Monday, November 13, 2017

Everything Has A Place

Packing up my belongings so often during these past eight months has often filled me with anxiety. Will I need that shirt in three months? Will I be able to find that moisturizer over there? Should I take an extra bottle? Oh my god, what if there isn't any good coffee?  Oh, come on, there has to be coffee. Well, I was challenged to find good coffee in the last country.

All of these musings, which start out as necessary and end up yucky remind me -

Everything Has A Place

I find life flows more easily when I give every thing in my life a place. The space I live in (which is currently small and temporary) becomes more peaceful, more serene when I take the time to settle in. Perhaps it seems silly that I mindfully decide which surface will become my kitchen and which corner will be my relaxing space. I do this so I can have certainty, which leads me to peace, which leads me to a more mindful and joyful existence.

Likewise with my things. Most of us have too many physical things, right? Many of us actually struggle with releasing our material things. We cling to the memories, even though the memories don't reside in the thing. They reside in us. But let's save that conversation for another day. Let's talk about giving our things a place.

When I give each thing, even that pile of receipts that is staring at me right now from behind this laptop, a place, I recognize the value of that thing. I can determine its importance in my life. Plus, from the practical side of life, when I give each thing a place, it is easier for me to find the thing when I need it. Chargers live in the drawer at the end of the kitchen counter. My phone spends the night on the kitchen counter (turned off, no less). My room key lives in the arm pocket of my favorite Costco jacket or on the kitchen counter (see? that's the surface in my room. I'm already calling it the kitchen counter!).

I am packing and moving again today. As I flow through that task, I will stay aware of my gratitude for all of the things I have and focus on the idea that

Everything Has A Place

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Channeling Roy

Roy Halladay died yesterday.

Yes, he was a grown man who played a game and made ridiculous amounts of money doing that, but I'm a grown woman who tells stories and makes okay amounts of money, so I can't fault him for that.

Besides, Roy taught me so much about being the best artist I could be.

Roy was just another quality pitcher in the game I love until I read this Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci 7 years ago. I know you don't like sports, but you really should read it. Tom Verducci is an excellent writer. Besides, the rest of this post will make much more sense.

Suddenly, Roy looked an awful lot like me. A human who had a deep desire to succeed at a task that could, at times, seem impossible.

Roy sent me on a quest. Because of Roy, I purchased every book written by Harvey Dorfman. I used the guise of my son's love of baseball for the purchase, but if you want to find those books today, they're next to my side of the bed.

I remember reading a page or two and jumping out of my chair, antsy to get to a practice session. From reading Harvey's work, I realized the biggest challenges I faced were inside of my own head. I also realized if I would work mindfully and persistently, there was a good chance I could solve many of my artistic problems.

Messiah, Jim Thorpe, PA, December, 2010.
The first performance trying out Roy's ideas.

These attitudes, while initially challenging, transformed how I work.

I now see problems as challenges, challenges that might take longer to solve, but that have a solution.

I don't get as emotionally involved when things go wrong.

I seek out quality feedback from respected sources.

I work consistently (join me in my daily warmup) to keep my skills as sharp as possible.

I enjoy the game, the thrill, the wonderment of what will happen.

I am confident that my skills are up to the challenge of whatever comes my way.

I know I will fail, but I also know I have access to the tools to fix my failures.

So yes, Roy Halladay was a baseball player, but he was also a teacher.

Thank you, Roy. You changed my life.

Hit the stinkin' ball

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ripped From The Archives: Deleting The Negative

Recently, I had to return to this post for my self .
Here's guessing some of you will appreciate it also.

You ever have one of those nagging negative thoughts that won't leave your head?  You're trying to write, rehearse, practice, even perform and that one tiny moment keeps repeating over and over, like some crazy cat GIF gone awry.  Years ago, or perhaps yesterday, a critic didn't like your latest show, a director gave you a look when you missed a line, an editor commented negatively on your favorite phrase, or, the worst, your mother said she didn't like your newest creation.  You replay the words that felt like a dagger, your confidence sinks and your spirit begins to shut down.  All of the positive work you had accomplished begins to fade.

The weight of the world on my shoulders,
just like this guy in Lisbon.

Me too!!!

Here's what I've been playing with lately. Every time my mind returns to the negative moment, I practice replacing it with a positive one.  Like the spontaneous compliment from a respected colleague.  Or perhaps the memory of an accomplishment.

I will warn you, this takes time and practice.  The first time I experimented with this practice, I found myself working on it for almost a week.  But it did stop the negative thought from planting a root in my mind. I'm trying to recall the moment right now and I cannot.  Truly.  It is quite remarkable.

There's another practice I've been working with.  I remind myself that I am the only person on this entire planet who is still experiencing this past moment.  Everyone else has moved on, possibly to more joyful moments.  I have a choice.  I can hang on or I can let go.

Guess which one I choose?

In the heart of Tokyo sits this oasis, the Meiji Jingu Garden.