I need to get rid of it because there's no space for it in my condo unit.
It's a “Nearly Natural” 5209 Ficus Silk Tree -- green and about 6’ tall. It’s currently labeled on Amazon as a “best seller” at $60 with 4½ stars). I bought mine several years ago and it’s only been in the way ever since lol. You can tell it’s fake up close, so it might do better in a larger space. I’ll also throw in the extra pot I bought, if you want. It’s not very stable on its own, so I was going to use the bigger pot to fill with rocks and cover with Spanish moss. I never got the rocks and just ended up leaning it against a wall. I’ll let it go for $40, but you have to come get it. Oh, and this is a picture of it on my balcony, but it's not designed for outdoors.
Also might donate it to a church or school.
I've got a lot of junk to get rid of (including some musical equipment I've never used (like a drum machine). This is just the beginning. :)
Yesterday, I bit the bullet and got my hand Botoxed. In other words, was treated with Botulinum toxin injections!
The purpose of this was to calm a "dystonic tremor" that had developed (I'm guessing) from several years of t trying to play the flute with cubital tunnel syndrome before it was properly treated.
The decision to go ahead with the Botox was an agonizing choice, because of the risks involved and the fact that it is, well, a toxin. Plus I had other concerns because I didn't fully understand the process. How could any doctor pinpoint exactly which nerve to target? Then, there were the horror stories I think are best not to discuss here.
But after several months of exercises and natural remedies (and a few medications), it seemed like an appropriate course of action.
It's been a little over 24 hours, so it's far too soon to say for certain, but so far it seems like the right decision. Though I went into this with some trepidation, I gained a little more confidence when I learned that they don't target the nerve, but the muscle. And the doctor had me wiggle my affected fingers so she could find the precise muscle to inject. Afterwards, I felt two quick pricks (I couldn't look) and it was over.
The tremor is already pretty much gone and I'm hoping this is a good thing. There's no pain or stiffness, either. But I was told to expect it to work "between 4 and 7 days", so I've still got three more days and hope that this early "success" is not a sign that it will overshoot the mark.
I'll keep you posted.
For the past few weeks or so, I've been experimenting with "intermittent fasting". I got the idea after a bit of Internet research, where I learned about several supposed benefits of giving your digestive system a rest every once in a while. What got my attention were articles like those of Dr. Mercola that stated, in essence, that during a fasting state, your body produces more HGH (human growth hormone) and stimulates atophagy, a natural "cleansing process"). Though other benefits were often also cited, these were the main ones for me since I suspected they might help with brain function and cubital nerve repair.
There are several different variations to intermittent fasting, but the one that I ended up with was limiting my food intake to fewer hours per day. I started out fasting from 6 pm to 10 am), but going to bed hungry aggravated my sleep disorder. And I learned that's exactly the opposite of what our ancestors did. Apparently, they didn't have refrigerators and 24/7 access to food and spent the beginning of each day "chasing food" (fasting and expending energy) and that left the end of the day for restoration (eating and sleeping). So now I have my first meal some time after noon (unless I get hungry, lol) and stop before 8 pm.
An interesting downside to this "diet" is that I've actually gained a few pounds since starting it. By afternoon, I'm really pretty hungry so I tend to make up for the missed breakfast. At the same time, I can't seem to help wanting to "stock up" at night. So, the end result is that I'm taking in more calories than before.
But once that's under control, I think it will be great. I noticed a substantial improvement in finger coordination after about 4 days. I can't solely attribute it to fasting though, because I have some other things going on lately as well -- my recent sleep therapy, for one, and I've also given up caffeine and alcohol. In addition, I've gotten a lot more serious about my stretching routine and using my elbow brace at night. They're therapies I've implemented before with less improvement, but I can't rule out some sort of synergistic effect.
As excited as I am about all this, I realize I have to be cautious. There have been many other times, when I tried something that seemed to work for a while and then it stopped working. But this really does feel different. I'm playing with a facility that I haven't enjoyed since I was a teenager. And I've often wondered what it would be like if I could combine that facility with the artistry and expressiveness that I've developed over the years. Hopefully, I will soon see.
Having bought into the "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" mantra that's been popular for so long, skipping it is very new to me. But it adds a good, full hour to my day, to that's another reason I'd like to make it work.
Maybe, I'll go with a 12 hour fast rather than 16. After all, it's after 12 hours that the body reportedly starts to produce the HGH. So for me, the extra 4 hours is really just a bonus.
It's my first year participating in this event and I have submissions entered in three categories. I'm excited to report that I won first place in two of them and they'll be entered into the national competition which will be held later in the year!
I was first place in Original Song and World/Ethnic Instrumental Performance. I also submitted an entry in Inspirational Poetry, but did not place.
I know this isn't the Avery Fischer Prize or anything -- It's restricted to participation by military veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care Network -- but I'm thrilled to be a part of it. I was looking at some of the national winners from last year, and found the art to be both moving and very impressive.
My song entry is "The Bird Song" and my performance entry is "Vision", an improvasory work for Native American cedar flute.
Details are listed on my schedule of events on my home page. Hope to see you there!
Today's entry is merely a share of an article I saw online from AARP. They discuss several common medications and over the counter supplements that could actually harm your hearing. Surprisingly, this includes common and popular drugs like aspirin, antidepressants and antibiotics. There are also suggestions about how to protect yourself against hearing loss from these medications. No one can deny that good hearing is a valuable asset to musicians, which is why I am sharing this with you. "Drugs That Can Harm Your Hearing" is an article that I wish I had read years ago.
Last night marked my 22 day of “sleep restriction therapy”. My only disappointment is that I had hoped to be through with this in two weeks, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I have to admit, it’s worked better at ending my insomnia than anything else I’ve ever tried. According to my sleep tracker, I’m falling asleep in less than 6 minutes, which is actually faster than the national average. And even though I’m still sleeping under 6 hours, I feel like I’m sleeping more deeply than before. So, based on my experience, I’m going to officially recommend it to anyone with a serious chronic insomnia problem. But with a caveat -- doing this without medical supervision is crazy. It’s a huge struggle and also dangerous, especially if it takes longer than two weeks. And it probably goes without saying that you shouldn’t drive during the duration of this therapy. Fortunately, I was able to walk everywhere I needed to go these last three weeks and didn’t need to drive.
I found daytime “microsleeping” to be my biggest problem and it was extremely difficult to avoid. Falling asleep during the day, I’ve read, is probably what prolonged my treatment. Yesterday was my only fairly successful day combating it. I only had one occasion when I fell asleep for about three or four seconds. The only thing that helps for me is to keep moving (which is why my fitbit step totals are rocking so far this month, lol). Seriously, I’m on top of the leader board for the Musician’s Activity Group. I’ve never been near the top 20 before!
Anyway, tonight, the sleep minimum goal is 6 hours. This is a magic number for me because I haven’t slept that long in a single night (without medication or alcohol) since the early ‘90’s when I was still teaching at ISU. This would technically be a “cure”, but my goal of this therapy is a full 7 hours of sleep per night. And the real cure is if I can maintain it. So, I suppose only time will tell.
Well, I’ve completed 11 nights of SRT, and the jury is still out. I’m still optimistic, but I’ve had a couple of setbacks and it’s not going nearly as well as I’d hoped. Two nights ago, the goal limit was to sleep 3 ¾ hours, but I woke up fifteen minutes early. It’s always disappointing to “restrict” your sleep and not even be able to sleep as long as what you had “restricted” it to. Lol.
Technically, I should have rocked it back to 3 ½ last night, but instead, I forged ahead and set the goal limit to 4 hours. I made it except one quick trip to the bathroom. According to my Fitbit, I was only awake for 2 minutes.
I think part of the problem is “microsleep”. I’ll sometimes catch myself during the day with my eyes closed and I wouldn’t know for how long. I tried to combat that last night by staying off of the couch, but I guess I’m going to have to do more than that. I read in another online article, that even though it seems minor, microsleeps can seriously undermine your progress.
Still, I’m hopeful that within the next couple of weeks, I will no longer be calling myself an insomniac. And with this new hope, I’ve decided to resurrect a few other non-pharmaceutical strategies I abandoned in the past because they didn’t help enough – cold showers in the morning to get going and “intermittent fasting” (for me, that means not eating anything for 16 consecutive hours every day). I’ve added 15 minutes to my elliptical workouts. And added the headstand back into my yoga routine. This dude is serious.
Insomnia is one thing. Chronic insomnia is quite another. I’m sure I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to deal with it over the years, with special vitamins, supplements, diets, and workout equipment; not to mention doctors, therapists and life coaches.
Then I came across this article about curing your insomnia with “sleep restriction therapy”. At first I was skeptical. But, then I remembered basic training when the drill sergeant came stomping through the barracks at 4:30 every morning yelling and banging on a garbage can lid for us to wake up. A miserable experience, but some of the best sleep I can remember.
Anyway, this will be my fifth night, so I can’t recommend it just yet, but it’s starting to look promising.
The first night, I didn’t even go to bed just like it said not to do in the article. Then, at 6:30 Saturday morning, I turned on the sun lamp and continued on with my day.
Then the second night, my plan was to sleep for 3 hours (3:30 – 6:30). Only to my disappointment and surprise, I was only able to sleep for a little under 2½! That’s after being awake for 45 hours!
Still, I keep it up. The third night, I set the goal at 2½ hours and again was disappointed. I woke up after 1½. Ugh!
I wondered if there was anyone else on earth whose circadian rhythms were as screwed up as mine. The first night staying up all night, didn’t even faze me. In fact, I felt better after working through the night, than I do after lying in bed staring at the ceiling.
Anyway, the fourth night (last night), I bumped the goal back up to 2¾ hours, figuring that there’s no way after sleeping only 4 hours in the past 72 that I was still going to have trouble making that. And I was right. I finally slept the whole time. This is the first point at which I truly felt like my sleep was “restricted”, and hope that’s a good sign.
So tonight (#5), the goal is 3 hours and, according to the article, every night, I'm increasing the goal by 15 minutes unless I “stall out” again. At that rate, if the program works, I’ll be up to 7 hours a night by a week from next Thursday. I haven't slept like that in years. What a great way to start the new year!
By the way, I had a doctor’s appointment today and was going to tell her about what I was doing. However, she canceled. Won’t she be surprised if the next time we meet, I tell her that I no longer will be needing her pharmaceutical potions?
I'm writing this one standing up. It's my latest new health kick. Iv'e been reading tons of articles these days about how harmful excessive sitting can be to both your physical and your mental health. Apparently, sitting isn't all that natural. We're just used to it because we've been trained to do it from an early age. One article went so far as to say, "that if a cave man had been forced to sit for 8 hours a day, he'd have been dead in a week".
So, I've been standing up a lot more. It takes some getting used to it, but it's actually starting to feel pertty good. I stand to watch TV and eat, etc. until I feel like sitting down, then I sit. And I feel fortunate that i play an instrument that I can stand and walk around with while I practice it. I used to do that instinctively in high school. I remember my mom asking me why and I didnt' know. Now I think was because it was more comfortable and helped me practice longer.
I also have a new Jawbone which is simply a high tech pedometer. My goal is 10,000 steps per day, but htat's pretty easy since I work out a lot. I've had it since February 6th, I think, and have been over 12,000 steps several times already!
I thought about getting one of those treadmill desks, but now I think that's going overboard. I still want to be able to sit down whenever I want. I'm just trying to cut back from about 15 hours a day to about 6. And to never sit more than an hour at a time.
The best results so far are that my hip pain is practically gone and my mood seems a little better.
My only problem is that i don't have any "team members". Everyone else I know has a Fitbit which is what I was trying to buy, but the shelf was mislabeled. When It ook it back, I realized that the Jawbone was much better looking. lol. So, if you've got a Jawbone and want a buddy, please don't hesitate to look me up!
The other night, I had my second experience with "lucid dreaming". A lucid dream is a dream where you realize you're dreaming while you're still in the dream.
I dreamed that I woke up, looked at my clock radio and it was 1 o'clock. But I could tell by the daylight streaming through my window that it was afternoon and I had overslept. I bolted upright (still dreaming) and anxiously started pacing the floor, wondering how I could have overslept, why hadn't anyone called me and how I could possibly explain myelf to my missed appointments. Then suddenly (still dreaming), I realized that this was very strange and that for me to have slept for over 15 straight hours was highly improbable. Then I thought, "his must be a dream" at which point, I began to wake up. A few seconds later (mostly awake), I looked at the clock and it was 5:30 AM - time to get up and get ready to head for the gym. I was so happy!
However, this is supposedly only the first step in lucid dreaming - realizing in the dream, that you're dreaming. After that, you're supposed to be able to take control of the dream. For instance, I could have had Justin Timberlake knocking on my front door with a fresh pizza, or something. Or like in my recurring nightmare, where I'm on stage to perform a recital for which I hadn't practiced, I could take control, perform it brilliantly and receive a standing ovation!
That's one of the reasons I'm so intrigued by the lucid dream phenomenon. I think it could be used to reduce performance anxiety and build confidence, not just in music, but also in several other areas of life as well. However, some experts don't believe lucid dreams are even possible. They think people who claim to have them are simply misremembering their dream experience after waking. They claim that dreaming requires control by the subconscious and that consciousness would disrupt the dream (which would explain why I woke up). Currently, there is no technology that can prove that someone is having a lucid dream while they're having it. So, we can only take people's word for it or not.
Still, I'm hopeful and can hardly wait until my next experience where I'll try to stay asleep and take control. Then maybe I could have Emmanuel Pahud come over and play flute duets (and he'd bring a pizza, of course).
This blog is about music, health, challenges, determination and personal and professional growth. I hope it is useful.