Monthly Archives: November 2015

Eli Writes

(I, Susan, am sorry for the delay! My last post indicated that I would post this the following day, but the Life River was just roaring by too fast for me to find a rock to climb up on and take the time to put this up.) So, without further ado …

So it’s 18 months later and here I am, beginning IOP all over again.

For the third time.

Essentially, our dear revered Honorable Judge got sick of me dropping dirty for opiates on my drug tests and remanded me to the custody of the Talbert House.

Now, 104 days later, I’m clean and sober for the longest stretch of time since…well…oh, 2010 or so. I will never forget the fateful day around 4 years ago where I peered in the medicine cabinet at our house and perused the pharmaceuticals, pausing at the label which boldly proclaimed “HYDROCODONE/ACETAMINOPHEN 7.5/325.” I remember scrolling through posts singing its infinite praises, and I figured anything that commanded as much of an austere religiosity as a pill had to be worth checking out. I still wonder what made me pop 3 of them into my mouth, merrily guzzling down a glass of water and retreating to my room with my girlfriend.

Oh, what a night it was! I remember saying to her, “if there is a heaven, now I know what it feels like.” We watched movie after movie, although we were much too distracted to pay one second of attention to the screen. We had passionate, deep conversations, opened up more to each other than either of us had done with anyone in our entire lives. I felt no judgement from her, no shame, no pain, no guilt, no inherent feeling that there was something wrong with me. I breathed many sweet, slow sighs of relief that night. I was home. All the self-loathing and paroxysms of rage escaped out of my spirit that night in a cleansing that absolutely felt like the purest baptism the New Testament had to offer.

There are no visions driven by hyperbole in my accounts, no attempt to sweeten the other side of the grass or exaggerate what the drugs did for me. As soon as I experienced that particular high on that particular night, I was utterly hooked.

The remaining 20 or so in the bottle (from a leftover dental surgery) were gone within the next 24 hours, and from then on I purchased painkillers whenever I could. I would pay $1/mg for those little white and yellow pills, which meant oftentimes I would pay upwards of $80 to be high for 6 hours. They fulfilled my desires and needs instantaneously, wholly, magnificently. I would go weeks on end beaming from ear to ear, driven by the tantalizing promise of more painkillers.

Pills did to me something that I don’t think they do to everyone. They didn’t numb my emotions (at least, not at first). They didn’t disorient me. They didn’t even make me throw up (the #1 side effect of opiates). They made me feel emotions more strongly, like I was more connected to the universe around me than ever before. They made me notice the little, beautiful things in life, and with my newfound vision colors would actually look vibrant, sound held a mellifluous facet. It was like the world around me was opened up, and without the aid of anything messy like therapy, meditation or education I simply was flung into a gorgeous, boundless universe and instantly became the person I wanted to be. Opiates gave me energy and made me sociable. I was a better salesman, a better student, a better son. Eli 2.0 was born the night I swallowed those Vicodin for the first time.

A year went by and painkillers got too expensive. The $1/mg deal absolutely wrung me out like a dishcloth, but I wasn’t ready to give up the experience. Far from it. I didn’t know if I ever would be ready. Browsing the internet one day I found a forum where one could contact people in one’s area for connections to drugs. After several weeks of communication, I decided to meet up with someone in the inner city area to try some heroin, as it appeared to be much cheaper and, according the all-knowing internet, it was essentially the exact same thing that came in my little round tablets, only not regulated by the FDA (this wound up to be much more of a significant factor than I remembered).

I drove my parents’ minivan down the road to meet with someone I knew only online who called himself Devon (names changed). My friend Brad and I went, having no idea how dangerous of an idea it was to set up a heroin deal online with a stranger then pick them up in my parents’ car.

Unfortunately, the deal went swimmingly, without Michael Phelps anywhere in sight. Devon couldn’t have been nicer and all he asked was for a pack of cigarettes in exchange for getting me heroin. I let him leave the car with $200 and he came back with the drugs and two syringes, warning me about the dangers of shooting. I actually listened to him and gave the syringes back, we dropped him off and drove back to loveland. I felt proud I had rejected the needle (a “junkie” thing, it seemed to me) and I was just snorting my heroin.

Well, most people know the rest. As soon as that vinegar-tinted scent hit my nostrils I recoiled a bit but soldiered through, and barely 10 minutes later I was so high I couldn’t see straight.

I absolutely loved it.

The next year is a blur. I was high all the time and only avoided getting addicted to heroin physically by switching drugs every few days – heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD was generally my weekly menu. The new world I stumbled into was glorious and I couldn’t get enough.

One night I snorted my third line of heroin and didn’t wake back up. My girlfriend at the time called the police and they brought me back with Narcan. I caught my first charge, a felony possession of heroin, in my boxers in my bedroom at home.

The next year was a mess of therapists, court, outpatient programs and failed attempts to get clean. Shortly after I turned 18 I got kicked out of my house, and since all my friends had either left me to my drug obsession or gone to prison or died, I lived in a hotel for several weeks where I stopped my heart again (doing too much heroin again), attempted a breaking and entering, and stayed drunk all day because my existence was too miserable to be sober. I was arrested for the first time at a Red Roof Inn in late August of 2014. This was when I got my first taste of jail.

If drugs were my newfound heaven, jail was my newfound hell. Sleeping on a bitterly cold concrete floor that threatened to sap every extra Fahrenheit out of my already frail body was beyond miserable. I ate and I slept and I waited to get out so i could go get high again.

Long story short, the narcotics I fell in love with destroyed everything about me, both internally and externally. I became selfish and self-centered, caring only about how those around me could benefit me or how I could squeeze more money out of them. Fed up with me, my family shipped me off to Houston where I spent 43 days struggling mightily to get a handle on my addiction before leaving early and getting high the first day i came back

I went though all kinds of shit because of drugs, enough to fit 10 blog posts. I am so happy I am free from them today. I work a program, as well as a job I absolutely love. I have community service, AA meetings, court classes, and court dates to stay on top of. I have recovering friends who all come from as crazy of background as I do. I’m having fun again, and my love for video games and passion for cinematography have returned in full force.

I’m planning on going back to school to start a career and learn about what I love. I have a huge buffer around me in the form of my family, friends and sponsor. I feel free for the first time since I took that first drug in 2011. It’s not always easy today, but today i don’t feel like I have to take that first drug. I’m not so enamored with the idealistic perception I had of opiates anymore because I’ve seen where they take me,and I don’t ever want to go back.

I’ll leave you with a before and after picture of myself. When my little brother saw these pictures of me looking absolutely withered, he ran to my mother to ask her to comfort me. Even he could see what misery was hidden behind my eyes. I’m glad I don’t have to take pictures like that anymore.

Here I am now:


Courtroom D, November 19, 2015


Last time we were in this courtroom was July 3, 2015. Eli had been having periodic appearances to update the judge on his community service “progress” and to “pay” on his fines. He was in active addiction and those things just weren’t getting done. Long story short, his next court date was continued because he had entered inpatient treatment.

He was concerned that the judge might decide to put him in jail for not having completed the community service or finished paying off the fines. As we sat waiting for the judge, I leaned over to him and said “Go up there with the energy of imagining that he is going to say, ‘You’re doing a good job, Eli, keep up the good work.'”

When the judge walked in, my heart sank. I had seen this guy in action. He had told a defendant once that her court fines were to be treated like taxes and had to be paid before anything else. This was in response to her comment that she had used the money she had to get her water turned back on. When I saw him, I lost my head a bit and leaned over and warned Eli that this guy is pretty strict, thereby reactivating all of Eli’s worry about the outcome.

The judge called Eli up to the stand. Asked how many hours he had left, how much he was paying on his fines today, and how much he could pay in 30 days. And then he said, “You’re doing a good job, Eli, keep up the good work.” LOL! It was completely not what I was thinking he would ever tell Eli! But I loved it that he did.

Tune in tomorrow! I will be putting up a new post by Eli.


Fat Tuesday Update! On Wednesday!


Top ten things I am practicing right now in regard to food.

  1. I remember that a combination of walking and jogging (jwalking, I like to call it) was very successful for me in the past. I have begun jwalking again.
  2. When I jwalked in the past, I had a route I really enjoyed which took me through a nearby neighborhood. I have reinstituted this route as I have positive muscle memory associated with it.
  3. I used to count my steps — 100 steps walking and then 100 steps jogging. I enjoyed doing that, but I experimented this morning with noticing (noticing!!) where I was at each transition. I learned that I probably don’t have to count my steps, as I can just walk to this fire hydrant and then jog to this Bengal mailbox, etc.
  4. Because I listen to music when I jwalk, it will be nice not to have to have my brain all occupied with counting steps. Listening to my music on shuffle is such a joyful experience for me. I can focus more on the music and less on the steps now.
  5. Having a green smoothie in the morning works really well for me. I feel good as I make it; I love seeing all the ingredients turn into the beautiful green mixture. I enjoy using the tall soda glass I bought for this exact purpose. I enjoy choosing which straw to use. Little things that add up to a really positive experience.
  6. This morning when I got back to my driveway, I wanted to go on, but about 20 feet on down the street, Toast sat down to let me know we had gone past the driveway. (Such a good dog.) James Clear talks about the value of setting an upper limit to what we are planning to do in terms of exercise or implementing a new habit. I tend to get kind of excited about things and can sometimes overdo it. Toastie must have known that.
  7. Reminding myself that “One Small Step Can Change Your Life” which is the title of a book by Robert Maurer and discusses the wisdom of taking really tiny steps when implementing new habits. I can do that!
  8. Mindfulness. With my Alexander Technique lessons, the meditations by Deepak Chopra that come up as I shuffle through my music, the Active Rest sessions I do on a daily basis, and lots of reading about being present in this moment, I am finding that I am more available to what is happening right in front of and inside me.
  9. Eschewing (seems like an appropriate word in regard to food) setting up big barriers and huge lists of rules.
  10. Thinking about being fast and light as I go through my day; as I make choices of what to eat and drink.

Top ten things I want to implement or maintain in regard to food.

  1. I want a better plan for food for later in the day.
  2. Inserting space and stillness between activities. I pretty much run a 400 yard relay all day long, handing off the baton from one activity to the next, always moving. I can see how having a little space between things will keep me more in harmony with a natural rhythm and pace.
  3. Read the book I bought in Alaska “Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.”
  4. Go to bed early enough that I feel rested in the morning, and find out what the optimal sleeping times are for me.
  5. Allow the process of buying, making, eating, cleaning up after, planning, and creating food to be infused with joy, with a bubbly joy that comes from inside me. It’s definitely there, but I have to be intentional about fostering that internal state.
  6. Eat less often. James Altucher doesn’t eat after 530 pm; my Alexander Technique teacher doesn’t eat after 3pm as she believes that going to bed a little bit hungry is a good thing; my chiropractor eats only between the hours of noon and 6pm. I haven’t figured out what works for me, but I definitely believe that intermittent fasting is a hugely healthy thing to practice.
  7. Seriously consider going to another workshop in Alaska to address my experience of food and emotions and eating.
  8. Be more relaxed about the process overall.
  9. Organize my kitchen and have many sources of visual, olfactory and organizational pleasure in there. I have a small kitchen so I don’t have ledges and shelves and extra counter space where I can put collections of pitchers. I also don’t have a collection of pitchers, so that’s cool. I love my kitchen; it was one of the last remodeling projects my dad did, so it’s a lovely place to be.
  10. Continue to let go of anything I do not need, or that does not serve me or my family.

The Weighted Blanket is Complete!

I was at a Thanksgiving party this past weekend with a few families from Kepler’s school. The guest list also included the kids’ Special Ed teacher and one of the wonderful aides who has been with us for a few years now. After dinner, listening to the squeals of glee from the basement as the kids romped and played, stories about traveling with the kids began to be shared.

I’m not a particularly dramatic person. While I do not actually think I am boring, my low-key, laid-back manner tends to fit more into the background than the spotlight. I like my stories, so I don’t mind not being in the spotlight. I just observed that my “traveling with kids” stories tend to be more about fun, meaningful times, and less about dramatic scenes including vomit, diarrhea, and emergencies.

Maybe dramatic stories get a bigger bang for their buck, but like I said, I like my stories. I like the memories we have made as a family.

On my blog, hot diggety dog, I get to tell MY stories MY way, and YOU get to decide whether or not you want to read them. Here, then, is the story, with all the little details, of blankets and Eli.

When I was expecting each of my babies, I made each of them a baby blanket. Valerie, my first baby, got a blanket made by a mother who had all the time in the world — tiny squares, hand quilting. I think I finished Jude’s much smaller, much less complicated blanket the night before he was born! Eli got a pieced quilt, but with MUCH larger squares (LOL). Although the first three quilts were mostly unisex, I was sure (without any medical confirmation) that Anna-Jessie was a girl; I chose a floral print.

Kepler got this whimsical, joyful Winnie the Pooh fabric.


Kids are all so unique! Of all five of our kids, Valerie and Eli are the ones who wore their blankets out with all the love they gave to and received from their blankies. I remembered this years later when I heard about sensory processing disorder and saw that maybe Eli could have been diagnosed with that as as child.

I heard about weighted blankets. From the Magic Blanket website:

Recent studies have shown that deep pressure touch, the type of proprioceptive input generated from a
weighted blanket,  releases serotonin in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter that creates a feeling of calm
within our nervous system.

Depression, Anxiety, Aggression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) and Bipolar Disorder all have a common link: low serotonin levels.

The deep pressure — proprioceptive input —  generated from the Magic Blanket signals the brain to release
serotonin, which in turn naturally calms and relaxes the body, promoting sleep and stress relief.  This effect
has already had tremendous success helping to calm children and adults with sensory integration disorder,
autism, Rett Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome,  ADHD, PTSD and Restless Leg Syndrome.

To find out more about how proprioceptive input and a weighted blanket can calm and comfort,  please talk
to an occupational therapist.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it! We procured one of these for Eli’s 19th birthday. When his belongings were discarded by his ex-girlfriend earlier this year, his weighted blanket was one of the things that she saw fit to throw away like trash. I was so sad about its loss until I realized that having to start over wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This was when I decided to make him a new weighted blanket.

Knowing that Eli was going to be coming home after his stay in rehab (just recently), I planned to have his new blanket completed by the time he came home. As Robert Burns said in a slightly different form, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (You REALLY should hop over here and read his wonderful poem “To a Mouse” aloud.)
So, twasn’t until about 20 days after he had come home that I finally finished his blanket.
For a weighted blanket, one sews an inner layer into channels (16 in my case), then fills each channel with about 3 TBSP of the kind of beads that fill beanie babies.  After filling the 16 channels, I sewed a horizontal seam,  sealing those 16 little compartments, twenty rows worth, 320 compartments all together.
The top layer fabric I chose was as soft as baby’s hair, which seemed like a really good idea in the store. As I considered how IN THE WORLD I was going to sew it though, not so much. I ended up added a backing layer to it to stabilize it, which worked beautifully.
Finally, it was time to assemble the layers. My machine hummed along, happy to be part of the creation. After sewing three sides together, I stalled again. I was just doing this all by feel, and I could see the blanket turning out whopper jawed, which I didn’t want.
Laid the whole thing out on the living room floor and aligned it and pinned it and felt like it would be ok. Sewed it up. Finished the opening by hand, and then just sat back and marveled. The top layer is the minky, soft brown, and the underside is the flannel with the coffee mug pattern. (I thought he could look at the coffee cups in the morning and wake up a little easier. HAHA!)
It may not have turned out to be EXACTLY 18 pounds, but the word from the guy under the blanket after the first night was PHENOMENAL. Phenomenal — I like that.

The World, and my Alma Mater, Lost Two Outstanding Men This Week

Dr. Brett Foster (1972-2015)
I was shocked and saddened to read of the death of one of Wheaton’s English professors last week. He was only 42, and I know he was beloved by the students. I was not familiar with him, but did have the opportunity to read some of his poetry. Here is a beautiful interview with Dr. Foster. I am sad I never knew him. This poem (Tongue is the Pen) was my introduction to his faithful, beautiful life:

Isaiah 43

I am making all things new! Or am trying to,
being so surprised to be one of those guys
who may be dying early. This is yet one more
earthen declaration, uttered through a better
prophet’s more durable mouth, with heart
astir. It’s not oath-taking that I’m concerned
with here, for what that’s worth— instead just a cry
from the very blood, a good, sound imprecation
to give the sickness and the shivering meaning.
Former things have not been forgotten,
but they have forgotten me. The dear, the sweet,
the blessed past, writes Bassani. Tongue is the pen.
Donning some blanket of decorousness
is not the prophet’s profession, not ever.
Not that I’ve tasted the prophet’s honey or fire:
I’m just a shocked, confounded fellow
who’s standing here, pumping the bellows
of his mellifluous sorrow. Yet sorrow’s the thing
for all prophets. Make a way in the wilderness,
streaming your home-studio-made recordings
from a personal wasteland. These are my thoughts.
I can’t manage the serious beard. My sackcloth
is the flannel shirt I’m wearing. But the short-circuited
months have whitened my hair, and it’s not
for nothing that Jeffrey calls me, with affectionate
mockery, the silver fox. It’s a prerequisite, finally—
being a marginal prophet, but a severe attention
to envisioned tomorrows must be present, too,
must be perceived as possible, audible, or followable.
There’s a hypothetically bright future for everything,
each wounded creature that is bitten, or bites.
And speaking of things overheard, you heard right:
if I have to go out, I am going to go out singing.

Dr. Roger Lundin (1949-2015)
Later in the week, I read of the death of a second beloved Wheaton professor, Dr. Roger Lundin. Unlike Dr. Foster, Dr. Lundin had been teaching at Wheaton for 37 years, which encompassed the time Greg and I (and Valerie!) were at Wheaton. I did not get to have him as a prof, but Greg took one class from him. While we had numerous professors who were either personally or professionally (or both) head and shoulders above the norm, Dr. Lundin was one that Greg stayed in touch with over the years.

Two years ago, when we went to Wheaton to visit Valerie, we decided to stop by Lundin’s office, as it had been a long time since we had seen him. Greg penciled a note and taped it to his door and said we’d be back later. When we came back, Roger commented that when he saw the note, he knew it was from Greg Taylor BECAUSE HE RECOGNIZED THE HANDWRITING. Of a student he had in a class over 30 years ago, from whom he had received a few letters over the years.

One of our treasured books is Dr. Lundin’s “Believing Again.” Published in 2012, he inscribed it to Greg: “To Greg, my friend of ever so longstanding, with gratitude for your friendship and great admiration for your many gifts. Roger Lundin.”

How can he be gone? What an impact he made on my dear husband, and myself as well. Life is just too short, but what a legacy to leave behind, by both Dr. Foster and Dr. Lundin. I am so grateful for my education at Wheaton, and for the many men and women who shaped my thinking and challenged me and enriched my life. Goodbye, Dr. Lundin, until we meet again.

Before I Make Mashed Taters for 20 People, I Have Something to Say


If I were still a Christian, I would have a great analogy here.

Toast (pictured above) (the furry one) has been with us now for about 3 months. Our foray into having a dog trainer come and help us was a bit of a disaster. “Mike” the dog trainer apparently has his own dogs who are trained so well that he can just look at them and they know to recite the alphabet while standing on one leg. But Mike’s instruction to us didn’t work. He instructed us to ignore Toast when he jumps up on us, and to give him something appropriate to chew on when he mouthed or bit us. Sounds gr-r-r-r-r-r-eat! EXCEPT THAT KEPLER IS TOO SMALL TO DO THIS. Keppie did try to “be a tree” when Toast jumped, but as Toast grew, Kepler didn’t grow and it became unmanageable to expect Kepler to be able to stand fast when Toast jumped on him.

And with one thing and another, gradually I started to feel like this dog ownership thing was not for me! I do know that it is, as I heard many years ago, a goal big enough to demand my best. I want my dog to make my life easier, not harder. But a dog has to be trained and guided, else he’s going to be acting in ways that are REALLY not compatible with having a small child.

As it so happens, Greg spoke with a different dog trainer on the phone yesterday who told us Toast should be on leash or otherwise under our control at all times. AS IT SO OFTEN HAPPENS, something very basic like that has tremendous power to change my experience.

And here’s the analogy. Putting Toast on leash gave him structure and confidence that someone else was in charge. Without that confidence, he was unable to control himself and was pretty much bouncing off the walls. Jumping up on my me, jumping up on Kepler, jumping up on the furniture, grabbing things off the counter, just generally being a poorly trained dog, but doing what came naturally to him.

As a Christian, I used to think that it was nice to know that God was in charge, and that I could have confidence that Someone was in charge of things. I am completely fine with not having that point of view anymore, but I still see how valuable it is for a being (Toast) who is obviously dependent on a higher-order being (his sometimes clueless owners) to know that his owner can be trusted and depended on to be consistent, to set boundaries and enforce them, and to love him the way he needs to be loved.

So, I’m off to make mashed potatoes for 20. No doubt I will make way more than these 20 people will eat, because my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than peoples’ stomachs, but no matter.

Whatever Has Gotten Into Me, I’ll Take It!

I slept poorly last night. Between waiting up for one of the kids, and knowing the bed wasn’t made properly, I got to bed late and then didn’t sleep great. I have a head cold, which was the first thing I noticed when I woke up. Sore throat, sore face, runny nose, headache, the whole nine yards. Definitely a recipe for a day in bed, according to my former policies and procedures. But, I happily got up and proceeded to have a hella good day.

Tonight was a joint birthday party for our daughter, Anna-Jessie, who is turning 17 on Thursday, and her friend, Erica, who turned 17 today. The party was planned completely without any input from me at all. She’s a resourceful girl, that one. It was arranged that it would be held at Erica’s house. Many of the homes in our area have kitchen/dining areas that are approximately the size of our entire living area, so those homes are much more amenable to having 27 teenagers having a blast.

Anyway, this morning I got in touch with Erica’s mom to see what we could contribute food-wise, etc., to the party. After a couple of texts, I was planning to bring a fruit tray and a veggie tray. I cannot tell you the last time I made either from scratch. The best I used to could do was to swing by Kroger and pick up a pre-made tray, and rue the condition of the veggies and the exorbitant price for such a bourgeous arrangement of basic vegetables.

Today, though, I was excited about making the trays. I spent a long time today getting fruits and veggies at Costco, picking up some serving dishes and trays at Gordon Food Service, and then creating some masterpieces, if I do say so myself. Masterpieces, I tell you. Profusions of colors and flavors; homemade french cream dip for the fruit, carefully organized designs, little touches like a foil-covered chocolate Santas standing watch in the middle of each tray.


When all was said and done, I had prepared four trays of food, which was really probably more than necessary, but I didn’t even use all of the produce I bought today, so maybe that is something to remember about buying food at Costco. Those quantities are HUGE.


I guess the biggest thing I noticed is that I spent quite a bit of time on the preparation today and then went to a very loud, very boisterous party with 27 teenagers, and still had energy at the end of the evening. This is very different from my normal experience. I noticed that I really enjoyed the host couple, REALLY enjoyed them, and found them incredibly easy to talk with. Total lack of stress today even though I had to do all this shopping and chopping and arranging, etc.


I do attribute this to my experience in Alaska. I just don’t have all the angst that I had when I went up there. My experience today of putting those trays together was almost like being an artist and creating a piece of art, which is highly enjoyable.


THIS is What Recovery Looks Like

Eli has been home from in-patient rehab for one week now. I love having him home, especially since he obviously is in a VERY different place than he was when he went in a few months ago.

Today, he asked if I could help him with some gas money. He’s in the process of starting new jobs, and so is more dependent until he starts getting paid. We are glad to help him get back on his feet. I handed him $40 and off he went.

As soon as he left, I was gripped with this panic and fear about having given him cash. But instead of judging myself for that, I just texted him and told him that I was feeling a need to be reassured that the money was actually going for gas.

He sent me pictures and videos to reassure me. They made me laugh, and I asked if I could share them. He is so much fun to be around and these pics and vids show what a creative, cool guy he is.

He sent me “Reassurance exhibit A:” empty gas tank.

2015-11-06 19.06.57

Reassurance exhibit B:

Reassurance exhibit C:

And finally,

2015-11-06 19.07.28

I am so glad I am not judging myself. I am so glad he can prove in a fun way that he is using the money like he said he would. I am so glad we can share the fun of this and text about it and allow the process to strengthen our relationship.

No School for Kepler Today!

No school on voting day. Easy peasy. Daughter will be here to take care of Kepler if I need her to.


Now what??

This chart is pretty accurate when it comes to me figuring out the logistics of my life. In a bold and uncompromising move 🙂 I decided to take Kepler along with me.

My Alexander Technique lessons take place is a huge mansion, which seemed like it would be really cool for Kepler to see but maybe a little bit of a worry for me if he didn’t want to just sit and wait for me. Not to worry! Ellen, my teacher, met Kepler with enthusiasm and immediately invited him to ride her “inclinator.”

2015-11-03 14.09.52

And then he and Ellen controlled the inclinator while I took a ride:

2015-11-03 14.11.10

And then he explored the first floor a little bit, and then contentedly settled onto her parlor couch while I had my lesson.

After the lesson, we all piled in my car and drove over to the home of a 94-year-old man who plays the clarinet and wants a pianist to accompany him for a couple of hours each week. I had the extreme privilege of stumbling through the accompaniment and playing with him. He may not have much short-term memory left at 94, but he sure can play the clarinet.

While we were busy making beautiful music, Kepler disappeared for a few minutes. He had gone out to the car, found the bag with his new shoes, and managed to get them on his feet. He normally doesn’t like to put his own shoes on, but he was seriously motivated to get these cool new shoes onto his feet. The toes light up every time he takes a step.

2015-11-03 15.29.57

We did several more errands in the afternoon and just had a wonderful time. I guess my time in Alaska really did refresh me. I hadn’t been up to such a thing for quite some time. Just to give you an idea of the extent of the errands: post office, bank, mall to return clothing, stop at the Stride Rite store because SALE, Alexander Technique lesson, accompanying, back to AT house to drop off friends, IKEA, dance, home to feed and pick up Toast, Smoothie King, Kroger, home for a bath and bed. Remember that every one of those stops requires strapping into booster seat with seatbelt etc., so it’s not quite like just running errands alone!

At the end of the day, we were tired and happy and had had a memorable day off school.

First Ever Improv Class Today!

I read a book maybe five years ago called Truth in Comedy. It is a highly-regarded guide to improv comedy. I remember being blown away by the idea of “Yes, and” which is a huge concept in improv — accepting what your troupe member offers you and building on it.

I saw this concept as highly relevant to life, as in, saying yes to what life hands me, and then responding to it. When I say no to what is, I become a little more rigid and a little less creative in how I respond to something unexpected, or possibly unexpected and undesirable.

After I read this book, I immediately contacted a friend who is in a local drama troupe. I wanted to offer a mixed class of improv and life application based on the concept of each class. I think my friend was super duper busy and/or the idea wasn’t particularly appealing to her because nothing ever came of it, even though I approached her more than once. 

I kept my eyes open for some opportunity to try improv. About a year ago, I read about a monthly free jam and kept tryimg to figure out how to get to it. Between other babysitting needs and Greg traveling and being nervous about going downtown by myself at night, it just didn’t happen.

Finally this week some things fell into place and I dropped in for the first of a four-class series. Three hour class! 

The first hour was a LOT of fun. The group of seven of us were almost all complete beginners, new to the craft. That was my first surprise; that there were others like me who had never tried it and who were willing to risk looking silly too.

The second hour the games got more complicated and I felt a brain fatigue that I recognized from times I have tried to do mentally fatiguing desk work. I wondered afterward if maybe there is a more heart-centered approach that I might take, rather than being so much in my head. 

After a break, we did the third hour of practice. We each went through the process of acting out cooking a meal, setting the table, eating, amd cleaning up. I found this to also be mentally challenging as there are many factors to consider when one is pretending. If I open the pretend oven to put the pretend lasagna in, did I remember to close the pretend oven door or did I pretend cook my pretend lasagna with the oven door opem the whole time? Did I pull out a pretend oven mitt to get the lasagna out of the pretend oven or did it burn my hands?!

I suspect that when children pretend, they don’t get all hung up on those kinds of details. I’d like to try the exercise again with the playful attitude of a child. I wonder how the experience might differ.

By the end of class, I was surprisingly tired. I decided I will go to class next Sunday, if possible, before I make any decision about whether or not to complete the class.

I believe my Alexander Technique lessons are very relevant to what I am doing in the class and may help me address both the pbysical and mental fatigue. 

All in all, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to finally try out this idea called improv.