Thursday, December 29, 2011

What Do You Believe?

"Do you believe what they say about 2012?" she asked suddenly, in not quite a whisper.  She had just finished playing through a familiar tune on the piano we had learned together only minutes before.

"What do they say?" I ask.  I can halfway sense what's in her head and heart.

"That... it's the end of the world?"

I search her small face -- no trace of fear there, only tiny glittering ghost-wisp question marks.  "Hmm, I've heard of that," I say.  "What do you think?"

"Well, I don't think so.  I saw a movie..." and she describes all the natural disasters the film so vividly paints.  The scenes etched in her memory are poignant and meaningful given what I know she's already endured in her young life.  "But no," she concludes, "I don't think it's the end."

I believe her decision to not believe.

Extra flexibility is required to fully pivot for a good view of all the ways my own beliefs have been challenged, my stories tested, this past year.

Across the sea of retrospect, I spy:  The various literal and figurative dimly lit stages that threw my thoughts and feelings about celebrity and self-worth directly into spotlight glare.  My multicolored-snake-rope thoughts about creativity and relationship and their ability to intertwine without strangling each other.  How much bigger movement, more nourishing fuel, and increasingly voluminous light my aging body, mind and spirit need to thrive.

My re-drawing boundaries when they are again unwittingly crossed and building them out of a different medium or neatly packing them up to take with me when I exit.  Walking the crunchy undulating sandy path of truth alongside heavy discomfort and volatility, and seeing what small air-starved naked creature toddles out from between.

How I've brilliantly re-colored the magnetic energy of money and funneled it both toward and away.  Questioning why I questioned whether I really need a vibrant, beautiful calendar / house in which to hold all my crucial appointments and to birth-chart my life work.

And in what direction my heart pulls hard and how it matters less if that trajectory is logical, practical, and sustainable.  What and where my wild childhood abandon was, when it left, and my semi-shock at it's insistent return.  What is spewed and what is left unsaid.  How continual digging only leaves scars.

What expectations I've dramatically thrown into artificial and pure-true light, and how they've either grown into both high-arching beyond-control jungles or lay dormant in desiccated white picket plots.

I actually celebrate the human capacity to fabricate, in the name of both growth and resistance of, a thoroughly complex and elaborate everyday life around a simple but fully-believed story.

The extent to which we manipulate our surroundings, the lengths we go to convince ourselves and others of our reality, and the way we invent patterns of thought and behavior that support this story scream of our immense and innate creative potential.  

What do we choose to do with what we believe? An amazing amount of time, energy, and power goes into building the world (s)he / you / I live in -- just look at this incredible system, this intricate protective framework all spindly and giant and spread-eagled over the itty buried sleeping treasure whose name, color, texture, and makeup we forgot long ago!

"I don't know how..."
"I can't..."
"It's impossible to..."
"It doesn't work..."
"I've already tried..."
"I could never..."  

Such powerful building blocks, clobbery concrete foundation squares upon which we build a precariously leaning tower that we're incessantly scrambling to prop up.

How rich the deconstruction can be, how powerful to step aside as it topples, how sudden and frantic the manic digging to uncover the small kernel of truth singing out for a bit of warmth and light.

She leaned in a little closer to hear me say, "I believe that you and I have a lot of important and special things to do, and be, in the coming year."  She nods.  I briefly mention my affection for even-numbered years.  "I was born in 2000," she beams.

Later, at the door, I exclaim in my sincerely exuberant way, "I'm SO excited to see you again -- next year!"

"And it's even-numbered," she smiles.

I believe in a Happy Healthy Blooming Unfurling 2012, for you.
And in the words of Maurice Sendak:  "... live your life, live your life, live your life."

Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
The exploding-bubble Surgeon and the scissor-soaring Cruel (St. Vincent)

The year's popular posts (wait, do you have one that's not listed below? Post it in the comments!):
Maybe You're  a Harpist All Over the Beastie Boys
Dear Creative Work
Sense of Place
A Night in the Life
What IS Performance?

Trista's newsletter -- read the current edition here
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Coaching Opportunities

Friday, December 02, 2011

What IS Performance?

**For an entire month this Fall (2011), Deborah Henson-Conant and I threw ourselves into a joint traveling adventure of performances, workshops, and the ongoing development / implementation of fantastical ideas and dreams.**

And so, what IS performance, really? We'll peer into the window of my own experience, conveniently captured in this hardly-vampy video.

Here's the setup:  It's the last performance of the DHC Fall Tour 2011.  For an entire month (or more) we had been talking about playing on stage together and disagreeing about the reasons why it wasn't happening.  In classic uncomfortable 180-degree style, rebelling against our own resistance, we threw this not-quite-duet together just minutes before the show was scheduled to start.  DHC showed me the form, the parts she wanted me to play, and areas open for improvisation.

We are wearing outfits that I don't normally choose for myself and that DHC chooses for herself all the time -- about which she commented a few weeks earlier, "Good thing we don't get tired of seeing each other in the same thing every night..."

We are tired and had just finished building our own sound system out of equipment we had in the over-packed van, due to miscommunication about what the venue could provide.  I had spent many tens of minutes behind the video camera documenting this process and wondering whether it was for learning purposes or because we were gathering evidence for a Just-in-Case we might file down the road.  I had yet to slam together / sacrilegiously transform a sacred platform into our product table in all its glittery well-organized glory.  In short, in many ways I was completely unprepared to do this.  This is my least favorite way to perform, or really, do anything.

In high boots and tights that I now see aren't true black, I'm crouching at the harp stand because I frankly had never officially played an electric harp before, and playing it at an uncomfortable height was less of a liability than my actually wearing it.  Both string tension and the "voice" of the electric harp are unlike that of a pedal harp -- this requires in-the-moment readjustment of technique and reevaluation of engagement with the instrument (think of an acoustic vs. an electric guitar).  All this is to say, I had no idea what I was doing, feeling very vulnerable, on an instrument foreign to me, playing music that just barely made sense, as the closing piece for someone else's show.

Explaining the setup is not to sell you on why you should see this as a remarkable performance.  Because in many ways it's not, and while I treasure honesty -- Exhibit A, the last post -- whether it is or isn't is beside the point.

The point is that it happened, because we grabbed at and stepped into the opportunity to try a Big Something.  We could either let that slip by, or seize it in a myriad of semi-reluctant ways.  The mere act of doing it became more important than how.  That's not to say the "how" didn't in some way matter -- witness the video edit punches where both DHC and I cut out parts we declared were uninteresting or unacceptable and didn't want the rest of the world to have access to indefinitely.

This was imperfect action.  Messy, uncomfortable, and also oddly enlightening, liberating.  Two tired harpists unsure of an outcome and going for it anyway.

This was living out exactly what we were presenting in workshops during the tour:  Navigating the treacherous and oft-visited waters of Perfection and recognizing the futility of expecting, waiting, and striving for it.  Exploring how structure frees rather than limits you, musically and beyond.  Letting your life experiences show up on stage and disabling the old and out-of-date stories that can otherwise sabotage your experience.  Living in the moment and having that be enough.  Committing to your authentic self when you feel anything but -- "don't do more, hide less" (Karen Montanaro quote, from the Barn experience).

Would we have done that performance differently? Yes! And! No! The point is we do not even know what Yes and No are until we step into the experience.  Live it, in the moment, imperfectly.

And what happened after? We splayed all the travel food on the table we had thus far hoarded to replicate a massive congratulatory feast, then quickly tired of that and went on a slow search for frozen Snickers bars.  DHC edited out parts of the video we didn't like as we randomly commented and cursed about what was and wasn't happening in it.  We sat through late night tension about whose computer housed what and the proper way to affix receipts to larger pieces of paper.  We wrestled with illogically designed alarm clocks.  Real life.  The stuff that happens before, after, and during a performance.

Performance is not about editing life / reality OUT.  It's about letting it IN.

DHC will be in Atlanta on Sunday, December 4 to share with you both the broader and more detailed elements of what we experienced above, using the Blues.  I will be there a day later, but that's fodder for another post.  Will you step up and into the unknown, to learn about parts of yourself you didn't know were there, and other parts you know damn well you are both aching for, and hiding from? Click here to learn more and register for the Atlanta workshop.

Congratulations for the brave yes-and-no way you will choose to hide less today.
Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Joy to the World  (Pink Martini)
Trista's newsletter
Get notified of posts to this blog
Calendar of December 2011 performances
Other tour posts (in non-chronological order):
Prepared or Paranoid?
Firsts -- How the Tour Began
Sense of Place
Opportunities to explore who you are, with your music, unconventionally, using principles above, with me -- visit the website / email.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Night in the Life

She is booking it quickly quickly quickly through the aisles of the grocery store in her high pink plastic boots and grey baggy pants she is hoping no one will notice are pajamas. Her puffy white coat is hot but it's doing a great job of covering up parts she doesn't want seen, wait are people staring do they notice no makeup behind the hair do they see parts of her losing the gravity war? Hurry hurry hurry avoid lingering looks but they keep looking all that's needed is some foil some parchment paper a toothbrush to replace the one in her frenzy she mistakenly used to clean the bathroom and there is no way she'll make that mistake again due to the neon selection only available to her now.

How did she work herself up to this? Days upon days of being unable to make a decision, so far away from her heart now, all in her head, there is no right or wrong, it's complicated. She is afraid one way means she's not stepping up and that the other way just spells trouble and that doing neither means a constant folding up like endless origami or the Chinese whatever folded paper fortune teller game that incessantly moved like a chomping mouth but never said anything at all. Eating even more of that vegan peanut butter cheesecake with brownie crust isn't helping because this decision has grown bigger and more weighted and more important and she's almost convinced herself that if she can't make this happen she is flawed and failing and destined to flail this way forever.

At home it looks like again someone has ripped the corner gutter off the house and tossed it five feet away, why would someone keep doing that how ridiculous is it to reattach gutters in the rain doesn't this just fit okay okay it all flows and we just direct it that's what they keep saying keep creating the way to direct the flow show it where and how. Again.

Inside she hates the foil box because it rips at her hands but she's got to cover these holiday items at least that decision is made the ripping foil makes a glorious musical noise. The oven fires up like an opening line and the boom box designed to look ancient launches into its otherworldly soundscape she responds like a fluid Howard Schatz photograph work this out in the body maybe it moves up into the mind and blows wide open her heart and soul will feel the way. It's a really big boat in thick deep blue fog and it's aching to change direction but it is slow to change this monster, she's already alienated some with small decisions and losing them overboard as they willingly go not running but simply blind-stepping off the edge. Somehow it's hard to notice the people coming on board running at her with arms wide open because they are so light and beautiful and not in the heavy cloak of need she's used to.

She is thrashing in her grey baggy pi's and it's dark and rainy and cold and she knows that if she just keeps focusing on beauty and the escalation of her own universal spirit she'll feel connected and homeward and warm again like tears moving flowing not stuck and there is light somewhere and the heated rhythmic drums the high arching echoing guitar line the aching voice -- what's it all saying where is it going? Follow.

Music = real life = music = real life = music = = life = = = light = = = = choose = = = = be = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Achtung Baby! (U2)
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Coaching opportunities using music for when you feel exactly like the above -- visit the website / email.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Sometimes you just get in the car -- even a rental -- and go. says in a video (Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind -- Music as Medicine -- Deleted Scenes), "Touring is the best thing in the world.  You get to see... perspective... where you come from, from a distance.  Because you really can't understand where you come from when you're always in it."

Dream while here (DHC's friend's contemporary barn in Efland, NC during the Fall 2011 Tour):

Or here (the beautiful Twin Turrets Inn in Boyertown, PA):

Or here (The Victorian Loft in Clearfield, PA -- see an informal video here).

And home, in its unfinished-flooredness, half-paintedness, lacking door-edness -- I have a deeper appreciation for it.

This going and coming, this transportation outside of self, and in again, and out, and in -- this stretching into the person you envision yourself to be, out there -- bridging, always, between -- here, and there.

I put on a pair of black boots and link arms with a forever friend and absorb the second act in the smoky library auditorium of someone else's pictures and feel completely, utterly, at home.

The home page of the library link above reads:  "Reinvention is the only option."

Sometimes you just get in the car -- even a rental -- and go.

Then, go get more.

Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Hospital (Andrew Bird) -- free download here -- from the Norman movie soundtrack
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Are you looking for Deborah Henson-Conant 2011 tour posts? Click here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dear Nagging Little Voices

I'm not completely sure of your purpose, except to highlight the very pieces of life that are in need of clarity and light.

So I listen to you, but only so far.  And then I thank you as I push you off the edge (earlier than you think).

I know you don't want me to change, you want me to stay my small boxed little self, so you can feel comfortable and not have to move nor get out of the way.


Either you die, or I do.  I'm a Phoenix, and you remain ashes.

Changes announced soon.  It's all good.
Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
These Are My Twisted Words (Radiohead)
Bad / Wide Awake (U2)
Trista's newsletter
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Are you looking for Deborah Henson-Conant 2011 tour posts? Click here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tour Documentaries -- Take 1

**For an entire month this Fall (2011), Deborah Henson-Conant and I threw ourselves into a joint traveling adventure of performances, workshops, and the ongoing development / implementation of fantastical ideas and dreams.**

(actually, you don't have to, since you'll see it all below in the video -- it's only 2.5 minutes long and the end is very important!)

... you're tired and attempting to work after a civilized-for-a-second meal at an Italian restaurant...

... a certain someone is narrating her wandering rambling pre-bath journey around your new-to-you abode, the Victorian Loft Bed and Breakfast (more on this awesome place and its incredible owner, soon)....

Taken with one of our many recording devices -- this is classic TH/DHC on tour, folks.

Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Question (Moody Blues)
Trista's newsletter
DHC's site with links to newsletter and blog
Get notified of posts to this blog

Other tour posts (in non-chronological order):
Prepared or Paranoid?
Firsts -- How the Tour Began
Sense of Place

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prepared or Paranoid?

** For an entire month this Fall (2011), Deborah Henson-Conant and I threw ourselves into a joint traveling adventure of performances, workshops, and the ongoing development / implementation of fantastical ideas and dreams. **

It was 41 degrees Fahrenheit when I pulled the harp out of the car today.

This wasn't a surprise -- I was prepared for this outdoor wedding, unlike the other one.  It's why a huge heater was set up on the covered bridge and I had the prized seat right next to it.  And it's why my hands were cloaked in awesome fingerless gloves (thank you Tammy of Red Panty -- yeah, that's what I said!), and why I donned my big black coat over my dress clothes.  It's why the harp was tuned to itself and not to the digital perfection of a formal mechanism.

Prepared vs. panicking.  There is a fine line between being ready to meet head-on whatever might be thrown at you, and having so many "just in case" resources available you're literally drowning in them.

Purge vs. pile.  I won't say what was which & when during the tour, I'll just lay out the facts.  The van was stuffed with possibility -- interpret that as you like.  We lost many items in it, and gleefully and repeatedly "found" others.  We unexpectedly "gifted" items in random places.  When we sold out of product *twice* at the same show, raking in more $$ than ever thought possible, high-speed high-heeled black boot sprinting after intermission yielded quickly-replenished stock.  When a venue's sound system wound up being unable to handle a Camac 32-string "DHC" electric harp accompanied by looping and distortion pedals, we had a thoroughly road-tested Fishman "Loudbox" amplifier and Fishman SA220 (Solo Professional system) we could set up in minutes that more than fit the bill.

We had bags of food supplies, including dozens of containers in which to store what we didn't throw out (fermenting bananas and apples, anyone?).  We left one back seat in the van for napping, but never had time nor the space to use it that way; instead, it became the home of the SKB.  At the beginning of the tour, we were overwhelmed.  By the end of the tour, we had a system and a process.  We had both mess and perfection.

That isn't to say we didn't occasionally slide into terror over what was (not) happening.  Why do each of our fifty thousand maps tell us to go a completely different way? Why are all the doors we so crucially need to pass through right now hopelessly locked? Where is the pre-prepared promised food when we're famished? Why, when tired and halfway hungry at the foot of the mountains, the very last peach yogurt we saved tastes "like a blanket"?

Sometimes, you have no choice to go in trusting you will have exactly what you need, at exactly the right time.  You find the apple knife.  You locate the third hand-held recorder and there's room on it for another brief but imperative documentary.  You are stuck on the floor and Trista both gets it on video AND helps you up.

Sometimes, the "Do Not Enter" is exactly the place you must go.

You go in cold.  You come out warmed by knowing, hey, that was a temporary hell, but it all worked out.  Again.

Other tour posts (in non-chronological order):
Firsts -- How the Tour Began
Sense of Place

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When will I write here again? Click HERE and you'll know

Another imperfect post, this time accompanied by:
Vampire Weekend's "Giving Up the Gun"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Firsts -- How the Tour Began

For an entire month this Fall (2011), Deborah Henson-Conant and I threw ourselves into a joint traveling adventure of performances, workshops, and the ongoing development / implementation of fantastical ideas and dreams.

Very early on an uncloudy day, I was dropped off at the airport to catch a flight to Boston.  I was to play with Deborah Henson-Conant and Katya Hermann at the Regent Theater that afternoon, as a sort of kick-off to the month-long fall tour that DHC and I were embarking on together.

And then I got stuck in the airport for over twelve hours under clear unfettered skies.

I chose a sunny window spot to camp out with my new Mac laptop, my snacks (almonds, raw raisin oatmeal cookies, chocolate), and my journal.  Fine, I thought, I'll use this time to catch up on all I said I would do but conveniently haven't.   

I dove in with zeal, not accounting for eye strain as a result of staring at the computer too long, nor for feeling sick after eating only said snacks, nor for being just plain frustrated that there had been so much anxious preparatory buildup to this tour and I still hadn't even left the ground.

And then, slowly, it became a day of Firsts.

It was the first 25th of September in many years I didn't feel a painful simmering anniversary ache.

It was the first official mention of being "a harpist on tour" and it yielded me complimentary cabfare from the Boston airport to DHC's.

It was the first tour veggie sandwich I admitted I needed, which became the signature staple go-to meal for both DHC and I for the next 30 days.

It was the first time of many on the tour that I held the contradictory -- or dichotomous? -- thought that my current situation was incredibly insane and perfectly fine.

It was the first time I consciously and clear-headedly asked for help and support.  I composed a message to everyone I knew and invited them to sign up for my newsletter, and provided ways they could contribute to this adventure if it felt right.  Stepping out into the belief that I was not alone, that people might be interested in what I was doing, especially while stuck for hours on end by myself in the airport, felt both bold and stupid.  And worth trying.

And people responded.  They sent me notes, they sent me money, they sent me pictures, they sent me blessings.  They bought my handmade items, they signed up for something I wasn't sure I could follow through with, they shared my postings, they held the light while I stood on the shadowy shifting edge of the Unknown.

And I hadn't even left the ground yet.  (Thank you).

How will you step up and out today?

Another imperfect post, this time accompanied by:
Reverie, the new deliciously gritty basement-produced album by Joe Henry.  Link to NPR interview here  -- "and... this person who feels very alone starts imagining the expanse of the world outside of his small little encampment."
Other tour posts (in non-chronological order):

**** The tour schedule:
Sept 27 -- Fireworks workshop w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Pottstown, PA
Oct 1-2 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Denver, CO
Oct 4 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Liberal, KS
Oct 7-8 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Gallipolis, OH / Point Pleasant, WV
Oct 9 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Efland, NC
Oct 14 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Lake City, FL
Oct 16 -- Fireworks workshop w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Greensboro, NC
Oct 17 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, New Bern, NC
Oct 18-19 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Asheville, NC
Oct 20 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Waynesboro, PA
Oct 21 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Westminster, MD
Oct 23 -- w/ Deborah Henson-Conant, Clearfield, PA

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sense of Place

One thing I love about staying in five different places in one week is discovering how the morning sun shines in.

For as long as I can remember, my first step in visiting anywhere new was to venture out and explore the territory. Place is everything to me -- where am I? What is around me? Where am I in it?

I keep any space where I am neat and tidy, especially on the road. It's an outward expression of claiming sanity and order amidst chaos and confusion. When we moved to Ohio decades ago, I was convinced that there would be pockets of quicksand on our new-to-us six-acre property. Understanding that we were moving to a humid, high-foliage deciduous valley, I navigated the property to ensure my baby brother or father wouldn't accidentally fall into a pit of mire and be lost forever (apparently it was a male-only concern). By looking for quicksand, I found precious getaway spots I'd use for years to reclaim inner peace -- the playhouse, the streambed, the downed tree across the shale gnome house.

We moved to Ohio from Colorado, where I never found any quicksand, either. It's where I've spent the past five or so days and yesterday, Deborah Henson-Conant and I -- after our 3-day Kolacny Music (thank you, Dave and Debbie!) "residency" in Denver, Colorado -- drove through Franktown, where I had spent some very formative years.

I wasn't prepared for the flood of memories. There is Franktown Elementary School, brand new when we attended. There is the nondescript bus stop at the junction of Huckleberry and Ponderosa. There's where I attended a weird Halloween party where I felt the dark side of possibility. And there is where that boy lived that told me about.... yeah. There is where that snarling vicious German Shepherd was fenced-in. And there is that other person's house that had a small stream or pond and a tree in the middle of it, now a brick red with bright green trim. There are the pair of pine climbing trees that my sister and I claimed as our vertical escape hatches from the menagerie of daily childhood unfairness -- they were giants when we lived there, and now they are now only a hammock's width apart.

There is our house! Our HOUSE! Right there!

There are the dirt roads that we treacherously meandered down on our green and white girl bikes in an exhilarating rush of risk and speed. Together with our neighborhood friends we monopolized that space under the wide open blue sky. We claimed our voices and our bodies and our relationships with wild and reckless abandon. We sported a bravery in a pocket of Colorado that moved us beyond our years and Douglas county.

Oh that bursting of my heart! All the cold tears for how physical space and my relationship to it infuses who I am today. Oh that rushing of awareness that I created a new story when I moved from this space, one that I still wear in all its age and tatteredness. And the richest part of all -- the realization that parts of that story are no longer true, and other parts are so true they ring out as clear crystal gonging bells in my soul. Those are what I'm listening to now.

Today we travel to Liberal, Kansas for Deborah's show tonight. Travel + music + inner work = outer bliss.

Another imperfect post, this time accompanied by:
Heart of the Sunrise (Yes)
Wild Horses (Gino Vannelli)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dear Creative Work

You have me up late and early. What day is it?

It's because of you that I both lose track of time and am more than painfully aware of it. I am sitting sitting sitting thinking thinking thinking and Steve Winwood and Andrew Bird are singing at high volume.

But it's coming together. I think that's what you're trying to tell me through all this stripping back / falling away. Been a long time since I've worked in this push-pull, suspended in interwoven intensity and numbness -- I can't remember again, what are we doing and why?

Wait, here it is, the back end, the fire, incinerating the excess so I can spiral UP.

I am hungry in different ways, but still think in Food. More chocolate? I need greens with roasted potato, onion, garlic and zucchini, tomatoes from Mom, olives, a small amount of feta, a splatter of tahini. An exchange of dark slow stillness for vibrant colorful havoc.

Hours logged on Skype, numerous computers hold all the words and pictures of what we've created and recreated, tools ravaged and discarded, new ones built. Money -- who cares? It's not a break you need, just more time in your heart, less in your head.

Get up and MOVE. The energy can't stay in one place or it hurts. Forget the mad scrambling spasms -- be the proactive intense laser movement you were built for. I feel the difference -- give me lean muscle, cut the fat.

We can only say the simplest things by pushing out the mess first. You, Creative Work, remind me of the tendency to sabotage when I'm poised on the brink of Breakthrough.

Is everything ready? Of course not. Get used to that -- it happens anyway. Stand in it.

Push it out. Open up. Begin. End. Maybe never. Maybe now.

You'd have me believing this is what life is really about.

I think / feel / see / hear / touch / embody that you're right.

What Deborah Henson-Conant and I are living / breathing / believing in / taking on the road:
Fireworks for the Creative Spirit -- including the Matchbox Version

Wouldn't you love working with us to offer it near you?

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Another imperfect post, this time accompanied by:
Arc of a Diver
Not a Robot, but a Ghost

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Maybe You're a Harpist All Over the Beastie Boys

Maybe you're a vagabond social media master politico.

Maybe you're a chain smoker who sets other feet firmly on the healthiest life path they've ever been.

Maybe you're a vegan who loves the smell of a good barbecue.

Maybe you're a hip hop gangsta master gardener.

Maybe you wear the finest silk with dimestore fishnet.

Maybe you're a millionaire at the pub donning habitual humility.

Maybe you love both the softspoken waif and the violent musclebound.

Bill Withers, when asked by Tavis Smiley how he holds the note so long in the song Lovely Day, responded: "Did you watch the Olympics when this tall guy from Jamaica…(Usain Bolt)... came flying out of there. And what we thought was the world’s record was gone, man. He obliterated that stuff. And do you know why he did that? He was just running, man, because he could. That was him. So that was just me."

Maybe it's taken you 50 years. Or 5.


Listening to: HotSauce Committee PartTwo -- Say It -- Too Many Rappers -- The Lisa Lisa

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Your sprout and its dirt

Windowsills are perfect for seedlings. This one was given to me by Sunday school kids just a few weeks back, and several days ago it bravely broke ground.

It's a mystery plant at the moment, but looks suspiciously like it belongs to the morning glory family. No matter what it is, it will have a solid home here, either inside with the harp and cat and piano, or outside in the rambling expanse of the haphazard yard.

The crystal was given to me to my brother many many years ago, and its home has been the kitchen windowsill of every house I've lived in. It keeps me company when I am lost in thought, experimenting with food.

Checking this sprout daily reminded me of what others
have talked about regarding change and beginnings: “When you plant a new seed in the soil, the first thing that comes up is not the new shoot. The first thing that comes up is a little dirt.”

That dirt! These is a critical moment. All the Stuff, the obstacles, the excuses, the reasons, the stories -- all are unearthed. You either keep reaching for the light -- growth! -- or revert back underground from where you are emerging.

What seed gives up on itself?!

Take care of yourself during this precious time, whether you're starting music lessons as an adult, changing your lifestyle and/or health habits, preparing for a big performance, examining your relationships, planning a wedding, searching for a new career, getting through school.

Nurture, listen, protect, check in.

The reward is going to be gorgeous, fulfilling, miraculous, and every single day -- absolutely, beautifully, and ironically -- new in its own unique way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Harp + the Outdoors, Part 1 -- What Works

Outdoor wedding season is here, though wedding season started, for me, back in January. Here's what it looks like when the weather is right! Doesn't it look warm and luscious outside?

The wedding took place at the Darby House, one of my favorite places to play in central Ohio -- more photos here.

The fantastic Ely Brothers are responsible for the harp photo, and the officiant for this wedding, Damian King, shared it with me through a post on his elegant blog.
Damian's blog is not only packed with very helpful information for those planning a wedding, but also serves as an inspiring source about relationships and beauty.

Is that my real arm or a fantastic camera angle? Honestly, experimenting with how to be in the best shape for this work is an adventure.

Strength, balance, and stamina are necessary to
transport all the necessary tools of the trade, AND, when the body naturally knows what real support feels like, the better the playing and attention to detail while keeping an eye on all the beautiful people and what they are (not) doing.

In addition to weddings these next few weekends, I'm also playing some public events -- Market District Kingsdale (upstairs cafe) in Upper Arlington, and Krysty Designs Fine Jewelry in Powell (outside, weather permitting!) -- see my News / Calendar page for times and directions. I would love to meet you there! And you can see firsthand if I'm maintaining composure -- er, posture.

Here is what an outdoor wedding looks like when the weather is not great. Threat of rain and 51 degrees, folks -- nuh-uh.

The harp is affected by temperature and humidity, to be short and sweet; they influence the harp's ability to stay in tune and how the music is executed.

It is why special weather clauses in contracts exist, and why some harpists elect to never play outdoors.
But with clear communication prior to the wedding or other special event, contracts that summarize that information -- including backup plans and other what-to-do-if's -- actually make for very happy clients.

What must be in place for you to do your best work?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Leave it, Take it

Where did the last minutes of 2010 find you?

I found myself at one of my favorite spots just before midnight, at the apex of a rushing creek. It was balmy out, perfect for taking very deep breaths. In... out... in... it's where the water is both rushing at you, and also away, just like 2010.

Clearly not midnight

Soon after, the neighborhood exploded in fireworks and firecrackers, and the speeding cars made it unsafe to linger where the road meets ravine. All done now, leaving.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I love the idea of having a guiding word (or three) for the year, a la Chris Brogan and Christine Kane. I chose my three, and they're helping to clarify where I am and where I hope to go / be. So suddenly the water-damaged table needs hit with SoyGel (no, not an affiliate link), and the pile of nearly-dessicated kitchen lemons -- organic, even! -- long ago incapable of flavoring food or becoming part of an environmentally-friendly cleaner, are very obviously just yellow-brown, compact, nodular bombs that have to go. NOW.

Armed with a few words, it is easier to purge. Often I take stuff to Goodwill, but more often I leave stuff for the Take-It Faeries. In this neck of the woods, you leave what you don't want at the end of your driveway with a big FREE sign slapped on it, and sometimes within hours, it disappears. But the TIFs were picky today, only taking one item and leaving the other three.

Last week a student was attempting to play through a section that was giving her trouble, again. Suddenly, with wide eyes, she turned to me and exclaimed, "OHMYGOSH, what am I doing?!?" and then turned back to her work with a severity and determination to nail it this time. And she did.

What are you just taking / tolerating; what needs to leave?