Healthier Stay

Sing, Sing a Song…

You may not be aware of this, but I Love Love Love live music. When I’m feeling up to it, I try to attend live shows, open mics and new formations of some of my fave local musicians. Music makes me feel better and is an integral part of my life and health. I don’t think that I can overstate the importance of rhythm in healing and pain relief, from focused breathing and Lamaze to Yoga and Tai Chi, our bodies crave it. Alas, that is for another post. This blog is all about the creativity that was swirling around an event I attended, I could feel it flowing through the room. My roommate and most of my friends are musicians. I get to hang out with some really talented and creative people and, most of the time,  I don’t even have to leave the house. I will freely admit that I can get a bit envious of their talent. I’ve always wanted to be musical and therein lies the rub. I haven’t played an instrument since middle school and even though I love to sing, I tend to sound like a dying walrus {so I limit my public displays to comedic relief and acts of vengeance}. My real talent lies in my uncanny ability to hand over a cover fee and support my harmonic homeys.

So how did I end up taking part in a singer/songwriters’ event the other night. My mad skillz were put to use at the door and I thought that was the end of my involvement. I went to support my friend and the several other people who poured their souls out on stage. They put their egos aside and asked the audience to critique their songs. What an exciting and humbling experience to be a {albeit small} part of the creative process in a very intuitive, personal and enjoyable way. I loved it and I want to go back. I had no idea what kind of music to expect, I had only heard a few of my friend’s songs and didn’t know anyone else. Out of the 15 acts, there were at least 7 different musical genres and each song was original. I definitely increased my hipster cred, and I hope that they all will find great success. Everyone in the audience got a critique card for each song. We were asked several questions: Who does the singer sound like? On a scale of 1-10 what would you rate this song? What do you think? There were several other questions and the Songwriters Association obviously spent a lot of time on these cards to help the musicians hone their craft. It was their inaugural event and I think it will be quite successful. I’m jazzed to see how they will build this program and share it with the rest of the songwriting community. As I was listening, I started thinking about what a great idea this showcase is.

I am quite excited to see how we can build our Chronically Awesome community and share in our creative endeavors. Jules announced the Chronically Awesome Foundation on the Chronic Chronicles podcast a few weeks ago. Our group is one of the most innovative that I have ever seen. We have harnessed the power of social media to find each other and tell our stories through FaceBook pages/groups and Twitter chats. Who has two thumbs and spills her guts in a Crohn’s blog? You’re reading her, but I am just one. There are many of us and we each have a different story that we try to share in the most positive light possible. Just through our friendships we help mentor and share our tips, pointers and success stories. We also share our art, including but certainly not limited to writing. I look at the Chronic Chronicles Pinterest boards and I see so many friends sharing crochet, crafting, sewing, painting, patterns and instructions with people they think will appreciate them. My arthritis can flare terribly this time of year, but crocheting helps, I will never run short of patterns and my hands will hopefully keep their dexterity. Thanks to your sharing.

My nephew and the Easter Bunny I made him last year. Warm fuzzies all over!

Numerous studies have shown that a creative outlet can help to lessen the daily wear and tear of chronic illness. It can also raise endorphins and relieve pain. I know that sometimes we can’t keep up with our projects because we are too sick. What can we do? Share our ideas, help our friends learn new skills and/or fine tune their work. Share our insights and help them when they are stumped. We could all end up feeling better and more fulfilled. We just have to create and share. I know that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I have completed a project or helped someone else learn one of my crafts. We can still be inspired and keep learning even if we’re stuck in bed or in the hospital. One of my greatest fears is outliving my usefulness. I do my best to keep my mind sharp and try to keep up with as much therapy as I can handle. I know I’m not the only one and that’s why I want to see this fantastic community and foundation grow quick-fast-in-a-hurry.  We are a loving, positive and productive congregation and it makes a difference, so I want to share these ideas and expand our circle of friends. I can’t wait to see what we do next!

The Songwriter Showcase was a lot of fun.  They were super supportive of each other and very engaged in the songwriting and production process. My friend was my favorite performer, of course, but I was also introduced to new acts, new friends and my Reverbnation profile is a lot fuller now. How cool is that? I was duly impressed and I hope I get to go back soon.

A Spoonful of Sugar…

Posted in Newer Posts by Healthier Stay on January 1, 2012
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been asked to write a theme, “What does Chronically Awesome mean to me?”. The answer is quite simple…Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious! In the film Mary Poppins, Mary changes the lives of 2 very sad children and shows them that there are many wonderful times to be had even when life is rough. She shows them that life is what you make of it. If there is a better analogy to living Chronically Awesomely*, I haven’t found it.

A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down. Life with chronic illness can seem like a never ending cycle of medicine, doctor’s appointments and hospital visits. Mixing that with pain, frustration and brain fog can cause life to feel like a great black hole sucking your life away. This is when we decide how we will live our lives. It is so easy to get lost in the dark swirling limbo of pain and disease, but it can be just as easy to build a life with joy and purpose once you get used to it. It sounds silly but it’s all about finding the wonder in life again and rewarding yourself for the effort. Eventually life is better and we can deal with the bad effects much easier.

I used to sleep my days away. I couldn’t always tell the days apart. I felt like I was worthless because I couldn’t work and therefore I wasn’t a functional member of society. I had had my life planned out and once I got sick it all seemed to crumble. No more college (4 quarters to graduation) no more job, no more dreams. I had no answer when someone asked me what I did for a living and I stopped going out. I was already depressed and my stagnation only made it worse. I just didn’t care. I was in massive pain and cowed by fear and embarrassment so I let it all control my entire life for years. Seven years to be exact. Those were my dark ages. When I finally realized that my life was passing me by I decided to take some kind of action. I chose not to be a victim any more, I was going to control my destiny. That was when I decided to start writing a book and building a good life. I was here so I’d better make the most of my time. I also decided to start seeing a pain therapist and rein in my life. That was 5 years ago and I have never regretted it. I made the choice to live according to my abilities rather than my disabilities. I’m still sick but I don’t let that be the ruler of my mind these days. I made the decision to change on my own but I needed lots of support from my friends and family too.

Chronically Awesome is a lifestyle and a community. Life is measured one day at a time and choosing a new Lifestyle is measured moment to moment. We need friends that understand to help talk us out of a slump and to help each other through a flare. I have watched this community grow so fast in a year and a half, we have expanded from a few hundred people on the internet to thousands, some people have even started meeting in person. That is fantastic!

When someone asks me what Chronically Awesome is to me, I think of how much my life has changed since I decided that my worth was a price above rubies and that my life would still have meaning. I think about the sweet taste of success with each achievement that surpasses my expectations. Life is hard, healthy or sick, but sometimes you just need to believe that someone is out there with a helpful song and a nice smile. My life isn’t “Practically Perfect in every way” and I can’t fly with a parasol but I can enjoy as much of the experience as possible and save up for a jet pack. To me that’s pretty supercalifragilistiChronicallyAwesome!

*not sure of the grammar

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