SallyP

Retroladytyping …

Taking a break …

… from  “The Facebook News Feed… oh that black hole of endless EVERYTHING” http://www.8womendream.com/63272/facebook-fatigue

Just recently I found myself becoming increasingly stressed without any reasonable cause.  Nothing much had changed.  Spring had sprung.  There were holidays and breaks to look forward to.  No pressure of work.  No pressure of any kind that I could see, and yet, and yet … something was happening.  My eyes felt as if I needed to take them out and rinse them under the tap, my back ached, my head ached, but mostly I was worried about a ‘something’ which I couldn’t quantify or  describe.   There was always a feeling of ‘something’ being wrong, ‘something’ which needed to be checked – just in case.

Wandering in a sleepy daze downstairs every morning, I caught my hand going out to that switch in the hall.  That one.  The one which triggers a flashing green light.  The box of connectivity.    I wasn’t switching it on with any real purpose in mind – no imminent need to email, shop or check the news or the weather.  As I opened up the laptop, I realised I was automatically moving the mouse to Facebook.  Why?

Why indeed?  Because I wanted to check if anything was happening.  Of course something was happening.  Something always is.  I can honestly say that I do know, in real life, most of my Facebook friends,  we have a common interest, or a shared educational or employment history.  Yes, I’m justifying myself.  But I felt I needed to check on their doings before I’d even staggered into the kitchen to put the kettle on for a caffeine hit, as well as frequent checks throughout the day.    Did I really need to  keep checking, googling and clicking on links until I developed a crick in my neck, followed by a headache, then a stress-inducing worry session brought about by information overload?  I did.  After all ‘something’ may have happened overnight, or may happen just as I log off … and I wouldn’t know about it. 

So what.

Yesterday I found myself massively over-reacting to a minor mishap in the real world (don’t ask – to do with misunderstandings and the expectation that the person closest to me can actually read my mind and knows what I am really saying … yes, that kind of misunderstanding, probably familiar to most long-married people.)

On reflection, when I had calmed down, I realised that what I was feeling  was brain overload.  I felt teary, tired, emotional and mentally exhausted for no good reason.  On reflection I realised that this kind of thing had been happening far too frequently lately. I’d been blaming others, the weather, being busy, the political situation – anything really.     I then found this website:  http://www.8womendream.com/63272/facebook-fatigue.

Please read it.  It is very enlightening.  There is so much information out there, most of which we don’t need or want to know.  It’s an endless pit of ‘stuff’ which I fell into every day and was in danger of becoming suffocated by.

That website describes Facebook as “a black hole of ENDLESS EVERYTHING” – yes, that’s exactly right.  Of course, Facebook has its positive uses:  keeping in touch with past friends whose paths have taken them to far-flung places, discussion groups with like-minded people, photographs – especially of weddings and new babies.  Using the Chat facility to arrange reunions, sharing news of personal events. Who can complain about those?

However, it’s the other side of those positives which I think had been  affecting me – the constant need to check ‘just-in-case’ somewhere within that endless everything there was that vital something which I really, really needed to know.  If that wasn’t to be the case, then I would share something about my own life – most of it just trivia to pour into that black hole of endless everything.

The truth is that everyone who might need to share something with me which I really, really needed to know, has my phone number, email, address or all three.  Similarly, if I need to tell someone about my day, I can telephone them, see them, or even … don’t tell them, because they don’t really need to know.  I don’t live on a remote island away from human contact.  My automatic reaching out to that box of connectivity in the hallway and the automatic moving of the mouse to the Facebook icon needed to stop.  So it did … yesterday.  I am taking a break.  Time will tell for how long.

What shall I do instead?  Well, I plan to take more time to do real things properly, even if those real things are routine or I could drink my coffee while it’s hot,  rather than letting it get cold while I am in the virtual world.  That’s about it:  just taking time.

Of course, it  may be that Facebook isn’t the reason why I’ve been so stressed.   It may be “others, the weather, being busy, the political situation.”  Time will tell.

At the moment, I am sorely tempted to just take a quick peek.  Shall I?  I may be missing out on something vital;  I may need to react to something I read;  I may need to get involved in a discussion or, more likely, it will be just information to pour into my overloaded brain.  So, I won’t.  I think.  Maybe.

FacebookNotificationTA

http://www.8womendream.com/63272/facebook-fatigue

https://www.wired.com/2016/06/how-to-turn-off-facebook-live-video-notifications/

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Sign of friendship

Celtic symbol for friendship.jpg

I have a friend.

That friend is an unlikely friend.  He is quite different from my other friends.  Most of them are round about my age; some are related to me; some are ones I met through my children; some through shared interests and some have, sadly, fallen by the wayside as our lives diverged.  This friend won’t, I hope.  This friend is different in that he is a younger generation, unconventional, creative and complex in a way that I and none of my other friends are.  Despite that, or possibly because of that, we are friends.

We were just distant colleagues until one day he happened to overhear a conversation I was having with another colleague about our musical tastes.  He commented that I had “exemplary taste in music.”  I don’t know about that, but we do certainly share similar tastes.  That initial contact was very quick as duty called.  We were then ‘forced’ (willingly) to work together on a regular basis.  I won’t say what his job is, but he does it superbly and inspirationally well, mostly.  Mostly, until I correct him, that is.  That’s the kind of relationship we have.  I admire him tremendously but from that initial co-incidence of an overheard conversation, we have now arrived at a point where (I hope) we don’t need to tread carefully with each other – do we?  I hope he reads this and will feel free to correct me, if necessary.  I think we have enough mutual respect to do that.  I certainly do.  He once told me that I ‘enhance’ what he does professionally.  He probably doesn’t remember saying that, but I treasure that comment.  It is a wonderful compliment to me, but also indicative of his character that he said it.  To be that generous with what to him was probably just an idle  comment is unusual, precious and memorable.

Throughout our working together, we found we shared more and more of each other’s thoughts, ideas and concerns.  That is such a wonderful way to spend a great deal of one’s working life.  We grew used to knowing what the other person was going to say before they said it … finishing each other’s sentences became the norm.  I cared for him; I know he cared for me.  Nothing untoward, just shared understanding.  Then I left that job.

That worried me.  I left at a time when he was away from the job for a while too, so we didn’t get to say goodbye in the real world.  I moved onto other things, but to my delight I found that while he was away he had taken on a similar role to what I do now, volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society.    I hadn’t even known he was interested in that.  He didn’t know I was going to do it, but he had been one step ahead of me and already started.  Of course he had.  I don’t know why I was surprised.  Our paths have crossed a couple of times through that role which has been lovely, but we have also kept in touch through the magical world of virtual media – texts and the much maligned Facebook.

Recently I asked him to do me a favour.  He has a skill which I don’t possess.  He writes poetry, eloquent poetry,  emotive and descriptive poetry which captures the essence of his subject and speaks to the reader in a unique way which is incredibly difficult to convey in any other way.  I wanted him to write a poem to commemorate a special occasion in my life.  I knew it was a big ask.  I would need to share personal ‘stuff’ with him; he would be sharing the creative side of himself with me.  Would that test our friendship in a way that purely practical favours don’t?  Taking a deep breath and with several rewrites, I sent him a message …

He instantly replied.  Yes, he would do it and would be honoured.  Honoured!  That was reassuring and not a little surprising.  I don’t know why it was surprising.  I should have known.  Of course I should.  That’s the type of person he is.

A few days later, the poem arrived.  I loved it, but there was one phrase which niggled.  He had asked me to comment and to comment honestly.  I wasn’t sure.  To criticise a person’s creative spirit is a potential minefield and what do I know about poetry after all?  Not much, but I do know what I like.  So … having sent an ‘I love it, but will comment further when I’ve read it properly’ holding message, I let it settle in my brain.  That phrase still niggled though.  I still held off further comment, then a text came.  “Have you had a chance to re-read yet?”  No hiding place.  I needed to reply.  So … I told him about my niggle, hoping he wouldn’t mind and, of course, I was hiding behind the distance of a text.

Not only didn’t he mind, but within an hour a new improved version arrived in my in-box.  It is now perfect.  He has summed up the meaning of that special occasion, without sentimentality, without cliché, without anything other than beautiful words, cleverly assembled into exactly what I wanted – a message for  a special person.

It is wonderful to be the other half of an unlikely, cross-generational friendship and knowing (hoping) that friendship will continue, favours can be asked, confidences can be shared and understanding will be at the core of that friendship.

Thank you to my poet friend.  xx

 

 

 

 

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“Where words leave, music begins”

 

“Where words leave, music begins … “  Heinrich Heine in the late 1700s

music bird

I spend some of my spare time, under the auspices of the Alzheimer’s Society,  befriending some of those who are living with dementia and coping with hospital admission simultaneously – either is difficult; together …I can only imagine the confusion, uncertainty and fear which can be experienced by those who had formerly been articulate, capable and confident people.

Recently I met, in hospital,  a lovely elderly, and very beautiful, lady who, as part of her dementia was coping with aphasia, the effects of which meant she struggled to compose the random thoughts in her brain into coherent communication.  However, I had been told that this lady had been an opera singer and loved singing still.  My singing ability is more enthusiastic than competent, so I was not sure how our meeting would progress.  I love talking with people, but this was different.  I didn’t want to spend the time talking ‘at’ her.  That would be pointless.  The idea was to engage her in whatever way was possible.  I had met aphasic children in an earlier role, so I decided to give it a go …

On entering the ward, I saw the lady looking very dignified, with the most beautiful white hair, but also looking very confused and worried.   I introduced myself, smiled and waited, talking about such mundane things as the weather, without much response … then I mentioned that I had heard she loved singing …

She flung her arms wide and sang “Yes,  how wonderful!”  I talked for a while about my limited knowledge of singing and classical music; then she said “Let’s sing!”  As I said:  enthusiastic, not competent, but with nothing to lose but my dignity, I sang with her – no recognisable song, just la la las, accompanied by extravagant operatic-type arm gestures from both of us.  My side of this duet was far from tuneful, but this lovely patient lady took it upon herself to attempt to teach me to sing in tune, or at least in a way which would harmonise with her.   She was patient, although she did giggle deliciously when I made strangled attempts to sing at the same pitch as her.   Eventually we had some sort of call and response duet going on in the corner of a hospital ward:  our own little musical world.

I gradually became aware that we were being watched.  Other patients, and some staff, were looking.  Slightly embarrassed, I let my voice tail off.  However, my wonderful, patient singing teacher was having none of it.  She sang “No-o-o, you must sing …”, so I did.   We were communicating – ok, in a slightly unusual way and it certainly got us noticed.  However, my new friend was not in the slightest bit embarrassed.  She was a singer; to her, I was also a singer and that was all that mattered.  She was happy.  I was happy, although slightly more self-conscious than her.  We had made a connection.  Speech could not achieve this.  Music did.

I continued to see this lady for several weeks and, each time, we sang to, and with, each other.  One day, just before Christmas, I was greeted in the Ward corridor by my lovely friend, wearing a festive red coat, ready to go home.  She sang from one end of the corridor to me at the other end of the corridor with no inhibitions at all.  When we reached each other, she opened her arms wide for a hug and told me she was going home at last.  I was pleased to know that, but sad that I would probably not see her again.

I hope she is happily singing away with those who are taking care of her.  I hope they understand.  I hope they are not embarrassed at singing with her wherever they are – in the street, in the supermarket, wherever …  I hope she is teaching them as she taught me.

As I said goodbye for the final time, she took both my hands, gave me a huge hug and kiss on the cheek and said “Thank you for the music.”

I can’t add anything more.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/volunteer

www.dementiapartnerships.org.uk/archive/tag/ruh/
 singing_brain_300
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