Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Listening to the spirit within

City Hall in Philadelphia: one of my favorite buildings.

I returned from Philadelphia a week ago and brought with me the memories of many meaningful talks with friends, enlivening musical experiences in class, and overall feelings of goodness. I could have done without the whole getting on the wrong train on my way home, and the realizing I was going to some odd suburb rather than the airport, and not having any idea where I was when I got off the train with 3 bags of luggage, and not knowing when the next train was coming through and what my chances were of getting to the airport on time to catch my flight. End of story? Missed the flight, there wasn't another one until the next morning, and darn tired! But, good end? Realized how incredible good friends can be in those moments-- who drive a whole hour to come get me and let me stay another night at her house. Really touching.

So, despite getting home later than anticipated, I had a wonderful trip and this class was a very meaningful one. Meaningful in clinical ways, but also because in order to learn what to do with cancer patients and how to respond with entrainment to those in pain, we became clients ourselves and participated in really deep experiences.

Being with friends and being away from Gainesville shows me a side of myself I don't often connect with in my life here. I catch glimpses of ME. The me who isn't weighed down from my dislike of where I live. The me that knows who I really am and is empowered. The me that connects more to herself, and to the spirit beyond herself. That is a special experience.

This particular trip was even more moving because I stayed with friends. My good friend Jamie and I stayed up almost every night talking-- sometimes deep, sometimes superficial-- sometimes tears, sometime laughter. We didn't get quite enough sleep, but boy was I ever charged with good energy and a pronounced sense of my true nature that isn't blocked off by the heaviness life sometimes throws at me.

It was hard returning home. Beautiful to be with David again, since I always miss him greatly, but also hard for me to integrate these understandings of myself into my life here. When I was in Philly I had been so sure that I could do that, but it's another thing to actually be here and change those patterns.

I'm still working on it though. My first steps so far have been to just try to open to the spirit within me and not block it off. I think that's a worthy first step. I have spent much of my life downplaying the voice within me: not listening to when I'm tired, not believing my intuition, disregarding my beliefs. Sometimes I get stuck in my ruts and close myself off from the world, thinking that will make me feel safe. But, I forget that by nature I'm a people person. I don't enjoy big crowds-- not that kind of "people person", but I understand people and see people in a way that others don't. I'm realizing that about myself. Being with friends has helped me see what my real strengths are, as well as my weaknesses. In order to really accept that I think I need to open to my own spirit instead of muting it. Sometimes that feels scary because it's a change in my patterns. But, I don't think it's possible to stay where I am. It feels as though the only way forward is up. I better take it.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

My mom moved to Gainesville last September. It's been wonderful to have her around and spend time with her more frequently. But, although I see her atleast once a week, it's rarely for very long. Again...the whole school thing takes so much time (am I sounding like a broken record with that one?).

So, I've been feeling pretty bad not hanging out with her more. This past weekend just happened to be my one weekend between semesters, happened to be mother's day, and David had a workshop in Orlando. So, I invited my mom to come down with us.

I met up with her at a Wekiwa state park near Orlando on Saturday and had a wonderful day. There was a wonderful spring there, and I think it has to be the largest swimming area I've seen at a spring. Although there were tons of people, there was plenty of room for swimming (especially since everyone seems to hang out around the shore-- leaving the middle free for actual swimming). We swam, went for a nice walk, swam again and just enjoyed the day. Lovely.

Afterwards we drove back to the hotel where David and I were staying. The next morning David and I surprised my mom with three pots of flowers and a card that were all sitting outside her hotel room door when she opened it. She let out a great whoop of laughter and exclaimed, "someone planted a garden outside my door!" Then I heard the sound of the musical card playing, "how sweet it is to be loved by you". She really enjoyed it, and I was glad.

THEN! We did something completely different and really had a memorable mother's day by going to Epcot! We rarely do anything that huge for mother's day, but this year we really made it special. It was wonderful. David still had his workshop so it was just me and mom, but we had a great time. My favorite was our lunch in Japan. They cook the food right at your table and it's really like a performance with flipping things around and making designs on the stove, etc. And of course later we went to Mars, got shrunk by the guy from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", tested a race car for General Motors, etc.

We met David for dinner on the way back home and here we are. Good stuff. All in all a very memorable weekend, and one that helped me relieve some of the stress and monotony of the semester. I feel as ready as I'm going to get for the summer semester.

Where has all the knitting gone?

I have been an avid knitter for some time. I was completely shocked to find that once school started I almost completely stopped knitting. I had to really dedicate myself to get a pair of socks done for Christmas that I had promised my friend Amy I would knit for her husband. I started them in July!!!

After Christmas I really totally stopped knitting. The work of school was just too much and I really didn't feel like it. Not having a desire to knit has been quite odd for me, but I assumed it will come back.

Anyway, this morning I woke up thinking about my trip on Wednesday. I'm going back to Philly for a summer course on pain management and entrainment. But, this time instead of a hotel, I'm going to stay at a fellow classmate's house. Ms. Host and I have steadily become better and better friends, although we never have much time to interact, so I'm hoping I'll get that time this week. Also, my very very good friend Jamie is staying with her too! So, that's exciting. Lots more time for hanging out.

Well, Ms. Host is pregnant and due in September. Another exciting part of staying with her :) So, although Jamie and I are planning to get a few nice gifts for Ms. Host and her family (it's her parents' house), I still felt I wanted something more personal. So, I started knitting baby socks today. I haven't knit baby socks before, and boy is it fun! Moves quickly. It helps that I have time today and tomorrow before the next semester starts. I'm packing and have a few other things I'm doing, but it's nice to have time to knit. And, I'm enjoying it. I'm not sure that I'll have them done by the time I see her, but hopefully soon thereafter. Fun.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Out of place

David and I just got back from swimming at the local springs and my body feels better. Being in water and stretching my body some felt very good. Being outside and doing some pleasure reading between dips was also really nice. Being there with my honey made it all even better.

But, usually when I go swimming in a natural swimming hole I leave feeling totally refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed. I don't feel that way right now. I think there are probably plenty of reasons for that-- my last paper hanging over me probably doesn't help. But, while I was there I couldn't get rid of this overwhelming feeling that I didn't belong there.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and so there were plenty of families, teens flirting, college students strutting their stuff, etc. Lots of people-watching. Usually that's one of my favorite parts, but today I found myself feeling smaller and smaller. This was my first time this year swimming with a big group of people like that, so I wondered if my feelings were about body image-- maybe self-esteem issues. I think that was a big part of it, but a larger issue that includes body image was the feeling that I didn't belong among these people. I didn't see anyone who looked like me or people who seemed to value the things that are important to me. Looking around, probably 90% of the women had sexy bikinis on and I realized that I had the feeling that the sexiness of our bathing suits was supposed to somehow define who we were as a group together. Funny because I think I wouldn't have felt that way if we just all took our clothes off and went skinny dipping (fun ;). Was it just that I know I wouldn't look good in a bikini? Maybe I'm just jealous of these women who DO look good. Maybe it was the teenage flirting energy in the air. Somehow I felt very old and conservative suddenly.

Coming back to body image... For those of you who don't know, I don't shave, and I have fairly dark hair. I have come to find that people either respond to my hairy legs with happy interest, neutrality, or disgust. I like to think that I'm secure with that range of responses, and usually I am. I'm secure in my decision to not shave, but when there aren't other ways for people to know me, I sometimes find myself wanting to hide. That's not their fault-- afterall, it's my decision. But there is a sense I get around people who aren't completely disgusted by leg hair. I didn't have that feeling today.

And eventually all this comes back to wanting a home. David and I have been in the midst of some big decisions lately about where to move at the end of the year. As we get closer to making the big decision the understanding that neither of us have felt at home here becomes stronger and stronger. So, I think the end answer to my discomfort today had a lot to do with that lack of home. The swimming hole represented Florida to me. A big part of my experience here has been not being able to relate to people, and maybe my feelings about body image were really all about that. Wanting to be among people whom I CAN relate to. People who share my values. A community I can be a part of.

I guess that's all any of us wants in the end-- to be understood and appreciated for who we are.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Maybe a swim

I zoomed through writing 5 pages of my Theories of Music Psychotherapy paper yesterday and 2 more before David woke up this morning. Over breakfast we were looking outside and remarking how we both felt tired but antsy. Wanting freedom but also safety. Immediately I had a thought but didn't want to impose my idea if David didn't feel like it. So I carefully worded my comment, "I just had a thought and I don't know what you will think, but I'll just share it anyway..." He immediately said, "beach?" I love those moments. He read my mind.

So, I dedicated myself to finishing the paper today, in the hopes that perhaps we can go swimming tomorrow. And...I just finished! 13 pages hot off the press. I'm so pleased. I never expected to be able to have a day off this weekend.

In the morning I'll edit the paper, package it up to send on Monday, and then look online for some music I need to find for a new client. Perhaps swimming tomorrow! Now that's exciting.

I think having a day off will help me have the energy to get through the last paper on Monday/Tuesday. Yippee.

Friday, May 02, 2008

End of the semester

My last paper for this semester is due in exactly a week. I finished my quantitative research papers and mailed them in early, which was a good move. I find that I thoroughly dislike doing quantitative research. I'm glad that it's there because it's necessary and sooooo important, and god bless the people who do it, but I really don't think I'm a a quantitative researcher. Getting through that class has been a biggie for me. But, I think I did a pretty darn good job for someone who hated it. So, that's good.

And I've finished my clinical supervision paper early as well. An intensely personal paper, it was easier to get through but still took a lot of focus (something I'm running short on lately).

So, I have today, Saturday and Sunday to finish my paper for Theories of Music Psychotherapy, which is a big paper but something I'm fairly interested in, so hopefully it won't be bad. I'll mail that in Monday morning and then begin work on my final paper for Foundations of MT, a class I've been enjoying quite a bit. We've been doing TONS of reading on various perspectives and approaches in MT- everything from behavioral and biomedical to GIM, music-centered MT, etc. Then the goal is to develop our own personal set of beliefs and our personal foundation for MT. What is music? What is therapy? What is MT? It gets pretty interesting...particularly since I really had no idea there was so much written on the theories of practice. And I get to really think about what I believe. Pretty exciting. So, that paper will be emailed into the professor by 9am next Friday. I should be able to make it.

This end-of-semester is going so much better than last semester. Last semester I literally worked 11 hours a day for two weeks straight to get everything done at the end. This time around I worked more consistently during the semester and have made myself take one day off each week throughout the semester in order to keep my sanity. That one day off has made a difference. So, although I haven't taken a day off in the last month of this semester, I'm still not nearly as crazy as last time. It's nice to not be completely loony! Which is a good thing because after handing in my final paper Friday I'll fly back to Philly the following Wednesday to start the summer semester. Terrific.

A source of pure joy for me in school has been the friendships I've been developing. Being in a long-distance program I really didn't know how much I'd feel connected to the people at school. After all, we spend a week or week and a half together 4-6 times a year and then sometimes interact through online discussion boards. But, during those weeks we're together in Philly we spend the entire day together. Some of us who fly in (there aren't that many) practically live together. Then we call and email and talk between classes, so it feels very close among us. With my professors too. I've built some strong connections with a few professors. The program is such that I feel I can really be myself. Something rare.

So, the stress of school has taken over a lot of my life in the last year. Something that feels a bit much at times. However, those friendships, and the sense of growth I've experienced inside myself is priceless. It's fairly amazing to stop occasionally, look at myself, and realize "Hey, I actually know some things. I actually have insights about some stuff. I'm a professional." I don't know what I expected from a Masters, but somehow I didn't expect to really feel that I'm educated. I didn't feel particularly educated after my bachelor's...I felt as though I could do some things and I was a good therapist. But, I didn't feel educated. It's a nice feeling. I'm more confident in my own skin.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thank you Clementine

My life has become so busy over the past year that my efforts at blogging have been sluggish, to say the least. Whenever I have had the moments in life to poke my head up and reconnect with people important to me, my guilt in not having connected during those times rises up and then I feel as though I shouldn't even try. Thus the guilt continues. The pattern continues...silly really. I've been so bad about blogging lately that I haven't even responded to posts that have been meaningful to me.

And yet Clementine returns. Clementine, I don't even know you in person and yet every time I read your blog, and your lovely wife's (I still do, and enjoy them immensely) I feel as though I do know you. I've recently made a very good friend at school and we've talked about a sense of "light" that you can feel when there are those who resonate at a higher frequency, or those with whom you connect. I feel that when I read your blog. It brightens my day.

And you encourage me to blog, after all this time. That's a lovely thing. It means to me that the sense of connection I feel is returned. And those connections are all too few in life. I certainly want to expand them.

So, thank you Clementine for accepting me back into the blogosphere, even if I come and go. Thank you for giving me the kick in the rear that I needed to stop moping around in my isolated computer space, and get back out here. It's a good place to be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is why people love Florida

David and I spent last night in St. Augustine at a very nice hotel, a la Priceline. We've been having some good luck with Priceline, and while we're always a bit nervous using it, they pulled through for us again and we saved $20 off where we otherwise would have stayed. This was OUR time and I really felt that. David and I had some really good talks on Tuesday as we drove around FL-- we talked about where we are headed in our lives, what's important to us, who we thought we were, who we actually are, etc. It was very good to have the time to breath alittle into that space. We haven't had that lately.

This morning we slept in. Well, David slept in. I woke up around 7, worrying about all the work I have to do in the next 2 weeks before the semester ends and trying to do some work online. But, I soaked in the sleeping-in-feeling from David and enjoyed it. We got a late check-out, ordered omelettes and brought them back to eat in our room. Ah, it was lovely.

Then, get this! We went swimming in the ocean! It's the day before Thanksgiving and we went swimming in the ocean. The water was a bit chilly, but it was a beautiful day. I didn't originally think I wanted to "go under", but the waves had other ideas and I was quickly paddling up and under the wave crashes and having a grand time. David and I ALWAYS feel better after we swim in the ocean. It doesn't seem to matter what's happening--our bodies just relax and we feel at ease.

My favorite moment today was after we had been swimming. We had changed into dry clothes and were driving back into St. Augustine with the intention of walking around some. I had this feeling of peace all around me as I drove with my hand in David's and felt the sun shining through the window. We were about to cross over the bridge into downtown when all the traffic stopped. For a moment I got frustrated, but then I realized we were stopping because the drawbridge was going up to let 6 or so sailboats through. Why am I frustrated? I have time! ;) I turned off the engine and David turned on one of our favorite songs. Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt the perfect peace and love of that moment-- holding my husband's hand, watching the tops of the sailboats pass in front of us, listening to a favorite happy love song...

Good stuff.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gratefully Alive Still

I have been very absent from this blog lately- I'm sorry about that! I have missed the connections with those I've met through my blog and hope I haven't lost all my readership from my long no-blog period. Part of my problem I think is that I often post these long discussions on things in my life. That's fun and I enjoy it, but lately I just haven't had the time. So, maybe as a means to continue blogging I could change my ideas of what constitutes blog material and just share alittle something. Any other suggestions for ways to keep blogging when you are busy? Suggestions welcome.

Lots has been happening. I've been to Philadelphia again and am now in the home stretch of the semester. I'm taking a lot of courses and have gone through a lot of reworking to find a way to manage it all. I've had to decide that I don't need to do EVERYTHING at once, because if I do, I really burn out. So, I'm just trying to do one thing at a time. In the meantime I've been seeing my clients, but as the inevitable cancellation happens and a client leaves, I haven't been inviting people on my waiting list to fill the slot. I feel pretty guilty about not seeing the people on my wait list, but I just don't have the time. When I have a break in my client schedule, I just do schoolwork, and I'm realizing that I'm enjoying schoolwork, while I'm not enjoying the work-work so much. So, there ya go.

School feel enriching and interesting and challenging and emotional and intellectual...and just good. Hard, but good. I think this long-distance learning thing means a whole lot more reading and writing than I normally would be doing if I were on campus, and more intense class time. But, it's making it possible for me to go to school from Gainesville, so that's good stuff.

The semester ends December 10, which means that all my papers need to be postmarked the week before that. So, I'm busy researching and writing at the moment. I'm so impressed that I get total access to databases and articles through Temple University's online library site. Very helpful for papers. I have to tell you how grateful I am for my tech-savvy husband. I have been spending the whole semester doing searches through the library site and I keep getting very bad results. Like, I either get 2 results, or 6,000. The last three days I've intensively been searching for sensory stress issues for autism and had found THREE articles! That's it. I need atleast 20 for my Music and Medicine paper. David figured out that I'm using the wrong search principles. Apparantly I can't search in the ways I do on Google. I have to use this older system that I've never heard of. After he helped me I suddenly got exactly what I wanted. I was both very grateful to him, and incredibly frustrated that I've basically wasted 3 days on this. Oh well. I really never would have thought to search:

stress and autis$ not mother$ not parent$

This week David has off from school- well, he sees patients on Monday, but other than that he's off. I closed the clinic too, so we'll get some time together. That is very exciting since I haven't had enough time with my hubby. I'm happiest when we get some good, close moments in a non-busy day. We'll head to St. Augustine for a night and just enjoy ourselves. Also my mom will come over for Thanksgiving. Sounds like fun.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In the thick of things

I'm back from Philadelphia and WOW is life moving fast. Things are good-- very good, but still a lot.

Before I got to Temple I was pretty worried and nervous. However, the minute I arrived on campus for my diagnostic exam I felt at ease, and filled with delight. I walked out of the stairwell and found a group of students sitting outside the door for the exam. I knew that these were all colleagues! and classmates! We talked and expressed nervousness for the exam together. Fun.

Regarding the exam- I did well. I had been working on my repertoire of songs for the last few months and they asked me to play/sing some of my favorites on piano and guitar. Also sight-reading and harmonizing from a fake book. I passed piano and guitar on all counts- interesting though, they want me to take voice lessons. I agree with their reasons, and am really glad they told me. I tend to strain my voice when I sing and as they told me, if I keep singing the way I'm singing, I won't be able to work too many more years. I'm excited to get some guidance on my singing.

My classes were intense but OH so challenging, stimulating, thought-provoking. Good stuff. I made friends with a few of my classmates, which felt good. By the end I was pretty saturated with information, which made me feel alittle "slow" and emotionally sensitive, but still good in a deeper way.

I arrived in Philly late Monday night, had my exam on Tuesday and then did schoolwork in my bed and breakfast (or coffeshops, libraries nearby) for the next two days. My classes ran from 9am-4:30 straight through from Friday through Wednesday (including the weekends). Intense stuff.

The best way to summarize this trip would be: Emotionally and intellectually challenging, exciting, wonderful. Physically very wearing.

The physical end had to do with a few factors:
  • The bed and breakfast I had reserved for the whole 10 days, with no cancellation refund? Not a good place. Well, I wouldn't say it was BAD, but I wasn't comfortable there. Being away from my husband, alone, and mentally overworking during the day meant that I really NEEDED a comfortable place to crash at night. I didn't have that. The windows were covered with a delicate lace. Lovely, huh? I thought so too- until nighttime, when I realized there was no drapery to cover the windows with. I could see out, and anyone passing my first-floor room could see in. I complained to the owners but they treated me like I was ridiculous. They told me that all the windows are like that. (Um, yeah, I can see in their windows too!) I changed clothes in the bathroom. Also, no place to sit other than wooden kitchen chairs. This was hard (literally) when I needed to do lots of reading for school in the evenings. Answer? Next time, I'll book through Priceline and get a nicer place for a lower price.
  • I'm simply not used to all that walking. And, I'm not used to having to plan out every place I will eat ahead of time. The first 2 days, I would wait until I was hungry, and then spend the next 3 hours walking all over looking for something. Not good. Answer? I have plotted out places to get food near my classes.
  • I just didn't get a lot of sleep. Classes ended and then we often had work to do overnight. Getting food, etc. and the anxiety I tend to have in new places meant I just didn't sleep enough. Answer? I guess I just need to get more efficient in the ways I get food, and develop better stress-reduction techniques for these trips.
So, other than the physical end, it was good stuff. I'm glad to be back to snuggling with my honey though- I missed him :) The online coursework, reading, and assignments continue. I'm finding myself having to keep moving to meet all the deadlines, but I'm still enjoying it.

The other end of things that's happening at Chez Abigailia is that my mother moved to Gainesville the day I got back here myself. I had rented a house for her based on our conversations and boy did it not work out. I'll save you all the details, but the gist is that we had been renting it since September 1st. The landlord knew she was arriving on 9/12. She arrived to find that he hadn't finished repairing the house and was actually working on it when she got there. He wasn't done and didn't seem to think this was a big deal. After traveling from Michigan, my mother wasn't happy. So, she ended that deal and stayed with us for the next week while she looked for a place. Happily she is in heaven with the apartment she found, so it all worked out. It's nice to have her in town finally (as she'll be living here now), but all of this activity has really added to the stress load too.

Off to prepare for a parent meeting...