Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why I Love Eighties Music

Sometimes I hear one of my favorite eighties songs, or maybe even download one (something I could not have imagined doing back then), and it takes me back in time to a whole other era, a time of fun style, youthful exuberance and some of the best songs I have ever heard or will likely ever hear.

I "discovered" alternative (new wave) music while still in high school. I was getting pretty bored with mainstream rock at the time, and all of a sudden turning the tuning knob on my stereo, there it was. First I found the new sound on college radio, and then a new wave commercial radio station came along. It was like a whole new world opened up as I witnessed the birth of a new music style. And the awesome beginnings of a whole new visual medium - the music video. As part of the early MTV generation, I can recall spending hours watching my favorite videos.

Music videos were somewhat of an art form back in those days, the music providing the inspiration for videos that often told a story. The music itself was interesting, sometimes quirky, or full of imagery with distinctive melodies and instrumentation. The songs were captivating, and even now, more than twenty years later, some of them still give me goosebumps.

I spent a few years spinning vinyl as a DJ at my college radio station, an experience I will always treasure. That was one of the most enjoyable times in my life. The music made it special. I remember the thrill of buying a new album, getting it home, tearing off the plastic and slapping the disc on the turntable. Fighting to get those darn CD cases open and dropping the little disc on the floor doesn't begin to compare!

The musicians behind the alternative songs of the eighties (and early nineties, too) broke a lot of new ground in music and many were true artists. Some of the bands are still around today, still sounding as great as ever. Some sadly have gone - split up, some band members leaving this world too soon. They are gone, but the music lives on. Sometimes I'll hear one of their songs and find a tear rolling down my face.

Some eighties songs are being covered by other bands these days, and I wish they weren't. No other band can bring the true richness and flavor to those songs. No other singer can sing those lyrics as well as the original singer.

Eighties music is the music of my youth. It is the music I will always relate to the most. Like that time in my life, it will always be held dear and can never be replicated.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Mystery of What Lies Ahead (optimism revisited)

It's too bad life doesn't come with warning signs: Rough Road, Falling Rocks Ahead, Caution: Hazardous Area. Sometimes it would be nice to know what's ahead as we travel down life's road. The future is a place of uncertainty, and that can be scary.

Don't get me wrong. It's not keeping me awake nights not knowing what will happen next month, next year, or even in ten years. I guess I'd just like to be able to worry about it less. To know that the future holds security and comfort.

What lies ahead down the road could be good. Maybe I'll have less worry, less stress. In the present, it can sometimes be hard to take such an optimistic view. Especially if the present isn't going so well.

We all want to believe things will get better, and that is not always easy. It requires a super-charged positive attitude to look ahead and say, "Everything is going to be great, and my life is gonna be exactly the way I want it to be."

It takes confidence. Confidence in ourselves and in others. Confidence that we can tackle any problem, handle any situation. Feeling assured that things will work out, or that we can find a way to work them out.

I am not the most optimistic person. I generally have a positive attitude, and when it comes to having MS, I rarely have any negative thoughts about my future in that area. But when it comes to unwanted changes, I always go the pessimistic route. I go right to thinking that if and when things change, it will be for the worse. I was thinking the other day of how I could try to be more optimistic.

I decided the best thing I could do was work on trying to effect positive changes in my life, focusing on things I can control, and seeing the future as an opportunity and not something to be feared.

Things are going to happen or not happen - it is uncertain. I could end up having a great career, being more financially secure and having a home I love. The mystery of what lies ahead opens the door for possibilities, and they could be very good ones. (I guess I have more optimist in me than I thought!)

Seeing the good possibilities and devoting more energy to trying to make them happen can make the unknown that lies ahead a little less frightening.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Low Energy Journey

For the past ten years, I have been on a journey that I did not choose to go on - I have been living with MS. These days I think of it as the "low energy journey", as my main symptom is fatigue. I feel like I am running on a quarter tank or less most of the time.

Recently I went to Lowe's for a new hose sprayer nozzle and a few other small things. Though all the items I needed were in the same general area, just walking around in this huge home improvement store sapped up my energy pretty fast. During the long walk to the checkout area, I had to stop and rest for a moment a couple of times.

It's much the same no matter where I go. The more walking I do, the more quickly I run out of gas. But you take a break, and you move on. That's how life is in a lot of ways. You just have to find a way to keep going.

Working with low energy is a challenge. It requires patience, perseverance and often some strategizing. I focus on key things like:

Prioritizing tasks. This is a must these days. I have to stay within my energy budget. I can't do as much as I'd like all in one day, so I have to decide what the most important things to do are for that day. I can only do so much and only go so fast.

Working in some down time. We all do it - try to do more, to squeeze things in. We wear ourselves out sometimes, trying to finish things or to get a jump on things we have to do the next day. I get tempted all the time to try and get more done, but in dealing with fatigue you have to know your limit and try not to push yourself past it. It's important to rest and recharge your battery, then you can get moving again.

Staying positive. I can't change the fact that my body works the way it does now. Sometimes it can be frustrating not being able to do everything I would like when I want to do it, or how fast I would like. All I can do is accept it and work with what I've got. I always remind myself how fortunate I am that I am able to do those things.

It may take me a little longer to get where I want these days, but I know I'll get there.