- Cold shower in the morning. Did it then stopped.
- Got up to write in the morning. Did it for a month straight, then stopped.
- Exercise in the morning. Did it then stopped.
At the end of February, I convinced myself to get out of the house and go for a walk. The sun was shining and the weather was at normal temperatures.
It was a healthy choice. So, I lead myself to believe. I’m not sure how healthy it was.
My choice was to walk on the sidewalk next to a busy road. The main thoroughfare of my town. So, first off, car fumes were plentiful. Next, I almost got mowed down by a Cadillac while in a crosswalk. The white light man had indicated I had the right of way. Then, on my return route, a number of horns beeped due to drivers frustrations with each other. That interrupting my thought flow, triggering the nature human fear response within me.
I hate car horns. I rarely use mine. The horn isn’t supposed to be used to let others know your level of anger with them. The longer the horn sound the higher the level of anger. And what is accomplished? Nothing.
Beep your horn to let others know you are present if they are merging or stepping out in front of you when you are in their blind spot or not paying attention. Or a gentle “toot” to someone sitting too long at a stop light because they were on their phone and didn’t notice it changed to green. We all have lapses in judgement. No need to take it personally.
I did have a short stint through a wooded area and that was the better part of the walk. However, due to the snow melt the trail was flooded layered with large mud puddles. I don’t have the shoes to trudge through mud soaked trails, so that was a bit nerve racking negotiating my way long the path.
I did feel better physically for having taken the walk, but mentally I was reeling from almost being mowed down, fear triggered by two horn blowers and the soggy toes from water logged trails.
I haven’t taken a walk since.
Perhaps, my next walk should be along the quiet back roads of my neighborhood. Or the quiet Wissahickon Trails that are a five minute drive from my place.
I think I can tag on picture taking along that walk to make it an artist’s date.
How busy is busy?
Busy is a word we use when we don’t know what else to use. So is it the word we mean to use?
Busy can mean doing things around the house, running errands, parental duties, or other domesticated life chores.
Busy can mean your job/career has you doing things all day; phone calls, managing people, spreadsheets, customer care, driving all around, or other job related tasks.
We tend to think of busy as things we do. And sometimes we do a lot of things during our days. These things can physically exhaust us.
“How have you been?” A friend will ask.
“Busy,” we’ll respond, not listing the five things we had to multitask in the last hour and the million and a half things we still have to do.
Besides that, busy isn’t a feeling. “How have you been” and “What have you been doing” receive the same response, “Busy.” And don’t even get me started on “Fine” as an answer.
The truth for me is that I do a lot at work and home. Tasks are not happening all the time, yet, I feel like I’m so busy. And I am. In my head. I am thinking all the time about what I’ve accomplished but mostly about what I still have to accomplish.
I’m busy most of my days thinking, not necessarily doing. During my down time my mind is going over things past, present and future. Rarely is my mind not pouring over something I did or didn’t do. Or should do.
I think I am busy not doing things most days, but I think so much about doing things that I’ve tricked my brain into believing I’m am continuously on the move. Our brains don’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what is only happening in our head.
This isn’t always a negative thing. Some of the best athetes will practice visualization for running plays, golf and tennis swings or throwing a ball. Writers visualize whole stories before even writing a single word. Musicians will visualize playing their instrument while sitting in traffic or standing in the grocery line. Fingers moving along an imaginary fret or keyboard.
Those are meditative practices that have been studied and proven to enhance a person’s performance. Watch the movie The Pianist to see what I’m talking about.
Our minds are always working, either for us or against us. We can choose to feed it with all kinds of things. Otherwise, it will feed on itself and the result is usually bad. Negative thinking will creep in and set up a home and then slowly eat away at everything until you are racked with despair, crippling anxiety and no self-worth.
I’ve been there. Many times.
Our minds are busy every second of every day. That’s why we will tell people we’re busy but not be able to give those internal examples about why we are exhausted from doing so much. We have convinced our brains and our brains in return have convinced us that we have been doing so many things.
I haven’t written a post in over a month. The past two weeks I’ve been busy thinking about how I haven’t posted in a long time. I didn’t realize just how long it had been until I looked it up this morning.
I’ve had doing tasks and thinking tasks over this past month. I’ve also had down time where I could have written something.
I was busy not writing. I was busy telling my brain reasons why I couldn’t write. I told my brain I was doing so much and had some much more to do. So my brain believed it and in return convinced me to believe it. What a lovely team of procrastinating liars we are, my brain and I. The perfect pair to never get anything done.
So, here is a post. When is the next post?
That will depend on what my brain and I decide to convince each other.
Music Post 009
Finally, my rough cut of Superchunk’s Package Thief. It was a long time in the making. Well over the week time limit I’m supposed to give myself.
I used YouTube (song video), iTunes (song download), and Songsterr (song chords) as my research references.
Superchunk is such an obscure band from the 90’s that I was surprised to find their song on Songsterr. It was a huge help with finding out the chord progression.
If you are unfamiliar with Songsterr, just Google it and you’ll see that it is a site that helps you learn a song by showing you the chords as the song plays.
I texted a copy of my finished product to my friend who is a Superchunk fan and he dug it. Probably because he’s my friend. He said he sounded darker than the original. It may be that the guitar has a deeper distorted sound from the original.
My plan is to make the songs my renditions, so I guess I accomplished that.
This is a rough cut with many warts. It is complete and I’m moving on to my next song.
My mom came up to visit this weekend, since this is my weekend with the kids. My kids love their mom mom. I have been fortunate that my mom has such a great relationship with my kids. Due to my two younger brothers living in Florida and our mom living in New Jersey, she doesn’t get to have a close relationship with her other grandchildren.
I live the closest in Pennsylvania. My kids have been able to benefit from living so close to their mom mom. I am truly thankful for this.
I’m, also, thankful for her visit today because we all got to get out of my cramped two-bedroom apartment and go to an indoor trampoline park called Get Air. It was her treat.
The last time I went to one of those parks (Sky Zone), I stressed a muscle in my lower back and ended up sit out for the majority of our stay. So, I was apprehensive to engage this time. But my son and daughter wanted me to join in so I said yes.
I have a dodgy lower back. Damaged it in high school lifting weights back in the 90’s, many years of chiropractic adjustments and finally had back surgery in 2016. Jumping on trampolines seemed like a distant, never to do again memory.
I changed up my approach to this issue over the past four to five months and did one of the best things for my lower back: I started to engage the core.
Sitting, standing, bending over and squating down, I engage my core. I put the focus on my stomach muscles and the prolonged lower back pain has become short-lived.
My back still aches at times but not for days or weeks like it used to. It has been amazing. Better than any pain med has ever helped.
So, I said yes to my kids and we jumped. Whenever my back started to feel like I was over doing it, I would sit down to take a break. I didn’t stretch my back when I felt the pain. I learned that would just aggravate my back muscles and make thinks worse.
So, why the title, “What’s My Age Again?” That is a phrase that gets thrown around too readily. Age doesn’t matter as much as fitness.
There was a grandfather there with his granddaughter dunkin’ balls through one of the basketball hoops. He was much older than me and was a damn inspiration. I want to be that grandparent to my grandkids.
Of course, given the ages of my kids, 11 and 7, by the time I’m a grandfather there will be jetpack parks called Screw Gravity. I hope I can keep up as a 70 year old grandparent.
I’m grateful for being able to keep up now.
Age doesn’t matter when I look at my kids’ faces and they are totally excited that I am out there on the trampolines with them.
I have made it an expectation that I will be on the trampoline, on the floor with the LEGOs or creating some art project from the recyclables bin.
There is no age limit for doing those things.
Though, sometimes I just want to sit and do nothing, but today was not one of those times.
Music Post 008
The upcoming post of the Superchunk cover song is close at hand. But I decided to take a listen to some other music avenues I had ventured down last summer.
I had been thinking about the morning recordings I used to do with my unplugged electric guitar and my iPhone Voice Memos recording app. It was a thing I did. Another form of music doodles. I came across this little three minute ditty. It is a rough recording of a very melodic tune. Long enough to be a full song if lyrics were put to it, but I think it stands well on its own as a musical number.
I just wish I could remember the chords I played. There is a part in the song that could be considered the chorus that sounds like two guitars: rhythm and lead. I am impressed. It sounds pretty awesome. I almost can’t believe it’s me playing. If not for the small imperfections I would say it was someone else.
However, I need to shut that part of my thinking down and claim this crafted project that is mine. This is my song. This is me playing. I can get it right sometimes.
In my last post I mentioned I would post my process as art when working on recording my weekly song. Though, I have made progress on my next music post I am not able to post a snippet yet. Recording in GarageBand on my iPad 3 makes posting a snippet of music cumbersome.
However, I post this as a way to keep myself concurrent with previous posts, so as not to come across as some who posts on a whim then moves on to the next irrelevant post with no consistency among my writings.
How could I chart my progress in self-fulfillment if I’m posting whatever whenever?
I don’t even know if self-fulfillment is such a thing. How could a self be fulfilled? If I were ever to be full then why would I continue to do anything? I want to continue to learn. So if that is the case, I guess I will never be fulfilled.
So, with that said: In my never ending quest to fill myself, I was able to figure out the timing for the rhythm guitar on that pesky Superchunk song “Package Thief”. I recorded the rhythm guitar and the basic drum beat.
Next, I will add more drums to fit with the song changes and then figure in the lead guitar.
Many times today, and in the weeks past, I would tell myself, “I’ll never get this. It’s impossible for me. I need to move on to a new song.”
I was even going to get my kids to help me, but I didn’t. They stayed out of my way, which allowed me the alone time I needed to fight through this process.
Something in my mind kept telling me I could figure this timing out. Just keep going.
So, I kept going.
I am so happy I was able to record what I did and I am so close to getting this song done. I know it will have warts all over it. I’ll wear them with pride.
This song has been kicking my ass for over a month and I kept fighting. I feel better for sticking with it. I have seen and heard the progress.
One step closer to completion.
I have been stuck in my head about a lot of things since my last post because much has been happening.
Financial issues. Moving further in the divorce process. Continuously listening to podcasts on improving my belief in my self-worth. I could not prioritize what to post.
As I type this now, I have no idea what or when I wrote and posted last. I’ll be sure to check on that after I post this.
One of the things I haven’t posted and has been poking me to be let out is Music Post. I haven’t recorded any music. Not even a music doodle, which was my last Music Post.
I’ve been learning a new song but I continue to not post because I don’t like the warts this song has. I am struggling with the timing of the chord changes and how to sing the lyrics. It sounds more like a train wreck than an attempt at a song by a musical novice.
Perhaps, I could post my struggle? Post my process of working on this song?
That would be different. That would allow me to post the train wreck and to formulate it into a piece of art. I’ve read on James Altucher’s blog, and heard him say a few times on his podcast, that “process is art”.
If I can hold myself to use that term, I think I could post my recent musical struggle.
The song I am struggling to learn is Package Thief by Superchunk. It is basically power chords. I just can’t seem to get the timing right.
Take a listen here https://youtu.be/GRQbuWxi0SI to the original song.
I’m not interested in learning the lead guitar part, just the chords and lyrics.
I’m liking this “process is art” approach the more I think about it. I think I will begin this approach this weekend. It is my weekend with the kids and I can get them to help.
Seems I just needed to write this out to gain a better perspective on this issue.
I am thankful for having this space and to make this available to anybody who might find this helpful in their own creative struggle.