I used to sing more.
When I lived in Northern California, before marriage and kids, I worked one day a week at a counseling agency where my commute was about 35 minutes each way, give or take.
Each Wednesday, after a leisurely morning of sleeping in, exercising, showering, eating, and catching up on stuff, I’d drive to work to see several evening clients. I plugged in my ipod and chose from one of my many playlists.
And I’d sing. I’d sing very loudly and with passion. I’d try to hold the long notes and I remember the first time I successfully held that one note in that one Sara Bareilles song as long as she did. There were a few times I sang so loud that I remember thinking I should scale it back or I wouldn’t have working vocal chords during my upcoming therapy sessions.
I’m actually a decent singer. A little better than average, I’d say. I was one of those kids who idolized the musical theater geeks but never had the ladyballs to join up, even for the backstage stuff. I was in a dinky choir in middle school once. I couldn’t read music (and still can’t) and didn’t know how to sing the harmony unless I heard someone sing it first.
Lately, with sadness, I’ve realized that I don’t sing very much anymore.
I don’t have a commute anymore. When I’m in the car I’m rarely alone. And when I’m “alone” at home, one or both of the kids are sleeping, so I can’t let loose there either.
Don’t get me wrong – I sing to my kids (when they let me). But it’s not the same as singing for me. Singing the songs that I want to sing, in the way I want to sing them.
There’s been a few times when I’ve been folding laundry upstairs and everyone else was downstairs and I put some music on my phone to sing to. It felt nice. More than nice, even. When I’m out running (a loose term for what I actually do) I often can’t help myself and start singing half the lyrics, between gasps of breath and probably loudly and off-key since I can’t hear myself through my earphones. I’ve forgotten how stress-relieving singing is for me. It works my lungs, my diaphragm. It makes my eyes water and my sinuses plug up with emotion (read: snot). It calms me, makes me feel alive.
I was reminded of this because I’m reading a book: Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. In it, she has a chapter that mentions the importance of music, dancing, and singing in what she calls wholehearted living. I want to be wholehearted. I want to feel more carefree. I want to carve out times and places where I can express myself in this way, like I used to.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs to sing to.
NaBloPoMo Day 2