Sunday, March 02, 2014

It Ain't All About Nutrition

Do you have any idea how many calories you can burn cleaning the house?  While your favorite music is playing and you're singing at the top of your lungs?  Apparently about 344 calories per hour!  Double that if you (like me) house clean when you're angry!  Angry house cleaning will net you over 600+ calories an hour! Apparently I work harder and faster when I'm agitated!   

I spent part of my Sunday enjoying the solitude of having the house to myself, linked my iPhone into the Jambox, and proceeded to completely and utterly confuse The Rocket Dog.  Now, I don't particularly enjoy cleaning.  But I love music.  And I found quite by accident -let's just say it had to do with the Angry Housecleaning spoken about above!- that putting the two together is like peanut butter in your chocolate. Or bacon on your caramel.  Or your cheapest and best therapy session.  EVER.  But I missed out on years of housecleaning that could have been equally awesome as today's cleaning because of something someone said to me.  

I used to play the piano.  As in classically trained, played for years type of piano playing.  From the time I was very young I accompanied people who played other instruments or had amazing voices.  I'd sung in a traveling group with my sister when we were kids.  When I went away to boarding school, it was to a school whose curriculum was very centered around music.  I loved that part of school.  Besides piano every day, I was also in the choir.  I loved the exposure to other people who loved music as much as I did.  I loved being surrounded by music of different types every day.  It's always made me happy.  And I'm embarrassed to say that I'm still regularly moved to the point of tears by music.  

I was never the popular girl in high school, but one day I was hanging out with a group of kids and we were goofing off singing bits of songs and messing around.  It was a fun break in my day.  As the group was breaking  up, the girl walking away from them with me said "It's a good thing you play the piano so well! You might just wanna stick with that.  You're never gonna be a singer!".  

The thought had never crossed my mind before.  My first instinct was absolute embarrassment and humiliation to a degree I never knew I could experience, and that's saying something!  Why was I just learning this?  Was I one of those people who really couldn't hear themselves?  The fact that I'd actually tried out for choir and gotten in didn't seem to factor in.  I knew I didn't have the trained voice that my sister had; she'd opted for voice lessons and I for piano.  But really?  Did I really sound like one of those people other people make fun of?  The ones who know one note and sing every song in it?

So I did what any normal person would do:  I stopped singing.  

I went for years...years...without singing and missed it so much.  I'd hum under my breath as I couldn't seem not to participate in some way.  I loved music.  I went on to play keyboards in a rock band in the late 80s and only sang when background vocals were absolutely required, and I flat refused any solos even though it mostly involved a lot of yelling and headbanging that, to be honest, required no real skill.  

Jump forward 25 years to find me still driving alone in my car with the top down, music blasting as loud as I thought my new speakers could handle it, still quietly humming under my breath to every song I know, with playlist after playlist of favorite songs on my iPod.  

Then Angry Housecleaning was discovered. I'm at home alone completely pissed off after an argument.  I've cleaned everything I can think of top to bottom and have resorted to taking out my aggression on baseboards from one end of the house to the other when I realize that the headset that I'd plugged in to block out my own thoughts was blasting my favorite music directly into my ears and I'd been singing at the top of my lungs for about an hour. No one was there to hear me.  And somehow, best of all, I'd stopped caring who heard.  


Rik got home some time later, found me in the master bathroom with my head in the shower scrubbing the floor for all I was worth singing VERY loudly to Aerosmith.  But what changed my life was what he said about 30 minutes later:  "Why don't you do that more often?  You have a good voice!  I'd totally not care if you do this all the time."  And suddenly those 20+ years seemed to go away.  

I feel silly to admit that I'm 44 years old and have let something someone said to me in high school affect my entire adult life.  Up to this point.  

Like most adult's my age, I've spent my fair share of time in therapy.  And I think I'm a better person for it. No, I know I am.  I feel lighter in my heart at this point in my life than I have at any single point before.  But I allowed those years to go by devoid of the joy singing brought me by a single statement, made off the cuff by someone whose opinion ultimately didn't matter considering I don't even remember the name of the person who said it!  I stopped singing.  I cut an activity out of my life for decades that was free, therapeutic, and that had made me happy and free in a way that nothing else did.  But I handed that power over.  I'm the one who made the decision to allow words to change the course of my life...if we're honest, to change a part of what fundamentally made me ME.  This wasn't the fault of the girl who said I couldn't sing.  This was MY fault and no one else's.  Mine.  

Words do  matter.  Apology might be made for them after the fact, but once said, they're out there.  They become part of the fabric of who we are and how we relate to ourselves and to others. But we do that.  WE let it affect us and change us.  These things affect all of us from the offhand remark your mother made 20 years ago that "Oh honey, you've got grandma's're just doomed" to the Mean Girl at school who called you fat.  Or the coworker who said you have no style.  Or the boss when you were 15 who said you'd never make anything of yourself...And obviously, words can heal.  Thanks to that equally offhanded remark Rik made to me not knowing this whole story, somehow singing is now Officially Sanctioned again. And one of the many many reasons I love him.  

But it made me think what else I might be missing out on in my life, what other ways I've limited myself or my happiness...what other power have I given away, maybe in a less dramatic manner than this.  I'm never going to be a solo singer. 

 But as far as singing with the top down...

I freaking ROCK.