OBT day 12

#OBTChallenge Day 12

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” most days. (The original goal was every day, but it now seems like several times a week is more reasonable. 😉 ) This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression, and I’m finding it helpful – at least for me – to counteract that by putting out some good energy.

This afternoon I’m teaching the first session of a new class at our local community college. The class, “Storytelling and Sound,” explores ways that music can inspire and support the creative writing progress. I’ve never taught anything like it before, and I think balancing the writing side with the music side will be interesting and challenging.

The class has been on the college’s calendar for three semesters now, but this is the first time it’s run. I was starting to think it never would, and in fact that proposing it was a mistake. I’m glad I get the chance to try it out. At the same time, anxiety – as usual – is telling me I’ll be lucky to make it work.

Anxiety likes to tell me many times a day that I can’t do things. It’s a drag, but on the other hand, those messages have repeated themselves so often, and made no difference whatsoever, that I’m starting to get better at ignoring the internal bully. It says, “You’re going to crash and burn!” and I say, “Thanks for the comment,” and get on with things.

This morning I went for a walk in a nearby parcel of woods. I took this picture because I like the idea of the somewhat-hidden path: we don’t always know what’s ahead, but get on with things every day, one step at a time. And in any moment, that one step is all we have to take care of.

woods pic

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

 

OBT day 11

#OBTChallenge Day 11

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression.

Tonight I’m giving a piano performance. That’s something I haven’t been doing very often lately, and it doesn’t feel quite as routine as it used to. I’d initially planned to keep the program very “safe.” One flashy piece I know really well – Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata – and the rest of the program slow and quiet and tame.

Then yesterday, when I was practicing, I realized exactly how safe I was playing it (literally) and why. Anxiety was telling me I couldn’t do riskier music that might be more fun. I decided to test that theory. Maybe it’s not the wisest idea to change up your program the day before a performance, but why not? 😉

I switched out a couple of pieces and added a couple of others. The video below is one of the switches. My original program included three very safe sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. I decided to trade one of the safe ones for the one in the video, which is quite a bit harder, but more fun both to hear and to play. (If you watch the recording, you might notice my left hand jumping over my right hand now and then, and hanging out at the high end of the keyboard for a while.) I recorded it during my practice session, because playing for a video is even scarier for me than playing for an audience.

The recording is a little rough, but I decided to use it as an OBT less for the music itself and more for the reminder that, sometimes, we can do more than we think. We don’t always have to confine ourselves to playing it safe. Here’s to taking a risk now and then, and trusting our powers!

 

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

OBT day 10

#OBTChallenge Day 10

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression.

Speaking of anxiety, yesterday I had to have my car worked on (flat tire, long story). I was at the garage for most of the afternoon, about four hours total from when my car was towed there to when I got back home. If you’re a fellow anxiety sufferer, you know that being in a “trapped” situation – stuck somewhere, you’re not sure for how long, you can’t control the outcome – is a serious trigger.

I managed not to flip out at the garage (phew!). It was good to get home, but I was also angry at what felt like a lot of wasted time. I didn’t get anything done today. All that stuff I needed to do. As often happens, my response to the stress intensified it. I got mad at myself for getting mad. What’s wrong with me that I can’t just roll with it?

Sometimes we have to step back. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for not always doing things the way we might have wanted. This is really, really hard for me, but sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “You know what? It’s okay to be you.”

Today, if you’re frustrated with yourself, how you handled something, or how you can get sometimes, I invite you to step back and take a breath. It’s okay to be you. Really.

fergus snooze
It’s also okay to need a break.

 

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

OBT day 9

#OBTChallenge Day 9

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. Last week, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post is another good thought, in the form of a quote:

“Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing in loveliness.” – Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

Tattoos on the Heart is a powerful and eye-opening read about a Jesuit priest’s experience working in gang intervention in California. In the quote above, Fr. Boyle is talking about restoring a sense of self-worth to young people who have given up on their own lives.

I think the idea can apply to a lot of us. For me, “re-teaching a thing in loveliness” might be a way to counteract depression and some of my self-directed anger and disappointment. It can mean looking at myself in a new way and seeing beauty and value in aspects of myself I might have ignored; like in my last post, where I thought about my “stubbornness” in a positive light. It can also mean being more patient with myself during the times when I think I’m falling short.

Where might you turn a more positive light on yourself? Where might you look at yourself in a new way and see something beautiful? It’s a short question to ask, but I’d invite you to think about it.

dogwood ice 1.19.20
Some unexpected beauty: dogwood encased in ice

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBT Day 8

#OBTChallenge Day 8

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. Last week, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s OBT has to do with holding a good thought about yourself. Right now, as I’m facing down resistance and some discouragement in the face of “stuff I have to do but don’t want to,” I’m taking a rare minute to think deliberately about something about myself that I like. If you’re like me and deal with depression – or even if you don’t have that particular “frenemy,” but are just like a lot of us tend to be at one point or another – you spend a lot of time listening to the self-critical voice in your head. It can be hard sometimes even to find one thing you think you’re good at, or something you’re proud of.

I’m pretty stubborn. Sometimes I’ve put that in the negative column about myself: “don’t know when to quit,” “can’t give up when I should.” But it’s also a useful strength. I don’t want to go through my to-do list today, and I have a feeling I’m not doing everything just so or the absolute best it can possibly be (for instance, writing query letters, which can always drain the go-getter feelings right out of me). But I’m doing those things anyway. I’m plugging through the list and showing up, whether or not everything is as perfect as I might like it to be. Often, like today, stubborn is a good thing to be. And yes, it does mean that I don’t know when to quit…and sometimes that’s meant that I can make things work, even when they might look hopeless.

I invite you to take a minute now and celebrate something about yourself. Maybe, like me, you have that stubbornness that translates to getting stuff done and refusing to give up. Maybe you’re good at finding the positive in the difficult. Maybe your trait is energy, or compassion, or some particular skill or gift.

Take a minute, focus on that, and honor it. Alafair (below) insists that you do.

Alafair portrait
You are excellent. Like me.

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

One Bright Thing, day 7

#OBTChallenge Day 7

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. Last week, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today, because I’m tired and need a quick smile myself, I’m going with a staple. Cat pictures. I take a lot of those. 🙂

This is Fergus. He’s photogenic, largely due to his funny face. (Hover over each pic to see its caption.)

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

One Bright Thing, day 6

#OBTChallenge Day 6

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. The ordinary day-to-day gets complicated by the weather, the increased hours of darkness, the post-holiday slump, and very often, the news in the wider world.

A few days ago, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post (which might also be tomorrow’s, since I’m putting it up late 😉 ) breaks from the music string of the past days and instead is just a short line of thought.

I was teaching a creative writing workshop this afternoon, in which we talked about how pretty much any storyline you might think about writing – a love story, a war story, a heist, a quest, anything really – has probably been written before, lots of times. The one unique thing any writer can offer is our characters, the people who live our stories, because our characters come from ourselves and who we are.

This morning I got up feeling pretty down. Sometimes I get very much into self-comparison, and I usually decide I’m not doing nearly as well with my life as this or that other person, or doing as well with my life as I “should be.” In those times, I start to wonder what exactly I have to offer at all.

But this afternoon’s workshop reminded me that, just as any writer’s unique offering to the world of story is their characters, so any person’s unique offering to the world-at-large is themselves. There’s no one else quite like me. There’s no one else quite like you who are reading this. We might be doing things, or trying to do things, similar to what other people are doing, and we might be inspired or daunted by the achievements of others: but no one else can be exactly like us. No one else thinks like us, talks like us, loves or cheers or cries like us.

And no matter how we sometimes feel, the world could not be the same without us, exactly as we are. No one else could shine the unique and specific candles we light in the world every day, just by living and doing and being.

So if you need a good thought to hold, maybe this one will help. And this seems like a good place for a picture of one of my critters, who absolutely knows that there is no one else in the world like him:

Fergus piano

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share!

One Bright Thing, day 5

#OBTChallenge Day 5

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. The ordinary day-to-day gets complicated by the weather, the increased hours of darkness, the post-holiday slump, and very often, the news in the wider world.

A few days ago, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post features music by Felix Mendelssohn; not my own playing this time. 🙂 This is the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49, as performed by the Zukerman Trio.

I’m currently learning this piece, and it’s a big challenge. If you’ve read about me here on the site, you know I’ve been balancing work in music and writing for a number of years. Sometimes that balance leans more one way or the other. Lately, I haven’t been as much of a “real pianist” as I trained to be, and this Mendelssohn is definitely pushing me to get my chops back.

Learning it has been a mix of fun and frustrating. Over the past few days especially, I’ve caught myself getting really impatient with my own limitations. Why can’t you remember those notes? Why can’t you get that passage up to speed? I know the real issue is that I’m scared I “can’t do it well enough,” that I’m not enough of a pianist anymore. But if I let myself get impatient and angry, it only makes the work harder. If I try to keep a sense of humor about it and let myself learn and grow at my own pace, things happen much more easily.

It’s hard for me to be patient and accepting with myself and to honor when I’m trying my best. If I want to be able to do that with others, the buck starts here. This piece is teaching me lessons about more than music. And it’s a wonderful piece too: full of drama and fire and all shades of expression.

Please enjoy the video and visit back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share!

One Bright Thing, day 4

#OBTChallenge Day 4

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. A few days ago, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post features music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This is a recording I made of his Sonata in F Major, KV 280. It’s about ten minutes long, and like a lot of Mozart’s music, it’s joyful, sparkling, and full of energy. Guaranteed to give your day a boost.

Please enjoy and visit back tomorrow, and if you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share!

One Bright Thing, day 3

#OBTChallenge Day 3

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. A few days ago, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post, keeping with the music theme from OBT Days 1 and 2, features music by Robert Schumann. The recording below, which I made a couple of years ago, is about fifteen minutes long. If you don’t have time to just sit and listen, I definitely recommend it as a soundtrack while you’re working. Guaranteed to make the work go faster. 🙂

Schumann (1810-1849) wrote this piece, Papillons, early on in his career. The title literally translates as “butterflies.” Schumann chose it to capture what writing the piece felt like to him: he was riding a wave of inspiration, with musical ideas flying around him thick and fast, a cloud of butterflies.

The music creates a ballroom scene. Schumann puts the listener there, watching the dancers, admiring all the costumes and masks, caught up in the swirl of light and sound. It’s been one of my favorite pieces since I first learned it about 25 (!) years ago: fun to listen to and joyful to play.

Please enjoy and visit back tomorrow, and if you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share!