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How Our Family Defend Against Anxiety

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Family. It is a word where for some it is associated with love, understanding, a safe place, culture, norms and the list goes on. On the other hand, for some, the word family is often tied to the words misery, difficulties, heart aches, suffocating and any word that you can think of which describes negativity.

family anxiety

In each family, there are always individuals with different roles and responsibilities – which leads to different outcome of personalities. This does not happen naturally of course, but instead it is because of the upbringing by the parents themselves. In some situations, especially where the family is a big one, with let’s say two to five siblings or more are involved, there would definitely be mixed situations happening if not every hour, every day. These situations are often caused by mixed ways of interacting with each other, various conversations which turns into arguments or even a huge fight which turns into a long period of not speaking to each other.

These feelings then turn a person to being anxious being around the other because of all the tension involved. Another instance is where in a big family there’s always an uncle or a cousin which is loud, a criticist or even an aunt who is obnoxious. This results in children or even adults having a phobia because of all those teasing, and feeling uncomfortable which then turns them into being sore when attending family reunions or gatherings. They feel that they do not have control over their feelings and actions – which then leads into them becoming deliberately scared to not only attend these get-together, but also very cautious in their daily lives.

Although it can be and for some it is very difficult to go on with their daily lives, there are many ways to control the ‘inner voice’ inside of you which is telling you to either “shut out” or “fight back with harsh words”, which eventually will help with the anxiety or make it worse, depending how you use the techniques. One solution is you need to find a distraction by reading a book, magazine or even checking ‘nothing’ on your mobile phone. By doing this, you know that at the back of your mind you will always have something to divert to when things get uncomfortable. For an alternative resolution, you could excuse yourself when you start feeling those negative feelings creeping into you (but for a more permanent resolution, checkout the panic away book here). Go get a drink to calm those nerves down, find someone else to talk to or get in your car and go to the nearest store to treat yourself to some ice cream! Learn to talk to yourself and calm yourself down. Tell yourself that there is not a single positive vibe that comes out when you are anxious, and that those feelings are smaller than you – the most important person in your life.

There are many alternate ways to overcome anxiety, but what matters most is that you are mentally and emotionally stable to understand and admit that you have it and to control the situation whenever possible.

My daughter’s extravaganza!

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daughter singing

Today she is an established singer. Stage shows, concerts, live performances and recordings are part of her daily routine. She is popular among the youngsters; loved and demanded for her singing performance. But if I flip back, and focus few years back, I remember something absolutely bizarre.

As a father, it was difficult for me to drive her on weekends to her classes. She had always been playful as a child. She wanted to do everything, but never focused on anything. She would drive me crazy to admit her to table tennis classes, she wanted to learn guitar, play piano and even paint, all at the same time.

Somewhere, I had a wish to see my daughter singing in front of a huge audience someday. So, I didn’t give up. On her 8th birthday, I gifted her piano. At first, she was very happy. She jumped with joy, and started playing some abrupt music on it. I was pleased that she liked my gift and I went back to bed contended. Next morning I woke up to find the piano keys broken and lying on the floor. She was trying to make a doll house for her Barbie.

I almost lost hope, that this girl would never change. However, something happened which was beyond my imagination. My milkman came running one morning with the news that her daughter, aged 25, had been shortlisted for playback singing. She became the talk of the town. The morning newspapers were flooded with her pictures. Praises showered for the father and her daughter!

I don’t know what happened to my little baby! She walked up to me few weeks later, and said, “Daddy, will you please buy another piano for me? I want to become the best singer!” Since then, she never looked back (I also got her the best singing course online – see review at EtnoMusic.com). Day in and day out she kept working. She woke up early and slept late. Her playful nature got lost somewhere. She seemed to be more hooked onto the television, watching several music shows! Amazing dedication by a girl at 8.

Two years later, a letter arrived. I picked it up, tore it open and tears rolled down my eyes. It read, “Congratulations! You are selected for the playback singing (child) for our latest movie. Please report at 9am sharp.”

Why I Quit My Day Job.

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the-mask

Did I ever tell you guys about my day job? Yeah you guys may have wondered why you have not being hearing as much from me on these blog posts in days of late. Well, the reason for that is that I picked up a job working as a consultant for Musician Blend. Ever heard of these guys? I practically grew up with their music catalogue, I took it everywhere I went, and I never would have survived High School study hall without it. Those old catalogues were awesome, especially 15 or 20 years ago, before Amazon and other big online business for music buyers. Well, anyway I picked up what I thought would be an awesome day job. I soon figured out though it had some definite drawbacks.

After three weeks of training staring at washed up guitar tech nerds talking about all the technical aspects of perfect tone and fret oil technique I was so thoroughly bored I really could have cried. The only thing that saved me was the product room. This little piece of musician paradise had all of the top of the line equipment you could think of or have ever dreamed about; all there in one nice little compact and sound proofed room. And what is more, amazingly, we were allowed to use them. All instruments, gear, equipment, all of it was there free of charge for us to play to our hearts content. I truly was like a kid in a candy store.

Every single fifteen minute break and sometimes even during my lunch hour (seriously, the whole hour), I would head for that room and jam. I’m getting a little bit older, in my mid thirties, but I still jam like I did when I was a kid. It was fun, and because almost everyone there played music it was interesting to wait and see who would pop in the door to give it a shot. All kinds of people and personalities kicking out the jams at will. One day me and two other guys were really rocking out the house. I was on piano doing some improve when one of the managers popped in and started backing me up with a grooving drum beat and then this young guy (he was maybe only 20) came in and hopped on the bass and immediately supplied us with this jumpy bass riff. It was really cool. That aspect I liked. I got so lost in these random jam sessions I was late half the time when I was due to return back to the mind numbing boredom of the Musician Blend technical lecture series. You see, my time in that training room and then the time in the practice room served to remind me of something that maybe I forgot about myself. I am not so much a technical person as I am a creative person. I can’t stand to debate the properties and benefits of a particular brand of guitar strings, but if you want to talk a out writing a song I am all ears.

Well, as this realization dawned on me I started to resent being force fed all this technical babble that was supposedly useful for my job as a consultant and started to rethink my little side job with Musician Blend. This alone was already putting on the road to leaving the company, I was well on that path, and then came our first day on the phone. You see as a Musician Blend consultant I was being trained to take phone calls to answer other musician’s questions about super technical aspects of their instruments.

When the first call came through I couldn’t believe who it was, it was my son! Just a bizarre random coincidence but it was so odd. We had just bought him his drum set a year before, and he had been going through drum sticks and drum heads like mad. He was actually calling to get some advice on what the best combination of sticks and heads would make for the most durable. Smart little guy, even at ten he is becoming independent enough to find stuff out on his own like that.

(See his first time on the drums here!)

Well I of course I knew it was my son right away, but I tried to pretend I didn’t until he found me out. I had him until he mentioned he had just broke a new set of drum heads and asked why his new sticks would do that. I blurted out, “What?! I just bought you those!” With my friendly consultant mask falling off my voice, and a familiar annoyed father tone coming forth, my son realized quick. He said, “Dad??” “Is that you?” “What are you doing there??” After that, I just half mumbled into the phone, “Hell if I know…” and hung it up and walked out of the building. It was like my son brought me back to reality. I don’t need to be a consultant for anyone but my family and my own music. So long Musician Blend.

Chris Haddfiel’s Space Odyssey

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I saw this great video today. It was of now retired astronaut Chris Haddfield performing of all things, the David Bowie classic, “Space Odyssey”. It would have been ironic enough to just have an astronaut performing this piece, but it was furthered in irony by the fact that Mr Haddfield was floating in space while he performed the piece! He shot footage of himself performing the song on the international space station! It was awesome to see such a feat! He was playing the guitar weightless! He did not need a guitar strap that was pretty phenomenal to see! The guitar just floated up to him and he kept it near his chest just by playing it. It then cut to scenes of him free floating and spinning in the air while singing the song. The song was obviously cut and looped at different intervals but it was very nice to see it nonetheless. What was intriguing to me was a change in lyrics that was made by Chris Haddfield. He took off the part of, “Ground Control to Major Tong, the circuit’s dead, there is something wrong!” and other parts. I figured he did this as a gesture of keeping his space flight positive. He did not want in any way to jinx his current stint in space by even singing the words, “Ground Control….something wrong!” I probably wouldn’t want to make statements like that in the vacuum of space either!

Chris Haddfield is a great guy for doing this though. Before I saw the video clip I had actually heard about it in an NPR radio clip interview with Terri Gross on the WFYI program fresh air. It was really cool to hear him describe the process that went into the making of this you tube video. He said that weightlessness tended to make his voice nasally. The lack of gravity caused all the phlegm to build in his throat and nose as he sang. Yeah, maybe a bit nasally, but he still did a stellar job.

Why My Father Was Always In The Kitchen.

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Just like my father used to tell me music is all in the mind. If you feel kind of down and sad, the music will come out slow tempo and mournful sounding. If you feel excited and happy the music will be upbeat and joyful. As musicians our instruments are a direct extension of our being. We plug the guitar into our emotions and out comes the amplified product through the speaker. My dad was a great Jazz player. He told me long ago that he was inspired to play when his father had taken him to a Charles Mingus concert. Mingus was truly a Jazz great.

He had an amazing capacity for piano and bass. He also wrote some touching pieces of music during a turbulent time in the United States. He was the author of such pieces as, “Freedom”. A song that expresses the desire for those that feel marginalized, on the fringes of society to be free. His words and music hit an emotional chord with people. It was one that stuck with my father, he told me it was when he heard Charles Mingus playing this song that something in his soul ached for the freedom that he spoke of in his performance. And not just freedom granted by a society, it was deeper than that. Just the freedom to be yourself, to not worry about what others think of you, it was his search for this freedom and identity that drew my father into the arms of music.

He was a jazz player extraordinaire. I still remember going to see him at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. That was his favorite place in town to play. He knew all the regular players and that frequented the outfit. He had been a part of the house band there off and on for about 30 years. And he never missed a Wednesday Open Jam night. He especially loved seeing the younger crowd of musicians coming to try out for the first time. A lot of college kids from nearby Butler University would often pop in and my dad would serve as their musical mentor. He would show them all the tricks of the trade.

jazz-kitchen

The Jazz Kitchen was his favorite, and it was the last place that he played. He played his last concert there two weeks before he passed away. My dad a ten year cancer survivor had been slowly deteriorating over the past few years. The cancer had begun in the roof of his mouth in 2010 and after its removal it just kept reemerging in his and our lives. In 2005 it progressed to lung cancer, he pushed very hard to get through it and took aggressive chemo therapy to keep it at bay.

But even though the cancer was making him weaker and weaker, he never missed his showing at the Jazz Kitchen. We always knew my dad pushed himself to be there and he wouldn’t miss it for a minute. And sometimes when I visit the Kitchen I still feel him there as well. That Jazz Kitchen was the place where he found the freedom he first heard Charles Mingus talking about.