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tuning your health

God, Doomsday, and the UFO: Why Your Friends Lie to Themselves

Why Your Friends Lie to Themselves

Your friends lie to themselves all the time.

You’re probably thinking:

“Why would anyone lie to themselves?”

It all comes down to psychology (and how irrational humans really are).

And despite what you’re thinking, these lies can actually help in music and in life.

Remember the Chronicles of Narnia?

It’s a series of novels where four kids discover a magical world inside a wardrobe, where the animals talk and magical creatures reign.

In one book, the kids bring Uncle Andrew to Narnia (inside the wardrobe), but he can’t hear the animals talk.

When one of the kids asks why everyone hears the animals but the Uncle, Aslan says something like

“People believe what they want to believe.”

And it’s one of the most profound quotations ever because it describes how people work.

God, Doomsday, and the UFO mystery

In the mid 1950s, a doomsday cult rose; they believed that a flood would destroy the earth and the faithfuls would be rescued by a UFO.

These people quit their jobs, left their families, and gave away all their possessions to prepare for their journey, generally avoiding the media.

Meanwhile, Festinger had infiltrated the cult mainly because he was curious. On December 20th, when the UFO doesn’t arrive and the world isn’t destroyed by disaster, a curious event happens.

The doomsday cult returns to society with renewed determination and approaches the media to tell the world that they had “spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction”.

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How to Get Strong & Graceful Feet – Part 2

How to Get Strong & Graceful Feet

Welcome to the second part of getting strong and graceful feet (like a dancer, maybe). (Want to read part one?)

We’re going to look at great stretches to release the built-up pressure and stiffness that settles in your feet.

A lot of dancers have seemingly ‘graceful feet’ because their feet have a wider range of motion and are more flexible.

Stretching your feet helps a lot with pains and soreness too, especially for pianists who pedal a lot.

You can do these stretches anytime and anywhere, and I would recommend stretching after you warm up.

ABC Ankles

ABC Ankle Warm Up

  • Sitting down, cross one leg over the other and write the alphabet (lower-case cursive) with your toe, rotating your ankle.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Writing the alphabet gives your ankles a wider range of motion than just rotating your foot in circles. It’s super easy and you can do it anytime you’re sitting down.

 Intertwining Toes & Fingers

Toe Stretch

  • Sit with one leg over the other, and slip your fingers between your toes. Push back and forth and rotate your hand slightly. Repeat with the other leg.
  • For a good stretch, you can also do this on the ground with both feet straight out in front of you.

This stretch relieves the pressure built up between your toes, especially if you have bunions (like me) and your toes are crooked.

Diamond Toe Stretch

Foot Stretch

  1. Bend your legs slightly with your feet pointing outwards, in a mini plié, making sure your knees are over your toes. You don’t need much turnout at all– your toes just need to be spread apart.
  2. Take one leg in front of the other as shown, stretching the top side of the foot on the ground. Apply gentle pressure but focus on elongating your toe. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds.

This takes balance and actually tones your legs too. An easier variation that I learned recently works to stretch your toes just as well.

  • Standing with feet parallel, cross one foot in front of the other, and stretch the top of the foot against the ground as shown. (Your supporting foot can be straight.)

Taking a couple minutes a day to stretch and relax is great for your mind and body.

This post is part of the Tuning Your Health series. Subscribe through email or RSS to be the first to know about new content hot off the press!


How to Get Strong & Graceful Feet – Part 1

How to Get Strong & Graceful Feet

Your feet have 1/4 of the number of bones in your body and when your feet are out of alignment, so is your body. (Source)

We’ll be looking at how to cure or prevent foot ailments so that your feet can become as strong and graceful as they can.

Most pianists spend lots of time pressing the piano’s pedals, leading to different problems along the way.

If you only ever use one pedal with one foot, then you’re imbalancing the muscles in your feet, essentially skewing your body’s balance.

In this post, we’re going to focus on strengthening the smaller muscles in your feet with small, easy exercises that you can incorporate into your life, whether you’re warming up for piano or waiting in line at Starbucks.

These warm ups and exercises help the different muscles in your feet to work together for stronger and more nimble movements; I’ve collected these warm ups and exercises over the years and I can personally vouch for them.

Please Note: You’re welcome to use these images elsewhere as long as you credit me by linking back to Artiden.

Toe Taps

Toe Taps Exercise

My friend once told me that her favourite form of dance is tapdancing– because she can do it anywhere and everywhere, all the time, even without tapshoes.

Plus, tapdancers enjoy the longest careers in dance of all because of the low strain on the knees and legs while tapdancing.

You don’t have to dance to have strong and graceful feet; just tap them.

  1. Keeping your heel on the ground, lift the ball of your foot as high as you can.
  2. Touch the ball of your foot to the ground, but don’t release your muscles completely.
  3. Repeat for 15 – 30 seconds on each foot, standing or sitting.

 Duck Walks

Duck Walks

I call these duck walks because the flexed feet remind me of ducks, but you can also call these heel walks.

  1. Walk on the heels of your feet with your toes pointing straight ahead, lifting the balls of your feet off the ground as high as possible. Your legs should be more or less straight.
  2. Walk 10 – 20 metres each: with your toes pointing straight ahead, pointing outwards, then pointing inwards.
  3. Relax for a few moments.
  4. Stand on the balls of your feet, lifting your heels up as high as possible.
  5. Walk 10 – 20 metres each: with your toes pointing straight ahead, pointing outwards, then pointing inwards.
  6. Release.
  • Squeeze your butt, thighs, and abs for a challenge.
  • Do not lock your knees. (Locking your knees can cause a great deal of damage to your joints, especially during exercise.)

Duck walks improve your balance and engage the muscles in your legs. As a bonus, these exercises prevent shin splints.

 Towel Scrunching

Towel Scrunching Exercise

I first learned this exercise as a warmup in ballet class, but it’s a great strengthening exercise for the smaller muscles in the feet, especially in the arch.

  1. Sit, either on the ground or on a chair, with a towel under your feet.
  2. Scrunch your toes up to gather the towel towards you.
  3. Relax your feet to smooth out the towel.
  4. Repeat 8 – 10 times.

Demi-Pointe Push

Demi-Pointe Warm Up

This is my favourite exercise of all time– I do this almost everyday and it works wonders for cold or stiff feet.

  1. Start with your feet under your hips, toes pointing forward.
  2. Lift your heel while keeping the ball of your foot on the ground. Your weight should be distributed equally between your two feet.
  3. Extend your toes to push your foot off the ground, focusing on elongating your foot. Make sure you keep your hips level; hold onto a support if you need to.
  4. Return to position # 2.
  5. Return to standing flat on both feet (#1).
  6. Repeat 3 – 5 times on each side.
  • Also, try pointing your feet outwards.
  • This exercise also strengthens the muscles in your legs and improves your balance.

That’s it! Strong and graceful feet in minutes a day, getting healthy in the Olympic spirit. Let me know how this works out for you; remember to stretch the muscles you work so that your muscles stay strong and lean.

This post is part of the Tuning Your Health series. Part 2 is up!


Tuning Your Health Series

Tuning Your HealthToday, I’m kicking off a new series to celebrate your most important tool above all: your body!

Your body does amazing feats for you, and you can live a longer, happier life (not to mention thank your body) by being healthy.

Being healthy can be fun and rewarding as you get stronger both emotionally and physically.

Tuning Your Health is a blog series that will focus on different aspects of health for pianists and musicians in general.

I’ll be updating this page as new posts are added.


P.S. Hello London Olympics!