Tag Archives: MS

Music and Me

I apologise for not posting my word prompts before noon, I got a little too excited today with a delivery I had of a new musical instrument I am attempting to play – something I can hear on bad days and doesn’t require difficult fingering for my left hand – a recorder.   

I have always been musically inclined, since a small child I would visit my grandmother and play on her piano in her dining room whilst she prepared lunch, we often visited her on Sundays, usually just my dad and I.  I would play all the notes and eventually started to learn some tunes by ear.  I never learned to read music even now I have never learned to read and understand music fully or professionally or with professional help. 

The piano was my first attempt at music, always perfect righthandedly and terrible with my left hand due to my disability.  When I was around seven years old my dad talked mum into buying me a keyboard so I can practise at home whenever I liked and ever since my house has never been without a keyboard in it.  I have never personally owned a piano and I never learned to use a pianos foot pedals or learn the proper terminologies for anything regarding music, except for one word I learned listening to classic FM radio as a teenager = Adagio means to play slowly.

I was then upgraded to a more professional style keyboard aged seventeen as a birthday present, this had digitisation to it (I think that’s what people call it), where I could hook up the keyboard to the internet and download new songs to learn, because this particular keyboard had a function where it taught you how to place your hands and how to keep time.  When I was about nineteen my brother gave me an old copy of Cubase that a friend of his owned and I learned I could compose music by using this, without ever knowing how to actually write the music.  I had saved the music I composed onto an MP3 floppy disk and I still have it to this day and the keyboard too actually!  Unfortunately that Cubase I had is years out of date and I have never been able to finance a replacement, so until I can replace Cubase, my composing days are over!

Pianos and keyboards were never my only dip into the music world; I have in fact learned to play a paper and comb, some notes on a harmonica, belly dancing cymbals, some tunes on my dad’s bugle, an xylophone at a day centre for children when I was around thirteen, some notes on a guitar but again my left hand failed me and I never did get around to replacing my guitar with a left handed version, I also played quite well an accordion, but my parents sold it at a car boot sale once, they claimed they were having a hard time and I never did get it back, I was doing better on that than the keyboard and I had rather of given up the keyboard instead. The fact I did better with an accordion stands to reason as it was a right handed instrument and the fingers I needed on my left hand could do the job properly.

I haven’t played music for nearly six years because I was ill, but also because the house got a little too crowded and messy and I couldn’t set up my keyboard in a permanent position anymore; afraid it would get damaged I had it boxed up and stored safely under the bed in the spare room and I feel that a neglected and unplayed musical instrument is sacrilege. 

Funnily enough my depression started around the same time I boxed up the keyboard.  I came to this realisation a few days ago but I knew my left hand is worse these days and I can’t improve my left handed playing at all now.  I nearly got into a deeper form of depression with this realisation but then I watched a YouTube video to stop the negative thoughts in their tracks, I stumbled across a TedTalk by a woman named Barbara Sher and the title of the video was “Isolation is the dream-killer”; I have been thinking so much about how isolated I am despite my battle to escape from it because of the struggles I had with certain people in my life a few years ago.  I thought maybe loneliness was one of the main reasons I am depressed, how can I be sure it is missing a musical instrument? 

Well anyway, here is a link to see the video for yourselves – https://youtu.be/H2rG4Dg6xyI

She put out a question that I had to think about for myself and that is “What is your dream and what are your obstacle/obstacles”? 

My first thought I don’t exactly remember, but I do remember that I had several dreams I have that are still unaccomplished and most of the those dreams boil down to financial insecurity where I have to think twice about buying a bottle of Pepsi and of course, isolation.

I browsed a book by my bedside, I think it was called “The Little Book of Wonder” and the lady who had written it said that you have to remain curious throughout your life, if you don’t know something, don’t shrug and think that it doesn’t matter and it isn’t important, if you had that question in your head, go and find the answer as it might lead you into an entirely different path in life.   

So I absorbed those words and thought about stuff and then I browsed more YouTube videos and I found a doctor of psychology called Guy Winch in another TedTalk; He said that loneliness can knock significant number of years off our life and cause us to become ill, it can affect our immune system greatly because our emotional wellbeing determines whether we are healthy or not.  This explained a lot to me, because since living in my own home with my husband and having a baby I have ironically became more isolated than I ever was before I left my parents’ house (ironic because my main form of abuse and neglect was social isolation growing up, even as an adult it was very coercive and controlling the relationship between my mother and I).  But because I had a baby and fell ill just a few weeks shy from his third birthday, I became drastically isolated after being free from true isolation for nearly three years!  In fact for the first eight months of my illness I couldn’t get out of bed to go and talk to a doctor about what was wrong! 

It was around this time I decided to never talk to my parents again too, so the only guaranteed socialising I could have done when I became sick, I cut off.  I was getting five or more phone calls per day from my mum and once a week visits that lasted six hours a time, to having no phone calls with anyone and only annual visits from my adult nephews, to then having just the annual visits ONLY for the next six years.

That isn’t good for anybody!

So I had a long hard look at my life and realised that depression and loneliness is killing me, literally.  It must be, because around six years ago I was diagnosed with a handful of different types of auto-immunity diseases and recently doctors are suspecting MS and/or neurological problems as well. 

One thing I have always been frightened of is Motor-Neurone disease, it runs rife on my dad’s side of the family and my dad’s family as a whole are very close within family, extensive family (we still talk to our cousins four times removed) but don’t socialise much outside of family and church friends or salvation army duties. 

I wondered if illness due to isolation or loneliness could be genetic on my father’s side.

Anyway, Dr Guy Winch’s video can be found here – https://youtu.be/F2hc2FLOdhI

Worrying about being isolated, too sick to socialise and the expense of joining college or a social club (because I have to rely on public transport), I asked some questions to the universe.  I asked the universe what you want me to do?  What do I have to do to change things being there are more obstacles for me than anyone else I know?  I got no answers.

Then I asked the universe that if my life was supposed to be to help motivate others, or be as creative as I can be in all creative interests I have then send me money somehow – if my life isn’t meant to be like this, then make something else happen to blatantly show me what it is I was made to do! 

So, knowing that money doesn’t just fall onto the doorstep when you implore the universe to give it to you – I tried to make receiving it easy.  I decided to (and this is no exaggeration) I decided to take a risk, I had just £15 left for my own personal treats (not the families, my own, I get around £40 a month just for me it is Paul’s rule that I treat myself each month) – I took that £15 and I spent it on 888ladies.com and I won £200, for me that is like winning 5k, I was so happy it paid off my overdraft and I could have a little to spend on a new bra and some new trousers as my clothes are getting too big on me lately.  But I thought that doesn’t change anything; it just helps my current situation without improving it so I took another risk – I said the universe, if I am supposed to learn a musical instrument and buy art supplies I will need this again or a bit more please.  So I rolled the slots again and I instantly won another £250 that is enough I thought, that is enough to get some art supplies and buy a cheap instrument – but I didn’t know what instrument to get?

This made me very happy and I decided to “Be Curious” as the book said earlier that night. 

I asked myself some questions.

What does all these musical instruments I hear on the BBC Proms sound like as solo instruments?  I didn’t know a majority of them singularly.  So I again, went onto YouTube and I searched through every musical instrument I could think of to find solo samples. 

I made a list of my favourite sounds.

Piano

Harpsichord

Jazz Piano

Bass

Trombone

French horn

Piccolo

Recorder

Saxophone

Crystallaphone

Glockenspiel

An apprehension engine

Xylophone

Harp

Lute

Cello

Accordion

Violin

And trumpet

There were others but I don’t remember them. 

Then I asked…

What musical instrument can I learn that has limited mobility to the hand?

Perhaps go back to the accordion and this time learn to read music?

A recorder doesn’t require the left pinkie to play.

A trombone

A xylophone – crystallaphone or a glockenspiel

I then thought about the types of classical music I love the most and I know that I love folk, medieval and baroque above all others! 

So I decided on the recorder first and foremost and eventually the glockenspiel. 

So I bought this recorder for me and Henry (because whenever I do something new Henry nags us to get him the same so he can share practise time with me, which is sweet and expensive sometimes)!

 

 

It was pretty cheap £16.37 each from Amazon.co.uk

It is a Yamaha YRS302BIII Soprano, plastic.  When I had decided it would be the recorder I discovered a wonderful lady on YouTube called Sarah Jeffrey who teaches you practically everything about being a recorder player, she is very enthusiastic and passionate about the instrument and makes learning about it fun!

She can be found here, this is the first lesson https://youtu.be/-d6uVjIEkMY

Until I found her videos I never knew how many different types of recorders there are and that they can all be played the same way, because they are the same instrument.  Different woods and plastic and lengths can make different sounds.  A true and passionate recorder player will have a large collection of different recorders to choose from.  I am getting a baroque alto before Christmas as I am taking to this instrument remarkably and yes, I am trying to learn how to read music now.

I have practised for three hours today and I am very tired now.  I know it is likely I will have two months a year off from practise because I am prone to very nasty chest infections in the winter that usually always lead to pneumonia for some reason.

So, there you have it.  The reason behind why I was late today.

Let me know in the comments below whether or not you are also musically inclined and share with me what you play and what you are passionate about, I would love to know!

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Writer losing her mojo

We all have heard the saying that “writers write as simple as that” and it is really is as simple as that, but most don’t actually do it as regularly as they should or at least believe they should.  For me, I do not write as much as I believe I should because in the last few years I have lost my mojo, I forgot what it meant for me to write and I have done a lot of soul searching in the past year to find out where the passion has gone.

I did something rare for me – I re-read a book, usually I don’t re-read books unless I put them into a reference category but this particular book I re-read and saw it with fresh eyes and read things I didn’t remember were in the book in the first place.  The name of the book was “Big Magic” written by Elizabeth Gilbert.  When I read this book I asked myself a question; “Why do I think I have lost my love for writing”?  It was a simple answer really upon reflection and I would never have gotten this answer if it wasn’t for this book.  My writing became too focused on financial panic, the urge to write as much as I can so I can earn a living because I needed to break out of debts, but instead, this kind of pressure halted everything about my creative mind and I found I couldn’t do anything other than dramatic self-pitying poetry on mass, the stories and the playtime died, literally.

For the word, nothing has been published except for the things that are published on this blog simply because I didn’t want to approach a publisher with such depressing poetical themes, because I still hold to the idea that I am primarily a fantasy and horror story writer, not a poet!  I am also an essayist I suppose, because I like writing and hoarding information I have learned about my favourite subjects, but I am not sure how to become a paid essay writer and I am not really going to approach that as a career until I learn more about it. 

Anyway – getting back to the main subject of this post.  I forgot how to play – yes, even in real life, I have forgotten how to play and to laugh because of my severe depression, breakdown and financial worries.  I became so down in the dumps about my life that I had two years of being carefully guarded by Paul my fiancé because I couldn’t be left alone for fear I’d commit suicide, seriously.  One point it got so bad, Paul had to go out somewhere without me and he needed to ask a neighbour to sit in with me.  To say I am over that now, would be wrong, the slightest thing brings it back, but I am not as bad as I used to be, the self-harming has stopped a little bit and I am more predictable these days; but ultimately, the depression is still there and I am trying hard to find out how to play again, how to feel happy again and how to enjoy life.  I don’t enjoy anything anymore and it is getting increasingly difficult since the doctor is now looking into what they believe to be a very serious neurological problem, either MS or motor neurone disease, but like always there is a long waiting list here in the UK and I won’t really know what’s going on with me for several months apparently.

So, how does one go about trying to find out how to be happy again and learn to play again?  It turns out according to the book “Big Magic” and a couple of other books I have read recently that it is something most adults get out of practise of, that once you start trying to become playful and do things which are generally playful (even if you don’t feel happy doing it or feel that it is playful) you will eventually trick your mind to becoming playful and you will build up a type of momentum.  Once the momentum is built up, you will start to feel a change – well I hope so.

I thought hard about how I write stories now in comparison to how I wrote them ten years ago, was there any notable differences in how I produced work back then than now?

Yes there was a huge fundamental difference in fact. 

A decade ago I wasn’t afraid to be thought of as eccentric or insane, I would play with my imagination and I would share my thoughts and ideas no matter how obscure and strange they were with people around me and then I would write about those ideas.  I used to have a lot more creative friends too, but many of them have creative careers which have made them too busy to socialise even online, some have died, some have decided that they too have lost their playful side and have become super conservative people.

I have also found that my social circle is smaller these days which is amazing because I used to think my social circle couldn’t get any smaller ten years ago, the people who I do talk to these days are very serious people who have a worried look on their faces whenever anybody talks about anything out of the ordinary, even if you were to explain that you are an artist and a writer so it’s not a mental health problem, it’s just my mind playing with ideas and therefore there is a story in this.  You’d be surprise how people like that can dry up your will to be imaginative or to share your ideas.

Some people who have very little imagination tell me that they wished they had more of an imagination and they start to tinker with my story ideas themselves (which I don’t mind) but then they start demanding that they must change my concept on my fantasy worlds because things are just not plausible and that readers are real people who live in the real world and they want something believable, so they start pulling at the threads of my fantasy infrastructure and start literally pulling my fantasy communities apart by the seams.  It turns out that even my perfect all powerful fantasy God is not infallible, that he has other beings that will cause problems he can’t deal with and that even this God ponders who created him and so forth.  I told the person, you are going too deep here buddy, I don’t want to go that way in my story, but they insist that I must.

I became a fantasy writer because I find the real world too boring and predictable for me to want to think about and write, the idea of making a fantasy based novel plausible, to me, is laughable, because fantasy is supposed to be anything BUT normal. 

To cut myself off from such people will almost completely isolate me again, which I don’t want.  But can I really sit through another conversation where my worlds are being shattered write before my eyes?  I often feel like screaming at the top of my voice “Of course this fantasy God has a creator you dumbass, it is me, I am their goddess, I made them, but I am not egotistical enough to put myself in the book as the all-power”, does any other writer go through this?  Or is this situation totally unique to me?

So I am currently on a journey to find “My tribe” as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it and to find my playful imaginative self again and to have the confidence and focus of not listening to those who are dismantling my worlds and to continue with what I had always planned instead.  Which is a shame because these people used to feed me ideas, used to support me, but these days it is just soul destroying.  I have to ignore the world destroyers.

I wanted to join a writers group, but not sure what is involved with those and I am scared to find more people who are like that, once they’ve heard my stories.  I am trying to forget the people who are making me focus on writing purely for financial reasons and try to focus once again on writing for me, for fun, for release and for pleasure; the way it should be for all writers.

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