5.16.2015

The storm before the calm before the storm

Rehearsals start on Monday.
It's Saturday evening.

I'm preparing: laundry, cleaning house. Groceries and stocking the freezer.
But more importantly? I'm stocking up all of those other reserves:

Sleeping late.

Walking and listening to my new Church, Krista Tippett and her podcast On Being. (This week she's talking to Maria Popova from Brain Pickings, and I love the interview so much that I'm only half-kidding when I say I'd like to have the conversation tattooed on my body so that it becomes part of me.)

Walking for miles and miles in the humidity, taking pictures of the crazily lush vegetation that has sprung up in the last two weeks.

Wetting down huge pieces of paper with the hose, melting color onto them. Making circles with tiny dots of red, fuchsia, bronze.

Talking with a friend - one of those who transcends time and space to feel like she's right next to me and it's been minutes rather than months since we last saw each other.

Listening to all to boys in my house snore simultaneously.

Trying two new recipes for the same meal. (And kicking their butts...kitchen WIN.)

Visiting with neighbors.

It's been a puttery, quiet day, and it's been just perfect.

It's 8pm. I'm going to surf the web, doodle, eat a cookie, read and draw. And then I'm going to take a bubble bath with lavender bubbles, and fall into what I hope will be a ridiculously restorative sleep.

Because on Monday? It's game on, and Little Miss Introvert goes into hibernation until fall. I'm excited for the music making to start! But I'll miss this quiet time.

My five:

  • impromptu porch visits.
  • old friends.
  • flip flops.
  • lavender.
  • thunderstorms.

4.24.2015

Redemption

Lovelies, this has been a week.

A roller coaster, one that seemed more affectionate towards the frustrating lows than any soaring highs or cool loop-de-loops. (Really, it was a whole stinky pile of equal parts not-good and confusing. )

But today? I finally got to the top of the hill. And the view was breathtaking.

I'll spare you the stinky parts: here's the good stuff!

- a good night's sleep (always makes things better, right?)
- a good hair day. (-ish, but I'll take it.)
- tying up loose ends before a number of days out-of-the-office. (productive AND fun! out-of-office FTW)
- a quick meeting with colleagues that I adore over delicious sandwiches. (Zoë's Kitchen? I lurve those steak stacks. YUM.)
- the soft announce of next year's chamber music series.
- a crowd that was young and fun at the show. (which included the hubby. SCORE!)
- Mozart. Radiohead. Piazzola. And a beautiful commission called Jan's (yan's?) Flight by Sybarite5.

It might've been 13-hour workday, but it was an excellent 13-hour workday.

Here's to pushing through, to that silver lining slapping the myopic of us in the face (hallo.), to friends and stories and dreams and adrenalin. To wearing fishnets because you've run out of tights but it's too cold to go completely bare-legged, and to pairing said fishnets with fuzzy slippers because your office is cold. To the feeling of relief. To being simultaneously surprised AND delighted! To changing plans at the last-minute to something better and/or less stressful. To Brubeck and Piazzola and Radiohead. 

To nursing a glass of wine in front of the late show as your boys sleep soundly and snore through the tv audio. 

To that feeling when the adrenalin is gone, and it's late, and you're finally, finally ready for bed.
Good night, sweet friends.


4.13.2015

Stretching.

I don't perform really at all, anymore. I can play a mean rhythm keyboard, accompany the easiest of musical theater tunes, sing along with any number of songs in my car/in the shower/at the piano/along with my iPod walking through the streets of my town. I love doing all of those things, but they're low-stress outings.

Solo piano? That's tough for me. I've played for forever - had my first lesson when I was 3. But it's always been a means of self-expression. And, when I play for people, the level of chatter in my head is DEAFENING. Really, it's the loudest thing I've maybe ever experienced that isn't actually, well, loud.

And it's defeating. Paralyzing. I can't get past the first sounds - too loud, too messy, too wrong.

Tonight? I played (that might be too generous a word, but bear with me.) a Chopin waltz. In front of people. I've played it for months, off and on, but only for me. (well, and the hubby - who is always supportive, and the animals - who are indifferent at best to my pounding.) I struggle so with playing in public; as someone who trained as a musician, but is no longer really a practicing musician, the mountain looms much larger than it ever did.

But one time, months ago, when I had made it through with some finesse, I made myself a promise that I'd play it in front of people.

So this morning (#committmentissues), I volunteered to play it for a little staff get-together. Low stress, an easy audience and a ridiculously beautiful piano. Piece of cake, right?

Aherm.

I made a LOT of mistakes.
Like, a million. Like I tried to improv or modulate into another key mistakes. Wild, ridiculous things.

BUT.

I played it. Granted, I had played it for a pal prior to the "performance" and nailed it. Felt really good that someone outside of my family heard me not suck.

But I played it. In front of talented folks who were months/years from their peak (instead of decades. Ouff.) And I made it through, without quitting. The piano didn't melt, the listeners didn't scream in pain. (Well, out loud, at least. Or maybe I was preoccupied...)

I can't actually say that it even really felt good. Sure, the checking off the 'goal accomplished' box feels good, but as always I was so, so happy when I hit that last note and was done.

I am, however, so happy and grateful to have the opportunity to stretch! How often do we get the chance to try things again and see if they fit, to work towards something that's not squarely in our professional wheelhouse, to crash and burn in a gentle way? To work towards something, to meet a goal, to play - albeit marginally - alongside performers who have chops felt really good.

Tomorrow? I think I'll pick a new tune to learn. For next year.



3.17.2015

WARNING: Navel Gazing Ahead.

It's funny - I think, if I took the time to go back through my archives (which I never do, which indicates that I likely am rewriting the same 5 posts every season) I'd see that late winter/early spring is the time when I try very hard to maintain a routine, to be less indulgent, more thoughtful, less material.

And likely I'd either find that I succeed 75% of the time or I'd notice huuuuuge gaps where I just 'forget' to write.

I've noticed lately that I say lots of really nasty things to myself. Not out loud, but they're there. And usually I banish them with ridiculous workout plans or draconian eating plans.

(They all serve as a distraction until the Summer People arrive and my life ceases to be my own. And then all bets are off.)

This year, instead of vowing to get skinny or eat vegan or workout every day until the end of time or any of those things? I'm going to be OK with being chubby and wheezy for the time being. I'm going to move so that I feel good. I'm going to try to be ridiculously nice to the people I love and with whom I spend time. I'm going to try to get rid of this negative talk that tells me I'm dumb/lazy/unworthy - not that I want to stagnate or think I'm all that & a bag of chips, because Lord knows I have miles to go...but I'm tired of constantly feeling that I'm somehow not quite good enough.

(So much for growing out of that whole insecurity thing in my teens, eh?)

Here's to chucking out the voice that says "Hm. Well, maybe next time you'll get it." and embracing the one that chuckles "That. That is a beautiful mess you've made!"

1.30.2015

Friday Night Bullets

It's 10pm on the last Friday in January, and I'm happily snuggled into the couch, the puppy (who turns one next week, so maybe technically not so much a puppy?) tucked between my tuckus and the back of the couch. He snores and farts, but he's toasty warm... on a night like this I'll take toasty & loud over quiet & cold.

It's been a week. A good week, but a week nonetheless.
  • Chamber music. So many emails to set the 15-16 season. Almost there, but "almost there" can turn into "gone" as often as "booked." Trying to let things work out, rather than force them.
  • Celebrated a classmate's promotion, and laughed my fool head off. LFI, thank you for putting together the best team ever - especially when there's no pesky work involved! 
  • Had a meeting with a designer at our outdoor venue...in the cold. Short meeting!
  • Lunched with a wonderful mentor, and with a young staffer. Both are whip-smart, and I was happy just to keep up.
  • Went to this new spot (they don't even have a website yet! does that make me trendy and cool? please say it does...) with two artsy pals. Tasty old-fashioneds and nibbles, great conversation, and a charming French bartender. It's not easy to make pals as an adult, and these new friendships are something for which I'm super grateful.
In less-than-awesome news? My office temperature hovered around 65 degrees for most of the week.
I have a gajillion things to do, and my motivation is strangely absent. I started the week strong as far as eating and working out, and only made it to Wednesday. And I have ignored the dust bunnies for internet surfing and the Outlander books. (Trashy and wonderful JUST LIKE ME.)

There is, as always, room for improvement.

But January has brought some really interesting people & projects into my life, and I'm feeling a very cool sense of momentum. I hadn't realized the depth of my 2014 rut until things started to feel better/more interesting...and they are, in fact, feeling much better. (Giving a shit is ALWAYS better than not giving a shit, I'm finding.)

Tomorrow I'm running a virtual 5k (most likely on a treadmill, because it's supposed to be reeeeeally cold in the AM), and then donating blood. And, if I can get my butt off the couch in the afternoon, meeting some artsy ladies for nibbles in town. 

January was watercolor month. February is yoga month. My motto for 2015 might be "an overabundance of mojo." It's working so far.

1.09.2015

well, then.

We're not yet 10 days into 2015. But I feel like my inner Pollyanna has been resuscitated, and whether that's optimism or naïveté I'm not sure. I'm rolling with it, regardless...I've missed her.

I spent the end of 2014 coughing my brains out, wondering how Mimi and Violetta ever made it through their damn third act arias. Really, if I had to characterize 2014, it would be "the year Rahree gave up" - not "gave up sugar" or "gave up all of her bad habits" but more like "gave up giving a crap about how she feels or what she looks like or what she's able to do." Not my finest showing 2014, but she's set the bar low for some significant improvement, which is great.

I cleaned house. 17 bags of garbage, 4 boxes to the Vets. Freezer and fridge purged. I bought a journal. And then I found another I'd been keeping. And I started making plans and writing. Vowed to exercise 31 times in January. (I'm 8 out of 9 as of today, which is a decent start I feel!) 

Granted, it's not been all sunshine and roses. I woke up at 3am Monday morning because the cat has jumped off the headboard onto my face and split my lip. Work seemed super easy for 2 days, and then well nigh insurmountable the other 3. 

But I'm making things again - paintings and photos and songs. And it feels really good. I'm getting back into touch with folks I love, and am trying to talk more. (Always a struggle unless I'm tipsy. And then the struggle is wholly the opposite...) I'm trying to do random nice things for folks, and to surprise people positively with little things.

It's been really fun. And easy enough to be sustainable, I think.

To put things into perspective, I was watching the conclusion of the Parisian/Charlie Hebdo situation from the dreadmill at the gym. And it struck me that interpretation was the issue. The Koran tells people that murder is against the will of God (full disclosure: I've not read it in its entirety, and only a translation, Allow me this educated guess, and then please educate me in the comments.) but some trusted interpreters of that text twist the rhetoric enough to justify their actions.

Is there no better reason to go back to the source material, to dig for the truth, than those recent lives lost? And lost because they pointed out discrepancies in a lighthearted manner?Humour has always been the method to talk about difficult things - it's an entré to loaded topics, whether intimate or global. Silencing those voices is unforgivable...and in their wake, are we not called to scrutinize flaws in our system more thoroughly? More importantly, are we not called to find more joy, to love more fully, to be braver and more open and more generous?

I think we are. I am.

Here's to giving as much as possible, to surprising people with tiny kindnesses, to screwing up the finish on the dining room table in pursuit of art projects, to ditching solitaire for scrabble. Here's to fewer generalizations and more deep connections, to more listening and less sounding off, to moving more and standing still less frequently. (In every sense of the phrase.) And to shoring up those of us who need more support, more perspective, more understanding.

Here's to a 2015 that is crazy good - better than we ever could've expected. 

1.01.2015

Welcome, 2015!

I'm happy to see 2015 arrive.

Don't get me wrong - 2014 had its good parts! New puppy at the house; a kickin', high-profile season at work; a few new initiatives that seemed to work around our chamber music series; a raise!; seeing my niece and nephew both doing well, and my mom positively thriving.

But it was a struggle, 2014 was.  If I had to assign a food to 2014, it'd probably be something like Cheese Curls - something that is initially delicious and tastes like nostalgia, but is upon further contemplation full of air and emptiness, and a little bit gross. I was blue for a good part of the year. In many ways, I gave up on a lot of things that really mattered to me, and embraced things that didn't really do much for me. I let go of some friendships, and burrowed inward...became more self-centered and lazy. We got hit with several large bills (broken puppies and trees and sheds oh my!), but mostly the year was just kinda blah...like we were treading water. And I spent most of December sick with a nasty, stubborn case of bronchitis...I aver that Mimi and Violetta couldn't have sung a LICK if they were coughing like that. Unless they were singing baritone...or being payed by Harvey Fierstein.

Really, nothing tragic, but simply not my finest year.

So I'm trying to ward off the twin demons of apathy and sloth by making lists and plans. Physical Health. Mental Health. Creativity. Relationships. Giving back. Personal Challenges. And - here's the big difference - I'm not trying to do them ALL RIGHT NOW. But I'm scheduling rotations to focus on different things during different parts of the year. Working mostly on either a monthly or quarterly basis.

Hopping hardcore - like the rest of my fellow chubby first world denizens - onto the health and fitness bandwagon, because the support is so pervasive this time of year. I have 30-day challenges for January, February and March planned out, plotted out what I'll do when I inevitably fail so I can get back on the wagon, and have a reward planned for April 1 should I succeed. I started week 4 of Couch to 5k training today, which is a feat after all that bronchitis. And I'm sucking down water tonight to prepare for my first bikram yoga class -  will I be smitten, or smacked down? We'll find out tomorrow!

I'm feeling optimistic. It's been a while...it feels good.

Wishing you a 2015 that answers that small prayer in your heart, that you didn't realize that you were carrying around.