Anticipation, and Standards of Normalcy

Two things, both brief:

1.  You know that feeling of waiting for something huge to happen, and you know it will happen quite soon, but you aren’t sure exactly when, and so your breathing is shallow and shortened, and it feels like a boulder is living inside your rib cage?  Feeling that right now.  Man.  Tonight is the night.  Tomorrow will be a different sort of life, starting at 10AM local time.  🙂

2.  A friend of mine told me that she wants me to write a book, specifically about my life.  When I suggested that no one would want to read it, she declared her desire to read such a book, as well as her hopes to learn more and more about my life, because I have such great stories to share.  I had never considered that to be the case about myself and/or my life.  However, I am starting to believe her.  I mean, come on – I’m living in Japan for a year just ’cause when I wanted to take a break from my last job.  I don’t see that as entirely standard for your average girl.  As I learned from my cousins last year, my idea of normal life is not equivalent to most people’s ideas of normal life.  (more on that another time!)

 

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Automatic Reactions taking over…?

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about automatic reactions.  Not just things like ducking when something comes flying at your face… I mean mentally, emotionally, and with words and such.  Like how  I automatically smile and am happy when I see a cute little kid laughing and having fun.  Or how I am filled with a sense of ease, calm, and peace when I feel that warm sunshine against my skin on a cool day, or that refreshing breeze on any day.

The one part of automatic reactions that has been most on my mind as of late had been physical discomfort.  I have been noticing how, if I am physically uncomfortable, I am automatically in a bad mood.

My morning started beautifully the other day, but the weather was much warmer than I understood it to be before leaving the house.  So, as I grew more and more sweaty underneath my coat and many layers, carrying my heavy bags (which were mostly heavy due to the water I’d brought to keep myself hydrated and thereby comfortable throughout the day), hiking up the large hill to work, and my wool sweater began to scratch me through my shirt, I grew increasingly more irritated, even to the point of starting to curse at my clothes and bags.  Now, I recognized how this all was automatically happening, and so caught myself before actually cursing, but I’m rather certain I had the words starting to roll out of my mouth when I did hit pause on the affair.

Another recent example is my everyday response to my work-empty (the opposite of work-filled) days at work.  At work, my desk and chair do not fit me, and it is uncomfortable to spend more than ten-ish minutes at my desk.  I get rather irritated whenever I spend time there, even if I started out working on something I enjoy.  Just thinking about having to sit at my desk all day with nothing else to do (as in somewhere else to go) gets me into a bad mood.  I’m not even in the chair, and my mood is already in that automatic reaction to the physical discomfort.

When I need to go to the bathroom, and people try talking to me and starting up conversation, no matter how I make the effort to be in the conversation, I cannot be.  My entire focus is on the thoughts of Would you please just shut up and leave me alone, so I can go to the bathroom?!  I am irritated, impatient, and sometimes even a bit rude out loud.

Now, this does not mean that I am always rude or mean to others when in physical discomfort.  Just this week, I was quite uncomfortable, and even somewhat concerned by my intense need for a bathroom while walking home with a friend.  I was aware of my discomfort, and my automatic response to the discomfort.  I remained kind and loving with the friend, however it was a strain.  I noticed how, underneath my skin, I was raving, almost screaming, I was so bothered.  The friend was even laughing at the goofiness I attempted to bring to the situation of my bathroom need, but I was not – I couldn’t find humor or ease in it, no matter what I did.

We are able to be angry, upset, and annoyed automatically and intentionally when we are not in physical discomfort, as well as we are able to be happy, calm, and joyful at those times.  I think we can have the same apply to when we are physically uncomfortable… I just haven’t yet figured out how.

How can I train myself, my brain, to react comfortably to physical discomfort?  When my pants are too tight or my shirt is itchy, when I need to pee or need water desperately, how can I set myself up to be not only okay but to be happy, joyful, or even just calm and at ease?  I guess the best way is to see what conversation is happening in my head whenever these discomforts happen, and inquire as to how to ease that conversation’s stress… and, over time, the conversation might disappear altogether, and the automatic negative response no longer occur… perhaps, anyway, but Imma go for it, just to see!

This is my goal right now.  Feel free to jump on board, and try it out for yourself; I think it’s an intriguing essay*, well worth the effort.

 


*Definition of ESSAY (Taken from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary)
transitive verb
1:  to put to a test
2:  to make an often tentative or experimental effort to perform :  try
essayer  noun

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Morning Breath

Ever notice how people in movies (and TV shows, too) just wake up in the morning and start kissing one another, as though they don’t have wretched breath?  I always notice, and so does my mom, who always comments on it as though it is the first time we’re seeing this sort of thing together.  Nonetheless, today at work, I discovered a movie that does not do this!

America’s Sweethearts, with Julia Roberts and John Cusack (among other greats), at about an hour eight minutes in, shows a perfect morning scene.  The two wake up in the bed next to one another, smile and chuckle briefly, and then Julia Roberts pulls the bed-sheet over her mouth.  As they end the brief scene with plans for breakfast, both of them have their mouths covered by the bed-sheet, and Julia Roberts’ character says that she’ll go brush her teeth before breakfast, and that he should go do the same.  😀

It was delightful. !!!!!  😀

Thank you for putting in real life, Director Joe Roth.  Thank you.  😀

 

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Tonight

I had something brilliant to share today.  I really did.  Honestly (I’m always honest, anyway, but still…)… it was quite good, and I was excited to share it.  Some memory of some sort…

I’ve completely lost it for the time being, though… perhaps I’ll remember in the morning, and write about it then.  Yes, perhaps.  (I certainly hope so, anyway.)  😀  Haha.  Oh, goodness.

 

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Songs for Friends and Self

First off,

😀   Merry Christmas!   😀


Via the natural flow of thoughts in my head, I found myself singing a song that a friend and I wrote (to the tune of another song) as a goodbye present to another friend of ours a few years back.  This other friend was heading to the US for a semester abroad, and so we set up a sort of going away surprise in which everyone could participate.

It was Sylvia’s idea, the song.  She picked one of Gunnar’s favorite songs, and decided to write new words to it.  About an hour-ish before we were supposed to head out to meet up with other friends to practice the song, she had gotten only a few sentences into it, and so I ended up taking over and putting the bulk of it together.

We threw a thumbs up on it, and rushed off to rehearse with other friends.  At rehearsal, we changed a word or two to make things easier for folks, and organized our plan of action to get out the lyrics to everyone after Mass that evening (the going away party was taking place right after the young-ish adults Mass where we all went together).  The song ended up going beautifully and being a total hit – it was just as we’d hoped, and all was well as we sent our good friend on his way.

Now, I completely meant the words when I wrote them for our friend Gunnar.  However, a few weeks later, as I, myself, was leaving the country to go back to the US, the song suddenly sounded like something I had actually written for myself.  To this day, the song gets stuck in my head (although I have no recording of it, and have not since that month looked at the lyrics), and it, somehow, is always comforting – I miss living in Vienna terribly, but this song somehow makes everything okay how it is right now.  I guess God’s just good at making things work out that way.  🙂  I have this dual feeling that 1) if I move back to Vienna, I’ll never want to leave again, and 2) if I even visit Vienna, I’ll be utterly disappointed with how it compares to having lived there before and loving it so much then.  I think that, no matter what, I have to go back, though.  I’ll try a visit first – maybe next year for Christmas – and see how that goes, huh?  Sounds good to me.  🙂  Anyway…

Enjoy.       (To the tune of “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling)

P.S.  BeFree is the name of the Mass we all attended, and which had brought most of us together as friends in Vienna


6. Jan 2013

VERSE 1

So lately, been wondering
Who will be there to take your place.
When you’re gone, we’ll need one
To play that music filled with grace.
If it really is God’s will,
Then we guess that you can go.
Just remember us back here
While you’re off in USA

CHORUS
If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree!

VERSE 2

Hopefully, you’ll find out
The way to make it back someday.
Until then, God bless you
And help you all throughout your days.
If it really is God’s will,
Then, Columbia, here he is!
And we hope that, while you’re out there,
The Lord’s grace still flows from you.

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree!

BRIDGE

God give Gunnar your blessing.
Give him helping hands and friends.
Give him everything he needs!

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree

VERSE 3

You’re leaving.  We’ll miss you,
but all our lives will still go on.
In your heart, in your mind,
May God be with you all the time.
If it really is God’s will,
Then we guess that you can go.
Just remember us back here
While you’re off in USA

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien
But God sends you elsewhere
So take care, have fun, and BeFree

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien
But God sends you elsewhere
So take care, have fun, and BeeeeFreeeeee

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A Memory

Shortly after I turned 18, my mom and I went to stay at my aunt’s house (perhaps for a weekend or something), which is in a small town about two hours outside of our city, and in the semi-middle-of-nowhere.

My cousin Shawn, who is not quite a year older than I am and was/is also my Confirmation sponsor, decided for us to go out for a bit, late one night.  He was reminded of the fact that I had recently turned 18, and so declared that we needed to have cigars to celebrate.  I shared my being not into it, but went along to the gas station, where he bought two small cigars (which smelled nice, actually).

We ended up at a park down the street, play complex and all, and I don’t remember if Shawn smoked his cigar or not, but I know that I did not smoke mine, and ended up just giving it back to him.  Nonetheless, we hung out at the park for a couple hours, I recall, just walking around, talking as we played on the various playsets.  I remember specifically mentioning how I loved that Jesus has fabulous grammar in the Bible (I think it was as I was walking across the shaky bridge thing, and then slid down a pole at the end).  Somewhere, I had been discussing with girlfriends the idea of husbands and boyfriends and such, and we had come to the idea that Jesus just needs to be a real person right now, so he can be one of our boyfriends.  And I just loved that he had perfect grammar (at least from what I recalled having read), making me wish even more that he could be my man.  Haha.

So these are the kinds of things I did with my cousins growing up.  Harmless, somewhat silly activities, filled with goofy yet incredibly honest and open conversation.  I miss Shawn a lot, and all the ridiculous love he has to share (and shares) with the world.

He’ll be in India for a while soon.  Just a fun fact.  🙂

 

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Perhaps it’s the OCD…

I keep wanting to write about my experience with having OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).  However, I continue not doing it, although a portion of almost every day goes to thinking about what I might write for it.

Perhaps it is part of the OCD’s influence on me, and perhaps it is something else entirely, but I tend to get trapped in the details with things.  If you read what I write on here (here being this website), then you likely already have a sense of how I do this.  When I am telling about something, I really have to focus on what the listener (in this case, the reader) actually needs to hear (read).  For me, the topic is incomplete if details are left out, or potentially construed in such as way, such that they might be misinterpreted to be different than they truly were… even if it is regarding details that are seemingly irrelevant to the story.

So, that’s why I haven’t yet written about a day in my life of OCD.  I can’t decide on what to focus, nor on which details to give and which to leave out of the sharing of my experience. I’m hoping to get to writing about it in the next couple weeks (at long last), which is why I’m writing about the idea tonight in the first place – I was already thinking about it more than usual.

 

As a side note, this reminds me of two things in particular right now:
1) How my mom’s side of the family always wants to know all the details about things, including the details for which most families would never even think to ask
2) Perhaps this details thing is part of why my mom and I are so good at having conversations that go to a million different topics (before finishing the previous topic), but in which we always go back through and finish out every topic started in the conversation. (My cousin once pointed this out to us, and I have since noticed how rarely people do this sort of thing; they talk and talk, and leave so many topics unfinished, because they went on a tangent, but never came back.)

 

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Dancing is a global language

Tonight, I was reminded of a speech I recently wrote for a speech contest.  No, I was not even a finalist in the contest (Speculation has informed me that previous years’ finalists had all tied in somewhere, somehow, that Japan is amazing and totally the best place ever.  Seeing as mine has none of that in it, guess I had no chance at all, if that actually is a factor in the contest.), and I’m okay with that.  It wasn’t my best work, though it was a decent run for a rushed 45 minutes (including editing with a friend) around 10:30 on a Wednesday night, and on a topic I felt could have been significantly better stated (“Anything that deepens global understanding, other than political, religious, or commercial themes”).

I’ve put the speech below, however, let me say why I thought of the speech.  I ended up going dancing tonight, as a follow-up to a bizarre sending off for a friend (literally ran up to the friend on the street, walked the three minutes to the station, and parted ways), because I didn’t want to have spent $15 and an hour and a half for only four minutes of moderate enjoyment, and I neither had other plans for the evening nor work in the morning.

While at this dance thing, I delighted in the constant flow of English-to-French-to-Japanese-to-Frech, the forever exchanging of dance partners, and the true enjoyment of our unity and opportunity for us all to be together and at such ease.  As a group, we have little else in common when you remove the dancing.  But it is something we each learned in our home towns and cultures, which has now brought us together from many places around the world (really, I think we almost all were from different places, although some were just from different parts of Japan).  And, even though we might never have come to know one another in any other part of life, we still ended up spending time together as though we were some of the best of friends.

I had met most of these people only once or twice, but that is the power of partner dancing.  We work together in an intimate yet comfortable setting, one-on-one, to create something beautiful.  We help each other learn, and we share what we have learned with one another.  It’s like the best kind of school, in dance form.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that for now, so I leave you with my speech here:


My name is Hannah, and I do partner dancing.  Every dance competition, I am terrified walking out onto that dance floor – “I am going to mess up!  And in front of all of these people!” I cry inside my head.  But, every time, I dance anyway.  I give it my best, knowing that I will make mistakes (which I do), and I have an amazing time.  Not to mention, I regularly place and even win the contests.  Every single time I am grateful that I danced, even though I was terrified, but especially because I made loads of mistakes.  Why?  Because that is who I am.  I am a beautiful, confident dancer who makes mistakes all the time.  And every time I do make mistakes, I work with my partner to use them, and to transform them into something beautiful and intentional.  We do the same when my partner makes mistakes, too.  We work together to turn something accidental and potentially dangerous into something intentional, unique, and beneficial to the overall dance.  When we do this, we each learn how the other responds to errors, as well as how to adapt ourselves to work with those responses.  By the end of our three-to-four minutes together, we move flawlessly – any onlooker might think we had been partners for years.  Why?  Because we worked together on something difficult, ever listening to one another.

Marianne Williamson, an American writer, said that ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate’, but that ‘we are powerful beyond measure.’  When we allow ourselves to make mistakes, we are opening up the doors that have been holding us back in life, and we give ourselves the chance to become greater than we ever expected, by learning something new about ourselves and about those around us.  When I make a mistake dancing, I not only learn how I respond to error, but also how my partner responds to my making the error.  Plus, my partner learns how I respond to error.  Then, when we both work together to resolve the issue, we learn new ideas from each other, and we grow together, becoming more efficient and more powerful as individuals and as a couple.

So, what does this have to do with deepening global understanding?  Every time I travel, I feel a sense of solitude and of being completely lost in this new world around me.  And every time I go dancing in this new place, I not only feel at ease, but part of this new world around me.  Every time it is terrifying.  Not because I suspect it to go poorly, but because I know that there is no limit to how amazing an experience it can turn out to be.  I have lived in various countries these past several years, and every time some of my best friends have come out of dancing.  Why?  Because not only do we love dancing, but we regularly make mistakes together, and we always work together to solve them.  And, in the process of making these friends, I have learned through them more about their culture than any class or book could have taught me.

In conclusion, if you want to deepen your understanding of the world, and better it through understanding one another, and learning from mistakes together, I invite you all to dance.  Thank you.

 

 

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Music creates life

You know, music really can make life feel worth living.

These past few weeks have been really odd for me, and this week, especially, has been quite filled (to partial explosion) with stress, and an odd kind at that.  This afternoon, as I had still two hours to fill, after what had felt like a day’s worth of work and several hours of painful efforts to sleep, I put on my jacket and rushed out into the hallways to get myself moving around, and in hopes of finding something to help pass the time, preferably involving movement (thus my vague plan of aiming for the gymnasium).

The music students are currently preparing solos (with piano accompaniment), and so I came across one of my lovelies (the Bass player) rehearsing in the hallway/student entrance area (there’s a piano there) with her accompanist.  They welcomed me joyfully, and so I watched and hopped around (it was filthy cold) with semi-frozen delight for a bit.

They finished after not quite ten minutes, and so I wandered on my way toward the gym again.  As I was making the final turn, I was caught by a trumpet and a couple clarinets (which was fine by me).  One of them had told me that she wants to play with me, but our scheduled time for today had to be canceled, because she had to go home after rehearsal.  But she was here now, and practicing…, so she dragged me in and got me to play a bit (though not together, since we only had one trumpet).

Then, when I thought they were all leaving, they told me to come with them upstairs to what turned out to be a brief a capella singing rehearsal.  They were sopranos, so I got to stand with them and learn the soprano part to a very pretty Japanese song.  It was almost spooky how cool it sounded and felt to be in the group, making such beautiful music.

Afterward, we established that one girl is crazy, and I declared my similar mental state.  She and I, and others off and on, proceeded to dance around to the music of others rehearsing… we high fived as I was about to leave, as a sign of joint craziness and joy, and I said my goodbyes to the room, with lots of love in reply.  I truly felt myself at home with this goofy group of musicians.

As I rushed out the door, and put back on my shoes, a flautist was in the hallway, next to my shoes.  He excused himself, and I said, “Play!”  Instantly, and with a smile and an “Okay,” he played part of his solo piece for me.  It was beautiful.

And it was standing there in that freeing hallway, listening to this boy play flute, that the thought crossed my mind, unbitten, “Music really can make life worth living.”

As I have struggled with life lately, – and no, I don’t mean in the sense of giving up on life as a whole, but just on giving up on this part of life, living here and doing this job and all of that – what has gotten me through every time has been music.  Sometimes it has been live music from these kids at school, or from the guitar I got as an early Christmas present last week.  Sometimes it has been from Spotify or my music collection.  And sometimes even just a single song that a friend sent me from YouTube.

Whatever the case, the source of my survival, my strength, my belief that this life is worth continuing and working at, despite its near-overwhelming hardships, has been music.  I finally understand a bit what a friend of mine meant, when she said she felt like she had died, when she lost her hearing and, thereby, music.  When I don’t have the music, I just get used to the solemn melancholy, the deafening silence of a lifestyle I don’t love – I grow accustomed to not living, and I despise the existence (but that all just becomes the norm).  And when I do have the music, I am excited for today, for right now, and for what tomorrow might bring – I feel the life inside me and all around me, and I yearn to spread myself around and live to the fullest.

Music really does give life and make life worth living, even when it feels like you have nothing else for you.

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