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Posts Tagged ‘Random’

12 steps everyone needs

Thinking about it, I don’t even remember why or where I read the 12 Steps. At 20, I’ve never had more than one drink at a time. Not everyone enjoys the same things, drinking is not something that I’m attracted to for a variety of reasons. It just doesn’t do it for me.

It was sometime within the last few months, and I remember thinking how beautiful it is. Even without an addiction beating you down to rock-bottom, we all have our vices, flaws, and failures and can feel the power in where these steps can lead.

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

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It’s snowing outside my window, and now it is even snowing on my blog. You are not going crazy, there really are tiny white things falling down the screen.

I always hear mixed things about snow, some people love it and some people vehemently hate it. I’m a snow lover. I’m sorry if you are a hater, but maybe I can help you think of something good about it.

1. I love making snow angels.

2. I love trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue.

3. I love that new snow looks so clean.

4. I love that snow helps soften the harshness of all Chicago’s concrete.

5. I love sitting inside watching the snow fall.

6. I love waking up and being surprised by the white blanket that appeared while I slept.

7. I love getting snowed in.

8. I love skiing.

9. I love sledding.

10. I love eating snow.

11. I love making slushies with fresh snow.

12. I love making snow forts.

13. I love throwing snowballs.

14. I love wrestling in the snow.

15. I love playing in the snow for so long that you feel frozen and then going inside to enjoy the warmth.

16. I love that drinking hot chocolate and reading a book feels special when in snows.

17. I love that schools take a spontaneous day off and kids can play outside.

18. I love the cold sting of snow on my face.

19. I love when snow drifts lightly down.

20. I love when the snow falls so thick and fast that you can’t see anything outside.

21. I love that it is silent.

22. I love how excited I feel the first time it snows for the winter.

23. I love trying to look at the tiny flakes and see the intricate designs.

24. I love when it really snows for a moment it feels like the world is frozen in place.

25. I love that it always feels magical.

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I never ate in a cafeteria until college. Malls and hospitals might have been the closest I ever came to seeing what most children saw in school everyday growing up.

I was homeschooled. My experience, or lack of experience, with cafeterias is just one example of the many things that make me just a little bit different from the traditional school population. I found that most of these things are like cafeterias, most people would say that I didn’t miss much.

I didn’t see friends in class everyday. But if I finished my school work as efficiently as possible and I could spend most of the day playing with friends.

I never did a group project. But I learned to do everything on my own.

I never had specialized teachers with knowledge about specific topics. But I learned how to find a book on anything I wanted to know about.

I never had competition with other students. But I learned to challenge myself and compete with my own abilities to get better.

I couldn’t be in an honors program, no matter how well I did. But I learned to excel for its own sake without the need for recognition.

I never had any sort of dress code. But I learned that you probably won’t get anything done while you are still wearing pajamas.

I never got to stay home sick. But I learned to get work done even if I did it in bed.

I could never leave school. But I learned that even when you can physically leave school at the end of the day, you never stop learning.

I never had a list of extra-curricular activities offered to me. But I learned how to find any activity I wanted and get involved.

I never rode a school bus. But I never had to wait outside for the bus or missed it.

I didn’t have a class of people who became my automatic friends. But I learned I could make friends anywhere.

I never had a class of people exclusively my age. But I learned to be friends with people of any age.

I never fought with kids at school. But I learned that I had to resolve every fight with my three siblings because we couldn’t escape each other.

I never had a schedule made for me. But I learned to make my own schedule and get things done.

I never got sent to the principals office or a detention. But if I did anything wrong, my parents knew exactly what it was.

I never had a summer reading list. But I always made my own list that was impossibly long.\

I never had people tell me what was cool. But I got to decide for myself.

I never had a crush on a cute boy in my class. But I was never rejected or hurt.

I was never one of the popular kids. But I never learned to care about popularity or what other people thought of me.

I never had P.E. But I learned to like exercising.

I never got bullied. But I knew what it was like to be alone.

I never felt peer pressured. But I felt enough pressure from my parents and myself to make up for that.

I never ate with friends in the lunch room. But I never felt segregation, stereotyped, or excluded.

I never ate cafeteria food. But I learned how to make good choices about the food I ate.

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1. At least the computer works.Pencil

2. You should find time for the things you love.

3. You can always reset your password.

4. If you wait around to be motivated then you never will be. You motivate yourself. Motivation does not usually magically descend upon you.

5. You can write about anything. What you are thinking, something that happened, something you know, or even something you don’t know. There is always something to write about.

6. Writing is one of the best outlets for questions. If it sounds a little incoherent, just call it art and pretend everyone else is too shallow to understand it.

7. Sit down, stop finding distractions, and quick making excuses.

8. Writing can be like a vacation.

9. You should write tomorrow. And today. Because you can only write while in the present, so do it now.

10. If you are writing for other people you will rarely be satisfied with the actually writing. Write for yourself and write often, eventually you will write something you are satisfied with. And then you will write even more.

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1. I switched to a Mac, hate the new word processing software, and therefore writing anything on my computer (but generally love the actual computer).

2. I’ve have been extremely busy. There are at least five other things I should have already done and should be doing now.

3. I couldn’t remember my password.

4. I lost my motivation.

5. I don’t know what to write. Inspiration may come in short spurts, and usually when I am far away from my computer. By the time I sit down, I can’t remember what I was going to write.

6. I have been questioning many things in my life and have had a hard time keeping my train of thought coherent.

7. I could have ADD.

8. Everybody needs a vacation.

9. I’ll write tomorrow.

10. Nobody cares if I’m writing or not.

Leave a comment: why don’t you post anything?

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I have this fish.

I think he will be a famous fish someday; Deerslayer even has a band named after him that my roommate and some friends started in the last month. They have a couple songs written already.

Somehow I developed this talent for relating him to any conversational topic that is dying. There are a lot of people who know I have a fish because of this habit.

Deerslayer is a well-traveled fish too, having lived in Massachusetts, moved to Chicago, and visited Indiana and Wisconsin. I don’t know where he lived before I saved him from Wal-Mart. He doesn’t like traveling; he gives me angry looks and starts turning yellowish when he is upset for a long period of time. I don’t think he would ever want to go on a music tour though.

He doesn’t like when I change his water either. He jumped out of his bowl and nearly gave me a heart attack twice.

He lived in a big glass pitcher when I first moved to Chicago, because I couldn’t find a place with fish bowls. He liked to swim laps from the top to the bottom.

I found ‘Slayer a respectable fish bowl to live in now. He lives next to my games and puzzles, with a framed picture of Bob Dylan looking over him. I think he is a very happy fish. He gets a lot of attention.

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It’s not unusual for fathers or mothers to have dreams for their children. The father may want his son to be an NFL football player, or his daughter to be a star student and valedictorian. Sometimes the mother wants her son to be a magnificent ballroom dancer or her daughter to be the most beautiful beauty queen. Some parents just want their kids to finish high school. My mother was the mother who wanted her daughter to be some sort of great pianist.  And that required my participation.

PianoUnfortunately, at the age of eight I did not share this dream at all. I would have much preferred to be outside up to my ankles in mud making my favorite “mud shoes.” Despite my resistance, each Tuesday, my mother dropped my older sister and I off at Mrs. Hill’s house for lessons.

Mrs. Hill lived in a large house at the top of a hill, a fact I secretly always found amusing. That hill made her driveway the sort that we wouldn’t even bother trying to drive up in the winter, no matter how much it was plowed New England’s snow and ice kept us at the bottom, forcing us to trudge miserably in our snow boots up to the shelter at the top.

When we actually got inside the house we had to battle her dogs, as they eagerly greeted us with rapidly wagging tails. I generally liked dogs, and she had two, a dachshund and a greyhound.  The ludicrous relative size between the two made them a comical pair. I liked her dachshund. Running in circles with excitement, his wagging tail would vibrate his entire rear end. But her greyhound scared me. Accustomed to being the smallest in every class I had ever been in, this gigantic dog was twice my size. When he greeted us, his wagging tail would move like an enormous whip, large enough to knock me to the ground.

After making it up the hill and past the dogs, I still had to live through the lesson itself. My sister would sit on the big, dark-green imitation leather couch in the formal living room doing homework. She would work until it was her turn to be taught. While she sat comfortably, I sat on the hard bench at the enormous grand piano ready to be tortured by my captor, Mrs. Hill.

Mrs. Hill reminded me a lot of my mother. She was probably a pleasant lady, but she easily became a villainous opponent in my mind. I didn’t think that she was a pleasant lady at all when she was trying to make me learn something. I never minded plunking out songs at the piano, but I did mind when someone watched over my shoulder telling me that I was doing it wrong. However, Mrs. Hill didn’t realize that I rarely knew what was right. I could barely read the music; I didn’t understand how the notes on the page somehow matched the keys on the piano. I could color in the lines, but I could not play by the sheet music.

Being a resourceful child, I found a loop hole.  I would play each song however it sounded right to me: by ear and using the numbers above the notes that corresponded to my fingers.  My system worked better than struggling to actually read the music; unfortunately for me it was not foolproof.  When there were no numbers, I had to guess.  Additionally, my scheme incorporated my own timing and rhythm, which rarely coincided with what Mrs. Hill wanted.

Poor Mrs. Hill was stuck trying to force me to play by her methods. Her favorite device of torment was a small, hand-held metronome that resembled a remote control. It was not like the pleasant ticking that you would hope, but an obnoxious beeping that felt like musical Chinese water torture. Rather than helping me keep the rhythm, it shattered all my concentration. Simply the sight of the dreaded device was enough to make me cringe with nervous expectation. Insisting that I would learn with practice, Mrs. Hill was sure that I would get used to it.

She might have been right, if I had practiced at all.  My mom would try just about every day to park me on the bench in front of the piano, and she would succeed for maybe five minutes, until I found a way to distract her and steal away.  Routine agony and torture kept us occupied for two years of lessons with Mrs. Hill.

It only got worse.  While I didn’t like the lessons to begin with, it was a little better because my sister and I were in it together.  It had always been the two of us. She was with me for every lesson. Obviously we didn’t play the same songs and were at completely different levels, she was much better than I. So much better that she eventually needed a different teacher. Recommended to a teacher in another town, she began to take lessons with her own teacher, while I continued to take lessons in the house on the hill -alone.

After enduring a what seemed a grueling lifetime of suffering, although realistically about two months, I was transferred to the other teacher when my mom decided that it would be easier to manage piano lessons if we both had the same teacher. I no longer had to face Mrs. Hill each Tuesday! Although I was relieved, the feeling was fleeting when I realized that I still had to play piano, and the torture would be continued by an unknown executor.

When the first day of the new lessons arrived, my mom drove us up to the front steps. There was no hill with a driveway like Mt. Everest; there was only a horse-shoe shaped driveway, to make turning around easier. There were no dogs to fend off; there were only chirping birds at the hospitable feeder outside, overflowing with seeds, tempting the squirrels and chipmunks as well. There was no grand piano taunting me as I desperately tried to find a note that sounded right; there was only an old, loved upright, like I had at home. There was no Mrs. Hill, waiting for me with her beeping metronome; there was only Mrs. Been, eager to meet her new student.

When we entered, my sister sat down, not on a dark couch with imitation leather in a living room, but in a wooden chair at a homey table that was covered in a sky-blue tablecloth with pretty fake flowers in a basket in the center of the table. As my sister settled down with her homework, I settled down on the piano bench, curious to see how my new teacher would try to make me learn.

An older woman with short curly white hair, Mrs. Been was quick; she had been teaching kids for longer than I had been alive.  She taught music lessons for students at the local school, as well as privately.  The private lessons she gave in a small, sun-porch type of room, devoted to teaching piano.  There was just enough space for a few bookshelves near the piano and her desk, where she kept her students’ records. During the lesson, Mrs. Been sat near the piano bench in a swivel office chair, ready for action.

This chair was very attractive to me; I was very fond of spinning chairs.  When Mrs. Been had me move from the bench so she could demonstrate a song, which had little resemblance to the original when I had attempted to play it, I naturally sat in the twirling chair.  As I took a seat in her chair she chuckled, telling me that I was the only student to sit in her chair, the others would stand respectfully as she played.  While she played, I twisted gently back and forth, enjoying the sound of the song and the motion of the chair.

MusicNot surprisingly, it didn’t take Mrs. Been long to see that I knew almost nothing.  Whipping out her set of musical flash cards, she proved that I could hardly read a note. By the end of the lesson I had been sent back to the previous difficulty level of piano books. I had to get a set of new books that she said she liked better than the ones I had been trying to play. She also gave me a planner where she wrote down my assignments for the week. Under the assignments there was a row of boxes, one for each day of the week. This is where I was supposed to record the amount of time that I had practiced each day.

When we went back the next week, the first thing Mrs. Been did was examine my planner.  She looked at my practice time pleased and surprised, and after writing “195” in large triumphant print, she had me pick out a sticker to put next to it.  I didn’t understand at first why she was so delighted.  Suddenly, it occurred to me: that number was the total time I’d practiced that week.  I had practiced for a total of three hours and fifteen minutes that week.  It hadn’t occurred to me that I had been practicing very much, although I had noticed a feeling of satisfaction each time I had written down how long I’d spent in front of our piano.  Mrs. Been was thrilled, and wrote my name and the number again on a long list, with stars and stickers, that was posted on the wall.  My name was at the top of the list, because I had practiced the most out of all of her students that week.

Strong enforcement from my mom continued to be necessary for a while, but that day became marked in my mind as the day I realized that I could play piano for myself. After that I began to practice more and more; it became a competition to keep my name reigning at the top of the chart. I still couldn’t play very well, but now I had a been given a goal to achieve. I became very fond of Mrs. Been, anticipating my lessons with her each week and becoming more inspired to play. She began encouraging me to play songs I knew and loved, even taking field trips to the piano store where I could pick out any music I wanted. I began to play for hours, loving feel of the keys flowing under my fingers, each note vibrating deep from the heart of the piano.

I can’t say that I became my mother’s inspiring pianist, and patient Mrs. Been had to exert constant perseverance to help me develop my fingering and timing. While my mother’s dream may never be fully realized, I found that I had taken her dream for me to play the piano like a concert pianist, and made it into my own dream – to simply play piano.

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