Tag Archives: community

Begging a Favor

I’m asking for a favor. Really. You. If you are reading these words, then I’m talking to you.

This has been a raw week. A raw week for my family. A raw week for this country. A raw week for this world. I need a break. I am begging you, if you are reading this – be part of what is good, do not participate in what is hateful. If you hear yourself start to use blame or shame or rage or stereotyping against someone – even yourself – please, stop. If you hear someone around you doing it, stop it. No, “Those Muslims” or “that Obama administration  or “those Republicans” or gun-toters or granolas. No “lazy” or “stupid” or putting someone down in front of other people. No gossiping or bad-mouthing. No bending tender necks in shame under the heat of your wrath. Stop. I need a break. We all need a break.

If you find yourself irritated by some older person walking too slowly in front of you, imagine what it must feel like when each step is painful.  When your toddler yanks off his shoes for the umpteenth time when you are running late, imagine what it must feel like to have zero control over your world.  When you get impatient with a student who hasn’t done his homework, reach down and say, “Let’s do it together, now. I’ll help you.” When you see the face of someone who has committed an atrocity, remember that he (or she) was a baby once, and probably has at least one person in his life who is also devastated. When you feel justified in your lecturing or preaching down to people you feel superior to, remember what it felt like the last time someone made you feel small.  When you feel numb from all of the violence, be the one to reach out in peace rather than hatred and blame. When you start to forget because the news cycle has moved on, remember that there are still families for whom the grieving is new, who haven’t moved on. When you think you have it the worst, remember that the people in the house next to yours probably have a very hard story you haven’t heard yet because we’re all trying to look perfect. When you know someone is going through something tragic and frightening and isolating, be the one to take over a plate of dinner and a hug. Reach out. Give the benefit of the doubt. Help.

I’m begging this of you, because this week I cannot stop crying. I’m begging you this not because I expect to change the world – the readership of this blog is hardly influential in size. I’m begging you this because we have to start somewhere. We have to stop it all somewhere. It’s you. It’s me. That’s all there is.

One more favor, and this one is from you, God. Without you, it all flies apart. We need you, and we know that. But from the rest of it, we need a breath.

Heaven and Earth 

“And there was silence in Heaven for the space of half an hour”

-Revelation

GOD, who with thunders and great voices kept
Beneath Thy throne, and stars most silver-paced
Along the inferior gyres, and open-faced
Melodious angels round,—canst intercept
Music with music,—yet, at will, has swept
All back, all back, (said he in Patmos placed)
To fill the heavens with silence of the waste
Which lasted half-an-hour! Lo I, who have wept
All day and night, beseech Thee by my tears,
And by that dread response of curse and groan
Men alternate across these hemispheres,
Vouchsafe us such a half-hour’s hush alone,
In compensation for our stormy years!
As heaven has paused from song, let earth from moan.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Motherhood Moment: I Can Run

Every now and then, I’m going to post something about my family’s life. Just because I love my kids and think about them all the time. And this is my blog, so if you’re here, you’re going to have to hear about this stuff. And yeah, sometimes look at pictures. (But not today.)

Yesterday, we went for another round of testing for Little N. The poor guy. He’s 17 months old today, and he has been in the hospital and doctors offices so often that he actually recognizes the nursing staff. When the nurse came into the exam room yesterday, he started a quite musical (and sweet and sad) litany of, “No! No, no, no, no no no no no NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” He knew she was there to bother or hurt him in some way – stethoscope, scratch, measure, weigh, needle prick, make him eat food – none of which he likes. What is the likelihood that she was there to give him a new toy car or train or read him a book? Not high. Poor guy.

We found out that he is still allergic to soy (a little) and quinoa (a lot), and we discovered a new but suspected allergy (sunflower seeds). But we get a pass on flax, which is HUGE. Flax is a common egg substitute in baking. We have been avoiding flax because of his sesame anaphylaxis. But now we have the green light to test flax at home. Hurrah!

His wheat food challenge was a technical fail – inconclusive – because after the first portion, he refused to eat any more. He did have one hive, but nothing else. But he didn’t eat enough of the wheat for the test to really count. The doctor suggested we try some wheat in very small amounts at home and see how he does. We are cautiously optimistic. He has more eczema than before, but that could be due to the weather rather than the wheat. He gets a little wheat every day now.

I went to three stores to find wheat bread that he can eat. Bread that does not have milk or butter or egg in it. Bread that is not cross-contaminated with soy or sesame or tree nuts or peanuts or barley or rye. Bread that does not have “natural flavors” or “colors” (which often come from seeds or nuts). My eyes were bleary from reading teeny tiny print in white on clear plastic on the labels.

And that’s just bread. I go through this for every single product I bring into our home. Every time. Because manufacturing can change between the last time I bought it and this time. And now it might be cross-contaminated.

And that’s just the shopping. I have to cook. I mean, I like to cook, but I don’t exactly have a choice about it. We can’t order food. We can’t eat out. I have to cook. Every meal. Whether I’m tired or in the mood for it or not. I have to cook, or we don’t eat. And forget grocery store shortcuts. I cook almost everything (well, except bread) from scratch. So that I can trust the ingredients. And because there aren’t a ton of shortcut products that are safe for kids with Top 8 plus allergies.

So, yeah. It’s exhausting. And stressful. So much food is basically poison to my son. And I’m responsible for childproofing the world for him until he’s old enough to look after himself.

So, we finish up at the hospital – exam, scratch test, blood draw, poor Little N screaming “Nooooo!” and crying his 17 month old heart out. And I grab a fake milk latte to keep my eyes open as we go home.  Both boys bundled into the BumbleyBird (what they call our double stroller), wrapped in BundleMe’s and blankets against the 30-degree winds. Dusk was falling. I decided that walking home through the park would be far nicer than walking along the roads, so I turned the stroller into Central Park just as the boys dozed off. I took my last sip of latte and tossed the empty cup into a nearby trash can.

I was about to turn on NPR and catch up on the day’s news. But then I saw how beautiful the evening, early spring light was. And it was so quiet. Rare for me, living in Manhattan with two boys under the age of 4 and a Helden tenor husband. I put the ear buds away and glided onto a jogging lane in the road through the park, amidst the trees and the birds and the quiet and the joggers and bicyclists. I watched the top of the heads of my sleeping loves. I watched the joggers.

I watched the joggers and thought, “How lovely to be able to run. How wonderful to feel your blood pumping and the cool air of your breath in your lungs, the power of your legs moving, the solid, blessed ground beneath your feet, the wind playing with your hair.” And then I thought, “I have feet.” And I started to run. Slowly, building up speed. Running, running, running. The jogging Manhattanites, jogging past me in the other direction, those New Yorkers who glare and never smile – smiled. They looked at me in my business attire and long coat, pushing a double stroller with two sleeping babies, running and running, and they smiled. Warm smiles. Look at her – running.

I ran until I ran out of breath, and I floated the rest of the way home.

Food allergies are hard. But I can run.

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I feel you.

If you have spent any time at all on the NYC subway during rush hour, you know that bad moods are more catchy than the flu in a toddler playgroup.  Everyone is scowling. And by the time you get to your destination, even if you started the morning feeling good, you probably feel at least a tinge of grumpiness, depression, irritation, or impatience. Why is that?  Well, it seems that we have these nifty little things in our brains called mirror neurons.  These little neurons fire when we observe an action in another person, mirroring the observed action, as though the observer were himself acting.

What does that mean?  It means that when you are performing authentically onstage, the audience can read it and will feel the actions and emotions that they see in you onstage.  That’s one of the reasons we cry during Madame Butterfly.  At least when the singer acts authentically.  It’s also the reason that technically beautiful performances can leave us cold, even when we appreciate the technical artistry.

It means that your child will understand your emotion more readily than your words, especially if they are in conflict.

It means that Gandhi was right.  You should literally be the change you want to see in the world.  Because if you smile, you might get other people smiling, too.  And maybe make your morning commute a little nicer.

Experiment (especially if you live in New York City): For one day, smile when you are with other people.  Report back here in the comments.  Let us all know if you noticed any differences in yourself or those around you.

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Filed under Connections, Parenting, Singing

Let’s All Sing!

Eric Whitacre is one of my favorite living composers of classical (can we call it that?) music.  And his Virtual Choir is awesome.  Check it out:

Virtual Choir 3: Water Night – Eric Whitacre.

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Let’s All Go!

I have so many ideas for this blog, and so many things I’m thinking that I want to say that I don’t know if there will ever be enough time!

But until my next post, when I see something that highlights cooperation, community and connection, I’ll post it here.  I think we need so much more of this, and I think that whenever we see something like this, we need to be aware of it.  Hopefully, it will inspire us to similar actions.

Enjoy!

For isolated, Google+ offers new reality – Video on NBCNews.com.

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Is anyone out there?

The first blog post, the blank screen, the slight fear – what am I doing?!! – ok, the big fear – WHAT AM I DOING??!!

Why even do it?

My soul has been marinading lately in a sauce of personal trauma, family emergencies, prayer, fear, hope, joy, love, and a deep, deep need to connect. I’ve been thinking…  thinking and thinking and singing and singing and hugging my husband and kids and thinking some more…  And what I’m thinking is this: we’ve got it all wrong.

I don’t know if this is a purely American thing, or a post-Englightenment thing, or just the thing of being a daughter of a Southern political family, but I was raised to believe (and I’m not saying that my parents raised me this way, but just that this was the soil in which I was born and the culture that fed me from birth on up) that the individual is what is. Strive, compete, achieve, win, be discrete, craft your image, guard your privacy, watch your manners, don’t show your temper, be ladylike at all times, don’t be controversial. I have been told, by people I care about, “You’re on your own. Rely on yourself.” I was raised to care about family second after God and to give, give, give – give till it hurts. But don’t ask. Receive if you must, and then thank, thank, thank, but don’t ask. And then I moved to New York! The home of the cult of the self!

I’ve heard all of the American stuff – have you heard it, too? – self-made man, pulled up by his bootstraps – that kind of stuff. That ideal of individualism. That myth that we can make it on our own. The kind of stuff that negates the need for other. For each other. As though saying you needed help getting to where you are negates your achievement. As though achievement, success, is all that matters. As though success is reaching the top rung of that ladder. But no one is asking what the ladder is. And maybe there is no ladder. Maybe it’s not a ladder. Maybe it’s a net. Or a quilt.

Somehow, I think we’re all in it together.

I’m a singer.  A soloist. And I think I’ve gotten it wrong somehow, some way.

We’re all in it together. And I welcome comments.

This blog is my attempt to be completely authentic. In my life, my heart, my singing. I’m going to talk here about what matters to me, as the thoughts occur. So it’s sure to include my kids, my husband, my family (who will not be named out of respect for them), living with food allergies, the act of singing, performing onstage, facing the practice room, traveling abroad to look for work, cooking, beauty, the spiritual life, God, friends, life in New York City, and on and on. But at the bottom of all of it is connection.

This is scary. No hiding.

We’re all in it together.

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