Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

I've had a version of this quote as my "tagline" (what is that anyway?) at the bottom of my email for a few years now, and I get so many comments on it. It really is true that everyone is fighting their own personal battle, and when you encounter a person, whether in a business or personal capacity, you don't ever really know what's going on behind their eyes.

Jogging through my neighborhood, I see people in their houses, or out with their kids and my mind wanders from my own little world into theirs. What's going on in peoples lives? What demons are they hiding?

As I round the corner into my own neighborhood, I'm familiar with the demons simply by proximity. In 10 years, you hear things. A skateboarding accident that caused irreparable brain damage must have changed the course of each and every family member. Domestic violence, drug abuse, divorce, foreclosure... Not to mention the secrets that remain locked behind closed doors, the ones you don't know about until the news truck is parked on your block.

When I'm driving and in my own little world inside my car, I look at other drivers and wonder if they are grieving a loved one, or daydreaming about having a baby. For all I know, they could be contemplating suicide or rushing to rendezvous with a love affair. Depressed or elated, overly-medicated or in need of it...

I'm reminded of my drive from my office in Bellevue to Providence hospital in Everett - probably a solid half an hour - on the day my dad had a heart attack. I was on auto pilot in every sense of the word. Not focused on driving in the least, only thinking of him. Shaking, mind reeling, and in no shape to be driving. No one could have guessed that behind my sunglasses were puffy eyes, and I could barely see the road through my tears.

Being depressed, and weaving down the path to attempt to put it behind me has taught me empathy that I never would have been able to grasp without having experienced it. Depression has taught me to treat everyone more gently. Appearances can be deceiving. It takes a lot of strength to appear normal when your insides are being eaten up by grief or anxiety or the black hole that is depression.

I know. I've been there.

That drive was 10 years ago. Last week, we celebrated my dad's 65th birthday at my house. He was surrounded by his grandchildren (pictured below) and my house and my heart was filled with love.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Please Don't Stop the Music

This morning on the way to daycare, which takes approximately 1 minute to drive, my girls requested Please Don't Stop The Music (by Rihanna). I happily obliged, relieved not to be listening to I'm A Little Teapot for the zillionth time.

Both Colin and I have the Disney Radio app on our phone so the girls can listen to their favorite songs, as if they were teenagers. They request songs by the repetitive lyrics, not the actual song title: "Mama, can we listen to 'break-break-your-heart"?

They remind me that before they were born, music was a great source of comfort for me, and somewhere along the way, I forgot.

When my perinatalogist insisted that I refrain from all activity at 16 weeks pregnant, the music stopped abruptly. From the soothing music in my massage therapy room to the carefully selected workout music on my iPod.

I used to drown out the thoughts wading through my head with techno music turned up full blast in my car.

Josh Groban was my savior whenever I felt nervous or anxious. My heartbeat would slow at the swish of the CD being sucked into my car stereo.

I would crank the bass in my cozy little SUV and let the thumping in my chest re-calibrate my emotions.

And what is more stress dissolving that screaming to a song at the top of your lungs?

But for almost 2 years, I deprived myself of music, listening only to the frightened voices in my head during pregnancy, the beeping of the NICU monitors after giving birth, the cries of my duplicate infants and the cacophony of twin toddlers.

Children bring with them so much noise that I couldn't bear to add to it. I preferred the silence - rather, I preferred to sleep, when I could stand no more. 

And, in the midst of postpartum depression, when I needed it the most, I neglected to see what I was missing, even though my babies were already discovering the joy in melody.

Our garage sale Baby Einstein CD soothed the girls to sleep at each naptime and bedtime. And in the frantic absence of that CD, I discovered John Mayer's Continuum lulled them to sleep in the car.

Now, I'm rediscovering music through 4 year old eyes. Jaeda and Tristyn love to dance - each with their own style; Tristyn with her Elaine Benes interpretive dance, and Jaeda with her spin-until-you're-dizzy ballerina dance.

Our house is one big dance party. The other night, my iPod plugged into one of those crappy little speakers that came free from Office Depot, the three of us danced up and down the hallway at the top of our stairs, taking turns creating dance moves.

Slowly, music has come back into my good graces. On a particularly anxious Saturday, I found myself calmed by Michael Jackson's rhythmic beats while I made dinner. Another day, I danced around the house to George Michael while the girls napped. And this past Sunday, I let Enya lull me to sleep when I couldn't fight off a late afternoon headache. 

And like a long lost love, When you rediscover something you once couldn't live without, you cherish it even more.  

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