Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An act of kindness

It's not everyday that I get my heart broken. It's even rarer that it breaks in public with strangers just passing by watching it happen and not bothering to even care. Yesterday, I realized just how self involved we, as a culture, truly are. We feel that whatever task is at hand is the single most important thing in the universe and can't possibly be bothered to stop and help someone in need, even when she's bent over a tiny animal in the middle of the road, sobbing almost uncontrollably.

I went to the gym yesterday, like I always do on Mondays, to lift weights, and was riding my bike home, when I noticed a lady's dog stopped staring intently at an animal lying in the grass. I assumed this animal was dead, and that someone would pick it up. As I rode by, I waved to the lady, but then kept looking back to see that she was examining the little animal closer. And that she lingered there for quite some time with her dog. I did a couple mile loop, and decided that I had to go back and see what the fuss was about. On my way back down the street, I noticed a dark thing in the road, and my heart sank. The little animal on the side of the road in the grass hadn't been dead, and it had managed to drag it's body out into the street.

Regardless of traffic, I hopped off my bike and parked it in the middle of the lane. Much to my dismay, a little black tabby cat lay in the road, barely alive, and badly broken. He had gnats flying around his face, and his little body was sunken in and emaciated. He had been this way for quite some time, and nobody had bothered to notice him. I was in tears the moment I saw him, and positive I could hear my heart breaking audibly. I talked to him, mostly to make myself feel better, but to let him know that someone cared and that he didn't have to be alone any longer. His little tail started to twitch and I knew that he knew I was there for him.

Cars passed by. Even a cyclist passed by, stopped to make sure that I was ok, and then went on his way. A man in a SUV stopped and handed me some paper towels, so I could at least move the kitty out of the road, and then told me he couldn't help me because he was late. The image of the white rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland" popped into my head, and I wanted to cuss at him, but resisted the urge. A kid in a minivan stopped, and I asked him if he lived nearby and could he get a towel for me to wrap up the kitty. His response? I have to pick up my prescription, but I'll see if you're still here when I get back. I unrolled several layers of paper towels and laid them out near the kitty, and as gingerly as I could moved him onto them. I could tell when I moved him that his little back was broken and that just the act of breathing must be excruciating. Not sure what to do next, and with a line of cars just going by one at a time, all staring mind you, but none stopping, I got ready to move him out of the road. My next move was going to be to call Eric, who was on his way to my house for our canoeing adventure. Before I could, a young man in a pickup truck came out of a side street and pulled off to the side to help me.

By the time he got there, I was nearly hysterical, and pissed beyond belief at the humans around me. He opened the back of his truck, put on his Winter Park firefighter coat, and came over to talk to me. It turns out, his mom has been out walking, gone home and told him he needed to go get the cat off the side of the road. I told him the kitty needed to be taken to an animal hospital to be put to sleep because his back was broken. We discussed which vet to take him to, and agreed on the same Dr., my vet, and he called them to apprise them of the situation. He picked up the kitty and put him the back of the truck. And I tried my best to comfort him, but he was so scared. As the guy closed the top on his truck bed, I had to really talk myself out of climbing in there and riding along to comfort him. I walked back to my bike, and really just let it out, which apparently worried the man. He came over to make sure I was gonna be ok, and that I wasn't hopping back on my bike immediately. I calmed myself down, and tried to really grasp what was going on. When I hopped back on my bike to head home, I called Eric to let him know why I wasn't home when I said I'd be there. I was over 20 minutes late getting back, but I didn't really care.

Nothing was more important than stopping to help a creature in need. We've all experienced pain, and we all know what it's like to be in need. We've all asked for help at one point in life, and been grateful to have received it. What makes one life more important than another? What makes a stray kitty lying in the road less important than the pampered kitty who's asleep on a pillow in my bed right now? NOTHING. All God's creatures deserve our love and respect, no matter what species they are. Why was I the ONLY ONE who stopped to help that poor soul? Why didn't the person who hit him stop? Did they even care?

The act of kindness here has two meanings: 1, is simply that I took the time to stop and help him and 2, is that to help him meant ending his suffering by getting to the vet and not leaving him to die alone and in pain. I couldn't save him, but in the end of his life, he knew there was someone there who cared enough to take care of him. So I gave up 15 minutes of my day, big deal. Look up from what you're doing. Take a minute to slow down. Don't forget that outside of your existence, a huge world of swirling life is happening, and that yours is but a speck in the universe. Life is bigger than you, what you do today to help another can effect everything else you do. We should all be so lucky as to commit an act of kindness, least you should need one at some point.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Price I pay

The other day, I was having a seriously shitty day, and was gonna do a post, but decided it best to wait for the anger to subside. I don't want my blog to be negative, and I don't want people to think I'm negative, even though I do have my days from time to time when I'm just not happy with anything or anyone. That said, today's blog is about the price I pay for having the life I want.

I live a mostly great life. I run my own business, which pays my bills (and not much else), I decide when and for how long I want to work, I don't work 40 hours a week, and my commute involves walking down the steps from my bedroom and around the corner into the living room to the piano. I have free time most mornings that I can use to work out 2 hours a day. All in all, that's pretty f'n sweet. Except for the fact that I'm the paycheck. I don't get paid by someone else every two weeks, and I don't get vacation time or sick time. I get paid once a month. If I don't work, I don't get paid. And, if people decide to be disrespectful and give me short notice on discontinuing lessons, it puts me in a serious bind.

My anger the other day was directed at one person. He knew that money was due the last week of the month, and gave me the runaround about paying me for days. Finally, on the 5th of the month, after I had paid rent and bills, and was basically broke, but still trying to go to New Orleans for the weekend, he decided to tell me via text message that he was discontinuing lessons. Really? This, compounded with someone else who dropped and someone else who couldn't pay me til mid month, really meant that the trip away that I so very desperately needed, would be cancelled at the last minute. So, in a matter of a couple hours, I was broke and not going anywhere this weekend, and not going to get a chance to see my friend. This, of course, pissed me off even more.

I went to the gym, and really tried to run it out. Then, I tried to lift it out by killing my legs on the weight machines. Really, I felt more like throwing the weights AT people, instead of lifting them. But, knowing that I had worked off some of that aggression meant that I felt a tiny smidge better. A good cry whilst sitting on the floor when I got home went a long way in helping me feel better, too. But the reality was/is I'm mentally exhausted and badly need a break from my life to go on an adventure or do something new.

The bottom line here is this: I love teaching. I HATE running the business. I take it too personally when people treat me badly as a teacher, and it's exhausting my mind. Running and lifting and cycling only go so far in helping me clear my mind of all the shit that swirls around in it. I'm a sensitive person, even though I look like a died in the wool athlete who could kick your ass for looking at me wrong.

Everyone makes a choice at some point about how they want to live life. What kind of life you want, what job, car, house, diamond, dog, or clothing you want. There's a price we all pay for those decisions. I had to give up my vacation so I could make sure there was food in my fridge until August 1, but everything happens for a reason. And my hardship pales in comparison to others'. Some prices are higher than others, like the people in this month's issue of Runner's World who have battled or are battling cancer. I've realized that my decision to live like this will cause casualties in my life(in the form of friends, trips, and sometimes family), but I'm certain the payoff in the long run(pun intended) will be worth all the crap I have to put up with right now. This is the life I chose, and so I'll pay the price, even if it hurts sometimes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Out of my comfort zone.

A few weeks ago I got a new student, and he's a little different than my other students who are mostly interested in classical music or music theater singing. He told me sings in a rock band and needs some help. Then he gave me some tickets to a charity rock concert. That concert was last night, and it was decidedly out of my comfort zone.

Part of the problem I have these days is understanding that I'm not fat anymore. But I spent my whole life being overweight, and the ramifications of that are long lasting. One doesn't just lose 100# and automatically be ok with herself. I'm not edgy or cool. I don't dress hip or sexy. I'm just not that girl. But maybe I'm not that girl because I haven't tried, or think I can't pull it off. Given the chance to really step out last night and wear something HOT, knowing that a lot of people there would be dressed the same way, was scary for me. So, I went with what would make me feel comfortable, which was my favorite denim skirt that is way too big for me, red and white layered tank tops, and my trusty silver Birkenstocks. Even being comfortable in my clothes didn't make me feel comfortable in my own skin.

I live a rather solitary life where I don't put myself in the position to feel insecure, but it's in the moments that I do something new and different that I realize just how unsure my footing is. But that's a juxtaposition for me as well, because for the most part, I don't give a rat's ass what people think of me. When I run, I look like a total nerd, and I don't care because I run for myself. When I teach, my students know that I'm a little crazy, and I don't care. I say what needs to be said in all aspects of my life, and don't really care how if affects others involved. But when it comes to stepping out into a room full of scantily clad rocker Barbies, why do I pick that moment to care what people think?

I was uncomfortable for an hour or so, until my student's band took the stage, and then I let myself be just another face in the crowd. I let myself listen, and feel the music, and turn off the teacher instincts. I tried to ignore some of his bad habits, the ones I see each week in lessons, but haven't gotten around to fixing yet. And like some of my other students performing on stage before, I watched him scan the crowd for my face. And then the rocker boy found his teacher in the audience, pointed right at me and smiled because he knew I was there way past my bedtime, he knew I had to run today and wasn't happy about being out so late, and he knew I was out of my comfort zone. After that, my comfort zone disappeared.

My friend and I went upstairs after the last band's set to see if they'd be by their merch table, and I wanted to see some other friends from a different band. It's in those moments when I get insecure again. When the rocker Barbies are swooning over the rocker boys. But as another friend of mine pointed out, "You're one of the Barbies now. Every time I see you, you look better." Barton and Scott are two of the nicest guys I know, wild, but nice. They've known me since before I started this journey, and every time they see me, they tell me how amazing I look. Last night, after several beers, the "wow, you look greats" turned into, "DUDE, YOU"RE SO HOT"(mind you, one of them has a girlfriend clad in a corset, tiny hotpants and fishnets). After a chat and a picture, I decided that walking out of my comfort zone had been a great idea. I had a lot of fun last night, and was reminded of how amazing it is to just move to the music, whatever kind it is. I was reminded that once upon a time, there was a rocker girl inside of me who lived for Aerosmith concerts.

The concert last night was a leap of faith I had to take on my own. It was a necessary evil to helping me realize that hiding behind my former self isn't acceptable any longer. Last night, I stepped out of my comfort zone, and it took on a life of it's own, so that today it's much bigger.