Welcome to Sing With Your Feet, the podcast in which we leave no stone unturned in our search for joy in that amazingly rich archeological dig site which is our lives. The podcast in which we learn to make a big freakin’ deal about everything. The podcast in which your successes, little and big, become something to celebrate in a way that is uniquely meaningful to you.
My name is Lily Fields, and I’m going to be your Fairy Godmother for the next half-hour or so. My job is to bring fairy dust to your life, fairy dust whose only purpose is to help you gain new perspective on the circumstances of your life. I am here to help you see that your Ideal Life, the life you were destined for, is within your reach. Yes, you are going to have to work for it. Yes, there might be some tears and some backsliding along the way. But the motto of the International Union of Fairy Godmothers is, “Hard Work Always Pays Off.”
If you can accept that– if you can accept that there is a plan for your life, that it is plan for joy and peace and love and even a few magical moments sprinkled in here and there–and that you can actually help make those happen by doing the hard work of examining your own heart and making the small, sometimes seemingly insignificant tweaks to the way you think about and talk to yourself, then you are just a hop skip and jump from making progress.
And remember: our goal, first and foremost, is to make progress. We threw out the other “p” word, the word, (dare I even whisper it?)–perfection–we eliminated that word from our vocabulary several episodes ago. So all we really need are tiny little insignificant tweaks. Because even the tiniest little improvement is progress.
And I love progress! And, as you will see as the episode progresses, I love to celebrate progress of any, absolutely ANY kind.
We have started defining our Ideal Life with our In my Ideal Life I am a person who…statements, and we have started defining the Edge Pieces, those ever important values and virtues that we want to be remembered for by the people who love us that were part of your homework assignment from last week…
As we start taking those things seriously, murky areas of our lives, areas in which we often felt overwhelmed, or about which we were ambivalent, or tepid even, or areas that used to just seem gray to us…those areas become much more clearly defined (while perhaps not yet to the point of being “black & white”).
Once we know what our values and virtues are, it makes decision making so much easier.
I may have said this before, but I love it when things are clear. I thrive, in just about every area of my life on simplifying my choices. You see, the more you know what you like and what you want, the less we are likely to make snap “bad decisions”, or to give in to temptation when it inevitably comes for a visit. When what I want is clear and obvious to me, then it becomes easier to reject what doesn’t fit my vision.
Simplifying decisions is an all-important life hack which greatly reduces stress, although that is a topic for another episode entirely. Just put a pin in that thought. I just want you to know where we’re going so when I get lost on a bit of tangent about Boobie Retirement Parties and Menopause Happy Hours, you won’t think I have completely lost my mind.
Well…you might think it anyway. But I’m cool with that.
Speaking of which, this your weekly reminder that what we’re doing here can dislodge a lot of feelings. You might just need professional help: a therapist, a counselor, someone competent to work with you one on one to unpack some of those dislodged feelings, help you understand where they are coming from and help you uncover your harmful thought patterns or behaviors.
I really, really mean this: If you need help, get help. Are you nodding? You’re nodding, aren’t you. Yes Lily, I hear you. I will get help.
Revisit the Homework:
Over the last 8 episodes, you have had quite a bit of homework.
I want us to take a second to review what I’ve been asking you to do–the broad categories of exercises, so that you can see how they all fit together to help us define your Ideal Life.
1.The Ideal Life Exercise
First up, we have spent some time defining and dreaming about your Ideal Life. This exercise was inspired by Marie Kondo and her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I dedicated all of Episode 4, entitled MacGyvering KonMari, to this life-alteringly simple thought experiment.
However, I don’t stop just at the idea of what does my Ideal Life look like…I want us to imagine what kind of person we are in our Ideal Life. To do this, I gave you a prompt;
In my Ideal Life, I am a person who dot. dot. dot.
There was a specific context I asked you to observe for this exercise. I told you to set your alarm for 15 minutes before anyone else in your home woke up. I told you to, the night before, set up the space where you would be sitting to work on this exercise, set it up as though you were expecting an honored guest.
And I wanted you to do this every morning for as long as it takes for your well to run dry.
Now, now now, Lily Fields…(That’s you. You sound like a Southern Belle and there ain’t no evidence to the contrary.) I’ve been doing this for weeks now. What do I do with these statements?
Why! I am so very glad you asked. What a studious country bumpkin you are. What you do next is that you read those statements back to yourself. You notice where there is overlap in the statements. You underline the words that repeat.
I worked with a woman who did this exercise, and of her more than 50 statements, 20 of them were about simplicity. Simplicity in her relationships. Simplicity in her work. Simplicity in her meal choices.
What was fascinating about this recurrence of the word simplicity in her exercise was how very clearly it was tied to another piece of her homework…we’ll come back to this in a second.
When you go through and reread your statements, you will find no surprises. Just a deeper understanding of how very very consistent you are. Embrace that. That is the very core of who you are.
2. You Sparkle
Our second homework was to examine what used to make us sparkle. The treasures from our childhood, from a more innocent time when we didn’t have the pressure of family and relationships and work and life to squeeze all the joy out of us.
The homework looked like this: You were to list the numbers 1-18 on a sheet of paper, then for each of those years, that is, the first 18 years of your life, list one good memory for each.
After which, you were to take three of those memories, perhaps the ones that were the easiest to come up with, and, in detail, write out the context, the thoughts, the feelings, the smells, the sounds of those memories. You were to analyze every aspect of that memory, to find what triggers the joy in it for you. They aren’t always what we first think of when we think of that memory. Dig in. Dig deeply.
Those little triggers are quite likely, replicable for you in your life as it is today. If you aren’t expecting the moon, if you remain lucid about your current circumstances, current responsibilities, current context, some of them might be just small enough for you to invest your time, your talent or your treasure into again now.
And let me tell you…I am here for that!
3. Edge Pieces
Our homework from last week was to look at a list of more than 60 virtues and values and to see what spoke to us. I call those virtues the “Edge Pieces” to the puzzle of our life. They are the container for all the other details of our life. They are the words we want to be remembered by, the things we want people to say about us when we are gone.
Remember a minute ago, when I told you about the woman who had 20 of her In My Ideal Life I am a Person Who… statements which included the word “Simple” or “Simplicity” or “Simplify”?
Simplicity is, in and of itself, a virtue. But it became evident that exploring and pursuing the other values and virtues that were important to her was a way for her to actively experience Simplicity in her life.
Honesty and Loyalty for example, were virtues that she saw as a way to cultivate simplicity in her relationships.
Courage and Integrity were how she imagined dealing with an admittedly complicated situation at work…courage to do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may.
Frugality and Joy was how she wanted to define her meals–she actually has a Proverb over the entrance of her kitchen: “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than fattened calf with hatred.”
The Ever Appealing Venn Diagram:
There is going to be some overlap in your answers to these questions, and that makes sense: each exercise is intended to help you, unique, individual you, to determine what it is that you want for your life. And normally, once you get started on these exercises, you will find that what you want for your life is remarkably consistent–who you were, who you are in your Ideal Life and what you want people to remember you for are, generally, not going to be polar ends of the spectrum.
What’s neat about it is that, if each of these three exercises were the circle of a Venn Diagram, there would be some very interesting crossover points. What you used to enjoy, for example, in your Ages 1-18 exercise will probably overlap, somewhere, at least once, with one of your In My Ideal Life…statements. At the same time, what you want to be remembered for by the people who love you…those Edge Pieces, will likely overlap with some of your In My Ideal Life statements, too.
Those places of overlap are places where sparkle is not far from the surface. We need to pay close attention to where we find those consistencies in what we used to love, what we want in our Ideal Life, and how we want to be remembered.
And you might just find that there will be places where all three will overlap. And those places are the areas that are most likely to procure you immeasurable joy when you start pursuing them in a methodical, coordinated, intentional way.
I suspect that for some of you, even as I say those words, you know exactly what I am talking about. The problem is that you just don’t know where to start. And that’s why you need a Fairy Godmother. I’ve got some good news for you: You’ve got one.
The Wicked Stepsister Speaks!
You have a fairy godmother, yes, but you also have a fabulous wicked stepsister.
Let me catch you up, in case you’re arriving late to the party: You see, on this podcast, we are learning how to dig up treasures we buried, learning how to become who we imagine ourselves being in the deepest corners of our heart.
It’s one thing to think about this in terms of living now, and presently and fully because it simply feels better than living any other way does. Let’s call that the “first order of business.”
It’s another to consider what we are going to call our “second order of business,” which is that when people arrive towards the end of their lives, which happens to everyone, that people often regret not having lived according to their values and their dreams, they regret not having spent more time with their loved ones, they regret not having loved better.
While I am a fairy godmother of the first order, you have a wicked stepsister who is an expert in the second. She is a Death Doula. She works with people who are dying to help them, and their families as this inevitable date on their calendar approaches.
She has quite a few thought-provoking things to say on what we are trying to do here, and so, I am passing the reins over to LiElla Kelly, of Leaving Well End-of-Life Planning, Death Doula and your Wicked Stepsister:
The Fabulous LiElla speaks!
Thank you LiElla. Your perspective is always fascinating!
I will link to LiElla’s work in the show notes. As LiElla always says, “Thinking about death won’t kill you,” so checking out her resources will no kill you. I promise.
If you need to find a reason to celebrate something, I’m your gal. I can always find a silver lining, which can make me downright unbearable at times.
I am the person who, after my husband finishes grading papers he had hanging over his head, says, “oooh! How are we going to celebrate?”
I am the person who does not differentiate between big reasons to celebrate and little reasons to celebrate. I also do not generally differentiate between big celebrations and little celebrations. I am just as likely to enjoy inhaling the smell of my own hands after peeling a clementine as I am to plan a series of concerts as a reward for an accomplishment.
I’ve heard it said that our life is like a necklace. As we learn to savor life, as we learn to celebrate in ways small and big, it is like we are stringing more and more beads of joy onto the necklace of our lives. As we string together more moments of joy, our necklace starts to look a lot like a life of joy.
Let me give you some examples.
The Boobie Retirement Party
When my littlest scalawag was a baby, he up and decided one day that he was done nursing and never cared to see my boobies ever again. My boobies, however, did not get the message right away. As a matter of fact, they didn’t get the message for a really really long time, which led to some painful moments (I could have taken stock in a cabbage farm, if ya know what I mean.) I was sad that he was done nursing, because our nursing relationship had been so easy, whereas with the first baby nursing had been a trial from beginning to end.
I needed to make peace with the end of our nursing relationship. While in the thick of nursing, I had tried all kinds of ways to increase milk production: herbal teas, keeping hydrated, pumping. I also avoided anything that might possibly impede production.
Whether or not it is true, I had read that mint was not good for milk supply, so I avoided it like the plague, to the point of even forgoing mint chocolate chip ice cream which, let’s all agree, is an incredible sacrifice. I have also always loved to drink mint tea with (please don’t judge me) maple syrup. Our favorite Chinese restaurant gives sprigs of mint with their egg rolls and I always save them up to make myself a minty-maple-syrupy special treat. I call it my Mint Julep and, as the Southern Belle that you are, who can only imagine the joy I was sacrificing during the time I nursed my baby.
In order to make peace with the end of the nursing season, I felt like I needed to do some kind of performative, joy filled act. I decided to celebrate the end of nursing, celebrate my boobies. I went to the Tea Shop, leaving the boys with their indulgent father one afternoon. I ordered a mint tea. Before I took my first sip, I thanked my boobies for having been such amazing machines and nourishing two fantastic little scalawags. Then, I told them, (in hushed whispers when no one was around) “You’re done now. You can retire.”
I don’t know how much the mint tea really made a difference, but my heart was able to let go of the nursing season. My boobies got the message. Shortly thereafter, I had no more need for cabbage leaves.
The act itself–drinking a cup of mint tea–is not a big celebration. But the intention of it–the act of loving myself for myself, and loving my own body–well that was one big freakin’ bead of joy to string onto the necklace of my life.
Menopause Happy Hour
At the risk of putting her on blast for something she may not want widely known, I have friend who finally arrived at the end of the “is it pregnancy or is it menopause” gameshow that is the 365 day no-period-period prior to officially being considered a “woman in menopause.”
As she arrived towards the date that would mark the end of her one year and the official start of menopause, I said, “Let’s have a Menopause Happy Hour to celebrate!” So we did.
We did it virtually, since it was during the pandemic lockdown, but nonetheless. We have a funny picture of the two of us giggling, a little tipsy, about our first periods and our really embarrassing, cringeworthy hormonal moments over the years.
Again, it was not a big celebration. It was a cocktail, over FaceTime. But it meant something. It was bringing another bead of joy to the necklace of both of our lives.
Many many moons ago I read a book called The Red Tent. It is a fiction around the biblical story of Dinah, one of the daughters of Jacob. In it, when she gets her first period, she goes through a strange ritual, which read like it was something of a dreamy party.
I don’t know if there are cultures in the world that celebrate women’s milestones like that, or if it was entirely fictional. But I found this to be so empowering. Why don’t we celebrate our first periods, or the end of nursing or our arrival into menopause?
I so desperately want to live in a world where girls are not shamed for our bodies, our hormonal cycles, our ageing process. We can start by celebrating our own milestones.
Gigi, the Life of the Party
You remember me talking about Gigi, right? My smokin’ hot Grandma? For all that she was not always very discreet, in her turquoise mini-dresses with red pompons, for her flaming red hair, and various attempts, both natural and crazy unnatural, to get rid of her universes and constellations of freckles, for all her little white sportscars with white leather interior, for all that she could be embarrassing to all of us… Gigi knew how to celebrate.
Gigi always carried these tangy little lemon drops in a ziploc bag in her white purse. I remember her calling them her “Happy Pills.” Her face, when she would put one of those in her mouth…it was pure bliss.
When my sister and I were little, very very little, Gigi was babysitting us. We must have been all of maybe seven and three? I do believe that I asked if we could have a tea party, which as for more than 40 years been my go-to celebration. For whatever reason, Gigi was not interested in having a tea party. No, no. What Gigi was more interested in doing was having a cocktail party and teaching her granddaughters, ages three years and seven years, how to give a toast.
She poured us each 7up in real glasses, which I know for a fact I was not allowed to be using at that age. She taught us to raise our glass, to clink them and, yet again, for whatever reason, she taught us to say, “Nuts to ya.”
Your celebration can be as bawdy or as innocent as you want it to be. But let me tell you: the innocent ones leave no flavor of bitterness as time passes. The memory of them only gets sweeter.
How to have a Tea Party:
This year, around Valentine’s Day, I did a lot of celebrating.
Now, I love Valentine’s Day. I love my husband. Valentine’s Day this year fell in the middle of the winter break.
Let’s be honest. Could there be a more thoughtful gift than for the man you love to say, “Ma chérie, why don’t you stay home alone for a few days while I take the children to see their grandparents.”
“What did you say, Lily?”
Uhmmm..what do you think I said, silly? I got them packed as quickly as I could.
I celebrated Valentine’s Day by getting dressed up in one of my cutest outfit and having a tea party. I celebrated by working all day in fabulous clothes, just because I wanted to, and making myself vats and vats and vats of coffee, savoring every first sip.
This cost me nothing. No money. Just a little time. For the rest of my life, when I think of Valentine’s Day, I will remember Valentine’s Day 2022 as the colorful, sun-drenched year in which I celebrated me and all the ways that I have rediscovered joy.
Don’t wait. Please don’t put off celebrating your milestones and your successes! You deserve a tea party, or a menopause Happy Hour. Or just an evening spent on the couch in your favorite sweater under a cozy blanket with a cat at your feet reading about the Salem Witch Trials because for some reason this is fascinating to you right now. The only caveat is that you must take a moment to savor the experience. To imagine that this moment is a bead of joy and that you are stringing it onto the necklace of your life.
A moment to say thank you:
I want to thank those of you who have rated and reviewed the podcast on the various platforms. I am always tickled when I discover, usually by accident, that there is a new one there
I’d like to take a second to read a few of those, because, well, I do love to celebrate things!
This first one, from username Missy-A-Go-Go.
The review title is just one word, but it gave me so much joy!!!
Inspiring(exclamation point) (May I digress for a second? I am a sucker for enthusiastic punctuation.)
Whether you find yourself searching for lost sparkle or not, there is something for everyone in this podcast.
Then there is this one from, username Tifferthebiffer.
The title of the review is: A blessing with a beautiful message. The review reads Lily does an amazing job with her witty and thought provoking stories. A lovely voice with something important to say. She’s like a personal coach with fairy wings! (exclamation point, emphasis mine.)
When you rate and review the podcast, it helps the podcast platforms know that we have something going on over here worth listening to. I’m so honored and so pleased to have your ear for this little thirty minutes each week. Thank you for listening, thank for sharing, thank for subscribing.
I think I’ll have a tea party in your honor!
Conclusion (2 minutes)
If you need some help celebrating the little things, you should really join us in our private Facebook group called “You Are Not Done Sparkling Yet.” I will link to it in the show notes. For the first few weeks of March in our group, we are going to be looking at the Ideal Life Themes, the overarching categories that I take a few minutes each day to consider, according to four little easy to remember bullet-pointed questions. You should join us. We are going to get down to the nuts and bolts of sparkling again. So…let me raise my glass and propose a toast…Nuts to Ya.
You’ll also find a link to LiElla’s website and some of her resources about planning for our own death. As counterintuitive as this sounds, this is truly a life-giving thing.
You can follow the show on Facebook or Instagram, @singwithyourfeet, or you can reach out to me on social media, @lilyfieldschallenge.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform, and by rating and reviewing the podcast, you help other people find it, too! Thank you so much for sharing it with people you think could use a Fairy Godmother.
A great big thank you to Seven Production here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song “La Joie” as the intro and outro to the show, to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it. You guys know how to bring La Joie!
This is your Fairy Godmother signing off. Just remember, it is never too late to start singing with your feet.
Talking Points: Virtue and sexy show up in the same sentence. What are the top five regrets of the dying, and how can we avoid them? (Hint: Virtue.) Lily gets lucid about her own virtue and lack thereof; the essential difference between the French and Americans (it all boils down to silk scarves and baseball caps.)
Check out LiElla Kelly, Death Doula on her website, https://leavingwellmt.com or on Instagram: @leaving.well.death.doula.
Our private Facebook group, You Are Not Done Sparkling Yet (https://www.facebook.com/groups/309886354511956) is available to give you a place to get some encouragement and support as you navigate the pursuit of your Ideal Life.
Special thanks to Seven Production in Mulhouse, France for the use of the song La Joie as the intro and outro to the show. Check them out here: https://7prod.fr