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I have been struggling more and more lately with the idea of providing something of value to the world around me.  Since my stroke a little over 5 years ago (at age 52), I’ve had to retire because the energy it takes to drag my low-functioning body through normal work events limits me to about 3 hours of activity, then I’m finished for the day.  I used to work as a musician (accompanying choirs and musicals, playing piano at parties, church music director, etc.), and since my stroke, I had a community choir (all 8 of us!) where I sang, played piano, and directed.  I loved it!  The best part was it was only 90 minutes of rehearsal each week, and our performances only happened 3 or 4 times a year.  By the time we set up and tore down, the performances took about 3 hours, but it was worth using up my whole day’s allotment of energy!  But then COVID...  Pretty much killed any choir (can’t sing or make loud noises next to anyone else), plus the church that gave us rehearsal space is closed.

 

All this to say I feel like I’m just taking up space, biding my time until I die (which, God willing, should be quite a while yet - I’m still in my 50’s!).  Not just because of COVID, though that’s not helping, but more like the way I seemed to be affecting the world around me when I was doing full-time music, working in the schools with the students and in the church, leading the choir and congregation musically and spiritually.  Now, I take satisfaction in my community choir (if COVID hasn’t completely ended us), but it could be ages before we even get to talk about regrouping (have to finish with face masks and social distancing - in liberal MInnesota - plus we mostly sing in nursing homes, which are also out of the question right now).

 

I feel like I have all this time on my hands and nothing to do with it other than waste it, waiting for it to pass.  I would be much happier if I felt like I was doing something to benefit others, but I have no idea what I can do.  I would go play piano once a week at the nursing home just up the street, but no visitors allowed!  I have other hobbies, but they basically just entertain me, not help others.  I’m not feeling depressed or worthless about this, I just have been wracking my brain to come up with anything I could do, and 🦗🦗🦗 (those are crickets chirping, if you can’t tell😁).  So it’s more of a frustration - I’m not sad, I’m annoyed!

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That is a hard one to answer, especially as it will also depend on the restrictions where you live which can be very different from place to place at the moment.

 

During the height of our restrictions here there were quite a few zoom choirs. Which worked by each member recording their part individually while the conductor directed from a video screen, and then the parts were sent in and mixed digitally after the fact.  Our nursing homes also allowed outside visits, where the visitor sat on a chair on the footpath while the resident sat on a chair in the garden or behind the gate (open air and 1.5 meters apart was deemed relatively safe). Can you ask the local nursing home if they'll allow those sorts of arrangements. I'm sure the residents would welcome it even if all you do is sit with someone and read a book.

 

Another thing to investigate is something like volunteering at your local animal shelter? Are you in a position where you could foster a puppy or kitten or help as Sue does with making comfort blankets.

 

Look at your hobbies and think sideways is there something you enjoy that you could share with others?  So you are retiring earlier than planned, make the most of it.

Get your vaccinations done and be ready for when the world starts to open up again.

 

hang in there this too shall pass

-Heather

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Thanks, Heather, this gives me some things to think about.  I realized that playing piano at the nursing home wouldn’t work because I’d have to wear a mask, and I can’t get the dumb things to sit right on my face!  They keep sliding up, which blocks my view, and eventually the top edge starts poking me in the eye, so I need one hand free to hold the mask down (I know you’re not supposed to touch them, but I can’t find a style that fits properly).😷☹️
 

ANYWAY...I still have some ideas, like maybe checking into organizations that I could crochet blankets for, either animals, newborns, or young children.  I know of several that do this, but I’d have to check the guidelines for the blankets they want.  This will probably be the first thing I look into.  I’d LOVE to foster a dog or cat, but I’m not physically able to keep up with them, so that’s out.

 

Thanks again for the ideas - brainstorming always gets me going! 😊

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21 hours ago, cons2g said:

I have been struggling more and more lately with the idea of providing something of value to the world around me.

That comment made me so sad but I know it wasn't intended. Heather is right but have you also looked into playing on-line? Only for some places aren't fully open so like maybe donate to a church or senior center with beautiful music. For the senior center, I know this time being separated from family and friends, like us all, having someone being kind would give them a smile that some may not have had in a while. I know I work in a group home and the individuals can't go back to the Active Day ( Senior center for peoples with disabilities)  (( on a side -side note:: Covid is not getting better in South Jersey for 3 group homes near where I work are in quarantine)) so these folks in here are losing their minds so bring joy to someone who hasn't seen their family would be spreading kindness   

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I have crocheted cat mats for over a year now. But I know each animal refuge has different ideas so maybe phone a few and find out what they want. On the music predicament now the weather is nicer how about driveway concerts? Either by yourself or with other musicians? Don't know how you would arrange that it but maybe ring a few care homes and find out if the residents could come to a window to hear and see you. Every little bit of entertainment would make a difference in somebody's life. Wherever there is a good intention and a good heart you are making a difference.

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Thanks, Kelli and Wilkinson, for your ideas.  I love performing outdoors, but we’re in the low 50’s to low 60’s for high temps right now (that’s Fahrenheit), so it’s a little chilly for limber piano fingers!  Also, I would have to transport and set up a large electric keyboard, and I don’t have the strength to do that.  I might be able to find someone to help with that (my car’s big enough), but right now, I don’t know who.  I’ll have to think about it!  Then, the nursing home would have to allow me to go maskless so I can actually see my music, or glance down and see the keys.  I don’t know how they’d feel about that, with me outdoors.  Another thing I’d have to check.  They have an outdoor garden in the center of the building that would be so much better than the parking lot, but I’m pretty sure I’d have to mask up for that.

 

I’m still checking into crocheting blankets.  The animal places I checked yesterday don’t have any info about that and are not using volunteers during COVID.  I also checked Project Linus (for children in crisis), and not only do they accept crocheted blankets, they have an infinite (seemingly!) number of patterns online for free.  I love new patterns - very inspiring!  Now I just need to contact the local chapter to find out specifically what they need.

 

I’m also trying to think of something I could do with artwork (I’m not great, but maybe one step above average).  Maybe cards or letters for nursing home people who don’t get visitors/mail.  This is a new idea, so I’m still working through it.  I have a heart for people in nursing homes after spending a month there once and 6 weeks another time.  I NEVER want to need that again, especially as the second home was particularly bad (nurse held grudge against me for refusing to take the prostate medication she gave me - ?!?! - lots of that kind of stuff happened there).  So anything I can do to love on the people there is good, good, good!!

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As a frustrated musician I can understand your predicament. To overcome the shortage of not being able to play with other musicians I have a program called Encore on my computer where I can record rhythms for my favourite songs and have them play back to me in real time. I play the lead part on my guitar connected to a small amp under my workbench. This is not as satisfactory as playing with others but it does keep my fingers active and my brain alive. There are several other similar programs on the market.

 

I also play keyboards and many years ago needed to get one to carry on my campervan. I ended up with a Yamaha PSR GX76. This is only one octave short of a full size keyboard and is quite adequate for my playing. The great thing about this machine is the weight which is only 7Kilos. This made it possible to throw onto a purpose built shelf over the drivers position and yet easily taken down for playing at campervan rallies. I am now on my third replacement identical device and it doubles as a computer desk when not in use. This means I've worn out two pervious models and have to do a bit of searching the internet for second hand ones if I need to replace this one. 

 

What I'm saying is that a lightweight electronic keyboard is a great substitute for a full size piano and makes for very flexible playing since they can all run off mains voltage or  12v from a car's battery. These keyboards do not last forever, their lightness makes them easily damaged, but they are cheaper to maintain than a piano since they are always in key and are less affected by dampness and not at all by woodworm.

 

The present restrictions will not last for ever. One of these could adequately fill the space in your needs till the  world becomes sane (and in tune) again.

Deigh

 

 

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Deighton - good ideas!  I sometimes play along with the radio (which is usually on a 1940’s station) - that’s fun if I’m on a roll; otherwise, I can’t figure out the key or chords for anything before the song ends and I have to start over!

 

I’ll have to check out the keyboard you mentioned.  I tend to find myself playing past the end on shorter keyboards, especially in the bass, but I can adapt!  Also, there might be something newer on the market that’s lightweight and serves this same purpose.

 

One thing I really miss is directing a choir.  The last two choirs I directed, I also accompanied, so I don’t get to wave my hands around much, but I do like rehearsing, fixing issues, taking notes and pitches and forming them into music.  I also like the way a group of singers develop into a family as they work together.  Don’t imagine I’ll be doing that for a while!

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Sorry, DEIGH!  My computer wants to auto-correct your name to “Deighton” - I have no idea what that means!😁

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Computers have a way of taking over don't they! Glad that my reply gave you ideas.

You do not give us your name to address you with. If you click on my avatar you can get my E-mail address, I have a great little video I'd like to send you, I'm sure you would love it.

Covid is not interfering with my music life but lack of fellow musicians is. There used to be a standard crowd of guitarist who could read music and were available for jazz sessions anywhere. Suddenly they all have vanished and what we are left with is a bunch of people who hang a guitar round their neck, learn half a dozen chords and sing to a recorded setup on computer. I have one guitarist friend left and he lives central Auckland so we meet once a year on my birthday.

 

I have joined a local Ukelele group and we meet once a fortnight. Singing is out of the question for me but it is great just to talk music to other enthusiasts. Having played guitar for 70 years the fingering is no problem to me and my knowledge of chords is of great value helping to compensate for the restrictions that my stroke left me with.

Deigh

 

 

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Oh Cons2, I feel your pain!

 

That would be one of my biggest problems...feeling worthwhile, or needed...all those kind of words.

 

In Western Australia, we are very fortunate as we have very few restrictions. We are extremely picky about who we let in the state and local transmission was never really a thing. 

 

I've started making cards for kids who have been baptised at my church but the family are not regular church goers. The idea is to send the child a birthday card each year until they are 4, just to remind families we are here for them.

 

The idea of sending cards to nursing home residents is beautiful. 

 

All the best with finding activities that you enjoy, can share, and complete you.

 

💚👑

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Well, I took a first step towards being useful - I contacted my local branch of Project Linus, and I’ve selected patterns and ordered yarn for two blankets!

 

If you don’t know Project Linus, it’s a national organization that collects homemade blankets (crocheted, knitted, quilted, fleece, etc.) for kids up to age 18, then works with other organizations to distribute them.  Right now, I’ve been asked for baby blankets for 2 groups.  The first gives baby gift baskets to families who’ve just discovered they’re going to give birth to a Down’s Syndrome baby, and the second brings “getting started” baskets to low income mothers when they give birth.  My yarn should be here tomorrow - I’m so excited to get started!

 

But I can’t crochet 24 hours a day, so I’m still investigating other ideas!😊

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Thanks, 💚👑Green Queen, for your kind words.  It’s good to be understood!

 

I love your idea of making cards for the young kids.  What a great way to reach out to their families in the process!

 

I’m glad to hear there’s somewhere in the world without tons of restrictions - it’s definitely not here in Minnesota!  In fact, we’re under a curfew tonight (started at 7pm!) because yesterday a police officer reached for her taser to subdue a man during a traffic stop, accidentally grabbed her gun, and shot him dead.  So of course, this required riots (not protests) in a Minneapolis suburb; consequently, we’re all grounded tonight (Minneapolis, St. Paul, suburbs - millions of people).  That’s on top of all the strict mask/social distancing rules.  This is why it’s good for me to just stay home and be useful there!🙄

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Oh dear how dreadful. In those circumstances staying home sounds like a good plan. But that poor police officer and that poor man and his family.  😞

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In a way keeping busy helps us to find a calmer place in our lives. Awful things happen around us but we have things to do that keep us focussed and that is a good thing. Enjoy making your baby blankets and I know you will be a blessing to the people who receive them

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