Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Some Positive Quotes

  • "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do" - John Wooden
  • "You know I'm comfortable with u when: I'm weird with u, I sing whatever song comes into my mind, I say what's on my mind, I talk nonsense."
  • "You don't have to be positive all the time. It's perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared or anxious. Having feelings doesn't make you a 'negative person.' It makes you human" - Lori Deschene
  • "It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to be a work in progress" - Rhiann Johns 
  • "Moving on doesn't mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happened and continue living."  
  • Alice: This is impossible. The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is – Lewis Carroll  
  • You’re allowed to scream, you’re allowed yo cry, but do not give up – Unknown  
  • It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop – Confucius  
  • You may not always end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you are meant to be – Jessica Taylor  
  • Be realistic: Plan for a miracle – Osho 
  • These mountains that you are carrying, you were only suppose to climb – Zajwa Zebian  
  • “Frodo: I can’t do this Sam.      Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.        Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?     Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for." – J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Two Towers” 
  • Keep looking up…That’s the secret of life – Snoopy  
  • ‘Life is a storm my friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, ‘Do your worst, for I will do mine!” – Alexandre Dumas 
  • Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny – C.S. Lewis
                      Article: 10 Uplifting Quotes for the not-so-good days
                      Webpage: Positive Quotes
                      Webpage: Quotes about Positive Thinking

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                      MS & Guitar?

                      Mal "in the bliss", playing with "Pengopuss" jazz quintet in late 2016... and my great amp.

                      15 September 2017

                      NOTE: This is not a "pity-party/woe-is-me" thing, as I'm simply sharing a very brief insight into some of the reasons as to why I may act so "up-and-down" from time to time.

                      I have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life, in that I am retiring from performing and playing guitar (and stringed instruments) in a live setting.

                      • My MS hands prohibit me from playing well, consistently, to my satisfaction.
                      • I am unable to physically play what I feel I can play. It's both co-ordination and competency issues, due to the MS.
                      • Sitting down to play has become quite restrictive for me.
                      • The MS is causing me major lapses in concentration and memory loss, resulting in too many unintentional mistakes - it's embarrassing!

                      As I said on 21 April 2017, "It's getting harder for me... not that anything physically has changed, I'm just finding it more and more awkward... to keep this pretence 'that I can play OK' up, I think... playing is really hard, and I'm finding it hard that I'm finding it hard, if that makes sense?"

                      It's a tough decision... it's finally time for me to pull up stumps from playing guitar, but the band doesn't want me to stop (bless them!)? It's all pretty confusing for me at the moment.

                      But yes, I have retired from playing in our jazz quintet, Pengopuss. I will play the next 2 or 3 gigs with them, and will remain to help their transition with a new player. I'll stay to help out with their PA sound and lighting issues as well. It's definitely not one of these 'musical differences' thing! lol.

                      I've been playing 'professionally' since 1985... it's not easy to let that go. But I want whats' best for the band... catch-22.

                      Believe me, I'd love to keep playing... I'm just not convinced that I am physically able to keep playing competently - that's the issue.

                      Even sitting at home, strumming along to my beloved Beatles - I am finding what has always come naturally to me, has become a real clumsy struggle. Practise at home for me last night resulted in blood all over the fretboard of the guitar (a great rock'n'roll look, tho! lol), simply because I couldn't feel the cut on my knuckle, caused by MS-led sloppy playing.

                      Not that anything has changed radically with my MS symptoms, but slowly, very gradually, my hands and fingers are becoming more permanently numb all the time.

                      I don't want to let people down, but I just realistically think I can't do this guitar thing competently any more. And that is a very "cut to the quick" decision for me - affects my psyche.

                      Driving a car is still OK for me at the moment, but I know eventually I will have to make a sensible decision about that as well. This just means I won't be able to get to gigs etc as easily. Catch-22.

                      Anyways... I knew this time would come... doesn't make it any easier, tho.

                      Original Post...

                      When it comes to playing guitar with my MS, it's this 'adapting' thing... I just 'do it', simply because I've been playing for so many years, I think. Playing guitar is a challenge for me, let's admit it. But I can do it, albeit pretty clumsily. It's hard to describe, but it's like playing by rote... my brain tells my left-fingers how to co-ordinate and finger a chord/play a series of notes, but the fingers don't always land exactly where they're supposed to... from years of playing, my fingers kind-of automatically know where they should go! That's the 'playing by rote' bit, I think.

                      Thankfully, my left-hand (the chord/note fingering hand) doesn't feel too bad (most of the time), so I'm able to finger chords and notes reasonably OK (not as well as I'd wish, but well... it's this 'adapting' thing). It's my right picking hand that can be an effort most of the time - just holding the pick and trying to keep a steady 'feel' going can be a challenge. But I can do it (hell, I've been hacking my way thru things for such a long time, it's a good habit, I suppose!) - which makes me feel satisfied... just more of that subconscious adapting, I guess. I've always been a rhythm player for years, anyways - must just be subconscious habit, I thin?  (It's hard to explain the inexplicable).

                      Henry, our double-bass player, said to me once, "I don't know how you do it..." I had to honestly reply, "I don't know, either!" It's a bit of a mystery, really. I think it's just after playing for so many years, the chord shapes and rhythm strumming patterns just come almost automatically (albeit clumsily, somedays).

                      Hot humid conditions slowly render my playing hands totally numb and useless. I had this experience (a brand new experience, actually!) at a Pengopuss gig in March. Symptoms developed as the heat slowly increased during the afternoon indoors' gig. First set - fine. Second set - I had to sit down (I felt a little 'wobbly' on my feet), and my hands were starting to feel less co-operative, and I noticed it harder to play fluidly and consistently. Third set - I couldn't feel my fingers and hands at all! It was so frustrating - but there was nothing I could do! The chords and strumming was still coming (albeit automatically), but everything felt so sluggish for me, playing-wise.

                      I forgot to take my small fan, as part of my standard gig-bag. But I'm also thinking of adding some instant cooling packs as well - just in case it happens to me like that again, in the future. Maybe a small esky with some frozen ice packs wrapped in an old towel during breaks, as part of my gig-bag, also? Well, if needs be...

                      I am very thankful to my Pengopuss jazz cohorts, for allowing me the privilege of continuing to play with them. We had a few rehearsals, before we performed at a private function in Bathurst, the day before NYE (2016). Because the numbness was relatively less that night, I was able to (albeit awkwardly) play guitar - tho I had to gaffa-tape a pick to my right thumb, so I could play! I could barely feel the strings under my fingertips as I played, but it worked well for us all. Thanks guys... I honestly thought that it might be the very last time I ever perform live again!

                      It's frustrating that I have to miss the occasional jazz quintet rehearsal, simply due to hot weather making my hands feel like rubber! Makes it tough to hold - let alone play - guitar. I hate feeling as though I'm letting the other guys in Pengopuss down, but there's nothing I can do about it (which is equally frustrating).

                      Catch-22... the next day, my hands were comparatively fine. Go figure...

                      I think one of the most frustrating things for me, when it comes to playing guitar, is - in the weeks leading up to when my MS first kicked-in - I was actually playing probably the best I ever have! Things I was practising on at home in private was truly boundary-pushing for me as a player... really working on solos and different modes and new things for me - and feeling really refreshed as a player as a result. Now, I'm no shit-hot player (not at all)... I'm just an old hack who knows how to adapt when it comes to playing different styles, after doing it for years and years - that's the "playing by rote" thing. Unfortunately - all of that advancing-playing has ground to a shuddering halt now. Thanks, MS...

                      (21 April 2017) It's getting harder for me... not that anything physically has changed, I'm just finding it more and more awkward... to keep this pretence 'that I can play OK' up, I think... playing is really hard, and I'm finding it hard that I'm finding it hard, if that makes sense?

                      Blog post: Some questions answered about playing music, years' ago

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