Reading Big Magic

I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic.”  I like books about creativity and fearless living, I have quite a collection and enjoyed her view on the subject.

I consider the life that I live a creative life – I dropped out of college (to later finish my degree in Expressive Art with a personal emphasis on leadership and healing) to wander around Portland, OR and participate in an Artist’s Way group and learn to meditate and feed myself after spending three months wandering around Europe and looking at art. I’ve spent time as a very underpaid professional aerial dancer and been the lead choreographer on a couple of projects. I’ve journaled pretty consistently since I was 10 and have a few poems in print. I consider myself to be crafty and have made most of the plates and bowls in my house during a pottery phase, nearly all the decorations on the Christmas tree, a fair amount of the art on our walls, and a good collection of the stuffed animals that the little one is enjoying right now.

One of the things that Gilbert recommends is following curiosity (rather than passion because passion can be so volatile). So, where is my curiosity today? Playing m’bira and playing marimba. The pesky desire to learn to sing a little better is still lurking – I haven’t scratched that itch yet – though I sing everyday to the little one and have been paying more attention to singing and learning new songs.

Gilbert also recommended calling on the trickster energy when things got sticky (vs. the martyr). I asked David today how he would recommend me trick some of the issues that I have with performing and he recommended performing with a worship team using my shaman energy. I like that answer and want to keep meditating on this because it seems that I end up on stage fairly often and I’d love to make peace with it – even to the point of embracing it as being part of my path right now (reading that feels scary, who would I be without this resistance to performance and the personal drama that ensues?). Kenny Werner, pianist and author of Effortless Mastery writes, “When you don’t try as hard to play good, you play better.” And I imagine that this is part of the trick as well. I have also noticed the last three shows that I’ve done that if I keep my blood sugar stabilized by eating smart snacks often, that helps too. I’ll keep looking into this.

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our 1/21/17 Musical Caravan setup

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practice

I am in love with the marimba and marimba ensemble music. It’s official. You probably knew that. It is the first instrument that I have been gleefully able to practice. Not as much as I would like, as I have a super-cute 1.5 year old who likes to grab the mallets out of my hands, but I do get to practice. And I get to play with people, and I get to inspire folks to play music who might not otherwise get to play. Yesterday while waiting, I worked on a rhythm that I’ve been struggling with. I think I’ve got it. This is very exciting.

We sent this next bit to our newsletter, but it felt valid enough to share here as well. . .

With the darkening days, it’s a great time to go inward, and to go to the practices that keep us healthy. It is amazing what a bit of consistent dedicated practice can do for any artform – but especially for playing music. As simple as matching our breath to our steps while walking, or actively listening to music, or practicing rhythmic patterns on the chair while waiting at the dentist’s office, practice of all kinds will help deepen our musical relationships and improve our playing.

Here are two books that both David and I have read and enjoyed on the subject of music practice:

First, Learn to Practice by Tom Heany “First, Learn to Practice is a book about how to practice a musical instrument – any musical instrument. It’s suitable for all musicians – professional, amateur, student or beginner. “Certainly part of the problem in learning how to play an instrument is the way an individual approaches practicing. One must be committed to spending lots of time on eye, ear, and hand coordination; learning how to listen; learning how to sight-read; and, having fun during those many hours of conquering notes on and off the page. But, how many “students” really know how to practice in the first place?”

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life – Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process by Thomas M. Sterner “In those times when we want to acquire a new skill or face a formidable challenge we hope to overcome, what we need most are patience, focus, and discipline, traits that seem elusive or difficult to maintain.” Sterner writes about learning to love the process.

happy practicing!!!

here

Lately I’ve been noticing that I have a really amazing blessed life.

I’ve also been noticing that I’m stressed out and/or tired a lot of the time making it harder to enjoy this lovely life. It has made me start thinking about fulcrums and pivot points and how to use the least amount of effort to make the greatest difference in my happiness factor. What little changes can I make that will help make a big difference?

A few days ago David came home with a book called, “Triggers” and it’s exactly the sort of book that I love full of wisdom, stories, and good advice. And it came at the perfect time for me.

The author, Marshall Goldsmith, recommends “active questions” among other things.

Not just, “are you happy with your life?”ladyarlyn

But rather, “have I done my best today to be happy with my life?” And then you ask yourself every evening the active questions that help you live the sort of life that you want to be living and rate them on a 1-10 scale – for me, for now, these are a few:

“Have I done my best today to be at peace?”

“Have I done my best today to spend time outside?”

“Have I done my best today to do what needs to be done?”

“Have I done my best today to take care of myself?”

morning

It’s morning here. Cool. There were sprinkles of rain on the tarp over our tent in the night.

I notice a tenderness here in my heart. It seems like it might just be part of being human. There is so much beauty and so much sorrow in this world and all that adds up to a tender heart for me this morning.

I’ve been reading,”Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want” by Martha Beck. I highly recommend it. Instead of starting with what do you want? It starts with Wordlessness and Oneness. Teaching techniques for dropping out of the verbal mind and into the present moment and into our connection with all things. From there it asks the question – “what is wanting to move through you?” I like this version of “Creating the Life You Want” way better than some of the others people talk about. I am such a strong believer in the potency of Presence! Of course our vastness is more intelligent than our isolated personalities.

We’ve been experimenting with some of these techniques in the yoga class I’ve been teaching and that’s been lovely. I love the moving practice and dropping into the body. I love the possibility that unhelpful patterns could just melt away.

I’ve been attempting to bring more of this state into my gardening – realizing how I get caught in the “things to do,” which keeps me out of connection with with garden. It’s been sweet to slow down and offer more attention. Slow down and see what is wanting to happen next. Slow down and notice that one of the trees looks a bit wilty and be able to set a hose. Slow down and notice the miracles of flowers.

Asking the question – what would bring more joy for all beings? How can I play more? What brings me deep satisfaction and joy?

I’ll keep you posted. Today it is yoga class with Amy Williams at BIJA in Paonia – she’s so amazing. And perhaps some water somewhere. And some garden time. And some time for art.

And you?

reading and living

I just finished two books on eating locally and am feeling inspired – and wanted to share that inspiration.

The first book I read was “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball. You can read more here: http://www.kristinkimball.com/

It’s about her first year on Essex Farm offering a year-round, full diet, CSA in Essex, NY. 500 acres; It made our ten acres feel very manageable and was a great read!

 

The second book was “The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather http://www.amazon.com/Feast-Nearby-marriage-preserving-bartering/dp/158008558X

It is essays and recipes from her first year alone in a cabin in Michigan. The recipes are great; we’ve already tried a few and they are solid (even with the tinkering that comes with being mostly gluten-free and mostly vegan). And I’m inspired to try more small-batch canning and staying on the freezing and drying- just to put a little bit of food away for the winter each week.

 

This week the bounty from the garden is arugula pesto! Yum.

I can’t give you exact amounts, but here is a very vague recipe for you (in order of amount included):

  • arugula (with dandelion greens, mallow, sorrel, parsley, and/or cilantro)
  • toasted sunflower seeds or walnuts or soaked almonds with the skins removed or pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • a splash of lemon or lime juice
  • salt
  • sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

put the whole mixture in a food processor and blend until you like the consistency (you can put the greens in a batch at a time and they’ll shrink down). To make it a bit crunchy, add the nuts at the very end.

 

We love to eat the pesto on pasta with stir fried veggies and on toast or flax crackers.

And to preserve, just put into a freezer-safe glass jar with a bit of head room and tuck it into the freezer.