Archive for October, 2010

It’s commenced. I’ve started. I’ve already sketched down my ideas for my composition, and it seems it’s all flowed nicely. It feels good to be getting things down. I’ve also sketched out a first paragraph for my book, have a character (though their name is eluding me right now) part of a back story, a setting, and where i’m heading to with it. My next plan is to get to know my main protagonist. She’s definitely a girl – not too disimilar to me I feel, however a lot more dynamic than me, and strangely, a lot of her back story mirrors mine to a certain extent! Funny that. Her continuing story is definitely not like mine though. It is going to be pure fantasy after all!

It definitely feels freeing to have a completely open and blank creative angle. No rights or wrongs, but just unadulterated freedom of mind! Thoughts lead to thoughts and ideas twist and turn into something else – I had been thinking along a number of lines for this, but I think i’ve hit on something different, something new – and lord knows, new is not that easy in this day and age… We’ll see though, i’ve no doubt someone somewhere will inform me i’m wrong in that assumption!

But for now, i’m going to allow things to continue to develop. Organic. I won’t push it, i’m in this for the long haul!

It’s nearly the end of my mad month of concerts and musical performances, and I’m finding myself a little sad to be saying goodbye to my outlets, even though it’ll be but for a short time… However, this now gives me the opportunity to throw myself 100% into my projects that I decided a few days back.This excites me no end, and I really can’t wait to get a good start on both projects. I’ve also signed up to another project with a good friend of mine who is a jeweller. She is creating wonderful steampunk jewellery, so we’re going to have a fantasy steampunk site where the jewellery created is an inspiration to steampunk adventures. Complete escapism in a worthwhile cause. I mean if you’re going to do something you might as well have fun doing it!

So. I have written a list of items I need. Manuscript paper, a small notebook, pencils and biros. Not much really, but then, who needs a lot? The ideas and colours and sounds are all in my head, I just need somewhere to note them down until they are ready to form into a cohesive medium. I do have ideas already, which will christen my books, so I’m going to go out and get all I need tonight. I haven’t been this excited in ages. I’m not even finding it daunting – I have all the time in the world! In fact that is mine and my better half’s song, Louis Armstrong – We have all the time in the world. It works for us on so many levels, always reminding us that whatever happens we love each other, and generally how we should look at life. What’s the hurry? Fair enough life IS short – but on the flip side, if we run around rushing everything in life when do we actually stop to observe and enjoy it? One moment of true enjoyment is worth an entire lifetime of rushed opportunities that speed by without time to even take in what you could be experiencing.

As always it’s balance. Achieving that golden balance between work, life and worthwhile activities. You have to be true to yourself, true to how you feel – grab any opportunity if you have the urge, don’t lament your losses if you can’t fit in another commitment, you can only do so much in a single day. But the true key to everything is enjoyment. Make sure that if you possibly can, enjoy whatever you do – smile through hardship, and live for the here and now. Look forward to tomorrow, it’s another chance for an opportunity to be happy.

Little triumphs – it’s always the little things. As with the old adage ‘look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves’, it could so apply to mental state too. The little things, the little triumphs, the little smiles and little gems of happiness, it’s amazing how much they have an affect on your whole outlook.

I had a pretty stressful important meeting yesterday, I was dreading it, truly terrified. I’m not good at confrontation at the best of times, but when it’s your job to sort it out, you have no choice. Nowhere to run and hide – and especially when your boss is sitting next to you. It’s funny because I reflected on the whole thing as I was sitting there during the meeting, analysing my reactions and formulating a plan of attack. I felt quite clear really – something I didn’t expect. Yes, the gnawing fear and anxiety was rumbling quietly behind the mask but it didn’t overwhelm – medication? Mind over matter? Not sure really, but I didn’t lose it, I grabbed my focus and took control.

Firstly I sat quietly, taking in all arguments to see where the other two parties around the table were coming from. I knew what standpoint we had to take, but I wasn’t going to put it out there immediately… There’s no benefit in that. Sometimes it’s important to make sure that however you put something across it’s in the correct way for all to understand and take in. The other two parties were rather strident, it didn’t appear that either wanted to budge on what they were saying, and it became clear that actually both were having difficulty in actually understanding what their different standpoints were. Problem is with contracts is they can be so subjective, open to interpretation. The problem then is getting everyone to agree to the same interpretation – assuming the same interpretation is indeed correct.

This was what my mind was whizzing away to understand. What was the correct interpretation of this specific clause? At that point I had clarity. I knew what this was, so then I worked backwards in my head to get to a point where it was all straight and I was ready to speak my piece. And I did. And after a few conversations with each party, we all came to an agreement. A small triumph for me. Definitely a small triumph for me, because just a month earlier, I would have sat there, not spoken up and hoped my boss would have saved the day. Even if he didn’t, I just wouldn’t have said anything because I wouldn’t have had the conviction of my thoughts, no confidence that I might actually have been right. And I was right.

I spent last night mulling it over (yes – I know, I should have tried to have just parked the whole thing and relaxed, but sometimes a little analysis after the event isn’t a bad thing… REALLY!) and I came to the same conclusion each time. I was right, I’d done the right thing and perhaps I am half good at my day job after all!

Well, I got to work this morning and my boss said ‘sorry I didn’t get the chance to mention it yesterday, but you did a good job in the meeting – you took control, got agreement and to be honest, I didn’t have to be there at all. So you should be proud. Good job’. I was so pleased – not only had I gained some confidence back, but it’s not just my perception of my work, my boss noted it too. Again, a little sentence of praise, but a huge deal to me. Confidence and happiness can come in little packages – take note of these little things, the little Triumphs.

OOPS! a post I thought I’d published on Monday… Here it is…
I’m a little nervous today – a feeling I haven’t had for a while, the tablets usually numb the feeling a little, but it’s feeling quite strong at the moment. I can tell i’m starting to gain my confidence back as I found myself critically observing my clothing in the mirror this morning, something I can’t remember the last time I did. I’ve always taken great pride in the way I look, even when larger than I am now, or smaller, I feel there’s no excuse for leaving the house looking a mess. That doesn’t necessarily mean dressed up to the nines and face caked in makeup, but just neat, tidy, and (hopefully?!) classy and stylish in some way. Although having worn the same style clothes for the office, I just hadn’t cared so much about it, just chucking on a usual ‘well known’ match and shoes and just leaving the house. I knew I was presentable and that was it. I wasn’t taking pride in my appearance.

But this weekend – I went to have a hair cut. Had quite a lot chopped off, and whilst I was at it I had it dyed red. Bright red, danger, excitement, look at me, I don’t want to hide in a corner red. A colour I love, a hair colour I used to be for a long time until I dyed it black. Black was a colour which didn’t get me noticed, a colour I could hide in the background, a colour I didn’t realise I had used as an escape. The change was a change to my esteem as much as gaining my old image back, compliments such as ‘wow – I love that colour on you it reflects your personality‘ came my way, and it’s amazing what a boost a compliment can do for you.

I always try to compliment my colleagues on things I like – for instance new shoes (I am known as ‘shoe queen’ so, it’s expected I should notice shoes really…) It can be anything – but I urge you to try it. Just chatting away to a friend or colleague and casually drop in ‘I love your top’ or ‘that colour looks wonderful on you’ or even stop a complete stranger in the street if you like their coat – tell them! That one smile you get back from them will make your day I can promise you. One smile can make all the difference.

And so, bolstered with compliments from my image change gave me the confidence to look in the mirror again this morning and smile back at myself. It’s something you forget when you are so used to putting on masks for others, smiling at others gives happiness to others, but in trying to help yourself, just once in a while, learn to smile back at yourself and love yourself. You are stuck with yourself for a very long time, and whilst I don’t mean arrogance or vanity in the ‘loving yourself’ situation, what I do mean is take the courage to look yourself in the eye and concede that maybe you’re not all that bad, and stop giving yourself a hard time. It’s amazing how much easier the day ahead seems once you’ve given yourself a compliment at the start of it.

Where are my nerves coming from? I think it’s because I’m worried I’ll lose this clarity, this fleeting moment of happiness and a grasp of how I used to feel. I know that won’t happen as I’m determined to keep this feeling, this quiet confidence. I need to harness it and start applying it to other parts of my life – and this scares me too. But i’m at the start. I know it’s possible, and if there’s one thing I’m good at, is putting up a good fight for what I want.

I find myself reminiscing a lot since the realisation of my Depression. When I think about my past I start analysing situations I’d previously overlooked as ‘normal behaviours’. Very much like my previous post noting that others dont equate an extreme of happiness as a consequence of depression as much as they may equate severe sadness. It’s not just others, it’s me as well. The hardest struggle of this disorder is the recognition and tempering of fears and thoughts when they happen. You’re not fighting anyone else, you’re continually fighting yourself…

A close friend of mine was discussing this issue with me this morning, explaining that when she searches for comfort in the present – she looks to the past to try and avoid what she’s done before, analysing and over-analysing. But that’s not what we should be doing. We should be looking ahead, thinking about new accomplishments and new possibilities instead of trying to analyse our old decisions, we shouldn’t encourage troubling thoughts to appear – optimism is the key. Sounds silly really – an Optimistic Depressive? But as i’ve said so many times before, I AM essentially optimistic, I DO look towards the future – and I don’t have to be the only one.

Luckily for me, my Depression is just a part of my personality, nothing horrific has happened in my life to make me this way, so not overanalysing the past is a little easier for me. I tend to obsess over silly things in the present day, then worry how they will affect the future. So remeniscence of late has been an unusual thing for me. I see it as part of my healing, opening my mind – widening my focus and another way to cope.

Having blogged about modern music this morning, I must emphasise that I am not the heathen that I sound to be… In fact it led me to think about the modern music I love – that which I consider to me amazingly ‘well done’… If you want to listen to a piece of music that never fails to bring a tear to my eye, ‘Knee Play Five’ from Philip Glass’ ‘Einstein on the Beach’, truly wonderful.

Should I ever manage to attain even half of the emotion he purveys through his compositions, I will die happy. Suffice to say – if you like this, check out ‘Akhnaten’, ‘Satyagraha’ and ‘Songs from Liquid Days’, ‘Heroes Symphony’ and pretty much any of his back catalogue. They are complete mainstays for me if I need to escape…

At a rehearsal last night I was reminded of why I wanted to Compose in the first place, why I went to University and completed a Composition degree, and why composition is such a close thing to my heart. As much as performing allows my innermost feelings to flow out, free composition documents how you are feeling and thinking at any one time, and you can recount this over and again, with haunting melodies, or uplifting tunes. The one thing I notice about everyone I meet is that music means something to them. No one can go through life without music affecting them or touching them in some way.

It’s like how I’m writing now, but instead of using words to show you how I’m feeling, I use my music, my melodies. What’s more, through performing and/or hearing the music, you can hopefully feel that too. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the music I was singing last night didn’t move me at all. There were a few moments where I enjoyed the melodies, but the composition was so awkward and angular that all I kept thinking was it would be so much better orchestrated for instruments. You are never going to get the best out of what is running through your head if your performers cannot connect with the emotion and story in your music – essentially you have to compose for your performers as well.

My composition teacher would be proud I finally came to that conclusion. In my experimental days, my compositions were just as awkward and ‘shocking’ it’s like being a teenager – how much can you push the boundaries? I remember him now saying ‘how do you expect people to sing/play that? Where’s the flow?’ And I now get it. However strange a melody might be conjured up, there still has to be a flow, and phrasing, an enjoyment to the performance of the work. The same as writing for this blog.

So the upshot of all these revelations is I have set myself some projects. My first one is to explore my newly found love of writing. I am going to write a book. Not fact, but pure fiction. Totally let my imagination run wild. Further to this I am going to write a libretto for a choral work which I will then compose. I might take a look at my ‘Random’ poems and see if I can do something with them – but, it’s not a quick process, this is something I want to take my time over, get it right. I have the luxury of experience now, and of course it’s not my job, so there is no hurry to produce the goods for money. I’ll no doubt document my thoughts and struggles and successes here, and as always I’m always grateful for any comments.

Since I decided these projects I feel like I have a direction and a happy distraction for when I need a diversion from troubling and over-exuberant thoughts alike. A purpose for all that I have experienced so far in my life.

I was speaking to a friend this morning and it occurred to me where this ‘nervousness’ I discussed in ‘Image’ was coming from. It’s the urge to run and hide. To push people away, to nest up in my own little hole, not interact with anyone and just hide.

To a certain extent this past year i’ve been hiding. Slowly but surely becoming less sociable, doing less of my favourite hobbies, speaking to friends less frequently, taking up more internet based activities such as Twitter and WordPress (ironic that the one internet activity which seems to be helping me the most is actually the ultimate in hiding, but… that’s out of necessity) and generally becoming one of my masks. A protection. Pushing real people away. Hiding in the sense that i’ve started to put weight on again. Hiding in my own skin.

And so this change of image, becoming what I was again (perhaps a little older and wiser and more self aware…) scares me, as the option of hiding doesn’t exist now. Flaming red hair isn’t condusive to hiding. I am perverse. Even when part of my stubborn mind is screaming to hide, the other part of me goes and does something like that. Forcing me to get back out there, pushing me to the front of the crowd again. Right out of my newly formed comfort zone. Am I ready for this? Part of me is excited about it. Very excited. There’s nothing more exciting than chatting to new friends, old friends, finding new situations, enjoying familiar situations – isn’t that what excitement is? Controlling that ‘fear’?

Excitement and fear – so close together that the feeling could go either way. But I am also aware that I have been ‘off the rails’ in the past when embracing the new and exciting. So will I be able to control it this time? Will experience and my new knowledge of how to recognise and counter uncontrollable feelings work in the upper spectrum too?

I’ve mentioned it before I think, however with my Depression, I feel strong emotions of joy and happiness too. Whilst these are nothing like what is experienced by Bi-polar sufferers, I’ve noted that this is not discussed anywhere I’ve looked. It seems that being extremely happy and bouncy and ‘up’ is seen as a normal and ‘acceptable’ state of mind, whereas being extremely unhappy and down is not.

I know what i’m doing when I’m happy, and it just seems that I ‘push’ things further than perhaps I should in order to make others happy, almost like I have to go that one step better. Almost like a thrill seeking response. Alcohol intensifies this too – which is why perhaps it’s a good thing i’m having to be dry for a while. It allows me to understand and to recognise what it is that I do when i’m ‘happy’, so when I do re-introduce alcohol into my life I can consume it sensibly and resist the urge to push a thrill-seeking response. It’s a strange concept for me, because although i’ve recognised amd suffered intense lows throughout my life, my intense highs have always been hailed as good things, so I have never learned to hide them as such, but magnify them. And I’ve certainly never striven to control them. But with everything – all must be controlled with equal measure. So on to my next challenge… Now i’m not hiding any more, I must learn to recognise and control my exuberance, and channel this in the same way I channel my Depression.

Well – the busy week is finished and I survived without being too exhausted! Just one blip on Tuesday, but even that was a learning curve – when i’ve taken on too much and i need to slow down. It’s not easy saying no – enough, i need some time – but it was the right thing. I managed to continue with all other commitments and i’m having a day of rest today! I say day of rest… I’m cooking a full roast dinner and stewing some apples too… But it doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like a nice ‘pottering’ around the house. Relaxing in it’s own way.

This week has felt marginally stressful, but to be honest no-where near as bad as i’d expected it to be. I’m definitely beginning to feel more like my old self, back in control, able to juggle many different things without losing track of where i am and what i should be doing. And because of this, I was so much more able to enjoy my concert last night and came away feeling elated. I am always so much happier when i’m performing, when i’m singing, when i’m just allowing my emotions to flow out naturally, whatever the emotions that are required… It’s something I can’t fully describe – it’s not even having people watching what you’re doing, it’s not having anyone tell you you’re good – it’s experiencing and enjoying the moment fully – being 100% involved, showing who you truly are no masks, completely open, but curiously not vulnerable…

I want to perform more, I want to continue as much as I can, it makes me feel alive, and maybe it’s the key to ultimately controlling my feelings when I just need to ‘vent’… Maybe this is what i’ve always done and i’ve just not realised it? The creativity within me existing as a balance to the strength of my emotions?

Fridays always have that ‘something’ about them – even when I worked shifts 24 hours a day 365 days a year, Fridays always had a sense of excitement and a more relaxed feel due to the weekend being around the corner. Oh, and there’s always that added ‘relaxed’ feeling when you’re in casual clothes. Something that i’m always grateful for where I work – dress down Friday.

My lethargy of yesterday is gone, and I feel totally focussed today. I had a thought that my lethargy was bought on by worry about my rehearsal last night. My voice had disappeared earlier in the week through over-use and dehydration, and well, the concert is on Saturday and we’d only had one rehearsal up to last night. The music is NOT easy, and there’s only two to a part throughout. So my mind was pre-occupied with focussing on my throat, learning the music and well, worrying about other things too!

I must admit I was a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t spot what I was doing and stop it in it’s tracks – in fact it was a comment from Neftwink on the ‘Lethargy’ post that made me realise what my brain was up to. She commented that the Lethargy must be coming from somewhere, and yes, she was right. I was convinced I was just tired and this was causing my mind to un-focus, but actually it was other things as well. Tiredness just allowed my mind the opportunity to fall back into bad habits and ‘worry away’. Seems like the default autopilot still falls back on worry and preoccupation. Something i’ll have to work on it seems!

I’m now sorting my work out into easy chunks for the day, and as the core of my worry is now over for the moment, I should be able to plough on and be productive. I shall have to be mindful of non-productive thoughts, it is Friday after all, there will be plenty of them!

%d bloggers like this: