Musical Terminology

My last post, entitled “Agitato e Accesso” caused some consternation about which I will clarify. I combined two musical markings to reflect the notes on my personal score. Agitato (agitated) accesso (ignited, on fire) expressed my mood.

Yesterday I was in that fun house of emotional turmoil felt as angry depression. I’ve been advised that such feelings are normal to my situation.
What concerns me, and causes me despair is an inability to think clearly in a dependable way. Words and actions emerge sideways, and loved ones with the best intentions, people I know have my back, get hit by shrapnel.

To my dear ones, I am so sorry that my pain at times becomes your pain. That my words and actions do not reflect my best self, nor honor my affection for all of you.

I was reminded that when I am scared or unable to see through the smoke bombs, there are always hands surrounding me, reaching out for me to hold onto. I need those hands. I love those hands!images


Agitato e Accesso!

imagesI do not have a compassionate heart.
I do not possess patience to persevere beyond my limits.
I do not know how to fix my shit. But I will. Somehow.

I want to be to be heard, and for someone to listen.
I want to know if I will ever be happy for longer than an afternoon.
I want to know why I give trust another try, and have it explode in my face
because I am not able unlearn my defensiveness.

And why the one thing so deeply, deeply important to me is used by an adult thru my child to hurt me. I feel grief and failure. I feel menacing anger.


Tuning Up

imagesLast night I had the unexpected pleasure of talking for over two hours to a dear friend with whom I had lost touch over the years. She described this process of reconnecting with old friends as “reclaiming.” I love that image.

At one point we were discussing my earlier post on the Stages of Grief (or Transition, as I prefer to call them), and she reminded me that Schumann’s compositions were reflective of these ideas. He knew. He got it. This composer and his contemporaries used the prosody of Goethe, Chamisso & Heine, with their varied expressions, to provide the narrative which so characterized the Romantics. Of course, Schumann’s insight was too acute, and ultimately led to madness, something of an occupational hazzard of the brilliantly talented.

Perhaps song cycles were the therapy of the nineteenth century?

Check out Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben ( A Woman’s Life and Love). Most of the Stages are there. This is a common device in these song cycles, and Frauen is one of his most sublime works. I’ll give a fairly accurate translation of the German for you. These songs are not formally titled, rather they are numbered 1-8.

1. Since I saw him…(anxious disbelief)
2. He, the most glorious of all…(surprise)
3. I cannot grasp it, nor believe it…(denial)
4. His ring on my finger…(disbelief)
His ring on my finger,
it has taught me for the first time,
has opened my gaze unto
the endless, deep value of life.

5. Help me, you sisters…(bargaining)
Help me, my sisters,
help me to banish
a foolish anxiety,
so that I may with clear
eyes receive him,
him, the source of joyfulness.

6. Sweet friend, I gaze upon you…(joyful disbelief…and fear)
About the signs
I have already asked Mother;
my good mother has
told me everything..
She has assured me that
by all appearances,
soon a cradle
will be needed.

Know you not the tears,
that I can weep?
Should you not see them,
my beloved man?
Stay by my heart,
feel its beat,
that I may, fast and faster,
hold you.

7. At my heart, at my breast…(maybe a stretch, but mild guilt)
Only a mother knows alone
what it is to love and be happy.

O how I pity then the man
who cannot feel a mother’s joy!

8. Now you have given me, for the first time, pain…(depression)
Now you have given me, for the first time, pain,
how it struck me.
He sleeps, my hard, merciless man,
the sleep of death.

The abandoned one gazes straight ahead,
the world is void.
I have loved and lived, I am
no longer living.

I withdraw silently into myself,
the veil falls,
there I have you and my lost happiness,
O you were my world!

Death is certainly a resolution. For this lady, there is no happy future. No hope. We’ve no idea what becomes of her. Somehow we missed the predictable marital spats and ardent passion, but anger would throw the entire tone off in this cycle. As for sexuality, it seems not to have had much of a place in the cultural context.

If you are not in tears by the end of a live performance of this music, blame the singer, for the composer artfully crafted this journey.

I’ll hold up another example for you to consider. Episcopalians/ Anglicans who read morning and evening prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, follow the Lectionary for daily Psalms in the liturgy.

What has this to do with the Stages of Grief or Transition? Plenty.

The Psalms offer the chance to vent every human passion. Anger, loss, resentment, hope and hopelessness, fear, frustration and depression. Bitterness and spite amke frequent appearances. They also celebrate and discuss love and expansive joy. In the Psalms we are reminded to dance and sing!

Our role model for the practice of praying the Offices is Benedict, whose Monastery in Canterbury existed under his thin volume Rule of Life.

The Psalms embrace the Stages.

St. Benedict believed that the common (community) recitation aloud of these poems promoted mental health, spiritual well-being, and healthy interpersonal relationships of the communicants. Smart fellow.

By the way, one of his suggestions in The Rule is that clergy are not to be trusted.


Time For Dancing

images My friend can see the light filling the tunnel. It has been dark except for a few fragrant candles here and there. The sweet aroma to remind her that it is indeed spring, and she will never be alone. That she is valued in the world as well.

I’ve cranked up the tunes, and am dancing in celebration. I am happy to feel her joy. It brings me hope and promise.




How hard must it be to gather five people around a table for a meal? A meal where rich conversation and laughter used to be normal. I feel this bonding ritual slipping as our numbers thin, and independence has begun to dominate.

I can’t blame them. Who in one’s right mind would prefer a contentious vibe over better company?

I’ve been so distracted that I only just noticed what has happened. I must repair things for the survivors.

Time to be in charge again.


Singing in the Garden

imagesThe father of my children used to say that he could gauge how I was feeling about myself by two things. If I was well and in a positive state, my cooking was divine and my garden was glorious. Actually, his words were more fundamental.

My garden has looked neglected, and my cooking, as most moms come to experience with the daily grind has become routine. These days, the latter due to having busy teens, and the need to throw carbs into the trough. When I get the chance now, the goods are good!

Drooping, weedy plants is the bigger sign. I used to love buying flats of annuals and taking joy in the simple pleasure of their generous beauty. Money is tight, and such an expenditure falls into the “must do without” category.

Today I said the hell with it, and found ten dollars for some impatiens and seeds. Ten dollars for mental health cost less than a bottle of pharmaceuticals and lasts longer. So I hauled out two of my four window boxes to my kitchen, and cleaned out the moldering bits, added ground eggshells and other amendments ( I so need a container of composting worms- a must for container gardening), and felt the sensuality of wet earth in my hands. I planted the annuals, seeded some trailing alyssum, and offered a prayer of thanksgiving as I replaced them in their brackets.

Tomorrow I will prune the other two, which contain geraniums, and have grown woody. The bight red outside the bathroom window, and the lavender box which sits before me as I work at my desk. Despite my neglect, these plants refuse to give up on me, and shower me with their profuse beauty. I owe them.

To the many containers out in my front, south-facing garden, I seeded basil, and several flowers in bare pots, and added trailing alyssum and lobelia to any pot with room. I like layering. Greenery and color gracefully cascading over the pots, framing the rosemary or vines above. If you were to drive by, you would see a temporary decor of plastic kitchen wrap and blue painters tape for the terrariums needed to nurse the seeds from their sleep.

No doubt my cranky neighbor upstairs will complain, but that is her sport. I ignore her.

So I have planted hope. The hope that in the future, my life will thrive once again. The hope that people will find work to put bread on the table. The hope that our children will remember that no matter what, they are loved beyond all reason and boundaries. That laughter and love and flowers will turn my house back into a home.


Update: Key of Lost

The wallet is found, but the cross is still at large. I know it is near, yet I cannot see it.

I know I am surrounded by love, and yet I cannot see or understand this often enough.

Will I ever find an end to this lost-ness? It’s not as if I don’t know where I must go. Rather, it is the journey which wearies. Processing stinks. I want to be home.

Follow the Markings

imagesCrescendo, decrescendo. Piano, forte, diminuendo. Major & minor & atonal. Tricky bursts of sforzando and fortepiano. Occasionally contabile. Endless recapitulations.

In the midst of it all, I continue to seek the Om.

For now, small accomplishments in which to take a moment of pleasure: a tidied spice drawer. The cabinet of Odd Things sifted and sorted. An ability to look into a pantry and pull together a tasty casserole without ever consulting a cookbook.

And the reassuring hugs from a man child who is trying so hard to be strong for me.