Sunday, July 21, 2013

Couch to marathon in 8 months

For the first time in my life, I am enjoying running. As long as I can remember I thought that running was hell. Sweating, panting, side cramps, nausea... What could be worse? I used to dread the half mile time test in elementary school, I remember feeling nervous and queasy all day. The stretching test however... That was my forte. Then the mile run in middle school and high school- that was awful too. I don't think I ever ran the entire thing without walking.

You may ask why I started training for a marathon.

I don't think I have an answer. I have multiple reasons: Luke wants to, I want to practice focus and discipline, I have the time, I have been craving a big goal, etc. None of those feels like an answer! I guess I just started and now that I've started I'm not going to stop.

Back in February I finally joined a gym about about a year without exercise! I'm ashamed to even write that. I started by running very very short distances. Half a mile, 3/4 mile, a mile, 1.25, etc. It took me FOUR months to work up to being able to regularly run three miles. It was really tough too! Thankfully I have a support network of runners who would encourage me and tell me to just keep going. 0-3 was definitely harder than 3-6, or 3-9!

Marathon training started the first week of June with 3 mile runs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then on Saturday I had my first big long run- a whopping SIX MILES! I had never run more than three miles and I was terrified. I thought- there is no way my body can do this. I'm not strong enough, I don't have enough stamina and endurance. Luke and I ran the six miles together and got lost, so thankfully I had my GPS on. And I did it! I ran six miles! It felt great afterward and terrible during. But I was SO proud of myself. I remember thinking "so this is why people do physical tasks that sound awful".

I'm now a month and a half in to training! It has been harder and easier than expected. Sometimes the long distances aren't bad at all. 5-6 miles has become relatively easy for me, and I never thought that would happen! The hardest bits are scheduling when to run, eating the right fuel and keeping hydrated, and staying positive. When I run I often end up comparing myself to other runners and feeling like I'm not good enough, fast enough, strong enough, etc.

But I'm doing this. and I'm not going to stop.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A short list of questions for a music therapist to ask his/herself before planning a session

1. Can my client read/write? If they can't, how will I adapt this activity? What if part of a group can and part can't?

2. Does my client speak or comprehend English? If they don't, how will I communicate and make the session meaningful?

3. Can my client follow two step directions or more? How will I shape an activity if they don't?

4. Does my client have the ability to think abstractly?

I've had a lot of face palm moments with the groups at a group home that I see. These questions are so simple and when I overlook them I feel so silly!

So that's the short list. Ask these first.

Monday, June 17, 2013

MT-BC year one

I recently passed the one year anniversary of receiving my board certification as a music therapist. It left me thinking about how much has changed in one year, and the multitude of lessons I have learned! This post is a ramble fest, you can just pretend you're reading Ulysses.

When I passed my board exam, I found out immediately. Thankfully it's not like the bar where you sit around for MONTHS waiting to find out (poor Luke). The next day I moved out of my apartment in Minneapolis and drove eight hours to Chicago. The next day Luke left for Rome, and then the following day I did too. I received my certification, the spent three months in Rome worrying about whether I would EVER get a music therapy job. Minneapolis is saturated with music therapists and its really tough to find a job! The three jobs I currently have are completely due to contacts I made at Park Nicollet and through the basilica choir. I spent long hours and TOO much time worrying. And somehow everything fell into place. I feel so lucky that I interned at Park Nicollet, because it set me up for success and helped me meet other MTs in the area.

So what is the balance? How does a new professional do all they can to get experience and prepare for the real world, without becoming discouraged by the lack of jobs and worrying if they chose the right career?

(I have no answer to that question)

Somehow jobs fell into my lap. I now work for two private practices and a music company. I love my work. I am getting a wealth of experience working in hospice, preschools, and with all ages of people with special needs. Luckily I'm still 24 and covered on my parents insurance. Luckily I have no student loan debt to pay back. Luckily I'm healthy and have a car that I don't need to pour money in to.

One of the biggest difficulties for me has been how much time I spend alone! As a contractor, I don't have an office where I see the same people every day. I rarely see the MTs I work for. I see clients and their families, and get feedback from them. But I'm alone all the time! I don't have other MTs to bounce ideas off or discuss a tough session with. I really really miss that about Park Nicollet. When you work alone and are new to a profession, it's really hard to feel confident in what you're doing. I am very critical of myself. Thankfully I have a boyfriend who regularly tells me I am the best music therapist in the world haha

Overall this year has been an exercise in self confidence. I have to trust my training and the experience I have in the field. What I do often comes so easily that I forget how much work I have put into it.

I also just need to remember how much I love the people I work with. People are wonderful. They love each other and will surprise you with their kindness and ability. If only we give them a chance to succeed people can blow your expectations away. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer in the cities

I will be making an extreme effort to continue to blog! The cities are vibrant and busy as Minnesotans attempt to squash 12 months of outdoor activities into 3 months of summer. So far I've started training for a marathon, attended MIA and MCAD benefits, shared a glorious Junip concert at the Cedar, and watched a house burn down at Northern Spark festival.

More to come!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cani and Americani

One of the first few weeks I was in Rome, someone told me that the only thing left in Rome in August were "cani and Americani"- dogs and Americans. This turned out to be true.

The whole summer Rome was crawling with Americans. I overheard American conversations at restaurants, on the bus, waiting in line at museums, and passing by my open window on Via della Scala. After becoming accustomed to hearing lilting Italian and Italians speaking English, the American accent sounded brusque and left a bad taste in my mouth. Extremely hypocritical of me, because I'm sure other Americans who heard me felt the same way. I think the problem was that hearing American accents interrupted the experience of Italy, though in reality the experience of Italy now includes other Americans. But it still felt like everywhere I turned, there was an American or twenty visiting la citta eterna.

When August rolled around, somehow there were even more Americans. I didn't know it was possible, but it happened. Compound this with the fact that many Italians leave Rome during August... and Americani half of the saying was completely correct.

The dog half of the saying I'm not as sure about. Dogs in Italy get special treatment. They are rarely on leashes, they're allowed in most stores and restaurants, and they seem to be doted on consistently. The dogs are also really well behaved! Even though they aren't on leashes I never saw a single dog fight, and there's rarely any barking. I question the second half of the saying because it seems like Italians take their dogs everywhere with them, so why would they stay in Rome while the Italiani are on vacation?

For a few weeks, I had the joy of taking a big dog named Duke on his afternoon walk in the Campo di'Fiori area. Walking a dog showed me a completely different side of Rome! Italians would come up to us to say "Ma che bello!" and fuss over him. People smiled at me. People spoke Italian to me and I floundered to answer. It was a lovely change from being ignored as just another americani in Rome.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lessons from Italy

I am sitting in Leonardo DaVinci airport and hating it because I am leaving Rome. I never thought I would fall so in love with a city but it’s happened. It’s hard to explain exactly what it is that makes me want to work on my Italian and move here for the rest of my life. The food probably has a lot to do with it. And the beauty of language and the people and the city.  The way the immense weight of Rome’s 3000-year history informs how people live today. Never before have I had so many emotions leaving a place, and I think that means something important. How that will influence the rest of my life, I’ll just have to see.

Here is my attempt at summarizing what I learned over the past two and a half months.

1.     Take your time. This applies especially to meals. Dinner was the highlight of my day and usually lasted 9-11PM with some flexibility. I usually shared meals with Luke, but also went out to dinner with friends and spent hours talking because no one had anywhere to be. With a late dinner, no one is rushing to run errands afterward, or get more work done, or watch a tv show. Dinner is savored and as leisurely as possible.  Lunch is also leisurely, most shops and businesses close from 1-3 to allow employees to go home, enjoy lunch and possibly a nap. Never mind that sales might be lost during the two-hour downtime, it’s more important to take your time and share a meal with your family.

2.     Get dressed- well. You never know who you’ll run into, even if it’s just a short trip to the grocery store. Most Italian women and a good portion of the men look stunning on a daily basis. Hair is coiffed, jewelry worn, and tons of makeup applied. I always felt like the worst dressed woman in Rome, but it was fascinating just to look at everyone else who walked past.

3.     Indulge. Only eat pizza and pasta, as long as you walk enough you won’t gain weight. In fact, Luke and I both lost weight. Eat gelato. You know you want to.

4.     See the world as beautiful. When I first came to Rome I was tickled every time one the old man at Bar San Callisto called me “bella” when I ordered a cappuccino. Eventually I realized, he calls anyone he likes beautiful. You don’t actually have to be beautiful. Beauty is not just aesthetic, but anything you like is beautiful. The pizza guys down the street called Luke and I “belli” or “grandi” as soon as he started remembering us when we came in!

5.     Drink wine. Italians drink regularly. A cocktail before dinner like a Campari spritz or Aperol spritz, wine with the meal, then a digestivo after such as sambuca or amaro. But with all this drinking, it’s rare to see a drunk Italian (with the exception of the homeless guys). You don’t drink to get drunk. You drink because it compliment the food, because it helps your digestion, because it’s another excuse to sit around with friends and family, and because the wine is cheap and made only a few miles away. In the US it seems like people are either teetotalers, or drink too much. I wonder how we can find a happy medium like the Italians, where alcohol is enjoyed but not abused.

I realize I only spent 10 weeks in Italy, and haven’t even scraped the surface of Italian culture. But what I learned, I loved. And I hope to find a way to carry it over to my life in the US, and maybe some day a life back in Italia.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Last weekend Luca and I rented a car and drove to Umbria. We started in Orvieto, then headed to Assisi, Gubbio, and Montefalco. We didn't *do* a whole lot, except look at the beautiful medieval towns, eat truffles, and drink the local wine. Here's a quick photo overview!