Be your own best friend

There’s a meme on FB that says if you love your friends, let them sleep. I believe I should count myself among my friends! I also think rest and general vegetative time should be added. As well as time to unpack the car, cook a healthy meal of real food, clean, wash laundry, practice the violin, meditate, breathe and slow the racing of my heart, and have a cup of coffee.

Just this morning, I was entering my info into my iPhone so that Siri would know who I was. It asked me if I wanted to add myself to my favorites. Of course I do!

My type A overachiever personality wants to get cracking. My body says “Whoa! After teaching 6 middle school dance classes yesterday in 91 degree partial sun, during the time of the month when you should be resting, uh, NO! Don’t even get me started on the fact you haven’t taken a day off in months! And you’re planning to do this again Friday?! Wednesday morning, you’re mine!” I hate conversations where my body is right. My body is still mad at me about moving away from the cool ocean breeze on the beach in San Francisco, (because I was working only to afford it) and getting a job that involves 100+ flights of stairs/day (because losing weight and getting healthy in a fat shaming culture is necessary for my employment and financial future with the rising cost of medical coverage).

In other news, I’ve discovered that I need to stop getting frustrated about my lack of motivation. I know, it seems crazy coming from someone as crazy busy as me, but so much of what people see is execution, I’d like to direct my actions to bring them more in line with my goals. Without constant fine tuning, there’s always a drift. Just like papers and general clutter take over your life if you don’t develop a regular purging discipline.

I’m starting up work again with my life coach. I have many mentors who all motivate me in different ways. But he is the one most effective at getting to get my A game on. Some people motivate me with fear, cajoling, guilt, shame; some with responsibility, deadlines, ultimatums, consequences; and others with flattery. He calls upon what is already within me to rise above all these things to achieve the good kind of entitlement (I deserve to be happy).

It’s surprising how hard this is. Working in Union Square, San Francisco, there is no place I can turn that does not have the enlarged, photoshopped H&M ad of Beyonce in a bikini with a body I haven’t had since I was SEVEN years old. If I wore that $4.99 bikini top, society would judge and crucify me faster than Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction! For starters, I’m too tall. Then there’s that not being 20 years old and rich thing. Ahhh, rape culture is a powerful thing and it’s as bad as trying to take on the lawyers at the NRA or Monsanto. Every woman has to fight it alone. There are days when I am brave (don’t get me started on Disney’s sexualization of the princess from Brave, she’s a role model of mine!) and there are days when I just feel defeated.

And now that I’ve gotten what was bugging me off my chest, my headache has miraculously disappeared! I can breathe! So I’m going to take an hour to shut off the digital distractions and practice the violin. Because that seems to work really well for me, as a member of the digitally distracted.

Be well and be the best friend to yourself that you can be!

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the third level

As I continue to develop as a violinist, my teacher says more and more of the game becomes mental. In fact, it becomes more about “am I going to confidently approach this or am I going to psych myself out?”

Last night, I had an encounter. It was a friendly jam. But my competitive streak came out with a vengeance. We were on my turf. I was the actor, it was my stage, the audience knew me, I was wearing the costume, I knew all the melodies and accompaniments to the Christmas carols. I also had his admiration and respect so he was just interested in playing on his instrument instead of mine.

As we continued playing, he brought up his volume and I brought up mine. An audience assembled. I pushed myself to match his shifts and arpeggiation. An hour later, we didn’t want to stop. We were in another world, constructed both individually and jointly.

In theater, we call this “synergy.” Two becoming greater than the sum of their parts. Our lines dived and ducked, soared and weaved, crescendoed and rallied together to create something that held the audience spellbound.

This, this is what I want to be able to do with the violin! As I continue my violin studies, I want to take people’s breath away. I want to give them flights of ecstasy, I want to create music that would not exist in quite the same way if I did not create it.

A musician I spoke to today said this is the third level. He was the second person I moved to tears today.

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The Career Conundrum

Another day off, generally means undistracted time with my own thoughts. And like any working musician, my thoughts are often on how to pay the bills. The most precious gift I have is time. So spending 8 hours running around to make 8 hours pay makes for 16 hour days filled with traffic.

What I like to do is a loaded question. What I like to do is play the violin, but we know that doesn’t pay. What I’m good at is talking. Which doesn’t mean that I want to join a debt collector’s call center or be some snake oil salesman.

I’m intelligent, ethical, educated and think through things so I don’t want to work in a position or for a company whose workers or practices are meant to screw people. I’d like to have a job with work that betters the world rather than robbing it.

I am a talented manager, but so much of management, especially sales management means I need to take an entry level job. I’m not looking forward to working nights and weekends as long as I live. I’m not looking forward to being dumped on and unable to have any life outside work for 3 months.

But, I suppose the sooner I begin, the sooner I can have a life where I can answer the phone when it rings, pay bills on time, and see friends perform their $20 a head shows. The sooner I’ll be able to take classes at night and volunteer for cool stuff on the weekends. The sooner I can stop counting pennies.

Someday I hope to be able to sit on the couch in my own home on my own land and know that everything’s paid off and I have a house full of friends who will cheer me up when I’m down.

Someday while I’m still young and healthy, I want to be able to enjoy cooking and fashion and art. Theater and music and museums. Coffee and long walks and dances with friends.

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I used to think that if my calendar was empty, I wasn’t doing anything.

If my plate wasn’t full, I was wasting my life.

If I wasn’t busy, I didn’t exist.

But the most amazing things in life can’t be scheduled.

Unscheduled time is when the great stuff comes, unbidden. The ahas, the deep thinking, the solutions, and the magic!

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Today’s Aha

Today, I had an ensemble gig in Calistoga. The beautiful, rolling hills of the Napa Valley gave me lots of time to mull over things.

Right now, I am at the nexus of so many paths. Some doors opening, some closing. Some paths lit, some dark. I feel I am currently treading a bit of water in some areas while leaping ahead in others.

I have recently celebrated 1 year of private lessons with Jean Claire Martin, former concertmaster of the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. I have completed not one, but two international tours.

Life has come into sharp focus for me. I have chosen a path. Based upon my Corporate America managerial and career training, I am taking steps toward my goals.

The classical violin training is continuous education to make me a better violin teacher while strengthening my rudiments.

My coaching has helped me chart a course and surmount obstacles while mentoring others.

My work has reacquainted me with physical fitness, eating right, and taking vitamins. It has also fulfilled a “ham” need I never realized I had. It reconnects me with my past in radio. And it helps me pay the bills, current and past

.Working with management has helped me recognize the excellent management training I had.

Teaching 13 students has reminded me how much I enjoy teaching and what a good teacher I am.

I have recently taken a cello lesson in which I learned *why I am playing the cello so well.

I have recently joined a new Celtic trio. I will need to get some vocal lessons and study up on Irish tunes. I will also need to learn some Scottish fiddle technique.

Soon, I will need to get some teaching certification. Probably something like a specific method.

In the future, I will need to get my MM.

Today’s big aha was that I can go anywhere I want (musically), but I cannot stay where I am right now.
I better get some sleep…;)

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Old and New

Had an aha the other night. While I was giving away things, I suddenly felt buoyant. Like I was no longer trapped by things. Like I have the freedom to choose my destiny unfettered by the concern over what to do with my stuff. It’s the power to let go knowing I can pick it up if I suddenly need it later.

In a disposable society, it’s about choosing only to have things that matter. It’s an emotional shift as well as a physical one.

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Keeping Real

So I’m embarking on the next chapter of my life. Getting focused on being a serious violinist. Which, of course, means I need to get real about money earning. So I’ve got a new job and a new attitude about punctuality and focus. The brass tacks are that the job has to come first, because without money, nothing is possible. Pretending or overlooking that fact leads to nothing but debt, both financial and emotional. And it takes a toll on friendships to always be a charity case.

So the next step in my plan is to make a lot of money, save a lot of money, slowly pay off debts without getting so exuberant that I exhaust my savings and jeopardize my ability to pay off my debts. Because life happens and living at the limit is not sustainable. Essentially, somehow learning to have fun sleeping or sitting quietly in my own skin without spending a dime.

And of course, to practice violin a lot, face my demons, learn patience around delayed gratification. It may be 3 or 5 or 7 years before I attend conservatory, but at least I’ll be solvent. To my friends, my acquaintances and to my creditors. Yes, I’m facing the music that I need to get out of the financial hole that I’ve spent the last 22 years digging.

I was a perfect product of my university education. More about ideals than money. It’s cute when you’re young. Not so attractive when you’re old, fat, unemployed with outdated skills, penniless, maxxed out on the credit card, overdrawn on the bank account, with bad credit, without medical insurance, with every call a creditor including the cell they’re about to cut off, casting about with no life direction, and homeless. Essentially, I need to work to keep work. No money, no credit, no job means no housing, no car to sleep in, no food to care anymore. The next thing to go is your sanity.

And time to get real about looks. They matter. Period. I have a lot of weight to lose. I have to make my appearance a priority if I’m ever going to get a date. Clearly the “if I have children” has passed. With no spouse and no children, there will be no one to take care of me next time I fall. Money will be the only thing I can use to help others or myself. And I’m not young anymore. I need to stop postponing my health and just plan on health maintenance costs.

I’m beginning to realize that dating will need to be something I work at. I need to spend money on cosmetic procedures. To keep employment (and financial solvency), to have any chance at finding a date, and to prevent people from judging that I’ve “let myself go.”

Yes, I’ve got personality, talent too. But it’s never paid the bills or kept me company.

Part of me wonders if I should join a local church group so that I have people who will call and check on me. One that isn’t far away and focused around spending money. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve got, but they’ve got lives. I think I’m finally ready for nosy, pushy friends who call bs when they see me fake a smile or post a joke on FB when I really feel like screaming or crying.

The violin isn’t the solace it used to be. It’s hard work and not at all fun. I can’t play with abandon because I have to fret about bows, fingers, the metronome, the phrase. Vibrato, bow management, I’m so overwhelmed, I’m afraid to pick it up. I have to be like a parent making myself do it.

I don’t know where I was going with this post. I guess mostly that I’ve got 7 years of growing up to do while I work, pay debts, practice, fight my demons, lose weight and learn to parent myself. After I grow up, then I can find a date. A 7 year austerity program. Then I can be the friend I want. Responsible, mature, solvent, able to enjoy quiet evening at home (before I go to work in the morning). Boring, predictable, attractive and a contributor to society. Nothing to be excited about, just how to survive.

John Cougar Mellencamp’s song, “Jack and Diane” echoes through my head.

“Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ it’s gone.”

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