passings, memories, and the soundtrack of life…

The first news I saw this morning was that Walter Becker, co-founder of the band Steely Dan, had died.

I’ve written before (a main example is in this post) about the power of music and memories.

And as I – and the singers and songwriters and musicians I grew up listening to – get older, and the years and the decades pass, there are more and more deaths of people who have been part of the soundtrack of my life.

In just the time between the beginning of 2016 and now, there have been several (not a complete list by any means):

Prince. George Michael. David Bowie. Maurice White. Leonard Cohen. Al Jarreau. Leon Russell. Glen Campbell. Paul Kantner. Gregg Allman.

And Glenn Frey.

I mention Glenn Frey separately because the music of the Eagles has been extra-huge in my life. And…  it was after watching the documentary History of the Eagles on Netflix shortly after Glenn’s death in January 2016, that I felt compelled to finally do a final revision of one of my novels – In New Harmony – and publish it. (You can find it right here.)

Watching that documentary, which I’ve seen several times now, simply does something to my creativity, especially when it comes to writing fiction.

Watching that documentary makes me WANT to write – and, specifically, write fiction – so much that my fingers start to almost physically itch to do it.

Listening to Eagles music does something to me very similar to how I feel when I watch that documentary. For the past year and a half, I’ve come close several times to writing a blog post with the title “the Eagles are my spirit animal” but I simply haven’t been blogging much… (So maybe I’ll write that blog post sometime, but I’m just not sure when.)

Music is a muse for me.

And music is a memory-holder and time-traveller for me.

That’s why when there’s news like today’s passing of Walter Becker, I feel an impact.

Steely Dan’s music has definitely been part of my life’s soundtrack. I’m 55, so the music of the 70s and 80s will always have a unique and special place in my heart and my memories, and Steely Dan songs are part of that for me: junior high and high school in the 70s, beach trips with my friends, going to see FM on a Friday night at the movies.

When I decided to post on facebook this morning with a link to a youtube video of a Steely Dan song, I had trouble deciding which song to choose. I finally decided on “Deacon Blues.”

As I said in that facebook post: Someone else in the soundtrack of my life has passed. I always feel sadness along with the nostalgia… and I always feel so grateful for the music shared with the world.

RIP, Walter Becker and so many other song-makers.

And thank you for the music.

what self care REALLY is…

 

A while back – maybe earlier this year, maybe before that – I started to notice is that there seems to be some confusion about what self care really is.

Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.

It’s as simple as that, which means it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and it doesn’t have to look a certain way.

(The paragraph above that’s in bold is a definition I came across in a pdf put out by the Student Affairs department at the University of Kentucky.)

Self-care will vary from person to person – and for any one person, it will be different at different times.

Self care can mean being mindful of your diet, getting some exercise, getting enough sleep. It can be going to a meet-up on a favorite topic or spending time at a church service.
It can be cuddling with a special person or pet, listening to music, taking a long hot shower, relaxing in a candle-lit room, dancing for a few minutes in your kitchen, going to a spa, painting your nails, getting your hands dirty in the soil.
It can be sitting on a beach, or under a tree, or on the floor of your bedroom as you read a book or color a mandala.

The list is endless. It can be any or all of those things – and so much more.

And some things for self care involve money…

But there are so many self-care practices and activities that do not.

Self-care is caring for YOU. It’s doing something that tends to you and what you need (on any/all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually).

And there’s no shame involved in caring for and tending to yourself.

No one can give from an empty well, no one can run on fumes, no one can be a constant light without burning out.

Self care doesn’t have to be hard.

It doesn’t have to be luxurious.

It doesn’t have to take loads of time.

Self care can be as simple as pausing throughout your day, relaxing your shoulders, and taking a few breaths.

Self care is anything that involves “any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.”

That’s what self care really is.


the power of music and memory…

Late Saturday night, feeling distracted and unsettled, I picked up the remote and started clicking through tv channels.

I was stopped by Austin City Limits on PBS, James Taylor singing and jamming with his band.

My heart immediately lightened as I listened to the music.

~~~~~

You’ve got a friend.

It’s the early 70s and I’m riding in the backseat on the long drive across the state to drop my brother and his friends at a church retreat before my parents and I spend a few days exploring Jekyll Island. I’m too young to join the teens at camp – our five-year age difference puts my brother in high school while I’m only in elementary school.

I want my brother and his friends to think I’m cool and interesting, but I’m shy and tongue-tied. As usual, I’m the invisible little sister. The quiet one. The weird one.

I listen to the radio as the road unfolds in front of us for hours.

Music is one of my best friends.

~~~~~

It’s our song, she tells us as we sit around the table at Pizza Hut. One of our songs, I mean. He said it reminds him of me, and I said it reminds me of him. And it does, It really describes how we feel. We make each other smile, you know?

She’s talking about James Taylor’s Your Smiling Face. We’re in high school, a group of girlfriends out for pizza and a movie. The rest of us nod knowingly. We’ve seen our friend and her new guy, the two of them smiling and laughing together, their blond heads close.

I love the time spent with friends but the high school years are difficult for me, for many reasons, and I’m not-so-secretly looking forward to the next phase.

~~~~~

As I watch James Taylor on Austin City Limits, Carly Simon comes to my mind…

It’s 1987 and I’m in grad school, immersed in writing a paper that’s due the next day. I study and work best with music blasting and my thick hair piled on top of my head, which means the radio is blaring in the 1-bedroom off-campus apartment I share with my black cat. I move back and forth between the typewriter on the old wooden desk I refinished several years earlier when I was a freshman in college, and the papers and index cards spread all over the floor.

Coming around again.

Carly Simon’s latest song is playing and my body sways to the music as I sort through notes for the paper I’m writing. I moved out on my own when I was 20, living in a tiny apartment in my hometown, finishing college and working various jobs. But grad school is my first time living in another state, away from family, moving there alone with my sweet kitty.

I have a blond-haired guy of my own now, we’ve been together for a few years, and things are rocky with us at the moment. But although my romantic life is shaky, my social life in general is full and fabulous to an extent like never before.

Do I realize that I’ll always think of my grad school time – even decades later – as one of the best times of my life?

~~~~~

I love this movie, I say to my husband as we snuggle on our couch watching Sleepless in Seattle on video.  It’s the mid-90s, we’ve been married for several years by now, and we recently left apartment living to purchase a house. I didn’t marry my blond-haired guy from earlier years; my husband’s hair is dark-almost-black, one of the few physical indications of his Creek ancestry.

Carly Simon sings In the Wee Small Hours while Meg Ryan, as Annie, gets out of bed during the night and goes downstairs, her thoughts on Tom Hanks’ character, Sam.

I nestle into the cushions even more, cozy and content in my own home, with my own love, watching the movie.

~~~~~

Listening to James Taylor also makes me think of Carole King…

The songs on the Tapestry album are embedded in my life’s personal soundtrack. They are interwoven with my years, part of the literal tapestry of my life.  I played my LP so much it was scratchy; I played the cassette so often it was worn.

I think of those songs, memories of decades flashing through my mind, while I watch James Taylor sing on the screen.

I feel his music lift my spirits even more. And not only that, the music grounds me. It brings me more fully to center, more completely into my body.

Even as the memories pass through, I can feel myself in the present and enjoying the moment.

Enjoying the music.

~~~~~

By the end of the show, my mood was in a much different place than when I first picked up the tv remote.

Music can do that.

Music is powerful.

And so are memories.

direct link to video: https://youtu.be/ZLo1Camqa9s