Prince and Gratitude for Today

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Graffiti in Vitoria – Gasteiz (Spain)

Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.  -Prince

The first live rock concert I ever attended happened December 20th, 1984. Prince and the Revolution.

I fell in love with Prince on the radio, before I ever saw him perform on American Bandstand or in a myriad of MTV music videos.

Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U, and that classic Prince mashup of a carpe diem speech and stirring spiritual Let’s Go Crazy. Great songs. Like many, I was drawn to Prince’s vibrant beats and emancipated, envelope-pushing lyrics that stood out on the ballad-heavy pop radio of the early 1980’s. Sure, there was Blondie, Madonna, The Clash, The Pretenders, or Queen for young rebellion anthems, but Prince sparkled bright even in that musical crowd.

When I found out Prince would be making a stop in my hometown, I saved up from my job at a shoe store to get tickets with a friend and made sure to ask off for that date months in advance. I didn’t have the greatest seat, more nosebleed than front row, but when Prince stepped on stage, the energy was palpable. Nobody cared about seat location. We all sang our lungs out and danced our feet off. Whatever our troubles or differences, we forgot them in the Prince universe.

The show fulfilled all my expectations. The lights, the band, the costumes, the music, and Prince.

Prince was a man full of contrasts. A stylistic showman, flamboyant on stage, yet humble and even shy in interviews. A mysterious persona, but revealing much of his inner thought life in his songwriting. Sensual, seductive, over the edge song lyrics, but a devout spiritual person who tried to get people to think past the sensuality to the spiritually sublime. He believed his talent came from God, and strove to tap his genius to the uttermost, and encouraged others to find their talents to help the world be a better place.

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Prince performing at Coachella 2008, photo courtesy Micahmedia, Creative Commons

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life.  -Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”

Prince continued to impact the music industry, make his creative visions reality, and help others behind the scenes to achieve their dreams, until he suddenly passed away on April 21st 2016 at the age of 57. Immediately praise began pouring in for his achievements, his talent, his genius, how he impacted the music industry, and how he would be missed. His movies, concerts, and interviews filled the airwaves and social media over the days following his death.

2016 has been a crazy year for losing cultural icons. Besides Prince, some of the famous artistic folk who have left us are as diverse a group as David Bowie, Jimmie Van Zandt, Merle Haggard, Leon Haywood, Glenn Frey, Pat Conroy, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Earl Hamner Jr., Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Vanity, Umberto Eco, Otis Clay, Alan Rickman, and we haven’t made it halfway through the year yet. Very sad.

Why do we suddenly declare our admiration for someone when they are no longer with us? Why do we feel the need to list the ways we have been influenced or impacted by someone we never even met, and probably never thought about on a daily basis? Why do we bemoan the fact that a person with artistic talents like singers, actors, and writers have died, when death comes to millions daily?

I think the reasons are more complicated that this humble writer can fathom, but I’ll take a shot.

I think we take it for granted that our lives will stay generally the same, what we’ve come to allow in it will always be around, what we deem important at any season of our life will always be there when we want to access it. That way we don’t have to think about change, and the biggest game-changer of all, our mortality.

The ephemera of our lives has a soundtrack running in the background, and particularly in our youth, which we believe will forever be available to transport us back to those times. But the reality smacks us in the face when we realize it actually won’t. We may be able to replay the music or the movie, but the symbols of that soundtrack, the artists, won’t be here forever.

When we face that fact, gratitude, as well as grief, is a common by-product for what was, but can never be again.

I acknowledge someone else’s life by being thankful for what they deposited in my life.

But I wonder what would happen if we didn’t wait until people were gone to acknowledge their contributions to our lives? What if we thanked people, famous or not, for how their lives have made our lives bigger, brighter, happier, stronger? What if we embraced our mortality by appreciating the present?

I have a personal stake in thinking about mortality lately. Today marks one month since what should have been a normal preventative medical procedure turned into a four day hospital stay because I aspirated under anesthesia. After a scary time, I’m still here, my lungs are healing, and I’m regaining strength.  It’s not been the best two years or so for me, and I’ve probably been angry and a bit of a whiner about it, but coming close to a fatal situation has really got me more focused on taking stock, being present in the moment, and being content with God’s blessings in my life.

Who are you grateful for? What words have impacted you? What music? What talents? Your grandmother’s baking? The pop star’s music who got you through your teenage bad breakup? A book that helped you feel like you weren’t the only one who felt that way? A teacher who told you that you could do it?

What if we made a mission out of sharing our gratitude to those who enrich our lives? What would that look like in practical terms? A letter, an email, a phone call, a gift? A blog post or a tweet? A dedication of some type? The motivation to succeed at what we set our hands to do? Encouraging and helping others in our sphere of influence?

It’s easy to let time and opportunity pass, because making human connections takes effort that we don’t have the energy for. Still, I think taking the time to share our gratitude with those who bring art, knowledge, or even a little bit of kindness into our days would be a beautiful way to spread more joy in the world. And Prince would probably be cool with that, too.

More thoughts on Prince’s influence:

Laura Lee Carter’s How Prince Made My Life Better

‘Isn’t This Funnier?’ New Girl Creator Liz Meriwether Recalls The Making Of The Prince Episode

USA Today, Tavis Smiley: The Prince I Knew

How will you show gratitude today?


Returning Home

country road, Missouri photo by kristin nador
It’s been awhile, friends. Again.
We had an earthquake.
Not an actual earthquake. The metaphorical kind that shakes the foundations of your life. Keeper Hubby, struggling with severe chronic pain and debilitation, has had more physical set backs since his last spinal surgery. He will most likely not be able to work outside of the home anymore. His last employer was understanding enough to allow him to try working at home after surgery, until he was included in a mass layoff of over fifty employees. On the medical front, once it was realized that the last surgery was not successful and in fact, is causing even worse problems, Hubby’s surgeon washed his hands of the problem, refusing to allow him to make any more appointments. The pain management doctor hinted at referring him to other surgeons who favored a competitor technology that the pain management doctor now says is better (while having regular dinners and golf dates with said technology’s representative) despite testing and approving the original technology and surgeon in the first place. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with that, we declined. In all our medical dealings over the last twenty years, we’ve come to grips with the fact medicine is also more often than not big business.
So with no income and minimal support from the Kentucky medical team, we took it to prayer and decided to let it all go. We would go full circle and head back home. Home, as in the metropolitan area of our hometown, St. Louis, Missouri, where we have some family and where we hope to find more sophisticated and empathetic medical support. Home, where we spent our childhoods, but haven’t lived for the last 30 years. During the last 4 months I stopped writing and blogging completely to focus on taking care of Hubby, downsizing our life, and making our way home.
We had already downsized for our initial move approximately 18 months ago from a three bedroom home in Oklahoma to a one bedroom apartment in Kentucky, but you’d be surprised what you hold on to, what you think you might need, what you are willing to pay storage for when you have the money to pay for it.
I sold everything I could. There is a buyer out there for every thing you might want to sell. My writing skills came in handy when marketing said items in online sales groups (Only 3 Days Left for This Kitchen Do-Dad Extravaganza!). Some folks like to buy things when they feel like they are getting a great deal, no matter they don’t actually have any use for them. The process cemented my new gravitation towards a minimalist lifestyle, simplifying in all the life areas that you can. It helps to keep mental balance while dealing with those areas that aren’t quickly simplified, but instead full of complications.

 

cats on a roof, photo by kristin nador

Some citizens of the feral cat colony

One of the contrasts on our new journey is keeping this minimalist philosophy while living in a ‘collector’s’ house, located in an isolated rural area. One of our close relatives has generously offered us a safe landing spot during this transition time. We are so grateful, but it requires adjustment on our part that is sometimes harder when you are ‘of a certain age’ and set in your ways. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers, so we’ll focus on gratitude and what we can learn from our disparate life philosophies. I’ll also be able to share with you about the ups and downs of rural life, reconnecting with my hometown roots, and strangely enough, the fascinating goings on of a colony of feral cats that live only several hundred feet from my bedroom window.
And I’ll be writing again. I’m looking forward to blogging about all my passions: creativity and the creative process, writing, midlife and my grandma gig, history, genealogy and memoir, pop culture and today’s important issues. I hope you’l be here to join me, and if you’ve been having some tumults in your life that have gotten in the way of pursuing your creative path, I encourage you to take care of the business you need to, but make sure you make a space to return to your creative passions as soon as you can. It will bring you solace in the midst of the grit of life.
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Write Anywhere 083: Montana Mountains

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Do you ever wish you could get away from it all?

One of this year’s many challenges has been to keep on task with my Write Anywhere goals of finding interesting and inspiring places to stir up my writing creativity. Finances, Keeper Hubby’s health, as well as my own aches and pains, have kept me home at times when I would have liked to go out exploring new spots and practicing my writing and photography skills.

I love the challenge of going other places for two reasons: it helps me be present and focused by making specific times for creativity, and it helps me push down the symptoms of panic disorder that would prefer me to lock myself away. Sometimes that’s hard to deal with, but my creative voice is more valuable to me than the discomfort I deal with when I make myself vulnerable by getting out in public venues.

I didn’t expect the situation to change much through this year and had resigned myself to that fact with more than a hint of frustration. But at the end of fall sweet Hubby made it possible for me to take a much-needed caregiver’s break to explore a fascinating place with some of my favorite people. Read More