Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wisdom and Humility

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. William Faulkner

I just got back from a hot yoga class.  I have not done yoga steadily since we moved in July.  Needless to say, I am out of yoga shape. I walk and hike but the rest of my body has been asleep for the last 10 months.  Luckily, 2 weeks ago I took the class and there was no one there so I got to have a private class with the teacher who went through the positions with me so at least, today, I had an idea of what was going on.  However, that did not compensate for the lack of stability and strength that my body displayed today.  As a songwriter, I see most things as metaphors... and quite honestly, even if I never wrote a song, I'd probably still see everything as a metaphor and this yoga class was no different.  As I watched myself in the mirror teeter while trying to balance, my own critical judgment showed up, initially, and how grateful I am that before too long the "angel on my shoulder" showed up too reminding me how long it's been and that it's not a competition, not even with myself and that this whole practice of yoga, is about healthy breathing, thinking and patience.

I was a very good gymnast in my youth, particularly in high school (3rd in Nassau County and 26th in the state of NY in floor-exercise), and with that, a dancer since that was part of the sport.  I hurt myself in spring training in college and after my first laminectomy at age 19, I went on to study ballet as an adult, in my 20's and early 30's.... I was the youngest in my class. I loved it, because it was all about balance and poise... and I was very good at it.

1974, Baldwin Junior High
Today, I was not very good at either balance nor poise, however, I gave myself a break and told myself that if I keep coming back, within a couple of months, I should be able to stay on my yoga mat and not have every muscle in my body shake from shock.  I was proud of myself for even going, knowing that I would be the "weakest link" in the class.  Frankly, I did feel a twinge of embarrassment, but only fleeting and very quickly I was fine with where I was and even began to own it and embrace it and still love myself.  In this one class, I wanted to laugh at myself and then when stretching my body and opening it up, I felt like crying... I felt the loss for the time I have ignored it and it was sort of a coming home to it.  It's as if I have deprived myself of such an intsrumental element to my happiness and well being.

The teacher was amazing, gentle, supportive, helpful and young.  The other women in the class were younger than me too.  I laughed as I felt that pesky ego come into play, wanting to attach a sign to my back that said,  "I used to be a gymnast ya know, a dancer, the best in some places and I could do back flips from here to kingdom come." and then, I held that thought in an embrace of acceptance, like a sulking child, and it dissipated, rather quickly.  I also wanted to laugh when I saw myself flailing from a yoga pose, like a drunk person trying to walk a tight rope.

These days, I don't need to be better than anyone else, because I've learned that that kind of competition isn't something that makes me happy.  Let's face it, even the most humble of us feel an urge to compete on some level, but that can be healthy and used as a tool to inspire us and keep us going.

The class today was so much more than yoga. It was a reminder to see age for what it really is. A present, a rite of passage, a privilege and a beautiful undying lust for life. An old person's soul is no less valuable than a young person's soul... they are the same, just situated on different timelines, heading in the same direction...living life from that place...and learning how to be present for each stage of the process.

Today was a gift, and I got to reunite with someone very special, who still needs love and attention,  inside and out...and I'm not embarrassed to say that that person, was me.  I hope if you're reading this, that you will feel inspired to get out there, outside your comfort zone, and take one baby step towards reuniting with your body, mind and soul.  We're going to need to be in tip top shop to manifest and allow all the miracles that are awaiting our invitation.  It's an all around alignment  - with my body, the abundance in the universe and all that I know to be true of self-love and self-care.

Please feel free to share what you did or are going to do, to show the world that you love the amazing person you are, right this very minute,  in the comments below.

May beauty and wisdom light your path, always.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What are Artists Starving For?

Ever think about what exactly a starving artist is?  I have and recently I thought a little deeper about it in regard to my own life as an artist.  Usually when we hear that someone is a starving artist we think that they are poor, "starving" and scrounging around all in the name of art.  However, that could be anybody, struggling to make ends meet, whether they are an artist or not.  I thought about the definition of 'starving' - and when I took away the literal meaning in regard to food, I wondered what it meant when it came to artists.  Of course, this is just one point of view, mine, and for right now...as everything else changes, that could change too.  (Now that the disclaimer is out of the way...)

I see starving as a longing, a thirst for something and as an artist I realize that it is simply the need to create.  I remember, when I was a full time musician, reading about artists and that they need to have tumult in their lives in order to create since it is that place that stirs their creativity (according to this article I read). I was so upset about this and thought I might be doomed for a life of angst and unhappiness... it was as if it were an excuse to be unhappy... so that I could create.  And, I do agree with the notion that there needs to be something unsettling on some level in order to create our best creations.  However, this brings me back to the concept of starving.  One can be totally content in their lives, esthetically anyway, and internally, if they are not creating, they feel a void.... a thirst that is not quenched.  And interestingly, though the artist is rewarded by either acclaim or in monetary ways, I am not convinced that a true artist is ever satisfied with that... which is where the turmoil lies within and could be the very place from which we create.   After all, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and so many more were never satisfied and thank goodness they weren't.

 I am referring to certain people who are called "artists" but I do believe that we are all artists... in fact, I think that artists can be interchanged with the word "human" since we all are creating something.... whether it be numbers, teaching, healing, cures, paintings, photographs, music, etc....
In the end, I believe, the reason we 'starve' for creation is because it is inherent to desire to feel purposeful.

I have written many songs from break ups, falling in love, falling out of love, my views on politics, my anger and sadness and it took quite a bit of time before I started the practice of writing songs that actually had a happy sentiment.   And in all honesty, I really had to push myself to write songs from a loving place...and even now, after the hundreds of songs I've written I can safely say the songs written from a painful place outnumber the happy songs by far.  And... I can only surmise that the reason for this is that when I was happy, I felt a lesser need to express because I was more in the moment of living and not feeling that need as deeply to express any pain.  I am still learning how to express myself in positive ways.... it is rare, but it does happen, when lyrics will float into my head to express some pain that I am experiencing... usually, I just write about 2 lines and then I ask myself, what is it that I want to contribute to this world.  It is then that I realize that I don't want to add to the misery or suffering... at least, not without some essence of hope and the act of overcoming pain because pain is inevitable... but I have a choice as to how to deal with it.

My husband painting in nature.
My husband is a successful engineer, and would hardly call himself an artist.  However, he is probably more of an artist than me.  Though he enjoys his engineering work, his passion and essence is so incredibly obvious when he is painting or wood working...and what I'm about to say is not just because I am his wife, but because it it true.... his artwork is astounding.  And more than once, I have copped an angle of a photograph because his 'eye' is also amazing for composition.  I use him as an example.... because I think he represents us all... and confirms my belief that we are all artists.

So... if you are starving... chances are the act of creating will fulfill that void, until the next time you feel the need to create.... and the next time.... and thank goodness for that... because satisfaction is overrated and unsettling.   I guess we're all in this together... but hardly starving... but thriving and desiring to contribute, in any way that "almost" fulfills us....and the world.