Thursday, April 26, 2012
My husband and I are finally moving this weekend, and I am beyond ready for the change! We've loved the cute townhouse we're lived in for the last 2 years, but being young musicians, we need a place where we don't share a wall with our neighbors. We've found the most adorable, tiny dollhouse close to downtown, and we couldn't be more excited about the transition-although it's going to be more of a change than we anticipated: the new place only has 800 square feet of space and barely any closet space at all.
I knew that I wanted the move to also be our chance to get rid of must of our junk, but that HAS to happen now-we just don't have the storage space to keep anything less than essential, and there's nothing like necessity to get us motivated! I must admit the process has been a tad painful; I'm realizing just how much emotion I attach to various objects. Maybe I'm mourning the loss of who I was when I bought a certain shirt or book or spatula, or maybe I'm terrified of living my life without them-totally unprepared for the time when I need them desperately. These are the emotions that drive me the battiest as I let go of things: sentimental guilt and needless fear-both, silly, useless emotions! If I save things for either of these reasons, I'll end up like the Junk Lady from the movie Labyrinth, with a mountain of stuff hunching me over and weighing me down for all eternity.
Instead, I've noticed that the stronger the emotional charge comes with a certain object, the better I'll feel once I let it go. And as elementary as an idea as it is, that sense of sweet release is helping me genuinely realize that this stuff has nothing to do with who I am-just like my pride in being voted Most Unique in high school, the contents of my professional and artistic resumes, my school GPA's, or the fact that my favorite color has always been green. These facts and all this STUFF just validate my flimsy illusions about who I am. However, when I let go of my personal story line along with all this silly junk, I'm still here. I don't actually vanish into obscurity; I simply become lighter, freer, and much happier.
Loosen your hinges, and let something go today!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind.
Hear the music of voices, the song of the bird, the mighty strains of the orchestra as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow.
Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail.
Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again.
Make the most of every sense.
Glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you!
"Three Days to See" Atlantic Monthly, January 1933
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
A while ago I started experiencing brief yet intense spells of vertigo for the first time in my life. There was no nausea involved, just the very real perception the entire world was spinning and flipping around me as I attempted to remain stationary and still. From the very first episode I was shocked at how transformative the moment was; I would suddenly be so disoriented and discombobulated, all I could manage to do was breathe-and hope the room would right itself. After the first few spells, I started feeling anxious about keeping my balance while exercising or even just walking; I was never sure when the craziness would strike and literally turn my universe upside-down.
It turned out that the cause of the Vertigo was the disruption and movement of tiny calcium crystals in my inner ear. The purpose of these crystals is to stimulate nerve cells during head movements, sending signals to the brain that guide spatial orientation. Sometimes these crystals fall into one of the the inner ear canals, and as they roll around, the brain senses that the head is moving more than it actually is, which results in an episode of Vertigo. Fortunately, I was able to eliminate the spells by using the Epley Maneuver, which involves finding the head position that causes the Vertigo and basically riding out the intense sensation till it fades naturally. At first, I hated doing this, but once my husband compared it to a roller coaster ride without the long lines, I found myself actually enjoying it!
I haven't had an episode of Vertigo in months now, but I still feel altered by my brief time of disorientation, and I am no longer nearly as certain of my place in space. I had no idea how much I take my sense of balance, my spatial abilities, and these magic calcium crystals all for granted. Now I realize that all the faculties that keep me upright and secure aren't nearly as solid and steady as I had previously assumed. However, the other side of the coin is the exhilarating rush of this amazing ongoing ride: cleverly hidden behind veils of mental and physical security is an immense, ever changing ocean of possibilities. The trick seems to be to simply smile and enjoy this ride, even if all you can manage to do is breathe.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I first heard of 'Notes on the Need for Beauty' when I was driving through the gorgeous Virginia countryside listening to AM radio. The author and artist, J. Ruth Gendler was doing an interview about the book, and after only a few minutes of her passionate eloquence, I knew this one was worth a read. That drive was over 3 years ago now, and this book has become one of my most revisited. In her previous work, 'The Book of Qualities,' Gendler breathes life into 70 different human qualities, taking psychology and personification where only an artist's imagination could. 'Notes' simply takes the quality of Beauty and delves deeply within and amongst the details of her depths.
Beauty can be found in every line of this book, and one can't help but be basically bombarded by beauty from every direction after setting it down. Even the categories of Gendler's thoughts on the subject, reflected by her chapter titles, are lyrical and lovely. She considers and examines light & darkness, beauty secrets, praising the beauty of the body, mirrors & windows, faces & masks, and forbidden beauty. Her obvious love of words makes the book read like sheet music, and numerous simple line drawings throughout seem to speak to our nonverbal selves and punctuate her prose perfectly.
Gendler gently lets us know that "Beauty comes from seeing the world without the filter of fear, and ugliness is seeing the world through the filter of fear. Beauty then becomes an act of courage, a willingness to see and be seen, a willingness to step forward, an act of honesty." She also notes that much of what is regarded as ugly is strong. "Ugliness, as much as beauty, stirs the emotions. Ugliness, like beauty, is a great teacher. Ugliness, perhaps even more than beauty, is in the eye of the beholder." More than anything else, this book has helped transform and expand my perception to the point that I can't help but see all the varied forms of beauty dancing around me all the time. This 'found' beauty surprises me, delights me, feeds me, soothes me, excites me, and keeps me inspired. Give this book a try, and watch your whole world bloom!
My heart, the universe
My mind, the stars
My soul, the sun
My blood, the moon
My bones, the world
My skin, the ocean
My heart, the universe
-Anonymous 5th Grade Student
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
As an actress, theatre graduate, and lover of all things thespian, the famous line, "All the world's a stage" constantly rings true in my heart. When my schedule juggling doesn't allow for as much artistic expression as I prefer, I find that special magic of the stage blessedly spills into more and more of my mundane moments-and the more the better! Personally, I find Improv Comedy to be one of the most daunting types of theatre, mostly because of the tremendous pressure put upon the player. However, many actors find the intensity of that pressure creatively liberating, which makes this highly respected art form amazing to watch.
Essentially, every moment of everyday is an improvisation; there is no script or blocking, but plenty to say and do-and incorporating some advice from the Improv comedy world could improve all of our days vastly!
Rule 1: The best way to look good is to make your fellow players look good!
In improv, there's no such thing as a mistake-any twist or turn can have it's rightful place, given a long enough scene. When someone throws an unconventional or unexpected idea out there, don't shut it down. Play with the possibilities instead; encourage and expand, and see where things go! If you treat others as if they are poets, geniuses, and artists, they will be.
Rule 2: Look for the game in the scene and play it.
There's a game going on in every moment: it's usually someone attempting to get what they want, but maybe someone is attempting to make light of a bad situation, or someone wants to tell a story. If you can figure out the game (and any rules involved), it makes it much more fun to play. And if you see an opportunity to play a game, especially an interesting one, try it out-and don't be surprised when everyone else catches on and starts to play too!
Rule 3: LISTEN!
You can't carry your part of the scene if you don't know what's going on. Rather than planning your next witty remark and waiting for the opportunity to blurt it out, actively listen to what the other players around you are saying. Genuine belly laughs come from finding connections; the beautiful thing about connections is that they can't be avoided, so don't force them-just let them emerge naturally. And don't just listen; listen to the whole idea in a statement and remember what the person is saying-that's where the connections really happen.
So play on, players!
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
-William "The Man" Shakespeare
As You Like It Act II, Scene 7