Holding On

I let go today

Fingers furled and frozen

From years of tightened grip

Heart wound tight

Around memories yellowed

With time and wear

I let go today

Of all that’s been my home

For more than forty years

Stories I’ve existed in

Wrapped my breath around

My world within the world

After free-falling through

Years of numbed experience

And manufactured bliss

Upon landing in reality

I look and realize all that time

I’d been holding on to nothing

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DayNineteen #seasons #leaves #holdingon #lettinggo

I Feel Lucky

I went to Greece this past August to reclaim a love of mine: cabaret singing.

If you’ve never been exposed to this incredible art form, I recommend you explore some. You will find many spectacular performers in all areas who also perform cabaret, especially in the major cities such as NYC, LA, Chicago, St. Louis.

A cabaret show (of the singing variety – not the topless kind) is a very intimate experience. There’s no “fourth wall” as exists in many other art forms. The cabaret singer is singing straight from their heart using their voice, body, guts and intelligence. Whether they sing with a pianist or there are other instruments added in, there is a deep connection between the musicians and the singer that is palpable. When it is done right, it is an improvised dance happening in the moment – between the audience, the singer, the musicians and the song. It can be hilarious, moving, exciting, thought-provoking, entertaining, heart-breaking. A great cabaret show will be all of that and then some.

Today I am getting my work out there by posting a clip from one of the songs I performed in Greece after an incredible week-long cabaret workshop that was taught under the direction of master teachers Lina Koutrakos and Beckie Menzie.

The week culminated in a casual show in a hotel lobby with a very-old-and-in-need-of-tuning-and-repair-but-charming-upright piano, a so-so microphone and our hearts and souls. It was wonderful, the audience was wonderful, the other singers were outstanding, and I? Well, I was in heaven, once again, singing cabaret style. (I sang “I Feel Lucky,” written by the incomparable Mary Chapin Carpenter, arranged by Rick Jensen with Beckie Menzie at piano adding her own special magic and flare.

It has been 15 years since my NYC debut solo cabaret show, “In the meanwhile…” I loved making that show, directed by Lina Koutrakos, arranged and played by Rick Jensen at piano and Mark Wade on bass. After having been around the scene for several years, and singing in several terrific trio and group shows, I put together my own solo show. It was to be the official beginning of my cabaret life. But other parts of my life went in other directions shortly after that show, and for many reasons, so did my creative focus.

My heart has yearned for it over these years. I made a few brief visits back for various performances. But for the most part, I was outside of the cabaret world, sending love to the many people I know and who I admire who have been and continue to carry the tradition forward these fifteen years. I was doing many other fulfilling and creative things, but a part of me was dormant and aching.

But finally my heart said, “It is time, already!” And so I said yes to Greece, yes to the workshop and yes to singing cabaret again. And I am so glad I did.

Look out, Cabaret. I’m back! This time, for good.

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DayFifteen #cabaret #passion #cabaretsinging #MaryChapinCarpenter #IFeelLucky #Iamlucky #linakoutrakos #beckiemenzie

Featured Image by Diane D’Angelo (who also happens to be an amazing cabaret performer!)

The Get My Work Out There Challenge

So it is officially Day Five of my Get My Work Out There Challenge.

And today, I am really gonna go out on a limb.

You see, I made a little video for day one on day one, but then I did not use it.

Why? Well, because of the very things that I am attempting to push through doing this challenge! Fear of being “too much”, too “self-centered.” Perfectionism. Concern that others will think it (aka “I”) am “stupid.” Just writing that makes it seem ridiculous. But trust me, these have held me back more times than I care to admit. But no more.

So I am posting it, on Day Five. Shocking, I know! Will the world stop turning on its axis?

It is NOT perfect. But I am GETTING IT OUT THERE!

What have you been sitting on? Come on, get it out there!! I double-dog dare ya!

#TheGetYourWorkOutThereChallenge #antiperfectionism #courage #createdaily

On Shame

I have been thinking a lot about shame.

Partly because I am only recently awakening to my own.

It is a new concept to me, and yet it has also been a part of me as far back as I can recall. I didn’t know that the sensations I had lived with for so long were actually a feeling, and not actually ME.

Sure, I had heard of it. Became a fan of Dr. Brené Brown years ago when her Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame went viral. (Brown’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world.) She is sort of the Queen of Shame and Vulnerability. She is also a fellow introvert. (And a fellow Texan.) Read more about her and her work here.

Brown says: “I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.”

Brown says she “became a shame researcher, because shame is the experience or fear of believing we’re not worthy of connection, and how people described their experiences of connection with me was by describing disconnection.”

Lately, I have been considering shame as being something that is getting in-between me and my desire to follow my talents as far as they can go into the world, as well as my desire to know and be known, to be intimate and have deep, meaningful relationships with people from a place of full authenticity. Once again, I am drawn to her work.

Again, in Brown’s own words: “One of the findings from my work that people get crunchy about is my belief that there’s no such thing as creative or not creative people. There’s people who use it, and people that don’t. I do believe – and this is where people get upset – that unused creativity is not benign. Ignoring that part of our humanity comes at a cost because, as you say, we are wired for creativity. It’s part of our DNA. My question is, if we are really wired to be creative, but people are not doing it, what gets in their way? So much of what gets in the way is shame.”

I have been at such a loss. I have healed so much of what stood in-between me and my desires, and yet still, I hold myself back again and again. So I am in a place now of asking what do I do about this?

Brown has developed the Shame Resistance Theory, or SRT, which she writes about in her book I Thought it Was Just Me, (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to I” am Enough”. [This article expands in detail on it.] What I take from it is that the way out is through vulnerability and connection, courage and empathy. Through recognizing shame and practicing critical awareness, recognizing our triggers, sharing our story with others, we grow our resilience to shame and develop empathy to build connection, courage and compassion.

Ah yes. So it will take more hard work and diligence. No magic pill, unfortunately, like the rest of this spiritual journey I have been on since birth and beyond. Great.

OK. I will dig deep and find the will to meet my shame head on. I have come this far. I am certainly not going to turn back now. Not sure yet what this will look like, but I am all in.

Who’s with me?

 #shamewarrior #theanswerisvulnerability

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Love Song

I stand here, on this rock,

Arms outstretched, ready,

Amidst tumultuous sea winds

Carrying voices from afar

I don’t feel safe I am too much I want to leave I call you out I am called out for calling you out

I am enraged I am ashamed

Don’t assign don’t degrade

I hear it all and my heart aches

I called it in to see and to hear

But there is something else

Yet to appear; it seeks an ear

It wants to be known

Will I hear it if I push away

The harsh voices that do harm

Where will they go if they aren’t heard

Crammed back into I am wrong This isn’t the place for this This isn’t the place for that

I called this into being

Can I now cherry-pick what comes my way

Or do I listen and guide

Find new ways of being with the parts that are the hardest to hear

I stand on this rock

My arms outstretched

And I listen again,

And I listen, I listen,

For all.

#evolution #healing

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In Passing

Today I passed an older resident on her way out of our building as I was coming in.

As I automatically prompted myself to say “Good morning,” I was aware of the conditioning that I learned growing up to respect those older than me kicking in, still, so many years later.

I was the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of two very stylish, very elegant women. I was taught, when with them and my mother, to hold the door for them to enter, or to step aside and honor their age. “Age before beauty!” was the motto that I learned.

I carry that in my system, alongside so many familial and societal conditionings. This one, I do not mind. I love it, in fact. I carry the tradition on easily.

As this woman passed by and returned my greeting with elegance and dignity and a public manner that is becoming extinct, I was moved, as I often am, by my sense of the world of experience that she carries within her.

I say becoming extinct, because the generation of my great-grandmother has passed away. My grandparents’ peers are probably almost all gone. Those of my parents’ generation do remain, but it is a fifty-fifty chance of whether or not they carried forward the kind of public demeanor and carriage that the woman has this morning. Perhaps she was my grandparent’s age. It is hard for me to gauge age. I feel eternally young inside, so often relate to others as if I am still that 14 year old. I passed her as if she was my Great-Grandmother. She was my Grandmother’s age, I think. Or maybe even my mom’s.

When I am her age, will someone pass by me and find something in my manner or expression that leads her to remember her grandmother’s generation’s “quaint” or old-fashioned ways? Or will I not even see her because I am still texting or taking selfies, even though I am sure in 20- 30 years those things will long-since been replaced by newer ways of communicating?

I wonder where such things are headed. What of my ways today will be no longer be observed on the whole when I am that woman’s age.

Will there be someone around my age now who appreciates the “old ways” as I do now?

I hope so.

I send her my appreciation in advance. I hope that when she passes me, we have an exchange, and she feels somehow touched by me on a deeper, human level.

#generations #customs #appreciation #olderpeoplerock

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The Pleasure Principle

As can happen, a second word has found it’s way to me for the year.

I have been happily living through my deeply-felt word for 2019, which is CORE. (You can read about my Word for the Year practice here and my word for the year here.) Didn’t think or know anything was missing. I was perfectly content with CORE. CORE is a big ask! A truly great word for the year. I was content.

Until I was given an exercise by someone I am working with (a Desire Catalyst!) and I realized that yet another word had found it’s way into my life and demanded my attention. And that word is PLEASURE.

I was given a very simple task: make a list of ten things that create a experience of pleasure for me.

Let’s look at the definition of PLEASURE, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

definition: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment:
“she smiled with pleasure at being praised”
synonyms:
happiness, delight, joy, gladness, rapture, glee, satisfaction, gratification, fulfillment, contentment, contentedness, enjoyment, amusement, delectation
adjective 1. used or intended for entertainment rather than business:
“pleasure boats”
verb 1. give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to:
“tell me what will pleasure you”

I totally get the definition. Yes, I know what that means. Sounds great!

Then I get to the synonyms. Whoa. Rapture? Glee? Gratification? Delectation?

Other than a few amazing culinary experiences and some lovely sexual activity that I have known on occasion, where I am finding that kind of PLEASURE in my life? In my day, even? And by finding I mean, where I am taking the time out of my day to seek experiences that are truly pleasurable? Uh oh.

Then I get to its use as an adjective. There’s a bit of a hint. How much do I allow myself to do out of a day that is not in some way associated with business. The business of acting. The business of the business of acting. The business of living. Of being. A lot of business and busi-ness in my life. 

Then I get to PLEASURE as a verb. Now, that is a whole other post for another day. Let’s just say, I am usually “too busy.” Or it becomes the business of being intimate. I mean, you can approach anything in a business-like way. Even sex. “Gotta fit it in.”  Not, I am going to take this hour and just play for pleasure. Nope, just another thing on my list of things to get done.

So what is up with that, I asked myself.

The good news is that I had no trouble creating a list.

That came pretty easy. Great! I have no trouble identifying things that give me pleasure.

The problem is that I have trouble giving myself the time and permission to actually let myself have or do them.

I had my list, and I looked at it, and realized that I rarely allowed myself the time to enjoy or do any of the things on my list. (And some of them were as simple as enjoying a glass of water!)

It turns out that I am fairly anorexic in the pleasure arena. I staunchly deprive myself of things that bring me pleasure. What does this mean exactly?

This Pleasure Practice idea seemed so simple.

Now I am realizing that I have a lot of unraveling to do. And simple does not always mean easy.

What comes up when I begin to give myself the time and space to choose one or two and commit to doing them for two weeks?

I was so overwhelmed at the thought of it! My Protestant forebears reeled back in rebuke. My Puritan roots bristled with disgust. A lifetime (and beyond) of judgement and condemnation rushed through my psyche, channelling all those familial, cultural, historical and societal influences that my ancestors lived through and that I was born into and surrounded by throughout childhood. Words flew across my mind like dark bats hitting the sides of a cave: glutton, whore, lazy, lowlife, no-gooder, disgusting, perverted.

You see, I come from people who believe that self-discipline and suffering are badges of moral merit. To live for pleasure — well, that would mean to be wasteful. My heart craved pleasure, but my cellular memory feared it.

So my Desire Catalyst suggested to just start with one thing on my list: I was to let myself enjoy one glass of water at 1 PM each day.

At the mere suggestion, something in me breaks, some dam inside that I had no idea was there, the dam holding back a thirst for pleasurable things. I cry a deep little cry as the realization follows that I have been living decades denying myself small simple pleasures in my quest for great things.

And then something else breaks through…and I know.

I have found my second word for the year. Or it has found me.

So here I go. 2019, the year of CORE and of PLEASURE. Just typing that makes butterflies in my belly. Who am I to want to have more PLEASURE in my life? I speak gently, but firmly to whomever asked that question within me: I am the person who is going to break this pattern of belief. I am the one who is going to blaze a new trail for all that came behind me. I am the one who is going to seek PLEASURE from my CORE.

I cannot wait to see where these two lead me.

#core #pleasure #wordfor20019

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