Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Social Anxiety can be painful.

I haven't posted in a very long time.  For the most part I've been doing better.  I had some rough times when my wife lost her job but with the help of good friends and family we both came through that.  I made it through the very busy holiday performing season "relatively" stress free, or so I thought.

Some of you may know that last year after December I had to go into Physical therapy for tendonitis in my left shoulder.  The only thing we could pin it on was all of the extra hours holding my choir folder, combined with the fact that I like to sleep on my arm.  I've always slept on both of my arms so it had to be the combination of the two that  caused it.

It's December 31st and once again I find myself with the same shoulder pain and I didn't think I had performed nearly as much this year so I started thinking about how it could feel worse so much quicker this year.  I realized why in almost an instant.  It's part of why it started hurting last year too when it never had before.


Not a direct result but an indirect issue.  I don't speak up for myself.  I move to accommodate others in pretty much all aspects of my life and I try to stand in the background as much as possible.  These two problems put me in my current predicament.

Firstly,  I prefer standing on the back row whenever possible.  Though not among the tallest in the choir I'm tall enough that when we are standing on risers I can see the director well through my window.  This alone isn't a problem but it means that my folder sometimes must sit a little higher to accommodate the others singers.

There-in lies the second problem.  Really there would be more room for me to hold my folder if I wasn't afraid to ask people for one small courtesy.  It's generally good choral riser etiquette for the front rows to stand close to the front of the riser giving more space for the back rows.  often though as people we push back toward where we stop.  It's like in Feng shui, you shouldn't have the head of your bed on the same wall as a door or window.  It's nature that makes us protect ourselves.  Having your back to the wall (or your leg against the riser behind you) is just instinct.  Usually all it takes is for someone to ASK the front rows to move to the optimal location on the riser. just a baby-step forward. But I can't do that.  And the taller men on either side of me have fewer problems, so I adjust myself.  I stand with my legs pushing against the back of the riser, rather painfully I might add.  I also tweek my shoulder so that I can have my music in a position so as not to interfere with anyone in front of me but so that I can  still see.  As I try to imitate that posture now I can see why my shoulder hurts even without a folder in my hand.

It seems rather silly.  Such a simple thing as speaking up and asking for help would solve my problem.  I'm still a work in progress, as we all are.  I don't know if realizing this will make me speak up yet but I'm closer.  I'll get through this. too.  Luckily I've already done physical therapy once and I believe I can  repeat what I did last year on my own to get through it.  If not I'll go in a get help, but since I don't like being touched I'd like to try on my own first.

Anxiety hurts in the mind but it really can hurt the body as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Candle

I was cleaning out a drawer tonight and I found one of my old notebooks that I used to keep in my pocket to write things down in.  In it there were lots of little poems and haiku and writing starts.  This one jumped out at me for some reason though I don't recall why I wrote it.

The Candle

Completely hidden it lies beneath the flame of a dying candle,
Still hot to burn, but no warmth it gives, it’s burden hard to handle.
The smell of smoke lies close about the room that holds this candle,
But sweet it reeks and no hint it leaks of a burden hard to handle.

Who’ll take this thing away from me, this shrunken stub of candle,
I’ll carry it to my grave I fear and this I cannot handle.
I did not ask to shine this light that rests here on my candle,
Though others may get use of it, I wish it had a handle.

Maybe it reminds of of what I feel like when the weight of the world pulls me down and that has been on my mind certainly.  The last line seems to turn it around slightly with a bit of humor and pun about handling things but also because it recognizes that maybe the little light is still helping someone else.

I don't know but I like it and despite it's melancholy tone it makes me happy.  I'll take that.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Introvert vs The Extravert.

Most people who know especially those who knew me best when I was younger are surprised by my difficulties with social interaction.  It's not just because I love to be on stage but often when in a large group I have grabbed attention with wisecracks and antics.

Since introversion and extraversion  are often seen as either one or the other that makes sense.  But I'm not sure that it IS one or the other.

Every person has at least some desire to be loved, to fit in, and to relate to other people.  It's part of the human experience.  We search for much of our lives to find a companion, to have a family and to be a part of something beyond ourselves.

Every person also desires some solitude.  Some write.  Some listen to music.  Some Read the paper.  Some sit there and watch sports or a television alone.

Despite my desire to be alone I also always wanted to fit in, I had a strong desire to please, and was worried when I made a mistake in manners.  In order to overcome that I formed a personality that tried to grab attention, but I also waited in any situation to see what was acceptable.  When eating in a new place I hesitated to eat until I saw what the rules were.  In a large group I waited to see how the social structure worked.  Each time I altered my behavior to mimic and exaggerate my perception of the group structure.  Sometimes I failed and made mistakes and I would have to wait even longer to reintegrate into the group.  Sometimes I caught on fast and would get on a roll, often becoming a caricature of the group dynamic itself.  But it was always fueled by that innate desire to fit in.

You see it's not the introvert who has trouble with other people.  It's the extravert.  The older I've gotten the more I realize you can't please everyone, the more that trying to please everyone becomes a struggle.  The extravert can't adapt as quickly and more and more I find myself choosing to be alone because I'm afraid of making a social faux pas.

That's why I seemed to feel at home in a choir on stage.  I have a clear direction of what I'm supposed to do.  I have music to learn and memorize and I have a director to follow.  The chance of mistake drops and I have a whole choir of people working on the same goal.  I can be the extravert in a choir because I'm only afraid of mistake based on my own abilities to thrive in a musical setting.

I'm still not sure how to relate that to fixing my social issues, but I think part of the solution to my problems is somewhere in that insight.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A weekend of ups and downs.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the semi-annual LDS General Conference.  It was an amazing conference and many times I felt as if the speakers were speaking to me.  In particular I was deeply moved on Saturday afternoon by Elder Holland's talk on Depression and mental illness.

This weekend was also very difficult for me.  Friday was our pay-day and with that comes errands with my wife.  It may not sound like a date to most of you but we look forward to the time we spend together planning, budgeting, building our 2 week menus and taking time to walk down the aisles of Costco, The Deseret Industries, Walmart, Winco and other stores.  We like to look even down aisles that we don't have anything on our list to get from.  We go to lunch.  Despite the time with my wife I get very stressed after so much time in public.  Much of our time is spent running these errands during the day but some must be put off til the evening or the following morning.  This makes me even more stressed because we have to leave the older children in charge and often come home to a mess, or chores left undone, homework not started and rules being broken as children often do when parents are away.

This particular weekend was particularly bad. Despite the uplifting words and the spirit of the conference talks by 5 PM Saturday I was fed up.  What seems to hurt the most is when I hear the children push my wife to her limits as well and the anger and frustration in her voice grows and I begin to hear it even from the other room.  It hurts when their disobedience makes it so that dinner is delayed to a point that she can't share it with us and has to take it with her to work.  I could not handle it anymore.  She took her meal packed with her to work and I retired to my room to try to calm myself.  When one of the children brought me a plate with food to be helpful I said I wasn't eating and asked him to leave me alone.

I watched the priesthood session alone and at bedtime I went through the house turning off lights leaving one small one on in the kitchen for the children who were still not finished with their tasks.  tasks that should have taken an hour or two in the morning.  I was afraid to speak to them for fear that I might yell and so I sent my message that it was time to finish quickly and head to bed with a flick of a few light switches.

The next morning did not bring calmness and while my wife slept off a full nights work, as an RN on the night shift must, in our room and the boys watched conference in the living room I streamed it in the office on the computer.  Once again I could not bring myself to share the dinner table with my children angry with them for upsetting their mother and afraid of expressing that anger in a harsh manner.  Once again I turned off the lights in most of the rooms that evening when it was time for bed but I could not bring myself to speak to my children for fear of losing my temper and yelling.  Once again, they were still not finished with their dishes assignments but went to bed soon after my silent message to them.

I reflected on the words spoken in conference.  I tried to say that they were just being kids.  And they were, but I was still angry.

This morning I woke and with few instructions asked them to begin our morning routine.  I turned on the news as become habit since when I was a much younger father I often didn't pay attention to weather reports and had to run a coat to school when my oldest was very young.  I took the oldest to school dropping off the 2nd at the bus stop on the way.  I had a stern discussion with the oldest who is struggling in a few classes due to procrastination,  I was upset and made that point very clear.  Many of the issues this weekend had been instigated by him though he wasn't fully to blame but I let him know how angry it made me.  I wanted to say more but quieted and let him have the final word as we said goodbye while he carried his gym bag and back pack with him into school.  I returned to pick up the two younger children and dropped them off at school making sure they had their lunches with them.

I was still angry and said little to my wife when she got home not wanting to burden her with more, but knowing she would worry anyway.  I slept through the morning next to her though and woke up feeling a little more calm and a little more rested.  I came to the computer and decided to see if I could watch conference again yet online.  I was overjoyed that not only could I watch but I could go right to the talk I wanted to hear.  The one that I needed to repeat.

It was the one by Elder Holland.  I watched it again a few times. I knew my anger wasn't the children's fault completely and much of it was still part of the emotional turmoil I have been in for so long.  I'm still upset with them for their actions recently but I began to let go of some of the heavier emotions.  His words reminded me not to give up.  It reminded me that some things I can change and some I can't.  His words reminded me that even a stalwart man of god such as himself, could know the pain of these feelings as he briefly talked about his own struggles as a young father.  It reminded me of the realization I had had this past summer that despite my faith in healing of these emotional wounds, that I had sought the help of learned professionals and his counsel reinforced that I am on the right path.

Here are some quotes in case anyone else needs them.

“Trust in God. Hold on to His love.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

“Believe in miracles.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

“Fatigue is the common enemy of us all–-so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

"Whatever your struggle...don’t vote against the preciousness of life by ending it!” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

Here is a link to the talk..

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tina's Song

Back in the first year that Tina and I were married I wanted to write her a song and I've always struggled with it.  One day I wrote a few lines about how I couldn't write it because I couldn't find the words.

I've lost the page I wrote it on years ago but the first line and much of the small stanza I had written was still in my brain.  Today I figured it out.

Tina's Song

I sat down today and tried to write your song.
I’ve tried so many times but it always comes out wrong.
I just can’t seem to find the words that say just what’s inside.
And I'll probably just mess it up, but I can’t leave it untried.

If you could see you,
The way that others see you.
If you could know you
 The way that we all do.
If you could trust you
As much as everyone else does, then
You’d love yourself as much as I do
Love you forever and all time, amen

I watch you lying there peacefully asleep
The pale light shines on you and it almost makes me weep.
I brush your hair back softly and think to myself,
If I could give my love to you, so that you could love yourself.

If you could see you,
The way that I see you.
If you could know you
 The way that I  do.
If you could trust you
As much as I’ve always done, then
You’d love yourself as much as I do
Love you forever and all time, amen

Copyright © October 1, 2013 Timothy Coral Mair

Monday, September 30, 2013

Running Into And Out Of Fear....Is Counting To Ten Childish?

As most of you know one of the main things my doctor prescribed has been daily vigorous exercises.  I've done most of that running, but I've also done some strength training too.  I keep track of the running with two different apps because I have some friends who use one and some who use another.  looking at what they do helps keep me motivated.

I set a goal to make it at least 60 miles in September overall, and I wanted to also run half as many miles as one of my friends who runs a lot and has been for years.  Tonight I accomplished the former but not the latter and really the latter was a pipe dream since this friends runs half and full marathons.

It wasn't easy though.  I've had days that it was difficult to motivate myself, and a medication change.   Today, a ward change.  I auditioned for Salt Lake Vocal Artists and stressed about it.  I stressed about it a lot.  In fact I was telling my sister (by Chat on Facebook) that I thought since it had been so long I figured I hadn't made it.  while I was chatting with her I got and email alert and when I checked it, I was in for this wonderful chance to sing for many choral directors at a convention this February.  Ups and downs like that also affected how hard I pushed myself and how much I kept at it.

When I hit 55.3-ish miles yesterday I didn't realize that the last 4.7-ish miles would be my toughest.  I needed the run tonight to help with dealing with the change coming to our ward boundaries, a new ward, a new time.  How my kids would get along with those in the new ward etc.  I also I needed just a few more miles to make my goal.

I got the kids to bed late and finally decided to do a late night run.  I've gotten used to it but maybe it was the extra anxiety of the day, for some reason running out there with just my little head light and me lighted armband and the soft orange glow of my cellphone counting up the miles I was running, something spooked me.

I heard a loud noise like a bark as I ran past Rocky Mountain Junior High, and I wondered if it was the two dogs I've had to scare off with forceful shouting a few times this past week.  I kept looking back but didn't see anything.  I decided to pop out one of my earbuds and run with the music on in just one ear.  I felt better and kept going.  Close to mile 2, I saw what I was sure was someone in a black hoodie sneaking around just ahead of me by the fence of a large yard.  Just as I decided to swing my head over in that direction the fence gave way to grass with poplars growing every 10 feet or so.  When my light went to where I last saw him, I saw nothing.

I thought I was mistaken but as I ran I thought, "I run this same way many nights of the week.  What if someone figured it out and thought I'd be easy to mug.  Yes all I had on me was a smart phone but maybe that was enough to entice someone."  My heart began to race and the logical parts of my brain began to turn off. at one point I stopped to walk so I could turn around and look a few times.  When that happened my anxious state coupled with the running I had been doing made my legs and back start to cramp. I hit about 2.3 miles and turned around.  Each time I tried to start running I cramped up and my heart raced more. I walked and jogged, and walked and jogged a lot for the next mile or so.  Oh and while I was doing that I realized the Dark Man in the hoodie was just the extremely bright light of that park bathroom I always pass, and I had literally been spooked by my own shadow. I have compared myself to a groundhog (thinking about how sometimes I get out in public and get spooked easily) lately in my mind but tonight the comparison was quite literal.

With a little less than a mile left I decided to run again.  For no real reason I began to count everytime my left foot hit the ground.

"1 and 2 and..." I would think until I got to 100.

Then I started over.  I got lost at 30 or so and started over, this time just going to 10 and starting over. Without really realizing it I was doing what listening to my choral music usually does for me.  I was engaging the logical part of my brain and when that's active the limbic system (which controls fight or flight) shuts down.  My cramps lessened and my heart rate went back to where it usually does when I do a casual run without a specific pace goal.  Yes, I will still need to work out some knots with a deep tissue massage from my wife tomorrow and I will certainly take a rest day and lift weights and work the upper body tomorrow.  But I turned off the panic attack.

Counting to ten.  How cliché is that? I always thought that was something that is told to children. Adults need something much more complicated than just counting to ten right?

If you're having trouble...Count to ten.  It's not just for children anymore.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's working.

Getting through these challenges I've been faced with recently has forced me to be aware of how the things I do affect me.

I made a list of things that are calming or cathartic and that cause me anxiety.  After ranking them, I was convinced that I was a nut.  But being aware of things on my lists and making sure I do enough on the good side to balance out the things that are hard can be a struggle.  Mostly because I often feel that doing things just for myself is selfish.  However as I mentioned before I am realizing I have more and better quality of time and effort to give when I do take care of myself.

I have found 3 things that seem to be an absolute must for me recently.

The first is exercise.  At the moment I notice a serious drop in my level to cope if I don't have at least 30 minutes or more of vigorous exercise each day.  My outlook is better, my energy is better and I am more conscious of what I eat when I exercise.  It provides me with natural endorphins and our good feeling  brain chemicals.  The Medication I've been on has helped get me more stable but even with it, I REQUIRE exercise.  So this is something I am putting on my must do list.

The second is working on and singing difficult music. After spending the morning in a recording session with the choir, I made it through an entire scary car ride in the rain and also a night at Boondocks without taking the extra medication the doctor gave me for panic attacks and to help me sleep without agitation.  Yes by the end of the Boondocks I was a bit frazzled and close to my limit but I made it and I attribute it to the mental challenge of working hard and focusing on music for an entire morning.  I do not however get much in the way of a boost if the music isn't challenging or the pace of learning the music is too slow.  I also still have trouble with solos, these were once a great asset to me and I believe that I can make them be that once again if I begin to take voice lessons again.  As soon as I feel stable enough I plan to start looking for a part-time job and part of the money from said job will go to paying for voice lessons, and another portion to a college tuition fund.  This way I can expand my mind and not feel guilty about it because the money will come from work I do and not our normal family budget.

I will get there.

The 3rd thing has been prayer.  I have had many experiences with prayer over my life and many new ones recently.  Daily communication with my Father in Heaven is essential and at times in my life I have forgotten it.  I have been able to really look at how I pray and who I include in my prayers and this has helped to put me in a frame of mind to think of other's needs.  I am truly humbled as I think about others and their struggles and successes.  I feel more connected to them and it truly has an effect on my anxiety level around people.

Anyway.  These are my 3 must haves.  What are yours?  Do you take time to enrich yourself and prop yourself up?  I hope so.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Panic Button.......Release valves and reservoirs.

Tonight I did something that was very hard for me right now.  I auditioned, for people who I respect a lot. Even though I consider some of the kindest people I know It was still very hard and I made it through.  The panic button was on but I also got to sit there waiting for my audition with some of my friends.  They too were panicked, they too seemed on edge and somehow sharing that with them helped me a lot.  I was able to worry for them and it helped me not worry about me so much.

As we watched each other go in and come out and each one dealing with their stress in different ways. we all were the same.  Some came out and analyzed each thing they think they could have done better. some were emotional.  Some used humor.  Still we all survived.  And I would surmise that each one of us was our own worst critic.

I'd really like to make it back into this group to travel to a wonderful convention and sing and hear other singers.  It would be amazing,  I've been to a few of them (the conventions) before and had the time of my life.  Singing with this group of people also seems to fill my reservoir.  A good friend counseled me the other day that often we are trying so hard to fill every need out there that our reservoir gets to the bottom and that is where the sediment collects and all that you have to give is sediment filled sludge.  He said he had seen it a lot with moms who are trying to fulfill their church callings, and be everything to their kids, a lover to their spouse, and everything in between.  Dad's can feel it too and not just stay at home dads like me.

His counsel to me said that we have to close down the release valve a little and spend some extra time filling our reservoirs.  And once filled we need to try to match our intake with our output.

I hadn't thought about it that way.  That in trying to give and give to my family and feeling guilty for doing something that filled my own cup, not only did I have less to give but the quality was becoming worse and worse.

My panic is dying down, though I do think a long late-night run will be needed to help finish it off.  But as my stormy sea calms tonight I"m refreshed.  Just going and singing for those I respect and being if only for a short time with those who I have come to call friends, some of whom have become almost like family,  I filled my cup a bit.

I look forward to filling it more and by so doing improve the quality of what I have to give.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Speak It Out Loud

This morning, I woke up at 3 AM.  I decided to start my day instead of trying to go back to sleep for a few hours.  I got my work-out clothes on.  I put my heart monitor and my phone in my armband.  I couldn't quite believe that I was going to try a run since I have been sick the past few days.  I decided to try it anyway.

 I put a tiny bit of vapo-rub in my mustache and beard to help keep my lungs and congestion soothed.  I figured if I could run without coughing it would be ok.  Lo, and behold, the trick worked.  I didn't set any speed records but I ran 5k in about 37 and a half minutes.  I came home, got some liquids in me and ate a protein bar for recovery nutrition.  Already feeling good with those good endorphin levels running through me from the exercise, I checked my email and took a shower. I even shaved.

I woke the boys up a few minutes later than usual because the older ones have late start on Fridays.  We had a normal morning.  After some early getting ready from the older 2 we woke the others and had family prayer and read scriptures.  I always try to read with feeling. I think it makes it more interesting.  The boys, getting them to read when it's their turn is about all we can get from drowsy children.  We closed with a prayer and then it happened.  I reminded them to take time to say their personal prayers.  I forget to do this all the time.  I'm perfectly willing to pray, myself, with the family but forget to take time to speak with heavenly father personally.

I went into my room and closed the door.  Instead of quietly saying a prayer in my head.  I spoke out loud. I had forgotten after all these years since my mission how powerful it is to speak out loud to the lord.  Not to take anything away from having a prayer in our hearts, or for times when you feel that a quiet prayer is needed.  I think, sometimes, when I say the prayer in my head that I'm somehow being more humble and submissive.  But to speak out loud reminded me that a prayer is a conversation with our heavenly father.  I could feel him answering me and giving me comfort.  It brought me to tears to ask for help with my children and protection for my wife.  It was real.

I think that I will make an effort to find time to pray out loud personally each day.  Make it my routine.  It was good to have a conversation with the one who knows me best.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Don't Be Afraid.

Ironic that someone who is struggling with anxiety and social fears would title a blog post, "Don't Be Afraid"  I am aware of said irony.  Too often when we are struggling or having issues, when things go wrong financially, or whatever the world throws at us, has us down we say to ourselves, "I can handle this.  I'm strong. I'll just keep it to myself."

It's great and wonderful to think that you are strong, but this shouldn't make us afraid to share our struggles with others.  If we hold it all in we never know what else might be waiting around the corner that we will have to handle as well.  We may expect one result but darned if our expectations don't get messed up along the way.

I decided when things started weighing down on me to ask for help and that included therapy, seeking spiritual guidance, and even willingness to try taking medication.  I'm breaking in no new territory with these things.  Many people smarter than I am have been willing to try these things much sooner than I did.  Hopefully most don't wait until things get as bad as I did to seek that help.  but the sharing and asking for help doesn't stop with one thing.

Shortly after beginning to take my medication I began to experience increased anxiety.  Prozac is known to cause these symptoms in the first few weeks.  I asked my wife to call the doctor, but after doing so decided to read some more online about what I was taking and realized that this was normal and that this was why he had also prescribed a low dose relaxant to help with those episodes.  So before the doctor even called back to say he wanted to wait one more week I had decided the same thing.

Shortly after, the agitation and anxiety began to wear off and I even felt less agitated than when all of this started. However, I also felt the blues pretty bad.  One day I dragged myself out of bed to take the kids to school and then upon returning home I stayed in bed.  Tina had to pick up the kids from school and cancelled some appointments that I had.  I had no motivation to do anything.  Even eating was a chore.  I was becoming less anxious but my depression was coming back.  This time I made an appointment to see the doctor for the next day.

That evening I received a message from a friend who said that she had been struggling with the same things and was doing well for a time but that she was feeling really bad again.  My heart broke to read that this sweet person was struggling and for the brief time we messaged back and forth online, I forgot my own problems.  My advice to her was also important for me.

Even if you think you should be ok by now, talk to someone.  Find a counselor at school if you are still that young, find a bishop, stake president, home-teacher, parent, sibling, whatever.  Just talk.  If you are on medications and not feeling right talk to the doctor, you may have developed a tolerance.  Asking for help is not weakness.

I went in to my appointment that day, knowing that I had to fix things as much for my friend who had reached out to me as for myself.  My wife went with me and helped me talk it through with the doctor.  We decided that since the medication was having some effect on the anxiety to add a different medication that helped with a different type of neurotransmitter..  In any case it's been a week and I can already see the improvements.

I got back to running that day just to spite the depression and forced myself to run with my Aunt at the Tomato Days 5K in Hooper the next day.  I'm so glad I did.  It was fun.  I was really touched when she asked me to come run it with her.  I know she had been reading my posts and wanted to help me.  It really helped motivate me to work towards the goal and I want her to know how much it meant.

Real strength comes from all around us, and it flows through us,and binds us all together.  No it's not "The Force" but it comes from the lives of those around us.  We touch people even when we don't think we do.

To my friend who is struggling out there, know that you helped me that night when you asked me for help.  I hope you can get through this as well, but keep talking to people and looking into your problems and research them until you get the answers that help.  And keep on singing.  You can never go wrong when you are singing, even if it's just a song playing in your heart.

Don't Be Afraid!  There are many who love you and many who need you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What do we get?

What's in it for me?  What good is that?  How does this benefit me?

Used appropriately these questions can be a guiding force in our lives.  They can help to place worth on something.  But our views of potential gains and what is valuable have narrowed so much that these questions become more and more self serving year after year.

Quite a few years ago, my 4th son had just passed away and in the aftermath of such a traumatic event I began looking for projects.  Projects also seemed to begin looking for me, whether by divine intervention or simply friendly concern of those around me.  Tina got me a guitar for my birthday that year and I fiddled with it to pass the time.  I could accompany myself on a few simple tunes and even wrote a few things utilizing the few chords I knew how to play.

I did different extra things.  A neighbor had a daughter who wanted to improve her skills for choir and maybe try out for solo and ensemble and I began to help her.  We worked on things once a week and had a family home evening with both families to give her a chance to perform.  She did solo and ensemble.

I, my sister and my mother put together a program of Stephen Foster songs for my mother's McDowell group (a club of local private music teachers who met and performed for each other)  One of those members of that group referred another teenager to me and I had 2 kids to work with. That summer a lady in our neighborhood, we'll call her Super-Mom and I don't use that sarcastically, pulled me aside and asked if I would help her kids singing, she only had enough money to pay me for one so she wondered if they could be taught as a group or alternating so that each had a lesson every four weeks.

I didn't like either proposal, mostly because they were such different ages that  I was afraid of losing the older ones while spending extra time on the younger ones.  once every four weeks didn't seem like a good idea either.

I was singing with my boys one evening, just "Now the Day Is Over,"  we used to sing it at night before they went to bed, and I had a thought.  I would really like my boys to sing more too,  I bet there are more parents out there who would agree.  so I called super mom and said what if we get some more kids and do a little summer camp.  If we get them all singing treble music, two part and unison, the older kids will help the younger kids by setting an example , the younger kids won't require an extraordinary amount of extra time because the older will be working on and singing those same parts.  In a choirthe whole can often be greater than the sum of it's parts giving the children a sense of accomplishment as they succeed together where alone they might not feel good enough.

I made flyers, Super Mom put the word out.  most people came had some connection to Super Mom and that helped our little experiment.

I studied, planned, I knew I didn't know enough but I was working hard at refreshing knowledge or finding places to learn new things so I could be ready.  I knew most of the kids coming, they lived in our neighborhood but I was excited to meet one family who had 3 children that I would see for the first time the first day of class.

Our tiny house had one large room and it served as TV room, living room, through way, entryway etc.  I emptied all but what I needed for class and we got the chairs in there but it was going to be crowded.

Day one parents dropped off and paid and filled out my little registration forms so I knew about allergies and such and could call parents in case of an emergency.  Annoyed at being called Mr. Mair, I told them as they arrived that Mister Tim would be fine.

Then I met 3 of the quietest kids I had seen in a long time.  The two brothers seemed wary,  Not sure if they could trust this stranger with the long hair and beard who was greeting them with a smile.  The oldest did not make eye contact. The middle child remained silent but had an impish look the implied a hidden devious intelligence.  The younger sister I didn't see much of at first she kept hiding behind her mother or her brothers.  Their smiling mother was trying to introduce me to her children and coax them into my house.  I saw her try to talk her youngest (the hiding girl) into going in and assuring her that it would be fine and she would be back in an hour, she was also telling her boys who had been hard at work (and probably play) on their family farm to beat the dirt off their shoes and shirts before they went in..

You could see the look in her eyes and her the apology in her voice that said "I asked them to change before we came but it has been a losing battle."  All the while maintaining her smile and her composure.  The smiling mother to this days in my imagination has a smile on her face.  She is one of the sweetest ladies I've known and I'm glad to continue to call her friend. (What Do We Get?)

The first few weeks went rather well.  3 of the boys in the group had a 3 or 4 note range because they refused to sing in their head voices.  2 of those boys were my new friends.  their sister I'm not sure how she sang since she mostly kept her mouth closed, and when she did it barely opened.  I persisted.  I began to notice that the intelligent devious looking child was shy but that shyness likely stemmed from a speech problem.

Worried that maybe the other kids might be teasing him I asked his mother how he was doing and if there was anything I needed to do to help.  She said the other kids were being very nice and no one had said anything and told me that he was making good progress at school with some one on one help there so just getting him to sing so he could gain a little confidence was fine.  She told me the same about her daughter and I said, oh I hadn't noticed her, she hasn't said boo to me since day one.  I was having a hard time telling if she was even there some times.  She smiled and told me that she takes a while to warm up to people.  I told her about how the older boys were doing and gave her a few ideas about how to help them at home.  I asked her if they liked to imitate police sirens and told her to encourage that since it used the head voice in a way that the boys could accept, and as they learned to use all of their voice better they would begin to have enough control to sing a wider range of pitches.

Smiling Mom and I parted and I tried to think of ways to draw out not just these three but all of the kids.  Slowly we progressed.  We made siren noises.  We imitated Mickey Mouse.  I asked them to make laser sounds and imitate light-sabers and tried to make a game of exploring their voice and little by little everyone became comfortable with each other.  We stood up and I played "their" music, things I heard on Radio Disney, and asked them to find the beat.  We learned to count.  And we became comfortable with each other.

About this time as we completed our class for that week, the parents began to arrive to pick up their children and as my three friends began to leave the youngest one, the hiding girl, ran back and gave me a big hug and said .

"I love you Mr. Tim."

My anxiety prone mind wanted to pull away because I had never done well with touching, but I resisted because I knew it would hurt this little girl's feelings.

All three grew along with the rest of the group and we finished the summer with a performance at the local assisted living center and at a back yard party thrown by one of the parents.  At the former, the devious one tortured the hiding girl just before we went on and she withdrew for the entire performance, despite the silly faces I tried to make to get her to smile, she just stood their scowling and holding her left arm with her right crossed across her chest.  at the latter event Hiding girl returned the favor and the devious one sang but did so with a scowl.  At both concerts, the oldest one watched me, even making eye contact here and there, for each beat and seemed to revel in being the one to come in on time.

This summer experiment was only supposed to be a summer thing but it had brought so much joy into our home that we didn't want to stop.  We split the groups into two and got the parents on board with doing it through the school year.  I watched all of the kids grow.  I grew closer to the family of Smiling Mom, Hiding Girl, Devious Boy, and Rhythm Boy, adding Santa Dad and (pre)Missionary brother to my friends list (real life, not Facebook)

The group grew too much for my home, we started a studio, we did theater camps, choir, I began teaching piano and eventually even preschool.  To help keep word of mouth out there I started a community chorus in the evenings.  Through it all this little family was there supporting us and warming our hearts more and more.

"Mister Tim!  I tried out for the choir at school!"

I would counter, "Have you thought about the Music Merit Badge?  I know a counselor?"


"You're lookin' at him."

More days passed instead of a 5 note range they began to be my solid singers, they could hold a part and I would often sit them next to someone who struggled.  Devious boy we found out was not shy at all. he tried out for everything he could.  All three kept surprising us with things they could do.  Hiding girl even tried out for a part in our summer theater camp.  She had the female lead in "The Nightingale" and none of us saw it coming.  I had to make a new group for boys with changing voices since some refused to quit even though they had to sing falsetto all the time.

I had them meet before the other class so I could begin to transition boys into that group a little before I thought their voices might be getting ready to drop.

I drew from my old A capella group days and taught the "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by rote. I had to comp chords with them when they performed it but they were so proud.  It wasn't long before it was its own group and they did a full set of repertoire for each performance.

"Mister Tim!  Our band teacher is asking all the parents to come and play for one song on the final concert.  Would you do it for me?"

"I don't play bass clarinet anymore, I don't even own one.  If I had one I would though."

With in a week or two rhythm boy and devious one showed up with smiles sporting a case that I knew was going to mean I would have to practice, a lot.  They had music, and had even brought me a brand new reed.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that I preferred Tenor sax reeds to the bass clarinet ones mostly for durability.  It didn't take long before I broke it and had to go pick up a few spares.  I found a recording of the piece online and played along at nights after my kids went to bed.  I didn't completely embarrass myself, luckily I wasn't the only bass clarinet there but I WAS the only adult playing it.

On it went.  I was also their counselor for the theater merit badge and for the hiking merit badge.  The latter I thought they'd never make it when after the first one devious boy begged.

"Can I amputate my legs now, just to get the pain to stop?"

But they made it.  I didn't realize the hiking was the last one that Rhythm Boy needed for his Eagle award or that we completed it mere days before he turned 18 and became ineligible.

These people who had become friends were now more like family. (What Do We Get?)

I had seen growth like this in every child that came through my little program.  I had learned that I could teach preschool and not only survive, but thrive.  (What Do We Get?)

That was what hurt so badly when I had to let my program go.  I felt a failure more because I felt like I let those kids down.  (The crippling debt didn't help either)  I was going to miss them. I knew we would keep in touch but it would never be the same.  If I could fail these amazing kids who gave me everything I asked for and more what good was I?  I won't go into where those thoughts took me, I've done that.

1 week after I hit my lowest.  1 week to the day that I scared even myself at how far I had gone into the darkness.  Still unsure if I wasn't still lost someone in the darkness and just didn't know, I was asked to go to church.

"Mister Tim!  Will you come to my Eagle Court of Honor?"

Rhythm Boy(was it man now) made it.  Marching band, Men's choir. Smiling, making eye contact It was awesome. They asked my 4 boys to do the flag ceremony.  It wasn't a big To Do.  But that wasn't Rhythm Man's style.  it was good, and straight to the point.  I was already tearing up when he got his award, and then when he pinned his mother and father to honor them.  I sat at the back of the room beaming and trying not to let people see my eyes watering (allergies, must have been)  When he began to talk about the Mentor Pin and asked me to come up and he pinned it on me, he didn't know what I had been through or how much that not only meant to me, but how much I needed that right then.  I wasn't able to tell myself "You Done Good!" right then.  having one of those boys who had grown into such amazing men, do it for me was a blessing answered.  My allergies got the better of me and I had to wipe both nose and eyes as I sat back down. (What Do We Get?)

A couple months later Devious Boy (man?)...

"Mister Tim!  Can you come to my Eagle Court of Honor?"

Madrigals, Marching band, still auditioning for everything, completely out of his shell.  He made it.  I wasn't ready for this one either.  My own boys would be leaving for the National Jamboree the next morning and I was already emotional.  I really thought with two boys so close together they would have someone else to pin that mentor pin on.  Apparently there had been an argument with both boys deciding to choose for themselves.  Once again I tried to hide the tears in my eyes.  (What Do We Get?)

I really wasn't anything special.  I made tons of mistakes and I had to work hard just to stay ahead of those kids all those years.  When I ask "What Do We Get?"  I'm not just talking about the person doing the teaching, or even the students.  How many other teachers can be given credit for these boys?  Dozens if not more.  "What Do We Get?"  What do we get as a society?  We get men who learn how to achieve.  Women of confidence.  We get a new generation full of grace because we took the time to raise not just their intellectual I.Q. We raise their Athletic I.Q., Cultural I.Q.and Spiritual I.Q. as well.  This benefits us all.  But because we can't gain power over it, we can't gain financially from it, because we don't get to see immediate results, sometimes it is dismissed as nothing.

Today, I got to go help out with one of my favorite organizations, The Salt Lake Choral Artists.  This event was for high school kids.  I will be there tomorrow.  I'm just helping with lunch but I watch and wonder where these kids would be with out their mentors.  They are all there not just to learn from the people I consider mentors but these are choirs from all over the Wasatch Front.  When trying to get support these people , teachers and community arts organizations both wonder where their help is going to come from.  Too many people say, What do I get by helping them?  I don't go to their concerts?  They don't do anything for me?

If I had said that before I started my little business venture I wouldn't have gained the friends I have, knowledge of skills that I didn't think I had, and despite recent problems with self doubt and anxiety, a confidence that I can draw on to combat that same self doubt and anxiety.  What do I get.   I get kids who are going to grow up not to be great musicians (though a few will)  I get kids who are going to grow up to be good, intelligent, hard-working, thinking citizens.  These same kids will be taking care of me someday when I am infirm.  Music put my wife through college but she is an RN.  Art enriches all of us.  I've even heard stories of medical labs using gaming virtual reality and 3d modeling engines and re-purposing it for medical imaging.

We don't support the Utah Jazz because we think they're gonna let us play, we support it out of a sense of community spirit and love for the game and respect for the talent to play.  We can't bring up kids who respect the arts that way unless we do too.

One last story, a cautionary one maybe but poignant.  The same Piano teacher who I sang for at the McDowell group and referred a student to me complained to me once that one of the most respected members of our community put his children in this teachers program.  It was a struggle for him to get those kids to progress because they didn't come to recitals.  The respected man indicated that he didn't think there was a need.  They wouldn't ever be professional musicians anyway.  He did however go to every sports event that his kids were in.  The chances of making it big in sports, being very similar to music, what message was he sending to his kids who knew that the other students were having recitals.  What are they going to grow to believe?

What Do We Get?

Here are some of my personal favorites that have touched my life.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Take a minute and think about the choices you make each day.

Paper or plastic.

Macaroni and cheese or a salad.

Grape jelly or Strawberry Jam.

Most of these choices aren't earth shattering.  Most don't determine your mood or perception.  But most have a preference and choosing poorly can add up.  Being disappointed with the choices can build if you add one on the other and at the end of the day you may feel a little extra tired hopefully not overwhelmed or depressed but it can wear on you.  Usually we don't make ALL bad choices so it really balances out.

What if every time you made a choice it felt like the lesser of two evils swerve and hit a cat, or stay true and his a squirrel.  And as your day progressed your undesirable choices AND your good choices would likely make you much more than grumpy.

Sometimes with anxiety the importance of choices is perceived to be more weighty than it truly is in reality.  Grape Jelly or Strawberry feels like Sophie's choice.  It makes you want to make no choices and wait for the "bad things" to happen on their own.  Then at least you can't blame yourself.  This can be debilitating.  This can make you stay in bed all day.  This can make you hide in your room when the door bell rings.

I had some choices today.  At first they were of the normal sort.  And I don't really think they were wrong choices so I was doing ok.  Then, 11:30 am 7th grade registration. knowing that the 10th grader had to be across town for registration at 12:30 pm.  I arrived late, getting a 12 year-old to move might be akin to moving mountains.

When I saw the line I realized that having transferred him from Quest to Sandridge for 7th grade I had to come in special last week and filled out most of the forms.  I knew I would be stressed if I didn't take care of both.  I knew I was going to be stressed if one messed up the other.
I took a breathe and thought.  "I can deal with Junior high later."

 I had most of it done and due to construction they are waiting on pictures for the ID badges until the 21st.  I left and took the 10th grader and it was an even worse line but I had more to do for him.  They gave us the option of doing pictures and lockers first and then returning to the line and if it was still long that we could do the registration tomorrow.  We did.  We took our time and didn't hurry.  I embarrassed my son a few times like any good father should.  We went back and the line wasn't very long at all.  We finished the one boy and even though it was stressful and I had to be around a lot of people for quite sometimes I found some ways to turn two not so good choices into some non earth shattering choices.

Sometimes it's ok to wait.

Some of what's been going on has needed explaining and some people haven't had access to what I've been saying by way of explanation.  I had severed my link to them in one way or another.

I made it a point today or rather I made the choice to try to make some in roads.  I talked to my mom.  I had been worried, She came over on one of my worst days, when I was curled up in the fetal position in my room when ever someone knocked.  She was persistent and eventually came in.  I couldn't speak to her.  I just laid there staring at her I think I grunted out a one word answer to a few of her questions.  Afterward I kicked myself for treating her that way but I couldn't have explained it to her and now she had become someone I acquainted with anxiety and I was upset. My brother had been part of a similar situation and  though I still text-ed with him, talking to him on the phone was hard.  Since at the time I wasn't leaving the house unless someone was with me and even then only in necessity I didn't have a chance to talk to them.

Today I talked to my mom.  I just wanted her to know I wasn't mad at her or anything that I had just been under a lot of stress.  And she seemed to understand.

I made a few attempts to reconnect with a few Facebook friends, that seemed innocuous enough.

I'm trying to make the choice not to be alone.  I know the benefits are incalculable but it's still trying to find ways to make the decisions that make me anxious seem like what they are, just everyday decisions.

Why yes I would like grape jelly on my peanut butter sandwich!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rock Opera - Pater Noster

It's funny where we get inspiration from.
Last night I rewatched this Youtube video.

Pater Noster - Salt Lake Vocal Artists

Here's the text:

PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

In English:

OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The music has been stuck in my brain all night.  Pater Noster, just that part of the text would pop into my head at weird moments.  

I thought of a son speaking to his father.  Then it hit me to use that as a starting point for a piece in the Rock Opera.

I wanted a piece for chorus and the character of the lead's son to sing immeditely after the lead dies.  Then it would lead into the final which is a canon where each cast member or group adds their theme until it reaches it's climax and everyone is out on stage. I've written the finale and the son begins it alone with a piano.  I realized with a modification this textual starting point would be good.  I'm going to have to find someone well versed in latin to help because I want the Chorus to sing in latin and the soloist to sing in english.  I wrote this new text and then I plugged it into Google translate just to see what the Latin might look like.

OUR Father, who watches from on high, I always love you, don’t let me cry. I only live to make your dreams come true. Tell me what to say, tell me what to do. You gave me everything and more no matter what life had in store, Please forgive me if I never showed my gratitude or said I love you. You lead our souls with love, you delivered us from war. I love you father. Goodbye, Amen.

PATER noster, qui spectat ab alto, semper te, ne me flere. Tantum facies tua somnia. Indica mihi quid dixerit, dicite mihi quid faciam. Que omnia et dedistis mihi restare vitae, dictum vel Aufer a me gratia numquam te amo ostendit. Uos animis in amore nos bellum. Te amo Patris. Vale, Amen.

I imagine the chorus singing the text in latin first, then the soloist singing the English text and the chorus singing small bits of the Latin as an accompaniment.  A cello begins the piece and adds counterpoint melody in places and a continuo in others.  An electric guitar will complete the  instrumentation and sometimes solo, sometimes play harmony to the soloist's melody, and sometimes a third counterpoint to the others.  It will finish the piece as a solo.

the begins the finale will begin with the piano.

The Son sings

Father can't be here now, for once I'm on my own.  No one to protect me, I've never been alone.  Do I have what I need to walk the paths I'm shown. Father am I ready to now be on my own.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Consequence (This one worries me to post but part of me feels compelled.....)

The shame of feeling wrong (My mental illness makes me feel wrong so I will use that this whole post)

Being wrong is, wrong, it's so much better to be right.  That sounds totally logical and so simplistic that it answers itself.

For some reason this blog post isn't for me, it is but it is.  When something is wrong with us, that wrong thing is so much a part of us that we can't share it.  It feels shameful.  A part of the being that I am is wrong.  We've seen people go on Dr. Oz or some other show to promote awareness about a problem. To get a dialogue going so people would talk about what is WRONG and get help for it and know there isn't any shame in it.

Let me tell you first that starting this blog was a way for me to start being Okay.  Some of you have read my posts this past week and since this is the first you are hearing from me about this you are concerned about this crisis I'm going through.  I've had a terrible week, yes.  Compared to the whole picture this has been a hiccup, but one that has happened (as it will inevitably do) on my way back up.  Understand, please keep praying about me and please keep rooting for me I have lots to do. but this blog has been about putting that stuff out where I can have a dialogue with myself that I know others will see.  I used to write about my feelings but I kept them in a secret hidden place on my computer and no one knew about them.  Since, no one ever saw it I allowed myself to say all of those nasty things that I was thinking about myself thinking I was getting it all out.  I wasn't however analyzing things that I didn't like and looking for way to improve them if I could or deal with them if I couldn't change them.  I whipped myself with my own words then hid the scars from anyone else.  This blog is about keeping that journal but keeping myself honest because I know my friends would never stand for those awful things to be said about me, even by me.  If this blog has been shocking I apologize, don't read further because the real truth is much more shocking.

Before I say the shocking part.  I want you to know why I feel like I need to.  What I did not realize when I started this blog and threw open to everybody was that I have done the unthinkable.  Even though we seem to feel shame about being wrong I stood up and bared that wrongness to the world, albeit for my own issues and not because I wanted to bring any awareness about it.  Truly I was thinking of myself when I started it.  Since then I have had to open my eyes.  Handfuls of people have contacted me in the past 2 days telling me that they were rooting for me but also revealing their own struggles with wrongness.  I found out a close blood relation was medicated for a very long time for very similar problems to mine. Some people that I was unaware that they could EVER have had problems told me about their struggles.  I won't say anymore because someone else's "Wrongness" is for them to share not me.

I can tell you about what I've been hiding.  It goes much deeper than just the anxiety.  When I closed the music studio last year I was very hurt.  As anyone would be.  You lose something important to you that you've invested so much time in it feels like someone died.  because I was also so anxious and dealing with it was hard I blamed myself, partly, it was rightly so, we see our mistakes so we can fix them and move on.  But I lost confidence in myself which allowed the anxiety the had always been more of an annoying eccentricity to take hold and grow into a monster.

Kind of like the bacteria that causes some forms of strep that already lives inside us and we exist symbiotically with but sometimes a situation can come that allows it to take hold and go into super growth and we get sick.

My quirks began to eat at me and I was too depressed to fight them off.  Then we got a teenager, well he was already there but that thing which clicks in all teenagers that makes them do the exact opposite of what we tell them is good for them turned on and in addition to my other failure I began to feel like a failure as a parent too.

To extend the previous analogy.  I had the flu, the strep seized that opportunity to grow and while I was fighting off the first two I got pneumonia too.

This was my chosen profession. Stay-at home dad was a choice my wife and I made together and I had up until this point reveled in it.  I had up until this point even been good at it.  Tina tries to tell me that I did things that she never could have or would have thought of to solve things.  I don't buy that because she is also an amazing nurturer and would have done things her own way maybe better maybe not but we can't really know.  Still with a grain of salt added to her words I felt that I didn't have to judge myself up against the super moms out there.  I was DAD and I was doing it because I was good at it.

But suddenly nothing I did seemed right.  That's when I kept the journal.  I didn't talk to anyone.  I didn't get help.  I was angry all the time.  I did get to sing with some friends and it was like taking one of those cough syrups with the pain medicine in.  It helped me to cope.  It did however only treat the symptoms not the root. Secretly I had an infection I was hiding deep inside of me and it was slowly poisoning me.

If that's the case though that infection has to come out or it will kill you from inside, and quite literally it almost did.  If you've read up to here this is one more chance to turn around because this is the true part that I've been coming to.  This is the part that I want you to hear so if you are struggling too you don't let it get this bad.  That you get some help, friends, family doctors whatever.

Last April things got to their worst.  One night I argued with my teenager about his grades, and his homework. when we finally separated it was very late at night, and we were both seething mad at each other.  While his anger stayed directed at me like any normal  true-blue american teenager mad at his parents rules, I began to turn it around at the failure dad. I hated myself. I did stop yelling but I was cooking up a scheme.I was so fevered with the infection I had let grow inside of me that I could not see clearly where it was anymore and I pulled out that journal and feverishly wrote the worst of the things.  I cursed myself.  I cussed at myself.  I read all of the things I had been writing and it convinced me...I could see the infection now.  It was me.  You may still turn around, you can guess what happens next but I intend to continue.

I gathered my supplies.  I locked myself away from my family, in my room.  I came out once.  Thinking that I would make sure everyone knew that there was an infection in my home and I was going to take care of it I copied those awful untrue things and posted them on Facebook.  It was my goodbye.  Then they would know why and everything would be OK because I had fixed it for them.  Back in my room , I had three bottles in front of me.  I intended to empty the contents of all of them.  At this point I was completely unaware of anything else, of my house, my family, of my friends in choir who were depending on me to perform that night,  the people who were coming to the concert because it was one of the rare ones being held up north near me.  They were all forgotten.  I emptied the first bottle in the manner I intended...

...A tender mercy...

If you aren't religious, if you don't believe in divine intervention you can scoff if you want and think me a fool.  I tell you left to myself I would have emptied the others...I didn't, I felt someone helping me and holding me.  I put them down. the fever itself broke, I was still sick but I could see clearly again.  I began to cry softly.  As I cleared up more I realized what I had done and that what I had done would still have done the job I had intended to do without action.  I felt myself wail.  (I was embarrassed by it. Sorry if this is a weird aside but even this tiny bit of momentary humor I felt was a tender mercy and it calmed me more and made me feel better about something from long before.  I had heard that wail once before come from me. It happened at my son's funeral and I had the same embarrassed thought then too. It sounded like a fake sob like you see of paid mourners on TV.  A real sad person didn't wail like that.  But I finally learned that sometimes it's OK to wail) momentary embarrassment turned to action.  I unlocked my bedroom door and ran into the arms of my wife.  I didn't have time to send my kids away (my only true regret in the moment save what I had done)  I told her everything.  She panicked.

My amazing RN wife panicked and worried that having to deal with strangers about my mental health issues would cause me anxiety.  She wanted me to purge.   This is humorous, as a child I hated to vomit.  I hated it so bad I taught myself not to.  I prided myself in my self control.  However I had learned how to control it so well that even if I needed to I couldn't.  It was involuntary now.  Ipecac syrup.  Nope, super dad had seen that it had expired and thrown it out a few years back and couldn't replace it because the stores don't carry it anymore.  Which also meant what was in my stomach was still potent.  I agreed to try to gag myself, no luck.  Failed.  I even let my wife try.  Still that helping hand was there and I had some reason left, I have to go to the hospital.  I can only learn to deal with this and the consequences if I live to do so and I have to go.  She knew I was right.  Good friends already were watching for me.  One contacted my brother.

"Have you seen what Tim posted?"

I didn't know about the conversations, my wife was driving me to the emergency room.  I was realizing that I had to deal with my first consequence, the choir.  I did it all by text.  I couldn't have done it any other way at the time.  I told two people.  I let slip a little too much to one of them but I wasn't as worried about him as the other him.  Our director.  I didn't want to let him down.  All I could say was that I was going to the ER and that it was something I ate.  It wasn't really a lie and it was the most I could get out.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot I was starting to feel a little groggy. Not too much but I was worried.  From here on out  the hand was there but the chemicals would make me less and less aware and it was up to me to fight to keep hold of it.

I have tried to spare some of the details and will skip ahead a little faster.  The next 4 or 5 or 6 hours, I'm not really sure, were a blur of anxiety about slipping away, the taste of charcoal, and worrying about that poor security guard they called to the nurses station that they wouldn't seem to let go and they just kept making him wait.  I kept thinking he must be bored.

"Why wouldn't the nurses acknowledge him?"

From my bed I could see the poor fellow had rushed to respond to their call only to be kept waiting.

I focused on him because when I looked away the room moved and I thought. "Maybe it was the room?Maybe it was something in the room...  No it was the room"  My jaw hurt, "It hurts because you can't close it.  Better use all your muscle, Okay maybe you could close it, I hope I didn't break any fillings slamming my jaw closed so fast."

Eventually the scary stopped.  I fought.  I won.  I began to be clear.  I realized the room was moving only in the same way that it moved when you were dizzy (the memory of this made my recent turn with the youngest on the teacups at Lagoon not as pleasant as it should have been since this past year all those push-up have made me strong enough to spin it faster than I can handle).  The movement in the room was just the movement of the clock.  Finally I was clear enough to realize the poor security guard (he had to have been 21 at the oldest) was doing his urgent job the whole time.  He was watching me.  Keeping me safe from me.  He didn't know that he was doing it in more ways than he could have understood.  He was put there so he could see me, but in choosing to be where I could see him he helped to save me.   My wife's touch beside me, the pain in my teeth as they slammed down, and my worry about the poor forgotten security guard pulled me through.  The doctor confirmed that I had made it through the scary time with out the complications with my heart and breathing that they were watching for and I was out of the woods.

Stupid as it sounds I looked at the clock and thought, if I can deal with the inevitable mental health worker that's on his or her way in next, and get this darn IV out.....

"When did that get there?"

If I can deal with that I could still get home and get my tuxedo and make it just in time for the concert.  I really wanted to be there.  I hated this consequence too. In actuality my time estimates were pretty spot on but I realized by then that I needed to rest.  Real rest, not fitful scary rest.

We talked. we came up with our plan.  I promised not to keep secret ranting journals anymore.  I repeatedly asked my children for forgiveness, especially the teenager who I knew would be blaming himself.  I discussed with my family whether I should still go on tour with the choir and they told me I should.  We planned.  I could see the future again.  Not a lot of it yet.  But seeing a future was a huge leap forward.  I learned my amazing friends and family and their conversations had succeeded in penetrating my secure Facebook account and removing the awful things I put there.

I reminded myself to hide my passwords from the teenager better since it was his help that allowed the merciful hack.  Now I have to type a password in whenever the screensaver comes on.  Consequence.

I learned that some of my fellow choir members had guessed most of what happened.  One confided their own struggles in me and it was that person I leaned on for that tour.  I hope I wasn't too much of a burden.  they've become like a sibling to me. Consequence.

I started this because I thought I had to, because I was worried for some of you, my friends, who had your own struggles.  I am realizing at this moment, that you are the security guard.  I had to focus on you to get through this but I needed to say it.  I am feeling a calmness that I haven't felt for such a long time.  I realize in this very moment the biggest anxiety I've been holding on to.  Someone finding out my secret.  That somehow you would discern what I had done, and judge me for it because I hadn't been able to explain it to you.  I know now you wouldn't.  But I needed to have the journey in explaining.

Lastly.  Now that I have said that,  you can understand me when I say I've been meeting regularly with my Stake President.  Consequence.

He asks me to tell him each time about a tender mercy that I've noticed.  I'm not sure how I will describe this one.  As a missionary we were counseled not to go into our own past transgressions.  It can take you down a dark road.  Some said it killed the spirit.  But sometimes we were still compelled to share.

I've said lastly and I haven't gotten to that point yet have I?

I saw only one set of footprints in the sand that day,  one thing I did know,  they weren't mine.  There were tender mercies strewn through out it all.  My friends.  The security guard.  The pain in my teeth, the strong warm and still, gentle, touch of my eternal companion at my side.  The presence that held me and guided me and made me put down the bottle and begin to fight for my life.  That moment when I realized it had always been OK to wail if the situation truly called for it.   If the emotion couldn't get out any other way.

If you want to call me a fool for believing, you may.  For the first time in a very long time because I have been too afraid of talking to people to do so.  I testify in the tender mercies of the atonement of Christ.  I testify now to you that he is real and he loves us.  No matter how many times you fall.  The atonement is continuous. He doesn't just give it to you once.  It's there.  If you like the parable of the bicycle.  Understand, He isn't taking you to the store to buy it.  He owns all of the bikes.  He has them ready for you.  Whether you bring Him a penny or a thousand dollars or the sweat of your brow.  I you think you lost the bike after obtaining it.  It's still there.

He owns the atonement and it's there for us.  Each of us. This is my testimony.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rock Opera - Dramatis Personae

I'm going to do something positive with this blog too.

I need somewhere to organize my thoughts and figure things out but here's something on the lighter side of that.  Some know that I've been working on a rock opera.  So I'm gonna post some stuff about that here.  it's weird and only loosely based on Greek mythology I change it whenever I feel like it.  Here are some characters from it.

Mercury Rising - The Opera

Dramatis Personae

Herman Mercury - Youthful guitarist, thief and eventually flies through the skies in a Lead Zeppelin of his own design delivering messages between the Eternals of the Sea, Eternals of Heaven’s Hills, and the Eternals of the Underland.  He loves greatly but never wins in love instead he guides others to love and through life.  Herman is strong and quick despite his portly appearance.  Herman dies trying to return through the back door to the overland while crossing the river Styx at the end of a lightning like railgun because Zed mistakes him for Haven.  The opera begins at his funeral.

Haven - Demon Lord of The Underland.  He generally receives souls to his realm and judges them through the gate at Akron, Oh.  He has abandoned his post to chase after the lovely Penelope.  He is cursed when in the mortal realm to drink the blood of the living, passing this curse on to them.  His Younger brother Zed believes he is doing this to raise an army against him.  Haven tries as he may to not bite, and hence curse, Penelope, he succumbs.  In her fear for becoming a vampire as well she takes a stake to her own heart. Haven uses his power over the dead to resurrect her but she has forgotten their love.  Soon they court and fall in love again and the cycle repeats.

Zed - Rules from a high airy tower at the top of Heaven’s Hills among the clouds.   He is afraid that his older brother wants what he has.  He sends Herman to force Haven to leave the mortal girl and abandon his death army who Zed hopes to claim for himself.   Haven is indifferent to Zed and only wants to love the girl Penelope.  There’s nowhere in heaven or sea or on the earth for his undead minions so he has Herman lead them, along with the now dead and soon to be resurrected Kora, across the River styx (The Back door) into the Underland while he leads Zed on a chase to the gate at Akron, OH.

Paul - Not seen in this story, He’s a sailor and the brother of Zed and Haven.  He is part of the reality TV show, “Try to catch as much crab as I do without dying you stupid mortals”

Diana - One of Herman’s many loves and the mother of his son Hermon.  She like the others leaves him and he vows to never love again.

Salma - Hermon’s teenage girlfriend and the two are highschool sweethearts.  No one believes their love is true but Herman, who encourages them to marry.

Hermon - The son of Herman and Diana and loves Salma.  see above.

Penelope - Love of Haven.  Thought to be the love child of Zed and Demi Moore.

Ok if people didn't think I was crazy before I'm sure they do now.