Kegels and Kindness – a plan for 2016

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When life gives you lemons it is, then, perfectly acceptable to make lemonade. However, when life kicks you in the teeth, lemonade just isn’t the answer. You find yourself bleeding and missing teeth, the last thing you’re going to feel like doing is make some bloody lemonade.

The problem with these sayings like, ‘Life is what you make of it’ and the ever-detestable (gag, barf) ‘That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, is that they simply aren’t true.

2015 is gone now.  For me, it actually wasn’t a horrendous year. There were some really good bits.  There was a whole lot of hell, too.  But, interspersed in there, there was some truly decent stuff. I made more music and had my music appreciated by more people. I met some cool people and I became closer with a friend who has proven to be a real lifeline in hard times – a fellow battler of mental illness himself, we share a bond over the squishiness of brain and body. I wish he lived closer, but I have long accepted the fact that the best of my friends will always seem to dwell on the other side of the planet from me.

And, here is 2016.  I don’t do resolutions.  They’re stupid. I have some plans, yeah.  But, I have learned to be resolved to nothing. Stuff/life/shit changes too much to be resolved. So, here are the plans:

There are only TWO exercises worth doing: vocal exercises and Kegels (aka pelvic floor exercise). You can waste your time and money in the gym if you want to and stay in competition with society and media’s insane ideals, or you can come to the side of good sense and do what you can instead of what is ridiculous. You can skip the vocal exercises if you aren’t a singer, but I’d still suggest doing them.  They will do you more (longterm) good than any crunch or press up ever would. Why? Just humour me and try it. You’ll see. And, everyone should do Kegels. A strong pelvic floor will guard against incontinence and, as a (BIG) side benefit, increase sexual pleasure.  Plan number one is to do some vocal exercises and Kegels everyday.

Practise mindfulness. This is a form of meditation for everyone that simply helps one appreciate the present more. I’ve practiced mindfulness, off and on, for a couple of years now.  Like most things, it’s difficult to stay consistent; thus the reason resolutions are so pointless. So, I’m setting a reachable goal of just 5-10 minutes a day. That’s plan numero two.

The world is full of hate and sorrow; be kind. Try offering kindness instead of throwing out more hate. Look, I don’t like people very much either.  Humans, as we have concluded, are stupid. But, kindness goes a long way to counteract the great idiocy out there. Why add hate to all the stupidity when there’s another choice? So, that’s number three: looking for ways to show more kindness. I have a strong suspicion that the making of music and the practice of kindness is the cure for many, many of the world’s ills.

Lemonade is fine, if all you’ve got is lemons. But, squirting your lemonade on me isn’t kindness; that shit stings when you’re the walking wounded. Let’s try being real in 2016. Let’s be kind. Let’s be mindful. Let’s do Kegels (then we won’t pee on each other…’cuz if you’re into that, you’re just wrong).

Happy New Year.

 

(And, yes, I’ve done my Kegels today – along with the other stuff, too – have you?)

 

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The Unbelievable Stark Contrast Between Me and…me.

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It’s time I wrote about this.

A few months ago a friend of mine I have known for a few years now came for the first time to see me perform. Her amazement at the difference between the person who makes and performs music and the painfully awkward, strange person she sees almost daily at the schoolyard reminded me of something I need to make clear to those of you who have been avoiding coming out to a gig for years because you just think ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good.’

IMG_20150928_125813[1]I see it all the time, in the people who have seen or talked to me elsewhere and then seen and heard me perform. The shock. The sheer amazement. That not only a singing voice can be so vastly different to a speaking voice, but that I could actually entertain people instead of repel them – it’s one of the many reasons I would like to be a hermit that never darkens the outside world EXCEPT to step on a stage and perform.

Your misinformed preconceived ideas of what consititutes a person who is talented, able to perform well and entertain people, is sorely wrong!

The fact is, many of the most talented people in the world suffer from some form of social anxiety or are neurologically untypical in some way. The great majority of artists (really good artists) draw their inspiration from their pain and difficulties with this ridiculous thing we call life.

Of course, the reverse happens.  People who have seen and heard me sing before getting to know me better are just as flumoxed by my inability to handle what other people just take in their stride as ‘normal’. But, that’s not as bad, because I’ve already won them as fans, and their inability to comprehend my inability to function in ‘everyday life’ is not so much of a problem…except when it is.  I also remember immediately after Robin Williams committed suicide, an uber extroverted positive type friend of mine remarked something along the lines of, “I don’t think he could have actually killed himself – he was so funny and seemed so happy.”  I love this woman, but this statement is pure ignorance.  Depression just doesn’t work like that.  And, more often than not, the great comedians are the ones that struggle the most with severe clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. One who only sees the talent and doesn’t see the struggle is in danger of losing the whole person.

I was also talking to another musical friend of mine last night.  She is very talented.  She is highly educated and intelligent.  She also has Aspergers and suffers from severe anxiety, among other things.  We were both lamenting how we have encountered the attitude (even from health professionals) that ‘we are too intelligent to be mentally ill.’  WTF????!!! This is just ridiculous.  Would you tell a well-educated and articulate person with cancer that they were too intelligent to have cancer?

So yeah, it works both ways…but, what I am mainly focusing on in this post is the former problem of getting people who avoid coming out to hear me because they can’t believe that someone who isn’t capable of making a phone call and struggles to get out of bed in the morning would be able to entertain them from a stage. PLEASE, get rid of the preconceived (ignorant) notion. You’re missing out on some good music.

Now, I realise, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. And, those of you who read my blog have already been won over, while those of you who are thinking ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good’ are also the ones who would never ‘waste your time’ reading my blog.

Do I sound a bit angry?  Sorry/not sorry.  It’s just frustrating.  No one wants to be judged on just one aspect of their personality and ability.  And no one wants to be judged on their DIS-ability.  Yes, I have issues.  Yes, they are a pain in the arse and make life a burden a great deal of the time. NO, they do not stop me from being a talented person worth listening to.

And that goes for everyone who is ‘different’ in some way.

Take your bloody filters off.

Accept both sides of the coin.

We are fucked up (so society would say), but we are also awesome.

Something Akin to Hope

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Coffee and a good book, and, so, the weekend begins. It’s been some time since I blogged…regularity not being one of my strong suits (call it blogging IBS). I’ve thought about blogging, but (continuing the IBS analogy) there’s been no follow through. Ok, this is getting gross. Moving on.

While life continues in its frustrating manner, when battling chronic illness it can be very difficult to have anything close to hope. Hope for a decent future (quality – NOT QUANTITY – being EVERYTHING) just ceases to be. And, trudging on, you wonder how much more you can take, and when the final breaking point will come. Because, it will surely come.

In the midst of this trudge, however, sometimes there are surprise twists…

A musical friend wants to begin performing again and asks you to join with him…

Thus, “String Theory” is born.

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Mark and I have been rehearsing and, on Thursday, we played the Loughborough Acoustic Club.

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We did our set, Mark playing guitar and us both singing. Then, I was also asked to do a couple of solo numbers, accompanying myself on the club’s piano (which rarely gets used and they enjoyed the novelty of someone using it). And, thus, being so well received, I’m thinking Loughborough Acoustic Club is my new home.

I never would’ve gone there on my own, even though I now know that I could’ve shown up there any Thursday night and my music would have been met with acceptance and appreciation.  Well, at least, I know about it now. What a novel thing to have a local musical outlet! And, there was talk that paid gigs might arise from it.

So, I owe Mark a lot.  Now, I’m looking forward to next Thursday…and, looking forward to what might come of this. It’s something akin to hope.

On the Tip of my Tongue

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So, the mad compulsion to blog has lifted; I’m not feeling any desire to post everyday. Other obsessions linger, one being this matter of divesting myself of the American accent.

Some may criticise me in this endeavour. Those are people who identify me as American. But, that is not my identity.

True identity is a spiritual thing having nothing to do with where a person is born or grew up; the soul has no nationality. Therefore, I feel no loyalty to my native accent and I wish, as someone who makes much of tune and tone, to replace it with what I know to be more aesthetic to the ear.

Thus, I’m training my tongue with proper elocution exercises. And, I’m finding it a strenuous workout indeed.

When I told my husband about how these exercises strengthen the tongue, he remarked that, perhaps, he ought to try them, too. He said it with a sly grin – the perv (and, I love him for it) – and I mentioned something about the “cunning linguist” and we both dissolved into laughter.

Ouch. My tongue hurts. This certainly isn’t for the faint of heart…or mouth, as the case may be. But, my determination persists. I must make my tongue know what my ear understands, and I must make my ear all the more sensitive.

To do this, I am talking to myself… I mean more so than usual. Practising. My social anxiety presents a serious obstacle to my endeavour…it all tends to fall apart when I go out my door and I am immediately put under pressure. My speech just starts to sound better…and, then, damn it, I have to talk to someone! Irony, anyone?

I suppose, the thing is, I hate labels and boxes and typecasting. Someone hears an American accent here, and suddenly there’s the box, the confinement. I’d like them to see me before there is a judgment made that doesn’t apply to me but will be attributed to me nonetheless simply because humans are too stupid to look past something so superficial.

Elocution used to be taught in schools. There used to be a standard. Now, well…I suppose one might say that standard is just another box. But, I won’t play devil’s advocate here on my own blog. Here, this one place where I have my say. But, at the very least, I don’t think a desire to improve one’s speech (whatever the reason) could be considered, in any way, a negative thing.

The aim is merely to improve. Perfection is not in my reach. As I say, practice may NEVER make perfect, but it CAN make BETTER.

Better. I’m not getting any. I mean with the health issues. But, this – the accent thing – is something for me to focus on. I know, I know. Right now, it isn’t a focus, it’s an obsession, a compulsion…a madness. I’m mad.

Yes, I’m mad. I’m not even allowed to be eccentric. Because, you have to have money in order to be eccentric. I know what I am: ill. But, surely a sick person with a lovely accent is better than just a sick person.

So, until this present obsession lifts (i.e. I get too frustrated with myself for continual failure), or I get my lyre harp (the other great obsessive craving of right now), I will work on this project of ridding myself of the American accent for which I have developed such a personal distaste… and, it would seem, my tongue’s going to ache. And, hopefully, at some point, others in the outside world will be able to hear all the hard work. I can, you know, only hope.

Then Again

After my earlier post, I did psych myself up for going out of the house after all. I played a little Ingress, as my husband suggested. The fresh air felt good. Seeing people didn’t feel good. But, I didn’t see anyone I had to talk to. It was uncomfortable, but bearable.

I came home and ate some lunch. I still feel like shit. But, it’s an accomplishment. It’s something.

My husband praised me by saying, “Good girl.” Then he went on to text that, yes, he’s allowed to call me “girl”. Ha.

He is. Allowed, that is. But, I still feel (and look) so old, tired, worn.

I thought of texting a friend that last year I spent a good deal of time with, but since Christmas we’ve had little contact. I think she’s better off without me. I have little to say, little to contribute to her right now. She has other friends…and, I’m hard to understand. Well, I’m either hard to understand (myself) or I spend mass amounts of energy faking being something else. And, right now, I have no energy to spare.

I… well, as I say, it is what it is.