Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Looks like I'm going to get to use this as a travel blog as well as a "normal" blog; my boyfriend and I are going to Europe in January! I'm excited.
I've decided I take everything too seriously and that I don't laugh enough. Even as my boyfriend was telling me about the details of this spectacular trip, I became intensely overwhelmed with fear about the appropriateness of going at such a time-- should I allow myself that time, even when I should be job-searching?, do I deserve this?, etc. I wish I thought about the good things first and the potentially negative aspects after, but I always think in the reverse order. Maybe I can change that.
Soon: pictures of Vienna.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Come January

I am so excited to finish my internship and move into working professionally as well as putting my life together.
I am pretty terrible at closure, so these next three weeks will be a challenge for me.
I have lists of things I want and feel I need to do, come January. But I need to be careful to keep myself limited in those things I do so that I do them well.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Four weeks until the end of my internship. Four weeks until the end of my six months at the hospital. I can hardly wait, to be honest. I look forward to income again. Even if I don't get a music therapy position right away, I will hopefully be able to work more often at the restaurant. Money is the necessary, always.
I worked on the rehabilitation floor of the hospital today. One of the patients said she loved me because she loved the music so much. The two hospice patients I saw today are declining. They both slept the majority of the time in their sessions, when one of them typically talks so much I can hardly provide any music.
I have been seeing the holidays and the end of the year differently. With all of the snow being experienced here, I see a lot of the same dead, cold winter. And the weight of the snow muffles if not snuffs out all sound. People in poor health tend to finish their fights at the end of the year. I wonder if this is because there has been such consistency in life, with the cycles from holiday to holiday, year to year, that the body is aware of the end of the year. I'm not trying to depress, I simply wonder.
I won't be done working at the hospital until the end of the first week of January, which is somewhat annoying in that I'd enjoy finishing with the calendar year. But I plan to use that week to introduce new priorities and a "smaller" lifestyle. I'll use that week to transition, yet again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sudden or in slow process

I have been considering the definition of complicated grief. A question that was posed to me was, "What do you think is harder? Losing someone slowly, or suddenly?"
This week and last I worked with teens in two school systems who have suffered loss of someone close to them, both suddenly and in slow process. I've also been working with hospice patients and their families, some for months now. The clients I see who have Parkinson's Disease is an entirely different animal; each of these populations share qualities surrounding loss as well as have finite distinctions.
I can't answer as to which is harder-- losing someone suddenly or through a process of losing abilities and skills. I know I have a family member who died suddenly, about a year and a half ago. That sucked. I felt that my relationship with him was relatively close, and I find myself thinking of him often. I also think of his kids and their families. I think of his wife and his siblings, and I wonder how they are in their grieving process. I believe grieving happens, whether or not it’s an intentional act. I think grieving exists alongside living, or rather, within living. Grief glorifies the importance of living well. 
Sudden loss is likely horrible. Memories of the last time seeing the person who died erupt, and questions as to whether or not that person knows how loved he or she was arise. There is no time to have prepared for living in this person's absence. 
Slow death is another kind of sad, sometimes. Moving through the process of the disease or the disorder or even the treatment with the person can be debilitating. Watching as the person you knew as having skills and abilities decline and transition into a person who needs assistance can be agonizing. Life is an ever-changing organism, especially in dying. 
I still can't answer that question, and I hope I never try. Death is hard, in any circumstance. But it can help you see how you'd like to live.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How to help

I went to a yoga class this evening that was part of my one free week of unlimited classes. I'm still sore from the first class on Friday, and tonight I felt pretty limited. What was odd tonight, for me, was that I wasn't entirely interested in how the other people in the class were, compared to my level of ability. I haven't really done yoga for more than a few weeks at a time with years between those phases, but nevertheless, I see competition wherever I am-- even when I'm aware I cannot be that good at yoga as I've hardly done it. However, tonight I was more considerate of my physical needs than my emotional needs. I let the instructor help me without getting mad at myself for not doing it correctly in the first place. I adjusted as I felt necessary, for myself. Then I thought, "These people don't care about that. They're here to improve their own health, not to compete with everyone or anyone else." I saw the class from a different perspective. For a few moments, from time to time, I realized the instructor was there to help her students do what they wanted to do with their class. She was there to help and to guide (and eventually collect some sort of pay, as that place is spendy).
What I took away from that class, beside feeling generally fat, was that that class was a collection of people in one space at one time concerned about their welfare as well as that of their classmates. The instructor especially was very gracious.
The class led me to consider a group of high schoolers I saw today for a music therapy session I provided. I'd met these kids one time last week, and won't be seeing them again. What these particular kids have in common, apart from being students at the same high school, is that they each have experienced familial loss in the recent past. Some of the kids have lost loved ones to homicide and gang violence. I enjoyed them last week, but was anxious about leading a group today. They were great today, as I expected. Most of them were engaged in the experience-- songwriting with words associated to loss, grief, and memory-- and all of them had input. But what I found most fascinating was that when one or two of the students tried to agitate the group or move it off course, I wasn't so much the one to collect focus as much as two other kids. Soon, the group would become cohesive again and we'd progress in the experience. I admired that quality about the group. Each student responded in some way to one another, and most of it really was positive. Not all of them knew each other's names, and I am led to believe the only "class" they have in common is the grief group, but regardless, each student responded to and encouraged the whole of the group. They wanted to help. They wanted and needed direction, which I could definitely improve in doing, but once that was provided, they were on board.
Some of them are struggling with violence in their everyday existence. I am sure there are gang members in that school. A lot of them are trying to fend for themselves, I imagine, and some of them don't catch a break. But I really felt that the students in that particular group, dealing with that specific kind of death and loss, truly wanted to be helpful people in some respect. They just might not know how to do it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


In internship, I am realizing the painful pleasure of constructing my unique style of providing music therapy services to the variety of clients and patients I see. I am supervised by three distinctly different professionals, and I work with two co-interns who, too, have different strengths and limitations than me. The therapy I provide is also somewhat different from patient to patient and group to group, even within the same population (which is to be expected).
In the band in which I play, I am also responsible to upholding the knowledge I have accumulated over the years so that I may use it in order to be flexible. I have often found difficulty in maintaining a balance between doing whatever it is the band wants me to do even though I fear the health of my voice, for instance, could be compromised, and being entirely rigid and saying "No" with absolution. I recognize my responsibility, though, in finding that balance.
I can see my style in music therapy develop, and my personal style grow within the context of the band, but I'm having trouble finding that balance I need in other areas of my life. Finding people I enjoy is usually hard, and is proving to be so here as I am attempting to become settled in some manner here in the city. What I'd like is to be patient and to feel confident in myself when I meet someone and think, "Nope, not my style." My good friends reside in opposite sides of the country. My family is nearby, but not close enough to see on a weekly basis. I do have some close people here, and that is lucky-- I'm grateful for that-- but I shouldn't feel badly about believing myself. I've never been one to have a massive group of "friends," because I think having a large number of people with whom to generate a close connection would take an impossible amount of time (and I doubt there are that many people out there who are my style :) ).
I am going to attempt patience, and balance within it. I wonder how long I can make it last.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


One truth of mine that continuously fascinates me is that when I feel I would like to be alone and isolate myself from people, I find that I am entirely wrong. Some days I'll go to work and look forward at the day with anxiety as I consider the number of people I'll see who have some truly depressing life circumstances. On those days, I usually predict that I would feel worse about things in general when I'm done with work, because being around death and dying can be hard. But I am always wrong. True, some days I cry a lot. Typically, though, I am reminded of how fascinating people are. People are people are people. Some define themselves by their affliction, most do not. I love hearing people tell their stories, even when the stories are very short and address only the current situation. What's really special about working in hospice is that I get to hear more in-depth descriptions of family life. I am very lucky to be included in some families' stories.
I am also very lucky to have the friends and family I do. Tonight I got to take a free yoga class with my boyfriend and a friend of his, whom hopefully soon can be a friend of mine. I am surprised by how blissful I feel after such simple interactions, as well as some very complex ones.