Cool Change

Many people may not know this about me, but I sing in my car on the way to and from work, and back and forth to Court, and pretty much any time I am in the car. If my employees knew this, they would have made me a soothing playlist long ago, to set the mood on the way to work, before I hit the doors.   I should not admit this, but normally I am a pretty type A personality at work. It is just the type of work that I do, with lots of deadlines and demands. We are a very productive bunch. Being a litigation attorney is not a relaxing, stress-less job, so setting the mood with music would help.

I have always liked music. Back in the 1970’s I had one of those round plastic radios that IMG_0588you could carry around and also hang on your bike. I got it for Christmas and I still have it. The signal was so bad back when I listened to the greatest hits sent via the air waves from Little Falls to our farm in Buckman. Even though the signal was terrible and scratchy at best, I listened to it all of the time. Luckily the quality and choices for music has improved significantly. I can put whatever I want on my iPod and play it in the car and on our boat or wherever. I listen to some of those same songs that I first heard on my little red round Panasonic.

Even though I am from a very musical family, I was not born with that talent. My parents were good about giving us a variety of experiences and seeing what we liked, whether it was sports or music or theater.   My older sister Kathy was very talented on the piano and the guitar, and she had the coveted honor of being asked to play in church, so my parents maybe thought I had talent too. Kathy was very good and still sings in her own church choir and plays the piano.

I took three years of piano lessons when I was young, and I think after three years of piano taught by the Catholic school Nun, who played the organ in church, she politely broke it to my parents that maybe their money would be better spent elsewhere then on lessons for me. I was totally fine with that because, after all, I was such a tomboy that I did not want to stay in the house long enough to do any practicing. I would rather bottle feed a calf in the pasture or play with the dogs and cats than learn piano.   Despite my lack of talent, I loved to listen to music and I still do.

Sometimes I select the music by my mood and other times I select the music to change my mood. Now, I listen to everything from 1970’s music, to pop, rap and piano music by George Winston. No matter what I listen to, it does affect my mood. I have the theme from Miami Vice on my iPod and, I will admit that listening to it on the boat while we are driving fast brings me right back to that opening scene from the show. Those guys were so cool in their Hawaiian shirts, driving a super cool boat, super fast on the Miami shores with the wind in their hair. Also, who cannot listen to Phillip Phillips’ song Home and not be put in a calm and loving mood, and on the other hand NEVER listen to Led Zeppelin’s song called, Rock and Roll while driving. You will speed and you will get a ticket! I dare you to try.

Everyone knows what kind of mood Barry White songs put you in. (Insert sexy growling noise), but no matter what your favorite jam, songs are poetry and the lyrics and beat affect our soul.

When our kids were young and we went on multiple driving vacations we referred to the song Born to be Wild as the vacation song and played it often and loud. The kids loved it with the windows rolled down and singing that crazy song and it made everyone in the mood for an adventure. There are many times like that in my life that we developed a “theme song.” When wIMG_0500e went hiking in the deserts of Utah, our song was Hotel California by the Eagles. Of course it starts with “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair.”

Interestingly last year when Joe and I were in Costa Rica and decided to move forward with a sale of our family home and find a place on the lake now that we were empty nesters, we had the song by Little River Band called Cool Changes in our heads. We had lived in our family home and raised our kids for 25 IMG_0279years. As the song goes, “Now that my life is so prearranged, I know that it’s time for a cool change.” We love that song and it has been our theme song to make this exciting and yet terrifying change to a new home on the lake, just the two of us. We are aways from retirement yet but we have always loved the water and decided that there was no reason to wait. We couldlive on the lake and still work to retirement.

I played Cool Changes when I needed some bravery as we signed things to put our home up for sale and to buy our new one. I needed it while I emptied closets full of toys and childhood memories, and we all made decisions on what to move and what to store or donate. After all it is not easy leaving a place that has been your home for 25 years. Our home held so many happy family memories and good times.

We had three acres in the woods of Blaine on the edge of a large preserve, so while we technically lived in the city it felt like the woods. It was home for us in every sense of that warm and comforting word. By the time the day arrived where we moved our possessions out, we were so ready for our Cool Change that there were no tears. We know that while it was our home for so many IMG_0598years, we always know that home is where we are and where our kids and family come to relax, talk, play, laugh, consult, cry, rest, eat, drink and be LOVED.

Now that we are all moved in and settled in ourroutines, we love the lake life and each time Little River Band’s Cool Change comes on the playlist, I am grateful that we had the bravery to give something new a try. It is always easier to keep things the same, but it is good for the soul to change things up. We had a dream of living on the water and we made that happen. As the song says, We May Never Pass this Way Again. Chase your dreams.


Simpler Things, Simpler Times

I am a middle-aged attorney/shareholder and division leader in my firm. I make good money. I have three wonderful children, a husband of 15 years and a big house in the Northern Suburbs of Minneapolis. So why do I miss the farm?

I grew up on a small beef cattle farm in Buckman, Minnesota. I picked rocks every spring as soon as I was strong enough to lift the small ones and I weeded the garden, baled hay and helped to care for the animals. We worked hard, but we also played hard. Animals were everywhere: cats and kittens, pigs and piglets, chickens, geese, dogs, a horse and of course lots of cows and calves. Life, death, and reproduction were a part of our every day life. My memories are filled with long summer days, running and playing in the creek by our house and building forts. I can still feel the sensation and exhilaration of taking a hot shower and dropping into bed totally exhausted after a hard day of baling hay. There is no bed that ever felt better and no sleep that was so restful.

My heart is in Buckman. The farm was sold many years ago and my parents retired to town. When we visit I always ask my husband to drive slowly past our farm. I have an overwhelming urge to jump from the vehicle and run home. I can’t explain it, but despite the fact that I have not lived there for over 25 years, it still looks and feels like home. How can one place on earth become so much a part of me that despite the years, the education, the job, husband, children and the good times in my current life that I long for it so.

When I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to leave for college and see what the world had in store for me. My parents encouraged higher education. To try to better ourselves is still a strong value in our family, probably a result of our immigrant heritage. It at least must have temporarily overpowered our connection with the land.

But, the old adage “You can take the girl off the farm, but never take the farm out of the girl,” is truly wise. Despite my success and happiness, at times I am a fish out of water. Something for me always seems to be missing. It is a grieving process with no closure. It is a fantasy for me to daydream about, leaving the city behind and moving back to the farm. Leaving the traffic jams, the stress, noise and life flying by at hyper speed. I fantasize about getting up in the morning, skipping the shower, hair and make up and instead of the suit, throwing on a pair of jeans and heading out to sit on the front steps to pet the dog with my morning coffee before setting out to feed the animals and weed the garden. Do our relatives and friends who had the guts to stay and preserve their way of life really live like that while we run on in the rat race of the city or is my perception a fantasy? Or, is it that age old problem that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Do we long for what we don’t have?

I have come to the realization, unfortunately, that my longing is a product of age and greener pastures. Yes, I am getting older. What I long for is an era gone by. An age when times and things were more simple. My relatives and friends on the farm work very hard and worry daily about the joan_simpler thingsweather, the prices of the products, farm conglomerates and how to maintain a living in a business and a way of life that is slowly being choked out.

They run their kids to activities and worry about violence and how to encourage their children to become responsible and productive adults just like we do. I know my fantasy is probably just that, a fantasy. But, I will always envy those who stayed for being able to have coffee on the steps while petting the dog. It took a lot of guts for those who stayed. I will always miss my basic connection to the farm and the memories that attend it.

I miss the era gone by, but also the way of life that still exists. I have learned to attempt to fill my void by living on 2 ½ acres of woods in a busy city. I have dogs and feed the wild birds. I volunteer at the humane society and take my kids out into the woods as often as possible. I plant flowers and vegetables and dig in the dirt.

I will never have the farm back or that way of life, but it is a part of my very being and brings a smile to my face in stressful and busy times. Others from the city may have memories of growing up, but the farm is a part of the very essence of my being. If you see a lawyer with dirt under her nails, it’s me, and I am proud of it.