What is courage?

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From Pixabay

There was a color personality test on FB this morning that said it could pinpoint my most dominant characteristic. I’m always intrigued with personality tests, so I took it. My dominant characteristic is courage. A friend who took the same test and is dealing with the same disease got kindness.

It made me stop and think about courage. It makes me rethink the story of the hero. In my personal life, the person who isn’t scared is usually the foolish one. He is the one that walks in a bad area at night with the mistaken idea that he is the baddest one around. He is the foolish one who is addicted to the adrenaline rush. This is the one who dies first.

In my experience courage is always mixed with a dose of healthy fear. When I feel the adrenaline rush through my body, I also know that what I am rushing towards is going to hurt. Yes, I will stand for my friend or in front of the rushing animal. I am also the one who will be sliced to bits whether physically or verbally. I know I will lose something.

But courage is also the narrative I tell about myself. When I was a child, I was considered stubborn. I felt that the world should be fair. If I whined “it’s not fair,” my parents would always say the same thing. “Life is not fair.”

I won’t go into my childhood and teenhood. It was not fun or fair for many years. It was those experiences that made me face what is unfair.

I don’t always fight for myself. I have fought for others to have a place to smoke in their living quarters. Yes, the Navy made a decision to ban smoking halfway through my enlistment. I was not a smoker, but I didn’t think it was fair that others were penalized for this habit. If they couldn’t smoke in their private rooms, then they needed someplace else. I am not a smoker by the way.

Because I supported an unpopular decision, I was prepared to lose everything that I had worked for (I made E-5 in two years). The person that stands up gets noticed and not always in a good way. There is always a penalty for courage.

I have been told that being able to survive and thrive with a chronic illness is courage. If endurance is courage, I might agree. I really don’t know. I do know that even when I have the days I want to stay in bed and sleep, I will get up and dress. I will take the dog for a walk. I will put one step in front of another and start each day new.

I’m not a hero. I haven’t pulled people from burning buildings. When I was in the Navy, I repaired equipment for others. I didn’t go on combat missions. I fear.

When someone tells me they admire my courage, I ask them about what is happening in their own life. Then I give them the words that help me to get up in the morning– “This too will pass. Each day is better than the last.”

So I have no excuse

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Pixabay Amber Avalona (Public Domain) https://pixabay.com/en/users/AmberAvalona-1512238/

What has been missing is fun.

So with all of the singing, and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holliday, and others, I’m learning to enjoy while I create.

Time to sit down at the writing table with a smile on my face and the dog at my feet.

More coffee… and then write.

Those jazz and big band singers from my grandparent’s generation knew how to have fun and to swing it. I have been somber for far too long.

Let’s dance.

 

Revelations and music

8c96e-cynearly20 I hardly remember this period in my life. I was nearly twenty in this picture and I am holding my nephew. His sister wants to see the baby.

Nowadays when I see the two of them, they are full adults. I am the senior now, even though I still feel that uncertain new-adult feeling. It’s like a new car smell. It may go away, but you remember it forever. In this picture I was embarking on a new life–shoulder pads and all. In the old-fashioned hero’s journey, I was determined to leave Whiterocks and seek my fortune in music. I had no idea.

Sweet lord, I was so young and naive.

No boring allowed here so I won’t drone on about how it takes money and contacts to get into the music field. Plus I wanted to go to college too. That goal also takes money. Plus my family was not supportive. My dad came out and told me that I had a sweet voice as a child, but my voice was nothing special and some people made music and some people appreciated music. He made it a point to tell me that I was of the second kind.

As you can probably guess, the competition for the music spots in college were fierce. I wasn’t the best voice or even trained. I did have at least one opportunity to train with one of the professors during a summer term. If I could have pulled the finances together, I would have continued with this professor. At the time I was doing a full course load and working two part time jobs. I burned out.

It didn’t help that my father’s words rang in my head. I finally gave in and locked my music into a little box so that I wouldn’t feel the pain. I left college and started looking for a job. Eventually I went into the Navy.

So now it is more than thirty years later.IMG_0431

Recently I decided to go to a community event in my apartment complex. A resident was singing songs from the 50s and 60s. I kept getting invited. It’s rare to see the senior crowd so excited. The style of music, mostly country, wasn’t my thing, but it had been a long time since I had heard someone perform. I admit I was curious.

It was everything advertised. Chuck had been a performer before his stroke. He had fought back so that he could sing again. Plus it was fun. I named one of the fan grandmothers, the “Woo-woo girl” because she screamed, whooped, and hollered louder than a teenager.

Plus Chuck was letting the residents have a chance at the microphone. Only one lady took up the offer and she was loud, proud, and off-key. We didn’t care.

Then I asked Chuck if he did any Frank Sinatra. He put up the music and I started to hum. To my surprise, he handed me the microphone. “Keep it close to your mouth,” he said when I held it like the mike was going to bite me.

Then I sang, “I’ve got you under my skin.”

So now when I go over there to hear the music, I am told that all the singers “that includes you, Cynthia” are going to sing this afternoon.

I’m hoarse from the surgery, but thank you–whoever is listening to me–I can still sing. My voice is not pedestrian. I do have talent.

 

A quick update on the health of the writer

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This week I saw the surgeon for a post-op appointment. He called me the patient with the small cancer.

I will admit loudly and proudly that I have a great imagination. I can imagine scenarios using full senses with a full emotional spectrum. It gets me into trouble when I am sick.

So while I was waiting impatiently for my surgery, I was imagining the cancer slyly putting tendrils throughout my thyroid and into my lymph nodes.

I had a happy shock when the cancer was confined to one nodule.

When I talked to the surgeon, I was told that I had been very lucky. I wouldn’t need radiation or chemo. All good news because I wasn’t happy with the thought of being even more isolated for days.

One of the hardest things I have done before my illness was to become socialized. I would rather sit at home or under the stars alone. So illness has strengthened my inner tendency to leave social situations. It is one of the reasons I miss Otto terribly. He was the only one that could sit with me and watch the stars. It’s hard to describe the emotion because it is deeper than love and comfort. There is no words for this type of companionship.

Last night I watched “No Batteries included.” Otto introduced me to that movie. I see myself in the little old lady who lost her mind through dementia. When I was extremely ill one year, Otto watched me like the old man watched his wife in the movie. I would wander off.

The movie hit so many buttons for me.

Still I can see that Otto socialized me to companionship. I was a bitter young woman. It wasn’t meeting Otto that was so pivotal to my life now. No, it was when I decided he was the man for me. It was another twist that brought me a good twenty-two years. He made me a better person and grounded my wild imagination.

So I noticed one thing about the surgery. My emotional instability stopped. That little cancer had been causing my emotions to swing from one extreme to another. It is such a relief to be able to think and feel on a normal level again. One nodule. One cancer.

There will be other challenges. I wouldn’t be this person without them. I’m hoping that the drama will be less though.

Also I will have to pull myself out of this self-imposed shell. It is time for me to be social again. I feel excited and scared all at once.

Wild parties and crazy nights

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Free from Pixabay

If you think that you young’uns are party animals, then you haven’t partied with the 60-80 year old crowd. This group is not your grandparents. They were at the bar to enjoy themselves and listen to Chuck Rawlings.

I’ve been in the 55+ senior apartments now since November. I had just turned that age and I was not breathing too well in my last apartment.

Plus I am getting crotchety. It has a lot to do with joints starting to hurt, thyroid going wonky, and an insufficient kidney. Let’s just say that they make me tired and cranky. When I moved here, I was told about Bingo two times a week. If you want my personal opinion, (yes, you do cause you are here) Bingo is boring. I have more fun watching the participants than playing. So I passed on the Bingo.

There was supposed to be a craft group, but apparently when no one came, it was canceled. Anyway, I was hearing some good comments on Chuck’s music. I am not really into the old CW style. I grew up listening to the 60s and 70s music with classical and jazz mixed in. My mother really liked Frank Sinatra and his group of friends. When I listen to Sinatra now, I am still amazed at what he was doing with his voice.

So this resident was playing on Saturday at one of our lounge rooms. I decided to check it out. Here is where I found that decorum had left the building– with Elvis by the way. It was a riot. We had seniors swooning, dancing, and singing along with the music. I got called “baby” a lot.

I was invited to hear Chuck play at a local bar. The seniors had the entire bar singing along and also dancing. We just had a great time. It’s been so long since I’ve had so much fun. It was a wild party.

So if you think that getting old slows you down, well, you are right. But does it stop you from having fun and being the life of the party? Actually no– Of course everything has a price tag.

All those lovely residents at the bar weren’t moving too well the next morning.

The Blood Of Our Dead

My memorial day was busy so I was unable to write. This post does reflect what I think and believe. Plus it is written so beautifully.

According To Hoyt

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It might not be immediately obvious, but I was raised in a family that revered military service, at least in times of war.

It was a different type of military honor than in the US though, because it went all the way to Rome and it was the idea of tribal defense, and also the idea of manly deportment (which weirdly never excluded me in my family.)  Legionaries shouldn’t cry, you were never a craven coward, even when you were a girl child and trembling inside.  When battle was offered, you joined battle with all seeming appearance of outward glee.  At any rate, you were supposed to fight to defend those smaller and weaker than you because that’s what humans did.  And yeah, sure, you could get hurt, but who cares about that?

“To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

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Jukebox Hero

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CC0 Public Domain blitzmaerker

On the matter of gifts.

Some of us have been given a wide variety of gifts. You might say we are blessed. In my case I was singing since I was a young child. I had sisters who were better performers, but I had one of the highest sweetest voices in my elementary school.

Still my parents told me at a young age that my talent was music appreciation rather than singing. I believed them. Even when I went to college and worked hard to get a degree in music, in the back of my mind there was a voice saying that I wasn’t good enough. I just wasn’t quite good enough. So I turned my back on music and used other gifts of intelligence and memory.

What I have learned in a very hard way is that if you don’t use a gift, then you will eventually lose it. I might lose my voice or at least my singing voice. But, I would rather live than die, which seems to be the way all my decisions go lately. So I will have the surgery and I will let my throat and voice heal.

A year or so ago I decided to join a choir. Because I could read music, I was put in the alto section as a high alto. My voice was rusty because it had been so long since I had reached the high notes. Starting as an alto was fun and reminded my voice that it could soar. I didn’t understand why my partner was so excited. She kept telling the choir manager, who was two seats away from me that they needed to keep me. Then before I started this search into why I was feeling so ill, my voice began to croak at inconvenient times.

What I didn’t know was the croaking was a symptom of a thyroid problem.

Believe me I had no idea that my voice was had that clear quality that pleased other ears. I am over fifty and I could still hear my father say that my voice would never amount to anything so I needed to be grateful that I had an ear for music.

I have other gifts I have developed. I used to be quite intelligent. I am not bragging. It is just another gift like being able to draw or write. I do envy people who have the talent of organization or leadership. It has been quite a shock to find out that my native intelligence is contingent on the healthiness of my body. When I am on certain chemicals to keep my body from relapsing, I lose much of that intelligence. The body is quite a marvelous piece of engineering.

I have always been a poet, but I didn’t start developing my gifts in writing until I went to college the second time. This time I went into English Literature with a minor in German History. Every semester I would end up writing two term papers for each class and various writing projects. It was academic writing. The sheer volume of writing made me grow and learn.

I admit that Creative Writing is a different beast altogether. When I decided to move from poetry to short stories and novels, I didn’t realize that I was going through a new apprenticeship. I have to admit it has been fun and continues to be a learning experience.

If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Singing is the one talent that I haven’t been able to use. Now I am facing the end of it. As a teenager, I desired to sing. It was a burning in my chest and throat. Everything around me was sound and I loved it. Even with the crippling stage fright that now I know was generated by my parents, I wanted to sing.

In my mind I see myself in a long red dress in front of a small intimate jazz band. I sing the blues. Maybe in another dimension and another time–another me sings.