An Audience of One

Sometimes the most beautiful symphony has only one chair.

— Life is a Recipe

As I pulled away from the house the other day I could tell that I was frazzled. The whining, teasing, and nonstop chatter of the kids had made Spring Break seem a little longer than usual. I’ve found that a short car-ride can be one of the best places to re-center and re-calibrate. The time in the car is my time.

Like most days, I turned on the radio – which generally distracts me from all the hoopla in my life. But this time, my mobile oasis taught me a lesson. After a few moments it dawned on me that the music wasn’t making me feel better. The sounds and words seemed to only add to the noise. I didn’t need more words.

I never turn on Classical music. But in this moment it seemed like the only acceptable choice. And not long after I started to listen to it I felt a release. I don’t know if it’s an age thing and if I’m supposed to start liking the symphony, but I understood it in a way that I had never understood it before. Each instrument became a soothing voice, but the sounds were open enough for me to insert my own words: the words that I needed. Without someone else’s ideas crowding out my own thoughts, I was able to attune to my feelings and ground myself. As much as I love every beautiful peep that my children make – their wants, needs, fighting, giggling, teasing and whining – when combined with the incoming texts, emails, telephone calls, Facetime calls, Instagram updates, snapchat notifications…it creates a world where i’m never really alone. With today’s technology, it has become so hard to experience in one’s own much-needed silence.

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At a deeper level, I realized that this wasn’t just about becoming a stuffy old mom. This was about real needs. I needed my life to be quieter so that I could live a life that’s “tuned-in.” I am responsible to myself, my work, and my children. Most importantly, my children need me to be truly with them. I am a single mom, so my boundaries are wider than they are supposed to be. But there are ways to manage the heat and pressure of all of these responsibilities. There are ways to bring it all down to a simmer so that all of the important issues are manageable.

Now when I’m in the car, there are certain days where I don’t play the newest and coolest music on the radio. Somedays, I only listen to Classical music or no music at all. When I start to feel anxious, I use the silence or the symphony to calm myself down and realize that some of stuff doesn’t need to be taken care of right away and can be put on the back-burner.

This was an important first step to balancing my emotional self care. That “space” gives you the opportunity to remember some important things. Maybe it will help you take the time to remind yourself and others that your needs are important as well. Maybe it will help you to manage all of the stresses and negativity that life can bring. Maybe it will remind you to set boundaries for your family, for work, and all of the other things that need to get done. Without boundaries, we can get swept up in lists and chores, and our true selves get lost in the shuffle. The paradox is that when we get lost in this way, we become incapable of truly taking care of the people we intend to.

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Life Recipe:
Delighting Your Audience of One

  1. A great way to take care of our minds and hearts is by giving them time to breathe. As hard as it may seem to carve out the time, make daily appointments with yourself to just “be.” These little mini-vacations need to only last a few minutes to re-invigorate your ability to focus and perform.
  2. Another great way to diffuse the stress builds in all of us by moving our bodies. A lot of things that may be disturbing us mentally can be silenced while enjoying some physical activity. You can do this by going for a walk, hiking, taking a dance class, or by taking a little siesta to revive yourself.
  3. Hanging out and connecting with friends who are meaningful to you can really help bring the noise down. Instead of checking out what everyone is doing on a social media, having an organic interaction with someone can be quite rewarding. We need to be around people that uplift us and build us up.

Breakfast Recipe:
Nutella Stuffed French Toast

  • Challah bread (cut into thick slices)
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of Nutella
  • 12 strawberries (sliced)
  • 2 bananas (sliced)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine 2 eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla and whisk.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

  3. Take two slices of challah bread and spread the Nutella on the insides.

  4. One one slice of bread cover with banana.

  5. On the other slice of bread cover with strawberries.

  6. Close the sandwich and dunk each side into the egg mixture.

  7. Cook until golden on both sides.

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

  9. Enjoy.