Monday, December 6, 2010

Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

"Thank you for the party, But I could never stay
  Many thangs is on my mind, words in the way"

"Thank you for letting me be myself again"...a number one hit in 1969 and one of the most influential funk songs of all time by Sly and the Family Stone. The title sums up the bands career from 1960 to 1970. It's was Sly's message of appreciation to anyone who could hear his voice. Sly and the Family Stone is known for being the first racially integrated band in music history, spreading their message of peace, love and social consciousness. It was Sly and the Family Stone that stepped out and were the first to fuse differing genres together such as rock, soul, pop, and jazz that was soon to become R&B and funk.

"Mama's so happy
  Mama start to cry
  Papa still singin'
  You can make it if you try"

Sly and the Family Stone band was an interracial, mixed-gender combo that burst onto the music scene in 1967. Sly was a flamboyant man, not afraid to wear gold jump-suits with large hats that dangled with tassels. I guess it can be said he literally "danced to the beat of his own drum." He wasn't afraid to be himself and he gave us much more. Thank you Sly Stone for being yourself. Because of you, we have Miles Davis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer, Michael Jackson, the Black Eyes Peas, and oh gosh I can't name all of them. Because you were you, we still hear you today. Wow! Sly Stone almost defines true authenticity. Unfortunately the band broke up in the late 70's after having to scrape up the funds to pay for their last show booking at Radio City Music Hall. Many things can be said of Sly, but if all is forgotten except one, it can be this, Sly refused to deny himself of whom he was and who he could be. It just wasn't in him. His music, his lyrics, his sound, his band and its composition were all extensions of who he was.
Sly wasn't without his problems or critics, such as albums being labeled as "too dark and political." He received scathing criticisms from music critics and record companies.

"Youth and truth are makin' love
  Dig it for a starter
  Dyin' young is hard to take
  Sellin' out is harder"

I wrote of the masked face in Parkinson's the other day and how it doesn't reflect what someone is feeling on the inside. After the question "name that tune" for Thank You was posed on Facebook I got to wondering how much of an extent or how many people stop being who they are because of a diagnosis. Will I let my Parkinson's define me? Do we eventually lose sight of who we are and get lost in a diagnosis or disorder? No matter the diagnosis. Do we sell out to our diagnosis/disorder? Sometimes we nourish our disorder into our identity such as my previous struggle with an eating disorder. I'm sure we all do, but to what extent and what cost? I mean, we're in a fragile state, right? Maybe, and if so then how much? Do we then need the helping hands of another to guide us back to where we were? Wow, a lot of questions to ponder.

Some ailments, whether of the mind or the body, can be cured, some treated, while some only managed. The eating disorder I developed a few years back, that I continue to recover from, was a result of situations that were completely out of my control.  Subconsciously I had developed my way of having some form of false control in my life. It had come to consume my being, my identity. Ironically I began to drink a lot too. We as a society, including I, are learning that failures are not acceptable, even if they are not our fault. Apparently many kids are growing up learning lessons that lessons that are contrary to life. "Hey kids, what did I tell you about learning from your mistakes? I want you to tell me how dumb you are for screwing this up." So we have this society full of people who do such a thing. Unfortunately too many of us including, bosses, friends, especially parents, our society, have come to expect others to get things right the first time. So we encounter walking zombies who walk around carrying heavy burdens of not being authentic to themselves due to failed marriages, friendships, goals, dreams, careers because they haven't stayed on the "right" path and so much more. It can all leave one feeling they've disappointed everyone, including themselves...especially themselves. Sometimes the person we're scared of the most is our own self. So we begin to see experiences as failures instead of learning opportunities. It's so much easier to forgive others and let them off the hook than it is for us. I said, "easier," not, "easy."

As with my eating disorder, well, I'm happy to say I see now how I let it become who I was. I'm even happier now to say that God's given me back my identity and that I no longer struggle with an eating disordered mind nor have I picked anything up to drink since Feb 10. Physically I'm still recovering.
But what about my Parkinson's and me being me? I suffered from my eating disorder for years, drinking even longer. My Parkinson's had developed years before they had, but not to the extent it has now. It was not even noticeable. By the time I had pretty much recovered from my drinking and ED and dealt with the anger, resentment, and hurt that I had been hanging on to and was to being my real self, my authentic self, my Parkinson's had dramatically progressed.  

A few months after I had been eating without problems and had stopped drinking cold turkey, all this by God's grace and without any problems, my Parkinson's symptoms had already worsened to the point they were interfering with my daily life and my wife asked me if this made me angry. I told her I would gladly take the Parkinson's over who I was the previous 5 years. It's not the Parkinson's that keeps me from being who I'm not. It's who I truly am can deal with the Parkinson's.  

Self-interest is when you focus your attention and activities upon yourself to the exclusion of other people. There is no consideration for others.
Selfishness is when you take care of your Self, your needs, wants and life as a priority so you have plenty of emotional and physical reserve to be there for others without any resentment or anger. It's our authentic self, where our truths, beliefs, values and dreams live; our "genuine," our "individuality." It is there that we know how we really feel, even though we may be uncomfortable admitting it to the world or even to ourselves at time.
Give your Self a gift today. Look inside. Who do you see? Remember, it's the infinitesimal steps that can create the biggest transformation. Sly knew, and because he lived a life of true authenticity he changed a large part of the music industry and helped change millions of peoples lives.

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Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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