Creative musings....

The Other 

We're back here again.   Or perhaps we just haven't left yet…..that nebulous consciousness of “the other”.    It's quite a trick and it's been going on and destroying people since the beginning.   I think more and more people are awakening from this paradigm and fear/control device but it is still creating much suffering and horror. 

May we as a people wake up from the fallacy of the other.   May we wake up from the outdated and perpetual disabling loop of reward and punishment and may we please open up and demand loving and win/win options.   May we be willing to listen to those we may disagree, with respect.    May we apply this respect to all and truly learn there is no “other”.   

May we apply this respect to ourself …..to all parts of ourselves.   The parts we are embarrassed of, the parts we try to hide, the parts we abuse, and the parts we have a difficult time admitting to ourselves.    May we be patient and loving with those of us who aren't capable of this yet, for we don't punish kindergarteners for not being able to work at a college level.    We meet them where they are.

May we be patient and loving with ourselves and others as more and more of us strive to problem solve and advocate for each other in different ways.   May we understand that we are all works in progress and doing the best each of us can, given our life experience and faulty progams we may be holding onto.

May we remember we are not alone and that only in community within and externally will we truly heal and empower each other.

Standing Still 

It's been an intense week.   Many have been speaking on the new energy that is flooding the planet.   The transition from 3 dimensional to 5 dimensional.   While it feels positive and I can feel in my gut the truth of old, out-dated, and faulty structures crumbling.....my body is UNCOMFORTABLE!!!   I can feel the inner shifts, like the growing pains I had as a child.   I'm feeling aches and sudden heat throughout my back and such a feeling of fatigue.   My sense of time is disintegrating and I just feel out of sorts!

I'm doing my best to consciously breathe as I feel this, anchoring myself in the knowing that my body will feel its way through this and that I can trust.   My mind isn't always convinced:-)   Lot's of old debris is coming up for me to look at again.   The litany of thoughts I used to use as self flagellation back in the day.  " You've gained at least 20 lbs in the past year, maybe 30".  "You're getting old and you live with your mother.....what makes you think you'll ever have the kind of intimate relationship you want with a man?"  "You aren't doing enough and making things happen"   I have to laugh at this last one, as whenever I ask that voice in my head what the "things" are it doesn't have an answer:-0

I've been here before.   This isn't my first rodeo and with this experience and I am fairly prepared for this assault.   I am able now to slow down and simply listen to these voices.....these parts of myself that are scared and think they are protecting me.   I don't repress them anymore, I don't run away from them anymore, and I don't add to them anymore.   I listen, thank them for sharing with me, and then I talk to them.   I tell them that yes, I have gained about 20/30 lbs in the past year.   My body put on some weight as we were all losing our minds in one way or another the past couple of years and am giving my body some time to sort itself out.   Yeah, I am getting older and I am a caretaker as well as many other things.   I may or may not meet the man of my dreams but getting older and living with my mom probably won't be the reason why.    So I breathe deeply, I open up my heart, and I listen.   I listen in the way I wish adults had when I was really little and they had too much going on in their lives to be present.

I was on my way to the grocery store this morning and the song Stand came on by REM.   What a great tune.   I was taken with the words....

Stand in the place where you live 
Now face north 
Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before 
Now stand in the place where you work 
Now face west, think about the place where you live 
Wonder why you haven't before 

If you are confused, check with the sun 
Carry a compass to help you along 
Your feet are going to be on the ground 
Your head is there to move you around 

So, stand in the place where you live 
Now face north 
Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before 
Now stand in the place where you work 
Now face west, think about the place where you live 
Wonder why you haven't before 

Your feet are going to be on the ground 
Your head is there to move you around 
If wishes were trees the trees would be falling 
Listen to reason 
Season is calling 

Stand in the place where you live 
Now face north 
Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before 
Now stand in the place where you work 
Now face west, think about the place where you live 
Wonder why you haven't before 

If wishes were trees the trees would be falling 
Listen to reason 
Reason is calling 
Your feet are going to be on the ground 
Your head is there to move you around 

So stand (stand) 
Now face north 
Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before 
Now stand (stand) 
Now face west 
Think about the place where you live 
Wonder why you haven't 

Stand in the place where you live 
Now face north 
Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before 
Now stand in the place where you work 
Now face west, think about the place where you live 
Wonder why you haven't before 

Stand in the place where you are (now face north) 
Stand in the place where you are (now face west) 
Your feet are going to be on the ground (stand in the place where you are) 
Your head is there to move you around, so stand

I think it's time for me to Stand where I am right now in my life and come to terms with it.   What truly can be adjusted and enhanced or re-organized and what is simply my mind wanting to create busy work and dissatisfaction?   An exercise for me to journal about!    And...maybe I'll dance it out while listening to some REM!!!!

 

Collective Maturity and Ethics. 

Like many of you, I find myself intermittently pondering and questioning the latest shooting tragedy. 

I do believe that guns are tools and that the underlying disease of this situation lies with an unwell human using this tool for a horrifying and unfathomable end. 

I also believe that fixing and shifting the complex and multi-faceted systemic, structural, and cultural dysfunction that creates and contributes to unwell humans takes time, care, and lots of shifts. Shifts in our society's view of what is sustainable for an individual's mental health, physical health, and how we support and care for those that are disenfranchised. 

This process will take time. What if in the meantime we simply decided to put consistent and effective barriers and balances around specific tools? Not all the tools, simply some of the ones that seem to be most misused and abused. Not in some states so those who are desperate and not in their right mind can simply travel over a state line, but can we agree as a country that some tools are simply not needed for everyday use? 

Maybe we can call these regulations training wheels, life jackets, baby-proofing the country, seat belts, helmets, anything you'd like but please, let's agree that we can make adjustments and protect our most precious, WHILE we continue to fix/unravel/heal the source of this problem.

Backstory on my upcoming album, Emergence. 

Creating Emergence has been quite an adventure for me.   I recorded all but 1 of the eight tracks in my home with Garage Band on my laptop.   By using my keyboard directly connected into my computer, I was able to record the majority of these tracks without any background noise (Emergence was recorded in my living room with my grand piano).   Through trial and error and my ears, I tweaked the mixing.   What I continue to be amazed at is how the recording process and playing process was as easy and smooth as it was.   I don't write down what I play.   I sit down, press record, and allow what I am feeling/experiencing to play through me.   This feels to me like channeling more than composing.  I often, record more than one track of piano to give some layering/texture.   I very rarely need to edit for the two tracks to interact in a way that I find intriguing and calming.  Again.....this feels as though I'm working with the universe.   I don't think this kind of recording process would work if it was just me doing all the heavy lifting!

As I've been recording during 2021 and 2022 this album started to form itself.   Though many of these tracks I released as singles, they seemed to be a part of a slightly larger musical journey that I was feeling urged to share.   Here are some notes/intentions on each track.   My hope is that the listener will first listen without knowing my intentions and process so that they may form their own experience and opinions but once listened, my notes may be interesting to some.

1.  Quieting Tremors- This piano solo is intended to settle the nervous system.  The texture and melody lull and caress while the occasional flourish nudge feelings and experiences the body is ready to start to process, surface. 

2.  Solitude- Continues to strip away mind chatter and nervous system activation.  This track was intended to take the listener deep into themself, soothing in one second and stirring in another.  There is a feel of haunting loneliness and bare bones to this track.   Beauty in the stark.

3.  Awakening the Deep- I used the bird song in this track to immediately calm and brighten the listener.  Nature so often grounds us and just hearing the bird song can ground the body immediately.  The piano can then enter and begin to inquire.  What within wants to speak?  What needs attending to.   This track was intended to take the listener deep and to then move and play with what arises.   There may be parts in this track that surprise and activate parts of the psyche that have been buried.

4.  Becoming- The low drone in this track is intended to serve as a musical breath.  Grounding, helping to nourish, and serving as a divine pedal point to the piano that starts to create itself.   Fragmented at first, the piano tracks dance, play, and experiment until by the end of the track they join to sing their full melody.  This track is intended to support the inner process of creation within the listener.  What is wanting to be born?  What is the listener on the brink of becoming?

5.  Ancestral Blessings-  A respite, a blessing, a Celtic gift of play.   This track is the only track on this album to be a live recording of a piano solo I played in a Celtic Show at a theatre awhile back.   I took the songs Down by the Salley Gardens and the Irish Washerwomen and improved on them.   I felt like this track adds a nice resting place for the listener after Becoming.

6.  Souljourn-  A bit of a departure from the rest of the album, this track starts with the cleansing sound of rain.   Calming and grounding, this rain allows the strings (synthesizer patch) to begin to sing and build.   This track takes what is becoming and what has presented for the listener and adds the Cosmos to the mix.   The soul, the divine, something bigger than ones self.   This deepens and awakens the divine within so that all is deepening and expanding.

7. Solitude (ambient version)- I use the bird song again in this track to soften and once again ground and uplift.   Though I've used the piano from Solitude, the addition of the birdsong and an ethereal descant string line bring an interested flavor that to me softens the percussive elements in Solitude (piano solo) and increases the haunting quality.   This track is meant to start to bring the listener slowly back to their senses.

8. Emergence- Once again I use the pedal point/drone to ground and start to bring the listener back to consciousness.   The piano soothes and allows the listener to integrate what has conspired in the last 7 tracks.   Hopefully the listener emerges feeling relaxed, nurtured, and loved from this half hour musical meditation and journey.

My hope is that Emergence will help to bring some peace and soothing support to anyone in need.   I believe that music can effortlessly heal and uplift.   The frequency of music with the intention of love can effect the human nervous system in an amazing and balancing way.  May this music bring the listener comfort.

 

Mastery 

I have been contemplating for awhile now on what it takes to become a master at any particular skill. BTW....I think any skill taken to the mastery level is pure art. My latest is the following..... 

1. Train the body. 

2. Quiet the mind. 

Once these two skills are in place then one can bring the step that separates the technicians from the master. 

3. Trust. Are you willing to crash and burn? Do you understand that you will crash and burn a number of times and willing to do it anyway with an open heart? 

Once these are in place, you get to revisit them at different levels constantly as you continue to grow and expand. All with passion and authenticity. 

It's no wonder people want to bypass these steps. Mastery is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, humility, and lots of love. Love for the craft, love for one's self, and love of life?

Befriending the inner bully or other banished parts of the whole.... 

I've found the Putin invasion heart-breaking this past week.   Gut wrenched, tears flowing, and a constant feeling  and litany of "what can I do,"  "how can I help," and "I feel so powerless."  

I've donated, I've posted links on facebook that felt supportive, and I've done my best to do my part, here in my own life to continue to meet every human being I interact with love and kindness.

As I continue to ponder and struggle with this and all bullying, tyranny, and destruction I find myself exploring within.   I believe that we are each a microcosm for the all.   Meaning that by meeting, witnessing, and working with the bully, tyrant, and destroyer that lives and functions within my own personality I can help to shift and expand that same energy that is at work in the Ukraine.   As enough of us around the world do this kind of inner work I believe real miracles can and will occur.  

Each of us has an underbelly of ugly, hidden, and shunned.   The degree of how hidden these parts of you may vary but they are there.   Hurt, angry, confused, hostile, and destructive, they wait for us to acknowledge them with care and understanding.  This week I worked with my little girl who hates her body,  a control freak who demands that everything work in the way he demands (bully much??),  a workaholic who believes that I need to constantly be doing/achieving, and a destroyer who feels that all I create needs to be doubted and hidden.  How do I work with these parts of myself I dislike and find really inconvenient?   At this point in time I've become much better at making time for them and creating a space (either through journaling or using my voice to allow them to speak out loud for themselves) for them to communicate without censor or judgement.   I do my best to meet each of them with love and empathy and if I am unable to honestly do that in the moment, I tell them that.   "I wish I was able to meet you with understanding right now but I'm not there yet.   I am willing to love you regardless and am willing to continue to listen." 

I have found this practice to be so transformative.   It is the groundwork for the calm and sense of presence others comment on when they interact with me.

What within is asking for your love and understanding?   Will you listen before it feels desperate enough to take over and reek havoc?   May we all continue to love ourselves and each other.  All of our parts.

Doing from Asking.... 

I have spent years doing and filling my days with very productive tasks.   I have been the queen of the "to-do" list.  Delighting in the satisfaction each check mark would provide.   This has served me well in the past.   I've accomplished many goals and created a wonderful life for myself.  I've exhausted myself and drove myself to the point of deep fatigue many times, often to a point of resentment and blame.   People expect too much of me, I would tell myself.  I need a break. 

The last year ( I would actually credit the original lock-down of the pandemic) has nudged me into an interesting process.   What if I took a moment and asked my body and my self what it wants to do in any given moment/day?   Especially when asked if I want to agree to do something.   I am finding this revolutionary.   I ask my body and then really feel into how my body feels when I imagine myself doing this task or taking on this project.   Do I feel tired as I feel into it?   Do I feel excited?   Inspired?  

I said "No" to a project today.   A project I would have taken on a few years back because I would have felt excited and inspired by it.   Last year I probably would have taken it on because I would have felt I SHOULD take it on.   After all, many would jump at this chance!   Today I asked my body.   When I envisioned myself doing the work this opportunity would entail and the process I would be agreeing to, my body felt heavy and tired.   No excitement and no inspiration.   I declined.   As I declined I felt relieved and relaxed.  

As I basked in the realization that I had advocated for myself, I was aware of a bit of a backlash.   "Why did you turn this down?"  "What if you never get another offer?"  "Lazy!"  "Don't you want to work?"  These thoughts/voices in my head and many others presented with force.   There was a time when this would have triggered a flood of self doubt, recrimination, and self judgement.   Today I listened, watched, and simply held space for it all.   This is new territory for me.   It's so understandable that parts of me would freak out!  I just comforted these parts of me and allowed myself to acknowledge the pride I felt in my new way of being.  This feels like a game changer.  After all, how can I expect my life to be all I want it to be if I continue to agree to do things I don't want to do?

Yes,  I will still have to make peace with things in my life that need doing.   But....I refuse to turn CHOICES I have in my life, into things I end up doing because some outdated voice in my head thinks they are NEEDS.  

Mother of Music 

As challenging and frustrating as this time of Covid has been for many, it has afforded me time and space to create.   Time to record, time to play, time to learn more about recording, time to learn more about marketing, and time to savor it all.  This process of creating music and releasing it digitally has been rich with unexpected delights.

I always thought I'd be a good mother.   I planned on having one child and I knew being a parent would be rewarding and challenging.   It never occurred to me I wouldn't be a mother.......until it became pretty apparent it wasn't going to happen for me.   At least in the way I wanted it to.   While I am open to adoption and fostering, I was not open to entering into a parenting situation as a single mom by choice.   I went through a time of grieving before coming to the realization that a child doesn't seem to be in the cards for me this time around.

It seems as though the closest I'm going to come to childbirth is in creating music.  I have been experiencing the elation, sense of fullness, and excited anticipation with each of my music release dates.    Once released,  there is a gradual phase of releasing each musical baby.   Each track has a personality, a different experience of being received, and its own set of friends (audience).  

Souljourn is not yet released and this baby feels very different.   She's very unique.   A body of lush and resonant string sounds emanating from a pianist who typically sings best through the piano.   I've shared her with many to try and introduce her to streaming playlists so that she'll be heard and shared.   Though a few have accepted her, to many she is too loud, intense, and doesn't quite fit the usual paradigm.   I am both worried she won't find her audience and proud that she is a bit of a rebel :-0

So here I am.   Like I imagine most mothers feel.....trusting that she is enough as she is.   Souljourn came from a very deep and powerful place within me and this voice will somehow find the people who will benefit from hearing what she has to share.

Here's to mothers everywhere.   Mothers of humans, mothers of music, and mothers of dragons.   Sacred all.

Racy material :-o 

Youtube limited my ad yesterday!!!!   I was completely caught off guard and quickly followed the links to find out what on earth needed to be restricted.   So what was the transgression?   Sexual content !!!!   So which of my racy videos of nature and piano music raised a red flag with the google programs? 

I racked my brain......maybe it was the AMSR video I uploaded a couple of weeks ago?   Whispering Rumi can get pretty sensual, after all!   Nope.   My recent video of Awakening the Deep was the culprit.    I burst out laughing upon learning this.    People.....this video includes a sunrise and a few bird videos.   The audio has no words, just piano and bird sounds.

This morning the ad was up, running, and without any limited restrictions on it.   A human must have actually watched it :-0

Makes me want to Google "Awaken the Dark" now, though!!!! 

Quieting Tremors 

I've been playing the piano most of my life.   It's become a living, breathing part of my being.  An appendage even.  This special part of me has provided comfort, challenges, excitement, and peace.  I've recently started a new chapter in my playing.   Though I still work as an accompanist and play a variety of pieces, I am finding myself creating more and communicating what I am creating very differently.   It feels more like an allowing, a way of dancing and singing what I am feeling emotionally and/or energetically.   Sometimes it is simply sharing what I am experiencing and other times I reach out with empathy and feel into what is going on all around me.  Tendrils of soul connecting to other soul experiences and feelings.  

This process of creating, connecting, and allowing feels divine.   It feels as though I'm channeling parts of the ether, collective, and humanity all in a flow that relaxes and deepens as it translates into a musical awareness.   As this happens I am so aware of the honor it is to be a creator.  We musicians, artists, dancers, and creatives have the power to speak directly to the soul.  With sound, image, and body we are able to soothe and delight the mind so that the heart may have an uninterrupted communion with the divinity in all.   What a gift.  How powerful this is.  I sometimes wonder if on an unconscious level, this power is intuited by those who seek to squash the arts by de-funding, de-valuing, and dismissing.  Or perhaps the roadblocks around the many corners of our paths are simply there to build our character, hone our endurance, and render us worthy and humble to the masters we are becoming.   Maybe a mixture of both. Regardless the recipe, I am finding this path particularly blissful and deep these days.

I created a new single this month that I am releasing at the end of June.  Quieting Tremors was created in this new process I am experiencing.  I found that I was able to employ this allowing and surrender into the energy and emotion of what I was experiencing while using a keyboard instead of my beloved piano.   I really surprised myself, as in the past I have truly disliked playing keyboards.   I tended to feel as though a keyboard lacked the organic touch, and true resonance a piano possesses.  While I still prefer playing the piano, I wanted a direct sound connection in recording without background noise. The keyboard gave me this.   Once the track was recorded, I found myself creating the sound further with mixing techniques.   Fascinating and still demanding the kind of surrender and allowing I've found myself swimming in these days.   What a delight and privilege.

What are you creating these days?   For we are all artists in our own ways.   Perhaps you create with food, jewelry, or words.   Maybe you create structure that allows the body to soar,  maybe you design your home to inspire and nourish, and perhaps you have the honor of creating and teaching ways for students to flourish and learn.   Masters all...what a delight and privilege.  I salute you.