Studio De Chaos

IMG_1432Studio de Chaos is open for business starting in September. Its been a long year plagued with uncertainty and injury and lessons. Many many lessons.  Here is what I have learned:

1. I am not me if I am not playing guitar let alone teaching music.

2. This injury I have has basically put me at level zero of playing.  I do not sound like how I should. However, its given me a gift – I now know and understand the frustrations of the beginner.  The callouses, the awkward hand positions, the inconsistencies, the triumph of getting that measure perfect 4 times in a row, just to blow it on times 5-19 to get it almost right again on attempt #20.  Empathy is a good thing, and will get me back to where I need to be – at least on the teaching end of it.  Im still working on the patience side (for myself).

3. My imagination hasn’t gone anywhere. My imagination has always been the strongest asset to my guitar career.  I spent an entire year reading books just so I could at least keep one part of guitar game going.  And if my practice session this morning is any indication, its going to be a really fun year of telling stories while we learn some classical music.

4. My mental game may be strong – but my physical one is not – so I need to add more exercise to my daily practice. Strength training – along with a whole lot more physiotherapy here we come!

Im getting excited about the coming year – I have lots of ideas, and I am super excited to share them with new students.  And for everything that I have lost, I have gained so much more.

So if you are interested in an unusual approach to studying classical guitar, and live in Vancouver, BC – I may be the solution you are looking for.  Call 604-679-1731 to schedule a lesson. Ask for Laura.

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I’m Back, Babies!

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There are very few photos of me where I am smiling or resemble anything that identifies as happiness. And there have been even fewer smiling photos than usual this year.

But today I was given some wonderful news, I saw my orthopaedic surgeon – who gave me the go ahead to play guitar *regularly*. Some of you may know that I am a classical guitarist, who has for the last several months (which felt like 10 years) has not been able to play due to a bone fragment from my elbow wrecking havoc with the ulnar nerve.

I got the swelling down to an almost manageable amount (its decreased in size by half), and my movement is good. Although, I am still struggling with rotation of my arm, in both directions.  There is not a whole lot of feeling in my fingertips -but that should come back in time.

I probably should mention that I am playing because of twice weekly physio and acupuncture sessions, and once a week lesson in Alexander Technique. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am celebrating this milestone. I have worked hard. HARD!

Anyway, today is a really special day  – I am excited and happy.  I sound absolutely terrible, but I must tell you – its the most glorious sound in the world.

I practiced for 28 minutes. 17 of those minutes were actually spent playing.  I aim to be playing an hour a day, by the end of September.

Im so happy.

The Power of Believing (or lack thereof)

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This is me. I don’t always look like I this, but I pretty much always feel like how I look in this photo. Scared, exhausted, and like I have just gotten my ass kicked. Also I pretty much always feel like I am six years old.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a great deal of change in the way I see myself. I have had a great deal of help from both professionals and friends- and I have come along way. But there is one area that needs a great deal of work still. I don’t actually believe that I am deserving of a good life. Professionally I mean. I have made great strides in my personal life – but I kind of forgot that there is a whole other part of my life that needs attention. And so recently I started thinking about this area.

I am a classical musician – but due to injuries I am unable to play music. I have had a teaching practice -that I have set aside for awhile, since it wasn’t working out the way I had planned, and I am was a member of a quartet, that has just started to do a lot of performing. Since I am  unable to play (until at least July 1) I had to find a replacement.  I have a lot of practice ahead of me, if I am to come back to where I was as a musician  -and we don’t quite know yet if I will get there, even with all that work.  My musical life is the only place I feel validated.  When I play music I feel like I am contributing. I feel valued and respected. This is all on hold now, while I heal. And all of these feelings have gone away.

I also have a day job. And this is where my problem lies. I have dreams. Professional dreams. I want a job that is creative. I want a job that makes me happy. I want a job that challenges me. I want to be able to feel good about what I do. And I want to enjoy going to work everyday. I have none of these things. Why? Because I don’t actually believe that I should be allowed to have them.

I had great role models growing up. I grew up in a house, where not only did my mother work, and work hard, but she was incredibly successful. She made sure that I knew that I could do anything I wanted. She instilled a sense of independence in me. That stuck  -I am incredibly independent. I don’t need help from anyone. I can take care of myself. And I do. But I am unhappy.

A long time ago, someone treated me like a garbage can (actually worse-but its too painful to talk about). And that feeling stuck. I have never been able to shake it off. I don’t believe people unless they say terrible things about me.  I just don’t think they are truthful unless they are telling me I am useless. Probably why I can’t actually count on anyone to be sincere, unless they are angry at me. I feel better when I have goaded someone into telling me that they don’t like me. I have done this to my own family, more times than I can count. I know this is self destructive behaviour. And I have worked so hard in order to move past it. I have successfully culled toxic relationships, and built healthy supportive ones. For the first time in my life, I have a support system in place. And yet I am still broken.

I work hard.  But I am unable to ask for simple things like a raise. Or for a job that I would be better suited at. I can’t even quit a job that I don’t enjoy, or one that I am not good at. I am not afraid of rejection – I have had plenty of rejection in my life.  But I can’t even bring myself to be put in a position of rejection. I am unable to do anything – because I am terrified. Paralyzed. Afraid of being happy.

Because I am a garbage can. Suited only for containing trash.

 

 

Rainy Days and Mentors

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I have a mentor. Or I had a mentor when I had a business. I guess now you could call him a friend who is much wiser than most of the people I know. He is kinda sage like. He also understands the way my brain works, which makes him unusual. Basically he is around to bounce ideas off of. And then helps me focus the ideas into something real or at least something a bit more focused (after a couple hours of chaotic brainstorming). Sometimes he puts ideas into my head. But usually the conversation between us starts off like 2 bouncing balls – they start out manageable – but with each bounce they get more and more excited and out of control.

Its been exactly a year since I decided to shut down my studio (which I closed in July of 2016), and I have spent this past year walking around in a daze. I have been so lost. I have ideas, but they don’t stick. I want to move to Spain – but I don’t have the money – because Im paying off studio debt and trying to save during this time, has proven impossible. I have wanted to relaunch the studio into something a bit different, something a bit entrepreneurial – but every time I seriously start thinking about it, I talk myself out of it.  And honestly, I really don’t want to work with children anymore- so its probably best that I just lay it to rest.

So to mark the one year anniversary of me making a decision – the mentor/sage/friend comes over to have a chat. Or give a tough love talk. The tough love talks take place during a walk in the rain. This is how it plays out (in actual fact, having tough talks and walking in the rain is a lesson he learned from me):

Mentor (him)- Lets go for a walk. Leave the umbrella inside.
Laura (me)- Im not up for it.
Mentor – Im not asking you.
Laura – …. sigh fine.
M  – You are not 14 and I am not your mother.  Lets go!

M-(starts singing a song about an oyster whose greatest dream is to be a part of a gourmet meal to be eaten).
L- smiles a little.  joins in but I don’t know the words so I just make them up. I suspect he has written the song -but the tune is too good to be his.
M- Stops singing.  Ready to talk?
L. I guess. But I don’t have anything to say. I wasted the year, and I still don’t know what to do.
M. Ready to listen?
L- …..
M- Do something. Anything. If you don’t want to teach, don’t teach. Build skyscrapers out of lego if you want. Do anything but stop sulking. Tired of kids – thats ok. Kids are tiring and sometimes boring.
L-I just cant figure out what comes next, nothing feels right.

M- The universe is telling you to let go of this dream for awhile. You are injured- you cant even play guitar.You want to continue on this path? Because Im telling you – you have been here before.You either do something different, or you will stay in this place forever, and I know that isn’t what you want.The last time this happened – you changed the way you taught music – and it was completely unique. Change it again. Either musically or non-musically. Just change it.
L- OK
M-What are you going to do?
L-Stops walking and stares at a puddle. I am completely soaked by this point. I shake off some of the water, wipe off my glasses – look at the mentor and say – what do you think I should do?

M.  I think you should write a book. What do you think you should do?
—-
This isn’t the first time this has come up. Well, its the first time this has come up with him. But the suggestion isn’t a new one. I could probably be a fairly ok children’s book author. But his suggestion was to write a book about my method of teaching. A sort of manual – but in a reflective style.

I don’t know how to write a book. Other than starting with an outline, I know next to nothing about writing. But I’ve been thinking about this for several hours now, and I haven’t talked myself out of anything. I haven’t talked myself into anything either, but that’s neither here nor there.

The mentor strikes again.

*Photo Source – somersetman via flickr

Open Mouth – Enter Foot

Today being International Women’s Day, a very important day for all of us- since we either are or know (and probably love) a woman, I decided to share a post on my company’s Instagram page that I manage. A quote that involved something that I happen to agree with.

“They can live in my new world, or they can die in their old one.”

This is a partial quote explaining that the world has changed, you can either jump aboard, or drown waiting for things to go back to the old ways. The quote is attributed to a fictional character. A strong, independent, female character. The quote probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on this day, unless you know who said it. So here is what I posted, in all its glory:

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The quote is attributed to Daenerys Targaryen. A character known for strength, fairness, and leadership skills, amongst other qualities. What didn’t occur to me when I posted this, was that this character is written by a man. A man who writes extraordinarily strong and independent women, and then usually kills them off.

But its International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate real women, not fictional characters (no matter how strong they are).  I could have chosen thousands of other quotes.  I could have chosen to write something myself.  But I was in a hurry, and I’ve been a big angry of late – and this said what I wanted to say. It just isn’t enough. The message could be stronger, because it could have been said by a woman (original source). So I apologize to my colleagues, and customers, and anyone who saw the instagram post (most likely none of whom will read this post- but oh well – I feel better).

That said, I have chosen to leave the post up for several reasons:

  • I like the quote
  • Its International Women’s Day. I am a woman. Women are Human. Humans make mistakes. We should learn to celebrate and learn from our mistakes/failures.
  • Daenerys is one hell of a woman, and even though she is not exactly real, she is a good role model – or at least she has been up to what I have seen of Game of Thrones (I am only on season 5).
  • I grew as a person today. I experienced some presence and some sensitivity (albeit after the fact). I learned my lesson – and I am keeping the post up there to remind me (and all of us), that I am/we are not perfect. But as long as we keep learning, we can become better than who we used to be. And as long as that happens, we can survive (and thrive) in the new world.

And right now I am better than who I was at 1pm PST on March 8, 2017

*photo found on pinterest- source unknown.

The Chocolate Patronus

I don’t actually believe in the patronus.  I once img_1012
thought it would be great to have the spirit of a golden retriever, but friendliness doesn’t come naturally to me, and I feel kinda meh towards tennis.

But last night a good friend of mine gave me a chocolate with a bee on it. Bees are her thing -and its super cute for her. My last name sounds like a bee is nearby (if you are buzzing right now- you are very close to having a handle on my last name).

This chocolate made me think about what qualities bees bring to the game. They are industrious, sweet, community minded, hard working, social, takes no shit (also said friend swears a lot) from anyone, and is found in nature.  This does describe my friend who gave me the chocolate quite well. In case you are wondering the centre of the chocolate was a honeyed caramel.

So if I was to be turned into an animal and served on a chocolate what would I be? It would be one that prefers to be alone, always has a book in hand, and sees the world in a somewhat skewed way – but definitely on their own terms.

Seems to me, that I would be the Tootsie Pop Qwl (to hell with the chocolate).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fortune Cookie

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Do you pay attention to advice that comes out of nowhere.  Do you read your horoscope  -take fortune cookies seriously. Do you say out loud to yourself “if I only had a sign” – and then 200 black crows fly over your head.  What do you choose to listen to and why?  Why the crows and not the fortune cookie? I personally am not one for horoscopes, I used to have a friend who would write me a daily horoscope, but that was based more on who I am and not how the stars were aligned that day.

But back to the fortune cookie. A few weeks ago, my fortune in a Valentine’s Day dinner was “Investigate the new opportunity that will soon become an option”. I could have read that as a romantic opportunity, but I chose to think of it in a business sense. You see, I have had this idea for quite some time now, and that was to expand my teaching practice into something a bit more entrepreneurial. To open up a shop that focused on music, art, and storytelling mixed with some other mediums. We would hold workshops, and camps, and afternoon or morning special events (birthday parties etc). Its a really good idea – and its based off of the camps I held with Studio de Chaos (if you don’t know what that is – trust me, it was awesome). Somewhere along the line I got frightened.  Probably because my studio closed last year, due to rising operating costs and me feeling stressed and unsettled about the direction the studio was headed. So I shelved the idea.

But last night, I found myself in front of Small Business BC (in front of a huge sign that said “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” Exactly!  What the hell am I waiting for. If I want to start something, the time to do it is now.  The office happened to be closed when I got there, but I spent a good 15 minutes looking inside, to see if inspiration would hit. And it did. I could totally see myself doing what I had originally planned. And the excitement returned.  I made a mental note of their hours, and promised myself that I would return next week, to talk to someone.

In the light of day, and a not so solid sleep -I woke to discover that I really don’t want to work with children anymore (children being the target audience who would most likely use my services).  And so I am back to where I started. I have a great idea, but I am not so sure its a good fit for me anymore, and I need someone to bounce some ideas off of, in order to figure out what I actually should be doing.

Fortune cookies are wise, and confusing.


 

 

B is for Baked!

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In the latest experiment to get some sleep, I took a journey to a cannabis lounge. Now, pot is not something that I am overly familiar with. I am a casual user, at best. A few times in university, or whenever I am with someone who has some. I have never gone and purchased any for myself before. I am quite neutral on the subject of marijuana. Had a friend of mine not suggested it, I never would have thought to go. But go we did. And it was fantastic.

After we figured out how everything worked, we enjoyed the lemony flavour of Harmony. Here is a short description of what we experienced (from Leafly).

“Harmony is a hybrid that synchronizes the very best of its three parent strains, Santa Marta Colombian GoldLemon OG Kush, and Lemon Thai. These tall plants produce flowerylemon-smelling buds distinctly kush-like in structure. Its effects are invigorating and uplifting, but higher doses might push you into a more spacey experience. Indoor growers wait 8 to 9 weeks for Harmony to flower while outdoor cultivators prepare for harvest in the month of October.”

So here is what happened, we got baked. And for the first time in 18 months, I felt calm. I experienced normal. No anxiety. No worry. I was just calm and happy. And I could breathe. I was overjoyed about how good I was feeling.

When I got home, I was looking forward to sleep – because I knew that being calm and relaxed was going to help me get at least a few hours of anxiety free rest. But it doesn’t actually work that way. Yes I was calm, tired, and relaxed, and I did manage to fall asleep quite easily. But I didn’t stay asleep. I woke up at midnight, and have stayed that way until now (7 am), and since the sun is rising-any hopes of me getting sleep now has just disappeared.

So the lesson here is this –  I now know that I can keep anxiety at bay, without medication or expensive vacations to Spain (a story for another time), and after talking with a knowledgable staff member, I am confident that the right stuff will help me achieve the desired zzzzzzs.

**Photo by Adrian Snood via flickr

 

 

I Deal Through Escape

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My friends for the weekend

I read a lot.  Almost 2.5 books a week (depending on the page count – but averaging around 350 pages per book). At least so far this year.

I am plenty busy doing other things, I don’t have to read this much.  I work full time, I teach a few lessons a week, I volunteer, and I see friends occasionally.  I even go outside, when I remember that fresh air is good for me.

But I choose to read because it gives me a chance to escape from my life- something that television or friends doesn’t do. Reading engages my brain in a way that I am unable to think about things other than what I am reading. In other words, I am unable to have an anxiety or panic attack when I am absorbed in someone else’s story. I suffer from a form of PTSD (from childhood trauma) that triggers easily.  The colour green will set me off – as will the number 11, black dogs, springtime, and the jerseys of the Green Bay Packers. Also children who are in pain.  This one is a big one – and something I encountered a few weeks ago. And its made me retreat back into myself.

I met a 7 year old girl recently who told me some secrets about her life – and they were very similar to ones that I had experienced, and I have been unable to concentrate on much else since then.  I reported the incident(s) to the people who needed to know, but I have a need to do more.  But my hands are tied. I am unable to help any more than I have.  I can only hope that what I did will not cause further pain. I hope what I did will keep her safe.  For her sake, I am optimistic that everything will work out for the best. I have to think this way – because I am heartbroken that someone has hurt her.  I am heartbroken that someone(s) have hurt me. Mirrors – I hate them. They show way more than we need to know.

So back to the books.  I read to forget my own experience. I use books to create a new reality. I use them for other things too, like get ideas, and fall in love with fictional characters, and to understand new and old ideas.  But mostly I read so I can trust.  I can trust words (even if its for a short time – and I am aware that you cant believe everything you read). But its a different kind of trust. Fictional characters can’t hurt you like real people can. I choose to invest in this medium, because I am unable to trust anyone else in real life.

And I will never be alone, as long as I have a book in my hand.