Tag Archives: interrupted

Resurrection

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Hello all… Consider this post as if I were writing you a letter. It’s been too long since I shared something on this blog. My apologies. I used to post at least a couple of times a week, but that slowed down considerably by the beginning of fall. I have been through a rough patch, emotionally, and I doubted that I had anything to say. Then, I started having problems with my hand, experiencing chronic symptoms the likes of which I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, other than the occasional flare up.  Even now, it would be better for me to start using my Dragonspeak software so I wouldn’t have to type. I just bought an upgrade, so I am going to finally learn how to use it.

Yesterday was Easter, the holiday in which people of Christian faith and/or family tradition celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This is the third Easter where we didn’t attend a church service. I am still in the midst of working out my issues with the Church at large, but I firmly believe that God is okay with that and is patient, so I am at peace with it.

Instead of dressing up and doing church, we visited my wife’s father’s gravesite to honor him, bringing him fresh spring flowers. He passed away just last October. She also bought a rose for her mom and cast it into the waters of puget sound. I never met her mom; she passed away a year or so before I met my wife. My parents are still both with us, at 89 and 87 respectively, but they are steadily fading. I am going to write about that in a different post.

Yesterday, Easter, Resurrection Day, was significant for both of us. For me, it is a reminder that in order to come to new life, one must die first. We see that happen every spring, but it would have no significance if there is not a period that precedes it which involves dormancy, decay, and death.

It’s funny that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when New Years comes around: I’m going to do this different or that different, we convince ourselves. In my particular case, to think that way is to set myself up for disappointment and failure, and that is because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it is very hard for me to hit the ground running come January 1st. In general, our mindset about making New Years resolutions is to recognize our disappointment over how we did the previous year and resolve to live differently the next year.

After yesterday, I realized that Resurrection Day is more meaningful to me than New Years will ever be. I don’t think that it always requires letting things die in order to experience new life. Some things just seem to die on their own whether we want them to or not. Such has been the case with my dreams. My dreams of finally pursuing my music after many decades of it being only an avocation at best, and only a hobby at worst. I was full of hope when I first started this blog three years ago. And the hope had slowly drained away, leaving only a residue of disappointment and despair. Things had not turned out like I expected. And so I started to think that the dream was only a fantasy, and it was time to let the dream die.

There is a purpose in death, and we rarely see it. Not until new life begins do we understand that there are parts of the old life that needed to die. I had worked so hard to make this thing happen for two years, and although there were accomplishments and high points along the way–my “Passage” CD the chief among them–so much of my activity was unsustainable and by last fall I was burned out. Still wanting to make something happen, but no energy left.

This year I was faced with a choice: Throw in the towel and settle for something less than what my dreams would inspire. Or…don’t give up, pick myself back up, and start again. Up until last week, I was starting to resign myself to option 1. Supporting that decision was the fact that my hand issues had really gotten bad these past few months. How could I possibly push forward when my body won’t let me?

As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. I don’t think it was coincidence that the resurgence of my hand issues happened as I felt the last vestiges of hope drain away. And I don’t think it was a coincidence that as hope started to return, as it has the past couple of weeks, that Easter happened and that this year it has been more significant to me than before. And my hand situation is starting to get better too.

What needed to die before I could experience new life? My way of doing things. My way hasn’t worked. So, I am now looking at new ways to do things, and praying for divine guidance.

And I am filled with hope once again. Details to come. Stay tuned.

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Words from Steve Jobs

This morning, CNN aired the whole of the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. His words were (are) inspiring, to say the very least. Here is an excerpt:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My particular “brick” was the hand injury of 2009 that eclipsed the mounting realization that I absolutely hated what I was doing for a living. I really had no choice but to make a change. And it’s scary. I wonder constantly if I am actually ever going to make a living doing this music thing. Yet, I have to believe that I am on the right path. I am finally doing what I love and I believe that I am doing great work. So, I am thankful for these inspiring words. We all need encouragement to keep going.

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Interrupted, part 4

This has been quite a month. It has been almost a month since I last made a blog post. It seems that once again life has been interrupted. My dad has continued to significantly struggle with his health. I also managed to come down with a flu bug that has been going around and laid me low for about three weeks. And then there is the matter of my hand.

While for a few months my hand has been doing pretty good, the last few weeks it has been acting up again. I have discovered that there are several things that I do which aggravate the situation. If you recall, I have a condition called Ulnar Neuritus, or aggravation of the Ulnar nerve. The symptoms of this condition include tingling and numbness of the fingers as well as aching and stiffness.

I think what aggravated it this last time was when I got mad at the weeds in my lawn. I have an ongoing battle with buttercup. I am not referring to the Princess Bride. Buttercup is this insidious weed that sends out these shoots which then root and cause the weed to spread, eventually taking over your yard. So one day as I was about to mow our back lawn, I noticed that buttercup was taking it over. It is not easy to pull up. So I got out my hand shovel, dug underneath the roots, and pulled the weeds up as best as I could.

I was at this for at least a half an hour, maybe more. All that time, I was gripping the handle of the hand shovel. I have found that any type of repeated prolonged gripping is what traumatizes my hand. This is how I initially injured my hand over a year ago. I wasn’t pulling weeds, but I was holding a paint brush and paint roller for extended periods of time while I was restaining our deck.

The problem is, once I have traumatized my hand, I can further aggravate it by any type of repetitive motion. For example, by using a computer keyboard and mouse, or by playing the piano. Fortunately, it takes about 3 to 4 times the amount of time to aggravate my hand condition when playing piano as it does when I use the computer keyboard. But when things get really bad, I have to stop using my hand altogether.

So a couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and bought voice recognition software. I purchased Dragon Speak Naturally. I am currently writing this blog post using it. It seems to be working pretty well. I would already recommend it to anybody who needs to cut down on their computer keyboard time. And I have only been using it now for a half an hour. Pretty impressive.

If I continue to use the software to do simple tasks like writing a blog post or e-mail, then I can save my hand for doing things that I really can’t use voice recognition software to do, such as playing music. And even though this software makes it easier to make corrections to what I write, it is still handy (no pun intended) to use the mouse and keyboard for the occasional correction or for editing.

So a major thumbs up for Dragon Speak Naturally. Perhaps I will get a kickback for such a positive review.

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Soul Tired

I knew this would happen. I just knew it. I’ve been around the block enough times to know that after you’ve pushed pushed pushed through a crisis and pushed some more and pushed some more again…and then finally finally things have started to resolve and settle down, then…

crash

So, a bit alarmed I am to realize that I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks. I have been in a bit of a fog lately. Mentally and emotionally exhausted. Soul tired. This is natural after a crisis, so I tell myself, so I should keep telling myself.

The good news of course, for those of you who have been following along with my blogs and facebook statuses and tweets, is that my Dad is expected to make a full recovery. He is currently in a rehab facility very close to where they live. My Mom can take a shuttle service to get to and from the facility. She used to be able to walk such short distances, but she has suffered vertigo the past few years and any amount of downward incline can send her reeling. It’s strange to see what happens to people when they get older. In all other respects my Mom is very healthy for 84.

The good news of course is that, though things could have gone very differently, they didn’t. It was my sister Kitty who made the observation at about week 4 of the hospital vigil that if Dad hadn’t made it, we would have already had the funeral by then. Very strange. She finally returned home to California last Saturday.

It’s interesting how hard it has been to get moving again after weeks of sitting, worrying, praying, waiting.  I am finally starting to feel like I’m coming back online, getting more engaged, more present. Things are starting to get back to “normal”, although there are still daily/weekly responsibilities around Mom and Dad’s care. But we are definitely out of the woods.

Interesting thing for me is now that things can get back to normal, I don’t know what normal is anymore. So much has changed in the last three months even without my Dad’s health crisis. I now have a new career. Building up any sort of momentum for this new season has been difficult, to say the least. What normal looks like is going to have to work itself out over the next few months. Meanwhile I have other things I need to do today, so enough blogging.

Thank you all once again for your thoughts and your prayers through this difficult time. Whew!

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Time

This has been such a surreal time for my family and me. Dad has been in the hospital for the past two and a half weeks. We have been camped out more or less at the hospital during this time. Sometimes I am not sure what day it is.

Mom has been at the hospital almost all the time. Every few days she goes home to take a shower and get a change of clothes. Us three kids, Bill, Kitty, and I take turns keeping her and dad company. It is not easy to get a good night’s sleep in a hospital waiting room. I spent last night trying to get as comfortable as possible on a small sofa.

This is all very strange. Dad has been fighting for his life trying to recover from a routine surgery that went wrong. He seems to be mostly out of the woods, but his progress is slow and halting. He has good days and not so good days. But more accurately, he has good hours and not so good hours. He showed a lot of spunk earlier today but now is exhausted.

I seem to be the type of person who doesn’t freak out but remains calm and steady. But there are moments when I am alone and I allow myself to feel the anger and frustration. Why did this have to happen? If only…

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Interrupted, part 3

I just finished reading the memoirs of a current TV personality, Craig Ferguson. If you don’t know who he is, he is the host of one of the late-night shows. He follows David Letterman on CBS. And he is one of the funniest people on TV.

In his book, he tells the story of his 15+ year battle with alcoholism. He’s been sober now for about 18 years. At one point, Craig refers to God as someone he still doesn’t really understand. I bring the alcoholism thing up because the AA tradition refers to “God as we understand Him”. So Craig, having been through AA and sober for 18 years, still doesn’t think he understands God much.

And my first reaction was, “oh, that’s too bad”.

A lot of people who, like me, have decades of Christian religion under their belt, express similar sentiments when we encounter people who just don’t seem to “get it”. They can’t quite figure out God. We shake our heads.

But then this got me thinking. How many people can honestly say that they understand God? That they’ve got Him figured out? That they know what He’s up to in light of things that happen?

Let’s be honest.

Two violent events occurred two weeks ago, one global, one local. First, there was the devastating earthquake in Haiti, resulting in 150,000 deaths, many more injured, countless more homeless, flattening the city of Port-au-Prince. And on the local front we have a young man whose parents go to our church, who was senselessly murdered in his apartment.

Life interrupted.

So, to be totally honest, I have to ask God, “why?” Is that okay? Is it okay to ask God, “What are you up to?” Is it okay to have doubts? Violent, life-interrupting events like these open up the age-old question about why God allows such devastating things to happen.

Yes, there are those out there who like to pretend they know what God is up to. Pat Robertson recently stated that the Haiti disaster was the result of a curse on a nation that has “made a pact with the Devil”. Similar proclamations were made by John Hagee after Hurricane Katrina–that New Orleans “had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that”.

Is God really like that? Powerless on the one hand and condemning on the other?

I personally don’t believe so. Here are two things I believe with every fiber of my being: I believe that God is love and I believe God is in control. How such beliefs can be reconciled with events like these are beyond anyone’s ability. I am not going to pretend to have the answers and I don’t think anyone else should pretend to either.

Setting these questions aside, (what else can we do?), I am deeply touched by the love, support, and care that people have poured out to those in such dire need. When awful things happen, do we philosophise, do we pontificate, or do we respond with love? I never cease to be amazed at the power of love through action.

To quote Lenny Kravitz, “Let love rule.” I just looked up the lyrics to that song on a website called “answers.com”. Isn’t that ironic?

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Interrupted, part 2

Today I am not using dictation software, so I will need to type judiciously. I’m thinking of trying out DragonSpeak. It’s got to be better than what’s included in Windows.

So, more about being interrupted…

As mentioned, I make a living with my hands, whether it is from computer work or from music. For most of the past three decades, I have made my living primarily by doing computer-related work. It has been my job, I have done it well, but it has never been my passion.

My passion has always been music. It is my true vocation. It is what I want to do when I grow up. And it is what I want to now spend most of my time doing.

For many years, my music has been about me expressing myself and hoping people like it. For many years, I have been hopelessly addicted to people pleasing, endlessly aching for approval. I suppose I could number myself among the masses of artists out there who suffer from similar insecurities. “Here I am. Here is my art. Please accept me.”

Given that I have been such an approval junkie, it is probably a blessing that I haven’t been doing music full time. Having it be on the side (or back) burner while making a “normal” living has kept it from totally consuming me. It has kept things somewhat manageable while I have lived the responsible life. But marginalizing my true vocation has left me frustrated and discontented at times.

However, what music means to me has morphed over the last few years. It doesn’t seem to be so much about me expressing myself for my own sake, i.e. in order to make me feel good about myself. It is becoming more about me recognizing that I have a creative gift and I can use it to touch others. I am coming in touch with the concept that a “power greater than myself” (who I refer to as God) has released in me this wonderful creative energy and it is my pleasure and responsibility to touch and bless other’s lives with it. I am not saying this out of any grandiosity; I believe all people have been given gifts to share.

I have been sensing for the last year or so that I am in a season of transition…transitioning from a day “career” that I can barely tolerate to realizing my life passion…a new coming of age. I am excited about this. To spend most of my time doing what I love to do… wow, what a concept!

So it is with some consternation that I grapple with my current disability. It begs the question, “God what are you up to?”. To me, that is not a rhetorical question. God will be a recurring figure in my blog posts. There will probably be a “God part 1”, “God part 2”, etc. I have much to say about God, and mostly in the form of questions rather than answers.

But my fingers are complaining so I’ll stop for now. I have more to say about life interrupted, and what I have to say is not about me, but about others who have had their lives seriously interrupted.

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Interrupted

Here I was planning to write a blog post every day. I figured it would be good to just get into the habit, get the process going, the juices flowing, the light bulbs glowing, the cattle lowing…you get the picture, but…

But I have been interrupted. Interrupted by something that has been interrupting me for the past eight months. I have developed a condition called Ulnar Neuritis. It is chronic aggravation of the Ulnar nerve. The Ulnar nerve passes along the outside of your arm through a groove in your elbow and down into your hand controlling the ring and little fingers. When the nerve gets aggravated, all sorts of symptoms appear. Usually, there is a little numbness and tingling in the fingers, sometimes aching, sometimes more severe pain. There can also be pain and tenderness at the wrist and elbow.

So, although I was planning to write a post every day, it was bothering my hand way too much. Typing on a computer for any length of time makes my hand feel worse. Resting helps me to recover. This situation is a drag because I make a living with my hands.

To make my life a little easier, I’m trying out speech recognition software. I am currently trying out the speech recognition program that is included in Windows 7. I am trying it now. Supposedly, this is supposed to be faster than typing. In reality, I could have typed this in about a minute. But, it has taken me about 20 minutes to dictate this post. Apparently, the program is supposed to get better at interpreting what I say over time. But for now, I am having to use a lot of correction commands. I am not sure that this is making my life easier, at least not today.

So here I am typing again. I really need to get on with my day. I will write more about being interrupted in future posts because it is a major theme of this blog.

Until then…

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