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Where rises inspiration, rises hope, even if it is from a “silly, little show.”

This is the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y

So, while watching “The Voice” tonight one of the judges commented that this is a “silly, little show.” Not in a bad way, but in a “in the grand scheme of things this isn’t curing cancer kind of way”. And though the show may not showcase researchers in a medical lab, I’m going to very kindly disagree (sort of) with the notion.

The thing about talent, is that it inspires. And inspiration is an amazing thing. There is power in inspiration. Inspiration rarely happens absent of a connection. We connect with something, and suddenly things make sense. We feel what others are feeling. And that gives rise to hope.

One of the main ways many of us find inspiration is through the arts. Whether it’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, writings, readings, and music to name a few. What exists within these forms of expression are extensions of a person’s soul. We use the arts to tell others what lives inside of us. It tells others how we connect, and gives them that same chance. When we make that connection we feel alive in a way that we don’t normally feel without that inspiration. The talents that we have matter. Sharing the talents that we have matters. I love that there are now forums for people to constantly find sources of inspiration any time we want now. It’s an amazing thing. And the show, silly or not, truly does allow for those types of connections to be made. It has the capacity to inspire millions each week. That is an awesome power. It allows people to see that following our passion truly can lead us to somewhere amazing. Somewhere unthinkable. What exists within us, each of us, can truly change lives. It can give rise to inspiration, and give rise to hope. We can bring one another to higher heights by taking a chance and doing our best.

Music is my vice (one of them, writing is as well). I don’t know how to survive without it. When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. Every culture on earth has some form of music as a component in it. It’s one of the few universals out there.

When I was little the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on. That connection lives on. Great music touches lives forever. Even if it’s on a silly, little show. I’m sure “The Ed Sullivan Show” could be classified in a similar manner, but it had an unprecedented impact on people around the world simply because a band played a few songs on February 9, 1964. And the impact lasts to this day. So in short, Adam and I actually agree. Everything we do matters. Everything we do has the potential to change lives.

(PS guys I promise I’m going to stop writing about “the voice”…. and you know, buy my book. Seriously, it’s a worthwhile, cost-effective gift for any occasion, and everyone you forgot to put on your list this year!  🙂

“Superstition ain’t the way” Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Stevie Wonder – Superstition via YouTube

It’s Friday the 13th! Well, there’s only about a quarter of the day left here. But, still. When I was little I used to love Friday the 13th’s because at school we would do fun different things, like color pictures of black cats or sing scary songs in music. And I decided that I liked the day. Which is strange, because I was always fairly superstitious. I didn’t step on cracks, except when I was feeling really daring, and I always had tremendous concern for my mom afterwards. I didn’t mess with mirrors, and when one of mine broke I was highly concerned I would actually have bad luck for 7 years. I wonder if the cell phone/ipod screens that show your reflection count? If so there are a lot of people who should probably be concerned these days. Maybe that’s what’s wrong now? My ipod screen has been cracked for the last 3 years. My point is, I decided I liked 13, because we had fun days at school, and at the time, I was really interested in becoming a teenager. Thirteen was the lucky number that was going to make me a grown-up almost!

Do you have superstitions? I really like learning about them. It’s fascinating how it just takes one time of great luck or terrible luck for us to form a superstition. We may never take a route again or we might always choose a route simply because of the outcome one time. But superstitions never work every time. Good or bad. And we may be missing out on the good things simply because we decided that route was a bad one years and years ago. Maybe the road has changed. Maybe things have improved. Maybe there’s an interstate now to get you to your goal sooner and you don’t know because you’re unwilling to try.

It’s so funny to me, because there are places I won’t go and things I won’t do a certain thing because people I know tried it and failed. And though it’s good to heed the lessons of others, sometimes we have to try for ourselves. Sometimes we have to overcome those little (huge) superstitions just to try it out and see. Simply to take that risk. Because you’ll never get anywhere great in life without making a few risky moves! So enjoy your Friday the 13th’s! I will be watching a comedy tonight, because well, scary movies scare me. So I don’t watch them!

Day 22 – Looking for inspiration in the haze

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Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”  – Louisa May Alcott

This week while I was sitting with my son, who has been sick (we actually leave for a doctor’s appointment soon), I was looking out of the window and it looked like the trees in the yard were glowing. It was really beautiful. And Jack thought it looked like magic. He was genuinely excited about it. I really appreciated how enthusiastic he was. He tends to be that way in general. He’s enthusiastic and encouraging. He makes it a point to enjoy whatever he is doing. He’s really one of the happiest people I know, and I am so happy about that. His enthusiasm reminded me of just how important it is to allow ourselves to be inspired.

While looking at the trees, I was reminded of some that I used to see in the mornings on the way to school when I was in college. It was a mixture of cherry blossoms and some trees I didn’t recognize. But when the light would hit them, they would glow. And it always put me in a better mood. When we let things in and we let them inspire us, even the smallest things like the glowing leaves, it has the capacity to shift our moods. We start focusing on that feeling of inspiration of happiness, and the other frustrations, like that of getting up and going to class!

Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of just how much the little things (or the way we perceive them) in life do affect us. Those things that we take in or that we disregard are the little triggers for our mood. They have the ability make us smile or leave us anxious or upset. We take in so much information a day. It’s coming at us in every form and from every direction. What is it that we choose to focus on and why? When we start looking at the things we do, even down to the smallest things, like what we opt to filter out, we get to a point where we can ask the pivotal question of why? Why do we ignore some things and not others? Why do we focus on some things as opposed to others? Part of the answer is that we have to. We have to focus in one direction and not another. We can’t absorb everything. We would overload. We would have no course of action, because we’d simply spend all of our time trying to sort out what we are taking in with each step. This means that our steps are directed, and they are somewhat directed by the things we’ve chosen to take in. The things we choose to acknowledge. And that means the path that we are going down is dependent upon what we have chosen to give our attention to. When we give our attention to boredom or frustration that’s where our path leads. Yet, if we take the time to shift our attention just briefly and look for something inspiring and let it in, no matter how small, we’ve shifted our path. And even the slightest shifts can make a big difference. Especially if we opt to repeat them. We can change our course if we don’t like what we see doing the tiniest of things, just like this. And when I get into those slumps where things are just overwhelmed and frustrating and I find those moments where I have the chance to be inspired, I try to take them. Because looking for inspiration allows us to find it. And it can help lead us to a brighter path.

(As a sidenote we are back from the doctor, and they think it’s just a virus, but his temp keeps jumping up. It’s 103.5 right now an hour after Tylenol, so any well wishes are appreciated!!)

As another addendum:

I received the Regeneration Award from http://thelastsongiheard.wordpress.com/regenerations/.

I just wanted to say thank you, and if you like music, you should check out his blog, it’s got a unique theme and it’s an interesting read.

And I wanted to say that I nominated http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/ for the award also, because she, too, has a very compelling blog and life’s journey that she shares.

As for the questions asked:

Who are you? I’m Lauren…

Are you happy? Yes, I am!

If you could change just one thing about yourself, right now, to make your life better, what would it be? I just want to keep growing and becoming the person I want to be.

Who, or what, inspires you? This is an ironic question considering my topic for today… so the things I mentioned in the blog and outside of my family and friends I would pick music. Music in general inspires me. I love music. It makes me happy.

So thanks again! 🙂

Day 11 – Cherish the moments, ever-fleeting as they are

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“They didn’t have you where I come from. Never knew the best was yet to come. Life began when I saw your face. And I hear your laugh like a serenade.

How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough? How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Cause I’m never never giving you up.” Lullaby, The Dixie Chicks

 

There are certain songs I can’t listen to, because they make me cry every time. This song happens to be one of them. What I was lucky enough to learn from taking care of my nephews is just how quickly time passes. I remember the days both of my older nephews were born. My mother and I were at the hospital waiting. And from day 1, my heart had a new home. I remember with each passing year when I was in high school and entering into college thinking, “gosh I can’t believe it’s already been a year, two years, etc. “ They will be 13 and 14 this summer. Which is insanity. In just 4 short years I will have a nephew in college and one who is a senior in high school. There is nothing like having a child to teach you just how quickly time flies. And I tell all of my mother-to-be friends that. I feel a little lucky that Jack was born in December, because I get to sneak at least an extra 6 months with him, and I’m smart enough to know that I should take what time I can get.

When the world starts getting to me, including the stress of dealing with a preschooler, I have started to stop and remove myself for however many minutes I can, and I remind myself that all of this is fleeting. All of it is ever-changing. We are constantly moving, and I have to remember what’s important. It’s hard, because being able to pay bills, have food, have a car, childcare for Jack, those are all things that are essential to our survival as well. And sometimes the outlook gets a little bit bleak. It gets difficult to stay strong. It gets difficult not to give up or give in (I’m talking about jobs here, not life). So finding a path for us is extremely important.

But when I get those moments, and I get that chance to just be, and to look at Jack and know how much I love him. How much I care. And how quickly these times are going to pass by, I get a chance to stop and appreciate this time. I don’t appreciate the stress. But I get to stop feeling it for those moments. I’d appreciate the struggle more if I could see the outcome, but one day I will. And I’m okay with that for now. So in this post I’d just like to say, cherish the moments, ever-fleeting as they are that give us the chance to just know love. And I hope that everyone has something or someone that gives them a place of refuge. In the end it comes from within. A place where we know we are in the presence of something good. I know I’m in the presence of something good, because I am in the presence of love, and it is the love that I have to give and share. And I’m so very thankful that it is returned in the way that it is with my son.

Day 10 – When Fear Takes Hold

This morning my son said, “okay mom, I’m going to go by myself and be brave, because like you told me I could be brave.” This made me happy, because even though what he was doing was going in the dark room and turning the light on himself, he’s 3, and he really was scared. It made me happy that he is listening when I tell him he will be okay and he can be brave even though he’s scared. This is partly because I don’t ever remember actually being brave, just wanting to be. Because of that the post today explains how I spent the majority of my youth, and is an indicator of why I truly hope to be able to encourage strength and courage into Jack, especially in ordinary situations. The post is long, and I apologize, because it’s the majority of the chapter from the book.

I remember being a fearful child. I never, and I mean NEVER got into trouble at school, or anywhere else for that matter. I was always shy. I was scared to talk to people, even to make new friends. I was terribly scared of adults, because I thought they knew so much more about life than me. I assumed they’d be far too busy with important things to do than to actually care what I had to say or want to play with me. All of this is ironic, because the things I remember most happily in my childhood had to do with family vacations, games, and movie nights.

Nonetheless, I always felt less-than for some reason. The only times I remember ever not being afraid were those when I was singing, dancing, or writing. I did love to perform and make at least my parents watch. But singing and dancing were some of the only occasions I was willing to let others watch me, as well. And as you can imagine, I’m sure that all of the adults I performed for absolutely loved my renditions of “The Greatest Love of All” and “(Stop!) In the Name of Love.” At least I had good taste in music.

One of the biggest things that scared me as a child was the thought of eternity. I didn’t understand it. At 8, I remember something coming on TV that had this shot of the universe where the show or commercial talked about eternity, and I simply burst into tears in the middle of the den where we were all watching TV. I didn’t understand how anything could last forever or how if something did last forever there was really no beginning. It was something that truly made my brain hurt, and I had no clue how to handle it.

I remember my parents telling me it would be okay. They told me God loved me and because He did everything would be fine. I didn’t have to worry. But I don’t remember ever reconciling any of those feelings. That fear stayed with me. My desire to hang onto my family and my friends in this form was far too strong to allow any willingness to let go. I liked being alive. I knew how to understand a world with limits. It was a world without limits that baffled my mind, and created an uneasiness I couldn’t let go of.

About 3 years later, the most devastating event in my life to that point occurred. One of my family members was murdered. I remember during the period around this time, maybe the week or two before finding out, I could just feel a change in the air. I remember asking my mother if anyone in our family had ever been kidnapped or killed prior to my knowing anything was going on.

She told me no and asked what my brother had been telling me. He was 18 at the time, and I suppose had been informed that my uncle had been reported missing. I guess they decided it was time to tell me, and so they did. I remember seeing the news one evening. On it they showed that a set of remains, mostly bones, had been discovered in the woods a few towns away. At the end of the segment they showed a picture of my uncle and noted that he was still missing. I remember looking at my mother in her chair; we were the only two in the room. She started to cry.

To that point, I couldn’t ever recall seeing her do that. I knew something bad was going on. It didn’t take long for them to confirm the body was his. I remember fear immediately enveloping all of the areas it hadn’t previously.

As with any time there is a death, the fragility of life made its presence well known in my head. However, when the event that takes place is something as careless, as thoughtless, as disgusting, as completely unnecessary as these senseless acts are, the knowledge that the end of our journey may be up to someone else is the most unsettling part.

It does not matter what I do, if someone stands in front of me with a gun, he has a very easy means to stop my heart from beating. If someone is set on stopping me today, in the end, he has the capability to do so. And each person has the means to do so simply by virtue of being here. Every single one of us here has the capacity to do something amazing and something unspeakable. We all live in this paradox of extremes.

I didn’t know how to deal with that, so instead of talking to someone about it or finding some way to get help which can be difficult at 11, I chose to close off. I never went anywhere, or very rarely did. I had very few friends, although part of that can be blamed on the treacherousness that is middle school. I lost a way of understanding how a God that I was told loved me, therefore he’d protect me, wouldn’t protect my family. It seemed cruel. I was scared of life, mostly because I was scared of death. And I was scared of the power that other people had in my life.

When we stand on the edge of that platform looking through that barely veiled line that distinguishes between life and death, the presence of the ultimate extremes – love and fear – reveal themselves. They call out loudly and pull at us by what seems like a tangible force. And the tool that becomes the deciding factor on which side we’re really going to lean toward is self-worth. As I said before, even as a child, I always leaned toward the side of fear.

I don’t know what happened that I stopped believing I could be anything. I don’t know why I stopped believing I was worthy. Maybe it really did have something to do with my inability to comprehend the universe or the God I was praying to. But as I stood there to choose, I chose fear. And from that point forward, fear would lead my life.

Ironically, a good portion of what happens to us is likely due to our self-fulfilling prophecy trait. I wanted to feel bad, and in turn I did. Some of my friends were depressed, and I wanted to be too, so I chose it. I spent a lot of time feeling bad about feeling bad, which just made me feel worse. It’s a spiraling effect. Because, if I know that feeling bad is unnecessary, if I were really a good person, if I were really worthy of anything, then I’d go ahead and do something to change it, right? I was afraid, and I used it perfectly. It manifested itself through everything. I never had boyfriends. I wasn’t a good friend. I stopped trying in school, although I was competitive enough to make sure I did better than my siblings.

Most of the time, I just felt sad because my life wasn’t different. I never considered doing anything to change it. I sat happily in my misery, and never pursued anything that was a stretch. Who wants that disappointment? And I stayed just as I was the day before every single day. I didn’t get into trouble, but I didn’t do much of anything worth doing either. I simply was. And that was all.

Day 3 – Music makes the world go ‘round

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Well, at least this is supposed to be day 3. I’ve been at two different houses today and the internet was out at both. Something happened with the line at the cable company, so I haven’t been able to get online all day. It’s been a nice change of pace. Normally I have checked my mail about 10 times by now. It’s just after 6 pm. I’ve been on all of my social network sites. Caught up on everything that I can be caught up on in the world of the internet. But, today I’m somewhat out of the loop, and it’s nice. I used my computer for something I haven’t in a long time, which is listening to my music. So I figured that today, I would talk about music. Because music keeps me sane!

There was a study published recently that talked about how music makes people happy. And I think most people agree that it’s true for them. I love music. When I was little the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). My parents even taped Kids Inc. for me so that I could watch it on the weekends while they slept in. I had a light up microphone that I used to sing oldies to, because my parents made us listen to the music they liked. Fortunately I never minded that, and I appreciate it today. Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on.

When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. When I started writing on May 1st I also decided that I was going to work this month to improve my mental health practices. So I meditated that night after writing. It was brief, just five minutes or so. But I worked to focus my mind on peace and relaxation. I kept repeating the word calm in my head, because well… I don’t really know how to meditate without a focus, and before I can make my mind quiet I have to tell  it what I want it to do.  But we need those moments of calmness, and if we can get there stillness (but relaxing to that point takes me longer, my mind is quite active, as many others’ are). So I’m going to keep meditating for whatever amount of time I get each day to myself to find some quiet and calm. It really does help me focus. And today I’m going to add finding an old song that I used to love and haven’t listened to in a while and playing it. It’s funny how happy it made me stumbling upon some of the songs I did today. Even the sad songs made me smile. Singing is cathartic for me in a way that is similar to writing. Only I don’t sing well, so listening wouldn’t be of much benefit to others. Are there old songs you’ve forgotten you loved? Artists you wish were still on the radio? Everybody needs good music. It livens up the soul!

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