Of *that* age.

Well, I’m reaching *that* age, at which I need to buy ugly sensible shoes in order to walk at a normal pace. See the photo below of my goth nun shoes, as I like to call them. I wore Danskos for a long time, and they are great (and I know some of you would be quick to tell me how ugly they are, too!), but, even though the bones in my feet have settled down, they still have impossibly high insteps, and there’s only one kind of Dansko shoe that sort of accommodates them, but that is with some pain at the top of my foot. After gothnunshoesa few years of walking and running with fantastic running shoes, I decided I wanted something that would be more bearable/less painful, but that would still have the supportive footbeds of the Danskos.

I went to a shoe store that should be good with helping all kinds of feet. I told the woman working with me that I wanted black shoes with laces, not so much of a heel, but a nice strong footbed. She brought out tons of shoes. I was initially dismayed at her inability to listen to what I wanted: she didn’t bring a single pair of laced shoes, only a bunch of Mary Janes (which is the WORST thing for my feet), ballet flats (same issue), and a few pull on varieties (which didn’t get far because of my high insteps). Apparently, she did this to see what kinds of issues we’d be dealing with, so I guess that makes a little sense (kinda…). We found three kinds of shoes in the store that fit, and only these met all my needs, plus an added insert helps with the footbed quality and my overpronation issues.

They feel great. We will see how well they stand up to long rehearsals and concerts in standing in them. They were ridiculously expensive. Initially, she put on a pair just like this, only with a pewter color with black laces and trim. It was a nice contrast, but because of the extreme cost of these shoes, there is no way I can purchase two pairs of them.

I feel like grade school all over again: Here I am, wearing ugly orthopedics that no one else would be caught dead wearing. Except I don’t want my feet to be totally crippled by the time I’m 50. So, happy birthday a little early, Monica. May you walk in comfort as you keep working on helping your body get better.

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A lifetime of little adjustments.

I am hypermobile. My joint insertions are huge, so joints come partially or totally undone really easily.  I’ve known this for a while, but I didn’t know to what extent until recently. Throughout my process of physical improvement via walking, running, and lifting weights, I have been building muscle as well as helping joints that are out find their way to settling back in. The thing is, I never imagined how far out of whack much of my body was for so long until some major settling has occurred. Take, for example, the end of last week, when I finished my time at the gym with a walk around the track: there was a large snap and crack, and I felt my hip, then knee, then ankle, then foot joints and bones settle a little bit better into place.

That in itself is pretty major, but a little later that day, when walking down the hall at work, my left knee started to head way backwards (think ostrich leg!), hyperextending my leg quite a bit, and after that, I had a clicky knee that threatened to ostrich-ize at any time. Oh, no buenoooooo. I thought about what I could do to fix it/help it, and I realized how far my legs and knees are rolled out, and how most of the weight is put on the outside of my legs and knees, none in the inside. So I adjusted that, and more stuff slipped into place. The biggest welcome relief (former clicky knee aside) is the top of my left foot. It was, for several years, completely inside out, meaning that I had a large bony lump on the top of that foot, making it hard to find shoes that fit. Now it seems to be back in place. The top of my foot seems to be as flat as my right foot, and my left shoe fits so well now.

Tangentially related:  I’ve learned that I’m quite good at doing terrible things that keep these problems going, or that even exacerbate them, at times. Regarding that bumpy left foot – I realized that when I was sitting at a desk, I would do things to push that part of my foot out FURTHER.  I don’t know why, but it was a hard habit to break. With this more recent adjustment with my knee, I realized how much I rotate my knees and legs outward, and I sit funny on chairs as well (as in, right leg under me, extending in front of me, left leg aimed as faaaaar left as my hip will go).  And I remembered that came from me figuring out that was the only way I could make the space I took up be as little as possible when sitting on a chair in a restaurant or in a crowded classroom conference table. GOD FORBID OTHERS NEED TO ADJUST TO THE FAT WOMAN. No, force the fat lady to shrink via any means so all others maintain their comfort.

I’ve been dealing with a lifetime of complicated joint issues because of this.

That is bullshit, and I’m ending that now.

But,  let’s zoom out and look at the larger picture here. Any worthwhile and lasting improvements I’m making are resulting from small adjustments, not huge crazy changes. This is what I need to keep in mind when attempting to improve any part of my life: what little adjustment can I make that might help some things settle into place? That is the better question.

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B.H. B.S. – a syndrome of our times.

Even though I’ve sworn off buying self-help books, I still find myself gravitating toward writings on productivity, beating procrastination, and working through issues to get to resolving goals. Medium.com has been one place I’ve read articles, finding some helpful kernels of advice amid large swaths of blather on such topics. From such places, I’ve fallen into free workshops that are supposed to be helpful; alas, most of the time, the amount of helpful info in such programs could be boiled down to two sentences, with the rest being fluff, or sometimes, complete and utter bullshit.

I really felt that slap me hard in the last rabbit hole I fell down that has to do with changing one’s life with consistent journaling. In fairness, regular journaling can be helpful in working out one’s issues. But all the hours of garbage surrounding that tiny tidbit of information made me question how someone like this writer/instructor exists, and who is falling for it (for the long haul, I mean. I know how the promise of having one’s life together more when one has a way to meet fantastic goals regularly…I think we all want more of that, right)? Apparently this guy (I’m only referencing him by his initials in the title of this entry, BTW) who created this program is working toward a Ph.D. in motivational psychology, so he likes to reference a lot of resources in his work. But it is painful to hear someone use a bunch of weak, new-agey, barely pop-psych kind of materials as his basis whilst constantly saying “expecially.” Raaahr! No!

Yes, I’m so reactive to this because I’ve had to face my own shortcomings regarding my use of the English language, as well as the way to approach language in academic research. I wonder how this guy can do what he does? How does his advisor and committee let him get away with using ridiculous resources without critically reviewing them? I would be shot if I just used anything ever published.

This does show me that I need to work on my own output in everything, from writing to music, visual art to dance. Focus on putting it out there, not absorbing info constantly.pexels-photo-261763.jpeg

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It takes time.

This is the over-arching lesson I’ve learned today. Although it should be something I know, and I knew it somewhat on some level, I see that much of my failing, crashing, and freezing comes from trying to do what I need to get things done as quickly as possible.

And this simply isn’t the case regarding some situations.

I realized it today when working in a program I am getting ever more familiar but still stumble upon enough frustrations. I was talking about it with a colleague regarding layout, and she made it seem as though it should be so simple to adjust something a little bit this way or that, and, hey, isn’t there a setting to automatically format everything the way I need it to be done? I grew uncomfortable with that question, because she’s asked that more than once, and I’ve told her (also more than once) that there isn’t a way to automatically format this, to my knowledge, but I will try to be more careful in spacing issues, and if I find a way to apply automatic formatting, I will.

I racked my brain, thinking back to when I blew through an online training on this program, seeing if I could come up with anything comparable, and that is when it dawned on me that I worked as hard as I could to finish that training as fast as possible, because it was boring, and so much of it seemed not applicable to what we do with it in this company. But during that time, there was a segment dedicated to style sheets and programs, and while that doesn’t automatically format everything, it does help with larger picture formatting, and that was likely what this colleague was attempting to point out.  Learning this is a complex drag. It will take time.

Ah, TIME. It will take time to write, to edit, to format work appropriately. It will take time to learn how to maintain and repair my keyboard instruments, but it’s necessary, and learning it bit by bit should make it more palatable. It will take time to do these things so they become part of how I work and what I can offer, and through working on these as well as other issues in a slow but timely matter, I might find the right place of employment, a better place overall with what I’m doing in music, and how my own creative endeavors fit into all this.

It is hard. It takes time. But it seems worth it. So I shall try.pexels-photo-707676.jpeg

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Parsing out a dream or two

Once again, the dreaming brain was busy last eve.

In one of them, I was in a class that was about something I know nothing about. It was like a mix of ballet, fashion, and historical politics. I didn’t remember being in that place before, and when I got there, I had to take my shoes off, and the instructor was reminding us of a short  paper that was due by the end of the day. My heart sank, I looked at the syllabus, and, sure enough, saw my handwriting pointing out that I needed to get that done. I also saw a whole bunch of questions that needed to be addressed somehow in the paper, and I took that as a fairly easy way I could knock the thing out, question by question. I just needed the time to get to a computer lab to do it. But then I couldn’t find my shoes. Either mine were gone, or I put on someone else’s, or I could see some that looked like mine, but they were unreachable. And that was as far as that dream got.

In another, it was loosely connected to the paper of the first. Only I was at a large festive gathering that was debuting the work of a friend of mine who lives in Greece. I had to play part of it, and when we were playing through it in front of this stadium-like setting full of people, I thought, “Wow, this is just the C Major prelude from Well-Tempered Clavier that’s been hacked up and rearranged a little. I know he could do better than that. I mean, it’s okay, but…huh.” We finished. Everyone applauded loudly. Afterward, a lot of people came up to him to both congratulate him as well as to offer one bit of carefully worded criticism. He took it well. I had to pack up all my things, then we took a colorful ride through the city on a trolley/open train to go to the composer’s house. There were scads of beautiful paintings that both he and his wife had made. I knew his father was a rather famous painter in real life, but I didn’t know they painted. I asked how they got by, and they said, “We live on a rather fixed income, but we are very happy.” They were quite encouraging toward me to work toward doing more that resonates we actual me. I then packed up my things again (I don’t know why, I had a hard time finding/putting/keeping my stuff together in this dream), and I traveled home. Home ended up being in a building I never saw before, and I needed to move my stuff into a room with two cats that had barfed the place up before I got there. And, of course, once I got there, I was looking for more of my stuff, and my mother was there and she kept insisting that I lost a piece of luggage when I clearly pointed out that I emptied that into my dresser

drawers already. Then I walked down to a bar or restaurant that was in the basement, I found I statue of a woman, and I picked a string off her, and saw it turned into an ouroboros (snake eating or biting its own tail) bracelet with magnetic closure. When I put it on and closed the bracelet, its eyes glowed a jewel red color and I felt an il_570xN.1271375948_6p6felectric *zing* throughout my body. And that was the end.

I felt like these dreams were about understanding that there is nothing that is perfect, and that the best way to get writing hammered out is to draw up a list of minute questions and write from there. Also that criticism isn’t always damning the creatrix to hell for her imperfections, merely trying to help her along. The thing with the shoes and my stuff, I think, goes back to the “mental barn” clutter I mentioned in the last post, and that worrying about and dealing with that stuff takes more time and energy that I don’t need to waste at all. Moving into that stale, dirty room with the cats was like dealing with the day to day stuff that exhausts me, feeling like I need to explain myself again and again (as to who I am and what I am doing) to the general public and they aren’t getting it.  Part of my dream self wanted to stay in Greece. And I think the part about my friends working on visual art in addition to musical endeavors was a nod in my direction regarding continuing what I do with my own small visual artworks (in the form of cards).

Yes. I need to work on things that lift me up, as obscure or weird or simple and stupid as they might seem to others, I need to do it, because I often feel like I’m drowning in this world in a sea of garbage. Garbage food, garbage hobbies, garbage communication, garbage music, garbage instruction. It’s time to elevate and evolve to better things.

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Because of the popularity of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method for decluttering, everyone thinks of decluttering as that systematic paring down of physical items. Go through your stuff one by one, hold it, if it doesn’t bring joy, get rid of it, and if you keep it, here is how you fold your clothes and socks to fit more in a drawer (but only if you are a size medium or smaller). I can’t really ascribe to that method regarding things, because, let’s face it, there are a lot of things that don’t bring me joy, but that I need. (I’m thinking of silverware, clothing, and menstrual pads, to name a few.) I would be hungry, cold, and leaving a trail everywhere if I got rid of those joyless items.

But I have given away a lot of clothes, I’ve sold some jewelry, and I felt a large mental sigh of relief when I sold most of my dance skirts. That came when I concluded that I don’t want to dance ATS in performance anymore. When I let that struggle go, I let the physical items go, and I felt better. What’s really interesting is that I attended an ATS class on a night I normally don’t go anymore so that I could sell some of the skirts to newer dancers, and then I ended up dancing and having a pretty good time, but afterward, I realized how much pain that caused my body. Feet, ankles, knees, hips were all out of place and aching a lot. So back to doing only fusion for a while in addition to my running and weight lifting.

Perhaps it is synchronous that I see so many articles about letting go, being more deserving than for what we want to credit ourselves, and managing what we care about or what we give our energy and time to (see the TEDx talk called “The Magic Of Not Giving A F•ck” by Sarah Knight). It was in that talk that I really felt like I could see how what I’m doing now is like that clearing of unnecessary stuff from my “mental barn.” Because I have a shit ton of stuff in there that’s been staying rent free for quite some time. I came to a breaking point this morning after getting a rather early call from someone who was creating drama from nothing. I thought, “This isn’t helping. This person takes up too much space in my life. I need to draw up boundaries so we can work together and have time that we spend together for fun, but then, I won’t answer early morning/late evening calls, I won’t leave my whole schedule gapingly flexible so that I can meet their every whim (almost), and I need my own time.”

Simply making that decision has made me feel better. I tend to worry about the fact that, if I’m not constantly there for every single other person in my life, I shouldn’t expect them to be there for me. In reality, most of those people aren’t there for me anyway. I am authentically there for those who need me, but I think everyone in my life needs to start accepting that I need time for myself and I need to insist of certain things in my own life.
So then I think about how that might affect life and/or life goals. (To which the world asks, “Life goals?!? I thought you didn’t have those!”) Well, I have reeeeeally vague goals regarding using creativity to lift up others with music, dance, and visual arts. But it’s all nebulous and definitely weird, so I’m pretty sure I need to do this on my own with little bouts of collaboration, so that I’m not a pariah-like hermit, but also so I’m not completely burned out all the time.

So all of this makes me imagine my life, like, five years from now. And I’m living in a really small place that has ceilings high enough that I can dance and sword-swing, but I can also reach the light fixtures and smoke alarms with my little step ladder (currently I have a very difficult time doing that with my present residence). And it’s possible to be really nice and warm there in winter. And I make art cards on a regular basis, I put together concerts that are fun, baroquen tribal dance and music performances as well.  Maybe even a little gardening, a couple of festive food gatherings to celebrate what’s in season or what I’ve been enjoying making. I spend time with family and friends, and I have enough quiet time to myself, as well.

Damn. I should have started cleaning out that mental barn a lot sooner.

As mentioned on Facebook, I had an impressionable dream about a week or so ago:
I’m in the nursing home with my great grandmother (who passed back in 2000). When I was going to leave, I gave her a hug and said, “See you real soon.” And she shook her head and answered, “Nah. Enjoy your life. I know you think too much and that makes it hard. But try anyway.”

Yeah. This isn’t hard at all to figure out. I overthink everything, and it is ruining my life. I think my great-grandmother Odie wanted me to start clearing out that mental barn so that I don’t stay frozen in this terrifying pit of anxiety. It’s a good idea. I am starting. I hope to continue and successfully clear out all the dud stuff.

After this, I made an art card to send to a friend of mine who sent me a hand paper cut lunar new year card. It essentially answered the question she asked me, “Are you okay? I hope you are okay.” Yeah, I’m hanging in there. I’m doing okay. Some days are more difficult than others. But I am constantly “Navigating the Sea of Brain Waves.”28279944_10156074794671678_7947043018469960308_n

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Who am I, anyway?

(I realize this is the second entry with “anyway” in its title. Oh, well. I shall write it anyway. 🙂

I’ve written about my love/hate relationship with social media before, but I haven’t felt its negativity as severely as I have in the past week. How people are choosing to present themselves in light of catastrophes such as school shootings is only part of the demise for me. (But it plays a part, nonetheless. Chances are, I understood your position 50 posts ago on the topic, and if I agree with you, I agreed with you from the start, and most of the logic put out there to convince me otherwise is rather weak, so more does not mean you will wear me down into agreeing with you.)

It turned out to be so much more, though. I attempted to hop on to Facebook fewer times a day, and it would always start out okay but it would end with me checking it obsessively. At first, I thought it was some fear of missing out (FOMO), but it’s not that so much. I realized how much of it is more of an identity crisis than anything.

You see, back when I was working at a church job full time, I felt terribly out of place. There were friends and acquaintances I liked, and we’d chat about things we could chat about (like music or gardening), but otherwise I felt like there wasn’t a soul there who *got* me. And at the beginning of my life being sucked into the internet’s social media portals, I thought I had found the others who were my people. They were mostly friends I made online through dance forums. A few were people interested and secondarily involved in some of the same historical music areas as I was. It was cool to be all edgy and snarky about everything. So life sucked in person, but it was still okay, because I had Online Life and Online Me to make it seem like I’m more well-rounded and more involved.

As time has gone on, I learned, back in 2011, that many of those weren’t real friendships at all, by 2013, I tried to assimilate with artists and dancers and musicians in real life, and felt like I still didn’t fit. And, through the last three or four years or so, I have been experiencing burnout in music and understanding where I’m really at with dance.

And all of this distills down into feeling not just like a square peg, but like an amorphous blob that has worked hard to jam herself into places to make it work, when in reality, nothing ever did. And there doesn’t seem to be a place for amorphous blobs.

So, though my habitual incessant checking of social media kept escalating with the hope that something good would come, that something would change, that something would help, the result has always been coming away with nothing.

Then I thought about leaving social media overall. Not the announcing I’m leaving as the typical grownup version of running away from home, no, I’ve done that enough. But simply doing what so many people seem to do effortlessly. Check in once a day, perhaps twice, and call it good. I thought about how some of that would change things I’d do for the sake of proving to others that I’m interesting enough or even a bit surprising. For instance, I’ve been considering getting my daith pierced. I love the way it looks on pretty much anyone who has had it done, and occasionally, those who have had it done claimed it has lessened the frequency of migraines and headaches. Though I get very few of those in contrast to eight years ago or so, I would love it if this would help. The flip side of this is that it would cost money I could definitely use somewhere else, and because of the stretchiness of my skin, it doesn’t tend to heal great. In fact, when I got my lobes stretched, I made a mental note to stick with tattoos, because it’s less painful and the healing process is much easier. And I enjoy the end result more. And like the reasoning behind the piercing, same thing with getting a different (shorter, edgier) haircut. I’d show people that I’m up for such a badass look, but, then, am I really up for going back to a salon every six to eight weeks to keep it up? Nope. And am I willing to put time into styling it every day? Absolutely not.

I guess I’m coming to terms with my boring, non-edgy self. I don’t need to do anything for anyone to think I’m cool or interesting enough. I’m also seeing how hard I’ve hung on to those concepts that should have died back in 2008 (or 2011, or definitely 2013). And I’m now (at this very moment) concluding that is the same kind of stuck thought pattern that has kept me stuck on my dissertation as well. That is my only connection to seeming like anything close to an intellectual. When I let go of that, it’s just me with a failed music career, a job that doesn’t pay much that isn’t the best fit, and lots of ideas for dance productions that won’t ever be because they are big and spectacular and costly.

So that leaves me with me. The meandering human. The one who loves her family lots, enjoys taking her time to cook for them and others, gardens to grow beautiful food, listens to theorbo music to calm herself down, runs and dances to feel like she’s part of the earthly realm instead of being entirely caught up in her head. I’m also feeling like healing the music burnout might be possible IF I continue this kind of awareness in that area. I’m already not playing things because everyone else loves them, nor am I feigning crazy love for pieces and programs so many cherish. I willingly support performances of friends and colleagues, even if it’s not my kind of thing, but I feel like that is different than forcing myself to put on the oh-I-love-this-so-much mask that fell off around 2014 or 2015.

It feels like such a low point in life. But it also feels like such freedom is possible. Perhaps, from here, life will start to look up.

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