Happy Pete – The Name Says It All!

Seriously! I’m really happy that I found another amazing example of a person loving their life, living an awesome life, despite dealing with MS (or any other medical condition.)

I’m continually adding to my list of “personal heroes”!!!

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Musical Monday – Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)

Hello on this incredibly snowy Musical Monday!

I’m getting braver! Here’s a recording of me actually performing the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria in Church for their Jubilee celebration, three nights ago. I got sick a few weeks ago and haven’t quite recovered yet, but now that this celebration is over I can maybe relax and sleep. For a year or so. Or at least until I feel human again. Crappy compromised immune system!

Anyway, this was a “Damn the MS and just do it” situation for me. I had made the commitment, so it didn’t matter how I felt, I just practiced and practiced and then performed, and I’m pretty proud of how it sounds. I wouldn’t want to be in this kind of situation very often, but I proved to myself that… just maybe, I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Kinda cool!

And yes, it really is snowing at the end of April. It’s been snowing on and off for days. I’d rather have snow than flooding, but I *would* like to see the ground at some point. And, you know, summer and stuff.

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Musical Mondays – Mike Tompkins is My A Cappella Hero!

Mike Tompkins is amazing – he started out as a beat-boxer and now he does multi-layer a cappella tracks like this – his amazing version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

I sent this to my voice teacher, and she pointed out that not only does he sound amazing, but his pitch and tempo are absolutely perfect for each layer that he recorded.

So: my lesson here – don’t layer bad tracks hoping that, blended, no one will notice the errors. Don’t hurry them to just “get it out there” unless there’s a reason to do it. (When I first started blogging, I was told “sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity” hahaha!) Don’t try to get everything recorded in a single session, your voice won’t like you much after 8 or 9 hours of singing. And most of all, work each layer until you like how it sounds by itself. THEN put everything together and publish it, because THEN you’ll be proud of what you’ve done!

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MUSICAL MONDAY – MS, A CAPPELLA MUSIC, AND YOUR BRAIN

Welcome to Musical Monday! I’ve decided to show a little of what’s possible with A Cappella singing, and why I think it’s an amazing and valid tool for anyone who is interested in developing their voice AND their brain.

First off, here’s an example of a crazy amazing song by a Grammy award winning A Cappella group called the “Swingle Singers.” Notice that even though (obviously) they are ALL amazing singers in their own right, the really important thing here is the vocal blending and harmonization, which makes the whole song a different experience than just a soloist standing up with a microphone. They’re not even using words (although there may be words in a language I don’t know at the very beginning and end?) and it brought tears to my eyes! It’s such a gorgeous arrangement.

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I’ve found an article that explains really well exactly *WHY* A Cappella works as a learning tool – not only does it force you to really think about the melody and the music, but simply LISTENING to it will help develop your ear and help create more of those ever-important neural pathways. Since I have MS, I’m *VERY* interested in anything that helps build more pathways. I want to keep exercising my brain, and I’m hopeful that exercises like this, coming up with new ways of thinking about “normal” things like music (or art or ANYTHING creative) will help to replace some of the pathways that I’ve lost. I really feel like I need to pay more attention to lifelong learning than most other people, so it might as well be with something I honestly enjoy doing. THIS IS WHY HOBBIES ARE SO IMPORTANT!!! Creating anything new can actually change the physical landscape of your brain, especially if you make a HABIT of creating new things. Even just doodling a page a day can help.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE ON WHY A CAPPELLA IS AWESOME FOR EAR (AND BRAIN) TRAINING

As always, I’d love to hear your views on anything I’ve talked about here. Just click the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button below!

MS Research from Caltech!

Here’s an interesting article I ran across from Caltech a couple of years ago. Has anyone heard anything else about this research? Any updates?

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Of Bugs & Brains: Caltech Researchers Discover that Gut Bacteria Affect Multiple Sclerosis

PASADENA, Calif.—Biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a connection between multiple sclerosis (MS)—an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord-and gut bacteria.

The work—led by Sarkis K. Mazmanian, an assistant professor of biology at Caltech, and postdoctoral scholar Yun Kyung Lee—was published July 26 in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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To read the rest of this article, CLICK HERE!

As always, I’d love to hear from you, especially if anyone has any comments about the research discussed in this article!

MS Foundation E-Magazine – Awesome!

The MS Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has a great online magazine called MS Focus. They publish a new magazine four times a year, and all the magazines are accessible from the same page!

YOU CAN READ THEM HERE

I especially love the first article about small changes leading to big improvement. It’s in the Winter 2013 Issue. I love the idea of baby steps, because they’re small, non-threatening steps you can actually take right now, and baby steps in sequence can still lead to something huge.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to figure out everything right now. You only need to know what you want to do NEXT!

So what’s your next baby step?

Genes and MS – 57 Puzzle Pieces!

This is so cool! Scientists with the Human Genome Project have identified 57 genes linked to MS! You can read the full article by clicking the link below:

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGIST GRAEME STEWART HAS TO SAY

Yay for Science!

MS Adventures – How Do You Pace Yourself If You Don’t Know Your Limits?

Today I’m having one of those days. The ones where you wake up cranky and sore and you don’t want to be nice to anyone. I kinda feel like I’ve been hit all over the head with a frying pan – puffy in some places and flat in others. I just tried to be “normal” yesterday! Why do I feel like this today???

I volunteered to be on a friends’ team for a competition called “Winterfest.” It’s put on by the town, and has different types of competitions that all need to be completed as a team. Friday night was fun, there was a karaoke air-band “Mystery Event,” a “run and grab the paper bag and do what the note on it says” relay, and another I don’t remember. I felt fine when I got home afterwards, so I was hopeful for Saturday.

Saturday was a LOT more physical – we had to build a “Truely Canadian” ice sculpture, (actually, carve it out of a large hill of hard-packed snow,) start a fire from a log we had to cut and split ourselves, (I didn’t do that one – too many pointy objects!) a “do the stuff on the list and take pictures” scavenger hunt, and a crock-pot competition that I helped with by eating the results.

Winterfest 2013 Snow Sculpture - Front

Winterfest 2013 Snow Sculpture – Front. Yes, it’s a beer can with a tab on top. It’s Truely Canadian! You can’t tell, but it’s a 4 foot tall can poking out of a 4 foot tall maple leaf shaped ice bucket. With Moose. Mooses? Meese?

Winterfest 2013 Snow Sculpture - side

Winterfest 2013 Snow Sculpture – side. We wrote our names in yellow snow. Because if you’ve grown up in a small Northern Canadian town, you’ve tried it for real.

Other than the ice sculpture, I really didn’t do much, but with the -20 degree Celsius weather, even the sculpture was too much! I kept thinking “No one who isn’t dealing with this can possibly understand how much effort it takes to pretend to be normal.” I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, when I realized that EVERYONE on the team was dealing with something! Heck, we lost 3 out of 9 people overnight due to illness, and another friend had to leave at lunch on Saturday because his Krohn’s Disease was acting up. I tell you, we’d have WON that competition if we could have added points for every diagnosed condition our various team members were dealing with!

As it was, we didn’t exactly win. We actually got the “If You’re Not First, You’re Last” Booby Prize. I personally considered it a win just for being there, and staying for the entire competition! I think I convinced the rest of the team to look at it that way, and we may even make ourselves a trophy anyway.

But that was then, and this is now, and it’s easy to be all cranky and irritable when everything is sore and you can’t figure out exactly when you should have stopped yesterday. I could get all dejected and say “If this is the price for “acting normal,” I don’t want to do it anymore!”

But then what? I’m not going to hole up in a cave and NOT spend time with my friends. I mean, we’re ALL dealing with repercussions of some sort today. Do I just stop trying? That’s not me. Even a Booby Prize outranks everyone else who didn’t compete! But my limits have changed, my “normal” has changed, and I’m still not sure what it’s changed to. How do I find my new limits if I don’t push at them? Unfortunately, so far every time I’ve pushed, I’ve pushed too far. I’ve never been good at restraint! I’m really struggling with an “all or nothing” mindset. I mean, I feel fine when I do NOTHING, but I get bored and feel guilty for doing nothing, and I have to do SOMETHING. So I do SOMETHING and overextend. I’m just not sure how to find smaller SOMETHINGS to practice on.

So, any thoughts or advice from anyone out there? Have you found your new line, your new boundaries, your new limits? Are you still pushing? What small “somethings” do you strive for? How do you pace yourself in your new world? I’d love to hear some ideas! Just click the “Comment” button below and share some of your hard-earned knowledge!