no special toy or anything.  My loss. The earliest images I have of a bedroom, were later as a teen and not of my room, but my brothers and his model airplanes suspended from the ceiling. I have been searching my brain for a memory, but obviously I blocked it out.  All of it.  It’s no wonder my only fond memories as a child were being outdoors, far away from the house.

I’m not a therapist and I can only speak from experience, but a victim always wonders what it is about them that abusers seek out.  What did they do to “invite” the abuse?  Did they do it intentionally or is there an invisible brand on their forehead that tells others they are easy targets?  Do they trigger something in certain personalities that draws the perpetrators?

Victims experience so many false starts in life others cannot understand. Their self talk tells them they are not worthy.  Even when things start to look up and success looks like it’s coming their way, they inadvertently do something to self sabotage.  It is not the same for everyone and it doesn’t just relate to sexual abuse.  Like the uncle above, a life of constant fails seem to follow them.

They can be accusatory and suspicious.  But, it all stems from their own guilty feelings.

I had an attorney tell me once, while I was going through my divorce and in regards to my ex-husband’s philandering and infidelity, he said “you can’t put guilt unless guilt is there”.  I now think back on that statement and wonder if perhaps that wasn’t just to make me feel better but a narrow and prejudicial view of his own?  

Let me back track a bit here.  His comment was in response to me telling him that my husband, who was a constant cheater, blamed me for his affairs, saying I always made him feel guilty, as if to excuse his cheating.  I couldn’t understand it at the time, but the issue between us was obviously more complex than any of us knew.

Knowing what I know now and years after the fact, there were several dynamics going on.  We were both broken and because we were broken, and neither of us knew to what extent, we couldn’t help each other.

His background:  I don’t know his early, early years, but I do know his father was a womanizing alcoholic and was gone a lot.  He died the year we were married of cirrhosis of the liver.  The ex was a middle child, with an older sister and younger brother.  His mother was a nurse and worked hard to provide for her family.  She was obviously depressed because one day she shot herself.  She was found by his younger brother. That young man suffered tremendous trauma and died at a fairly early age of drugs and alcohol.

I recall later telling my then husband,  “You’re just like your father who you’ve always hated”.  Even though he admitted it was true, did my saying it aloud reinforce his own lack or self talk of not being worthy? I don’t know.

I wonder if for some, like myself, guilt comes from not doing something or the inability to notice that others might need help and perhaps fall short of helping them?

It is my belief that broken people can’t help broken people, yet we tend to gravitate to one another.  I truly believe that.  Not because they don’t want to but because they just don’t know how.  They’ve not had the template of what a successful relationship looks like to go by.  So, guess what?  I felt guilty.  I really didn’t have the tools to help him. This person married several times since and once before me and each time, he created circumstances that obligated all the women in his life to leave or give up on him.  He is now living a loveless life with no one. He even pushes our children away from him.

I also always wondered how much is genetics.  I think genetics plays a part in our temperament to receive and counter information.  Perhaps its a conditioning from the womb, environmental absorption pre-birth? Theory.

Perhaps not though. My father beat mother, he beat us, but there was no way in hell I’d let anyone do that to me. When the ex raised his hand to me one time, I stood straight up, my 5’2″ to his 6’1″ and looked him straight in the eyes with my finger pointed at him and said, “Don’t you dare!”  He backed down immediately. The memory of that day still makes me chuckle.  He apologized.  It apparently wasn’t in his DNA to be a hitter.  Yet, he sabotaged every relationship he ever had and drove people out of his life.  Sad.

For some time, I felt guilt and a sense of obligation to not give up trying, despite the fact I did take him back three times.  Since that marriage and before this one and after the last one, I had extensive therapy and realized I was in no position to have helped him.  At the time, I was too broken. It took a while to learn and realize that.

When my sister died and after her diagnosis, I shared with all of you the burden of guilt I felt that fortunately has lifted since. I just couldn’t shake it for a long while.  The guilt of not having been around to help her and/or recognize her illness.  At some point, we have to let people make their own decisions.  We cannot force them to see the doctor, which I tried to convince her to do.  The guilt is not mine.  Resentment?  Yes.  I miss her and I am angry she left me too soon, but I will not feel guilty.  I believe her choice was intentional and the consequences of that choice was realized long ago.

I think of myself as broken china mended with gold. Each crack makes me more valuable.

I am okay, but then… maybe not yet, but I will be.

PS

Let me counter what I said earlier on about broken people not being able to help broken people… the truth is many therapists are former broken people, so I think broken people may be able to help other broken people once they’ve been fixed .  I could be wrong.

Guilt and shame prevents growth. I’m digging deep and though I may not have many years left, I intend to clear out the junk and live wholly.

Like I said, I AM NOT A THERAPIST  and this is not therapy.  I’m only sharing this because I’ve had to come to terms with a few things in the last few months and I can tell with this new workbook, I will be delving deep and as I grow, I’m sharing. I hope you don’t mind.  It’s MY therapy.

 

I still wonder what my room may have looked like.

Firefighting Hero

I want to dedicate this post to my granddaughter’s love, Benjamin Polson, who died January 13 when the roof of a home he and two other firefighters in St. Louis, had gone into collapsed. The other two sustained injuries, but survived. He was only 33 years old.

I wish, I could have met him, since I always felt he was instrumental in impacting my granddaughter’s life in a positive way.

Every day, Firefighter’s and Police risk their lives to save and rescue our towns and communities, but somehow get taken for granted. Shortly after Ben died, three other firefighters in New Jersey did not.

Firefighters hold a special place in our hearts because, my brother was a firefighter before becoming an airline pilot and even after becoming a pilot, he would serve as a volunteer, in Virginia, I think it was. So, firefighting is lauded in our family.

Because I didn’t know Ben, I can only share pictures of him and my granddaughter and wish my friends will at least say a silent prayer for his loved ones who are grieving and all firefighters and police.

I was kind of late in posting this because I didn’t know how to access the photos, but here it is. I hope you enjoy. Portia is back in Vail, Colorado. From what I gather, she’s doing okay. I know when I lost my sister, it took so long for it to hit hard. This little gal has cried heart and soul out, which I was unable to do for Diana, so I hope her healing will come quicker. Thank you for reading.

Living in the Shadows

I got to talking to a friend of mine who was having difficulty coming into her own. Like myself, I believe this person selects partners that though may be verbally encouraging, are in fact enablers.

I have felt that way on more than one occasion.

Then I thought of this one couple in particular, but I’ve seen it in others as well, who had, what appeared to be the same level of fame or success in their careers, until they married.

Suddenly one of them skyrockets with success and the other is relegated to living in the background, their identity and success, no longer a priority. Is it a choice or did they find themselves relegated to being great cheerleaders? Did it just happen? It could destroy some marriages.

I have often said, when I see someone who failed and that includes me, “they just didn’t want it bad enough.” There’s also a saying, you can’t have two roosters in a hen house.

I don’t see this as much when two people already famous get together, but more so when they are on the rise. (then, you might have the competitive ego to contend with) <big smile> I could be wrong.

With this one couple, who will remain nameless, the famous spouse is always pushing the other front and center by including them in their shots or commending them in one way or another. for being part of their support system They, for all intense and purposes, appear to be heroic and admirable. Perhaps they are. Guilt can play a part in this is my guess. How can they not know their partner lost their luster? If I, and possibly others, can see it in their partners face and demeanor, why don’t they?

I have often wondered, how did I get here? How did I not see what I was doing? Because the reality of it is, we choose these people. The enabelers. The crazymakers.

I told a special friend, that my biggest fear is losing self. For many years, I forfeited self in all my relationships and family. Me. I made that choice. Was it fear? Was I afraid to live my life honestly?

Sometimes that’s all it is. I was talking to a loved one and she admits to doing poorly in relationships. Sounds like me. It’s too easy to lose self and one’s goals in a relationship. Without even thinking about it we find ourselves working toward their goals, while ours get abandoned. Then there’s the person with no goals but is not there for yours either. There’s always going to be someone unfulfilled. Would we know it? Retrospection is not something new, but it is only in this day and age that it is being permitted to have and/or express. Dissatisfaction, was something we accepted, not exclusive to but mostly in women. There has always been the guy who when learning that his girlfriend was pregnant, didn’t run away, but sucked it up and did right by her and the child. You don’t see that as much anymore, but there was a time. There was also the woman, who gave up her career choice to stay home and raise kids. What about the woman, who was hoping once her kids were grown to live her dream finding herself suddenly caring for the child of her unwed daughter or son? Like I said this is not exclusive to one gender over another. Men are doing that now as well, when the woman becomes the highest income earner, he can sometimes, especially once the family is started, giving up his career choice. I could go on, and on. The thing about it is, are we asking too much to want to be fulfilled? To want what we want?

My sister and I started writing a few years before our parents required our attention. She wrote stories and did crayon art. I wrote stories and screenplays and sang in the choir. It was great. Once they were gone we went different ways, but not a day went by that we weren’t on the phone cheering each other on.

My sister’s passing left me feeling less than whole and unable to express myself like the two of us together could. I felt often that I no longer cared and I received no such interaction from anyone else. It was crippling.

After a bout with Covid, it took all the energy I had to stay here. I often wished to be with my sister. It was like get it over with by golly! I’m still tired a lot but I now want to get back to writing. I have so many ideas overflowing out of my brain, but … and there goes my but. I’d love to have someone to talk to and bounce these ideas off of. I’d like someone to interact with about what works and what doesn’t. I haven’t found that. Oh, I had one such online person that started out like that and he sounded excited about my stories, but not having someone live makes a difference. Online, it’s hard to tell sincerity. It’s hard to say, yeah, that could work but no it won’t work and hear the intonation of their voices, their laugh.

Oh, to have someone live to share these moments. Someone, who will free me and not steal from me, my spirit and my joy.

It can happen.

Living in the shadows sucks.