Overwrought teenagers often emotionally claim “music saved their lives!” But if I could have you take a deep breath and try to believe me, I can tell you that music did, in fact, change my life in dramatic ways, not once but twice.
I gave up a lot when my first child was born. He was a “hard baby.” I never knew how hard until my second child was born and there was a DRAMATIC difference. “Oh my god” was all I could think, is this what it was supposed to be like? After nearly ten years of utter (although admittedly voluntary) subjugation to the special needs of my son, things changed. I read a novel that somehow allowed music back into my life. My sisters were involved in this too. We would pick songs that would go with different parts of the storyline and I became a complete teenager in this pursuit. BUT, it pulled me out of a self-imposed hole I was sunk in and returned “self” to me. I eventually joined an online forum for a band and made many, many friends from around the word. The name I used as an online persona persists today – 10YearsGone – in my Twitter, Instagram, and one Gmail account. This return of self had a deep and lasting impact on my life. I actually know the day it started and it’s noted on my calendar as my “re-birthday”. It’s coming up next month and it’ll be eight years. I know it sounds simple, but only someone who has lost themselves and then found their way back truly understands how profound this is. It’s possible that I never would have found my way back, sometimes that happens to people. I know it was those early days of picking out music from bands I had never heard of before that sparked the soul in me to fight its way back.
The second time music changed my life it was more a function of the community that developed around me. I spent a lot of time going to live music. I even started writing reviews for a music blog. I was well entrenched in the music scene and I was thriving. My personal life, however, was in the crapper. I had a couple of very poignant interactions from my music sphere that finally made me understand that I was better than what I was getting at home. I could finally see that I needed to make a change and I disentangled myself from a marriage that was not working for me. It was revelatory to know I could move on and be a happier person in all aspects of my life.
Since then I have gotten some of my tattoos to commemorate the music of the bands that have inspired me – Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and Biffy Clyro. These two bands have fan groups that make up a significant portion of my music friends. I saw Frank Turner play just the other night and Biffy are playing in April right before my birthday. Both these bands definitely deserve a post of their own. Another band, Snow Patrol, while they did not inspire me to ink myself, provided me with the lion’s share of my international/online friends. Sadly, Snow Patrol hasn’t toured in a dog’s age so it’s been a long while since I’ve see many of these people, but they are still very important to me.
These three bands and the people who follow them have influenced me in profound ways that I could never have projected back when I was mired deep in the difficulties of early motherhood. Music and my involvement in it changed my life infinitely for the better. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am now done with my 30 day unlimited pass at Radiance Yoga in Old Town. I went to six different types of classes. I can now say for certain that yoga is not my thing.
Right out of the gate, I hurt my shoulder. I have compromised shoulders that easily develop impingements. A year ago I was in physical therapy for nearly three months because it got so bad that I could no longer reach around my back to unhook my bra. Really, I should have seen a professional before that, but I am fairly stubborn. I have been very careful and was taught how to lift without aggravating it, so I was surprised when after just two yoga sessions I was feeling the familiar can’t-lift-my-arm-like-that pain. I think it was those damn downward facing dog things. The rest of the yoga classes I went to were all “gentle” and “restorative” ones.
I enjoyed parts of the classes, but only parts of them. Often I found myself thinking “is this going to be over soon” or “how much more ’til I’m done?” I know that trying to calm or redirect a wandering mind is supposed to be part of the experience, but this was much more than just that. I just was not enjoying myself. There were two distinct times that I did enjoy it and both times involved the instructor actually touching me. One time she physically assisted a stretch and the other time was during the ending shavasana when the instructor firmly pressed on each person’s shoulders and scalp.
But there is another kind of yoga that I do like. The official name of it is Let Your Yoga Dance, but a better name might be Meditation in Motion or Sacred Heart Movement. For me it is more like a dance class with its theory rooted in yoga. There are some poses, a little bit of chakra work, but most of it is a combination of guided dance and free dance. My friend Cheryl teaches it once a month at a church space and the cost is simply a donation to the church’s food pantry. Can’t beat that! If you are local to me, you really should try it – second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. While I have a background in dance, you absolutely don’t need one. You just need a free spirit and a desire to move with the music. I have gotten some of my best ever aerobic workouts here and it’s effortless because it is so enjoyable. I do love to dance – in a class, at a club, in my living room!
So yoga is out. Dance is in. I need to find more ways to dance this year.
The holidays are over – thank goodness. I did really well in the run up to Christmas – not a lot of extraneous December events in my life. But in a span of 11 days I had a Gingerbread House party, Christmas Eve (the big deal at my house), my Boxing Day party, New Year’s Eve out, and a New Year’s Day party. There was a little bit extra food during that time. OK – a lot of extra food. The interesting thing is that after being on my eating plan for eight months now, eating all those foods I don’t normally consume actually made me feel uncomfortable. Of course I felt overfull and sluggish HOURS later so it didn’t do anything to help stop me in the moment, but it means I am listening to my body a little better than I have in the past.
After the New Year’s Day party (my worst indulgence by far,) I clearly recognized the bloated feeling that I regularly used to get in the evenings when I was in my gaining weight phase. Definitely not enjoyable. It made me actively want to go back to my low carb/high fat (LCHF) eating. I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I want to feel terrific and I usually do on LCHF. Even when I experience a little hunger (which doesn’t often happen,) the overall state of my body seems to be good. I am going to get there quickly by going back into ketosis.
“Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down for energy, resulting in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.” MedicalNewsToday.com
By drastically reducing my intake of carbohydrates, I will force my body to use its stored fat as a source of energy. This can take several days depending on how long/how many carbohydrates you have been eating. I have gone so far as to get myself some test strips (Ketostix) to make sure I really am doing it correctly. Because I have spent months low carb and this was “just the holidays” I expect to both get back into fat burning ketosis quickly and not suffer any of the crankiness often associated with switching from high to low carb intake (often called keto-flu.) I can confirm that this keto-flu is real. I spent just short of a week feeling tired, weak, and irritable. But it did pass like the literature said it would. A LCHF diet also causes your cells to release a lot of excess water (and conversely eating the carbs caused my cells to retain water.) So yes, I understand that some of the immediate weight loss is “water weight”. But when people scornfully say that, they usually assume that you will be returning to your former eating patterns soon enough and yes then the water weight lost will come back. I, on the other hand, am resuming the eating pattern the reduces the water weight, so I expect it to stay off. Then the fat-burning can continue.
As I said before, this is not for everyone. It works for me and I have been able to stick to it since May. I think of it as an eating plan, not a diet and since I seem to be able to “survive” the holidays and vacations, it seems to be sustainable too. I’ve conquered the menopausal weight gain and I feel great. I’m keeping it!
p.s. Ketosis is a very dangerous state for someone with diabetes I, it can lead to ketoacidosis. But don’t confuse the two. Ketosis in a otherwise healthy person is a generally recognized as a safe metabolic state.
For reasons that do not bear public scrutiny, this was a very hard year for me. Everyone has been going on about the greats we lost in 2016, too numerous to even mention here; but as a friend stated, she has hit grief overload. We’re old now, people we grew up knowing about are going to start to die more and more frequently, let’s get over it. I, however, have had a personally pretty crappy year. I have been muddling through, making my own path, finding my way. There are certain things I can control and others that I cannot. And despite my knowing that, I spend way too much time being tortured by the things I don’t have control over. That is one of my mental burdens. Sometimes I work against it, and sometimes I wallow. A tactic I turn to over and over again is to wait something out. It’s surprising how often it works. Although there is tremendous pain in the waiting, I am regularly rewarded for having waited. The problem with this tactic is that when it doesn’t work, it fails SPECTACULARLY. So, there is risk in everything. I have gone through fits and starts of brilliance in my struggle with this year though. I had a breathtaking bucket list trip to see the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico, got my concert going back up to where I want it, redid my living room, figured out my weight issue, and started this blog!
“If you were perfect, you’d be bored” ~ Sara Maschino
So it is with great relief I bid 2016 adieu. I am still not certain that 2017 will bring me all the things I want, but I can have hope. I will continue to go to live music. I will make an effort to hang out with my friends. I will renew my intentions with my art. I will work out hard and continue to reshape my body. And I will live and love my life as best I can.