What I Learned About Vulnerability from Singing

photo(230)I have been singing my whole life.  It brings me joy to let my voice flow out in song.  Singing is a form of grace for me.

Then why am I resistant so often to get up on the stage and sing?

Sometimes, I do not wish to sing.  Sometimes I am annoyed and want to stay quiet and go within.  Sometimes I feel stuffy and my singing sounds bad.  These are a couple of things that show up when I am preparing myself to sing.

And then, add to that singing with my husband in our vocal duo WoodSong.  A whole new layer of issues arises for me. Such as, our relationship “stuff”, differences in practicing schedule planning, our different working styles for bringing in new music and the worry about being good enough. You would think after years of working together, that that would dissipate.  But it doesn’t.

It is one thing to wrestle with your own demons when you work by yourself, and still another to join in with one more vulnerable soul.  Top that off with putting yourselves out there in front of a crowd for everyone to actually see and experience your vulnerability.  Some days it is surprising to me that I even sing at all!

But I do sing out…and I love it!

Here is what happened recently as I took time to reflect (while singing at a recent gig!).

Standing on the stage as we began some of the thoughts that run through my mind were these:

Are there enough people here?

Will they leave if we are terrible?

Will they like us or are they here to judge us?

We have been asked to turn it down already!

Those first few notes we sang…uggg…!

There are emotions attached to every moment while thinking these random thoughts. While singing, I have to smile through it ALL and deal with the emotions that come up while staying true to the music.  I want to communicate with the audience the emotions and feelings that are within the music.

Then, my mind begins talking, taking me out of my singing zone and messing with me physically; meaning I lose focus on the mechanics of singing and start to falter.  My singing partner, (my husband!) looks at me and sends me messages with his eyes. (What does THAT look mean???) All of this is happening while singing in front of a group of people who I feel are judging me.  It can be exhausting…

However, from what I know about those voices that crop up, I find that it is MY projection of how I feel I am singing.  Those thoughts of how I am feeling are all in MY mind.   I start to see that I project my own thoughts and emotions onto others in the audience and also my singing partner.

During that same gig, I began to think about stage performers and anyone who stands in front of an audience to perform or present.

We have NO idea what they have just been through before they stepped onto the stage.  We have NO idea how they prepared for this presentation. We cannot get into their heads.  All we have is our own perceptions which come from our own experiences. And we “sense” their emotion through their body language and/or the emotions they attach to their performance.  But we can only make assumptions…and usually, they are false.

We only have the thoughts in our own mind.  I only know what I am thinking. Sometimes performers touch our hearts with their singing, acting, presenting and sometimes not.  However, that is OUR perception based on what we need at the time.  They are being vulnerable each time they stand in front of us to share a bit of themselves with us.  And this is enough.

Back to being that vulnerable performer.

What I have discovered is that it is about setting intention as I step onto the stage.  I decide how I will BE.  What I must HAVE to be prepared for a performance.  Then, what I will DO to create this moment in time for myself and the audience.

You can be as prepared as you want.  However, there are always outside forces to be met with.  The audience and their energy, your own issues that you bring to the stage and any partnership you are in as you perform.

Vulnerable, vulnerable, vulnerable…

Yet, when you set the intention to give your best performance from where you are right now, it is just that.

Your best.

…and that is all that we can ask of ourselves.

Going Within

hermit

This is the time of year (in the western hemisphere!) when it is dark for longer periods of time.  It is a time to go within.  Look around inside of ourselves and see what we see.  Here are the 5 ways I support my own time going into my inner creative self.

We all need:

  1. Time to go within-to be in the present moment
  2. Time to sleep and rejuvenate- rest in the knowledge of our accomplishments
  3. Time to think and reflect back on the year
  4. Time to reflect on this past year
  5. Time to begin to set in motion the actions for the coming months

Bring in the present moment acknowledging your breath right now.  Meditating even for five minutes to capture where you are right now renews your thoughts and clears your mind.  Stop for a moment at the start of each day and receive the gifts that are right there…in that moment.

Rest when it becomes darker.  The darkness is a sign for our bodies to rest.  Take time to complete tasks in order to close the door and lay down to sleep.  It is a gift you give your body time to rest and to dream.  Perhaps take this restful time to notice your dreams as you sleep a good 8 hours.  You may receive a gift of clarity that was lost under the bustle of your busy days.

Take time to reflect on your accomplishments for this year.  What has your life looked like?  What were the things that brought your great joy?  Great sorrow?  What have you learned?  Find a way to record these reflections.  I find that writing them (from memory) in my journal or looking back through my past journal entries shows me what a full life I am leading and creating.  I can then celebrate these gems of discovery.

The final step is to create action steps.  What do you wish to set in motion for the coming months?  What did you notice upon your reflections that will move with you into the next year?  What do you wish to let go?

Going within.  Being in the present moment.  Resting.  Reflecting.  Creating action step to reveal the path of your life right now and into the future.

Drama and Emotions Hooking Us In

I love a good dramatic show or storyline.  Intense characters that hold me in suspense until the shocking turn of events, hanging on the every word of the storyteller as the climax of the story hits, or a great ending that I didn’t expect based on the characters “dramatic” emotions.

These are all based on real –life somehow, right?  However, when this emotional drama shows up in my life, I see how it leads me astray.

I am talking about the high energy that is in others and in me; the stories that take me away from my focus,  the stories told by others that hold them in their “drama”, my own fears that turn into “drama” that overwhelms my emotions.  The world is filled with this “drama” designed to lead us away from our truth.

You know the stories:

  • Gossip is happening in the break room and you want to be a part of it, knowing that no real good will come of it; whipping up your emotions and the emotions of others with the negative energy.  But you SO want to fit in and feed that emotional, social pull.
  • Working on something that is important to you and you hear your kids fighting, so you get up to “check it out” taking on their drama, losing your valuable time and your mood becomes foul.
  • A friend calls, you are focused on something for your creative self, you see her number on your cell…knowing she always has a good “drama” going on and you take the call…pulling yourself away for hours of chat then hanging up with no real resolution.
  • Side-tracking yourself as your sit to write in your journal by asking a question from an emotional state to your spouse or partner  (as they head out the door)and starting an old argument that re-occurs each time you bring up the topic
  • Turning on the news, or getting side-tracked into a debate about politics when you wish to be doing your creative work

Does it ever feel that way to you?  Allowing drama and emotions to hook you in and take you off of your path?

You may be thinking you are reflecting on something, maybe getting an emotional release of some kind, but it turns out to be ADDING to the emotional state in a negative way.  When you attempt to get back to the task you WERE working on, your emotions are all jumbled and running your thoughts.  Your body is filled with the emotions and sends impulses that are agitating.  Then, you cannot get back to your original task…too many emotions, too much time has gone by, you simply cannot focus.

If I begin to believe a false truth, or hook into my own emotions or someone else’s, I bring in emotions that are counterproductive to my work.  If I allow this to happen, I begin to design my life around the negative thought patterns.  Some of my life has been built up with a great many “ways of being” around this “false truth” and I am working to change that….take down that false creation and build again.

If I wish to create every day, I need to know my truth.  I need to be aware of the emotional “drama” that goes on around me and within me.  I need to be mindful of this to remain on my path.  (Easier said than done!)

In order to be at peace, to find those inner moments to create, I must have the following in place:

  1. Holding true to my routine
  2. Knowing my truth
  3. Turning the TV, news, radio…off!
  4. Gentle reminders to my family of how I wish to be treated
  5. No complaining, drama gossip, whining (my own drama) allowed

This holds me to my focus.  When the “drama” and emotions whip up around me, I can remain the eye in the storm.  I can remind myself of what my task is and stick with it.

As I see a drama beginning to unfold, I need to watch.  I need to see where the truth lies within me.  I need to let the story unfold and then I need to reflect back on my truth.  What part of this drama serves my truth?  What part of this story is emotional overload and does NOT serve my truth?

Yes, those stories that “pull us in”, those dramas on TV and in the movies and those amazing page turning novels…they are based in real life situations.

However, that emotional pull needs to be left to the world of the dramatic arts.  When I am working on my own life, a little less drama is needed.  A little more peace and focus keeps my emotions calm and supports me in getting my creative work accomplished.

 

Creative Organization

shapesprint color diving down   stampsbird

 

I like to organize.
  • Budgeting
  • Scheduling
  • Planning
  • Systems
  • De-cluttering

I like to create.

  • Dancing/movement
  • Painting/drawing
  • Taking pictures
  • Writing
  • Singing/song writing
  • Dreaming

 

I see these two ways of thinking separately –AND- I see these two ways of thinking as integrated.

For so many years, I have thought about my “left brain” doing all of the organizational pieces.  While my “right brain” did all of the creative pieces.  While I DO believe that I need time to focus on each separately, when I begin to explore these patterns, I notice something.  Each side shows up.  Yep, even if I am doing something completely rote and routine, I begin to notice the creative elements creeping in.  And when I am immersed in something that seems wholly creative, I notice that an order shows up…or how to build a system or structure around the creating runs through my thoughts.

I have been watching the “patterns” in my life.  I see that I need to devote time to “organizing”.  Yes, this is important as a creative thinker like me.  I have to literally assign myself time in my calendar to organize.  It is not my most natural way of being, like it is my way of “doing”, and it is necessary to creating structure to my days.

Even though it is difficult, I see the ways that I really LIKE organizing.  It can be fulfilling in and of itself.  Setting up the routines, checking tasks off a list, maintaining a budget and scheduling the days and weeks…this can all be very satisfying!  Yet, even as I work through these rote tasks, I notice that my mind can wander.  I notice that I begin to think of ways to make the tasks more fun OR I come up with new creative ideas…you know, those things that pop into your mind and help you solve a problem?  Or are a new way of seeing something?

Now, taking a look at my creative side (where I would like to spend the majority of my time!) I see how this actually is structured in many ways.  There is the time I just draw, paint, dance, dream…just because.  Then, there are the times I structure a 30 day creative challenge for myself!  Taking time out of each day to do one creative act that is calling out to me is a favorite, or taking an e-course or live course in an area that is of interest.  This begins to build in the “structure” for creating….huh…both sides of my brain are really integrating!!!  Cool…

I have read a lot on the power of the brain and how the two sides work separately and together.  This fascinates me.  However, to see it in action by reflecting on my own “patterns of thinking” is much more powerful to me.

How do you like to think?  What patterns do you notice in your creative life?

 

Knowing When It’s Time to Fill the Well

Taking the time to create every day takes effort.  When you are in the flow and creating daily you need to have a “full tank” so to speak.  Working with the energy needed to create an effortless flow means creating intentional time to “fill the well”.

What does it mean to “fill the well”? Creating time in your schedule to do something that is just for you fills the well.  Going through your list of what is important to you and picking something that brings you pure joy and energizes you fills the well.

Here are some “clues” below to watch for as you go through your day to notice when it may be time to “fill the well”:

Clue #1-Difficulty receiving
Clue#2-Talking more than Listening
Clue #3-Snapping at others-especially those closest to you
Clue #4- Complaining about tasks instead of mindfully completing them
Clue #5-Taking a small risk is hugely difficult

Notice when these “clues” appear in your day.  What is going on for you at these times?  Are there other clues that you notice that have not been mentioned here?

These clues usually show up when “filling the well” is past due.  These are really clues that the well is DRY!  And it is time to put blocks of time into your schedule that are just for you.  Time to observe, breathe, notice nature, move…anything that brings you joy and fills your soul.  Do that.

Then, be sure to keep those times in your schedule every day.  Filling the well takes conscious effort.  Intentionally scheduling in time for yourself is the most important thing you can do to be filled with the energy you need to create daily.

How do you “fill the well”?