Music Saves Me

pastel by Cat Fink, titled 'Archangel For Mrs. St. Cyr (Uriel)'

I’ve been listening to an interview series on the web.  Some of the interviewees are musicians/composers/healers all in one.  Each has told the story of how the healer part of their life developed in balance with their music.

I get it, because music has healed and saved me, all my life.

As a child, I was taught to deny what I felt whenever the feeling was difficult and uncomfortable for others to witness.  Anger, sadness, confusion, overwhelm, and grief were just a few of the unacceptable emotions in our home.

Denying and hiding my emotion made those around me more comfortable, but it left me in turmoil, not being allowed to express what was rolling through me.

Music saved me.

I started piano lessons at age seven, and quickly discovered I not only heard music, I felt it within me.  Music unlocked the denied emotions, and the feelings translated themselves into the sounds my body created on the piano.

Here, sitting on the piano bench, my feet dangling far above the floor, I could feel loud and angry, or heartbroken and slow.  I could move my fingers over the keys, feel the sound vibrate through me, and send my emotion flying into the air around me.

I could express how I felt.

I could let go.

I could be free.

I could be myself.

Music still saves me.  Sometimes, when an emotion is too painful or frightening, I lapse into the pattern of denial and control I learned as a child.  I feel something within me, a hard, heavy rock lodged in my body, and it’s the signal I am hiding an emotion from myself.  That emotion needs to be seen and heard by me.  It needs to be felt and freed so I can come back into balance in my life, and back into love for myself.

On my beloved IPod I have 67.5 days of music.  Music, melody, and sound for every mood and every layered fraction of a feeling.  Exactly what I need to heal and save and power myself, exactly whenever I need it.

I also have a keyboard sitting by the studio window.  I’m looking at it right now.  I haven’t played with it in some time, and I can feel it calling me.  I can hear it calling the music in me.

Come and play, come and feel.

______________

In this post:

The online interview series is The Conscious Late Night Show, created and hosted by Scott Brandon Hoffman.  It’s fun and illuminating. It’s also about being true to your creative self.  www.ConsciousLateNight.com

Between Have-To And Happiness

Bigger is not better.

I’ve decided this societal norm is not my norm.  In fact, believing this does me harm.

Here’s how my mind translates ‘bigger is better’.

If bigger is better, then I must always be reaching, and never be satisfied or celebrating where I am now.  I always have to be more, which really means I am never enough.

I am never enough.

Because of this belief pattern, I set out to do too much.  Today I’ll get this, this, and this completed for my book.  Then, I don’t.  I finish one or one-and-a-half.

Instead of celebrating what I have accomplished, I focus on what didn’t get done.  I tell myself off for not working hard enough, for being too distracted, for being too slow a writer.  I need to do better in order for others to appreciate me.

Funny, when I don’t even appreciate myself.

‘Not enough’ has been a pattern in my life since elementary school. It makes me sad to realize I am so unkind to myself, and that I’ve been doing it for so long I accept the unkindness as normal.

I would not do this to someone else.  Instead, I would praise them, be excited for what they have accomplished.  I’d encourage them to pause and enjoy it before setting off on the next step.

Why do I not say this to myself?

I have a lively life of which writing is a vital and essential part.  But writing is only one part of my life, and it’s the fullness and variety in my life that enrich my writing.

I am a slow writer.  I have days between working on my book, and each time I return to the book I bring with me new experiences and ideas, and a new understanding of myself.  I am a better writer because of all else in my life.  The balance of my life fills my well.

I trust my creative process. Even though I’ve been telling myself off for being too slow, I truly trust the process of my writing enough to create the book I am creating. 

Now I need to transfer the trust of my creativity and writing into knowing I am enough, and allow myself to enjoy my writing process in the midst of enjoying my life.

I am enough.

I Feel, Therefore I Am

pastel drawing 'Summer Sandals' by Cat Fink

I am changing the well-known saying by Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” 

I’ve decided writers require their own version.  “I feel, therefore I am.”

The writing for my book’s third draft is all about emotional context and connection.  The book is nonfiction, but it still requires the feeling connection with the reader.  Without it, my words have no depth, and trusting them is questionable.

It’s no surprise to me that the first two drafts lacked emotional context.  I am a master at masking my own feelings from myself.  Thing is, this lack is a definite problem when writing a memoir that tells of healing through learning to open my heart.

We are all masters at sensing other people’s feelings.  Often we call it intuition, but it’s really an emotional connection that runs below thought.  From experience, I am aware how I trust the feeling of someone’s words more than I trust the words themselves.  I can’t expect a reader to trust and connect to my story without also sharing with them the emotions that accompany it.

Sharing my emotions leaves me feeling shaky, naked, and vulnerable.  Sharing them publicly is terrifying, but I am walking myself through the terror, and writing anyways.

I am not doing this alone.

I have my precious group of friends and allies who read my draft, allowing their truest selves to be vulnerable enough to offer me their honest critiques.

I have an editor, and we are forging a heart connection between ourselves and the story to create it true.

I have writers and artists who are mentors via their books and images.  One and all, they walked a path of emotional vulnerability, and now they are showing me how to do the same.  When I get too scared, I pull one of their books from my shelves and borrow their courage.

Walking willingly into vulnerability is terrifying.  What surprises me is how grounded, open, and strong I feel after each writing session.  Allowing myself to see, feel, and express my truest heart is strength, not weakness.

Allowing my vulnerability is strength.  Opening the emotional connection is strength.  Sharing the words that come of this is strength.

I feel, therefore I am.

__________________

In this post:

In case you were wondering, a few of my mentors include Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Dee Wallace, Tom Hart, and Brene Brown.

Tending To What Is Already Here

I love gardens, but I’m not a gardener.

My home is set in a half acre of trees, flowers, and grasses.  I love its mix of wild and cultured growth.  A thousand shades of green (maybe more), dotted with roses and wild flowers, populated by five kinds of bees (I counted) and two kinds of hummingbirds.  Paradise.

This Eden came with our home.  Someone who was very much a gardener loved this land and created this beauty.  I am the grateful recipient of their creative soul.

You will see me outside watering, clearing pathways, pruning back the abundant wild blackberries lest they completely take over.  They would.  Their joyful growth would cover all in a rush for the sun.  They have the area along the fence at the bottom of the garden, and will have to be content with that.

Today I realized being the writer of a book is like my shifting not-gardener status.

I love books, but I always claimed I’d never have the patience to write one.  All that time on a single project—not me.

Look at me now.  Here I am, determined to see this book into full, abundant growth.

What changed?

The secret is the same as with my garden.  I loved what was already present, and out of that love, I began tending to it.

I love reading.  I love words and what they do for my heart.  I love playing with word puzzles.  I’d started writing a book when I was eight, and again when I was eleven.  I loved writing stories in school and university, and I let myself forget that during my love affair with drawing.

Writing was within me.  For years, words showed up as background and foreground in my drawings, as poems that burst forth in the midst of my sketchbooks, as morning pages, as essays accompanying my art shows.

Like the wild blackberries, writing showed up all around me, asking for a place of its own to grow and flourish.

Unlike the wild blackberries, I chose to let writing sprout up everywhere in my life.  The more I wrote, the richer my writing time became.

And now here I am.  I am an artist who writes.  I am an artist creating a book.

I’ve surprised myself.  I do have enough patience to take the time to grow a single project.

I may be wrong about being a not-gardener, too.

______________________

In this post:

The image is from a sketchbook I created for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2018. I titled my sketchbook The Secret Garden. It’s the garden of my heart. You can view the entire artwork here https://www.walkingowlstudio.ca/gallery/the_sketchbook_project_the_secre/