Wear the Damn Perfume – an advent story

For more than 20 years, Dad gave perfume to the women in our family for Christmas. I have almost every bottle he ever gave me. For all of these years I have sporadically worn my perfume on special occasions. In 2022, I threw that thought out with a few other lies I have internalized. What makes a day special? What if Tuesday the 8th is as special as the 25th? Because, if I’m honest, perfume is a perfect example of the things that I save. And waste. And manage. And judge the worth of.

I have changed. I am so different from the writer that has tried in past years to excitedly enter into the worldly holiday experience through the lens of Advent. I spent most of my winter energy guiding the waiting, for me and for others. This year has brought to my life a more clarified awareness of my need for rhythms. I long for intentional seasons of internal work and celebration. I need to mark beginnings and endings. I need my space for all of it. I need ritual more than certainty today. I have spent much of this year thinking that my lack of certainty equated to a loss of voice. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. That’s not the norm for me…

I’ve been on an exploratory journey of sorts. I have been making lists of the things that once held central positions in my heart and no longer hold weight. I’ve explored relationships, sexuality, eternity, prayer, exercise, nature, animals, religion and even food. I’ve made peace with some and stirred up hornets’ nests in others. I’ve found understanding and confusion, clarity and clouds, rain and so much sunshine. I’ve learned to play and laugh. I’ve seen new places. I’ve lived. In that work, I’ve seen the way my firmly held thinking (I am a good Enneagram 8, after all) destroyed my joy.

In a parallel universe to my inability to use my words, I have drawn deeply into the things that make my soul come alive. Music is my comfort. Music is my discomfort. And in a recent conversation with a friend, I was confronted with these words: “The songs you love all sound religious.”

First of all, that pissed me off. P!nk is not religious! I like songs about whiskey and dancing. These are not religious. Like so many other things, it was a language barrier that finally clicked with me. And in a very framing moment of OHHHH, it came together. I love music because I was conditioned to believe that the draw of the right lyrics and a perfectly timed acoustic guitar could conjure a soul moment. My heart longs for the songs you have to wait for. The ones that tell a story that ends in a big bridge. And my friend was right. And I cried. Again. Music is my religion of choice. I worship at the feet of genius artists that have helped me come alive in new ways this year.

Rather than grieving what I don’t have in certainty today, my year has led me to see what a good remix sounds like. In the creative quest to add more color to my black and white world, I’m taking back a little of the play and sharing my 2022 advent. This is a musical journey of growth and pain. It’s the road that has set the stage for the journey of 2023. With each day in the season, a song a day for all 28 days. (Getting this list down to 29 songs was no small task. See, I couldn’t do it in 28…) Along with each carefully curated song, a lesson learned in one of the 4 week long themes:

Self-love

Excavation

Quiet

Curiosity

Just in case I wasn’t clear, this advent journey is not about the preparation for the coming of Jesus. This advent is about the rhythm of return to self. A wonderful season of taking something that lost its meaning and allowing old words to mean new things.

I’ve learned so much about the nervous system this year. They get stuck. Did you know that? They get trapped and buried by fear and panic. I’ve also tuned in enough to know that the very same “feeling” that I have had falling on my face at an altar in worship happens when I love myself. I “feel” that, too. In such profound ways that I have learned to trust that feeling as the safest home.

In the most generous way I know how to say it, welcome to my homecoming ritual. Melody. Dance. And. So. Much. Bass. My body loves music. My heart feels lyrics. And the ability to not judge one thought and just feel the inner draw is one of the greatest gifts in this practice. So rather than wait for for the day that I felt together enough to write with perfection or special enough to wear the perfume, I choose today. I’m letting that big smell fill the room. Even if not everyone likes it. Or if some think it’s too much. My words and my perfume will be used out of passion and not perfection. And I hope these daily ramblings will inspire your own advent-like wake up calls.

As I say to myself almost daily,

Welcome Home

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