Friday, September 16, 2011
Was it a real challenge? Did I make it up? I think on one of my teams, We Blog, a challenge was posted about crutches. I struggled. What crutches do I use? I am so cussedly independent and take on many personal challenges by looking forward, seeing the process as important as the end result - just do it. Crutches?
But this was not always so. Not many people who have not known me over decades know how I struggled with addictions. My parents. I have written about my parents before - they were awesome human beings, incredibly talented and incredibly humanitarian. They were assets to the world in many ways and the loss of them is still profound to me. However, they were not your June and Ward Cleaver parents. They had their own demons and addictions to contend with, which often interfered with parenting in a more traditional sense. My childhood was stressed by the weight of their deep emotional unhappiness, and the results of their addictions. It was also stressed by what as an adult would be defined as dyslexia and ADHD. At the time of my childhood, it was defined as 'Underachiever' as my intellect was so much greater than my academic achievement.
I'm not whining. That's just the way it was. I was in many ways a happy child, given a lot of freedom and independence, and given the gifts of art and music which I filled many happy hours with. But those spaces that I did not understand or know how to cope with increasingly interfered with my self esteem and self confidence. Quite early in teenhood, I followed the path of my parents, and yes, even some of my grandparents.... the alcohol (and drug) solution. From teenhood through my early adult life, I battled the demons of addictions. It was an easy fix. Alcohol abounded in my home, and it was the '60's, there were plenty of chemical cures for my discomfort.
Yes. I had emotional crutches, used them, cherished them. And paid a pretty big price for it.
Perhaps my salvation lay in being thrust into a group of people, a commune, who believed in growing their own food, healthy eating, cherishing their minds and bodies. I happened into this at a time in my life when my physical and emotional health was at a dangerous low. These were the people who launched me into who I am now. Offering wholesome nutrition, yoga, meditation, warm and loving care, and not putting up with any of my crap, this group of people saw me through that hard time and launched me toward health, both physical and emotional. For those of you who have held hippies in distain, these were the prototypical hippies and if they didn't actually save my physical life, they saved my emotional and spiritual life.
So many years have passed since then. I forget that I was not always as strong and balanced as I am. Yet that vulnerable child is still within me and a source of my compassion for both children and adults who struggle with the unmanageable and unimaginable.
I realized as I sorted this out, I do indeed have crutches. I have learned to substitute chemical cures to my emotional upheavals with physical ones. I am reliant on exercise to help me through tough times. A few times, I have tried dealing with the most painful parts of my life by seeing a psychiatrist, but discovered that the true path to recovery and self discovery for me is physical challenge. The more bottomed out emotionally I am, the greater my need for extreme physical challenge is. Is it the ADHD? I don't know, but the very act of working out hard, often uncovers the path I need to follow to regain emotional health and deep perspective.
The blame game is a waste of time and energy. I have nothing but compassion for my parents who dealt with their pain in the ways they knew how, and my younger self who followed their example through lack of a better understanding of how to effectively deal with emotional pain. I like who I am. No, I love who I am. And my parents and my dysfunctional young journey are a part of me that give me strength and perspective. Do I wish I didn't have to go through the rough road I travelled? Sure. But the past is not undone, it is built on. How we build on that foundation is up to us on a daily basis. We can choose to use it in a positive way, or we can play the role of victim and let it weaken us instead. Whatever your trials, your pain, your struggles, they can be the very tools that propel you forward into a richer and fuller life.
"We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. "
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I don't post recognizable pics of the children on line, but since this is in the news and online, I'll make an exception.
The local paper wanted to publish an article about what we are doing at school this year. The reporter was excited about the ukuleles, so she added photos of my uke class to the article. Here's the link to the article:
I though she wrote a pretty good article, and the pics are pretty sweet.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Stability Ball At Work, and I mean that both ways. I have it at my 'desk' at school, and I am loving the way it works. If making minor physical adjustments to the bounciness (or slight instability) of the ball helps build core strength, then it is doing its job. When I am seated on it, the slightest movement in any direction creates an opportunity for my core to readjust. I am not certain whether there is any actual science behind this theory, but if there is, then my core is strengthening as I sit. One advantage that I am sure of is that the chair does bring attention to my posture and encourages correct alignment of my hip, back, and neck, something that is very important, both with the hip, back, and neck injuries I sustained and with the effects aging has on posture.
I have read warnings that people should build up to using the stability chair slowly, but I have not found this to be the case for me, probably because of my yoga and Pilates training. If you decide to try one for yourself, you might want to start out using it more gradually if you haven't already concentrated on core exercises.
My students are in awe of it and think it is totally cool. So far, they have asked my permission to use it and no one has messed around with it. I plan to let one child a week earn the use of it for part of Friday mornings as an incentive to get classwork (accurately) finished in a timely manner.
My good friend recently purchased a weighted stability ball. There is sand on the bottom of it that helps it stay in one place when you sit on it. I think this would be an economical substitute for the stability ball chair. Right now, I would recommend a stability ball chair or a weighted stability ball for when you are sitting around... say Sparking, watching TV (oh horrors!), and at work if your workplace allows for it. I find mine both comfortable and energizing.
Get on the ball and have fun!
Thursday, September 08, 2011
I just took The Sleep Quiz, and got 10/10 answers correct. Just because I KNOW what good sleep habits are, and practice them, doesn't mean I can sleep. For years I have read up on getting a good night's sleep and have tried everything, short of hypnosis. There are nights when neither my brain nor my body will turn off and I just don't fall asleep.
Last night was one of those nights. I ended up spending the night alternating between trying to sleep and reading. I finally fell asleep around 4:30am, only to have to wake up at 6:30am, which is actually an hour later than my usual wake-up time.
Somehow, I am able to run on adrenaline and get through the day. I made sure to take my vitamins in the morning and had extra B vitamins at lunch time for energy. When I got home, though, I was whipped! I had to miss my music lesson last week because of school activities and will have to miss another one this month for the same reason, so I really didn't want to be tired and unfocused for this evening's lesson. So when I got home, I decided to take a short nap. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow at 4:00pm and slept until 5:30pm. I normally can't nap unless I am sick, so this was a spectacular feat for me!
I felt much better after catching a few Zzzs, and was able to be focused and use my time with Fernando well. The Great Balancing Act has begun. I really need to be able to teach and still have a life beyond my profession during the school year. Having the time and energy for exercise, social time, music, etc. is so important to maintain, yet it is not easy.
Things I do or have tried with regards to sleeping:
No screen time for at least 1/2 hour before night routines.
Read some more
Aroma therapy including lavender in bath, lavender eye pillows, etc.
No vigorous exercise for two hours before bed
Regular daytime exercise
Listening to relaxing music
Keeping bedroom cool, quiet, dark, uncluttered
Supplements including melatonin, camomile, valerian, calcium, magnesium
Drugs from aspirin PM to lorazepam
The only thing that works consistently is the lorazepam, but I do not like taking it more than every once in a long while. In general, I do not like taking drugs for anything. I am especially concerned about my liver since my gallbladder surgery. So I reserve that for long standing insomnia that lasts more than a few days.
During the summer, I really don't care if I can't sleep. I just go with the flow, fall asleep when I can and sleep in as much as I can after a bumpy night. During the school year, it stresses me out because I need to be alert, multitasking, and keeping my attention fully on the children, so when I can't sleep I also get anxious. And of course, that exacerbates the sleep problem.
Hopefully, tonight I'll get the rest I need.
Night, night Spark Buddies! Have a great night's sleep.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
The best of news is that my son, who has been trying to find a job for 2 years, finally got hired today. He will be doing computer programming work for the government. YAY!
I am trying to keep on track with my exercise and music, both of which have suffered with the start of school. However, I have been much more on target for this time of year than I have been for a long time.
I was tired when I got home this afternoon, and was actually able to take a power nap, something that is difficult for me to do under most circumstances. Happily, it worked out for me today. I had a light dinner, then headed off (in the relentless rain) to Body Pump. One thing about the wonderful place that I live, is that I have to travel 20 minutes minimum to get to either the fitness center or the YMCA. When it's dark, rainy, snowy, when I'm tired, etc, it does take a little extra motivation to head out. I am always glad I overcome my reluctance.
When I returned home, happily sweaty and (for the first time on this chilly, damp day) hot, my son called to tell me he got the job he had been hoping for. It was wonderful to hear him so happy!
Then I put in an hour of practice time. I have been playing to accompany the children for singing every day for a half an hour, but not having much time once I get home to work on my technical skills or the pieces I am working on. So it was very nice to get some concentrated time in.
I need to get a little reading time in before going to bed, so I can finish unwinding from the day.
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