On Choosing the Right Friends (Why it Matters)

"If you are striving to do something you value, it is so important to surround yourself with people who unequivocally support your work. It is both a trap and a poison to have so-called friends who have the same injuries but no real desire to heal them."  

-excerpt from Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

 Image from Cargo Collective 

Image from Cargo Collective 

Ordinary Life (video)

For this one I decided to get really curious about space - in part because I needed to be a little resourceful with my use of space due to limited resources. (I filmed this with an iMac.) 

But also -  carving out spaces in your life for things that really matter to you: space as ritual, space as movement, space as song. The space you cultivate inside of you for spontaneity, for beauty, for love.

Do you have to be an extrovert to be a performer? Reflections on Moving Arts Lab 2017

I've recently been inspired to reinvigorate this site after quite a long hiatus. I've always had trouble with the idea of "marketing" myself as it places my spirit too close to capital, and I don't want to be a brand or just another object for others to consume. So, I sort of let this fall to the wayside because I just didn't have the energy or interest in going around sounding the horn of "ME ME ME!" 

I still feel this way. 

But, I recently attended Moving Arts Lab, and despite a lot of complications with my health, travel arrangements, etc. I had a wonderful time! I've only very recently decided to incorporate movement and dance into my artistic practice, so I was there to do a lot of things that I have never done before - to see if it sparked anything inside me. (Spoiler: It did! Ha.) 

One thing I found out is that I feel really natural as a performer, which was really strange and unexpected. I'm usually kind of a quiet person in life, and I guess I thought performers were those boisterous extroverts who are always talking about something and making everyone laugh. Truth is, some of them are, but some of them are more like me.  

What I found when I was working on these performance art pieces, is that it didn't matter how I identified "me" in life because that's not who was doing the performance. I was able to slip into this other space that I have trouble describing. People I've talked to about it say they feel like they slip into a character, and I guess it's something like that. But, I felt more like I could identify some core feeling I wanted to express, and then I would just become it completely, and "me" would melt away. 

Another thing I loved about Moving Arts Lab is the way all of the workshops were framed. Each teacher had a focus and a series of questions/topics/exercises that they invited us to think deeply about. So we would go off and do our "research" on the topic, and then we would come up with a performance that expresses what our research lead us to think/feel. 

God, I wish school had been more like this... 

It was such a relief to not have to write a fucking term paper - to not use words at all, or to only use them briefly and poetically, or to just think/feel them while you moved. I did this really cathartic performance where I communed deeply with this tree. I performed a kind of massage on its roots and did a short dance laying on the ground, and ended on my back holding its "arm" and looking at the sky like two lovers or best friends. That was the result of my research on what makes me feel safe, comforted, at home. People liked that one. (: 

So, now I wanna do more "research projects," and I want to share them here, but not because I'm sounding the horn of "ME ME ME." I don't think I'll be there, actually. Maybe I'll just be a mirror. Many people have been mirrors for me, and they are my greatest teachers. So I'd like to return the favor - but consciously, compassionately, with all the love I can muster.

Stay tuned! XO. 

m

New Musical Obsession + Thoughts for the New Year

Music

First here's an album I just bought on Bandcamp that I love! If you love Darkwave: bands like Joy Division, New Order, Depeche Mode, then I'll bet you'll love them too. I think my two favorite tracks are Iron Lung and Frisk, but the whole album is pretty great. 

2017 Musings...

So what else? I guess the new year is coming soon, and I always find it fun to start fresh. I decided to rearrange my space, freshen up the energy, and I've been reflecting on what went well for me in 2016 and how I can improve next year. That's pretty much what I do every year -- I don't make resolutions exactly, but I like to take the time to reflect on the year as a whole. 

I quit smoking 6 years ago in January and started running, so I always think about that this time of year. It's still one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It took me a minute to remember how many years it had really been, which is funny to me now because that first year was so so difficult. I felt like I was counting the minutes! If there's anyone out there trying to quit smoking in 2017, I feel your pain. 

Overall, though, despite the fact that things have been going pretty badly for the world at large, I have had a pretty good year in 2016. And, I think for me it's just about keeping a kind of momentum going. But also, I feel a strong pull to do something to help. I'm just not sure what that will look like yet.   

Sometimes I think making art and sharing it with people is maybe the most life affirming, compassionate thing you can do for the planet. Other times, I feel like making art is pretty much akin to watching soap operas and masterbating while the world burns. Ha. So that kind of makes it difficult to work consistently.

One thing I thought would maybe help would be to volunteer. And, I found this cool organization called Girls Rock Philly, www.girlsrockphilly.org/.  They do music camps and lessons for girls, and they are looking for volunteers! So, I thought maybe I'd attend the volunteers meeting in late January.  

 totally! :D

totally! :D

Final Thoughts/Fun game to play with the universe

Whenever I'm feeling a little lost, I like to go into a bookstore and let my intuition guide me to a book with a message that I need to hear. So I just kind of walk around and see what jumps out at me. It's fun! And, I've found that it really works. I always find something that holds special meaning to me, that seems to help answer a question for me. 

I went to my favorite bookstore yesterday and played my game. I ended up in the biography section. (I never read biographies.) But, as I looked around, I was surrounded by all of these memoirs by strong women who had faced some pretty incredible circumstances. I ended up with Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life. I've read the first 10 or so pages, and I'm amazed at the details she's able to include. Like, how could she know what so many things look like, sound like, when she can't see or hear them? I can't wait to find out more about how she learned to write -- to communicate. I think we meet her teacher in the next chapter. 

I think maybe there's a message here about having the confidence to share your own story. But, we'll see. (: 

 

TFW: You Can't Stop Listening to Arthur Russell + Cool Classes to Take

Arthur Russell is so good... 

Re-discovered Arthur Russell thanks to Bandcamp Weekly, a great podcast hosted by Andrew Jervis. I listened to him a lot a few years ago, but then he just dropped off the map for me. Glad to have him back! Been listening to his whole catalog the last week or so. 

Bandcamp somewhat recently added all of his albums, https://arthurrussell.bandcamp.com/.

Thoughts:
Love how raw-sounding his voice is, like, when it cracks, he just lets it, and it makes the songs more emotionally resonant.

Listening to his terrible singing, also can't help but wonder, if you could actually just be bad at everything you're doing and still make something that sounds cool, interesting. (asking for a friend, heh.) 

Also, love how he jumps between genres of music. Folk, Bluesy-Rock-ish, Electro. Try it all! 

 

Online Music Classes at Berklee School of Music 

There are so many great classes to take, but here are the ones I was thinking I could start with: 

Keyboard for the Electronic Musician 

Ear Training for Live Performance

The Ear Training one seems like it would be particularly helpful. I feel like I am always standing around imagining melodies that I don't know how to re-create on the keyboard. It's frustrating. Saw this, and was excited to find out that there's a class to help you with that exact problem! Eureka! 

Anyway, here's the place to go, if you want to sign up for online music classes too, https://arthurrussell.bandcamp.com/.

Whoops, that's Arthur Russell again, here it is, https://online.berklee.edu/?pid=6874&c3ch=Affiliate&c3nid=bcm_start_career

 

the end. (: 

 

 

 

James Baldwin Talks about Poets

"The greatest poet in the English language found his poetry where poetry is found: in the lives of the people. He could have done this only through love — by knowing, which is not the same thing as understanding, that whatever was happening to anyone was happening to him. It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it — no time can be easy if one is living through it. I think it is simply that he walked his streets and saw them, and tried not to lie about what he saw: his public streets and his private streets, which are always so mysteriously and inexorably connected; but he trusted that connection. And, though I, and many of us, have bitterly bewailed (and will again) the lot of an American writer — to be part of a people who have ears to hear and hear not, who have eyes to see and see not — I am sure that Shakespeare did the same. Only, he saw, as I think we must, that the people who produce the poet are not responsible to him: he is responsible to them.

That is why he is called a poet. And his responsibility, which is also his joy and his strength and his life, is to defeat all labels and complicate all battles by insisting on the human riddle, to bear witness, as long as breath is in him, to that mighty, unnameable, transfiguring force which lives in the soul of man, and to aspire to do his work so well that when the breath has left him, the people — all people! — who search in the rubble for a sign or a witness will be able to find him there."

James Baldwin

Patience, Presence, and the Life of an Artist

Interesting to me that this advice sounds so much like the Buddhist texts I read. The more I practice, the more I think it's true: Zen practice makes you better at everything.

Also, trees. I'm convinced they are the wisest beings among us.

"To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; [but] to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them."

 

 --Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, as quoted in The New Yorker

 

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