Friday, 19 December 2014

The Big Day by Susan L.

  It isn't the really big day. You know, the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour.        Tomorrow we celebrate our family Christmas. It's at my mom's this year and we're ordering in chicken dinners which means no-one is chained to the kitchen. I like that idea. There's only a couple of things left to do to get ready. One of those is packing the car and a suitcase.
  I'm staying over night at my mom's because on Sunday we're heading off for lunch with my Uncle. Not so much for Christmas but to celebrate his turning ninety on Monday. That's a milestone that deserves something. It's going to be a bit of a surprise for him because all my family is coming to that as well.
  It means no blogging for a couple of days but that's okay. Family time is important.
  I've invited myself to my son's for actual Christmas. We'll have done our gift exchanging already. I simply want to be with my grandbabies.
  It's nice to be in the Christmas spirit. It's been a few years. I even put my tree up even though I won't be home. My car is dressed up with a bow too!
  Like I've said a couple of times already, it's nice to be well. That's nearly the best gift of all.
  "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." Mat 2:6

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Coming to Terms by Susan L.

  There was some conversation amongst the visitors at the centre. Actually, it was more of a trip down memory lane. It disturbed me that even though I was there when the events discussed took place, I have absolutely no recollection of them. In exploring the recent past, there are huge chunks that are missing.
  For me, this is the hardest part of having mental health challenges. The lost days, as I have come to call them, are simply part of my history that I'll have to come to terms with. The reasons are understandable for these missing memories. Getting through the day while struggling against depression by operating in survival mode doesn't leave much room for memories to be remembered. The powerful, all consuming, inner memory pain of PTSD swallows current events and they vanish like the mist. The teeth on that particular dog have been dulled. Praise God!
  There are snapshots recollections of events that took place during these dark days but they are almost like someone else's history. I suppose in truth they were. I am not the same woman I was.
  The memory loss could be God's way of protecting me from the worst of things. They were pretty bad at times.
  Thank You, Lord, I think I can finally let go of this now.
  Which leads me to be extremely grateful this Christmas for how well I am feeling. The biggest hunk of that is not being afraid of my own mind, that my wellness will collapse again. I realize it might in the future but I am wiser in knowing when to reach out for help. I won't wait as long as I did in the spring before conferring with my psychiatrist should another dip in mental health occur. There's a confidence that wasn't there before, a trust that I'll know what to do.
  For now, excitement has replaced anxiety. Joy and contentment have settled into my psyche like a warm and fuzzy blanket. Making music releases the good endorphins that are helping to offset the fact it's dark by five and, as I mentioned yesterday, it's a good de-stressor.
  I had my bangs coloured last week: a deep red for Christmas. For a long, long time I wanted to do something funky like this with my hair. It's funny how such a little thing can create an extra dose of confidence. It means all the reasons, the lies believed, that stopped me from doing this before don't matter any more...Thank You, Lord, for setting me free again.
  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Jn 3:16

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Make a Joyful lNoise by Susan L.

    I am managing to squeeze some piano time into the busy-ness of the pre-Christmas rush. It helps me de-stress in a huge way. The massive book of  600 Praise and Worship songs is a delight to play. New music always is. It's one of several books in the series under the Fake Book title. All the music is written simply with a melody line and chords for guitar. I am thankful for my organist background. Chords are a huge part of that type of music so I am able to ad lib the background accompaniment and dress up the melody line. That's the really fun part. It makes playing the piano, well, playing!
  It was rather interesting to utilize the record/playback feature on the piano. I recorded the song "Memory" from the Cats musical. It's not in the Worship book but in another Fake Book of some 1200 songs from the last sixty years that I've played over and over the last couple of decades. With a critical ear, I listened closely. There's a few things needing work on: play it slower, hit the keys softer, add more expression. It'll take some more practice for my left hand to truly develop the "piano touch".
  In the worship songs there's a lot of what's called syncopation, the dah-da, dah-da rhythm. I've always struggled to master that. Jazz beats aren't my strong point. As I was attempting to get it right I could hear my first organ teacher, Mr. Kenny, tapping his pen on the edge of the organ in a steady four count. It still helps, the constant one-two-three-FOUR patter that rings clear in my mind even though it was over forty years ago when he taught me. I am thankful he gave me a solid foundation in music fundamentals.
  There's another aspect of the piano I enjoy immensely. An organist doesn't move. No toe tapping. No upper body movement. No fancy flourishes with the hands. The only movement is fingers gliding along the keys and feet along the bass pedals. Piano? A pianist dances with the music and the instrument. It's incredibly freeing and adds a whole new and wonderful element to the playing experience.
  There's just one thing that needs to be fixed. I sawed the legs shorter on my organ bench so it would work for the piano but it really, really needs a cushy seat!
  "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound. For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands." Ps 92:1-4