Friday, September 15, 2017

How Hope was Created by A Record Player And Complex Disease Anxiety Decreased with Music.

In the midst of some complex medical challenges I have found a slight sense of solace. To be honest, for a long while, getting through the day has been considered a "success." It has been years of digging for the source of my odd blood work, symptoms ect. even though I 'present' as a fairly well adjusted and healthy adult. I finally see an Internal Health Practitioner 'Internist' and Hematologist in the next month...and possibly a Geneticist if my one test is proven a genetic mutation which looks to be the case. My blood work was considered serious enough to warrant these precautions and though my research the last few days has been worrisome and overwhelming, it is also a slight relief to know it wasn't all in my head. Slight, being the operative word. The genetic part of the puzzle makes sense for some of the issues I have had since childhood. Oh, and hey, I always could relate to the X men. I always thought I could be a mutant:) Who knows what that result will mean for the future or if it will be accurate for my circumstances, but there has to be a silver lining somewhere...

Which brings me to my little itty, bitty sense of solace beyond those few people in my life (my family, Instagram gals, and bestie amongst a few key supports), that is providing a sense of inspiration, however small it is. This is my new solace machine:

Currently, my player is churning out Norah Jones as I sit typing. Mellow grey clouds hover near. Both literally and figuratively.

I never have liked being a cliche or crowd follower. Records are in vogue which was a huge point against them in my books. It all started when my daughter used her hard earned savings for a 1950's suitcase record player. I was proud that her first choice of record was 'Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.' My dad lent us expensive speakers to use which accentuated the beauteous sound of the records. And suddenly, I was back to my childhood. I felt like a piece of my life, from a less conscious place, was handed back to me. I recalled the many afternoons I laid on our living room floor in the sunshine, next to the family record player, with my dad's huge headphones perched on my head, and the long twisting chord wrapped around me, reading the lyrics or pouring over the album's pictures. A piece of myself I didn't know was missing came home. Trendy or not, it wasn't something I could deny myself.

My husband bought me my own 1970's player. I think perhaps I was craving a more physical connection with my music, a raspier sound, and tangible printed lyrics. I was a teen in the nineties and finding a range of music was a hunt and perhaps more valuable because the music was not at your fingertips- though I admit I love available music at this time period in history too.

It was rare for someone like me, to know every musical genre. I worked for that knowledge and collected bands and oldies friends had never heard of. I made it my mission to make as many mix tapes as possible and spread the musical education of the classics and the silly and obscure, angry or eclectic. It was pre iTunes and Pre Glee, before the classics came the rage. I was a walking Gilmore Girl with my interests (a show that excited me when it came out because I knew every single film and musical reference it made.) Now, I confess that while I love all music and the genres, my go to of choice are often 70's and 80's songs, mellow Autumn music (Jazz and Easy listening) or Christmas music...because I find that I need 'feel good' inspiration. I'm not as cool as I once was for range, but I can still appreciate the beauty of any score of music.

I still love my iTunes songs and the accessibility of songs on Youtube. But the record player is a nice supplement to when I need a little bit more. I like that it is not easy to find the few records I actually want. I love that I made a connection with my aunt, whom is dying of terminal cancer. She was able to make a last trip and brought me a huge case of all her old records. We sat and listened to a few, talked about some of the tunes she introduced me to, and jived to Dancing Queen. The record player brought us another memory together. I also love the joy of the hunt again...looking for some of my favourite albums in vinyl form.

I loved 1930/40's record players but because of the expense I skipped to my next favourite time period- the Seventies. The decade before I was born but the decade my parents were stuck in, even though it was the 80's, with their style and choices. I feel so many comforting feelings just by watching the tilted whir of the golden boxed record player. The warm crackle accompanying the music, enhanced by the amplifier, causes my soul to exhale stress and inhale home.

It was an aspect of self, outside of my self, that I needed. Crooners especially sound more poignant on record...and Christmas music. I admit to being a Christmas music junkie even though it can be lame or sound uber religious...I still love the tunes and play them even when they do not line up with what I believe, Amy Grant's Christmas songs are still amongst my top played. Nat King Cole crooning the 'Christmas Song' or Bing singing 'White Christmas' make me feel immediately encompassed with magic. I have already played Christmas in our home this September. I don't understand why that horrifies some people. It was simply what I needed to change my mood.

Last weekend, everybody in our family fought. It was gloomy. It didn't start raining nicely until most of the day was done. We had a huge meltdown that I ended up having to deal with and talk through for about an hour and a half. Then my husband and I fought like we have not fought in months which brought up a lot of PTSD from the last year. I was miserable all around. It probably doesn't help that one of my elevated blood markers causes lethargy and matter how many gratitude and meditation practices I do, it is a feat to keep the crankiness at bay. But then I was sitting in my room and I thought "Wait missy, I believe you have to (in part) make the world that you create. So why am I not acting upon that? Where is the world I am creating and how can I actively change it RIGHT now? " So instead of wallowing in my bed like I wanted to do, or crawl in my closet and cry and cry and cry, I decided that I could it least make the house cozier. So I cleaned and I put on Christmas lights and I got my daughter to bake something that we could all eat - Cornmeal Yugort Muffins -and then I realized that Christmas music was just the ticket. So I put on Christmas music in September because sometimes we need to do that. And it worked beautifully. And then the rain started coming ... my daughters plans got cancelled but she was kind of relieved, because our house was starting to become in harmony again and she wanted to witness the peace. She also wanted to listen to records in the rain… Most of the day was a write off and I'm still healing from some of it, but at the same time, changing the music enabled me to know how much I have.

Mood changers like music and seasonal changes before they are actually happening are sometimes needed. Being able to clean, creating good food and enjoying wonderful company in my harmonizing daughter was healing. Emotions can be nitty gritty and sometimes even an active choice. That day I spent at least an intense hour with each child listening to their woes and because of that effort, each child ended up feeling safe. And that feeling of safety was enhanced with Christmas music on a record player.

If I hadn't followed my heart and convinced my husband to purchase an early birthday present, I would not have experienced the peace that has accompanied the time each day that I take to put a record on. My body and spirit drag through most moments. I valiantly try to fight through what I can, salvage positive memories, and also teach my children to LIVE, but living in my current conundrum of a body without much direction, has been devastating. As the minutes tick by I know the symptoms I feel should be managed in an ideal situation and I know I could be more than I am. I know that I have some dangerous complications including sudden possible death by stroke, early Dementia and Alzheimer's, heart attack and blood clots due to one of my elevated blood markers which stem from a deeper issue...and reading about it prepares me in many ways but also overwhelms me and makes me wonder if I will find a medical professional who can help me through it the way my body needs to be treated. The pieces of why I can not even tolerate most vitamins or many foods are finally beginning to fit together. Yet, at the same time I know we are on a good path, even if it ends up being a detour, and that I have a few sturdy people in my life whom I can depend on to pick up whatever pieces fragment along the way. I am so thankful for these people who have their own life tragedies, illness and death to deal with. The record player is a tangible reminder of this proverbial horn of plenty. I can feel the soul in the music which reminds me of the souls in my life, in the earth, and in my home. The infusions of inspiration that may be small but matter. They matter as much as life itself matters.

Now I must turn the record player off and force myself to walk my daily walk, even though each step feels like a feat. Because life is a balance of both. The music prepares or heals after the journey or even fortifies during, but there are still active choices to be made. The dance is waiting.

Oh and I did end up painting our door purple...

Song Choice: Put your Records On- Corinne Bailey Rae

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Alan Watts- Life is NOT a Journey...It's a Musical. The Damaging Politics of Liberalism and Conservatism. The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling ( Yup it all ties in)

Podcast/video Quote; "But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.
Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance. But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade.

 Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world. Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that.

And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt. "

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts

Musicals are my life blood. Since finding out I have even less literal healthy blood in me than originally thought, the musical has become even more central in my life. I can not pick one genre or revere the classics above all else. If music has passion, a message, an inspiration, a feeling captured, lyrics which move or rhythms that create movement...I am soul singing and mind dancing. Since as far back as my memory allows, I have viewed my life as a musical. I have mini soundtracks playing constantly in my head. When I can't express myself I send out a song. Some episodes of Glee can touch me more than any other media form. My photos make the most sense and trigger the most memories when they are set to music. I can not remember most facts but I can recall the lyrics from thousands of songs across multiple musical genres. Music IS me in so many ways.

The "life is a journey and not a destination" never fit my mentality. However, the phrase was useful to remind me, at one point of my life when I was all about "getting things DONE," to just be the process. But it wasn't a phrase that really encompassed the beauty, the playfulness that CAN be part of life. Life is a musical encompasses all of the dramatic, mundane and beautiful life moments. Part of my context is that I have within me, a formally christian perspective. Christianity is generally, disguised or not, all about the destination. Heaven. In the doctrine that I was immersed in early life, life is ultimately about dying..."dying to self", "dying to the flesh" and finally dying to reach heaven. Heaven was a more perfected version of life and the belief that you can have it all; ' the mansion', the relationships failed at magically perfected, the closure, the justice of other’s not seeing your way going to hell, the meetings of people that were otherwise not available in real life...and chance after chance in eternity. It makes sense that this is an appealing doctrine to so many. If you don't enjoy life or try to make the world a better place now, you have eternity if you say the prayer and follow Jesus. Obviously, this is a one size statement and does not apply to more enlightened individuals of that chosen faith.

I don't need the counter arguments or merits of it, because I KNOW them. If I had to choose a religion to take over the world Christianity would probably make the top five simply because of the striving for peace and morality it promotes. I am not anti christian but I do take multiple issues with the ridiculousness of some of the mentalities that have been handed down throughout generations considered 'biblical' when really it boils down to power. If you have the ultimate power over death and the mentality of the "right way" then really no human can ever shake or move you to any extent other than your own fellow believers... and that power has created so many disillusioned and sad relationships and poisoned earth or neglected it in the name of heaven and new earth or worse, in hopes of an upcoming or "happening great tribulation." Celebrating natural disasters in the name of "Christ's coming" instead of actually thinking upon climate change and our part in the conundrum. On the political spectrum, Conservatives restrain growth and hamper change, while liberalism is advocating yet ironically causing hypocrisy and damage to the deeper issues in the name of advocacy.

In both spheres there is beauty, but there is also a general lack of challenge when one is immersed in one mind set and surrounded by like minded literature, people and lifestyle in any of the spectrum's from conservative to liberal. I used to, and still do, lean more to the liberal end of the spectrum, however, I have been challenging myself in this area by listening to conservative intelligence. I grew up in conservative ignorance for the most part, but some of them were enlightened, so I do not lack the conservative viewpoint. Lately, I have been looking at the irony of liberalism speaking out about labelling and words, yet censoring other's freedom. The liberalist marching and yelling, insisting on immigrant's rights while neglecting the rights of the people who call the country home, proper name insistence, "advocacy" taken to extremes, yet blindly forgetting the core issues of WHY...neither approach has been satisfying. In both polarization's there is hypocrisy and the neglect about some true issues because of the hype of the fight.

Maybe I have become too comfortable in this word called 'advocacy' and forgetting about the actual reasons I wish for equality, justice and belonging? My re framing of the *Wal Mart issue years ago, brings into mind this change of stance (see bottom of post for more) among my other cliche liberalist mindsets. Don't get me wrong. I am glad I had those stages and these issues do need to be thought and activated on...but I am also determined to challenge myself when I get too comfortable in a stance. I also need to remind myself it's important to sing and dance. To ENJOY and savour whatever morsels of goodness life has offered up.

As for Schooling, my mentalities are echoed in John Taylor Gatto's book "Dumbing Us Down" and "Weapons of Mass Destruction-A School Teacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling." (Both found in my Library links.) The current school system that society upholds is still based on the Industrial Revolution's outdated concepts of pumping out factory workers. From bells, to desks, to 15 minute recess breaks, to grades, to social conditioning in the name of social "community." 

It's conformity. It is a babysitting service at best (which is unfortunately needed) and at worst, it shows our culture's outdated beliefs on achievements, possibility and quality of life. John Taylor Gatto was actually an educator in inner city education for decades, and he made some differences, but he knew from his experiences what issues we are facing within education. "Gatto asserts the following regarding what school does to children in "Dumbing Us Down": It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.

  • It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
  • It makes them indifferent.
  • It makes them emotionally dependent.
  • It makes them intellectually dependent.
  • It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
  • It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[12]
  • He also draws a contrast between communities and “networks,” with the former being healthy, and schools being examples of the latter. He says networks have become an unhealthy substitute for community in the United States."CLICK

    Alan Watt's describes exactly why I, amongst great anxiety and community protests, took my children out of school and in fact, some of the homeschooling mentalities too. "It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing...." I didn't wish for my children to live like that. I didn't enjoy living with the destination always in mind. I certainly disliked the memorization and conformity to authority and dependence on others for self esteem. This wasn't community. This wasn't healthy socialization. It was a copying of peers within one age group listening to ONE teacher's perspective each year, with history framed by the winner's perspectives and a compete or defeat mentality. Many parents say their kids want to stay in school- of course they do! It is what almost EVERYBODY does. It seems appealing. There are 'friends' to meet and goals to achieve. But whom is the experienced parent? Whom is the adult who understands, researches and knows and to whom it is possible to evolve and grow into a new satisfying role with their children? Many parents do not have the option for alternatives because of their relationship with money which is a whole other mentality that needs to change. Other parents do not have the resources or the support which is a legitimate issue that has so many roots to address. Single parenting especially requires more support and at least the educational system offers something for them...which shows the tragedy of our current culture. 

    I realize I may be isolating people from both sides of the spectrum, conservatives and liberals, educators and homeschoolers, which is not my intent but an unfortunate side effect of giving food for thought. I do not think my way is the only way. In fact, I firmly believe I grow in my perspectives every year by reading conflicting resources and finding new ways to DANCE through life. Not in thoughtless abandon but sometimes that beauty of enjoyment, creates more inspirational change in the world, simply by living the musical. Sometimes, when I grow my mind, the result actually ends up being more enjoyment ( ironically.) Alan Watts was an ENFP philosopher. If he did not grow his mind or think outside the box or write his discoveries he would not have spoken or challenged the whole point of life. He would not have asked us to consider the musical or dance. So I do not think life requires blissfully dancing through it, but I do not believe life is a destination either. Part of music is thoughtful composition. Part of the dance is the pre conceived. Thus, I think it is both abandon and thought, at once, in a paradoxical swirl.  

    "If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts.
    Post Addition: This post took a turn even I did not see coming until I wrote it. I realize it will probably tick most people off on some level, which isn't my intent as I love harmony but seems to be a great side effect of simply BEING ME and sometimes writing about it. Which I do not apologize for. However, I also realize it was a lot, unexpectedly, and that there is more context to consider along with many deeper root issues to what is discussed. I do not see me posting a follow up anytime soon, as there is a lot going on in our world. Stirring the pot is actually not one of my favourite past times even though it may seem like it is. I tend to be considered rebellious which is so ironic, because I am very focused on harmonizing in the world, yet I also believe in hashing it out in writing. This post just happened and I am unsure why, but I still felt it was important to write. If you look at the post I wrote before it, you will see the day to day in wish I strive to live my life...the magical existence of being. If you want more information and know me personally feel free to shoot an email and I can send out a few podcasts and books that may not have made it to my Library yet, as my depleted energy allows. Until then, my Library link above is a good place to start for curiosity... The next post I hope to write will be a contented, frivolous post all about records and my newly found rooted project, which probably would have been more appropriate for this post but oh well.

    *Several years ago we were anti Wal Mart and all that came with that mentality. The whole advocacy movement based on food choices and the places we could and would not shop at, because of the way they treated workers or third world rights...however, a particular moment challenged me in this area. A disabled worker that had worked at Walmart said, "They may not give me the best wages but it was the only job I could get. I also liked it. I liked greeting people. It was one of my only opportunities. If you refuse to shop at a place like that- you are only hurting the little people like me because our jobs our cut. You are not hurting the big guy in only job is affected." Hearing that, I realized that this could be applied to the sweat shops and factories that have lurid conditions but extend life in the context that they ARE. It is one thing if I go to the source to make change. If I personally know a CEO of the company than it IS my responsibility to help them see ways to improve their businesses. If I can affect change by my context I should...but if I do not..if I am not going to travel to the sweat shops and get gritty and creative to think on ways to promote change, then I shouldn't be haughtily refusing and judging those who buy Nestle products or shop on Amazon. I realized that the way I affect change begins in the choices I make at home, how to create ripples in the world that I actually have autonomy over and how every person is different within context. A disabled worker at Walmart may want better pay and treatment, but another one may love their job and the payment is enough to get them by. If I know this labourer, my job is to go help them live the way THEY want to live...not the way I think they should live...There are so many more deeper roots of issues we advocate for that we forget about in the name of improvement. Improvement is a beautiful concept but it has to be organic, and with the person to person aspect in mind...there are so many other layers to this that would require one on one conversing. This is just a tiny example of where I was challenged in my snotty advocacy over eight years ago. Sure, in a way I was helping by drawing attention to these issues, but in most ways I really was not doing much at all other than giving airs and not thinking the steps through that I should do on a day to day basis instead.

    Song choices: The theme Dance was too easy but these are the songs that immediately popped into my head:
    Side note: I just got to watch this guy and meet him briefly. One of my favourite moments this summer was at the concert, dancing with my kids and husband next to my best friend and her daughters and my kindred and her husband...

     and this is probably one of my favourite feel good songs EVEH!

    American Idiot- Green Day