Like what you see? Follow me!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Meditation and OCD

I have been reading today about blogging, trying to learn to how to make this blog all it can be. And the result? I don’t know much more than I did yesterday.
“Write what you know.”
“Write about what you love.”
“Keep the blogs rolling out on a regular basis.”
Okay, so write what I know, what I love, and on a regular basis. Got it. But I think I knew that when I started this endeavor.
But I know so many things. Not to sound conceited or egotistical, but I know a lot about a lot of things. But this isn’t the “how-to” type of blog. This is just my thoughts and my observations on the world around me. And while it may seem like it at times, this isn’t even a blog about music. In fact, today, I’m going to write very little about music. 
I heard something yesterday that made so much sense it hurt. It made sense on so many levels…
“Meditation is anything that allows you to lose track of time.”
Punch me in the gut. Seriously. That makes so much sense.
I now have a new observation and possibly a greater understanding concerning my obsession with music, as well as many other areas of my personality that run amuck.
I am OCD. No, I don’t spend five hours washing my hands (even though I get that, I’m just not that tolerant of time). I am randomly OCD.
I count. It keeps me centered, and keeps me moving forward in what I need to do. In the morning, I count backwards as I complete tasks to know how much more I have to do. I have four to six steps in the shower, and anywhere from seven to twelve steps of after-shower duties, depending on the amount of shirts, if I’m doing my hair or just running my fingers through it, etc. Plus two steps for socks and shoes. And one for the coat (if necessary) and one more for putting chapstick and cell phone in my pocket. So, in the morning, I count my tasks backwards anywhere from fifteen to twenty-two down to one and I’m ready to walk out the door.
I also count when I am nervous or bored. It keeps my mind moving and settles my restless stomach. I have done this as long as I can remember. Once, I sat in the backseat of my mom’s station wagon on a trip to the store and started counting. I remember feeling at complete ease until I couldn’t figure out what came after 750. So I started back at one.
One other thing about counting. I like things to be even. If I chew five times on the left side of my mouth, I must chew five times on the right. If I touch something with my left ring finger, I must touch it with my right ring finger. I crack my knuckles, and it is necessary to pop as many on the right side of my body as pops on the left.  But here's the really weird thing.  As much as things need to be even, I like odd numbers.  The radio (or television) volume has to be on an odd number.  And there is no reason why.
I don’t like germs. I really, really don’t like germs. I am obsessed with hand sanitizer. I don’t know that it really works, but it feels comforting. I always wash my hands after going to the bathroom. Always. And sometimes before. I do not touch door handles. That’s just gross. Oh, and I have to shower before I leave the house, even if I’m going to the gym.
While we’re on this, I might as well tell you I’m weird about eating. I like all my food to be separated. I don’t like any of it to touch. I don’t eat things together that don’t seem to go together. And we have already covered my chewing thing.
So, all these behaviors (and many more) soothe me. And most help me pass the time in a way that feels sane. Meditation is not always “om" with legs Indian style and palms up. My mind races and my thoughts are out of control. So I count, or listen to music or wash my hands.
This feels nice. This sentence has made me feel somewhat normal in between my ears. The trance set forth in chaos by a few simple behaviors is truly listening to the god of my understanding and ease my nervous anxiety.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How I Got Here

I love to write and observe what is around me.  I used to write it all down.  My pants pockets were filled with scraps of folded up paper with random sentences and fragments, hopeful that they would someday turn into something.  Anything.  When laundry day would come, I would either file them away in the ever-growing pile next to my bed (strategically located just behind the clock stand) or they would end up in the trash.  Very little ever came of my musings.  Very little.  College kind of killed the writing spirit.  All I ever wanted to do was write, so I majored in English.  Wow.  WRONG DECISION.  I quit writing.  I quit musing.  It all became papers and reading and required.  I felt as though my creativity had been squashed.
When I graduated in July, I set off on life.  Without writing.  Something kept kicking me, though.  I didn't recognize it for a while.  I didn't know what that missing piece was.  I have a job.  I have friends.  I have a gym membership.  Haven't I arrived? 
I wrote what became my first entry on this blog to share with some friends.  Really, I wrote it for myself, inspired by a new-found feeling of joy.  The feedback was amazing.  My friends reminded me that I am a writer.  I even had to remind myself.  It felt good to write that short piece about something as simple as a new feeling in the morning. 
Now, I feel as though I have arrived.  Writing, everyday so far, has been a great pleasure and excites my soul.  I feel alive again.  Things around me are crazy.  So I log onto blogspot and write.  I notice new things, things I wouldn't have noticed a week ago.
I was at Wendy's for lunch today.  I opted to sit at the table next to this elderly couple, thinking they would be quieter than the group of twenty-somethings or the booth of construction workers.  These people were 85 if they were a day, and I thought that would be a safe place to sit and write for my next blog.  What I was going to write about, I did not know, but I certainly never imagined they would end up in my blog.
It turns out, the twenty-somethings were all studying for a test or something of that sort.  The construction workers obviously didn't like each other - they barely talked.
The elderly couple, in all their livelihood, talked to each other excitedly and LOUD.  It was clear they were in love and crazy about each other.  They talked about going to see their grandkids this weekend.  They talked about going to the grocery store on the way "Because you know she never has anything for me to cook - those children could use a decent meal!"  LOUD.  Okay, maybe they were hard of hearing and had to talk loud, but I don't think so.  I think they were just like two teenagers in love.  They had matching canes and were about the same size in stature.  They were beautiful. 
No, I'm not married, nor am I in any kind of relationship at the moment.  But I appreciate love when I see it.  I know "all you need is love", and I was reminded again. 
Wow. Lesson learned. Good lunch.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Paul Simon is [GASP!] wrong...

My mom has a lot of opinions.  Many are about me.  Some are good.  Some are not so good.  Some I agree with.  Some, well, I just don't. 
Then, there is the one that is really worthless.  It's about my hair.  She hates my hair.  She can say this because I am adopted, and my hair is in no way her fault.  There is no genetic (or other) factor linking my hair to her.  To her credit, it is big, crazy, and unruly.  Oh, and I have two (yes, TWO!) cowlicks - one dead center in the front, and the other is dead center in the back.  So the only place to conceivably part my hair is straight down the middle.  But, then again, why is my hair such a point of contention?  This, especially since she has not had to do my hair on a consistent basis for well over 27 or 28 years now, I do not think I will ever know.
I do agree with her on one big thing.  I was born at the wrong time.  (Mind you, this is not her fault either, as she did not birth me.)   I was born in 1976, on the downward slope of the era I feel so attached to.

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

Sorry, Paul, this is one song I can't wrap my head around.
Yes, I'm a hippie.  I flash peace signs and wear bell-bottoms.  I listen to the music of musicans who are more frequently mentioned in the AARP magazine than Rolling Stone.  "Remastered" appears on nearly all my cds.  The bands I like either don't tour at all or go on reunion tours.  "New release" is not in my vocabulary.  I say things like "peace" and "groovy" (and have been known to say, "far out" on occasion).
My friends are also mostly all older than me.  I find a commonality with the people in the generation above mine.  I find my bonds and my soulmates within the people who grew up listening to the music I did (only in their case, it was new) and wore (notice the past tense) the same type of clothes I wear (notice the present tense).
I also watch reruns.  I love All in the Family, the Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family (oh, god, David Cassidy...god god god...), One Day at a Time, Mary Tyler Moore, Maude, Donny and Marie, etc, etc...anything from the 60s and 70s.  I think this is Ted Turner's fault.  When I was little, TBS ran reruns of all these shows from 4-8pm, Monday through Friday.  And due to my midwest upbringing, I had plenty of indoor time, November through March.
My feelings and attitudes also run deep in that time.  I feel every Beatles song deeply, the riff of Clapton's guitar, the lyrics of Paul Simon.  It seems that the music that I like has defined me as a person.  As I like a generation of music, I like other aspects about it, as well.  As I am moved by the cry against the social chaos of the message, I find myself emersed.  Janis Joplin was my idol for a while...until her insides became too toxic.  But her voice still takes me into a trance.  I have dreams of John Lennon.  I can turn on the Allman Brothers and literally pass my exit - by miles.
I am not a musician.  I am a fan.  I cannot play the guitar, but nothing soothes me more than the sound of one.  I have no vocal talent.  But a voice can carry me deep and far.  I am, however, a writer, and every lyric means something.  Every word must have meaning.  Every beat held a little longer than the last or a cut short has a poetic style to me.  I express myself through writing and I feel the expressions of others in theirs.
Isolated as I feel (real or not), in music, I am free and among friends.  And, on the rare occasion when something cosmic or meant-to-be happens in relation to this, I am on fire.  On one such time, I stumbled upon a book.  This is a book I will refer to often over the blog, so get it now. 
Got it?  Remember the book name, and hers.  It will be on the test.  OK, no test, but it will show up.  I can almost 100% promise that.  I promise because this book jerked me like only music can.  Coinsidence that it is actually about music?  I don't know.
First, I want to tell you that I did not find this book in a bookstore, or on one of my mad hunts online for something different to read.  This book landed on me.  On a rare day that I had the ipod off and was listening to the radio (the classic rock station - duh) on my way to work, there was an interview with a guy who had this genius marketing plan, and the product he was marketing that particular day was this book.  I listened to the whole interview and when I got to work, immediately got on the Barnes and Noble website so I could go get this book at lunch.  THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT!  Think, Ivy!  Think!  How do I get this book? 
Wow, you'd think I had never used a computer before...
I googled the name of the book and came to her website (wow, was that hard? I'm amazing sometimes!) and ordered it that day.
This book rocketed my out into outerspace.  FINALLY!  Someone feels the same way about music that I do!  FINALLY!  Someone gets that god exists out there in the realm of rock music.  FINALLY!  Someone feels the same way about music I do.  I began to write down things from the book.  I began to text message phrases to my musician friends.  I finally just ordered a copy of the book for one of them because I couldn't possibly recite the whole book to him! 
Through I have friends who love music as I do, even friends who are musicians themselves, I still have this perpetual feeling of alone and unique.  This book effectively erased that.  My conception of god was validated through reading this book, a conception I have been trying to figure out for years.  My quest is far from complete, but god and music and life and love and health are all inner-related.  And I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, not just through my experience, but also because of Laura Faeth.  With her permission, I have posted the link the her website, as well as the picture of her book cover.
Every healthy part of me is because of music.  I was pretty severly hurt last year, hardly able to move, and I laid on the couch listening to VH1 Classic.  My first outing (while still in pain), was to see my friends' band.  It was the first time I was not in pain in weeks.  I just stood there against the wall, with my eyes closed, listening to the music, feeling the vibration of sound against the wall, and I was free. 
In my darkest mental states, music has been there, riding me through.  Pulling up out of myself and my funk, to bring me back to life.
Thank you, Laura Faeth, for re-affirming my beliefs, and for making me feel not so alone.
To those of you reading this, I want to warn you that music is everywhere I am.  Sometimes, a random song lyric becomes a phrase for me, and I don't even realize it.  So if you read something that sounds familiar, it probably is.  And I like to talk about it.  I may relate some of my dreams and feelings while listening to a particular song or artist.  I hope you can tolerate it. 
My current read is a book I learned about through Laura Faeth, entitled The Spiritual Significance of Music by Justin St. Vincent.  The link to his site and picture are also reprinted here with his permission.  It is very cool so far.  I'll let you know.  Once again, this is a book I had to google to find.  But totally worth it. I guess the lesson is lessons must be sought.

Sorry, Paul, I was not born at the right time.  I'm glad you were.  You are one of my inspirations.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A change of schedule

The problem with being a writer and not writing is now there is so much to say.  I graduated from college in July, and aside from work-related writing, my pen has barely touched the paper.  Or, um, rather, my keystrokes have barely made sentences on the screen in front of me.

So here we are.  I want to spend all my time on this blog.  I want to make up for the last seven months of celibacy.  I want to go on a writing rampage. 

Unfortunately, I have a job, as well as after work commitments.  I have filled up my life too full to find the time to write.  I have a feeling that was a bit subconsciously on purpose.  This way, I don't have to miss writing.  But I do.

I now must rearrange my schedule to make the time.  I am currently on my lunch hour, and will type this into the blog when I return. 

Rearrangement seems to be a theme in my life lately.  I am being pulled our of my comfort zone in every possible way.  Part of it, I suppose, is the continual process of growth.  Another part, being out of school for the first time in forever and having the time now for new experiences and people and situations.  The remaining parts...I don't know.  But everything is rearranging.

Not that I am complaining.  It is quite an adventure, this constant rearrangement.  I balk at change.  I keep a schedule.  In fact, I write one out for the week every Sunday night.  Lately, though, there have been a lot of scratched-out spots on that schedule.  That's new.  I used to feel as though I had to keep that schedule at all costs.

The weird part:  I am finding strength in the acceptance of all the change and delight (instead of fear) in saying yes.  The more my rigid schedule gets interrupted and turned around, the more alive I feel.

How unexpected.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Re-start. Re-write. (to start again. to write again.)

Here is a note I wrote on Facebook.  The comments from my friends started the itch to re-start this blog.  Encouragement is a great motivator!  Thank you, my friends, for starting me up again.

A new kind of morning
(orginially written on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 11:32am)

I don't write notes. I fill out stupid questionnaires to pass time. But today, I'm writing a note. I don't have much time to pass, so I'm not filling out a questionnaire. Even though I don't have a lot of time to pass, I need to make the time to write this.

I had a dream last night. I don't know what it was, really. I don't remember it. But I woke up this morning with this incredible sense of urgency.

Back up. I usually wake up with an incredible sense of panic, because (once again) I have only enough time for the quickest shower possible, coffee, work, with very little room for error (and by error I mean a red light, school bus, or someone who can't seem to comprehend the speed limit). I'm always running behind, always in the morning, so I start most all my days in a state of panic.

Today was different. I woke up, as I said, with this inexplicable urgency. But wait, what does that clock say? I blinked. I didn't believe it. It said I had ten more minutes in my day than I did yesterday. No panic? How on earth will I motivate myself without that sick feeling in my gut?

What is urgency? What does it feel like? How is it different than panic? That, I am sorry to say, I cannot tell you. Feelings are hard to describe. But it was a calm start to my Wednesday. While showering, I had several thoughts.

One: I need to talk to Pam on my way to work.

Two: What was that dream? What was it? Dark Greens and Bright Blues and this amazing color I've only seen in the Florida sunset.

Three: No Reds? No reds in my dream? That's weird.

Four: Don't forget the bag with my workout clothes in it.

Five: I love water pressure.

Six: This is weird. Not rushing through this shower feels nice.

Seven: Don't forget the bag with my workout clothes in it.

Eight: Need coffee.

Nine: Why don't I feel panicky?

Ten: I feel like today is going to be a good day.


In the end, though, it is now nearly 11:30 a.m. Still no panic. That has made me a little nervous. But, I am enjoying this day. Full of urgency and promise, I am productive in a calm way. That was described to someone not even an hour ago as a “slow start”, but I am realizing as time has gone by that it is not a slow start, but a start of the not rushed, the not insane, in short – a start that is normal. Normal for others, I guess. As I rolled into work on time (having both talked to Pam and got coffee) and felt the promise of this day, there was a feeling of calm, not worry.

Everything will get done today. Because I will continue to work. I am urgent about my work. That doesn't mean I have to be crazy and feel a knot in my gut. Maybe that's the difference.

Oh, and I remembered the bag with my workout clothes in it! :)

I like it.