Friday, May 29, 2015

Reminding Myself

And you as well.

Today's post is a repost from the first year of Creatavita.  Why?  Because we are in the month that should be renamed Mayhem.  For all of us - 

One and Done

When The Teen was born, like many first-time parents, I found the concept of time was, shall we say, altered. Entire days could go by in a flash. I found myself torn between wanting/needing to spend time with this brand new human and getting to the necessary tasks of living. If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about. Heck, if you're a human (and I assume the vast majority of you are), you know what I'm talking about. There are these periods when the speed of life seems to enter some odd, cosmic zone where everything happens too fast.

Add to this experience the fact that I am highly organized. Some would say hyper-organized, some might even say obsessive. Let's save that for a future post. Whatever you want to call it, I admit to being a person who likes to organize my day. This quality does not go well with a baby. Not at all. I found my to-do list expanding and my anxiety level rising. Even more importantly, I KNEW these were days that would never be back, ever. One of the certainties of life is this: Babies are born and immediately start to grow. Usually up. I had to find a solution.

Don't ask me how it happened, but I decided I would zero in on one task every day. Early in the day I would ask myself, “Self, what is the one task that will make your day feel complete?” The task could be as simple as write a thank-you note, work on one measure in a piece of music, or find a song for a student. In fact, I encouraged myself to keep it simple.    And of course it wasn't simple every day.  Yes, some days the task was larger than I wanted or somehow became more complicated.  Yes, I got frustrated.  Still, on most days, once that task was done, the rest of the day was open, free, mine to enjoy. I encouraged myself to focus on what was accomplished and the time I now had to be with The Baby Who Is Now The Teen or with my work, and not on what wasn't accomplished.

Miracles. I tell you people, miracles. I began to enjoy The Teen's babyhood, my motherhood and my career.  I didn't worry that some student didn't get their lesson time scheduled immediately or that the dust was prominent on the furniture. I also found myself mentally clearer , much more realistic about how much time I actually had AND definitely more able to prioritize what was truly important.

The Teen is now, well, a teen, and couldn't care less if I spend a millisecond with him. Yet, I've returned to One And Done many times. I find it particularly helpful when my workload is heavy or during those lovely times we call the holidays.  In fact, I'm using it again as I write this; recently we've had delightful family members visits, the studio is full, there's fun summertime performances happening, and The Beloved is on the Disabled List due to rotator cuff surgery last week.  Enough activity to, well, let's just say, increase my workload.

I already know I'm not the only person on the planet to benefit from this simple solution. Two falls ago, I received a phone call from my niece. She had recently moved from clean, kind Wisconsin to gritty, hyper New York City. The tone of her voice made it obvious that she was about to crawl out of her skin. She was in a completely different environment and the prospect of being there for a prolonged period of time wasn't feeling so good at that particular moment. I could, as we all say, feel her pain. So what was my advice? You got it – One and Done. I was thrilled when she told me later that this simple approach got her through those first months in New York City, and that she, like me, still returns to One and Done frequently.

Like all new habits, incorporating One and Done into your lifestyle could possibly be challenging. We modern-day humans aren't very good at change. Don't be surprised if you actually feel more anxious initially. Give yourself a set number of days, say, one week, to try this idea out. You can always return to your previous anxious, frustrated state if this small solution doesn't work for you.

May 2015 Update:  The Teen will be graduating from high school in two weeks, and he talks to me again.

Beloved has been off the Disabled List for years.  He tells everyone who has rotator cuff surgery to follow the physical therapy regimen faithfully.

My niece has left New York City for the DC area.  She and her husband are now parents of a cute-as-pie son, with another son showing up this fall.  She still practices One and Done.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Music For A While

I'm always encouraging people to create their own events. Waiting to be hired or have your work discovered stalls your energy. Rarely do people take my advice. So you can imagine my joy when Meg Townsend organized Music For Awhile.

Meg and I have a perpetual conversation about how we fit in the world as artists. With Music For A While, Meg has found a solution that is inspiring, not just for her, but for others as well. She has already raised over $1,000 to benefit the Sister Cities Girlchoir.  Even better, Meg created a realistic budget that covers all of the event's expenses, including reasonable fees for the performing artists.  Yes, she did.

Meg has programmed some fine music, all around the theme of stars, moon and dreams.  If you attend (and you really should), you'll be treated to music by composers such as Purcell, Debussy, Schubert, and some fabulous songs by Stuart McMeans.  

Meg and her fine accompanist, John Gilmour, had a rehearsal in my studio this week. Here are the notes I gave them. I think they'll resonate with many of you.

Invite everyone, including yourself to the music.

Let us in to that delightful land inside of you.

Mistakes will happen. It's how you handle them that matters.

Every time I've heard Audra McDonald in concert, she's had to stop a song and start again. I didn't really care. She handled the moment with ease, never apologized and jumped right back into the music. If you have to start over, be like Audra.

Event Details:  Music For Awhile
                          Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 pm
                          Biello Martin Studio, 148 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia
                         Ticket Information Here