Don’t Push a Rope

Hello friends!

WOW! There has been a disturbance in the Force in my life these past few months (that’s another post!) leaving me now more than a week into 2016 with no solid, tangible Plan and few Actionable Steps. It’s an uneasy place for me to be— to not have very much in place— AND, I’m okay with it for now. Because….

Mercury Retrograde is gracing us with its presence until January 25 (it began on Jan 5) and I will go on record as saying, “I LOVE Mercury Retrograde!” It lets me slow down and not fret when things go a little awry. Start out with Plan A and wind up with Plan Q? Fine. Expect everything technological to go smoothly? Good luck.

Some Mercury Retrogrades hit me more strongly than others. It may do you as well. So far, this one just feels slow and a little muddled. Rather, I feel slow and a little muddled: I have yet to hear my morning chimes go off this past week so I’ve been getting up late.

Mercury is a mental sign and rules anything to do with communication and connection: telephones, self-expression, transportation, air travel, computers, speaking and writing, mental clarity (you have less) and happens a few times every year. It’s nature’s way of saying, slow the heck down!

7 Ways to Navigate Mercury Retrograde:

RE is the Word

Re-do, review, re-member, re-search and double check and triple check… everything. This is a time when we may miss appointments, double book, forget, put the wrong date in the calendar, read the date wrong in the calendar, arrive late. So will our friends and clients.

Do not assume you’ve got the right info written down. You may not have the whole truth. Check again.

You may need to re-do things more often than you’d like or ‘just’ when you thought you had it right. Like this post…

Just let it go… when it happens, it happens.

Technology, Transportation, Timing!2 elephants pulling wagon

Computers and technology can go awry. You may not get the voicemail or you may miss the email, or think (as I did one day) that you’d sent it. There’s just something about “connections” that can be a little off.

Pay attention to things like flight and train times: there may be weird delays. I don’t know the stats, but I’m curious to know how much more luggage finds alternative routes than usual during Mercury Retrograde. It’s happened to me.

Numb Tongue

Watch your words—written and spoken. You may have “foot in mouth” disease.

This also applies to social media. When in doubt, leave it out! What you say or write can be more easily misinterpreted.

This is especially a good time to write what you need to and then go back and re-read and check your tone and meaning! (and spelling!)

Sign on the Dotted Line signing Napolean marriage contract

It’s not a great time to sign contracts or make firm commitments; however, it IS a good time to review them. If you can, wait until after January 25 when there will be more mental clarity. And you may receive more information that helps you decide and commit.

It’s not a good time to launch… a project, programme, book, a course. You can do it AND it may take some interesting turns. But it IS a good time to connect with people and let them know what’s happening! And a good time to do that final review of details.

You can use this time to go back and fix something that you may have rushed out the door or rushed through. I’m taking some time to look at how I did my colouring book and looking to sense what’s next. I’m happy not to feel pressed to push something out the door!

It’s a good time to tidy up details and finish up projects, to tie up loose ends. Spend some time connecting with old friends, former clients, your connections on FB and LinkedIn. Set up some catch up calls.

Do you need to do some clutter clearing? Go for it! You’ll feel like you’re making progress AND you’ll get more space!

Expect the Unexpected

You may lose things… and find them later in an unusual place. When I lose things during Mercury Retrograde, I assume they’ll show up— but, the lost things have their own timing, so I do a lot of waiting!

Things and people from the past may show up unexpectedly. Surprise! (YOU could be the surprise in someone else’s life!)

Making Mercury Retrograde FUN!

Have you ever wished the world would just slow down and let you get caught up?

Ever wanted some time to think a little before making a big decision?

Have you been moving so quickly you think you may have missed something? And you’d love to have time to re-evaluate, review, reconsider, research revise your plans?

Ta- DA!!! It’s here! You can do it now.

Take advantage of these three weeks.

push and pull a ropeGive yourself permission to not go full out. This is a time of inner reflection. Don’t push a rope!

Resist the temptation to be swept along in the mass thoughtform of the frenzy of New Year’s resolutions and all the external pressure to achieve and drive and push and climb. We’re in Capricorn, the sign of climbing the mountain, so we can remember there are many ways to climb a mountain. Many mountains to climb and many different kinds of mountains. Take time to listen to your inner self.

(And besides, January 1 is an arbitrary date. There are better times of the year to plan out the ‘year.’ So, if you’ve tried doing your planning for 2016 and you haven’t been able to… that’s OK. It’s not just Mercury Retrograde, but you don’t have to kick yourself because you haven’t.)

tea time JapanGo have tea with a friend. It’s a time to do those slower, inner, personal things we think we’ll get to someday.

Cultivate flexibility!

I’m not launching anything in the next few weeks, but I AM looking at year planning with a different eye this year. I’m currently calling it Living and Planning Your Year with the “Heart in Mind.” Sound good?

More later on that.

Teafully yours,

Sharon

PS. The most interesting thing I’ve seen today… the New York Public Library has made 180 000 digitized items available for free. These are high-res images of documents, photos…it’s astonishing. These items have fallen into the public domain and can be used by anyone! They’re looking for people using them in creative ways , too! What a browsing experience!

The images in this post are all from the collection!

NYPL Digital Collections

Doing It Cause I Said I Would

NASA Sees Hurricane Sandy as the "Bride o...

Pre-Frankenstorm, which isn’t going to hit us directly and which is a better word than Frankenweenie, I think. Sunday night. Rain. Cat on forearm, anchoring me, connecting with me, purring.

This, Day 13 of my 30-day post a day challenge, is an exercise in persistence, commitment, discipline, imagination and learning. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

At this point, I don’t care about links, about comments, about new likes or follows. I don’t check. And if you’ve liked the  a post,  or follow the blog, thank you and I’ll check in on your blog at some point. But right now, this is for me. I need to do this. And I need to write something of . At least for me… and maybe for others. If it’s of value to you, let me know. If not, that’s OK, too.

What IS this?

I decided to post something every day for 30 days, starting on October 12, the new Moon of Libra, come hell or high water, the latter of which is much more likely and indeed, were I living in Wawa, Ontario, or in the path of Hurricane Sandy, would be even more probable. I could ostensibly beg high water if I wanted to quit. The hell part, well, that could have been in BC had the earthquake been stronger and/or further south.

This is meant to establish a rhythm, a steadiness from which I can expand. It’s manageable and doable. If I set the bar higher, it would be difficult to succeed. Small wins, small steps towards a more productively creative, a more predictably creative, a more prolifically creative life. Writing is part of that.

I seek to live an imaginative, creative life (and I blog off and on about it here) and I’m trying to get my soul-infused act together, which means, for me, to create rhythm in my life and to be consistent about things. Oh, and to not get so distracted by… well, pretty much anything. The problem is I’m interested in everything and have some capacity to manage many things. And so I do. Or, I did… more than I do now.

But , I still try to put too many things in a day. Even today. Once I finish this, I have a meditation to do, which I should have done earlier today, but didn’t, and there was more, but I’m committed to doing it…and so…

I do  this, and mark my steps along the path with stickers as I wrote earlier. No one would yell at me if I stopped. I could stop. No roof would fall, the world wouldn’t end and I could start something new.

But I won’t and… I won’t. Somewhere in me, and it’s been going on for a time this year, there is a deep-seated drive to do more, other, better, different, beyond, what is possible and potential not just probable. I have a clear vision of where this will lead, but am not sure yet of everything that will carry me there. I do know that I have to do this. Now.

Tomorrow is the Full Moon of Scorpio. Following this cycle and rhythm is part of the need that I’m meeting— using the energies of the time to move myself forward.

My astrologer friends have spoken about the following in connection with this full moon, in no particular order. I add them here just as fodder for thought.

  • Scorpio brings the hidden into the light
  • it’s the sign of death… not necessarily physical, but, yes, that, too.
  • the esoteric keynote is Warrior am I and from the battle I emerge triumphant
  • the US presidential elections always occur during Scorpio (wonder what it would look like in, say, Taurus or Leo… or any other time!)
  • this is a time to truly choose the spiritual, soular, higher self path and battle the forces that would keep us more engaged with personality distractions and lower drives.(quelle joie!)

Bottom line: can I/we live from our higher principles, no matter what… come hell or high water?

I’ve chosen a particular head of the Hydra to deal with during this Full Moon time. You can read a bit about it here. And, like this challenge, and the other daily practices I’ve committed to, I am going to battle this one to … its death.

Frankenstorm… referring to what could happen when the storm that just passed us and Hurricane Sandy get together for a meetup— a pretty good name for the Full Moon of Scorpio time,   I think.

Need to Develop a Good Habit? Try stickers!

I used these for my private music students… and now, they motivate, reward and inspire me!

I use stickers, coloured dots and check lists to track my good habit creation. Just like I did with students when we were changing behaviours. Really. I respond to stickers, coloured dots and check lists. I make up games to get them! They are visual. I see them. Day after day. They motivate and reward me. (I’m pretty easy to satisfy. I guess I’m pretty self-directed.)

I DON’T want to see a missed day and eventually, the new habit becomes, well, a habit. I’m a pretty good self-checker.

In my head, at least, consistency is not my strong suit. But I KNOW that repetition is the mother of learning (thanks second year University Russian course—it’s a Russian proverb—and piano practice) and I also KNOW that I get more, better work done when I have my personal practice aligned.

Of course, that sounds all nicey nicey. Knowing and Doing are two different things. It’s hard to find out what works.

I have apparently stumbled upon the way that works for me. For now. I’m hoping this ‘game’ will let me play into a series of good, productive habits that will allow me to create and produce more… and better.

Right now I have several ‘behaviour projects’ underway. And tracking systems to go with them all!

  1. 40- day Mantras on Abundance and Removing Obstacles (thank you Lakshmi and Ganesha)— sticker in my planner
  2. 30-day post-a-day blogging challenge—pink dot on the tracking page
  3. Morning pages—sticker in the planner
  4. Meditation—ditto
  5. 10 000 steps a day walking goal—green dot on the tracking page
  6. stretch, do qi gong, yoga every day—planner
  7. 30 min/day reading of something intellectually challenging —planner

The morning practice is key.

I’ve had several versions of this for nearly 20 years. In the last years before I left teaching, my practice included biking 20 km to work, going into the gym and doing tai qi, leaving by 4:15 and not taking any work home. When I took the bus, I’d get off one stop early and do tai qi in the park, then walk to school. There are lots of ways to develop a habit. Now that I’m at home every morning and needing to accomplish other things, I have a different practice.

Here’s what I do now.

I get up early, make some hot water and fresh lemon juice and get my body awake. I prefer tai chi/qi gong to yoga on the whole. In the summer, I do a form of qi gong called Tao Yin Fa, outside on the grass. I learned it in the summer, and we were outside. I’m a certified practitioner/teacher. There’s a resonance there.

Last winter, I received a Rodney Yee yoga DVD—Yoga for the A.M. For me it’s more important to do something than to choose the right one. I make things simple. Follow the order. Don’t think, don’t fart around with it. Just get on with it. I’ve now resurrected a Tiger Shamanic Qi Gong DVD and put that in the mix. Doesn’t matter. As long as I do something for 15-20 minutes.

Morning Pages

Julia Cameron coined the phrase. Millions have joined the practice. Three pages, stream of consciousness writing. Sometimes it’s profound. Sometimes it’s a to-do list. Sometimes there are diagrams, a shopping list, a wish list, a what not to do list. Sometimes it’s just scribbles. Literally. Or, when it feels like there aren’t words, I write things like “keep writing” or “blah blah blah” or “pen paper scissors porch marble nightstars chocolate blah.” And then I’m off.

It clears my mind like qi gong clears out the chi-webs that form in the night.

Mantra Meditation

I’m on the third 40- day practice. That’s 40 days in a row. Every day. Without a miss. If I miss, I have to start again. Sometimes I’ve had to do it just before bed. But I do it. And that’s the point.

If I can build these small routines into a consistent positive habit, then I figure I can add larger ones. One step at a time.

I also use an emWave with that. This is a biofeedback device developed by the great folks at the  Institute of HeartMath, who researches stress, emotions, heart intelligence, coherence and more. I play a game. I only repeat the mantram when my heart is in partial or total coherence. This means it takes longer than if I simply repeated the mantra.

Meditation

This active form of meditation focuses my mind on a seedthought and orients me towards that for the day. It’s a method of soul contact and integration and includes the Great Invocation and, often, the Gayatri.

THE GREAT INVOCATION *

From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into human minds.
Let Light descend on Earth.

From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into human hearts.
May the Coming One return to Earth.

From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide all little human wills –
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.

From the centre which we call the human race
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.

Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.

* adapted version
__________________________________________

This is a slightly adapted wording of the Great Invocation which was given out in 1945. In accordance with the changing consciousness and language of humanity as we enter into the Aquarian age, this “adapted” wording for the Great Invocation is offered in the hope that it will encourage wider distribution of this world prayer.

Many religions believe in a World Teacher, knowing him under such names as the Lord Maitreya, the Imam Mahdi, the Bodhisattva, and the Messiah, and these terms are used in some of the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish versions of the Great Invocation.

Men and women of goodwill throughout the world are using this Invocation in their own language. Will you join them in using the Invocation every day – with thought and dedication? By using the Invocation and encouraging others to use it, no particular group or organisation is sponsored. It belongs to all humanity.

Reading for 30 minutes

I used to read while I was eating breakfast. I didn’t time it, but now that I read for 30 minutes (and time it) I realize I wasn’t reading so much then! And it’s the light stuff… Treatise on White Magic, Esoteric Astrology, and starting tomorrow or Monday, I’m heading into  a new pattern: I’m rotating through The Secret Doctrine… and four others, as yet unchosen.

I’m going to shake things up, though, and work at 3-5 books, 30 minutes a day, a different book for each day of the week, for the energy of the day, or just set them out and pick one up every day. We’ll see. As my father-in-law used to say, usually just before he played a nasty prank on someone, “Ya gotta have fun sometime.” Again.. more important for me to do something than to do the ‘right thing.’

30-Day postaday Blog Challenge

I’ve been sitting on the fence about blogging for several years. Rather, I’ve had blogs, but have had no strategy nor plan. Failing to plan=planning to fail. (quote attributed to Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Alan Lakein. I’m going with Win and Ben) It’s been hit and miss to say the least. Mostly, I haven’t shown up. If you don’t show up, you don’t get results. Go figure.

So I decided to push myself to post something every day. Just for the practice. Without pushing for followers, without pushing for comments, without expecting anything. The project is to post something every day and learn. I started on the New Moon of Libra. So far So good.

10 000 Steps a Day

I’m not achieving this and didn’t fully expect to. Plus I was sick for a couple of days and my blood pressure was really low for a day. So, this week, I’m giving myself a break. The realistic target is 5 000 a day and 10 000 several days. When it’s not pouring rain and I’m not in the car, it’s easier. But it isn’t difficult at all if you do a few 20 min walks.

And so it goes. Brendan Burchard, in The Charge, talks about 30, 60, 90-day learning projects. Rather than start at the beginning of the month, I’m working with the first of the month, the new moon, the change of zodiacal sign and the full moon. This gives me a chance to get something underway before a new pattern begins.

We’re in Scorpio, so I’ve set a challenge (which I’m keeping to myself for now) and the Full Moon is coming up, so I’ve set a mental pattern to change over the next 6 months)

And I’m going to use stickers, coloured dots… and maybe even some gold stars. They’re more interesting than simple check marks, no?!

Looking for other ways to inculcate a good habit….

To the Money Monkey on My Back—Time to Get Off!

Pennies

Canadian Pennies (Photo credit: shareski)

10 cents a week. A penny to charity. A penny to university. A penny to gifts. 7 cents to spend as I pleased.

That was my allowance at the age of 6. In principle, a good idea. Teach me the value of a penny, teach me to save, teach me to give, teach me to choose how to spend limited resources. The 10% rule. 10% to yourself. 10% tithed. 10% for long-term. Only spend 60% of what you earned.

There wasn’t much money then.

The reality. $.01/wk=$.52/year x 12 years (to get me to 18)= $624, which would have paid for, as I think about it, one year’s tuition at the time I was ready to go to university.

I remember discussions about spending 25 cents a week on the Boston Sunday Herald. I remember we bought a white tinsel Christmas tree at 50% off after Christmas one year. We made do, but we also didn’t know any different, so it wasn’t a big deal.

We had to buy our summer frozen treats from the freezer. Mom made them and we had to pay for them. As a young, enthusiastic photographer at age 6, I had to buy my film and pay for my own developing (this made me a careful photographer.)

When I started taking piano lessons, and there was a little more money, I had the best (and about the most expensive) teacher available. We travelled every summer—camping from the age of 13 months, to each side of the country, to Great Britain and Scotland, to Europe. Membership in a tennis club, art lessons. But I made my own clothes, planning out each season what I ‘needed’ and finding or making the missing skirt or shirt.

I learned a lot about money then.  When we travelled overseas I remember having about $100 to spend. I tracked my spending—each postcard, each doll dressed in the country’s costume, each stamp on postcards and airmail letters, each sticker for my guitar case.

My parents never told us explicitly what they were trying to teach us, but these are some of the ideas I’ve carried around about money for a long time.

  • can’t afford it
  • it’s not practical—therefore you don’t need it
  • you don’t need it
  • it’s too expensive which meant we don’t need it and it isn’t necessary
  • you don’t need what everyone else has just because they have it

I also learned:

  • material things aren’t important
  • buy quality, but not quantity (the expensive teak furniture we bought when I was in high school—now called “mid-century Scandinavian”— we still have)
  • experience—travel, for instance, or concerts, lessons, theatre— is better than things
  • if it’s not necessary, it’s not needed, therefore it’s not worth it
  • make do, compromise, if there’s a cheaper way and it’s just about as good… do that.
  • you don’t need much.
  • wanting without need is wasteful
  • you don’t need crippy crap

Really, it was about taking the middle path, which permeated our lives in many areas. Have what you need. Don’t go overboard. You don’t need very much. Simple is good. Quality is good. Quantity is bad.

I learned about long-term saving. Waaaaayyy long-term. What does ‘university’ mean to a 6-year-old? What about charity? Both were vague concepts. I put the pennies aside because that’s just what I did. I wasn’t aware of charities I could donate to and after grade 1 I didn’t go to church, so you know, I have no idea what happened to either of those little plans.

But what I didn’t learn:

  • how to save for something in the mid-term, something I wanted. Because, of course, wants aren’t important.
  • how to want something— something of value, something of quality—and save for it.
  • how to budget in the short and medium term

Result?

Mixed. And while I won’t go into personal details, a residual layer of these learnings and non-learnings colours—or discolours— my relationship with money. The relationship, although  it has steadily improved over the years, it’s still a dysfunctional one. One that will require a warrior-like determination to conquer this particular head of the Hydra.

It is time for the Money Monkey on my back to permanently. This is my Herculean quest.

Three Things I Learned Today About Consciousness and Creativity

1. On July 7 of this year,  a group of neuroscientists declared that all nonhuman animals, “including all mammals and birds and many other creatures, including octopuses,” are conscious. There is a signed document to this effect (The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals).

Science is catching up to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, which suggest that there is a kind of consciousness in all things—including a rudimentary consciousness in plants and minerals. I think the next thing will be to recognize that there is a difference between the brain, where everyone’s looking for consciousness, and the mind.

2. One theory of creative genius, originally proposed by psychologist Donald Sutherland and made more comprehensive by psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton, suggests that creative thought comes through a process of “blind variation and selective retention (BVSR).”

Basically it means that creative people go blindly through a lot of trial and error, trying man things to determine the idea’s usefulness. They have to generate a pile of different ideas. This, Simonton calls superfluity. Lots of ideas. Ones that ultimately won’t work.

Creative people also backtrack; this is retracing steps.

Often the two happen at the same time. Creativity isn’t linear. Neither is it circular. It’s more zigzagular. Probably not something that can be described on a piece of paper in a diagram.

3. Talent is important in cultivating genius (and extreme creativity). However, there are several other things that may be even more important:

  • pursuing an activity for its own sake—the feeling of autonomy
  • finding the activity important or of interest
  • feeling competent in your skills (which gives you confidence)

The Struggle

We’ve moved into Scorpio this evening.

Trial, Test, Triumph.

Stay committed. Stick to it. Struggle through Transformation.

Expose the fear, shed the fear, get to the heart of it. Let Neptune transform it.

Dig in. Face the limitations, the obstacles, the tests… I’m gonna get it done.

“Warrior am I and from the battle I emerge triumphant.”

If you don’t have a spiritual struggle, get one… what is the spiritual struggle.

With Saturn now in Scorpio, it’s now time to grow up, overcome the emotional chaos. Commit to the transformation.

What behaviours need releasing? Still, again. More? Are there more? What transformations are possible this month?

My ‘secret’ project begins tomorrow morning. Let’s do it. I’m keeping it secret to keep it sacred. Day by day. Moment by moment. Step by step.

It’s gonna be a fight.

To a triumphant finish.

The Colour Orange- Antidote to Frustration

Don’t these just scream Perky and Peppy?

It’s supposed to make you feel cheery and happy. And that’s why I picked it for my Studio/Creative Space/Play Room.

But right now I’m just a little pissy—

  • woke up later than I wanted, which put me at odds with my morning routine.
  • put some laundry out on the line on this very windy day, hoping it would dry fast and I’d get it back in before the rain started. Nice try.
  • my oven’s self-clean feature—well, who knows what happened there— but it wouldn’t turn off, so I’ve had to pull the oven out and unplug it. This is not a small project, nor is it for wimps. Cleaning all the spilled gunk is NOT on my To-Do List for today. Except it is now. Cold cereal and egg salad sandwiches for me.
  • keep forgetting that the “magic” trackpad has its own kind of magic, and if you put it under a pile of papers, the computer still thinks you’re using it and kind of locks onto it. Makes for a lot of wasted time.

Unless I turn around the perspective and look at providence stepping in to keep me from some monster traffic misadventure on the 401, or from spraining my ankle on the treadmill or busting a gut laughing.

Maybe it’s just Life keeping me away from Starbucks for the day and making me sit down and get things done, because I have another “THING” to start coming up when the Sun moves into Scorpio ( and I know what it is, but it’s still scary for me, so I’m not going to say anything about it for a while, but I might give hints).

It’s already 11:30 and I’m just getting to this blog post. We’ll call this a flex day. Should’ve been updating a website, should’ve made that hair cutting appointment, should’ve been to the pharmacy to pick up insulin needles for the cat, and should be getting ready to go to the gym by now. Something’s gonna give; it’ll have to be my frustration….

  • Because… I’ve signed up for the Shift Network’s Enlightened Business Summit and there are 3 on today, so I’m going to listen in live to the one at noon,
  • and because clearly, the day is taking its own turn and staying pissy would really be a waste. So, as one teacher suggested, I’m going to feel sorry for myself truly and fully for 60 seconds with no interruptions until I can’t stand the sound of my voice. Ready, go….. OK, done. Just writing that makes me cringe and stop the whining. Can’t stand the sound of a whiny voice, especially my own.

The EBS has  been 11 days of webinars on soulful entrepreneurship, which is really code for “spiritual people… making money is NOT bad. You’re ALLOWED to use good principles of making money so it can be used to help others.” That last part we mostly forget! I’m learning to be even MORE NOT embarrassed about making money. Today it’s Sam Horn who’s talking about “The EyeBrow Test.”  (didn’t THAT catch your attention?)

And then I’m going to get up, I’m going to make some noise to change my brain, I’m going to go clean that stove and then I’m going to start over again.

And here’s the view from one of my windows…pretty purdy for a gross weather day.

nice way to perk up a grey sky

Have a good one!

My “To NOT Do” List

Let’s see if this phrasing helps:

For today I will NOT:

  • try to accomplish more than is realistically possible
  • say ‘yes’ to anything new
  • add anything more to the ‘to do’ list
  • spend time on things that aren’t related to what needs to be done today

Hmmm…..

Really, it’s all about choice. About what to do about the BSO’s (bright shiny objects) that come across our path, or, (as those of you who have seen the movie, UP, will recognize)

SQUIRREL!!!

We are living in a distracted, attention-dispersed and fractured world, constantly living with the opportunity to tune in to any number of ideas, events, thoughtforms, emotions. Metaphorical squirrels lead us away from what is right in front of us.

As a friend recently observed, the challenge is to walk the tightrope. We keep walking, one foot in front of the other, eyes focused ahead, not looking down or to the side. This is what my friend, Lawson, wrote:

Ah, the tightrope walker. The rope stretched from here to there. No focus upon the feet yet they are trained to the feel of the rope. The long bar extended left and right balanced at the heart. At the centre of the heart and at a point above is the anchor point. Here I am. Walking between the two great lines of force.

At this time of year, we walk “between two great lines of force” in nature—in this part of the world we are balanced precariously between autumn and winter. The weather reflects it; one day, one moment is calm, warm and sunny; the next is blustery, rainy and bone-chilling.

I’m watching for the two great lines of force in my life these days.

 

Week Three- and I’m still at it

Piano

Piano (Photo credit: esc861)

 

Things don’t typically go as planned— my three-time a week at 9 AM practising plan among them.

 

However, I’ve stuck to the hour a day commitment for three weeks now, relaxing a bit about my schedule, just making sure it gets done —in the morning. Showing up is the main thing. Once I walk up the stairs, the next hour of playing is given.

 

Every day has started with drums. Drum sticks on a practice pad. This helps calm my brain, empty it of wandering thoughts and clearing it for focus. It also helps my drumming! Whatever I’ve been pondering up to that point in the morning goes into park, on to the back burner, off to the side, percolating, while I focus on right left right left, in some combination. I remember to breathe, to relax, to have fun doing it.

 

The piano requires a different approach. It’s an instrument I know, one upon which I’ve practised for years, and so know how the practising is ‘supposed’ to go. As I go through scales and arpeggios, broken chords and Hanon, I’m also breaking some old patterns. I don’t have to spend the whole time on one scale. Today, I did 4 or 5 scales, 4 octaves, 2 octave splits, in thirds and tenths, then plowed through arpeggios using the cycle of fifths.

 

This is not revolutionary stuff. However, releasing the old requirement to stick to one scale day after day, has been important. The flow is better now and I’m listening for fluffy notes—those times when my fingers aren’t quite precise enough to hit the key squarely.

 

One note at a time—full and complete and precise and heard.

 

I’ve opened up the Grade 9 book. Didn’t spend much time on it when I was 13, so there are lots of pieces I haven’t played at all. It’s and easy sell. The pieces are easy enough that I can learn them in a few days and interesting enough to provide a challenge—speed, expression, mood, colour.

 

Bach‘s Prelude in C- is my current best friend. It’s such a training and requires a precision I’m looking for in pieces right now. It trains me, leads me, teaches me. I listen. I’m beating my old practice patterns out of myself and Bach insists better than most. For once, I’m really learning a piece, bar by bar, listening, looking, watching my fingers, paying attention to the line, the interweavings. It’s going deeper. I’m going deeper, insisting on precision and right notes and right fingerings— not just letting everything slide under.

 

I have to breathe more, practising this way. I have to relax my shoulders, sit squarely on the bench, start again, go slower and enjoy it. The going slower. How many times did I hear “Slow Down!” when I was a kid. I say the same things now with my students. It really does work.

 

I have no expectations or aspirations — yet. Right now it is enough that I play, and practise and repeat and slow down. It is enough that I do this for three hours a week— and find myself able to do it without difficulty. It is enough that I play up and down the keyboard, using all the things I know. I DO want to get better. Not just on the piano.

 

My hour ran out today without improvising and without playing unusual scales or learning something jazz. I have to watch that I don’t make practising the classical stuff an excuse for not improvising and chopping away at something new.