Progress

Progress. What’s that look like? Well, it looks a bit like:

Last week. Between the new haircut, painting my toe and finger nails, and boldly leading praise & worship on Sunday by starting off acapella, I had a very “Ginilou-week”.  For those of you who don’t know, Ginilou is my mother. Of the three of my mother’s daughters, I am the one who has always embraced my Ginilou-ness much more than my other two sisters.  My mother is an original. She never follows trends, she sets them. She talks and relates to men more easily than to women. She relates to animals better than to humans. She wears cool sterling silver jewellery. And, she is the most incredibly talented woman I know. She’s also a contralto – this, obviously, makes her superior. I had no choice in embracing the contralto-thing. God just happened to make me a contralto, too.  As I say, throughout my life, I have tended to embrace, rather than rebel against, the Ginilou-ness.  But, for quite a few years certain things like the nail polish and quirky hair I have not done. That all changed last week…and, I’m all the better for it, really. Why? Why is this progress?, you ask.

Because, while all these things are very Ginilou, they are all the more very Autumn, and all the time I have not done them, I have also not been being me. I am, honestly, the most me now than I have ever been. Because, I haven’t done these things to “be like my mother”. I could no more be like my mother than be like a mongoose. This is evidenced by my lacking ability with the piano. Listen to my mother play and, from that moment on, your ears will long to hear her play, for the notes and the chords she plays will caress not just your hearing, but will imprint upon your soul. Listen to Ginilou play and you are never the same again. It is also evidenced in my lack of painting talent. Just don’t have it.  Oh, and plants thrive in her care, while over in mine they simply die. But, these other things, these are as much me as they are her. And when they are denied in any way, then something is missing. So, there’s a bit less me missing at the moment.

I’ve also made some progress in the friendship department. I think (I hope) we’re getting somewhere now, somewhere lastingly positive. 

Today was a very difficult day. Unfortunately, I really don’t have time to write about that right now. However, I must acknowledge the blessings in the midst of the frustrations – those moments of grace that made the dance bearable today. Thank you, Lord, for every one. And, knowing that progress is being made?  Well, that’s the hope and the light that keeps me dancing on.

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(Ear cuff show off pic… it’s one of those cool things, and it (the ear-cuff, not the pic) was a big pick-me-up today.)

 

 

 

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On A Happy Note

After yesterday’s post (here: http://songmistress.posterous.com/making-the-dance-bearable <—- everyone should read it, more people need to “get it”), I figured it was time to post a positive:

I am really digging my new hair cut! I call this picture “Time To Smile”:  

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I like how this style expresses my personality, and I like how it shows off my musical ink (thus the happy note). I admit, even though it was completely my decision to go with this style, I was afraid that I would regret it the day after I had it done. I don’t regret it, and I am constantly amazed that I don’t. On the contrary, I am really happy with it.  It is really nice that other people are telling me they (honestly) like it and that it suits me. They also tell me that it is very brave.  Well, part of it (the left side and the back) is brave… but, this is why I have the right side… the long side that covers, rather than exposes – because, while part of me is…exibitionist/performer, the other part is, most definitely, a socially awkward introvert. I am a walking contradiction. Why shouldn’t my hair be, as well? I like the way it feels, and I like the way it feels (some will understand this, some won’t). I like the way it looks. It helps a lot that my Jamie thinks it’s super sexy, but the nicest thing of all about it is not what anyone else thinks. It’s what I think about it. How liberating is that? So, it’s time for a happy note, a time to smile: it’s a moment of grace in “The Dance”. 

 

 

Making The Dance Bearable

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Incomprehensible

I carefully move along the edge,
Watching my feet fall upon the blade.
Slicing them open, without a flinch –
Hiding the pain, not giving an inch,
As just one more anguished step is made.

Because there’s no one that comprehends,
It wastes my breath trying to explain.
All think I’m deceived and have no sense.
Forced to lie, I try hard not to wince.
They will never understand the pain.

These bastards have themselves all convinced
That they must know better than I do.
They control, so I must go along –
Made to dance on the knife to their song –
Yet, without tears! ‘cause they have no clue!

Indeed, they are blind to blood gushing,
Dyeing my world a dark, crimson hue.
They think the pain is all in my head.
They won’t consider that things I’ve said
Just might, after all, really be true.

They will never accept that, nor see,
They live in a world not made for me.
But, they make the rules, so I must dance,
Shading my face and tears from their glance,
And only in death shall I be free.

Autumn Dawn Leader
Copyright ©2004 Autumn Dawn Leader

 

My sincere apologies to any who might be offended by a certain word in this poem, I wrote it quite a while back. However, that being said, after reading it again, I am at a loss to find a less vulgar word that fits. Anyway, I wrote this to express what it is like for those of us who live in this world who feel like we don’t belong, don’t fit. It describes those of us with any issues that are within but cannot be seen on the outside, issues that affect day to day living on this planet as it is: issues like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or mild autism.  On this latter one, I was talking to a friend who has a lovely son with Asberger’s Syndrome. We were lamenting about the problem those of us face who aren’t messed up enough to truly live in our worlds (like someone with more severe autism) – thus, simply not being aware that we don’t fit here. On the contrary, we know, and it makes it all the harder to function here. We have a daily dance. It’s painful. And, there are days when it is nothing less than excrutiating. We live in a world full of people who do not understand us, and we don’t understand them. It is all incomprehensible.

However, for those of us who might, given the choice, choose for the dance to stop, that doesn’t mean we are all suicidal. It simply means, we’d rather not be here. But, we are not going to leave until it’s our time (whether or not some of us feel that our time should be sooner rather than later). I don’t fear death. I never have. Because I know Jesus as my saviour I don’t need to fear death; I know I’m going to a better place. But, even if I didn’t know what I know and believe what I believe, even if I thought that when we die we just cease to exist (something that I most definitely do not believe), still, even then, I’d choose that over The Dance, and death is freedom from The Dance.

This being said, there are certain things that make The Dance bearable…just, things that even make it worthwhile. For me, these things are: music, a highly developed sense of humour, and a way with words, but, most of all, it’s my Jamie – his smile, the way he touches me, the way he says my name. These things make me endure The Dance. There are other things. I get surprised from time to time by something that makes me smile, something that gives respite from the constant pain. Those moments are precious. They are moments of grace.  And so…The Dance continues. It is bittersweet. It is life.  

I trust God that He has me here for a reason, whether I understand it or not. After all, faith isn’t about having all the answers – it’s a matter of trust. And, I lean on Him to grant me those moments of grace to keep this on the bearable side. And, I also pray that my allegory will give insight to some of you “normal” lot. While you will not be able to empathise, perhaps you will be able to consider things differently. And any level of better understanding is appreciated by us who are forced to dance this Dance.

Since I am going through a particularly rough patch right now, I thought this would be a good time to share this as a blog post. My deepest gratitude to those of you who live with and support “a dancer”, those of you like my own Jamie who is a precious, priceless gift to me. Without him, I honestly don’t think I could bear another step on the blade. So, to you who put up with so much, who have chosen to move with us on the blade, those of you who soothe our shredded feet with your own laughter and tears, your companionship and strength, thank you. Thank you, so much. 

 

Permanent Break

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I am in a foul mood and physically I feel pretty rubbish as well. Exercise does this to me. Other people get an endorphin high. I get the grumpies and a lot of pain and exhaustion. So, why have I chosen to put myself through the torture of working out once more?  The mirror demands it.

But, this post is not about my body and/or exercise angst. My less than stellar mood (understatement) has been contributed to not only by the exercise, but also by the kids’ truly horrendous behaviour. On top of this, the whole general lousiness of feeling is punctuated by a stupid situation with a “friend”. And, this last thing, my readers, is the subject of this post. Allow me to rant, please.

It’s difficult for me to make and keep friends, so I deeply cherish the ones I have. There are few people that are more than aquaintances and a fewer number than that who I would say actually know me and still love me and would really be there for me in a pinch. The number is small indeed. So, when I light upon someone willing to have – and appearing to persue – friendship with me, I’m very grateful. However, problems arise when I’m messed about. And, I won’t be a glutton for punishment. Not anymore, anyway.

I keep taking back a “friend” who goes through cycles of being capable of being my friend. This person will inform me, after us going along fine for a bit (talking to each other and enjoying each other’s “companionship”), that they must have a break from me. Then, I sit and wait for some communication, which eventually comes (and, when it comes, it’s nearly non-stop), then we pick up where we left off – or a few steps back and work our way back up – and things go swimmingly for a bit until this person decides they can’t talk to/be around me again.

Right. This is me officially tired of it. And, this is me saying the next time the communication comes along, I’m not going to go through this cycle again. It simply wears on the fabric of my fragile psyche…sometimes it’s like razor blades slicing through rice paper.

I don’t like being the one to end a friendship. I don’t like being the one to say “go away and leave me alone”, because…well, friendship is such a precious commodity for me.  But, I think it’s time that I make the decision that says, “We can’t be friends, we are, obviously, not good for each other, and I’m not willing to take another trip ’round this mountain.”  It’s difficult because I have so few good, close friendships, and I was hoping this would be one of them. I know it won’t be a very big blow to the other person; they have lots of friends – they won’t miss me…much.  But, I am sorry, because I did say that I would always be their friend… but this back and forth, hot and cold has become too much to take. I always think this will be the last time, but then it happens again. No more…I was waiting for the other person to “get it together”, but now I know I’m the only one that can put a stop to this viscious cycle. The first three or four times I could excuse, and this last time I will forgive, because I don’t want to hold bitterness in my heart and let it eat at me – so, I will forgive, but I’m no longer excusing this and I’m not putting my heart out there to get trampled on again.  

Not a cheery post, I know. But, I needed to write my decision and determination down, because I know when this person does finally get back in touch with me I will want to let the whole cycle start again in the hopes that it won’t end like it always does. Sadly, I know now those are vain hopes. So, they think they need a break from me? Well, I wonder how surprised they will be when they discover they’ve got a permanent one (be careful what you wish for…). Because, a broken friendship is simply better than yet another crack in my heart. 😦

I Cannot Defy Gravity, BUT…

…it appears I can defy logic. I’ve been contemplating this post (or one like it, lol) for days now, editing and re-editing in my mind, wondering exactly how much to say, what wording to use.  When I saw that two of my biggest blog fans were having withdrawls (they posted on my fb wall, encouraging me to post), I knew I just needed to stop the deliberation, stop it and WRITE. This was punctuated by my husband saying to me before going out to indulge in creative endeavour that he, too, felt that I should do something creative while he was out taking pictures. One of his helpful suggestions was blogging. So, here I am…

One thing I have never been is average.  Average equates boring to me. I’ve never tried to avoid average, really. I just don’t “do” average; it’s simply not me. However, as a woman gets older, even a woman who is not your a-typical multi-tasking, shoe-loving, shopping-adoring, sex-avoiding type, the worries of becoming your average middle aged frump-bag can arise.  I am in no way a natural beauty to begin with (what you see in photos and when I appear on stage or out in public takes work, I tell you). But, feeling beautiful, attractive, etc… for someone with a rejection complex, this, this need to be and feel desirable, it is an issue. And, getting older can radically mess with one’s psyche. 

Now, I know what some of you will say to me: “Autumn, really, you should not be concerned with such things. They are trivial, they are shallow.  And, shouldn’t it be enough that your wonderful husband tells you that you are beautiful?”  Hmm… well…  let’s analyze.  As I say, I have issues, and somewhere inside of me I need to know I am attractive. It can be argued that this is a flaw, a weakness. That may very well be. But, I am honest enough to admit, yes, the affirmation makes me feel...better. Yes, it’s like medicine. And, I like being medicated, hehe. Add to that, I am extremely grateful that my husband, indeed, (still) does find me attractive (I know how blessed I am that this is so), but, although I know that he doesn’t just tell me that because he loves me or because he feels obligated to do so (in other words, he doesn’t just tell me to make me feel better about myself, he sincerely believes it), sometimes I have a mental block in that area and assume that he is simply being very kind because he does love me. 

However, all it takes is a few well-placed, un-fished for, sincere, and completely illogical compliments coming from a totally surprising source and – suddenly – I look in the mirror, still see the rolls and the grey hair…BUT… I feel beautiful.  I am defying logic, because someone took the time to defy logic and actually think I am attractive enough to say so. 

Suddenly I think… well, so and so is younger than me…by quite a bit… have they been drinking? No, hmmm…  no alterior motive?  Nothing to be gained at all…other than a great big smile from a middle aged woman.  It’s not logical.  Not at all.  And, then, suddenly I think…(I am over-using the elipsis, I know…no, that’s not what I suddenly think…but, I am over-using the elipsis…I digress…anywho…) perhaps Jamie isn’t just trying to make me feel better about myself – it causes me to re-evaluate: perhaps, I’m really not that bad. Perhaps, I’ve still got it!. In fact, Jamie loves it when he notices other men looking at me with an admiring eye. He gets to turn to me and tell me, “I told you so. You are gorgeous, accept it.”  Often, I just laugh this off as a fluke… like, well, if someone thinks I look good, they must be a bit mental. Then Jamie tells me to stop putting myself down and just accept the compliment. He grins that know-it-all grin when he sees someone flirting with me. While I think it defies logic, he is thinking, “See, woman! I’m not making it up! Now will you believe me?!?!” I must say, when it comes to this, I am a bit thick-skulled. I don’t know why. It’s not like I am a particularly logical person…so why should this bit of illogicalness boggle my mind so much?  But, it does. It defies logic. And, I love it!

So, what am I saying here? I don’t know, maybe this is a simple lesson in self-esteem and self-confidence as it applies to body image and aging.  More likely, I just wanted to share something priceless that makes me smile and feel good…good enough to blog about. Perhaps I am telling the young men who might be reading this that if they honestly find an older woman attractive (whether or not they are a taken older woman), they should tell them. It’s not about getting something. It’s not about a come-on. It’s about giving that woman a priceless gift.  Don’t do it unless it’s sincere (she’ll know the difference); do it only if you genuinely think it. But, please, don’t be afraid to do it. You will make more than that woman’s day – you will bless that woman’s psyche. Suddenly, she is defying logic…

and, you know what? Defying logic feels like defying gravity! 

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Living For The Chicken Soup Moments

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I’m very down right now. I’m physically ill. I’m lost without my singing voice (this last bout of laryngitis is a total nightmare). My children are acting horrible and I’m desperate for something to change there. And, on top of everything else, a friend who was an amazingly special person and incredibly good and godly man died very suddenly last week.

It’s not happy here at the moment; I’m physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and weary. And, today has been particularly frustrating. Even as I write this, the children are fighting with each other yet again. I have no breath (and no voice) to waste… I am desperate to be able to sing again…but my kids don’t care how important that is to me (I must rest my voice as much as possible in order to save it). I dare say, probably no one begins to understand how important that is to me, with the exception of my mother. She’d be the only one who would “get it”.  But, anyway…  

The proverbial straw to break the camel’s back today was when I went in to fix the kids’ lunch and discovered the bread, that was bought just two days ago, was mouldy! I had a mini breakdown. However, I scraped some stuff together between what was in the fridge and what was in the cupboard and made a decent lunch for them.  As for me, I knew what I was going to have for lunch…

At the weekend, when Jamie did the food shopping, he bought me this fresh chicken soup that I like – especially when I am feeling poorly. I heated up the chicken soup, poured it in a bowl, sat down with a spoon and proceeded to take a bite. 

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Anyone remember that book series “Chicken Soup For The Soul”?  It’s a series of compilations of short stories that have encouraging and inspirational themes. Well, this was literally chicken soup, but it ministered life to more than just my body. It was a moment of peace and pleasure and comfort and sanity and calm in the midst of storm. I sat there and relished each and every delicious spoonful.

It was just chicken soup. 

It was SO MUCH MORE than just chicken soup.

And, right now, those are the moments – few and far between they may be – I am living for.

 

I hope your day will have at least one chicken soup moment in it. I hope that you and I both will look for opportunities to, perhaps, be – or help facilitate – someone else’s chicken soup moment (just like Jamie helped facilitate my moment by getting me the soup). Most of all, I hope that we will all experience many more chicken soup moments…and considerably less sucky-ness!!! Yes. Please.

 

Reach Out And Upset Someone

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There used to be this great tv commercial when I was growing up and the slogan was “Reach out and touch someone”. The ad was for the phone company and it was all about picking up the phone and talking to the people you care about: friends, family, etc.. It was touching and I’m sure it encouraged many to go ahead and ring up those loved ones they had put off ringing up. Of course, this was years before the advent of mobile phones and text messaging.

When text messaging became available, I rejoiced. I thought, “Oooh, I may never actually have to make a phone call again.”  This is because I have a phobia, arising from fear of rejection, of making phone calls.  Honestly, if you have ever received a phone call from me you must understand that it made me physically sick to my stomach and I probably deliberated for a long time about it and I first would have begged my mother or my husband to call you for me, and then if they refused I would sit there and stare at the phone in agony before finally making myself make the call.  No matter how many times I face this fear and actually make a call, it never ever ever gets any easier.  So, text messaging certainly seems to be the thing invented for me. Right?

Well…you’d think so. The problem is, like all text related forms of communication, it’s easy to have misunderstandings, it’s very easy to misread the “tone” of a message. There’s no voice inflection and no way to really prevent getting the wrong idea sometimes. So, today when I got a message from a friend that took a major detour from our present conversation, I assumed it meant something that it didn’t mean, because I caught a different “tone” than what was intended by the sender of the message.  So, I sent back something I thought was appropriate. However, lo, and behold, it was anything but the right thing! I had gotten the wrong end of the stick and the message I sent back upset this person – a person who means a lot to me. They’re not talking to me now. This is pretty heartbreaking since I don’t have many close friends that live close to me, and I hate that I have lost another one. I have a difficult time making and keeping friends. The last time I lost a friend was simply because the person decided I didn’t really fit into their life any more. So, mostly on their part, the closeness of friendship, sadly, ceased. But, this time it is my fault. This time I am to blame.  

I mean, I am to blame, right?  I can’t honestly blame the technology?  I can’t just sit here and bemoan how I was born in the wrong era, can I? i.e. I should have been born (to a noble family) in the middle ages. No phones of any kind. You either got a scribe to pen you a letter, or you talked face to face (and the letters were usually summons to come and see one face to face).

Well, yes, I could do that…but, it doesn’t really do me any good: I’m still down another friend…and I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss him rather a lot. 😦