Monday, April 23, 2012

The Law of Allowing

Okay, this sort of made me giggle.  It is a clip about how to woman can avoid being micromanaging and controlling.   How to be more feminine.  It seems that the people in the blogosphere with whom I have recently started to interact and who have learned to cede control to their husbands (ooooppps, allow) are ahead of the curve.  I guess we are all not so weird after all.|main5|video-module|sec3_lnk1|153906


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is a song about control

"This is a song about control" is a phrase I use often when someone is being unreasonably controlling.  I stole it from a song by Janet Jackson.  I'm not sure which song, not that it really matters.

I have come to realize this week that "This is a song about control" really means "This a song about me not trusting you".  The first event that brought this to mind relates to the fact that I am in a singing group. The group is extremely talented despite being an all volunteer group.  We tour; we sing in different languages; we sing classical music. Many of us play multiple instruments.  We can pretty much pick up a piece of music and while not sing it perfectly, we can sing it pretty close to right.  Because of this tremendous amount of talent and ability, any director we have is going to have to be on his toes.  If he misconducts something consistently or tries to teach us a rhythm that isn't right everybody knows it.  The same goes for the singers.  If you are singing the wrong notes, the person next to you knows it and will usually lean over and tell you and that is okay because usually you know you aren't right anyway.  It is a high wire act where everybody needs to be on their game.  We have had people join us, who within the first 15 minutes or so, know that they can't keep up and never come back.  We are welcoming of everyone, but the level at which we perform can be intimidating unless you have a certain level of musical ability.

So, any director needs to earn our trust to a certain extent.  They need to prove that they are going to bring you in when they are supposed to.  They need to prove that at difficult entrances they are going to be right there because you need them.  If they aren't right there, you stop trusting them and everybody starts depending on themselves to come in and cut off notes.  What happens is that we stop singing as a group and start singing as individuals.  When this happens, the music suffers.  I have sung with symphony orchestras were the musicians are following the singers and the singers are following the musicians.  The director has been put on complete disregard expect maybe to keep time.  Not good!  The music is at its best and most glorious when everyone in the group, musicians and singers give up all control to the director, but this only happens when the director has proven he can be trusted with that much control.

This relationship is often tested.  The director who realized he isn't being followed as closely as he would like starts conducting at different speeds, throwing in unexpected rests and holding notes longer than they are written.  The people who are watching him stay with him the people that aren't watching aren't with the director and the music falls apart pretty quickly and everybody hears it.  The best directors can convey the "Pay attention to me" message without every saying a word about it.  I once had a conductor say that when you have a choir completely under your control you don't need to use words.  He said this to someone who he was teaching how to conduct.  He then proceeded to stand up and conduct us without saying anything.  It was fabulous and very enlightening about just how good he was at what he did.  Trust is the operative word here.  We relaxed and just sang.

No director can direct music that exceeds the ability of the singers, but he can make them perform to their very best.  This reminds me of a scene from All that Jazz,  a dancer kept being picked on by Joe Gideon, until finally she just stalks away, upset.  Here is the dialog:

Victoria: Well, you're right. I'm terrible. I know I'm terrible. I look at the mirror and I'm ashamed. Maybe I should quit. I just can't seem to do anything right.
Joe Gideon: Listen. I can't make you a great dancer. I don't even know if I can make you a good dancer. But, if you keep trying and don't quit, I know I can make you a better dancer. I'd like very much to do that. Stay?
Victoria: Are you going to keep yelling at me?
Joe Gideon: Probably.

This I totally understand!  It is all about trust and control.  This is about staying and allowing the director to make you better even when it is hard.

The other event happened this week.  A woman sent out an e-mail to a board that I sit upon indicating that we should have discussed a decision we made with the whole group.  What she accused us of had never been discussed (we hadn't made the decision she accused us of) and would never have been discussed without the input of the entire group, not just the board.  I was the first to respond.  I prayed and rewrote a lot, but I think it came across gently.  I hope!  What I said was that I was sorry that she thought we had let her down and I was even more sorry that she didn't trust us enough to realize we would never have made that decision without everyone's input.  "This is a song about control".  She has been a huge leading influence in the past and has only recently given up the reins of power.  She doesn't trust us.  I guess we haven't earned it and I am not sure how we can.  The horrible part of this is that not only does she not trust us, she also accuses of things of which we are not guilty.  I have written in the past about Eeyores, Piglets, Tiggers and Poohs.  This woman is an Eeyore, she usually attributes the negative motive to everybody.  So, instead of being a supportive influence on the board, she just tears at us and what we are trying to accomplish.  If she would just trust us the tiniest bit, I think we would surprise her.  If she would just soften her approach the tiniest bit, we wouldn't have her on mostly disregard.  She is who she is and I know she would like to be on the board, but people won't elect her because they recognize how difficult she can be.

Trusting in either of these cases is not about losing who you are or even about giving over your will.  It is about cooperating and keeping the final goal in mind and trusting.  That is what I am looking for in a relationship.  The best directors and husbands are not afraid of questions. They are secure enough to not feel challenged.  They have to earn that trust though and the best ones are the ones that are willing to prove themselves and be tested, because when they pass the test, that is when you feel the safest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


In an effort to truly understand who I am and why I am the way that I am, I had a bit of an epiphany last night.  I was discussing how I had be treated by another person to a group of woman.  I've truly gotten over the hurt and moved on to the "they are who they are" stage.  I don't hold grudges easily, if someone has truly been horrible to me, I just avoid them and I am civil when we do end up having to be together. All of the women knew who I was talking about since she is a leader of sorts in our group.

One of the women, a mother of eight, had sympathetic consoling words for me.  I realized in that moment, that that was new experience for me.  I was being "mothered", not in a weird way, because this woman isn't my mother, but in a kind thoughtful way.  My feelings mattered, the fact that I had been hurt mattered.  Looking back, I realized that I had never been mothered that way.  I wonder if it was because I pushed my mother away, or if she just never reached out to me that way.  I do remember thinking as a young girl that my own mother spoke more kindly to the dog than she did to me.  She would have said that is because I  was hard to get along with and argumentative.  She may be right, I may have pushed her away with the way that I was.  I'm not doing that anymore, so hopefully I will have more of those comforting moments in my life.   It is an odd thing to realize that I am not used to being spoken to kindly by woman, it makes me wonder about the vibes I send out.    Maybe I'm not sending those vibes out anymore, maybe I am letting people know that it is okay to reach out to me.  I sure do hope so.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Easter week has always been a good time of year.  Lent it over, there are all kinds of ceremonies and traditions that keep that last week active as you remember that last week of Jesus's life.  I guess I am always rather struck by how incredibly strong Jesus was mentally and how completely in control of himself.  I like his sort of "Bring it on" attitude.  In the midst of all of the pain and suffering of those last days, he was still so aware of what the people around him needed from him.  The man is dying on a cross and he is concerned about who is going to be taking care of his mother!

I have a friend who was a Lutheran pastor who converted and became a Catholic priest.  He told me once that in his church is a large crucifix and when he is distributing communion he images Jesus up on the cross looking at the face of each person saying, "Worth it, worth it, worth it".

Another story he tells is of a couple of biologists out looking at a grassland fire.  They see it sweeping towards them and get in their truck to drive away before it reaches them.  Just as they are getting into the truck, they hear a prairie chicken calling.  They come back later after the fire has swept across the grassland and they find the body of the prairie chicken, scorched and burned.  One of the guys kicks the body over and under it are all her chicks, still alive.  She was calling them to her when she knew the fire was coming.  My friend says, that is what Jesus did.  He protected us with his own body knowing that the judgement was coming.

I can never think about the Easter season without recalling those two he took the fire and how he thinks we all were worth it.