reflecting

(What follows is an organic sharing of my thoughts about the situation we find ourselves in the world today. It might be sad or bleak, so please take care and only read on knowing that.) 

March 30/20: Like many others out there, I just started my third week of self-isolating. The last time I went anywhere, other than to pick up groceries, was (believe it or not) Friday the 13th. That day I had an oil change, and picked up a grocery order. When I got home, I contacted my family and said I was self-isolating because I didn't want to take any chances. I'd been out and about, and teaching in my studio, and who knew if I had come into contact with someone without symptoms who was contagious. To be on the safe side, I also made the decision to close my teaching studio for two weeks.

I naively thought we'd be through the worst of things by the beginning of April. On March 13th, there were less than 150 cases in all of Canada. (Seventeen days later, March 30th, it's 7,437.) On March 13th, anyone I knew seemed to be okay. Seven days later, the brother of an old friend I'd known since I was twenty-one called to say my friend had passed away from Covid-19. I begin to see that this is not going to end anytime soon, and that the losses will grow. It's heartbreaking to think of those all over the world affected by this.

I try to stay away from the news, allowing myself 15 minutes in the morning. At first I turned to Facebook, a place I seldom go, and now I am backing away from it again. There are some wonderful groups posting excellent information and demonstrating a spirit of positivity and encouragement. I love that. There are also those posting misinformation, making racist comments, being hateful. Still, I'm anything but 'isolated' in terms of being social. I've spoken to friends in Europe, the States, and here at home. I have regular facetime appointments in my calendar. I'm finding groups that meet virtually to discuss things I'm interested in.

I keep busy during the day, although I sometimes feel scattered. And tired. When I lay down to sleep, my mind runs ragged with the anxiety I keep sequestered during the day. I watch children's shows and Jane Austin movies, and try to avoid anything suspenseful or violent.

I try to eat healthy and stay hydrated. I probably don't go outside the house enough. Every surface I come into contact with outside the house... the door handle, the lock on the gate... I'm extra aware of the things I touch. I get into my car to go get my grocery order, and I marvel at how itchy my face feels when I keep reminding myself not to touch it. I keep a box of kleenex on my front seat, so if I am desperate I can grab a couple and rub my face. I try to be conscious of where my hands are. And when I come home... I wash my hands. And wash my groceries. And wash my hands.

I leave things that don't need to be refrigerated in a box for four days before I touch them. Or, if I need them, I go through the ritual of opening them, washing my hands, reaching inside the container or bag to remove the contents without touching the external wrapping, putting whatever I don't need in a new freezer bag or other clean container so I know it's ok to touch. Then I toss the wrapping away and wash my hands again. Like a doctor scrubbing up for surgery. Then I contemplate the things the store was out of, and wonder how I will manage.

I prefer to eat non-processed, fresh food as much as possible. They were out of potatoes, oranges, bananas, bathroom tissue, unsalted butter. But thankfully they had tea, juice, tuna, eggs, cheese. But no potatoes? How is that even possible?

It all just brings home how much things have changed.

That popping out to my favourite cafe to have coffee and read the paper, is impossible. I wonder if they will be able to survive. I see my favourite restaurant - where most of the servers know my face and know my usual order - at first switches to take out/delivery, but then announces they need to close. They'll do renovations during the shutdown, they say. I think of the kindness of their staff, and their wonderful cooks, and hope they will make it through. I recall my beautiful-spirited massage therapist, whose work is so vital to my quality of life (she literally helped me to walk again), knowing that, like me, she's had to close down her business until we are all allowed to breathe the same air and open our arms to others for a hug.

It occurs to me, I'm missing spring. The cherry blossoms are heavy on the trees this time of year. The rufus hummingbirds will be back soon. I have to get over my fear and go sit in the garden. Bask in the weak rays of the sun. Remember not to touch my face, and wash my hands when I come back inside.

Most of all, I try not to think of what might happen next.

I'll do everything I can do to follow the advice of the medical professionals. I'll try to retool my business to work online. I'll try to be supportive of friends and family. I'll try to forget my own worries and listen to those of others, and find things to say that might bring a smile. I'll try to write music and keep singing and drawing and painting.

I'm staying home to protect my friends and family. To protect my community. To protect our precious health care workers. To save any life I can save by doing what I'm asked to do: stay home. And by doing that, perhaps I will also save my own. <3

we can be alone, together

You know, I think we have to be careful in our perspectives right now. Thinking of ourselves as isolated from each other makes us feel more disconnected than ever. Although we have agreed to put distance between ourselves to assist everyone around us to stay healthy, and to help the medical system to cope, our actions, our voluntary cooperation with the recommendations coming from the experts, actually show a wonderful spirit of community.

Yes, some of us are afraid. Yes, some people are hoarding. Yes, some are not listening.Yes, the news is depressing and sad.

Yet, I look around me and I see the generosity and kindness. The student who writes and asks me if I am ok, can they pick up something for me? The landlady who leaves a note under my door, telling me to let her know if I need anything at all. The calm generosity of the delivery driver. The spirit of camaraderie in the groups and tribes I belong to, consoling each other, encouraging each other, trying to find something to smile or laugh about in how we are coping, in how we are trying to enjoy our 'time off' in spite of all the things it is far too easy to worry about.

In a sense, in our social distancing and self-isolation, some of us are reaching out more. Finding safe ways to connect and shore each other up. Passing along good information, correcting misinformation. Offering virtual hugs.

I loved this quote from Dr. Lindsay Jernigan: "Try this perspective shift. Instead of seeing 'social distancing' and travel bans as panic, try seeing them as acts of mass cooperation intended to protect the collective whole. This plan is not about individuals going into hiding. It's a global deep breath... an agreement between humans around the planet to be still. Be still, in hopes that the biggest wave can pass without engulfing too many of the vulnerable amongst us."

scatter the scatteredness

It is... a time I never thought I'd see. I'm a science fiction buff, but I never thought I'd actually live through a scenario like this. I was talking to someone today about how it feels. We both said we feel like our energy is scattered, that there is an underlying sense of stress and worry about the days to come, with income dwindling and the wherewithal to replace it beyond our ken. Yet, on the other hand. The kindness and compassion of so many people, the spirit of hope and togetherness we've seen is wonderful. People caring for each other, thinking of each other. Those that are well, understanding that it's not about themselves as an individual, but about all those who they meet. For those who are ill... hopefully our social distancing and change to so many facets of our regular life, will assist them.

I end up asking myself what I can do. Call my friends. Zoom chat. Take part in online community events. Reach out to comfort others and thereby feel less alone.

And then there is always my creative work. My singing, practicing playing guitar, working through my orchestral and composition courses, drawing and painting. Just before this all began, I had signed up for a graphics art course, purchased a graphics tablet and Photoshop. I've been starting and stopping. I know the healthy thing is to hunker down and work on creative things. To turn off the news, and Facebook, and go sit in the garden to read. Listen to music and work on Photoshop tutorials. Create music of my own.

In the coming days I hope to use my time wisely and well. I know the key is 'to start'. So I'm starting now by writing a blog.

If you're reading this, I hope you are doing okay. I hope your friends and family are too. If there is one thing we can take away from this is that we are truly a global people, and we are, all in this together. Take care <3

Growing in circles

My own journey has not been a linear path, anything but. Sometimes I approached success and went off in an entirely different direction for some reason I can't fathom now looking back. But there are a few things I have learned:

- don't give up your dreams to have a relationship. I don't mean you shouldn't respect your partner or work on that togetherness. I mean, if someone tells you your dreams are not their dreams and you need to choose, don't give up yours. The price of love should never be the thing that lights you up inside. If someone really loves you, they will support that thing that inspires you. That's what makes you you.

- don't give up your dreams because you have wasted time doing something else or have reached a certain age. Creativity has no number attached to it. There are wonderfully talented young people, and wonderfully talented seniors, and everything in between. Like I said, I have been on the road and off the road, gone around in circles, been in deep ruts, lost and unsure. Forgive yourself, get back up, and start again. I have, more times than I can count ;)

- allow yourself to play. Not everything that you 'make' or 'create' is going to be perfect. Do it for the joy of doing, and trust you'll find a way to smooth the edges later, or, if it ends up being something you can't fix up, know it's experience and grist for the mill.

- do what you can when you can. Everyone is different. Some have full-time jobs and families and all sorts of responsibilities. Find 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It adds up.

- take time to take care of you. Your mind and your heart need peace, serenity, sleep, nourishment.

- not everyone is going to like what you do or how you do it. Listen to the feedback of those you trust, and let the rest go. Remember Star Trek and IDIC... infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

- pay it forward when you can. It's amazing how generous our creative tribe is. Part of that is taking responsibility for being informed and being responsible for disseminating good information along with encouragement and support to others on the path.

- everyone can sing. Everyone can be 'in the music'. We should encourage this in our children, in our friends and in our world. Music is the only human activity that lights up the whole brain. It's one of the most beautiful things humans do and create. Relish it and treasure it and share it.

<3

what do you get when you don't get stuff done

It's been an amazingly interesting month, working with a voice student on an intensive program for freeing the voice, and meeting 5 days out of 7 for an hour. As part of the student's process, they are recording video of the sessions and journalling immediately after, then watching the video the next next day and journaling more. I'm taking notes as I participate as mentor, and sharing my process and my knowledge with him as we go forward. Many discussions on what it means to free oneself from past programming and what it means to be alive and in the moment.

Many many voice teachers speak of pedagogy, as do I, but for me the studying of singing is more than the technical things we need to do in order for the voice to work properly. Because those of us who are shy or introverted or intimidated or doubtful can study technique til we are blue in the face, but unless the way we relate to ourselves and the world is included it's hard to get free. I teach this because it was the process of learning to sing that allowed me to wake up to the way I protected myself and how that held my voice back... and me back... from being fully actualized.

In today's session I wrote, 'what am I not accomplishing, and what do I get from not accomplishing it?' (I called this a 'Dr Phil moment' :D)  There has to be a payoff for those things we wish to do and have opportunity to do but do not do. Not that we should be rigid and expect every hour to be busy with stuff. But there are hours wasted surfing the net or playing games that would potentially be better spent. That's what I contemplate tonight....

"Never hope for more than you are willing to work for"

I found that quote in an interesting blog by Brian Medavoy. Although the blog is about breaking into Hollywood, all the things he talks about could apply to a creative career anywhere. Highly recommended: Getting to Know Hollywood: Sign the Town Before You Sign the Talent