dealing with the schedule

Is it Saturday again, so soon? How quickly the days seem to fly, yet how long it can seem if you are in the middle of doing something you don’t want to do, like organize your files. When I’m writing music, I often feel like time is suspended. I’ll look at the clock at 8:30 and say, ‘I have time before I got to bed to work on this’ and I will get so focused on what I am doing that when I look at the clock again, and see that it’s after 11, I am shocked.

I think it’s got to be good for us to be that engrossed in our creative endeavors. Nothings worse than watching the clock wishing recess would come. While I think it’s good to organize time into things like hours and days, I also think we spend too much time worrying about time, and we need to let that go. But I’m not sure how we can do that in such a busy life as most people have.

I try to have at least one, preferably two, mornings a week without an alarm being set… so I can just wake up when my body is ready to wake up. I also try to have one or two mornings a week with no urgent things to be done right away. Most particularly, I try to have one day a week that is just for me, where I book nothing but me-time. Me time to sleep in, to have coffee in bed with the newspaper, to walk, to read, to be.

I’ve also fallen into a kind of organization of time that I guess you could call time management. I update my schedule and email my students and answer emails from prospective students on Friday or Saturday. I also write weekly emails to friends and family on Friday or Saturday. Saturday or Sunday I write and post my blogs. In the mornings, when I get up, I do yesterday’s dishes. Sunday nights, when the weekend composing or writing is over, I back-up my data. If I can, I try to pay all my bills and rent at one time, at the beginning of the month. I try to shop once a week and get everything major I need for the week’s meals and supplies.

Every night, I ask myself to write at least a page of script before I go to bed. That’s this month’s goal. If it was songwriting, then I’d ask myself to write a verse or a chorus, or try to finish something I started. None of this is a hard and fast rule, it’s a routine I favor that helps me deal with the stress of having a million things to do, and sometimes looking at the calendar and feeling overwhelmed.

The biggest thing I need to work on is sleep. I’ll just get myself organized and with it and something will happen – like a late night out at a show – and suddenly my sleep pattern is thrown off and I find myself going to bed later and later and later. So I have to get into a routine of a rather firm bedtime so that I get sufficient sleep. Lack of sleep isn’t good for creativity, or health, or living stress free.

Sleep, breathe... repeat :)

writing, composing, sleeping

Ah, time to blog. What will I say. I don’t know. I’m actually kinda tired at the moment, but I’m uploading some vocal tracks for a collaborator so now is a good time to think about writing a few words. It has been an interesting week – very busy but less stressful than normal. I have really tried to take the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and apply them to my daily life. I’m trying to remember to breathe, and be conscious of my breath, from time to time over the course of the day, I’m trying to get enough sleep, and eat fairly well, get out in the air, and do lots of music & writing because that’s what lifts me up inside. My teaching studio is getting busier, and I love working with adults who are on a conscious journey of their own to live authentically & release their voices. As well as working on some collaborations, the next big job is to do the books so I can do the income tax. Time is pressing, so can’t procrastinate anymore. Just don’t want the bad news, that’s all.

Besides that I’ve been trying to write my screenplay, I got the beginning done but then I felt like I’d run out of story, but, when I was in the bath on Wednesday (why do you always get your best ideas in the shower), I got a whole lot of ideas and I’ve written them down in prose, so I just need to get some time and try to construct the scenes. It’s my first script, but I like the story, it’s a romantic comedy but I think it has elements of drama and it’s different enough that it would hopefully be interesting. In my opinion, as well, you have to have strong characters with depth and history in order to make a film, and particularly in comedy. I don’t like surface stuff that just goes for a laugh. I like things like the scene in “As Good as It Gets” when Jack Nicholson is playing the piano and weeping because the little dog he was forced to look after & used to hate has gone home, and he says angrily “over a dog!”.

This week I am also going to the opera, and going to a master class for mezzo sopranos put on by the opera company, so that should be very interesting.

Someone was asking today what to do about writer’s block, and here’s what I do. I keep whatever I’m working on, on my keyboard (piano or computer) and look at it over the course of the day, read it out loud, or sing it if it’s a song, to the point that I’ve gotten to, and then I go do the dishes or go for a walk to lay down for a power nap and bam I usually get something. Sometimes I can’t get anything at all so I just keep looking at it, reading it, singing it… maybe I get 4 more words, maybe I get a whole verse or scene. I’ve learned to carry notepaper and a pen everywhere I go cause nothing’s worse than getting an idea and having nothing to write it down with… and you can bet you’ll forget it, too.

If someone was here with me when I am composing they would go ape, I think, because I play whatever I have, over and over again… and add a note here or there and then play it again. Last weekend I kinda forgot my Dad was in my bedroom and off I went playing something I’d been working on to see where I was with it and to see if I had any inspiration of something to add… and he came out and said ‘what’s going on?’ oops. Sorry Dad, forgot I had company there for a mo.

Anyway, I gotta go to bed. Getting up early is for the birds, it makes you want to go to bed before midnight. That ain’t no fun!

Forgetting to be Limited

What does it mean to be limited? That’s not an easy question, but let me try. It’s seeing yourself as being capable of doing only ‘this much’. It’s having a picture in your mind that says ‘this is who I am, this is what I do, this is all there is.’ It’s buying into the labels and definitions of the world around you.

I have more than one friend or relative who I look at and see as talented, having so much to offer. I can see their desire to explore something, or go deeper into something, and I can see their doubts holding them back. It’s hard to watch someone you care about tread water because they are too scared to take a step forward, take the risk, maybe even fall, but get up and try again. I’m no paragon either, there’s many times in my life when I know I haven’t run with the ball the way I could have.

However, we have to forgive ourselves for our past ways of being. After all, it’s difficult to think outside the box when you aren’t even aware there is a box. So having the conscious awareness to see how you might hem yourself in is the first step to change.

So here’s my plan of action for getting past a limitation:

-be aware. Be awake. Try to figure out what it is you say to yourself at the moment of making the choice ‘not to go there’. Can you figure out how you talk to yourself at that moment? Once you are aware of the thought, the next action is to talk yourself through it.

-start small. Let go of expectation. Let go of the need for drama. If you need to walk a better path, don’t plan to climb a mountain the first day. Just walk around the block. Or down the steps. Or open the door. Or put on your shoes.

-don’t expect perfection. If one is, say, for example, shy… then carrying on small talk at lunch one day might be a great goal… but if you can’t do it the next day, it’s okay. Allow yourself to grow into it.

-get help. Many of my students come to me because they need a mentor to encourage and support their journey. I try to help them become aware of their programming, move past the limitations, free themselves from the fetters of baggage and discover their true voice. It doesn’t need to be professional help – there are many support groups on the internet, forums, chat groups, your friends, etc.

-know the purpose of life is to live. Say that again. You are here to Live. To be Alive. You don’t want to wake up one day and be 80, and filled with regrets. At the same time, know that the present moment is all we have. Make sure you stop and see the flowers grow, hear the birds sing, breath the air, feel the aliveness inside of you. Be still and content for a moment, for one breath. One breath at a time.

That’s my Friday thought for this week :)

lazy April Sunday

Yeah, it's been a lazy day. Got my Dad here visiting, he slept in and then had a long bath in my old fashioned tub and we had a late breakfast. Then we went on a huge walk through the neighbourhood with his little dog, looking at the lovely old houses and the budding gardens. Ended up at this little coffee place on the harbour that has an outdoor heater, and we had a hot drink. Then we walked on the docks, looking at the boats & houseboats. Came back to read the paper & now he's asleep on the couch while I'm catching up with things on line.

Didn't do much music at all this week (out of town for a bit), 'cept I have a date to call a music publisher next week and discuss signing more of my cataloque. Was going to do it on Friday but everything was topsy turvy and figured it was best to wait until my brain was actually working.

I have a couple of deadlines coming up in the next two or three days, going to see if I can write some Dramatic Instrumentals with Contemporary Tones and some Contemporary Light Comedic Instrumentals. Also have a couple of Collaborations to work on.

And... there is Script Frenzy. I had done nothing at all but just before I went to bed last night I figured I'd at least try to write a page of my screenplay just to get started. I wrote nearly 2 pages. It feels rather uninspired but at least I got it started.

The next push is to organize my paperwork, do my books, do my taxes, and get that out of the way. And then in May & June I'll be painting, making cards and making jewelry for the summer gallery I do with my sister. I got some cool ideas for paintings on the little trip across the line I just took. I'm anxious to see if I can transfer the visions in my brain onto canvas. Don't know if I can. I tend to be an unplanned painter. I just start, with a colour... and see where it takes me. I have to go down to the art supply store as there are a couple of colours I'd like to add to my kit, and I think I need some new brushes. I'll have to check on my supply of watercolour cards. And I might need some small canvasses.

This week will be a short week - I'm only teaching 4 days - because my Dad will be coming back to stay another couple of days with me. I have 5 new students starting this month, plus one who just started before I went away. I don't have any space left at all and in fact I am a little over my quota, but I figured I'd get people in and started because I always lose one or two through attrition, because they are leaving town, get other jobs, etc. My old teacher in Vancouver taught 50 students a week, I don't know how he did it. If I go much over 25 I feel like it becomes a strain, and that's not what I want. I want to be energetic, awake, alive, fun & thoughtful. Can't do that if you are watching the clock or feel dragged out because you've given so much already.

Still reading Eckhart Tolle's new book, "The New Earth". A lot of it resonates with me and helps me see my own programming a little clearer.

"...whenever there is negativity in you, if you can be aware at that moment that there is something in you that takes pleasure in it or believes it has a useful purpose, you are becoming aware of the ego directly. The moment this happens, your identity has shifted from ego to awareness.... it means awareness is growing."