MUSIC……..

Music – everyone has their favorite, their opinion but all can agree that music is crucial and can help you when you are feeling low or accentuate when you are on top of the word.

In case being surrounded with phenomenal artists was not enough, I am proud to be the wife of one! Andy Burke is the kindest soul (the razor blades are mostly for show…..mostly) and I know that the only thing other than our marriage that he might be more passionate about would be music. It runs through his veins. Music is his reprieve. Music carries him through. Music speaks when there are no words. Music calms my savage beast.

Since Renee’ is doing the sumMEr of ME I thought I’d participate as well – even if it is in my own special way. I’ve chosen to celebrate/honor myself by retracing the steps of my past to try & reconnect with the young man I used to be. In doing so I’ve chosen to engulf myself in the music of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BAND – W.A.S.P.  Sure, it sounds crazy and to the rest of the world it might be, but not to me. This band has everything to do with who I am, how I think and how I approach every day life. They were my best friends, my confidantes and when nobody else understood or took a second to stop and ask me how I was doing, W.A.S.P. always did and they never failed to deliver a message be it or good or bad.

It started in 1984 when Mom hooked me up with the now legendary 12 records for a penny deal from Columbia House. I chose to order all “Heavy Metal” records because they looked cool and from I’d been hearing and seeing it was sure to be phenomenal! Well in that special pile, we ordered the self-titled album from a band called W.A.S.P. No, I’d never heard a song by the band but the name sounded so cool and it had songs like “Hellion”, “Sleeping In The Fire” and “I Wanna Be Somebody”. How could it not be good? When the records came in, I went directly for the W.A.S.P. record and opened it as fast I could and dropped the needle in the groove. To my satisfaction “I Wanna Be Somebody” started and it was everything I had hoped for – loud, aggressive, cool and rude. By the time the record was over I was in love and I just couldn’t get enough of this new band. The singer’s name was Blackie Lawless and he looked like a leather bound psychopath. The same can be said of the rest of the band specifically, guitarist Chris Holmes; he looked to be 7 foot tall, he was tattooed up and looked like the meanest man I’d ever seen. Oh, yes! From there I had to have everything the band released, I saved any and all money I could get my hands on – I never ate lunch at school – I had to have records – specifically W.A.S.P. records! Don’t fret, I’m still the same way – if Renee’ wouldn’t kill me I’d eat crackers all day and drink water just to buy records/music equipment.

The music of W.A.S.P. made me feel fearless, invincible and free. No matter what came or went, I felt as long as I had their tunes to back me I could do or be anything. In some ways, the band was a negative influence but then again so were all the Horror movies I watched. I’ve always been a loner and that has nothing to do with anything specifically, it’s just who I am. I live in my own world and I most often don’t care what’s going on in yours because it’s yours, not mine. W.A.S.P., with every release over the years they’ve only helped to solidify those feelings, but it’s not all negative or short sighted – the music is fun! I learned about all sorts of wonderful emotions, situations and other things – “Harder Faster”, “The Manimal” or “Animal F**k Like A Beast”. Most importantly I learned the art of being passionate about Rock N Roll and that I wasn’t alone.

Now that I’m all “growed” up and, in certain circles I’m old as dirt, I still love W.A.S.P. The music still brings a smile to my face non-stop and I’ll still jump at a chance to purchase any kind of merchandise from the band and go to a show if they come anywhere near us – which NEVER happens. The last time I got to see them was on the Unholy Terror Tour in 1999. A dear friend bought me two tickets for my birthday and I dragged Renee’ along. The show was great to me but Renee’ giggled the entire time because they were abit old, tired and a little worse for wear, but hell, a lifetime of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll will do that to you! I was enthralled; you suffer for your art no matter the cause and there were at least 150 people at the venue who came to kick some ass and hear the mighty Winged Assassins lay it down one more time! Great times, great band and the company of Renee’ was great to me. Although she doesn’t share my passion for W.A.S.P. AT ALL she doesn’t take away from it and she supports it at every turn because she understands what they meant to me back then and what they mean to me now. I’m all smiles with every spin, my horns go up and my heart palpitates just as it did the first time I heard any of their songs. And if you called me tomorrow and said “W.A.S.P. will be in Atlanta tonight” I’d be busting ass, selling stuff and breaking plans all over the place to get to that show. The band represents my youth, my pride, my love and who I am as a musician and as a fan. And if ‘nothing don’t happen’, one day I’ll be able to say I was able to make someone feel the same way W.A.S.P. makes me feel with music of  my very own music!

To round out my sumMEr of  ME declaration, I leave you with one of my favorite songs from W.A.S.P. “Mean Man”. “A tattooed man, I’m hell on wheels, born a wicked child left alone in the fields. My father was the wind, my mother was fire, raised by the wolves and I grew up wild”!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpqOSdDI6yo

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Today……

I have an outline of my focuses for this  sumMEr  with the main point of all this being:  How to change my relationship with me so that I will be better equipped to help others and connect with my soul’s work and the Goddess that I am? I know it all starts with me – no one else can do this work. We all have magic to share and we must take care of ourselves and believe in ourselves in order to be able to share that magic.

I am becoming more aware of how I speak to and about myself, aiming to be gentle. I am putting in place rituals that feel right for me and organizing so I have a calm reprieve to physically land when I let my mind get out of hand. I will make better food choices and start taking better care of myself. I will listen to what I need most and stand firm, not apologizing, remembering that when I say ‘yes’ to something that does not serve me, I am saying ‘no’ to something that might. I will not give into guilt. I will remember that ALLOW is my word of the year and I will make sure to have quiet time at least weekly, where I can reflect and offer gratitude. I aim to lighten up and not take everything so seriously, acknowledging that I only get this one life. I will enjoy the things and people that I love most. Everyday I will honor myself and in doing so, create a safe place for others.

There are many books and ecourses  and retreats that I want to delve into. I started this sumMEr off with an online class hosted by Liz Lamoreux and an art workshop at the studio of Jenni Horne. I am now joining Liz in her Inner Excavate-Along and Catherine Just in her Soul*Full Summit .  My lovely friend, Jenn Borek, has invited me to participate in her ecourse which involves one of my favorite things in the world: sticky notes! 😉 Rounding off my sumMEr will be the Artist’s Way Bookclub that the fabulous Jessica Brogan.

I invite you to poke around and see if any of these things call to you.  You might want to take this sumMEr to go inside yourself and reflect. There is no wrong way to do this – the ‘being aware’ is the most important part; it’s all in the becoming. Go at your own pace. Notice how you talk to yourself . Reflect on what you really want from your one precious life. Lean in. Live your Poem. xo

 

Fears…….

Andy and I watched The Muppet movie last night – just for fun (workin’ in that sumMEr fun – yay!). It WAS fun! And it reminded me to let go a bit and to whistle even in the midst of life and all its fears….. xo

 

I am honored to share with you words from Linda Kinnaman of Linda Kay’s Art. We have been classmates in several online courses and have formed a bond, which is not hard with this loving, giving, gentle soul. While I have yet to meet her in person, you can feel the very kindness radiate from her words.

Linda started a weekly ‘Fighting Fear Friday” blog and in sharing fears of her own, she invites us to acknowledge and sit with our own fears. Linda wants to be a force of good in this most times fearful world. She wants you to know that you are not alone and sometimes, if you open yourself to a new reality, one that you never planned, something bigger and better might just be in store.

As part of the sumMEr of ME project, Linda offers her latest realization of self-care in her post today. She invites you to drop in and get to know her and who knows, you might find a bit of yourself in her words! xo

 

MCTD………

I have not really mentioned health issues in this space because I feel like I am so much more than the ‘yuck’ that I deal with but after talking with a special person today that just received the same diagnosis, I wanted to share a little about my journey. Forgive the fuzzy memory, just one of the many pleasures of dealing with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.

I was 18 and could not get out of bed unassisted.  I just felt sick and knew this was not normal. I was scared. After two visits with a Rheumatologist in Alexander City, AL, I was told I had lupus-like tendencies, given Plaquenil and told to have my eyes checked every six months as permanent damage to the retina was a possible side effect. In less than a year I felt pretty much normal and decided to stop my medications; I’m stubborn like that.

Andy and I got married (after dealing with the false positive for syphilis) and life carried on with aches and pains here and there but no true issues aside from us not getting pregnant which I always felt was due to what I now know as MCTD. We bought our first house almost 8 years ago and I was thrilled with the above-ground pool. Couldn’t swim a lick and hate bugs but I was out there as much as humanly possible enjoying the perks of my new home. Life was good. Then I got sick again.

Looking back, I realize that the sun exposure was the trigger. I was extremely fatigued, a fatigue that even excessive amounts of sleep could not remedy. My joints ached.  It was a chore to get out of bed each morning, my muscles and bones hurt and my range of motion was nonexistent; I even got to the point that Andy had to literally dress me. Deciding I could no longer function in this manner we sought out medical help.

And here memory gets patchy: after several doctors and Plaquenil, chemo treatments, evil Prednisone, and other various drugs I was told I had lupus. I never fully went into remission but life resumed.

Andy got a new job and had to work a third shift on the weekend. I would stay with him at night, trying to sleep in a camping chair. This routine went on for a while and brought on another flare. More meds, another rheumy and more tests later, I had a new diagnosis of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. I was happy to trade in the lupus for this lesser sounding issue. Then I went online to read that now I was the proud new owner of not just one but multiple auto-immune diseases…… I am an overachiever like that. I remissioned but held my breath. Physically, I was recuperating but mentally, I was paused. Chronic pain is a personal path that can not be seen by the casual glance. Thankfully, Andy never thought I was crazy or doubted that my pain was real.

I now live with a few limitations (I am highly sun sensitive and still battle pain and MCTD claimed my uterus, to name a few) but I have a new reality and I have made peace with that. Maybe I am at the point where my story will help others feel a bit of comfort when they hear a diagnosis that turns their world upside down and is compounded by lack of information, knowledge and understanding. It is scary but it will be fine. You will be fine. xo

Overcome……

I am overcome. In the best of ways.

Andy is making his dreams come true and that makes my heart sing.

I am ALLOWing and that feels wonderful and freeing.

I have so many supportive people in my life and I am leaning into all this goodness.

I want to live as authentically and in the most genuine spirit as possible and I know this is the year for grand things.

This fills my soul: “The gifting of oneself and one’s talents is a most honest way of sharing with those around us, because it forbids pretense, and demands that we give others something real, something tangibly experienced. Far too rarely do we truly enact this kind of gift-giving—this sacrifice, even—but when we do, something holy and unexpected happens.”~Kinfolk Magazine

xo

This Moment…..

I thought about running through the highlights of 2011 or my hopes for 2012 but wanted to remember our New Year’s Eve celebration. My memory, at best, is normally impaired and I want to remember this moment.

Andy had played with Lights Out, normally an acoustic band, and his own band, Dead River but during a break, we sang karaoke. While the name of the song escapes me, I want to always remember the sheer joy I felt in this moment. All was right in my world. My wonderful husband by my side and our home spilling over with friends and family preparing to usher in 2012 with us. I want to remember that I was on the verge of  laughter at the ridiculous-ness of this moment and how Andy was so off-key but did not let that stop him from singing his heart out. I want to remember that he could not wear his wedding ring because his hand was still healing from the Tunes for Tots show that he orchestrated and literally played so hard, he bled.

I want to keep all this close to my heart and I am sure that if I do, all the days of 2012 will be that much better. xo

Sadness…….

In all the hustle and bustle of the Season I have moments. These moments range in emotion from excited, happy, calm, frenzied, frantic nostalgic and sad. As positive as I try to be, the sadness always finds a way in.

My life is not perfect but it is mine and I am here, living it and being present. I have wonderful, supportive friends and family and I am proud to be on this journey with the most wonderful husband a girl could have. We weather our storms and always come through with a better understanding of ‘us’. I am strengthened and comforted by this; and yet the sadness always find a way in.

I try to reason with myself and talk myself away from it but, in staying true to my path, I have decided to sit with it a while and let it be because I know while the sadness always finds a way in, it won’t win. xo

Hold Fast…….

When I have days like today I look for silver linings while holding fast to my dreams – so much so that Mr. Hughes would be proud.

One of my constant silver linings is my Mr.

On a daily basis he makes me feel loved, appreciated, talented, valued and beautiful, both inside and out.   His unwavering support and encouragement calm me, giving me strength and courage. Without a doubt, I know I am truly cherished.

I am so very proud of him. He is making his life-long dream of being a musician come true. He had his first show on Halloween weekend and it was magnificent! He has now organized an upcoming benefit concert for our local Toys for Tots and I could not be prouder. He makes my heart smile!

On the days that it feels like we have not seen each other in years, in the midst of our flurry of activities to reach our dreams, he still finds ways to lift me up and put our marriage first.  He is a dream come true  – he is my Happily Ever After. xo