Friday, April 11, 2014

Ahwahnee Symphony Concert

My time at the Ahwahnee concert this year was more than I could have ever expected.  It exceed last year by far – obviously – but this year was so fulfilling and rewarding.  The anxiety I had dissipated very quickly as soon as I strolled into the grand entrance.  I was at home, and it was going to be wonderful.

I’m amazed in the time I’ve been playing with the Symphony of its growth – both physically and musically - and the family-like attitude among the members.  Everyone is so supportive of the other and truly cares in so many ways.  I had a new stand partner this year who I absolutely enjoyed.  He is a fantastic musician, and not only did I have fun with him, I learned from him.  I was challenged with his level of musicianship to increase my own, and through it I saw growth within myself.  This was entirely encouraging to me since I’ve been out of college and private music lessons for quite some time now.  I love seeing growth in myself.

Our fabulous conductor, Les Marsden, is a jack of all trades and knows more than an encyclopedia.  To add to that, his character and spirit is warm, spirited, and humorous.  I was honored to play “Hope In A Time of Tragedy,” the debut of his signature piece for the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant.  I’m so lucky to be a part of this part in history. 

Playing in the Ahwahnee is always a joy and honor.  But this time – to look out into the audience and see their enthusiasm, to rest the violin underneath my chin and play with passion, and to hear the thunderous applause afterwards was overwhelming.  As I sat there between songs as Les talked about the next piece, my mind wandered to how many people over the years had sat in that same Great Lounge and how many things have happened there over the years.  I looked at the stained glass windowpanes and wondered who installed them.  The pictures of old postcards with ladies in their finest dresses with corsets, petticoats, and hoop skirts came to mind.  The amount of celebrations that had happened in that room as well as the time during the War when it was used as a hospital for the Navy is all so nostalgic.  And here I am, sitting in that same area adding to the history that I can one day tell my grandchildren.  Simply spectacular.

Afterwards, I was so excited to take pictures marking this event.  For me, these pictures represent so much.  Almost 14 years ago, I was practicing for my college Senior Violin Recital in these woods – standing and walking.  Now, I was sitting, but you’d never know it from the pictures.  Even though something tragic had happened, it didn’t stop me from what I loved to do.  It’s elegance and a rustic ambiance added together to make for quite a beautiful backdrop.  I will treasure these pictures forever as well as the memories made in this beautiful hotel in Yosemite National Park.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Anxiety and PTSD

This weekend is a big weekend for me in so many ways.  I get the chance to "re-do" the concerts I technically didn't really get to play in last year with the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra due to a double roll-over car accident just hours before the concert started.  Though bound and determined, I still made it to the concert at the Ahwahnee Hotel with 15 minutes to spare before the down beat.  However, shock had started to set in by the end of the first half and during intermission I had to go to the hospital.

Well, here we are a year later.  I love the pieces we are playing (Mozart's "Flute and Harp Concerto in C," Shubert's "Unfinished Symphony," and the world premiere of Les Marsden's "Hope in a Time of Tragedy" in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the grant for Yosemite National Park - [part 2 of a 4 part series.])  I love that I am still able to play violin and challenge my talent with a great symphony and great people in a great part of the country.  I'm really grateful in so many ways.

This evening, I started getting really stressed about the weekend, and I couldn't figure out why.  We are playing two concerts, both approximately two hours long each.  One on Saturday evening at 7pm and then another on Sunday at 2pm.  I am, of course, concerned that my physical stamina can hold up for both concerts, but it was more than that.  I knew what I was going to wear, I know the music, my violin is tip-top shape... so what was causing this unsettling feeling in my stomach?  I realized it was anxiety and PTSD.

I don't suffer from much PTSD from my car accident in 2000.  After all, I was asleep when it happened and don't remember it.  There are certain triggers or things I do/don't do because of that accident in 2000, but nothing dramatic that others would pick up on.  But after this last car accident in 2013 in which I remember everything - the sounds, the rolling, the glass shattering, the feeling of when is it going to stop - *shutter* ... every time I drive by the place where it happened I'm immediately reminded.  But this weekend is creating a feeling I didn't expect.

Anxiety is a real thing.  I never really understood it until my Cymbalta medication stint in 2012, but now I'm fully aware of it and how it feels.  It's a feeling of being out of control, panicked that you're not going to be somewhere on time, worrying that something will happen, and basically a feeling of just twirling.  There's various degrees for different people.  And the PTSD that has come from the car accident in 2013 is flooding my mind because I'm utterly afraid it could happen again and ruin this experience for me.  I know I'll be gripping the steering wheel a bit more tightly, driving like a grandma, and probably a bit more skittish of things that pop out while driving.  At least this is my fear.  I don't want this to ruin my concerts or how I feel, but I can already feel the anxiety boiling of something going wrong.  I'm scared.  I'm afraid of getting in another car accident.

This is the first time this has happened in quite some time.  I don't know why I'm writing it out other than to perhaps calm my fears?  If you read this, please pray for safety, protection, peace, and enjoyment this weekend.  Anxiety and PTSD cannot go away, in my experience.  They can be suppressed and go dormant for a period of time - sometimes years - but it never ever goes away once its onset.

Music is a beautiful outlet for any worry, anxiety, fear, or concern.  I pray I can rest in God's beauty and the talent that He has given me and allow me to live in the moment and enjoy all that comes with one of the only things we'll take to Heaven with us from Earth - music.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cyber-Stalking.... Needs To Stop!

Stalking and cyberstalking/cyber-bullying is all the same.  If someone is relentlessly searching out information about you in an attempt to cause distress, malice, false accusations, disregards warnings to stop, and has no legitimate purpose for what they are doing, it is called stalking.  It's not called "curiosity," "sneaky," "interested," or any other "polite" word you want to put on it.  Stalking is a form of mental abuse in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim.  Cyberstalking is a criminal offense and can happen both in realtime and offline.

When I first became hurt many moons ago, I had no idea about any of this absurdity.  However the more confident I got and the more public I became, the more my accomplishments brought out those who wished ill-will upon me.  By now, I'm well-versed in all the tricks of the trade and do not hesitate to bring in the authorities when stuff like this happens.

And aren't I just so lucky that it's happening... again.

In September of 1998 of this tiny little town, a 21 year old female was brutally murdered.  Details are too horrible to describe in writing.  At the moment that murder happened, a mother lost her daughter.  A grandmother lost her granddaughter.  The town lost a friend.

Two years later, another 21 year old female became paralyzed in a double rollover car accident while leaving the same tiny town.  That person was me.

There is no connection between the two stories except for the fact that the mother of the other female has taken it upon herself to now cyberstalk me.  She is obsessed with where I'm at, what I'm doing, if I'm in town or not, etc, etc.  Mind you, I have never met this woman!  She has called me several times on my private cell phone number (that is not listed).  She has accused me of ridiculous absurdities and is constantly harassing me from a distance.  Yes, the local authorities are well aware of her actions and if it continues I will take further action.

In my opinion, she is extremely depressed, lonely, and sad.  I don't think she has or ever will accept the fact that her daughter is no longer alive and will not be coming back.  I can somewhat relate to what she is experiencing because my Dad has yet to accept the fact that I'm paralyzed and in a wheelchair.  But you know what?  After this many years, it's time to grow up and deal with it.  Face your issues, work through your problems, release your baggage, and move on with life.  Not that you will ever forget how life "used to be," but I once heard that if you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you're pissing all over the present.  Essentially, you'll always be stuck in the mud.

My inclining is that the mother of this girl is cross-associating me with what her daughter "could have been" at my age.  But because her daughter is no longer here on Earth, she has decided to make someone else (me) pay for the actions the murderer did.  None of what I mentioned about her daughter is not public, and my opinion is just that - my opinion.  I am not a doctor or psychologist, but I have been through enough grief, pain, and depression to know the signs.  I have also dealt with people like her enough times to know my boundaries and when to pull in higher assistance.  She has been warned to have no contact with me.  However what she must not be aware of is that there is technology that can track who is searching your website, looking up your name in search engines, viewing you through social media, etc.  In the state of California, the laws for cyberstalking is Cal. Civil Code 1708.7, Cal Penal Code 646.9.  The laws for cyberharrassment fall under Cal. Penal Code 422, 653.2, 653m.
Again I repeat, this is a criminal offense.  If a restraining order is put on you and you continue to stalk someone in any type of manner, even via social media, you will be arrested.

I share all of this with you so that you yourself can be aware of what might seem harmless at the moment may not be in the end.  You need to learn the signs and also see what lead some people to do what they do.  Learn your surroundings, know how to protect yourself, and do not be afraid of the police.  I appreciate those people who are supportive of me, my life, my accomplishments, my struggles, and my overall journey.  I look forward to receiving emails from people who I don't even know that say that I've helped them in some way or that they can relate to what I'm going through.  Yes, parts of my life are publicly out there.  I can only control technology to an extent.  But those of you who wish to tear people down need to know that you're ultimately tearing yourself down and will be punished accordingly.

Depression is horrible.  I totally understand it and have been through it.  But the first step to recovery is acknowledgment.  I had to acknowledge and accept the fact that I am in a wheelchair before I could move forward in life.  The same should be done in any situation where depression is looming overhead.  Yelling, drinking, drugs, physical abuse, verbal abuse, shopping, hoarding, eating, being codependent.... none of that is a way to solve issues or problems in your life.  The only way is to hit it straight on an call a spade a spade.  I highly recommend a support group called "Celebrate Recovery."  It is where I went (alongside one on one professional counseling) to work through my personal hurts and struggles.  "Celebrate Recovery" is located all around the world.

Do not wreck vengeance on an innocent person because of your own personal problems.  And remember, there is always someone/something watching YOU, even when you're hiding behind your own computer.

If you or someone you know is being harassed in any form, please contact your local authorities.  Even if you think it's something small, it is important to have documentation written down in a police file in case it escalates (God-forbid) into something bigger.  Be safe!  Protect yourself!

Help put a stop to bullying, cyber-bullying, stalking, and cyber-stalking.

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