Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Oh, Sing

I can't remember a time when I didn't sing. Somewhere, maybe, there's a cassette tape recording of my dad, brother and I singing "La Bamba" while my dad plays guitar. I don't know how old we were, but we were little. And I don't remember the recording, I only remember hearing it years later. But singing while my dad played guitar is something that was a part of my life when I was younger. Mostly Beatles, because that's what he liked, but also some other songs from the same era.

Those sing-a-longs stopped at some point. My dad was working longer hours, or I was too teenaged embarrassed to continue doing it. I do remember being kind of mortified when he learned to play one of the hit songs I liked at that age, "Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry.

But that wasn't the only singing I did. I went to Catholic school, and, before high school, Sunday mass every week. To me, the best part of mass was the singing. I had favorite hymns and ones that I didn't favor so much, but I loved the singing. I joined the choir at school and even got to be cantor a few times for weekday masses.

For a couple of years, I was in a children's choir, the Young Naperville Singers. We gave main two concerts per year, in winter and in spring. I got to travel to Milwaukee for one performance and we sang four songs for a holiday broadcast on Naperville cable access. I quit that choir because of a disagreement over whether I had to love the song that everyone else loved. I may have been somewhat of a difficult child...

In high school, I tried some choir things, but I didn't end up liking the groups available. Looking back, I really should have tried out for gospel choir, but I never did. Instead, I sang along on the radio on my long commutes either to school or to and from friend's houses (I lived 30 miles from my high school and most of my friends were scattered in other directions).

In college, after my ex-boyfriend killed himself, I wrote some songs to help me process. And I even got to perform those a couple of times in public, though not around very many people who I would ever see again.

I've never had much success with karaoke. I've done it maybe twice, and both times I was so nervous that I couldn't stay on key. Plus, my excuse is that they don't tend to offer the songs that I know and love best.

These days, there are times when I feel like I can't make enough time in the day to get some singing in. I sing in the shower, but I can't sing at my desk at work. I sing in the car, but my commute is about 10 minutes, so it's not very therapeutic. And once the weather's nice again, I'll be back to riding my bike.

Singing relieves stress for me and I need to make an effort to let myself have that time and space to jam out to music I can sing to. I might not get the lyrics just right, but I can belt out the tune and support the long holds. I can play with adjusting my voice to different songs, or different singers if I start singing along to the Avenue Q soundtrack.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Health Update

After getting a clean bill of colon health, I was still in pain. So I decided to try something else. I stopped taking oral contraceptives, and, for about a week, I had a halcyon time of not being in constant pain. It was delightful, and I hoped it would last.

But it didn't.

I'm not having the exact same pain that I was before, but on Monday night the pain was bad enough to keep from sleeping well. And on Tuesday, I kept getting this painful throbbing thing going on. So, I'm moving forward with next steps. My doctor has agreed to have an ultrasound done to check out my abdomen.

I'm not going to worry about what the steps after that are. I'm still focused on my action plan. I will trust in the medical professionals, and I will move forward.

I've also been having some interesting dreams lately. One, in particular, makes me want to write a story, but I'm a little afraid because it was really dark. I haven't been doing any fiction writing, really, any writing other than my blogs. There's a fear I need to get over so I can start writing stories again. Or I just need to get my butt in the chair.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


I've started to read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People for work. I haven't gotten very far into it yet, but what I've read so far makes sense. Which, to be honest, consists of the foreword, introduction and part of the first chapter. But I think reading this will not only help me with my working relationships, but also with my writing. 

The beginning of the first chapter speaks to the idea that no one thinks they are "the bad guy" in their own lives. Villains in fiction are so much more interesting when their villainous plots have a rationale that makes sense to them. Well, except maybe the Joker, whose entire point is that there is no rationale. We are all the authors of our lives' narratives, and rarely do any of us consider ourselves in the role of the villain. We are the protagonist. 

Even if we have to edit and revise to make ourselves feel that way. 

Of course, as a person with a long history of overthinking things, I do have a tendency to see myself as, if not the bad guy, then the one at fault. And I'm not alone in that. Some people blame themselves for everything negative in their own lives, even when that isn't the case. The editing and revision in those cases is not to whitewash away actions that do not conform to our perceived sense of self, but rather a coating of soot to convince us that we are the authors of our own miseries. 

And, in a way, we are. 

What's better? To see yourself as a hero, ignoring the actions and flaws that don't fit that narrative, or to see yourself as a villain, ignoring the actions and virtues that don't fit that narrative? 

No one is objective when it comes to self perception. There is no mirror that can reflect back the impact of your actions. Self interpretation is inherently subjective, which is why the folks who argue on the internet claiming to be rational often come off just as emotional as those they claim are irrational. 

So, I suppose, once a person understands this on a deep level, that knowledge can be used to win friends and influence people? 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Plan of Action

I had a colonoscopy last week. They found that I have a healthy colon and etc... That news was a bit mixed for me, because that means I still have mystery pain. So, I have been meditating and focusing on not freaking out just because I don't know what's causing the pain. I have come up with an action plan to help keep myself from spiraling out of control with the what-if game.

First, focus on facts in evidence:
Focusing on facts in evidence means that feeling a pulse in my tummy is proof of nothing more than I'm thinner than I used to be. It means that I will rejoice at the certainty that I don't have colon cancer or ulcerative colitis or chronic appendicitis or Crohn's or anything else that a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy can detect. It means that I keep working out because I can - I know I can because I have been.

Second, stop searching for symptoms on the internet:
Stop searching for symptoms is pretty self explanatory. It is easy to find patterns; that's the way humans are programmed. But the likelihood of my having any of the various things that could be causes of abdominal pain is low, because most of those things are quite rare. So I will stop looking for trouble; if trouble finds me, then I'll deal with it.

Third, through with watching medical dramas until this is resolved:
Another thing that can cause freaking out is watching medical dramas, because everyone is sick and, of course, they are sick with rare and dramatic things. I don't need that kind of input in my brain right now.

Fourth, forbear with the medical system:
I need to have forbearance with the medical system. I need to be patient and let the doctors work through the possibilities in the way that makes sense to them. I need to trust that they will check for anything that might fit, and trust that they believe me.

Fifth, figure out ways to manage the pain:
While I wait, I will work on ways to manage my pain as best I can. I will let myself cry when I hurt or when I'm frustrated. I will get back to doing yoga. I have stopped my oral contraceptives, since I have been using them more for controlling when I bleed than actual pregnancy prevention - the hope is that going off the hormones might have a salutary effect.

I am going to harness the power of positive thinking and get through this. Nothing horrible is going to happen because the horrible things have already been ruled out.

As the great Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Kindergarten Cop, "It's naht a toomah."

And as the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail said, "I'm not dead yet."