Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Farewell to the Hairbrush Interviews

When I was a kid, maybe seven or eight years old, I fell off my bike and busted my chin open.  I was riding down the long country road where my grandparents lived, and as I hit the narrow gravel patch that was their driveway, my bike skidded out from underneath me and I landed on my face.  My cousin and I ran inside, my parents assessed the damage, and I got stitches.  Four of them, to be exact.

What I never told anyone about that day is what I was doing when the accident occurred.  And so here is the truth.  In my head, I was being Amy Grant, and I was giving an interview.  I cannot tell you how many imaginary interviews I gave as a child.  I gave interviews about my latest records and movies (I wasn't always Amy Grant), and I often used foreign accents.  (I have a reasonably convincing British and New Zealand accent from all of that practice.)  My interview microphones ranged from hairbrushes to markers, whatever felt the most convincing.  I carefully answered questions, asking myself only the most interesting things.  After all, my imaginary public deserved a good interview.  They had questions, I had answers.   And I sang.  Oh how I sang.  Because a performer should always be able to pull off an impeccable live performance.  And I did.  Every time.

I am 35.  My dreams of musical stardom and interviews are long, long gone.  I still practice my accents, mostly just to annoy Jake, but I have given up the hairbrush interviews.  I still love music and singing, and I have learned to play guitar and write songs.  But mostly I am content to play the occasional coffee shop show and open mic night, and leave the real music-making to those who really want it.  And after living in Nashville for almost a decade, I am fully aware of the masses of people who really want it.  I am not one of them.  I love playing music and I love it when it reaches someone, but I am mostly content.  I am happy to write songs when I feel inspired and play music when I am asked.  I have dreams of recording an album, just to prove that I was alive and that I created something that will live even after I am gone.  But almost every time I play, I am asked if I have albums for sale and when I'll be playing next.  The answer to the first is no.  The answer to the second is that I shrug my shoulders.  And it always feels a little irresponsible, as if I should at least have a plan for these things.  However I don't.

Last Saturday I had dinner with Jake and my girlfriends, Leslie and Amy.  Leslie is leaving to move to Korea tomorrow, and so we have been seeing her as much as we could before her 13 month adventure.  Amy moved to Colorado last fall, and so we only see each other during her monthly work trips to Dallas.  So it felt like a lucky thing to have three of my favorite people all in one place.  Leslie said that she had a gift for me, since we would not be here for my birthday.  I have already begun the birthday announcing, so it would have been hard to forget.  (March 13, if you haven't heard.)  Leslie pulled out a little box from beside her chair, and I opened it to find a CD with my photo and name on the front.  I pulled out the CD insert, and I began to read.  It took a few minutes to realize what was going on.  I read that Jake, Amy, and Leslie had worked together to start a fundraising campaign for me to record my first album.  Then, I discovered that they had raised almost over 80% of their goal already.  I had over $4000 sitting in an account so that I could begin working on my first ever album (unless you count the hundreds of recordings I made at Gilley's Recording Studio at Sunrise Mall).  The rest, they explained, was up to me.  I could raise my goal to whatever I thought was necessary.  I could advertise to my friends and family via social networking.  I only needed $850 to reach the $5000 mark.  And, of course, I cried.

Thanks to the generosity of friends and family and people I do not even know, we have surpassed my $5000 goal.  Several have suggested that I raise my goal, since we do not have an exact price quote on what it will actually take to make the album, but I think that so many people gave so that I could reach it, it would feel kind of strange to raise it now.  Instead, we will continue to pre-order albums (you can do that here).  The more albums we sell now, before it's made, the more money we get to invest into this album.  And seriously, just the thought of getting to put something like this together is so incredibly exciting.  I would have never thought to do this for myself.  And so I am grateful.  So very grateful.

Not many people get to do this, you know.  Some dreams have a big price tag.  Some are too daring.  Some are too scary.  This is all of those things for me.  It is big and scary and it is putting a piece of yourself out there, open for critique.  But it is also exciting and full of possibility.  And I will probably never give an interview about this album, which is a real shame because I am all practiced up.  I will never make any kind of mark on any charts, and that is fine.  I have a circle of friends and family that are supportive and they believe in who I am and what I create.  And that, my friends, is enough for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday... How I Believe Skinny People are Worth More

It's Fat Tuesday.  And while I know the actual meaning of the day, it feels a little more appropriate than it should because today is also my first Weight Watchers weigh-in.  I am hoping the use of the word "fat" in this day is not prophetic.  

Right now I am fat.  Not obese.  Not Biggest Loser fat.  Not have-to-leave-the-house-by-crane fat.  But still.  Fat for me.  Fat enough to where the biggest pants I own are still a little tight.  I am currently refusing to buy more.  Fat enough to select my outfits by which things conceal my stomach the best, not what looks cute.  I wear large necklaces to distract from my hips.  I wear nothing fitted or clingy.  I am more than slightly tempted most days to open up my large box of maternity clothes to pull out a shirt that hides my current form.  It is an exhausting process.  I stick my neck out for photographs (in my best Littlefoot imitation), so that maybe I will end up with only one chin, instead of two or three.  

I am ten pounds beyond what I have always considered my maximum weight.  You have one, too, I am sure.  The weight that you get to, and you say to yourself "Yeesh.  Okay, that's enough Twinkies".  (Except not anymore because Twinkies are dead and gone)  Yeah, well I am ten pounds beyond that.  Some days it creeps up to twelve or thirteen, depending. To lose enough weight to be at my very first Weight Watcher's goal from 2007 (this ain't my first weight-loss rodeo), I would have to lose about thirty-two pounds.  Yep.  Thirty-two.  I am resisting the urge to delete that confession, but it's good for the soul, right? 

I am a comfort eater.  When I am sad, I want macaroni and cheese and hot fudge sundaes and buttermilk biscuits.  Come to think of it, I want those things when I am happy, too.  And because of the difficult circumstances of my life during the fall, I was five pounds beyond this weight when I found out that I was pregnant in December.  And for the following six or seven weeks, my appetite was weird.  I had lots of food and smell aversions.  I stopped drinking coffee because they smell of it made me want to throw up.  The spinach salad I usually had for lunch started tasting disgusting.  I felt like I could taste the dirt on the spinach leaves.  I hated the way grape tomatoes felt in my mouth.  So I started eating anything that sounded good.  French dip sandwiches.  Hibachi steak and fried rice.  Huge bowls of cereal.  Three of them.  Glasses of chocolate milk.  I was pregnant, for goodness' sake.  I was supposed to gain weight.  And so I did.  By week eleven, my baby was gone, but the fat wasn't.  

So here I am.  Counting points, tracking every glass of water I drink, cutting my casseroles into perfectly portioned squares and eating just one.  I am eating vegetables.  I am working out, making myself so sore that I can't get out of my chair without assistance from my arms.  Lunges are not our friends, people.  I am chasing after a number on a scale, one that is far away from the one I see now.  I have bins of clothes that literally have a number on the side, the number that I need to be at on the scale in order to fit into them. I am not even allowed to open these bins until I hit that number.  And in the meantime, I don't shop.  I don't allow myself to buy something cute and new, even though my jeans cut into my stomach so much that it hurts to sit for a long time.  I punish myself into believing that 160 pound* me (yes, I just told you my weight) is not worth something new.  145 pound me will deserve new pants.  

And, oh my goodness, this is messed up thinking.  It really is.  Because as much as we tell ourselves that the numbers don't matter (see picture above), we really do believe that skinny people are worth more.  And it sounds terrible.  We would never want to admit that we believe that.  But we do.  Almost every single one of us.  It's the reason we don't take new pictures (here is a beautifully written blog post about that).  It's the reason we look at old pictures of ourselves, and we feel a twinge of sadness at the body we have lost.  It's the reason we look at another person that has gained weight and take note of it in our minds.  Sometimes we even mention it in conversation, as if it's worthy of discussion.  I do, anyway.  (I am really ugly and sinful sometimes.  Most of the time.)  It's the reason that when we occasionally reach a point we are happy with, we want to take a thousand pictures just to have proof that we once looked really good.  After all, I may never look this good again.  And when we don't look that good anymore, we go into hiding.  We go out because we have to, but we hide underneath flowing shirts and distracting scarves.  Even worse, we hide underneath an invisible veil of shame that tells us that we are not worth as much because we are bigger.  And the devil does a little dance because we have bought in.  We believe him.  Shame is one of his favorite gifts to give, and we have accepted it.  

This journey is not wrong.  The motivation for the journey is what makes the difference here.  I can tell myself that it's is about getting healthy.  And maybe it is 10% true.  I don't want to die early.  I can say it is about feeling better, but frankly, 160 pound me feels fine.  I have no extra aches and pains because my body is carrying more weight.  But really, this is a sin problem.  Overeating is a lack of self-control, which should be a result of the Spirit of God that dwells inside of me.  So this problem cannot be solved by Weight Watchers alone.  If it is, the results are temporary, and eventually we go back to the way we were.  Overweight and expecting the food we eat to heal us. To make us feel better. To scratch the emotional itch that nothing can really touch except the presence of God.  

I will go today and weigh in.  I have committed to this, and I will see it through to completion.  But the real work begins inside of me.  It starts with the renewing of my mind.  With exchanging lies for truth.  It begins in knowing that food is necessary for living, but that I do not live by bread (oh, how I love bread!) alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  That should be my comfort when things go wrong.  It begins with throwing out the thought that a thinner version of me, past or future, is more valuable.  More lovable.  More worthwhile.  Replace that with the truth of Psalm 139.  I am worthwhile because God has made me worthwhile.  Whether I am a size 10 or a size 4, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  

I am being drawn back to the truth of a Bible study I once did,  The Search for Significance.  The study has a statement of identity that I used to quote regularly to myself.  I think I will get back to it.  It is kind of cheesy.  It is a little like picking up your spiritual pom pons and cheering yourself on.  But it is truth. And I like truth.  It's what sets us free, you know.  That and maybe a new pair of temporary pants, size 10.   

Because of Christ’s redemption,
I am a new creation of infinite worth.
I am deeply loved,
I am completely forgiven,
I am fully pleasing,
I am totally accepted by God.
I am absolutely complete in Christ.
When my performance reflects my new identity in Christ, 
that reflection is dynamically unique.
There has never been another person like me
In the history of mankind,
Nor will there ever be.
God has made me an original,
one of a kind, really somebody! 
- Robert S. McGee

*For some of you, 160 pounds may seem like nothing.  For others, it's a whole lot.  We all have our own 160 pound number.  You don't judge mine.  I won't judge yours.  :)


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