Category: music

Breaking and moving on

Yesterday morning I was scheduled to run 4 miles.

I did not want out of bed.

I did not want to make an effort to get dressed in running clothes or lace up my pretty purple shoes.

I did not want to go out of the door.

I found every excuse possible: tired, hadn’t eaten, hadn’t had enough water, etc.I took care of every excuse — grudgingly.

I whined my way out the door and started running. Really, there was nothing to complain about. The temperature was great. Four miles has become a distance I’m pretty comfortable with … long enough to get into my good running space, not so long that I’m just putting one foot in front of the other to get home.

In short: the problem was my head.

The problem has been my head, my mental space, my grey matter, whatever you’d like to call it … for the last several weeks. Not just with running, but everywhere. I’m crabby, cranky, grumpy, and have a super short attention span. My threshold for annoyance is low.

I know some of my friends are thinking, “Yeah … we know, but this is you, right?”

Well, not really. This hasn’t always been me, and while we’ve certainly had our fair share of stresses in the last few years, they’ve been mostly positive ones. But even positive stress has an impact, and positive changes can create tension. My problem hasn’t been the changes so much as the not acknowledging and addressing my tension.

I’d started running as a way to help with that — a stress reliever, a natural source of endorphins, a way to pound out the frustrations and sadness and anger and build-up. A time for being alone and not touched by another human being.In open cube work environments, a job that requires LOTS of human interaction, and a house full of wonderful people, I simply need some time alone.

I’m an introvert at heart, and I need that alone time to recharge. Since not even the bathroom counts as alone space anymore, running has been great. I also get to listen to my music (a Spotify playlist that I set on random) at my volume, with no interruptions. (While, of course, keeping aware of my surroundings and low enough that I can hear traffic and other safety awareness cues.)

It’s not coincidental that as my running times declined over the last month, my mood did too.

All this swirling in the background, I went out for my run yesterday morning. It was good, not too great, but good enough.

Then I reached mile 3, and my random playlist gave me Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait.”

I hate being the soppy, overly emotional person who finds intense meaning in song lyrics, but yesterday morning I was the soppy, overly emotional person finding intense meaning in song lyrics.

I love that music is subjective and words that mean nothing to you or are overplayed to others can bring an epiphany or catharsis to someone else.

I’ve talked before about my struggles in being patient and waiting on God’s timing. Yesterday morning, for whatever reason, this song just broke my soul by putting exactly into words how my relationship with God feels right now. How my life feels right now. It’s not that I’m waiting on someTHING super specific, it’s just that I need to slow the heck down and let life happen. I need to not be anxious with an anxiety of my own making. I need to break open to other people and be open and healed.

So as I ran to a tempo that was perfect for me, these words poured into my ears, this music style that pulls on so many instinctive pieces of me, I just cried. And cried. And cried.

Not because I felt awful or hurt, but because I finally felt better.

And that’s why I run.

Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait from Cooperative Music Germany on Vimeo.

I need the music

Yesterday I had one of the painful experiences at work that I usually inflict on other people: going through feedback from peers and managers.

I’d taken a self-assessment, and the same questions were answered about me by peers on teams with me and by my managers. The very knowledgeable consultant who went through the responses with me also looked at another assessment I’d taken. (The Birkman, if you’re a nerdy development type.)

So the feedback itself wasn’t all that bad, it’s just the painful process of confronting how far your external habits fall from your internal perspective of what you do. There were also some pretty large indicators that I have existed and worked in a stressed-out way for far too long, and it’s coming across loud and clear and not in a nice way. Ick. So I have something to work on.

One of the most interesting things for me, though, was the consultant’s perspective and interpretation of the “Areas of Interest” in that Birkman assessment. These 10 categories (Artistic, Clerical, Musical, Literary, Social Services, Mechanical, Numerical, Outdoor, Persuasive, and Scientific) have nothing to do with talent, but seem to express my need for behaving in a certain way or interest in certain things.

My top area of interest? Like, 99 out of 100 points? Music.

As the consultant said, “This is what you need for healing. You need music, whether it’s listening or performing, to make your soul whole, particularly if you’re in this stressed place so much.”

What do I have almost none of in my life right now? Music.

The only music I tend to have right now are the songs I listen to while running.

So today, while I am trying to get through a ton of work and re-group from weeks on end of stress and manic behavior, I am drowning myself in music. Christmas, classical, “hipster Christmas music” (kill me now) … whatever I can soak in.

* * *

Another thing I’ve started doing for soul-healing and stress-relieving is acknowledging that there are simply some things in my life that I don’t like. I have been a people-pleaser my entire life, trying to be fair and not project favoritism. I’ll eat that cookie, even if I don’t like it, because YOU made it. I’ll listen to that song and try not to have a favorite, because it may cause conflict if we don’t like the same thing. I’ll try to be friends with everyone, even if I don’t like them, because that’s what good girls do.

So now I’m trying to acknowledge when I genuinely just DON’T LIKE or REALLY PREFER something or someone. It’s not a license or excuse to be rude or crabby (darn) … it’s a relief valve so I can acknowledge my true feelings and go on with the best way to behave while not being stressed.

I don’t like snickerdoodles or oatmeal raisin cookies at all.

I love chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.

I don’t like this or that person.

I will be kind to them because someone I love loves them or because they simply deserve respect as a human being.

I don’t like The Little Drummer Boy.

love Silent Night.

I don’t like Mariah Carey’s version at all, but I’ve listened to this version three times today.

Heal your soul a bit, if you like:

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