I’m sitting at my desk trying to summon the energy and creativity to start typing. I’ve put on my sound canceling headphones that I use when I am a guest on podcasts. I started my playlist of favorite songs and hit “shuffle.” This is a very unique playlist that ranges from the Cathedral Quartet singing, “Search Me Oh God” in four part harmony to RuPaul’s, “Peanut Butter.” There’s a bit of classical, a pinch of jazz, or a dollop of rap. (Who doesn’t enjoy Warren G’s “Regulator”?!) Let’s just say I never know what will play next and tonight was no exception.
I was deleting the last pieces of junk email from my inbox and preparing to switch over to Google Docs, when Southern Raised started singing, “What a Day That Will Be.” Southern Gospel Music played a big role in my childhood. Going to an all night Singspiration and seeing the Cathedral Quartet live created as much excitement for me as going to see Beyonce with his best friend created for my son.
It wasn’t long before nostalgia took over and I was swaying gently to the rhythm of the music and harmonizing at singing-in-the-shower volume. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the mic attached to the headphones and thought to myself, “I’ll bet I could record myself singing along.” I chuckled to myself as a memory of my grandmother popped into my head.
I was probably in first grade and we had come up from Corvallis to Portland to see Grandma B, my father’s mother, for the weekend. She lived in the tiniest one bedroom house. (She lived in a tiny house before it was trendy to do so.) Even though it was close to an industrial area, I remember there being a sizable field around her house and her neighbors had a horse in their yard. That afternoon, she was sitting on her back stoop with her cassette player in her lap and she was recording herself singing an old hymn. I don’t remember what it was; it might have been, “What a Day That Will Be”. It was definitely that style of music.
Grandma B’s singing style took a special ear to appreciate. It was raw and nasally and not particularly melodic. I was too young to see any value in her recordings. I personally felt embarrassed for her. After all, my mom had made sure I knew singing through one’s nose was not acceptable. Tonight, that memory reminds me how important it is to embrace my whole identity, even those parts I think should make me hang my head in shame.
It’s a timely message for me. This week I shared my story with Carrie Neely on her podcast, Wellness Stories from a Teacher Turned Soap Maker and today the negative thoughts are spiraling and my leg is frantically tapping out, “anxiety” in Morse Code on my polished concrete floor worrying about what a fool I may have made of myself.
“Hello, anxiety my old friend! So nice to see you again.”
So far in my life, I have lived a total of 19,644 days. There was one day; however, that up until recently, I would actively lie to myself and would deny it had ever happened. Not even a triple dog dare would get me to share that story with anyone. Talking with Carrie, I shared all 19,644 days and honored my younger self with grace.
Today, I am mired in self-critical thoughts and am turning to My Anxiety Toolbox. I desperately wish I knew exactly what I said and how I said it. I don’t. I was in the moment and enjoying the conversation with Carrie. I can’t go back in time and change any of it now and there’s no point in trying to control how listeners react to it.
So now, I am sitting here telling you about the knot in my stomach. I’m reminding myself that I didn’t go into the interview without preparing and had planned to claim the day that didn’t exist for what it was, a naïve young person who was unprepared for the world they were stepping into and making a mistake. I am breathing through the thoughts of, “What will people think? What if people think I am a horrible person? What if I lose friends?” I am reminding myself that people who deserve to be in my life will love me for all 19,644 days I have lived and won’t desert me for the one day I wish had never happened.