I always ask my clients what music they would like to listen to during their sessions.
Often they don’t have any preference, so I’ll play a Spotify soundtrack based on my previous week’s choices.
Since I can’t hear the music unless it’s really loud- much too loud for the relaxation of my clients- I rely on the lyrics app to show me that the music is indeed playing and filling the space with beautiful rhythm and words.
Sometimes I find myself dancing, my bare feet picking up the vibrations from the wood floor and the speaker and sometimes I’ll catch the words and almost gasp as the beauty and relevance hits home.
I’ll memorize the name of the song, holding it in my heart until the session is finished and then, I’ll send the link to those that I just know would love to hear that song..or perhaps they need to hear it.
One such song was “Known and Loved” https://open.spotify.com/track/1NLCMB3DAPXos7OYvNzrTf
I needed to hear this song…actually needed to read the lyrics over and over.
“Feels like you have lost yourself again
Sit in silence with a friend
when you are fully known and loved”
That is why my patio is so important to me. It’s where I go to sit in silence and to write and to read but it’s also where those that know me best, come to find me.
It’s where I get to fully know and be known and to give and receive love in deeper ways than I ever imagined from so many fabulously flawed, perfectly imperfect people but it’s also where I come to know myself to see myself as fully loved and known by the Creator, just the way I am-also perfectly imperfect and fabulously flawed just like my friends and clients are.
A client wrote a review on Google a couple of days ago that captured the essence of what I hope people feel.
“An amazing environment …warm and sincere welcome…leave your stresses..healing touch…looking forward to coming back”
i read this with tears in my eyes,a smile on my face and an ache in my heart that comes from feeling fully known and loved.
My intention is always to create such a space where people can sit in silence and be heard, where they can talk and listen, where they feel touch not only physically but spiritually,as well and where they feel as if I’m more than just their massage therapist but I’m also someone that truly cares and hopes that each person lives s life in which they are fully known and loved.
I’ll keep playing the music,reading the lyrics through blurry, teary eyes and welcoming the chances to know and love.
You can leave a review, too…Goo.gl/D1UUhQ
and let others know what it’s like getting a massage with lyrics and tears.
As September collapses into October each and every year, I find myself at that familiar ragged edge once again.
This is the month I began saying “goodbye” to the woman that raised me, loved me,claimed me and shaped me. It’s a month full of “last” and of too many “first” and I dance along the edges between the need for solitude,the desire for company. It’s a time when I long to be asked to dance and when I want to dance all by myself.
My Mema, Lord, have mercy, was the most charming, creative, headstrong, fearless, loving woman that ever danced this earth.
And I say “dance” instead of “walked” because that’s exactly hl what she did.
Our garage door was left wide open and Marty Robbins, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Dolly Parton would keep us company while we worked in the garden, planting onions, beans,tomatoes and peppers or just sitting out in the driveway talking.
At any moment, she might catch my eye, wipe the dirt off her hands and grab my hand while saying , “Come on, let’s dance.” We would do a little two stepping in the grass and she would be singing the words so I could read her lips.
Her blue eyes would twinkle and she would say, ” Oh, I just love this man’s voice….he could put his boots under my bed anyday”
That was just a figure of speech for her. Truth be told, the only man who ever left his boots under her bed was the man she loved till the day she died.
Daddy and Mema could cut a rug better than Fred and Ginger. I remember being star struck watching them on the dance floor when I was 5 years old. Mema in a long, flowing chiffon gown and Daddy in his trademark black suit were the only couple on the floor and they swirled and turned and moved as if they were one and the ballroom was a stage.
As the song ended, people burst into applause and Daddy took Mema back to her seat, and smiled at me. I felt as if I was the luckiest little girl in the world- I was the daughter of people that could dance like that!
Mema used to tell me stories about how her momma- a stricter God-fearing woman- didn’t approve of dancing so Mema and her sister would sneak off into town and watch the couples dancing then come home and practice in front of the mirror with each other until they got the moves down pat.
That disapproval didn’t make much difference to her and maybe that’s what fueled her passion so much. There was this strong streak inside her that just didn’t “give a hoot” what anyone else thought.
There were times when I was a teenager trying to fit in and be “normal” when Mema grabbing my hand and dancing in the aisle of Minyards just embarrassed me to pieces. I would pull back and whisper, “Mema, people are WATCHING!” and, those eyes would twinkle again and she would laugh and say, “Well, then come on, Jeanna’, let’s give them something to watch!”
“Something to watch” was exactly what she was. She could shake and shimmy, turn and twirl, keeping perfect rhythm to the beat all the while carrying on the exact emotional gestures that best suited the song.
This was true no matter what she was wearing or where she was, and our home was her favorite dance hall.
There were 3 switches on the light plate by the front door of the house we lived in. The first switch was the porch light,the second turned on the foyer light but the third switch was magic.
When that third switch was lifted up. down would come one of the many LP’s stacked high on the stereo and, by the time, you’ve taken a few steps. the rich voice of Freddy Fender,Nat King Cole, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price or Barbara Mandrell would fill the house, loud and clear.
Sometime it would be gospel, or Big Band or holiday music but most of the time, it was country-western.
And there she would be, barefoot and in a gown, standing in the kitchen, putting a pot of stew on for dinner while frying bacon for breakfast as the biscuits baked and she’ll be singing along -because she knew all the words by heart-tapping her spatula and dancing as she went as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Maybe that’s why it’s only natural for me to find myself dancing up to meet a client, or twirling around during a session unbeknownst to the person laying facedown on my table.
.Maybe that’s one reason that I don’t feel like I truly know someone until I’ve danced with them.
Maybe that’s why I dance in the aisles with my little Riven and watch her shake and shimmy as her eyes twinkle with that same mischievous delight.
Maybe that’s why October is the most bittersweet months of all and why I find myself hiding away, seeking some peace and quiet so that I can hear my Mema’s words again.
“Don’t give a hoot.”
“Let them watch.”
“I just love this.”
“Come on and dance.”
Maybe that’s what life is all about….not giving a hoot about what anyone else thinks, letting others watch as you do whatever you love to do and. saying ‘I love this’ every chance you get.
After all, someday you will be way up yonder in glory and Mema just might grab you by the hand,with a twinkle in her eyes and say, “I just love this song..come on….let’s dance!”
For you, my beloved Mema..
i love you with both hands and I’ll dance…..every single chance I get.
4 37 p.m. 10-9-17
I had gone on this trip for one real reason-to get time to write and this tree was the first thing I saw as we parked and I knew with absolute certainly that it was speaking to me.
I had been wrestling with my changing appearance. and sometimes felt like the woman I saw in the mirror, wasn’t the same woman I felt I inside.
I had never been the type that fit the “standard” or tried to be the same as everyone else but the last couple of years had shook my roots and filled me with some doubts and longings, and I struggled to find my own sense of beauty and confidence once again.
This tree was not a “typical” tree. It waa clear that no one had ever trimmed the branches, shaped it or tried to make it conform or become anything it wasn’t meant to be.
And you know what? It is beautiful and inspiring, graceful and purposeful, strong and unwavering…just as it was meant to be.
The tree simply grew, right where the Almighty Creator planted it, shaped by the wind and rain, by the Texas sun and bathed. by moonlight.
It spread wide and low, reached to the heavens and offered shelter and rest as needed.
Storms came and beat hard, knocking the branches and leaving scars-tell tale marks of battles survived, of years gone by, of experiences.
I realized that my body had also bent low…to lift babies, plant flowers,clean and stretch…..I’ve stood on tip toes, reached for the heavens, planted kisses on tall men, hung stars on Christmas trees, danced around to every kind of music.
I’ve made love and made mistakes, made cakes and made my point. I’ve used my body to shelter others and to offer comfort.
I’ve carried my babies inside my body, stretching to provide space, nutrition and love.
My body has scars, healed wounds, lines and marks from days in the Texas sun and nights bathed by moonlight
And you know what?
I am finally beginning to see that I’m created by the Almighty and, in my own way, I’m beautiful and inspiring,graceful and purposeful, strong and unwavering ….just as I was meant to be.
The books on the shelf
Pictures on the wall
Candles and lamps
Candy in the dish
Every single blind
All the outlets, too
Every hole and crack
Anything at all
To pass the time
Help me look the part
Play the role
Like I’m supposed to do
I count the steps And the pews
The ladies and gents
All the children, too
While looking straight ahead
At the preacher I can’t understand
I count the minutes on the clock
The number of reps
Those on my scale
And those that let me know
If anyone’s been reading my poems
I count the days since
The last time you came by
And i count down
To the next time
I count the kisses
Wrapped in shiney foil
Cause I always lose count
Of the kisses on my lips
I count the flowers as they bloom
But I never count the seeds
I count the boots
Laying in my closet
God alone counts the steps I’ve taken in them
I count on my friends
That count on me
I always seem to lose count
Of how much money I’ve made
But sure seems like somehow there’s always just enough
I count all my blessings
Till I fall asleep
And I just keep on counting
As if,somehow, it’ll feel like I count, too.
1 07 p.m.
It’s no secret-not any more-that I’m hearing impaired.
People usually figure it out pretty quickly on their own but I’ve changed my approach to my deafness,and instead of hiding it and hoping no-one discovers,
I’ve finally begin to just tell people before they assume the worst; that I’m either ignoring them,being rude,or just plain dumb.
Over the years I’ve gotten
used to the questions, like “Where are you from? I’m trying to place your accent ” and “How can you love music and dancing so much?” and “Can you hear ANYTHING??”
I’m used to it and I don’t mind explaining to others and enlightening them about my deafness now.
If someone asks me, I’m always willing to answer questions,but there’s a few things that just rub me wrong.
Please don’t look at me with pity and exclaim, “I’m so sorry ” when I tell you that I can’t hear and,please, for goodness sakes, don’t begin to define me by my hearing loss.
My hearing loss isn’t something to be pitied,it’s actually one of my greatest gifts.
You see,my hearing loss brings out the truth in people rather quickly.
There’s so much that one can learn about others and about yourself when you can’t hear as well as most people can.
I notice everything,even subtle mannerisms,and shifts in energy because I rely on using total communication-using the limited hearing I do have,reading lips and body
language, while looking deeply into the eyes of whoever I’m engaged in conversation with. I get to sit close to people, I get to hold eye contact and I really focus on who I’m with.
I’m not just “hearing impaired”, I’m a woman that wants to understand and be understood; it’s that pure and simple,and that complicated and overwhelming.
I’m much more than what I’m not, and when people say “I’m so sorry” upon hearing that I’m deaf, I gently tell them “don’t be sorry for me,be sorry for those that hear but don’t listen.”
A few weeks ago,a new client came in for a massage and read my AVA article that was on the table. After talking a few minutes,he asked me if he could pray for my hearing to be restored.
I took his hands in both of mine and said,”You can pray for me,but please listen to this story first,then pray as you see fit.”
My Aunt Dorothy was a feisty woman who had been blind since she was a toddler.
One night she went to a tent revival and the preacher man,upon realizing there was a blind woman in the crowd,came down and begin to pray loudly over her,laying his hands on her eyes, and asking God to restore her vision.
She let him pray and then,she said something that has stayed in my mind all these years.
“You pray for my eyes to see,when what I need prayer for is my heart. I can be bitter and mean,hurtful and unforgiving, and that’s what really needs prayer. I don’t need to see things,I need to be a better woman,I need to be kind,to be patient,to be more loving. When I die,the first thing I’ll see is the face of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I don’t need to see this world, I need to LOVE these people in this world.”
Then with a loud laugh,she added “But if you can make these glass eyes see,that would REALLY be a miracle!”
“Really be a miracle.”
Please, pause and ponder this for a moment. What would really be a miracle?
Sometimes we see a disability and that’s all we see, we don’t look deep enough to realize what else is there. We see a wheelchair,
instead of a person; we notice the crutches,and don’t look at the beautiful blue eyes; we see the elderly man take cautious steps, without realizing that long ago,he fought for our freedom. We see the child with Downs Syndrome, and overlook the child’s pure joy of life. We see deaf people signing,and only think about what they don’t hear instead of marveling at the beautiful language and culture they share. We see the white cane, and act as if the person is invisible.
Like the preacher man,the strangers at Taco Cabana-who approached me and best friend years ago to ask if they could pray for my hearing- and my client, so many people pray for what they perceive needs a miracle. It’s human nature to want to “fix things” and to change things to what we think is “normal” or “better”.
We look,but we don’t see and we hear,but we don’t listen. We assume too much,and know far too little.
The real miracle, I believe, would be for us to really look beyond the surface,behind the disabilities,the disfigurement,
the differences and see the abilities,the beauty,the uniqueness of each person.
We need to pray that our hearts will overflow with compassion, that we can see the goodness in the world,and hear the sound of love.
We need a real miracle and it’s within each of us to make it happen.
My client,after hearing the story of Aunt Dorothy, prayed for a “real miracle” for us both to have the heart to forgive and to love. He understood right away that my deafness wasn’t what a problem to be fixed,but a unique part of who I am.
So, I give this story over to you and urge you to listen with your eyes,to hear with your heart,to touch with kindness,to see with clarity and to create a ripple effect of miracles right now.
It would really,after all,be a REAL miracle.
Feel with both hands, Jeanna’