The Rule of 5 and Suzuki Practice

In an unexpected twist of fate, business became my career even though music and writing is my passion.  With that said, as I embark on my creative adventures, I find my business acumen quite helpful.  Just because you are in business, doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative, and it’s business that is going to help get my creative vision out into the world.

One of the things that I have come across in my business studies is Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule.  Essentially, if you study or do anything for 10,000 you will become an expert.  I believe there is a lot of truth in this; however, I think Alice Bradley has a better take on it:

“Gladwell didn’t distinguish between the type of practice that the musicians in our study did — a very specific sort of practice referred to as “deliberate practice” which involves constantly pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone, following training activities designed by an expert to develop specific abilities, and using feedback to identify weaknesses and work on them — and any sort of activity that might be labeled “practice.”
[…]

This distinction between deliberate practice aimed at a particular goal and generic practice is crucial because not every type of practice leads to the improved ability that we saw in the music students or the ballet dancers. Generally speaking, deliberate practice and related types of practice that are designed to achieve a certain goal consist of individualized training activities — usually done alone — that are devised specifically to improve particular aspects of performance.”-Alice Bradley, The Upgrade

I’ve been blessed with a deep love and passion for music, but never the talent to play.  Or so I thought.  My lack of ability stems from childhood piano lessons, where I simply, didn’t practice, because of my perfectionist tendencies.  I didn’t pick it up immediately, I made mistakes, so I stopped practicing.  I lacked discipline and grit to get through the sound of me sucking at piano.

As a Mom, I feel that it is important that one’s child learns an instrument.  My daughter was handed a violin at age five by a friend; a friend who also happens to be a brilliant Suzuki trained classical violinist.  She liked it, so we went with violin and I enrolled her in a local Suzuki program.  I didn’t want her to struggle with what I did, I figured starting her earlier would help.

What I didn’t realize almost four years ago now, that this decision would change our lives.

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The Suzuki method is a very methodical way of practice.  Every day we have several elements of our practice chart that we have to complete.  For example:  Twinkle variations, 5x a day, Song of the wind 3 x a day, focusing on one specific measure 10 x a day.  So on and so on.

I liked the structure of it, but several years in, without seeing my daughter progress as fast as I though she should, and a little annoyed by the slow methodical pounding away at each song, and repetition of each element, I questioned the method.   Anna wasn’t going to be a professional violinist.  Shouldn’t she just have fun?  Shouldn’t she move through songs even if she missed several notes?  I could see her begin to struggle as some of the other kids began to move quicker then her.  At the time I thought, maybe it was the teachers.  So like us as humans to place blame on someone else, rather then look at our own contributions, like…our lack of commitment to the daily practice.  Instead of 7 days a week, we were practicing more like three, and even then, not getting through everything.

As a single mom, with a busy career, I made many excuses for why we didn’t get our practice done.  The reality was, I wasn’t disciplined in my commitment to practice.  There were other factors our teacher were having a rough personal year, and I had a choice to make.  Do I stick with this group.  Three years, or do I try someone else.

So….Anna and I had a lesson with another teacher.  One that we both liked a lot.  Very talented; but, I walked away from that lesson feeling awful, like I was cheating.  Then I realized, I was cheating Anna and myself.  We had made a commitment, to a certain way of practice, and to a group, and to our teachers, and by God we were going to stick with it even when the practice was tough and our teachers were having a tough time.

That made all the difference.

When Anna struggled on an element, we just kept with it until we got through it.  When she cried and wanted to do something else, I gently reinforced that this was what we were doing.  It didn’t matter how challenging it seemed, every day, we would practice, even for a little bit…every single day.

It What’s the Rule of 5?
Picture a tree in your backyard that needs to be cut down. If you grab an ax and take five good swings at the tree each day, eventually you will chop it down. It may take a month to fell a small tree, while a big tree may take years to topple. The size of the tree isn’t the issue; the real question is whether or not you diligently take five swings at it every day.
For leaders, a primary challenge is to identify the five activities most essential to success, and then to practice them daily. The Rule of 5 doesn’t ask: “What are the five things I would like to do.” That’s a question related to passion. Nor does it ask: “What are five things I should like to do? That sort of inquiry uncovers your values. Rather, the Rule of 5 asks: “What are the five things I must like to do in order to be successful?” Posing this question cuts to the heart of the daily behaviors necessary to win in your chosen profession.
For example, to excel as an author, there are five things that must happen each day:
Reading
Thinking
Filing good material
Asking questions
Writing
If someone has raw talent as a writer, and practices these activities long enough, they’ll eventually find an audience for their work.-John Maxwell

It hit me.  Suzuki method was simply a practice in the rule of five.  Mastering an instrument is much like the parable of the tree and the woodsman.  Eventually the tree will fall if you swing at it every day.  Eventually you will learn anything if you dedicated yourself to practicing every single day. It may take you longer then others, based on the way that your brain is wired, but you will get there.  Consistency and discipline is the key.

As to fun, the fun is mastering something challenging.  It’s our job to find the fun in difficult things, it’s not fun’s responsibility to show up and take over for us.  It’s our job to bring the fun.

The rule of five can be applied to just about everything: your work, your passions, your relationships, your family.  Doing things with discipline and consistency will lead to understanding and mastery.

While my daughter has a Suzuki practice chart, I’ve taken this one step further with myself.  I have my own form of practice chart.  A list of those things I do every day to further my own success, creatively, career wise, and in my interpersonal relationships. First I had to decide what I wanted, the type of life I wanted to lead, and the type of person I wanted to be.  Once I figured that out then I could begin my own practice.

I used to be a person obsessed with outcome, and with that, I gave up on a lot of things when I didn’t see the outcome I thought should happen when I thought is should happen.  Now I’m finding great joy in the journey, not the destination.  The practice is the destination and happiness flows from this focus on the daily practice.  Getting up at 5:30 AM, writing, reading, leading myself and my daughter, etc.  Happiness is practicing violin without judgement, practicing and focusing, and with it we are finding that not only are we both progressing in our musical exploits, but in life as well.  I am happier, I am more at peace, I am enjoying being alive and learning.

Anna and I are both leaning one of life’s most important lessons, the lesson of commitment and follow through.  The promise of commitment and follow through is the reward of self-mastery.

 

 

I Know We Are Creative Genius’…But We Have to Get Organized!!

” I know that we are creative genius’ in this house Mom…but we have to get organized!”  I was exasperated, my morning getting my artsy 8 year old around had blown up in a barrage of disorganized chaos, that left us scrambling to simply get clothing on our backs.  Granted, me, her 38 year old artsy mother wasn’t much help.  By the time I looked up from latest and greatest writing piece, it was 7:20 a.m.  Yes, yes…I was writing in the morning… yes I should have been ironing my clothing, yes I should have been brushing my teeth.  But my pen called me.

However….creativity does not mean a lack of discipline, and sometimes for us creative types discipline sounds oh so dull.  We much rather be creating something or experiencing the emotionality of the sun yawning light pink on its rise.

 

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That was my morning three weeks ago, after 3 weeks of mindfulness and practicing discipline, my morning was different, but with a “twist of whimsy”.  Which by the way is a nice name for a cocktail or the bar I want to open which serves both alcoholic and  non-alcoholic libations for those of us who like the atmosphere of drinking, but don’t want the alcohol…but I digress.

I had been practicing discipline, working to break old habits.  Like staying up late, or sleeping in too long.

The discipline of going to bed earlier made it easier for me to get up in the morning and write.  I didn’t feel so rushed and scattered when I first got to work.  The discipline of laying my clothing out the night before and my daughters took one less stress off of us.  There was  freedom in it actually.  I had more time to do what I loved, like reading and writing.

We weren’t late on the way out the door this morning, we were all dressed by 7:20.  In fact, A was dressed at 7 a.m.  and keeping herself occupied in the living room, I had done my writing already because I woke up earlier, and was getting together my finishing items before walking out the door with her when I walked into the kitchen and there was A…with her school binder in the sink.

“What are you doing?”  I inquired with a shocked look on my face.

“I’m making my binder pretty.”

“By running water on it?”

“Well…the sparkles needed water.”  Sure enough, she had sparkle glue inside it.  I gently took the binder away.

“A…this has your school work in it, you will get it all wet.”

“Hmmmmm….well…it’s art.”

I had no idea what sort of medium she was going for, but it was at that time I noticed the living room.  Art box was out, supplies all over the table, half-eaten oatmeal, dolls and Bun Bun passed out on the couch with the cat, who was high on catnip.  A whole bag of catnip strewn all over the white couch and the cat wallowing in the glory of it, totally stoned.  When I walked in she rolled on her back to expose her belly gave me a sly look, then collapsed back into the couch purring in pleasure.  In a matter of an hour, my clean organized living room turned into a catnip den of iniquity and a tornado of breakfast and crafts.

How did this happen?

Art, an eight year old, and well…the fact that you can discipline the artists, but they are still creative genius’s and creative types need a bit of mess to work in sometimes.

And I laughed, joyfully so.

Part of life is perspective.  Yes, I had made great strides to not be rushing around each morning.  Yes, I was able to wake up drink my coffee, journal at a leisurely pace, and prepare myself and A for school on time…but we still couldn’t get out of the house yet without leaving a bit of a mess behind.

And that is okay.

 

Words Kept and Following Through

“Will you have the whole living room clean when I get back from Krogers?”

“Yes!”  She looked up from her I-Pad with sweet angelic blue eyes.

“If I were you, I would put the I-Pad down and start as soon as I leave, there is a lot to clean-up.”

“Yep, I know…I’ve got it.”  So I left to get dinner and bubble gum toothpaste, and Trolls mouthwash.

About 15 minutes later, I opened the front door into the living room and there was my daughter still in the chair with the I-pad in hand.  The only thing put away was her violin and music bag.

“A…is this room clean?”  She looked a little nervous.

“No.”

Normally, I would be irate, but I paused and thought, this is an amazing opportunity to teach her.  I could see her brace for what she was sure would be a tounge lashing.

I was full of peacefulness.  All my mindfulness work was starting to come in handy in moments when my emotions typically ran high.

“A…give me the I-Pad.  You will lose this privilege now for three days.  Now I want you to clean-up this room.  After it is clean I will tell you what will happen next.”

She scramble to clean up the room as I went to put away the groceries.

“Mom…it’s cleaned.”

“Thank you.  Now I want you to go to your room and think about what has occurred.  When you come out I want you to be able to answer three questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. Why did it happen?
  3. What choice are you going to make next time?

Her eyes began to well up with crocodile tears for the first time since I came home and found the incomplete task.

“Do you need 5 minutes or 10 minutes to think about it?”

“10 minutes,” she whispered.  I nodded.

“Okay, I’m setting the timer for 10 minutes.  When it goes off I will come in and talk about your answer to the three questions.”  I shut the door to her room and began getting some chores done.  There was no anger about it at all, I saw in her what we have all done at some point in our lives, put off what we should do for the sake of our own pleasure.  I myself had been guilty a time or two.  But the importance of this lesson was something she would carry her whole life.  The lesson of, ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say.’  I was working on this too, even as an adult.  For me, part of good character was following through on my promises to do something.  I recently had an event where I failed to do this.  I wanted A to begin working on this now, but not from a place where I shamed her into doing the right thing.  A place where she wanted to do the right thing.  That was why I refrained from any sort of angry voice or judgement.  I simply wanted her to look at what transpired and show her how it could affect herself and others.

The timer when off.  I walked into A’s room, she had her rosary in hand and looked up at me.

I”m ready to listen now.”Well…I,..I…I didn’t clean the room.”

“Why didn’t you clean the room?”

“Well…I thought you just wanted me to put the violin bag away, so…”

“Is that the truth?  A…when I walked out the door, I told you to clean the whole room.”

A tumult of tears.

“No…no…I just wanted to play on my I Pad…that’s why I didn’t clean the room.”

I looked at her with all the warmth in my heart.

“A’ thank you for telling me the truth.  I am so proud of you for telling me truthfully what happened and being honest.  Now…why would I be upset by what happened?”

“Because I told you I would do it.”

“Yes, I and I was looking forward to coming home and seeing your good work.  I was disappointed to see that you didn’t do what I asked.”  At the word disappointment she burst into tears again.  “What choice are you going to make next time when I ask you to do something?”

“I’m going to do it.”

“That’s a good choice.  I know next time you will make a better choice.  This is important because when you tell people you are going to do something and you don’t do it, they tend not to trust you…even if you didn’t mean any harm by it.  Your word is important.  Keeping your words consistent with your actions will make your life peaceful and happy…for you and for others.  Now, would you like a hug?”

She smiled and nodded.  I wrapped her up in a mama bear hug, kissed her on the forehead, went and got her dinner.

The rest of the evening was smiles, discussion of casting spells on her friend K, and a full hour of musical practice-the best we had yet, bath, a movie and bed.

One bad moment doesn’t have to ruin a whole evening; just like one wrong note doesn’t ruin a song.

 

One more parenting hurdle down, only ten more years of them to go.

Beauty in Boundaries

“I think I know more about cars then you..Bitch!!”

It didn’t surprise me, it didn’t phase me, as I stood in my driveway hearing my ex-husband utter the words that I had not heard out of him since we divorced. I turned around and walked into my house and closed the French Red door behind me, sat in my reading chair in the bay window nook and waited for him to leave.

He was frustrated because I questioned why he didn’t do what I requested.  A simple question came with at least 25 excuses as to why I asked what needed to be done, wasn’t done, and why my car still had issues when he dropped it off at my house after having it for three days.  I was irritated to be sure, he offered to take the vehicle in to the shop himself when I already had an appointment.  I didn’t request that he take it, he offered.  Against my better judgement, I allowed him to take the vehicle and when it came back, not fixed, I was annoyed.  But more annoyed by the myriad of excuses as to why what I ask to be diagnosed was not run through a diagnostic with a technician.  One of those excuses being, that I didn’t know what I was talking about when it came to cars.

This was the icing on the cake of a man who had been creeping on my boundaries for weeks now.  As a person that works for peace and reconciliation when there is conflict, I found myself allowing my ex to come into my home, sit on the couch, use my grill, use my washing machine when I was not home, inch by inch, slowly I found him feeling too comfortable in my house.  It had been bothering me for weeks.  Why did I do this?

Boundaries…always an issue with me.

His texting had become more frequent, his phone calls often…and I didn’t like it. Finally, only a couple of days before this interlude he asked me why I was being so standoffish.  And for once, with him, I told the truth….”N…while I’m glad we are friendly, we can’t be friends.  We can be civil and polite, we can discuss Anna, but I don’t want to be your friend.  And I don’t ever want to get back together with you (a few weeks earlier, he discussed still loving me…which made makes me rather sick to think about, because…his love is some messed up version where I’m a dog he praised and kicked when he felt like it).  I never loved you.  That’s the truth of it N.  I was immature, I was scared, and under the influence most of our relationship.  That wasn’t love.  So I hope you can use this information to move on with your life, find someone who loves you…really loves you…because I never did.”

Harsh…yes…but true.

And reminded me painfully of someone I loved who said similar words to me, and finally I understood him.  I understood the truth of his words to me.  I was living my own karma.  I understood the beauty in boundaries.  I felt a certain release after saying it.  I had to protect my energetic space from a man who desperately was trying to steel pieces of my joy and life.  I realized I had been N…I had very much been him for months.  I had even acted like him at times, the thing I hated most about him was really just the thing I hated most in myself.  I could have compassion for him, I could understand.

When he called me a bitch only a couple of days later, it didn’t feel good, but I didn’t fight back.  I simply went to my mindful space in the reading corner of Magnolia House and thought.  “I’m not a bitch…I’m a person who sometimes get frustrated, and I’m allowed to be frustrated or angry.  But I’m good hearted and I’m not a bitch.  I don’t deserve to be called a bitch.  That’s not who I am.”

He called.

I picked up the phone, listened to him apologize and how my behavior made him call me that name, and why did I always have to destroy his peacefulness, and on and on and on….as I listened.

Then I said, “We are going to not speak for awhile, what you called me was never acceptable, nor appropriate.  I do not share my space with people who belittle or demean me by calling me names.”  He started getting angry, raising his voice, I could hear the venom spitting at his phones ear piece as he became more and more upset, saying more horrible things.  I stopped him once more, “There is nothing that can be accomplished by continuing to talk about this further.  Again, we will not speak for some time.  Thank you.”  I hung up the phone.

Later that evening, I received a text from him outlining the reasons why he was so sorry, and how he wanted to make amends, and every other reason as to why I should forgive him.

I was conflicted.  My nature is to heal hurts and find peace between people.  But…I was at peace.  I was not angry, I did not hate him.  My boundary was that I needed space, and here he was once again crossing my boundary.  This was a line I had to hold.  I had much to think about…did I just not respond?  Did I go cold and silent?

I got quiet and mindful once more.  Listened to my own guidance which said…

“Go to sleep.”

So I did.  And got up in the morning and texted him a simple response.

“As I stated, we will not speak for awhile.  What was said is the reason for this.  If we speak it will be about Anna only.”

And that was that.

I am coming to believe that the most loving thing you can do for yourself and others is to be truthful.  Also, having boundaries is loving yourself.  Because I honor and respect myself, I will not be in the company or friendly with people who are not so with me.  There was a time that I believed the things that N would say about me, and this was because I didn’t have a good sense of self.  So, when he said I was a bad person, I tended to believe him.  I must be, why else would he say such horrible things about me?

But when you start to understand that you are not the monster that someone else’s anger would like to make you out to be, and your soul starts to step up and run the show, when someone says unpleasant things to you , you start to realize…you are not the words that they are saying….they are just very hurt.   Their hurt is complex, and it’s not your job to fix it.  It’s not your job to make it better for them.   Once I learned this lesson, staying calm in the middle of a narcisstic rage from my ex was easy.

The people in your life are mirrors, and sometimes you are not going to like what you see in them.  Sometimes the thorn in your side is just a thorn on the stem a rose, the rose being your own enlightenment.  Out of the mud blooms a lotus.  I made a conscious decision to be grateful for the experience that was happening, a conscious decision to say, this is all happening so that I will learn and grow and be better for it all.  These unkind words are an opportunity; an opportunity to finally slay my own inner demons.  So, I have to thank N, and those people who I have thought have hurt me…they really were the best teachers I ever had, teaching me the most valuable spiritual lessons.

The days have been quiet and I am grateful for it.  A new confidence and discipline has come into my life since this event.  One where I can hold boundaries without fighting, without saying mean things to people when they upset me, I can peacefully maintain my boundaries and discipline myself to respect others boundaries.  That in itself is a beautiful form of love.

R+J=Love Lessons

“Mommy, why did he kill himself?”  In the darkness I could hear the tiny whisper of a little girl behind me.  It was the final act of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, I found myself surprisingly teary eyed.  I had seen so many versions of Romeo and Juliet, that the fact that this version brought me to tears surprised me.  The little girl’s mother responded, “Because he has a broken heart.  He doesn’t want to live unless Juliet is with him.”

A few moment’s later Juliet awoke to find Romeo dead.  After she takes the dagger into her heart, there is this beautiful moment where she crawls up to Romeo’s body, lies back with her head on his chest and wraps his lifeless arms around her as she dies. There she was, lovingly wrapped up in the arms of her beloved.  This is when the tears fell.  Maybe because I knew this feeling that the ballerina was portraying.  This feeling of coming home.  I knew the feeling of Romeo, this heartbreak, this not wanting to continue on without this great love of your life.

It seemed poignant that my conversation with my dearest friend before the show was about moving on after heartbreak, after meeting your very own Romeo, and having that relationship end.

“How do you get over it?”

“You don’t.  You just learn to live with it.”  I responded to my friend.  It was true.  I had spent almost a year now coming to terms with a relationship ending with someone I loved as passionately as Juliet loved her Romeo.  After months of contemplation, trying to shove it down, some how eradicate this feeling, I finally let go, stopped trying to dagger my own heart, and let it be.

Sure, you can read all sorts of articles about forgiving, moving on, don’t think about it, you will get over it.  Articles that give you tools to remove this feeling that you will eventually not love or desire this person.

I suggest the opposite.  I suggest that you come to terms with love’s true nature, if it is true love…it doesn’t end.  It doesn’t stop, it doesn’t go away.  There is absolutely nothing you can do but accept it.

What I learned is, you just don’t get over that type of love.  You learn to live with it.  You learn to say, ” I love you” to the wind and then put on your best dress and go out to dine with friends.  You recognize how incredibly beautiful and special that love was, and you honor it by not settling for anything less then it, even if that means solitude.   You wonder if you will ever experience anything like it again, maybe you will, maybe you won’t, it was and is the realest experience you have ever had, and you can’t cheapen it by mindless dating or relationships that are inadequate fill-in for the type of connection.  A connection where souls whisper to each other in the dark.  Yes, that love is worth giving your life for, but not in the way that Romeo and Juliet do.  That love is worth giving your whole self over to it.

There is nothing you can do to alleviate the loss of it.  You surrender to it, you realize you are powerless over it.  You realize that you will always desire that person, want them, long for them.  But you also realize that there is nothing you can do but accept that they are no longer with you, by their own choice.

Which drives you a bit crazy because logically, it doesn’t make any sense to continue to love someone who doesn’t love you back or doesn’t love you enough to be with you through every obstacle that life throws up.  Your mind keeps pounding at you, let it go!

But…

Letting go is actually letting it be.  Stop fighting it.

Letting go is remembering him kissing you and smiling and then going back to what you were doing.  Letting go is remembering the shape of his hands and his back in the morning light, and the feeling of your forehead pressed up against the back of his neck as you breathed him in.   Letting go is remembering watching him as he slept and how beautiful you thought he was, then getting up in the morning without him and going to work.  Letting go is loving and letting yourself live anyway.

No, you don’t get over a great love. You recognize the true magic and brilliance of that connection because it does stay with you, come what may.  There is a peace in knowing that you did love another so much that even nine months after their departure you still wake up some mornings with the scent of them in your nose or you think you see them in a crowd and your chest is filled with butterflies.  Yes, some connections cannot be broken, even by your own stubborn mind.  And that is just how it is.

You love and you live your life.  Questioning why you love is like asking for an answer to the unexplainable, it’s like asking someone to explain God.

 

Butterflies=the start

I was revising another job description for our agency.

Crafting language, revising, rewriting, reformatting, when it hit me.  This description looked utterly different and 100 times better then the first one I did when I first began writing them.  I’d made mistakes, I’d scrapped older versions, I’d started over, kept the basics.

Then of course, like I always do, I related it back to relationships of which, unlike job descriptions, I have not been successful at.

However, in my many experiences I have narrowed down some key factors that I believe are necessary for success; at least for me.  And it’s simple really.  I’ve boiled it down to at least two items.

1.Look for butterflies.

You know, that feeling when you heart beats a thousand times a minute when you see your beloved.  The kind of feeling you get when you are energized just thinking about them, and then you can’t stop thinking about them.  Their beauty, their humor, that funny expression they make, the way they smell.

2. Find your own JF…Jaime Frasier.  Look for someone who doesn’t leave…period.

Yep, that person that when you drive them absolutely nuts, or infuriate them with your own humanness…they don’t leave.  Sure, they may want to take a belt to your backside, but they still don’t leave.  They can’t, because they know…life without you in it…just is not as colorful.  They further know that ever minute without you, even you being an occasional asshole, in their life is like living with a huge hole in your heart.

And this is why…

Relationships are a lot like job descriptions.  They have basic elements that will always remain, but expectations and duties will change, and the more you write them the better you get.

The more you do anything in life, the better it gets.  Relationship with those you love are no different.  The more mistakes you make, and the more you do it, the better you get.

You see…mistakes…errors…are how you get better and how you learn.  So pick a man or a woman that will be by your side when you eventually say something incredibly stupid, or totally fall flat on your face, loose your job, make a huge social faux pas.  Find someone who knows you and expects you to be a raging absolute asshole…or stupidly self centered.  We all are at some point.  But also knows, this “jerk” within is just a cover for true self, which is good and kind and loving, and just a scared little kid.

They will find a way to communicate with you…they will find a way to make it work.  If they love you, because love just is.

 

 

A Cincinnati Rain

It was a beautiful stormy night.B73387E9-4C3A-47AF-93E7-D5EB668ACCC2

A Cincinnati rain on the pavement sounds very much like the solid applause of the audience after a great symphonic  performance at Music Hall.  Steady, then occasionally rising in thunder as a soloist takes his bow.

Music Halls walls have had stories coursing through its veins for 130 years; it’s structure aches with art and emotion.  Its a live thing that has always filled me with a sense of peace. A place I go when I want to simply be myself and happy.  It reminds me of home, , where elegance and passion, and beauty and mud and mire coexist.  It is a building that is exquisitely beautiful and grand, yet made so by the labor of thousands of souls that have turned on the lights, swept the stage, pulled worn bows across worn strings, thrust the power of a heartbeat into percussion, and blown their own breath of life into to horns and woodwinds.  It is a building that is humanity in sound and motion.

As I sat perched in the heights, blending into the 2500 person crowd, I was very alone and connected at the same time.  I had mastered the art of singleness.  Very strange that I had to learn to master it as an adult.  We are born single and manage it very happily through most of lives, until some of us don’t.  My reasons for this uncomfortableness of being alone are a long an winding tale of which would be a book rather then a blog post.

Interestingly enough, I was finding it wasn’t just me that had an issue with alone.  When I offered my lone subscription ticket up to my mother for the Saturday concert, she bulked and said, “Oh thanks so much, but I wouldn’t want to go by myself.”  I was a bit shocked by that phrase.  Going by myself to events is what I did, if I didn’t, I would miss out on some of the best experiences of my life.

I was beginning to actually like it, this by myself thing.  I found that other people were more uncomfortable with it than I was.  But really, was it so strange?  Many a notable and powerful woman either chose a single life or found themselves in it after a spouse had died, or they lost someone they truly loved.  Queen Elizabeth comes to mind, but as a single woman she wasn’t without companions.  Being single doesn’t mean being alone for me anymore, it means being whole.  Mastering your own wholeness is a gift.  And once you have, it’s freeing.  A world where I have found myself most fully alive and busy making my own art.  So much so, that I won’t settle for anything less then magic in my friendships or relationships.

Magic is that wonderment and excitement that surrounds those people who are cut from the same fabric of stars as you.  You know these magic tribe members by the feeling of excitement that you get from a conversation, how you can loose yourself for hours in interesting and laugh filled jabbering.  Self consciousness is thrown out the window with magic people. Magic people find you when you are busy with doing what you love.  For me that was writing, attending art gallery openings, photographing the city, playing in the digital darkroom, learning new things, reading a good book, heading off to the Mercantile, cycling, running…figuring out my next transformation, or listening to beautiful music.

The first act was…well…not so good.   But the typical Cincy crowd stood to attention like they always do, even after a bad performance.  I can’t figure out if they don’t know it’s bad, or they are just overly polite.

The second half was poetry in motion, the kind of music that made my soul rise up in my breast till it beat against my skin longing to escape into the sound.  This is the place where I am most me, lost in intonation, and notes, wandering in the musical landscape my head creates when embodied with sound that is full of passion and energy.

I left feeling…well…very happy, inspired to go home and finish a story I was working on.

Music was my muse.  I think we always fall most in love with our muses.  I have also come to believe that the person you choose in your life to be your partner should also be your muse.   Find your muse and your life will become more the masterpiece that it already is.  And when you meet that muse, make sure to recognize them and cherish them as the gift that they are, even if they are a bit infuriating.

Some of us can settle for less than a magic muse, some of us are comfortable with the simple comforts of steady, reliable….boring…

But then there are people like me…who well…require a muse and a bit of magic.

A man who can sneak into the secret passage ways of music hall with me, stumble upon names etched into the brick, touch the walls, and feel the story of all those who came before us.

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Till that time…

I’m busy making my own magic 🙂