Desert Island Disc

Music is food for the soul.

To reveal a list of music that is meaningful to me is like opening up my heart and giving you permission to poke around.

It’s personal. It’s subjective. It’s fluid – it ebbs and flows. My go-to song today won’t be the same tomorrow or a year from now.

Because of all this, this post idea has been in drafts for over a year. I urge you to go visit my friend and fellow blogger, Sinéad who shared some of her own musical loves and inspired me to finally finish this post. Also, her music is much, much cooler.

This though, is me:

I used to listen to Australia’s version of the BBC’s Desert Island Disc and wondered about the music I’d choose if I were on the programme.

Of course, this strange mix of music is but the tip of the metronome (which makes no literal sense, but I’m keeping it).


This is a song that reminds me of my childhood – it reminds me of my parents and dancing around the house. There are many songs I could choose here, but I thought I’d opt for an Australian band. I rarely listen to it now because I guess it’s my love of their music.

This reminds me of my brother. We didn’t have much classical music in our house and it was my brother who discovered it for himself and introduced it to me. It is something we still share despite our differing tastes. It was also a family joke. My mum used to say that he loved a dirge. This music never ceases to stop me in my tracks. It also always reminds me of Warner Bros cartoon – ‘Kill the Wabbit!’.

This is a nod to my husband. He is too modest to admit he is a talented guitarist but I remember admiring him when he played this in music class aged 16, long before we were a couple. This song was the beginning of a whole heap of music he would introduce me to.

Some of my favourite music belongs to film. I don’t necessarily mean iconic film scores like Star Wars or Lawrence of Arabia, often I find beauty in the incidental. Music that merges into the power of a scene so seamlessly it is almost unheard.

This, by Thomas Newman, is a great score which perfectly encapsulates the quirky mood of this film.  There are probably better examples from this score, but it’s also a great excuse to screen these mesmerising end credits.

I love my fair share of traditional music (in this case Scottish), this is a particular favourite with its awesome rhythm.

I love it when relatively modern music arcs back to older music.

I love music that is somewhere between heartbreak and healing…

That might do for now. Too many to choose.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment, or create your own post – tell me your music.

Begin Again

Writing is a series of footsteps.

Placing one word after another until you reach your destination.

Once

Upon

A

Time…

 

A piece of music is medicine.

You only have to take one note at a time for as long as it takes to get better.

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Excerpt courtesy of Chopin.

 

A picture is a thousand brush strokes. A thousand dabs of paint. A thousand colours.

But it begins with only one.

 

One word. One note. One colour.

Repeat. Don’t stop.

Begin again.

 

 

Feeding the Wolf

I hate personifying depression and anxiety. Calling it a wolf, or the ‘black dog of depression’. My mum calls it the ‘monkey on her back’. I hate doing it, but it does help.

It offers a degree of detachment. It somehow helps you to confront it, and if not stare it down then at least find a level of understanding. This is not defeatest-type thinking, it’s recognising your irrational feelings do not represent you. It’s allowing your poorly balanced brain chemistry to do its thing without berating yourself for it.

It’s starving the wolf.

This post and the one preceeding have been three months in the making. It originally began with the phrase, “I’m okay at the moment” and while that is not untrue, I’ve been better.

I took myself off my medication very gradually and managed to minimise the withdrawal. Three weeks after I ceased the meds completely, I had my first anxiety pang. It didn’t linger.

Some weeks later, I had a significant anxiety attack. It was triggered by a stressful event at work and has returned in waves ever since. It’s taken near two months for them to abate.

And while it has abated, it’s beginning to linger.

This is me right now.

And I’m fighting it.

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I’m trying to ‘art’ more. This is Anxiety sketched in charcoal.

Waking the Wolf

Darkness can be hard to recognise.

It creeps up on you and slides across your shoulders like the arm of a bully. The hand squeezes your shoulder. It tells you not to dob. You dismiss it at first, maybe you try to shrug it off.  You tell yourself it’s normal. You’re functioning. You believe you’re okay.

But the hand is heavy.

It pushes down. It holds you back. Moves you towards a fog.

Sometimes, all at once.

You find it hard to get motivated, you achieve less, you’re angry at yourself for not achieving more. You berate yourself for feeling sad knowing the life around you is wonderful. You feed your self-loathing with more self-loathing.

This is depression. More specifically – my depression. While there are commonalities, everyone’s journey is different.

For me, it grew from an anxiety disorder where worry is a constant background noise. It peaks at certain times as though you’ve just lost your child at the supermarket, but you haven’t. You’ve ordered flowers for a friend. Or you considered buying something. Or you had to meet someone at a place you’d never been before on a two-minute deviation from your normal path. Often the triggers are mundane, often illogical. Which is why it’s a disorder and not simply anxiety.

In my family, anxiety disorder is hereditary. The weird thing is, anxiety can present itself in peculiar ways. For me, it’s nausea, but at its peak, my back, arms, lips and tongue tingle which for a while caused me more anxiety – I thought I had multiple sclerosis. I didn’t. Anxiety is a fiend that feeds on itself.

I began some anti-anxiety medication two years ago and for the first time for as long as I could remember I experienced life without anxiety.  Anxiety was such a strong force in my life, it truly felt absent instead of simply normal.

Normal was wonderful.

Two months ago, after speaking with my doctor, I decided to wean myself of it.

You may even wonder why I would want to de-medicate and I can assure you, it was not a decision I took lightly. I’d been putting it off for months. I’d do it after the work event, or Soandso’s birthday party, or wait for summer.

But, I needed to know. I hoped. Perhaps my brain needed a break, perhaps it had re-learned, perhaps it didn’t need to be on medication any more. I needed to know this. Aside the fact that long-term use of some drugs can be damaging to your liver and/or kidneys – no one wants to be on medication if they don’t need to be. No one.

My doctor, as lovely as she is, didn’t understand my hesitation. She shrugged, “If you start feeling anxious, go back on it again.” She wasn’t intentionally being apathetic. It’s the kind of well-meaning thing someone says when they’ve never experienced the emotional roller coaster that anxiety and depression bring. It was a risk for me. I risked two weeks of drug-withdrawal, and maybe a few weeks of anxiety ‘pangs’ before the return of more severe anxiety attacks. Even if I restarted the medication right then, I would suffer another couple of weeks of anxiety and drug side-effects before I actually started feeling better. On top of that, knowing my own family’s experience, it is likely after this ‘break’ I’d need a stronger dose.

Which feels more a step backwards than forwards.

So.

How did I go?

See Part 2.

The Bigger Picture

I used to draw and paint a lot growing up. This peetered out with my frustrtion as I sought greater and greater likeness to life. At that time, I considered this the epitome of success as an artist – to draw as though I’d taken a snap-shot .

Someone questioned this, “Where is the art in that? You might as well take a photograph.”

I could see their point. I could also see that some artists, especially photographers might take offence to its implication. But I don’t intend to get into a debate about what art is or isn’t. This is a question of ideals.

I’ve always been at odds with the concept of perfectionism. I own and love art that isn’t photographic yet I expect this of myself. I think it’s enviable when an artist can convey a picture with a few dabs and strokes of the brush.

Like this picture.

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It’s a market find, which is HUGE, I might add. I had to fold the seats down to get it in the car. And in truth, it’s cut-off at either end as I couldn’t fit the whole picture into the camera frame, not just because it’s HUGE but because I’ve hung this picture in a very small room. I’ve essentially broken all the rules.

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The close-up shows so much with simply a few brush strokes. These two ladies, one with a white bow on the back of her dress appear to be an intense conversation

The picture itself is undated but it is probably 1960s or ’70s and it’s signed Federico. These type of pictures were painted quickly and often intended for the tourist market, though, in this case, it would have been a tough one to get home. You  know, speaking from experience.

I love this picture. It’s enviable art, and I must try to art more.

 

Which came first?

HUSBAND: Do you want this hard-boiled egg with your salad?

ME: What egg?

HUSBAND: Umm, the one left over from Friday…

ME: But I ate that for lunch.

HUSBAND: You can’t have, it’s right here *opens palms revealing a hard-boiled egg*

ME: But it was the one in the door-compartment.

HUSBAND: No, this is the egg because because it’s just where I left it in the fridge…

[Insert lengthy description of its placement in the fridge]

[Insert realisation I ate the wrong egg]

ME: I’m going to die.

Another Year Ends

A new year will shortly begin.

I refuse to label 2016 as anything other than a good wizard year that bad things have happen to in. Let’s look at that good year…

I admit, I had to research a little to remind myself, as my brain is still all ‘What!? Debbie Reynolds died!?” but, let’s list the good stuff.

  1. Einstein was right – gravitational waves are no-longer theoretical.
  2. After 50 years of war, Columbia finds peace.
  3. Babies. If three babies are born a second, and with still several hours before midnight, near 9.5 million babies will be born this year – they have BIG shoes to fill. Just saying. No pressure.
  4. What about the Paralympics? Yeah, Baby! Oh, and the Olympics too.
  5. This kid makes teddy bears for sick children.
  6. We eradicated the Ebola virus. Long may it be eradicated.
  7. Dinosaur feathers were found preserved in amber.
  8. Good things happen everyday. Find some here. Google ‘good news’ for your area, it’ll warm your heart and make you cry. Not that I did. No. Definitely not. *clears throat*
  9. Barrack Obama is still president
  10. I discovered this again:

Let’s be happy 2017, or at least, thoroughly content:

 

What ever you do in 2017, be your best.