playing piano

atozchallenge – Why I Play Piano (P)

I’ve taken piano lessons on and off throughout my life. When I was a preteen for a few years, and when my children were babies. I’ve been back at it for 6 months after a 6-year break.

I love music. I listen to music of all kinds when I write and draw and work out. But I have no talent for music. At all.

There are many good reasons to take lessons as an adult: for mental and physical health, memory and focus, and relaxation. For me, it’s just important to do something I don’t do well. I embrace my suckitude. Every week, I’m humbled by my limitation, and every week, I experience a love that exists only for itself. No ego boost. No showing off.

I have a number of friends with an innate talent and developed skill for music who play at a professional level (singing, guitar, piano, drums), and I will never even come close to what they can do. I value that because it’s real easy to get wrapped up in my creativity and forget how much talent is all around me.

My kids have each been taking lessons for five years. They have a natural feel for music that I don’t. I think it’s good for them to see me struggle and to be better at something than me.

Voices vs Chords

My favorite pieces are classical, especially Bach with his penchant for writing chorale style–4 voices represented on the same staff rather than the usual melody and harmony of chords you probably know. Focus is my weakest skill, so having fingers playing different keys at different times, like a choir with voices dropping in and out, really challenges me.

I’m working on three Tchaikovsky pieces now: The Italian Song, the French Song, and my absolute favorite, Morning Prayer.

socialmedia

#atozchallenge – OMG I’m an Addict (O)

So social media is bad for our health, is it?

social-media-bad-healthThis bullshit spreads when someone sees a statistic and their knee-jerk reaction is “yeah, right on!” and they share without first using a little reflection.

Here’s some reflection:

  • People are “addicted” to social media

Self-disclosure gives us pleasure. Social media allows more self disclosure than in-person allows. Hence, it is an addiction and bad. You know, like receiving money, eating food, or having sex is bad. Bad bad bad.

  • We spend a “staggering” ten times a day checking feeds

And also stop scratching and peeing and walking because these things are consuming your life.

  • We even engage in social media feeds while on the toilet

You should sit there and study that nice wall stain while you poop. Forget picking up that newspaper or book, too. Oh wait, that’s print so it’s, you know, different.

  • We’re engaged in social media feeds while eating

You should be watching the damn television. Like you used to do when you weren’t obsessed with a video screen of some kind.

  • Social feeds are more important than classroom lectures

Sweet Jesus, how kids have changed their priorities! I never talked or read or wrote or daydreamed when a teacher was talking.

  • Our self esteem suffers when we compare our lives to online friends

Because we never compared ourselves to anyone before. And you with the new car are a dick.

  • We find it difficult to relax and sleep after time on social media

Because we never had difficulty relaxing after a night out or a night talking with friends before.

  • We have relationship difficulties after online confrontations

Virtual world confrontations are so much worse than screaming in a parking lot at 3am. Uh oh…self-disclosure. Ooo…I feel pleasure. Uh oh…I’m addicted.

  • We’re worried when we can’t access social media

Never had stress from missing friends before I had social media

Shit People Post

Are you old enough to have received an actual snail mail letter? I recall the letters from my dad when I was away at college. Know what we wrote about? What classes I took, some funny anecdote, that he was eating an apple as he wrote me, etc.

Thing is, social media is all about the SOCIAL. It hasn’t changed anything, merely expanded our reach.

Social media, as a publishing platform, has also shown us our pretensions. Those of you scoffing at the trivial stuff people post, what do you think publishing should be? Are you some kind of elitist ass who speaks only in soliloquies of noble insights and motivational inspirations? Well, hell, man, I get that from some meme every fucking morning on Facebook.

And I pass on by and spend time commenting instead on a friend’s struggle with depression or their daughter’s performance or their job search or their new fucking car. Dick.

If you feel exposed in a way that is uncomfortable, drop out. But don’t try to convince me that staying engaged is bad for my health.

And don’t think for a second I’m going to spend those “extra” free hours on exercise like the ridiculous infographic above suggests. No, I’m going to sit and watch more cable news and reality shows like I used to do before I became an addict.

sleep

#atozchallenge – Practice Napping (N)

If you’re like me, you may not be able to wind down by 10pm because 8pm is the only chance you have to exercise and then, you’re awake at 5:30am because Simon is a big whiney dog who needs to go pee. This can mean 7 or less hours of sleep each night.

That’s not enough. Let me repeat. That is not enough.

This “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I’m not burning calories when I sleep” or “I got important things to do, man” mentality is dumb dumb dumb. The most common problem I see with my clients is that they do not sleep enough. This wrecks their hormones, their mental health, and their weight.

For one thing, sleeping and feeding are related. Studies show when animals are subjected to sleep deprivation they increase their food intake. Recent studies in humans have shown that the levels of hormones that regulate appetite are highly influenced by sleep duration. 

You’re more likely to gain weight if you sleep less than 7 hours a night. During sleep, hormones are released that manage metabolism and digestion. People who don’t get enough sleep have insulin and blood sugar levels that are similar to those in people with diabetes. If you are regularly sleep deprived, your levels of gherlin are higher, causing you to feel hungry, and your levels of leptin are lower, increasing your desire to eat.

Recent work also indicates that sleep loss may adversely affect glucose tolerance and involve an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

You can’t always get those extra hours in, but you should be trying to get more. There are many articles on how to sleep better. Do your own research, but here are a few tricks:

  1. Get off screens by 8pm (no computers, phones, television).
  2. Don’t eat protein late at night but save your complex carbs for this time of night to help you sleep better.
  3. Have an hour before you have to be somewhere? Lie down and see if you can get 30 minutes of sleep. It may take some practice before you can fall asleep on demand, but you can teach yourself. Practice naps. Yes, practice! It’s worth the effort!
divine_mercy

#atozchallenge – Mercy vs Justice (M)

Justice and Mercy are the two ways the divine interacts with our world. They are also the pillars that hold up society and laws. They are, essentially, the pillars of all authority.

We think of each as a virtue. We usually think of them as opposites. Justice is giving a person exactly what she deserves. Mercy is letting someone avoid some amount of what she deserves.

When justice predominates in a system, people may feel safer but they limit creativity because they limit risk. When mercy predominates, people may feel freer but also mistreated because rewards and punishments are not fairly distributed. Either way can lead to unrest and even revolution.

My personal interest in these pillars are cultural and creative. But I see their imbalance every day in politics.

When Mercy Lies

The Old Testament is all about justice. Act and consequence are clearly explained and foretold. God is a great judge and feared for it. The New Testament is all about mercy. Jesus explains over-and-over why we must look past the law and focus on love.

Here we have a new analogy. Justice and Mercy are comparable to Punishment and Forgiveness or Law and Love.

Between the Law and Love, we know what Jesus would do. Many politicians do, too. That’s why the newest sophistry in this arena is to argue justice for the one would mean injustice for the other.

In one example, industries and their leaders avoid justice in order to show justice to their clients. The argument is: if these industries received their due, their clients would suffer unfairly. “Banks are too big to fail.”

In other words, we have not shown these banks justice in order to grant others (“little guy”) justice. The sophistic argument suggests the little guy is more important, but we know the one who is truly important is the one who received mercy–the big banks.

Who do you routinely grant mercy (forgiveness) to? Who do you insist must accept justice? There lies your bigotry.

south-park-movie

#atozchallenge – Laughing Like a 1st Grader (L)

Me:  Give me that buttfor.
Son:  What’s a “buttfor”?
Me:  Silly boy, a butt is for pooping! Hahahaha!

Classic South Park joke. And actually, my son didn’t answer like that. He just stared at me for a long time because he figured out the joke. He finally played along and answered, because he’s a good boy and likes to make his Mommy laugh like a 1st grader.

So, this is a short post today. Hope you enjoyed the joke. I know you will go tell it to someone today who won’t remember the 1999 movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

And if you get a chance to watch the movie, do that. It’s an incisive analysis of society’s predilection for scapegoating…along with songs about “unclefuckers,” jokes about German porn, and lots of farting.

Funny is as funny does.

 

Author | Illustrator | Personal Trainer | Astrologer| Fucking Genius | I eat sacred cows