I spent last week with my niece and nephew while my sister ran to auditions, acted in a student film and traveled to DC. It runs in the family. Talent yes, but what I’m referring to here is our knack for physically and mentally exhausting ourselves.
Pam is a member of the Ambrose Farms CSA (community supported agriculture) food co-op. She wants the kids to eat healthy food and experience a little farm life. When she can’t go to the farm herself her weekly portion of vegetables is dropped off at a pick up point on James Island.
The phone rang at around 7:00 P.M. just as I was wiping the last of the ketchup off of the cat. Pam had not picked up her vegetables. When I told this woman that I would not be tearing the quiet children away from their entertainment to wrestle clothes over each of their bodies, wedge shoes onto their gyrating feet, lug them to the van and strap them each into car seats that require ‘at the very least’ some college education to operate, just to pick up a bag of vegetables, there was complete silence on the other end of the line. The silence was followed with a very long sigh.
I decided “what the hell let’s make this fun.” It’s always so much warmer on James Island than it is here in Indiana. Clothes on children really aren’t necessary. Chelsea was naked with the exception of her sagging Dora the Explorer diaper. She was wearing most of dinner on her face. One of her butt cheeks is always fully exposed as I can never seem to get things right without at least giving her a partial wedgie. It never slows her down and this endears her to me. I removed her mother’s red high heels from her feet and carried her to the van. Wyatt was bare with the exception of his Spiderman briefs, remnants of chocolate pudding in his hair and a big smudge of unknown origin across his chest and face. As we were all climbing into the van Wyatt started laughing hysterically. And this was a pivotable moment for me. He looked at me and said while laughing, “dis is punny BB, it peels so wong” Translated: This is funny Aunt Kara, It feels so wrong.
I learn so much from the kids. How to operate safety devices, where the best playgrounds are, the benefits of water soluble markers and how much is too much prune juice. Mostly they teach me how to be spontaneous and how to let go of my control issues. During the weeks that I spend alone with them we fall into a well oiled but spontaneous routine. I take just as good care of myself as I do them. I sleep well in South Carolina and sleep is not something you can afford to deprive yourself of when children are involved.
I developed a bad case of monkey mind when I returned home and no longer had them to keep me grounded. I’ve been staying up and working way too late each night. Life is good, but all the good things are overlapping, leaving me a bit overwhelmed at times. It takes everything I have to not let thoughts of unfinished artwork interrupt my unfinished musical compositions.
I spent the better part of this week spinning my wheels. Practicing but not getting results, arranging songs only to decide I didn’t like them anyway, researching the maps I’ve been hired to do but not laying any lead on the paper. Today I got up at 6:30 AM. meditated, did my watered down version of daily yoga and mindfully ate my oatmeal.
I need to practice what I preach to my students: Clear the music stand of anything you are not playing. Focus. Slow down. Be gentle with yourself. Avoid negative thoughts. Eat right and get your sleep. Relax. Breathe.
Monkey mind slides in, and we don’t even noticed that we’re walking around with one exposed butt cheek. Sometimes we just have to chuck it all out the window and play music for no reason. Sometimes we have to do things just because they are funny – even when it feels so wrong.