Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'giving-up'

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Dance moves

May 24, 2013


Music, for one reason or another, has always been an integral part of my daily life. I meet people who can have music in the background at dinner or a barbecue, but how can you focus on anything without reveling in the songs, the lyrics and melodies changing you into whoever you were, wherever you heard that song for the first time?

Odd, this, but every few months or so, I'll just cling to some music, one particular artist or one song covered by many, as I use it to process whatever is happening in my life. Last spring, I was drawn to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Life was not good. Love was not good. Love ended in brokenness.  Suffice to say, I survived and that song (although on repeat for a few, wallowing months) stopped being so personal. I was bright and shiny and life was beautiful again. Showtunes, old school R&B, anything that was sunshine and hope and the rush from dancing at home on my lunch break or after work, became preferred again.

What I've been feeling lately is spring and summer and hip-shaking solo dance parties. I've been moving through the world, walking for miles on my lunch break. The only trouble is trying to keep from dancing in the streets to the beats in my ears.  Right now, I'm grooving to "Fugees Radio" on Pandora, which I've filled with my own personal blend of 80's & 90's rap & hip-hop (memories from middle school through college) and today's new discoveries. For a few songs, I'm no longer staring 40 (well, ok, 36) in its exhausted eyes, I'm back in middle school, before the self consciousness, before any aches and pains, when we all danced in tight circles in the gym, trying to pick up new moves.

Which brings me to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist", only the second album I've purchased on my iPhone (the other being Johnny Cash's "Unchained", if you must get all the details of my "diverse" music tastes). There's that resonance again. I will warn you that there's cursing, so it's not something to spring on your kids without listening first. But, as an adult, I would definitely recommend you give it a listen. Listen to the words...

"My, Oh, My" makes me tear up at the loss of Dave Niehaus a few years back, remembering how I couldn't get my mom to get out of the car and come in for dinner until the M's game she'd been listening to all the way home from work was over. "Can't Hold Us" had me freak out,  dancing with a classmate in my improv class, "Thrift Shop" has its own dance routine worked out at home (with or without my vacuum cleaner),  "Victory Lap" and "Ten Thousand Hours", about the journeyman process to getting good at what you are passionate about rings true for me every day I step in my clinic, especially those times when I wonder what the heck I'm doing and when I should know enough to give up and let it crumble versus buckling down and riding out the rough spots. "Same Love" is thrilling to me now that marriage equality is a reality in our state, in so many other states and countries. How principled, how upright to stand up for this belief in equality in a genre that routinely diminishes and demonizes those who love people of the same gender, especially before it was the law to allow everyone the freedom to marry. I am so happy that all my friends, gay or straight, can choose to live the way they want to live with the partners that they love. 

But, oh, the heartbreak on "Starting Over", his follow up to "Otherside" makes me cry every time. I want to punch a hole in something when I think about addiction and the people I love that struggle with it. I hate that these are the stories that pretty much everyone has, that there's a saboteur in so many brains.. that this disease called addiction waits patiently for so many people to have a moment of weakness. The closing line is exactly what I want to hear: "If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over..."

Macklemore's willingness to share his own struggles, his openness about what he's gone through and about his beliefs, and his positive attitude as reflected in his work are all inspiring to me. I became a doctor to make a difference in someone's life, to provide caring and healing for the people in my community who need it, to help build a stronger Seattle, a stronger and better world. He's made such a name for himself as an independent artist- that, too, I admire. The hard work and heartbreak, the two steps forward, one step back process of getting recognition, especially without the backing of a large corporation. If I could say anything to him, it would be "Well done. Keep making a positive change. Share your message with as many people as possible. You are a force for good. You matter and you have a chance to change so much. Keep moving. " I realize as I write this, these are the words we should say to everyone.

So, I guess this post is just a mash note to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but it's also for everyone I see making a choice every day to make a positive difference in the world, to reach out and connect with people around them, to stand up for the changes they want to see happen. Yeah, "The Heist" hits me. It's beautiful. You should listen to it. And you should dance.


When is it "being reasonable" and when is it "giving up"?

March 29, 2010

The thought crossed my mind last night as I was reading a friend's blog post, "Why try? Why not settle for 'good enough? Why do I get so frustrated when I see people I care about decide to give up their search for the best in what  matters (or what I think should matter)?" We all settle for some things, continue to strive for others, but what is it in our minds and hearts that allows us to decide which is which? And why do other people's choices matter so much to me? Where do I "give up" and where do I refuse? Why?

For me, I "give up" on exercise because I'm afraid of spending my whole life trying and failing to be healthy, be a certain size, and be pain-free. I feel like I've set my goals astronomically high and that may just be what prevents me from attaining them, albeit in a step-wise fashion. Maybe if I set a goal to do a certain set of exercises each week, add on to that as the weeks pass, I'll be more likely to complete that goal and find the other goals (weight loss, pain reduction, etc) fall into line automatically. For me, exercise is an easy area to give up in, it's not always enjoyable, the results are not immediate, it's more of a long-term endeavor. Wouldn't it just be okay to say "this is where I'm going to drop the ball so I don't drop it in more important areas of my life"? These days, a lot of articles talk about how women spread themselves so thin, trying to be everything to everyone and to meet their own expectations. I'm sure this applies to men, too, but I can't speak from experience there. What I do know is, something's gotta give. So maybe the way to become "active" is to give up my ideas of what I have to be/do/look like in order for that label to apply to me? Maybe I can get around "giving up" by not setting such lofty goals for myself? Maybe I can get away with doing the same for housework?

One area I refuse to settle in is romance. As I entered my 30s, doubts began to creep in about whether settling wasn't such a bad idea, whether I would be able to find somone who met my lofty ideals, and whether I was even capable of achieving the type of personal relationship with the partner of my dreams. My biological clock felt like it was speeding up. Tick-tock-tick-tock.chil-dren-ba-bies-tick-tock.. I began worrying when the alarm would ring, telling me my time was up and I'd better resign myself to dying alone. But underneath that incessant beating, there has come a relaxation. A softening of the absolutes of my 20s when I would never date someone who...never fall in love with...never enjoy... While my preferences and morals remain the same, I've opened my eyes to see a wider range of potential partners who fit into them. I still refuse to settle for someone who doesn't love me unconditionally (or vice versa), someone who doesn't love themselves, or someone who is more concened about their personal profit than the future of the planet. I've learned that those who "need saving" need to do it themselves. Fortunately, the more people I meet, the more I find to like about them and the more forgiving of other people's faults I become (and my own as well).

What hurts my heart is when I see people I love actively settling for something less than what would bring them happiness. I'm not just talking about people doing something other than what I would do myself; I hope I'm more mature than that. I mean people who have confided in me that they're settling for the least terrible option without even exploring all their possibilities. I am a creature of possibility. If I'd settled for the least painful option, I'd probably have been married three times over, stayed in a job that paid the bills but killed my soul, or have given up altogether. Why does it bother me when other people choose to take the path of settling, knowing that they want something more? Maybe they find other rewards in settling, reasons why they choose what they do.

I, like many other people, have seen friends die young with their potential untapped. I've seen children die who never had a chance at the kinds of opportunites taken for granted or fearfully shied away from. A large part of my frustration, and a large part of my struggle to help other people achieve their dreams and to realiza my own, comes from grief and anger that the ones I lost never got a chance. I would say it's anger at opportunities for happiness squandered in the face of people who never got to have that opportunity. It's what keeps me moving forward and what makes me want to carry (or drag) others forward as well. I know it's their choice. I know it's their decision. My argument would be "you're only given an unknown amount of time in this form on this planet. Why wouldn't you grab life with both hands?"

So, I guess, I need to grow up, learn to let other people make their own choices and leave them be about the decisions they make. I need to stop taking such a personal interest in whether someone else has joy or is just settling for less pain. I'm working on that and I hope you'll bear with me as I learn that other people's pain is not my pain, that decisions painfully made are never without their own rewards, and that 17 minutes of a 30 minute yoga video is not "settling" but progress.