A New Skill

As someone who is notorious for countless ideas and novelty, I have finally started to practice a skill which has laid dormant since HS - consistency! For the last 2 weeks – ok, not long, I know, but it’s a start – I have consistently gone to yoga 3X a week, the gym 3X a week, practiced the harp, pursued my crafts (I really want to have an Etsy business) and gotten chores done.

It’s also now the 4 year anniversary of my 2 spinal surgeries. They happened 6 weeks apart. It took some kind of consistency (well, persistence actually) to get through the rehab, healing and more bad stuff that was piled on top. If not a consistent physical practice at least a mostly consistent spirit of, “I shall endure. I shall not give up”. That says a lot because for a period of time - I really wanted out. Not suicide exactly, but just OUT of the constant pain and bad stuff. Anyone reading this who needs encouragement, contact me. I’ll never fully know your experience but I bet our paths have some striking commonalities.

I would never have believed at the time that there IS a shore on the other side of wading through endless…dung. My life is good and happy. And I’ve given up the thought that I’m too old for things. I took up interpreting school at 36, snowboarding at 40, the harp and my first hostel stay at 53.  I’m weeding out what doesn’t work and keeping those friends and activities that are positive, supportive and present. Hoorah. Bring it on – consistently please :)

PS – I know many of my posts mention the “bad years” and how things are much better now. I don’t want it to be a constant referencing of the past but like a grief process, there are no sharp boundaries between states of being. There are: worse, better, the new normal, the former normal, the hope for continued improvement, etc. The only constant in life is change.

 

I asked for the smiley. Gotta have fun before getting sliced!

I asked for the smiley. Gotta have fun before getting sliced (2008)!

The morning after the 1st surgery. 10/2010. Hair got chopped because I didn't think I'd be able to wash it for quite a while.

The morning after the 1st spinal surgery. 10/2010. Hair got chopped because I didn’t think I’d be able to wash it for quite a while.

 

OY! A few hours after the 2nd surgery. 12/2010. Should have just shaved my head.

OY! A few hours after the 2nd surgery. 12/2010. Should have just shaved my head.

 

Flea collar court is now in session

Flea collar court is now in session

 

Let's just yank out some suspicious tonsils, shall we?

Let’s just yank out some suspicious tonsils, shall we? Or maybe this was the cantaloupe-sized abdominal tumor surgery. I lose track.

ENOUGH OF THAT. DONE!

PDX Half Marathon - 2014 - with the way oversized team shirt I got at the 11th hour.

PDX Half Marathon – 2014 – with the way oversized team shirt I got at the 11th hour.

 

October craziness

Where did October go? Every post of mine lately seems to mention how busy things are and that hasn’t changed.

October 5th, I “ran” (jogged/walked) the Portland Half Marathon. I achieved the $1,ooo minimum fundraising goal, through the generosity of family and friends, for the Children’s Cancer Association. But the bigger victory is that it was my comeback from the “bad years”. It’s just up, up and away from here on out.

After only 3 short days of recovery, I hopped aboard the Amtrak to my first ever hostel stint (where I chatted it up in my PJ’s with 20 year olds in the lobby over breakfast) in Seattle for the Harp Conference. It was wonderful. But before I even had time to thoroughly digest those amazing experiences, Teresa came here for 70 hours of pure non-stop action and fun. She was on set, filming, but it’s amazing how much we crammed in to such a short space.

The day after Teresa left, things got seriously busy as Pete and I spent 10 days in sunny, genteel Alabama, taking care of my mom, post-surgery, and doing all kinds of errands and chores for both Mom and Dad. I can truly say that we have never worked so hard in our lives, other than, perhaps, when we prepared to move from California to Oregon a gazillion years ago when we were in our 20s. Last night, post Alabama flight, I slept 13 hours.

It’s high time to get back to yoga and harp and watching the hummingbirds at the outdoor feeders. I’m “plum finished” with this whirlwind existence. It’s all been good and worthwhile but – let’s – slow- down.

 

Giddiness before the starting line pukiness

Giddiness before the starting line pukiness at 6 friggin am with my way oversized shirt I received the day before the event

Spiraling Up

I’ve been swept up in the social media world of sound bytes. I post sad news on Facebook and everyone is silent. I post a picture of my lunch and instantly get 15 “likes”. Silly, isn’t it? But I find myself having gotten lazy in terms of writing something thoughtful here.

The thought for the day is that when life spirals downwards, it just keeps on going at times and can get really ugly. I’ve, fortunately, been spiraling ever upwards since last year. I’m the happiest and feeling the best I have in EONS (not being in pain 24/7 makes such a difference). I’ve experimented with so many things; kept the best and let go of the rest. Hammer dulcimer got an honest try – twice - and then it was let go. I never thought I would like the harp but I LOVE it. Some friendships needed to be released; new ones are finally being formed. A self-owned, small business venture was unexpectedly dropped (from franchise HQ); a new one is in the works. So much more to add but you get the picture.

Ahhh – hell is behind me. Life is good.

Playing music in the hospitals through the Children's Cancer Association

Playing music in the hospitals through the Children’s Cancer Association

Zippity Do Dah

What else does one call a post when one has not posted in so long?

I have been snowed under with countless things since the end of March. I knew that at some point, I would miss those long, lonesome days of just sitting on the couch (not missing the chronic pain and vertigo), just crocheting and watching the mailman make his rounds. I have drawn all kinds of opportunities to myself but some “opps” were not altogether fun – there was an outpatient surgical procedure that had me on Vicodin for a week. I now declare that there is nothing left on me to cut, burn, poke, biopsy or stitch! The husband unit was carted off to the ER with a kidney stone. BUT…

….drum roll… there was a ton of good stuff. For the first time in *years*, I am feeling sheer excitement again. I went back to Bikram yoga last night for the first time in well over a year. Who knew that having had a cantaloupe sized fibroid tumor removed last year would make such a difference in postures and balance? I’m training for a half marathon that I’m doing as a fundraiser for the Children’s Cancer Association. I’m hosting many house concerts and music jams. I’ve started an online school program to become a therapeutic musician. (That is someone who plays one on one, bedside, for patients who are facing surgery or are in Hospice. I calm them through music! It’s a new field and I hope to blaze a trail and be employed again for the first time in ages!!). I started playing the harp and love it way more than I thought I would (along with way too many other instruments).

Just one good thing after another. Life is grand. Never thought I’d make that statement after having been virtually suicidal – or at the very least, almost completely hopeless – not all that long ago. HOORAH!

New Path

It should come as no surprise, to those who know me, that I have applied to yet another training program today, exactly 4 years and 2 months since I (unwillingly, through disability) left my career as a sign language interpreter.

I write this with a great heaviness in my heart and gut because today there was a shooting in an Oregon HS; the 74th school shooting since the Newtown massacre 18 months ago. I have cried and ranted and been so distressed today that I’ve almost made myself sick. I know – that’s not helping anything. It’s the mom heart in me that cries for the 2,800 kids who had to march out of school today with their hands over their heads amidst SWAT teams. And yes, I cry for the kid who went so wrong (and certainly the kid’s parents) who felt their only way to deal with something was through violence.

There are no easy answers to this and I will forgo any political/gun talk. But I think many people will agree that something has *drastically* changed…changed from the time I went to school when the worst offense was getting caught chewing gum. If the “climate” can change for the bad, it can change for the good. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and countless others are all testament to that.

So – I have applied to an online program to become a Certified Clinical Musician. CCMs play soothing music to distressed people; to those facing surgery (I know a bit about that!) or other medical procedures, to hospice patients etc. It is one on one, live, soothing music tailored to that person’s needs. While people are somewhat familiar with Music Therapists (Gabby Gifford had one after her near fatal gunshot wound), the focus is a bit different with being a therapeutic musician.

I will have to blaze a bold new path because being paid – if even minimally for part-time work – is not a standard yet nor is it in the consciousness of hiring parties. I’m already providing something similar in the hospitals through the Children’s Cancer Association but if they can get the musicians as volunteers – and I certainly advocate being a volunteer  - then it’s harder to make even a slight subsistence from my training. But alas – I must keep the faith.

Here’s to changing the world for the better, one distressed person at a time. Today, I need to start with myself.

 

The Promised Land

I have been allegorically wandering in a musical desert for the last 41 years. I have played in all kinds of bands, orchestras and ensembles, and have absorbed most of my music theory via osmosis. Right now, I am taking a pre-requisite class to the 2 year music theory program I would like to begin this fall. Lo, I have been led to the Promised Land of the Circle of Fifths (and no, that’s not an alcohol reference, folks). It’s SO COOL. Why didn’t I get any of this stuff along the way? Love, lovin, lovin it!!!

It’s the Circle of Fifths AND a wardrobe color chart. I think I want to dress in B major with an accent of D minor today.