Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why Me?

I sang a Christmas concert last Sunday.

I've been singing this concert for, um.....20 years.  Maybe more.  I'm not sure.

I have mixed emotions about this concert.  On the one hand, I love the opportunity.  On the other hand, because this concert always features a mix of classical and popular music, I have to really focus my preparation.  Then there's the fact that it is always on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and to be honest, I am never mentally ready for Christmas music that soon after Thanksgiving.  I know - First World problems. Obviously, I get over it.

The concert went very well this year.  I figured out one way to raise my excitement level - retail therapy!  Yup, a Black Friday deal gave me a new outfit to wear. So I looked good and I sang even better.  Fine.


At the post-concert reception (which features the best cookies on the planet.  And they're FREE.), a woman approached me.  She looked me in the eye and said, "I really didn't want to come today.  I was having a bad day and I definitely wasn't in the mood for Christmas music.  But I have to tell you, your singing lifted my spirits."

I noticed the tiniest of tears gathering in her eyes.  She continued,  "I feel so much better now.  I think I'm going to make it.  Thank you."

Thank you, Universe, for the reminder.  Why me?  Because my music, my art, my creativity might just change a life.

As you wander through this holiday season - especially those of you that are singing Messiah for the 6,392nd time or performing 80+ performances of Christmas Carol, or singing Angels We Have Heard On High for the 45,368th time - remind yourself that you also might be changing a life with your music, your story-telling, your art, your creativity.

Or even just a look in someone's eyes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Let's pause, take a breath and ponder.  While the world feels challenging right now, we can all find at least one thing to be thankful for.

I am thankful for all of you.  I mean it.  You inspire me to reveal, to question, to write, to be there for you.  Making the road easier, letting you know you're not the only one, confirming that you can follow your dreams - these are my goals here at Creatavita.

Happy day of thanks.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Morning Quotes

These words struck me, so I wrote them down for you.  And for me.

Both come from recent articles in The New Yorker.

"I suffered a good deal from the contradiction between knowing writing was the job I was born for and finding nowhere to have that knowledge confirmed."

"Actually, 'Hallelujah' had taken him five years.  He drafted dozens of verses and then it was years more before he settled on a final version.  In several writing sessions, he found himself in his underwear, banging his head against a hotel-room floor."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Moving Forward, Part II

Didn't I write a post with this same title a few months ago?  I did, and more of you read that post as well as its companion pieces, The Waiting Game and Walking Through Fire than any other posts on this blog.  Thank you!  From those numbers, I'm going to assume that means you are interested in me and how I navigate my creative life.  We learned last week that numbers can be very misleading, so if I'm wrong, please let me know, either through comments right here on the blog or on your favorite social media outlet.

Here in the US, we're moving forward. For some that movement is joyous, filled with hope for the future.  For others (like me), that movement is with heaviness and deep concern.  I'm honestly struggling with moving forward.  Here's how I'm coping:

Healthy Living - I'm starting every day with exercise. I'm trying to eat as well as possible. I'm trying to limit my vices - tortilla chips (particularly the Acme made-in-store variety), wine and chocolate (I'm such a cliche).

Meditation - I'm meditating daily. Yesterday, I chose a guided meditation on loving-kindness. The guide asked me to think of someone with whom I have difficulties. I was brave and made the difficult choice. It wasn't the best meditation session I've ever had, but I did feel better, not only when I finished, but as I went through my day.

Carl Lutz Memorial in Budapest.
Carl Lutz, a Swiss diplomat, is credited with saving the lives of 62,000 Jews during WWII.

Mindful - every time I pick up a device or turn on the television, I ask myself why.  What is the intention?  What am I seeking? Am I going to find it there?

Go Outside - When I feel the urge to randomly check, I put the device down and I walk outside.  I look up in the sky and I breathe.  This morning I saw a bright red big ol' cardinal hanging around in our backyard! I felt like he had landed in that tree just for me. Two weeks ago, I saw a darling juvenile woodpecker!  I did! Her black and white feathers sparkled in the sunshine.  Much better than reading yet another post full of information or opinions that I have already heard.

Bye Bye Love - I’m not off of social media completely, but I am on a diet.   After participating in some intense and interesting discussions, I have said just about all I feel is necessary to say right now. I reserve the right to change my mind.

The Jewish Cemetery in the former Jewish Ghetto in Prague, Czech Republic.
Seems odd to me that people used to be forced to live in ghettos.  Or does it? Does it to you?

What You Want, Baby I Got It
- Respect. I am using that word more these days, as in "I respectfully disagree with you." I should have been using it earlier. I regret that now.

Choose Wisely - I’m that annoying Facebook friend that debunks your crazy posts.  Blame it on my excellent public school education back in Wisconsin, where I was taught to check my sources.  These days, my favorite sources for news are The Washington Post and Nextdraft. I have always relied on Snopes for debunking.

Good Morning, Budapest!

Take Action - We all know what a fan I am of action.  I experienced the benefits this morning.  I woke up feeling depressed which led to a foreboding sense of anxiety.  Not good.  After my walk and meditation, I pulled out my accordion and practiced.  Then I worked on a song.  I hit that sweet spot of flow and time flew by.  In addition, I felt SO MUCH BETTER, a feeling that has stayed with me through the entire day.

Then there's action to make changes in the world.  I know I'm still too emotional to make the best decisions, but I have made a commitment to study one issue for the rest of 2016.  When the new year arrives, I will decide if I want to devote more time to this issue.  I have decided to study gerrymandering.  My current goal is to spend 30 minutes every week researching this issue.   Public accountability is a daunting proposition for me! Will you readers hold me to that?  Will you ask me for updates? 

Rock Steady - These thoughts come from the marvelous Meg Townsend of Aluna Adventures:

Steadiness doesn't always get the pomp and circumstance it deserves. It doesn't always feel exciting or new to people. But when we create steadiness and stability in our lives, it actually creates MORE SPACE for energy to flow. We find ourselves more inspired, flowing with creative energy, more passionate, and with great vital reserve.

May you all find the way to move forward as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Wrinkled Shirt

Yes, that's a photo of an unironed shirt.  It belongs to Beloved. He wore it to a wedding in early September.  After being washed the following week, it hung in our closet for the three weeks, unironed, except for four days when I hung it on the doorknob of the hallway closet door.  Why did it hang in the hallway? Because I thought if I saw it in an unusual place, I would get my act together and iron the darn thing.  Didn't work.  Back to the closet it went.

The bigger question is why did the shirt remain unironed for so long? Ironing a shirt is a simple task, right?  Why, I kept wondering, is it taking me so long to iron this one shirt?

Here's where my wonderment led me:
    • Ironing the shirt was a low priority task.  There were no upcoming events that would require a classic white shirt, well-pressed. 
    • Getting to the act of ironing the shirt was complicated and was actually going to take more time than the task. I had to:
      • Get out the iron and ironing board
      • Get the water (to steam the wrinkles)
      • Wait for the iron to heat up
      • Put it all away
    • I don't get much pleasure out of ironing shirts.  I don't mind it, but given options, there are other tasks I would choose first. 
    • Beloved is extremely appreciative when I iron his shirts. It's an easy way (or so I thought) to show him love.
This led me to pondering the many other tasks in my life that don't get completed on schedule (or what I think is "on schedule").  Sometimes it is because they are low priority, like the shirt - and that's fine.  The complicated issue stalls me frequently.  Low satisfaction I can get over, particularly if the actual task doesn't take much time, isn't difficult OR doesn't have an emotional component (as in Mom always made me dust the dining room chairs, so I'm never going to dust the dining room chairs).

Here's to better understanding of why simple tasks become so complicated.

Pay attention to this!