Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prompt :: What is your one thing? Are you holding it close or letting it get away?

I signed up to take a creative writing class. I'm super excited about it! I think it's exactly what I need to get my creative juices flowing, and to help me get focused. Before the class begins there are optional prompts sent out each day to help us prepare and get warmed up. I'm very grateful for that especially since I haven't done a whole lot of writing for a while. The title says what this one's about. Here goes:

     I had to think about this for a couple hours. What is my one thing? Being a mom? Being there for Jon? Relationship manager? Artist? Traveler? Writer? Lover (and I mean that in so many more ways than just sexually)? Adventurer? I am all those things and more, but the thing that kept coming back to me was something I started when I was 15 years old. Nearly 14 years ago. Playing the Saxophone. This is my story of the journey I have taken with saxophones. I'm the star and Bari is the co-star.
     As a young child I had always longer to play a bright, shiny instrument. I really wanted to learn the trumpet for a long time, but then when I watched the video of 'Riverdance' and listened the guy play the sax while 2 guys tap danced I knew that I had to learn the saxophone. It was calling me. My parents helped me out and were able to afford a cheap soprano sax. I then joined a middle-school band that welcomed homeschoolers. My dear friend Mirenda who was just learning the clarinet joined as well. She's the only reason I had the guts to set aside my pride and sit with kids younger than me and learn to play. Best. Choice. Ever. I picked it up pretty quickly, thanks to a wonderful band director, and after playing there for a year the director invited me (and Mirenda as well) to come play with the college band that he also directed. I was beyond thrilled! Playing in that college band was such a wonderful experience for me. I learned so much from the director and from those around me. I sat in the trumpet section and played the 1st and sometimes 2nd trumpet part along with one of the trumpets. The soprano sax is in Bb, same as trumpets, and doesn't usually have it's own music for a wind ensemble. It's more of a solo instrument because it is really difficult keep it in tune and not go off pitch. That worked out for 1 semester, then the director told me I needed to play the school's baritone sax, as the wind ensemble really needed a bari, and the soprano sax wasn't really helping out. I was not a happy camper at first. I took the bari home and set it up. It was huge! I set it on the floor and it came up as high as my waist. I sat down and picked it up. Carefully put my mouth on the mouthpiece and blew. Squeeaaaakkk! Ack! That sounded awful! I tried again. Squeeaaaak! I hated it. It was heavy, hurt my neck because of the neckstrap it dangled on, and I was terrible at playing it! I didn't give up though. brought it to band rehearsal and told my director that all I could do was make it squeak. He told me to relax my embachure and try it again. I did, and out came a low growl. Well that was better than a squeak! I finally managed to figure out how to get a lovely deep sound out of the thing, and from then on it was true love. Bari and me. We were going to conquer the world! I joined the jazz band (another dream come true) and played my heart out! I practiced 5-8 hours a week, and slowly got better and better. I lacked a lot of self-confidence, which definitely held me back when it came to improvising in jazz band. I wish the me now could have the opportunity that the me then did. I'm not lacking as much in the self-confidence department. Kinda helps when you're not a teenager anymore, who's trying to find her place in the world.
           Somewhere along the way I fell in love with someone who was not made of metal, and I married him. He supported my bari obsession, but soon I got pregnant and one night after playing in a jazz concert I came home to discover that I was bleeding. Was I loosing my baby??? No!!! This can't happen! I set Bari aside then and there. I don't know if that was the cause. There are so many reasons you can bleed in early pregnancy, but I wasn't taking any chances. The pregnancy went full-term and I was blessed with a chubby red-headed baby girl. All my time was now spent learning how to be a mom. My daughter was my teacher. I listened to her and she told me her needs in her own little way. I sometimes thought of Bari, and missed him. He wasn't mine though. Someone else played him since he belonged to the school. I did actually get to go back when Lacey was a little over a year, I think. My little brother would come over and watch her while I walked down the road to play in the wind ensemble again. It was nice, but it wasn't the same. I didn't stay long. I didn't feel like I belonged anymore. It was probably about 5 years later when I finally got the opportunity to get my own Bari. I was so excited!!! It worked out! We were able to pay for it in payments, so I took it home right away. Not long after that (we had moved during that time) I found a local community band to play with. I enjoyed that very much. Still wasn't quite the same as my college experience. The music was somewhat boring, but it was good practice for me to get back in the swing of things. Well, we moved again and I haven't played in a band since. We just keep moving around, and bari sits at home, untouched. I miss him. I miss that outlet. I get nervous if I try to sing a solo in front of people, but if I am playing bari and not singing, then I have all the confidence I need. He's like a shield and a channel all at the same time. When I play it's like "listen, world. This is me and Bari, and together we're beautiful and strong." Listen to the music. It can take you anywhere.  Someday, somehow, I will be a part of a jazz band. And I will be bad ass when it comes to improvising. You'll see.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Again

    Here it is, the start of a new week. That means it's Sunday. How I used to dread every Sunday from the bottom of my heart. Growing up we had to wear dresses to church. That's just how it was. Anything else would be disrespectful to God. I hated my dresses. They were all hand-me-downs with those huge collars that would cover your whole face if you lifted it up...which wasn't so bad if you were having a temper tantrum and wanted to hide... We also had to ride in our great big chevy van for 45 minutes on winding mountain roads, which tend to make you feel carsick when you're in the backseat and your little brothers are munching on cheerios while their little feet scrape your leg because they are bouncing their legs non-stop. Walking into church was just more misery. I was shy, lost in the shuffle. The only one at church I ever remember talking to me was my Sunday school teacher. I was bigger than the other kids in my class, and I thought I must be fat. The only other girl in my class would look at me smugly when I couldn't remember all of the verse we were supposed to have memorized. Yes, Sundays were dreadful. I don't blame my parents. They did exactly what they thought was best for all of us, and I have a lot of respect for them. I have a confession to make. I still don't like church. I do like Sundays now, because we don't usually go to church. There was a brief time in my married life that I loved church. We were in a very unique church for a couple years. A church where you are loved for who you are, and they don't try to change you. They love that you are different because it adds to their diversity and they accept that you are following God because you keep showing up and showing your love. Right now though, we are nomads. Not belonging anywhere, and yet maybe belonging everywhere. We have each other, we have community through so many different outlets from skype, to emails, to facebook groups encouraging me to continue seeking. We're not in one place long enough to have a local community. That might change, but for now, this is what we have, and it's enough.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Respecting Children

I know that it's not the norm now, to hear that children should be seen and not heard. I know that we are told to value our children, and put them first. To be good parents. Don't spank, don't do time-outs, don't do this or that. That's good to hear, but it's not enough. Children aren't respected like adults are. How are they going to learn respect for themselves and each other if we don't show them how? We start when they are very young, and try to teach our toddlers not to snatch from other toddlers. I think it's something they do naturally because they don't know it hurts feelings, but I also think that they pick up so much of their behavior from us, their parents. How often do we snatch away things they shouldn't have (even if it's not necessarily dangerous for them to have)? How about how we talk to them? Do we use the same kindness we would use in talking to the bank teller, or the lady at the checkout, or the barista at the coffee shop? Why not? WHy are we short with them? Why are we exasperated when they won't take "no" for an answer? It's simple. They are children. They are not always easy to deal with. They have huge feelings that they haven't learned how to control yet (seriously, aren't we all still working on the whole, self control thing?). This is something I am working on. I want to treat my little ones with respect. Just as much respect as I want to be treated with. Before I tell them to do (or not to do) something, I need to think about it, and make sure I know why I'm requesting this. Why do I want my daughter to change her mis-matched clothes before we leave the house? Is it because I think people will think I'm 'one of those moms who doesn't have it all together and just lets her kids run around looking like...well, kids? Or is it because I have an eye for fashion and I can't bear it that she's wearing that top with those leggings! Insert confession: I'm a little OCD. Not majorly, but it's there.
When I analyze the Why in my requesting my daughter to change her outfit, I notice that I'm not respecting who she is. She is a brilliant child, with an individual mind and her own taste in colors and patterns. I shouldn't be forcing my own preferences on her just because it doesn't look like I think it should. That's disrespecting her, and inadvertently telling her that her choices aren't good enough. That's not how I want to be treating my daughter. I want her to grow up being confident and strong, and that strength and security doesn't just appear when you're all grown up. I believe I can help her with that by giving her a safe place to express who she is, and supporting her with all I've got! There is so much more to write about concerning this, but I don't want to bog you down (heck, I'm bogging myself down already).  This is a journey for me. Here's a challenge. Next time you're charged with a little one, and you're about to give them an order, put yourself in their place. Imagine how tall you are from their point of view, and how much bigger your emotions are to them, because if you are their parent, then you're their world. Would you want to be told what you're about to tell them? How would you want to be told? What tone of voice would you long to hear? Trust me on this, I'm preaching to the choir. I needed to write this because I needed to read this.

Starting Again

It's been awhile since I really sat down and wrote in my blog. Actually wrote. About things that really matter to me, or just things about me. I'm gonna reintroduce myself because I'm not the same girl who started this blog. I still am very similar, but I've changed a lot. Things have happened to me, I've happened to things...yeah. It's life. Keeps on going and pulling you with it. Here goes:

Hi. Welcome. My name is grace Nathan. I'm 5'8" tall, have red hair and a smattering of freckles because it's nearing the end of the summer, and I don't tan very well. I freckle. I'm almost in my last year of being twenty-something, and I'm not gonna lie, that scares me. I consider myself a kind person, but if you mess with me or mine, you're goin' down. I do have a redhead's temper, and I'm not afraid to use it. I believe that the greatest power is Love. Love made me. Love made my family. Love makes the flowers grow, not just rain (take that, Eponine).  Relationships are very important to me. I've been married to my partner for over 9 years now. He's a man and I'm a woman. I didn't say husband and wife because I really want to convey that we are partners. We married because we are best friends who wanted to partner up in this life so we would never have to go through anything alone. We've had times of trying to control each other, and times of trying to submit to each other, but all in all nothing describes us better than partners. We are equal. He's a wonderful man. I've never had to fight to be heard. The thing that first attracted me to him was his kindness and caring to everyone around him. You don't meet people like that everyday. We have 3 kids who are constantly teaching us how to be parents as they seem to come up with a new curveball to toss at us every other day. I wouldn't trade them for anything. My heart never ceases to melt when they call me "mommy." Because for right now, for these few short years, I'm the center of their lives, and I will protect and nurture with all my strength.

And now there's this; I think I'm a very open-minded person. I could be wrong, because I think my world is small right now. I have a lot of thoughts and opinions that are new (within the past 5 years) to me and I know I can be used to help bring more Love into this world. I see doors opening up and new things are about to happen. I think maybe they've been happening and I've really only just begun to notice. Sometimes I get so caught up in the blur of everyday life, that I forget about that huge world out there. A world full of pain, sorrow, courage, healing, hate, and Love. I'm a part of that world whether I think I can choose to be or not. I can shut it out (and sometimes I need to so I can refocus), and I can let it in, or rather, let myself out. There is much to be done, so here I am. grace. Oh yeah, one more thing. I think capital G's are ugly. They're fine for random words, but I don't like to use them for my name. I prefer a nice lower case little squiggly g. grace.