Tag Archives: superpowers

Everyone Dabbles

They dabble at playing guitar or piano or maybe they have dreams of fronting a band.  They dabble in crafts, papier-mache, needlework or yarn work, maybe painting cute little sayings on distressed wood.  They dabble in art, in web design, in programming, in psychology.  My Facebook is jammed up with people dabbling in Philosophy and Politics.  Seth Godin categorizes these as “Non-Dentist” jobs.  To be a dentist or someone in the law profession or medical profession, or in finance, you have to have passed a rigorous test and gotten certified by the state or the bar association.  Nobody dabbles in dentistry, yet, people still dabble in law, medicine, and finance!  REALLY????!!!!  C’mon!

I see it though.  You’re a parent and little Billy has fallen off his bike again.  You got this.  A little antibiotic ointment on the scratch and a band-aid, and he’s fine.  Your sister is married to a jerk and you tell her about her legal choices.  “No thanks, we’re fine, we do our own investing.”  Of course, they’re $20k in debt, upside down in their house, just bought a car and are wondering why they’re paying 21% on their loan.

I do not have a law degree, but I read legal documents for financial contracts.  I have a degree in finance, certified and licensed in insurance, and licensed as an Investment Adviser Representative.  I’m also certified as a John Maxwell Speaker/Trainer/Coach.  I’m a Distinguished Toastmaster.  I have a degree in Music…and 160 college hours in music and music education.  It only takes 60 college hours to get a bachelor’s in Math.  It only takes 120 hours of college credits to graduate,  I had 147.  Of those 147 hours, 80 of them were in music.  I clocked in an additional 80 hours since my BME degree.  Then, I got a 2nd degree in finance.  I’ve gotten lots of hours outside a degree program, obviously.

I’m not trying to be braggadocious, but I ask you:  How many people have that much intensive study in anything?  Why do I bring this up?  I am not a dentist.  To quote Mr. Godin again, “If you’re doing one of these non-dentist jobs, the best approach is to be extraordinarily good at it. So much better than an amateur that there’s really no room for discussion. You don’t have to justify yourself. Your work justifies you.” I am extraordinarily good at what I do.  The feeling I get from most people is that if I can do it, it must be easy.  Nobody can have that much talent, and nobody can really get that much education in multiple areas.  It must not be that hard.  

NEWS FLASH!  It is that hard.  If you are getting an education in something that people perceive as unimportant, then they will downgrade the difficulty.  We can agree that finance is important, but most people do not believe they need a degree in finance to balance their checkbook.  Most will not do enough loans to understand the nuances of those contracts.  A majority will not consider that life insurance is a priority and since it is all gobbledygook in the contract, they’ll just sign on the bottom line and trust the salesman and hope to GOD that they’ll never see the bugger again.  Since everyone lives paycheck to paycheck, and they hate the rich, and the rich are the only ones in the stock market which people regard as gambling writ large, these people that really and truly need some financial education will not seek it.

Everyone knows that music is unimportant.  It is only the background for movies and TV where the emotion is amplified by the score.  It is only the jingle you can’t get out of your head.  It is only the music that makes you want to buy more ugly sweaters at the store.  It is only one of the largest sectors in the entertainment industry.  It permeates every single second of your day whether you turn on the radio when you jump in your car or while you are on interminable hold on the phone.  If someone happens to be good at music, it’s because they have “talent.”  Talent gets your toe in the door.  It takes enormous amounts of work to be good as a teacher or performer.  It’s like the duck parable:  calm and serene on the surface and pedaling like crazy underneath.  People who are really good at music have to make an effort to make what they do look effortless.

Do you know scales?  There are 12 major scales.  There are 3 minor scales associated with each major scale (Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors).  You have to be able to play or sing any of these without having to concentrate.  That’s 48 scales.  There is a chord that is associated with each pitch in the scale, and inversions of each chord.  Then there are augmentations such as adding a 7th degree, or a 9th degree, or up to or even beyond a 13th degree, and then there are alterations like flatting or sharping one or more of the degrees of the scale, and not only do you have to be able to play them, you must recognize them when you see them in the music and know what they sound like before you hear them.  That’s just the reading part.  Oh, and there are various voicings to each chord too.

Can you match a pitch regardless of the instrument you’re playing?  Oh, and by the way, oboe, bassoon, flute, trombone and tuba read C in music and it sounds C when they play.  French horn reads C and it sounds like F, Saxophone reads C and it sounds either Eb or Bb,  as does Clarinet.  And the fingerings for low register clarinet are different than the upper register.  Trumpet and Clarinet read C and it sounds Bb.  Given this diversity in pitch and fingerings, can you improvise a counter melody or a harmony without seeing the music?  Can you tell the difference between Frank Zappa and Tchaikovsky by sound?  If you are in a group, can you tell which individual is singing or playing out of tune and whether they are sharp or flat–high or low?  Can you tell, if they sound sharp, if it is the actual pitch or the pronunciation of the vowel and the timbre that makes it sound out of tune?  Can you apply the awareness you have gained in listening and performing music to any other area of life?  Of COURSE!  So do all musicians have that awareness outside of music?  OF COURSE NOT!!

It is assumed that if you are majoring in music, you take Algebra I in math and very basic English classes.  You are a musician after all, and these things are beyond you.  You have more important things to do…like practice and study your scales!  People always assume that if you’re a musician, you don’t have any interests outside of music.  In fact, most musicians couldn’t give a flying…well fill in your own word here…about math or English.  And yet, the awareness I transfer from music to the world around me connects dots that no one else can connect.  I can see the Stock Market as a large orchestra.  I see the study of sociology as a macro of a choir.  I see composition as an allegory to metaphysics.  Am I now interested in sociology (and therefore statistics), investment in both the technical analysis and the trend marketing, and the study of physics and religion as extensions of my music studies?  Of Course!  So yes, I have studied all those things.  Would being a musician be helpful if I wanted to be a dentist?  or an architect? or a rocket scientist?  More than you’d think!

But music is not important.  Therefore none of the information I have gathered and synthesized is of any use, so I am dismissed as just a musician.  I guess you could say that I’m extraordinarily good at things everyone else dabbles in.  Being extraordinarily good at something that is unimportant is not an advantage.  Truth be told, if you were to ask anyone, it is a useless thing to be good at.

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Flying Fingers CW

Evelyn Miller.  I haven’t thought of her in years!  She was my neighbor in my formative years and from the time I was 12 until we moved, she was my knitting mentor.  She knitted traditional style, throwing the yarn with her right hand.  She knit a coat with 5 different types and colors of yarn.  It was amazing…and heavy!  Her fingers flew!

After we moved, I learned how to knit continental style holding the yarn in my left hand.  I have to be careful the type of yarn I knit with now because certain brands are not much more than acrylic rope.  This means that I get rope burns on the back of my finger.  It is rather annoying.  My specialties are Aran patterns and Fair Isle patterns.  I can do this while watching TV or just sitting watching kids play.  The hardest part is establishing the 1st row of the pattern.  My fingers fly…1st class on the Concorde.

I have a friend that does American Sign Language for guest speakers and such.  It’s like choreography for the hands!  So beautiful to watch!  Her fingers also fly.

My mother taught music for nearly all her adult life, and her favorite composers were Bach, Chopin and Brahms.  When she played Bach’s Inventions, her hands flew!  In fact if you watch any type of instrumentalist, there are songs that require phenomenal technique and their hands have to fly.  I remember playing in a pit orchestra and we were doing Man of La Mancha, Caberet, Carousel, and Hello Dolly and I tell you there were some songs in there that when you finished, you’d worked up a sweat!  I love watching especially Eddy Van Halen because he’s having fun when he’s playing, and Bella Fleck because who knew you could play Debussy on the banjo?!  (I’m sorry you couldn’t see him actually play this.  But you can hear him.)  Then there’s this guy!

So many people’s fingers fly.  They are amazing to watch because it is so beautifully graceful and expressive in just the movement.  Pay attention to the way people’s hands move when they talk, when they dance, when they play an instrument, when they type, when they play their instruments.  Be in awe!  What a piece of work is man!

Bravery

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”
Veronica Roth, Allegiant

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”
Mary Tyler Moore

I’m tired of being brave.  I don’t want to be brave anymore.  I want to crawl into my room, turn off the lights and cry.  I don’t want the ‘poor baby’s and the ‘it will be alright’s.  I don’t want to put on the mask of ‘I’ll be fine.’ I don’t want to just get up and face tomorrow like nothing’s wrong.  My broken hip hurts.  My muscles in my legs cramp.  My shoulders hurt and my hands have 2″ wide callouses on the heels.  I can sleep in 2 positions.  It hurts to stand up, it hurts to sit, it hurts to lie down.  It hurts to move my leg and it hurts not to move my leg.

I finally got in to see the orthopedic doctor.  I was escorted into the x-ray room, and the tech took the pictures.  This was MUCH better than the last time I had x-rays done.  I then waited in the little room.  I heard the doctor outside my door.  “Well, let’s see how Rebecca is…OH MY GOD!  Do you see all the appliances she has in there?  And she WALKED in here?”  Then he walked into the room.  “So?  How are you feeling?”  I hurt.  I was expecting that.  “I have your x-rays here.  Were all those done on this recent operation?!!!”  No.  The replacement was done at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN about 1993.  The joint material had a chemical reaction and weakened the bone and it broke along the spike, so I had Kevin Garvin operate on it here in Omaha in 1999.  Luckily, he didn’t have to replace the appliance, just replace the joint material.  That was the 2nd operation on this hip.  Then I fell in Orlando and that’s when they added the web clamp you see here.  (We were comparing before and after pictures on my phone.)

“Are you taking any pain meds?”  No, those ran out weeks ago and were not refillable.  On a scale of 1-10, it’s an annoying 2, and depending on the activity, it spikes to a 4.  “Who drove you here?”  I drove myself. (A look of disbelief crosses his face.)  “How much weight can you put on your leg?”  Let me show you.  I stood up and with help balancing on my crutches, I put about 60% of my weight on it.  “Ok, just continue to just put touch pressure on it.  I worry about breaking that complicated machine that is in your leg now.”  It’s not complicated, it’s a metal web clamp secured by screws.  “This is way beyond my expertise.  I’m going to refer you to a hip trauma doctor for you to see next month.

A nurse came in and told me which doctors they were referring me to for my follow-up follow-up.  (Yes, I used the word twice.)  Then she said, “You’re the one–the one with the hardware store in your leg.”  Yes.  “The whole office is talking about you.”  Good to know.  Why do I keep hearing this in my head?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i47Hz4vvQ2I Why do they have the automatic door buttons on the opposite side of the door they open?  There are times I can’t hit the button and get to the door before it closes!

So my orthopedic doc is having a heart attack after looking at my x-rays, telling me that he’s amazed that I can walk, let alone drive.  And yet, I am to continue my life as if this condition with my hip is just an inconvenience.   Well it’s a heck of an inconvenience.  Getting out of bed in the morning requires balance and timing now.  Getting into and out of the shower is a major accomplishment.  Stairs are much slower.  Opening doors and keeping them open long enough to enter takes coordination:  Pull open the door quickly so it continues to open after you put your hand back on the crutch.  Move the crutch into a position on the ground so the rubber end catches the door before it closes. Shoulder the door so you can move the crutch to a new blocking position, while edging further into the doorway with the other crutch.  Shoulder the door again moving both crutches in, and block the door from smacking you in the back side by placing the heel of your good leg just outside the door frame.  Clear the door way. Getting in and out of the car is always a series of steps, and hoping the crutches don’t fall down onto the pavement before you need them.  I fear wet floors in bathrooms.  I can’t cook because I cannot move food to and from the refridge to the counter or the stove.  If I microwave something, I can’t move the plate to the table.  I can’t carry a bottle of water, or a cup of coffee.  I can wash dishes, but I can’t put them away.  I can’t do laundry.  I can’t vacuum.  Looks like I’m confined to crutches for at least another month.

But I have lessons to give, a conference over the weekend where I help with one activity, and then am in charge of another.  So I do these things, and do “work-arounds” to compensate for my crutches and the pain.  Thank God I have an amazing husband that picks up the slack when he’s home.  He cooks for me, does laundry, and helps keep me organized and (fairly) sane.  But most people assume that because I put on a good face and make light of things that I have no pain, that I’m OK.  This is me being brave.  I don’t want to be, but I have to be.

the Fatal Flaw

I tend to go to these super-hero movies.  I don’t know why, but I love the action.  These are people who by accident are placed in a position where they either play the hero or don’t.  If they don’t play the hero, there are no comics or graphic novels or movies about them and they go about their merry way not saving the world.  But if their planet has been blown up and they accidently land in a field in Kansas, or they’re with their parents and have to leave early and accidently get lost and the parents are murdered, or if they accidently get bitten by a spider, or shocked or come from a different dimension or whatever and see a need that they uniquely can fill and risk all to fulfill their destiny, they get franchises!  They all have that 1 fatal flaw.  It might be kryptonite, or a girlfriend, or the fact that they’re human and need interaction with others, or the fact that every freakin movie Spidey removes his mask to someone else… (by the way, why bother to wear a mask if you take it off all the time?) or the Green Arrow gets caught in lies because he believes his city is the most important thing in his life and feels he cannot honestly deal with the people he loves or who love him.  Here’s the thing:  They all have someone that reminds them what their fatal flaw is and helps them to work within its bounds.  It could be a side kick, a butler, their nemesis, a friend they confide in (not telling them that they are that weird dude or dudette in the spandex of course).

What if you have a fatal flaw and don’t know what it is?  What if you have prepared and studied and worked to fill a unique slot and there isn’t one?  What if all you know is that despite your best efforts, your talents and your preparation, there is something that keeps you from achieving your goals?  What if you go to the gym, get a trainer, religiously do your work outs, log every morsel that goes into your mouth (I had a cinnamon roll, coffee, chicken salad with low-fat dressing, a piece of fish small enough you have to eat it with tweezers, asparagus, a gnat and 2 boogers) and you GAIN weight?  What if you get every financial license known to man, are wise in every financial philosophy, have the most advanced tools and analysis available, and no one wants your help?  What if you’ve gone beyond what is required for your degree to study the arts and sciences beyond your field of expertise and are now referred to as a Know-it-all?  What if you play every instrument and sing and have perfect pitch and you get fired for trying to teach these skills?  What if you become an expert speaker and no one wants to hear what you have to say?  And what if you have no sidekick, no nemesis, no friend, no mentor to tell you what your flaw is?  You look for a common thread through all the failures, and it’s you.  But you don’t know what’s wrong.  You read every self help book, go to counseling, study your bible…

Then you throw up your hands and say I’m not meant for a unique slot… I’m meant for a very large, rather smelly hole.  Then you gleefully go about your life not saving the world!

but….

What if you happen to know that the world needs your particular set of skills?  Maybe I’m the side kick, maybe I’m the hero.  I look ghastly in spandex…  If You’re the hero, take me along!  I can help!  If you’re the sidekick come along and we can take down this monster together.  Maybe you can clue me in on this fatal flaw that I have that tends to turn everything I do into disaster.  Wait!  Where are you going?  Come back!!!!

treadmill 30 min  mystery hike