Greetings Time Lord–
You got the scoop last week that the Calla-clan is packing up and moving Boston-ward.
We’ve been bubble wrapping anything hanging on a wall and getting on a first-name-basis with the folks at Goodwill.
We’re scrubbing walls, painting things that we planned to paint in 2017, and shaking our heads in impressed astonishment at the state of our windowsills.
Entropy overtook us while we were making mac and cheese, unloading the dishwasher, collecting baskets of folded laundry, and checking diapers.
In our mad push to get the house ready for photos, I asked myself what you probably ask yourself when you finally clean up before company comes–This is nice. Why don’t I do this for myself?
I’ll tell you why. It’s a huge pain in the ass.
When you’re at capacity and barely filling the tank, the last thing you’re going to say to yourself in a low Martha Stewart whisper is, “I know–I’m going to head to Lowe’s for that epoxy kit so the shower looks less like the rowdy guys’ freshman dorm nightmare.”
Nope. That’s not what we do.
In our Calla-phase, it’s more like– “We kept the tiny humans alive today. Is there more wine?”
I dunno ‘bout you, but my lil ego needs a reason to look good if I’m going to engage it in any kind of unpleasantness for the greater domestic good.
Same with singing, right? We need stuff we have to do in front of folks to light a fire.
I know you love singing. I do, too. I do it a lot.
Sometimes I’m making PB&Js and I just need to sing a few lines of an art song. (I’m just as nerdilicious at home as in the studio.)
Jude, our very-soon-to-be-two-year-old, holds up his hand and instructs me, “Too looooud!”
This is at once adorable and ironic. I have definitely suffered hearing loss from this child’s instinctive vocal tract leveraging. If he’s into opera one day, Wagner will be his jam.
But you know how it is. When there’s a deadline, when there’s an opening night, when there’s an audition date–that’s when we kick it in gear.
This is the part of the email when people usually say in a 1950s announcer voice–this is why you need accountability. This is why you need deadlines. Or a negative consequence if you don’t accomplish your goals on time. 🤯
And as I type that to you, it feels wrong in my guts.
Yeah, I want to give a good nod to my ego and all he does for me in all his self-serious, mirror-gazing how’m-I-doin’(?)-ness. He does a lot.
And I want to thank all the deadlines and performance dates that lit a fire under me to learn lines, notes, and blocking.
How do you use this face-saving super power to show up to your work every day?
(***Not while you’re moving, though–you’ve still got to find the right screws to fix the back screen door!)
I have some idears for you, though.
I think’ll help. They usually help me, and they feel better than (or in conjunction with) deadlines.
Ask yourself “So that?”–
This is a way to get to that pesky why??? all those life-coachy people say you need to know to really do the thing.
Quick example from my recent life–I want to epoxy this shower stall in our bathroom
so that potential buyers will not run screaming from our second floor judging us as aesthetic failures
so that these potential buyers will buy our house
so that we can move expeditiously and afford a little rent in the land of broken-face winters and blinkah-less lane changes.
Boom– the why isdefined.
You? You wanna sing effortless and yummy with crazy emotional honesty and captivating spontaneity so that—
What else you wanna do? Whatever it is, the so that is real important.
***Pro tip on this–the secret ego reason is usually real powerful.
So, go ‘head and hug the so that that you wouldn’t lead with at a job interview.
i.e. I wanna prepare the crap outa this audition so that I crush all in my path with my stupendous readiness.
Get selfy with it–that’s how you get the narcissistic fix so that you can then pop your head outa your ass long enough to see how you might use your gifts to serve your fellow humans.
Ask you at 100
I heard this on a TED talk. You know I have a Teddiction.
This dude had a harrowing tale and a lot of trauma that drove him to achieve. One day he got exhausted from this adrenalized driver to stave off the oblivion abyss, and he decided to try a different tack.
He started asking his 100-year-old self for advice.
I started this, too, and it’s a good one.
When I’m in the kitchen trying to get breakfast shrapnel cleared and I’ve got a lil “Sesame Street” going for the boys, Jude invariably runs in when it’s time for the letter of the day song, and he says, “Dance with me!”
I have peanut butter to wipe off the counter, don’t you seee??? Important things!
My hundred-year-old self says “Go dance with your kid. One day he’ll be able to pick you up.”
I end up with one boy on each hip step-touching in anticipation of the alphabetical announcement. It’s heaven. And a mini bicep workout. 💪
This is a good perspective telescope, and you’ll be surprised how much your hundred-year-old self knows. Ask ’em.
Cut yourself some slack when these things don’t work.
Yesterday morning I woke up around 5am like I normally do full of inspiration to write the rest of this missive to you.
Noah decided to come downstairs at 5:30 just as I had my coffee ready to drink and my fingies ready to type.
Usually this is a good sitch with Noah narrating dinosaur dramas as I get some early morning work done.
This morning was not that domestic idyll.
Noah insisted I leave the lamp off so that he could explore the full effect of his walkie talkie’s flashlight feature.
When I explained to him that this was my ONLY time to get some work done, he didn’t seem to process my logic. Come on, kid, you’re three already.
After a few failed attempts to get the words flowing while turning the lamp switch back on, Jude decided he’d be a regular rooster and rouse himself with the sunshine, too.
My work time was screwed, and I was disproportionately PISSED.
I wanted my boys to go the eff back to sleep SO THAT I could get some work done, and my hundred-year-old self was taking a nap because Noah and Jude are 60 and 58 by now. So, he was no help.
All that to say that you get to be a human, and you get to have times when all the helpful tricks just don’t work.
You can do your best, get to the other side, apologize if you need to, and have grace for yourself.
See if you can add centenarian you to speed dial or say “I’m gonna stress eat this scoop of Cherries Garcia SO THAT I can put something delicious in my mouth SO THAT I don’t tell this person what an asshat they’re being.”
See? Tools. 🔧
My super tired brain and fingers made it to the end of this communication, and what a delight it’s been.
Our house is photo-ready, and we’ve guerilla-warfare-Marie-Kondo’d our way through pounds of domestic detritus.
I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and I asked ancient you what would be fun today, and they said you might sing something you love. So that you’ll have fun and remember why you love songs.
And if you’re having one of those days where singing’s the last thing that’ll help, then just wait until it is the day. There’s no rush.
But please do remember–there’s only one you, and folks really do need to hear the story that only you can sing.
pps Of course, I wrote a poem about Jude and dance time, so I gotta share that with you too. Here ’tis.
Holy Paw Patrol Dance Moment
I park the boys in front of “Paw Patrol”
When I make their lunch. By the time the shells
Are al dente or the PB and J’s read’ to roll,
Jude runs into the kitchen, his toddler cells
Ready for action. His wide eyes telegraph
That it’s that time. “Dance please!” he calls and lifts
His sweet sausage-y arms. I have to laugh
And pick him up. This is one of life’s gifts.
When we enter the living room, Noah’s ready
To join the choreo, so I hoist each nugget on a hip
And wait for the pup dispatch jingle. Steady
We go, I step-touch and try to keep my grip.
These boys are always interrupting chores,
Injecting joy, and opening fantastical doors.