Post-it Psychology

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I am really hard on myself. I would say that I am my worst critic -though not my most imaginative one (saving that story for another day). I didn’t even know how bad I was to myself until some people I didn’t know well, pointed it out to me. So I decided to do something about it. I started taking notes about what I liked about myself, what I wanted to change, and what things I could live with. It’s been a considerable journey – I filled up a fairly large notebook with my findings.

Once the notebook was filled, I kind of forgot everything I put in there – so I started condensing the notes and writing the good stuff onto post-it notes. Then glued them to where I would see them. You know that I already have a thing about lipstick mantras – if you don’t know, I write mantras and words of wisdom in lipstick on mirrors. Sometimes they stay up for months at a time, sometimes they last for about 10 minutes.  They serve the purpose of a quick reminder to check my attitude. But the post it notes – they are reminders that I’m fairly awesome, or need a little work to get to awesome depending on where the note is located.  For instance the note in the bathroom reminds me to compliment my nose – because  someone once told me my nose was globular – and Ive kept that with me, and now I’m a tad insecure about it. But enough about my nose.

On my music stand is a reminder of how far I have come in a year.  It has a date on it only. Next to it is another note that tells me I can accomplish whatever I want as long as I go slow.  And behind my chair, plastered to the wall is another post-it that says “communist”. Its not about my political leanings. Rather, its to remind me of time when I was a fierce performer, and that I could steamroll any challenge that came my way.  It’s there to tell me that I am on my way back.

I have post-its in every room.  I change them according to what I need to hear. They are not to do lists (those are for the phone),  They are simply a nudge to remind myself that I am pretty great – and that it takes a little work to be come truly excellent.

Do you do anything like this to give your mental health a boost, or a kick in the pants – depending on what you need in the moment?

*Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography via Flickr

I Have a Dream

I have a dream.

I want a place where I can congregate with superhero wannabes.
I’d have a red phone encased in glass.
A place where we can learn from history and how we can make ourselves better because we learn from those examples and stories.
A place where we investigate how penguins communicate with giraffes – and we try to copy those methods, and develop our own communication systems.

I have a dream.

I dream of a time where dress-up goes back to being important, because it helps us figure out who we are – and who we want to be.
I want to explore what its like to be a dragon and a princess, I want to dance with a horse.

I have a dream.

I want stories to influence music, and music to influence culture (it already does – but i want more of it). And I want to participate in bringing those stories and songs forward.
I want bookshelves lined with stories – and ghosts of people reading.

I have a dream of letting children and adults do some musical exploring. I want everyone who walks in to learn an instrument of their choice, explore their own voice – and when I say so, I want them to put their choice away and pick up something different that is found 3 paces to their left. And explore a new world, so when they come back to what they know, they view it with brand new ears, and see colours they hadn’t noticed before.

I have a dream of owning a space where we can be free to make a mess.  Where life can be chaotic.  Because when life is chaotic we feel limited in how we can solve problems -but in reality this chaos frees us, and our solutions are unlimited – we just have to think a bit differently in order to unlock those possibilities. It all starts as chaos but it ends up as music.

This is my dream. And maybe one day this space will be mine.

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*Photo taken through the window – in a dark room, which stood explain the weird reflections. This space used to be a Home Hardware – but I think it would be a great Studio de Chaos.  A place where games are played, camps are held, stories are told, experiments happen.  A place where I (and others like me) could be happy.

Being Mentally Strong

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This post is based on Amy Morin’s book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
Let me preface this by saying, I have not read her book (yet), but I have read her summary post about it about 900 times in the past year – and I have some thoughts regarding my own journey  struggle to becoming mentally strong.

When I first came across this list, it was almost a year ago, and I had just re-injured my elbow so severely, that I couldn’t imagine playing guitar again. More than that, my doctors, and teachers/coaches didn’t think I would ever play guitar again.  If you know me at all, you know that there isn’t a whole lot in life that I love more than being a musician. It’s pretty much the reason for my existence.  So not only was I dealing with that stuff – but after years of teaching, I was unhappy with what had been happening in my studio, and had decided to take a break. I was in an unhappy place. I had isolated myself from a community that I loved, and I didn’t see a way to come back to it.

Of the 13 things that mentally strong people don’t do according to Amy Morin, I can tell you that I was doing all of them. These things are:

  1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
  2. They don’t give away their power.
  3. They don’t shy away from change.
  4. They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control.
  5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
  6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks.
  7. They don’t dwell on the past.
  8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
  9. They don’t resent other people’s success.
  10. They don’t give up after the first failure.
  11. They don’t fear alone time.
  12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything.
  13. They don’t expect immediate results.

When I first read these- my initial reaction was “Fuck you Amy Morin!”.  I didn’t think that any of my problems at the time had anything to do with me – or at least weren’t my fault. I wanted a quick fix, and I didn’t think I should have to do the work.  I was pretty much the most spoiled brat on the planet when it came to viewing my situation.  I viewed myself as a victim, in the worst way possible. While I have definitely grown this past year, and made some great strides in my guitar playing and the way I see the world (and myself in it), I am still struggling with some of these things. Continue reading

The First Performance

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Today the students of Studio de Chaos are taking the stage to perform some selections they have been working on this term for their friends and families.  It will be a day filled with music, fun, and excitement. But for some, there will be a few hours of anxiety and nerves, and uncertainty.  I have a lot of first time performers this year -who have no idea what to expect.  And these kids are nervous.  Excited but nervous.  Walking into the unknown can be a bit scary.  Explaining what is going to happen can only prepare them for so much, because something different happens to us each time we walk on stage. Sometimes its magical, and sometimes it isn’t. But its always an adventure.  So we take a breath, and hold our heads confidently, and we walk on stage just like we practiced so many times before.

But there are things we can do the day of the performance to make ourselves feel a bit more calm and confident. Here is my to do list on performance day:

  • Eat a breakfast that has not a lot of refined sugar – oatmeal is a good choice.
  • Something warm to drink is always nice, though Im not sure how many six year olds drink tea. But for me, a cup of tea rather than coffee is helpful.
  • Do a short practice in the morning, I would rather you not play the songs you are going to perform this afternoon, but if you feel you need to play them one more time – then do that.  No more than 5 minutes on those songs though.
  • If you are feeling nervous, read a chapter of a fun book.  Or tell someone a few jokes.  Laughter is great for relaxing the nerves.
  • Go for a walk at some point this morning. Pay attention to what you see, smell, and hear.  I expect all of you to be doing this at some point – and I want a report.
  • Most importantly, I want all of you to come prepared with a prank for the reception afterwards – because this holiday will be about fun and pranking!

I understand that sometimes we don’t feel up to playing in front of an audience, and that’s fine. If you feel like you cant do it this time, then stay and watch and learn from some of the other students. And if you feel like going up afterwards – we can arrange that too.  The recital is supposed to be fun.  It doesn’t always have to be serious.  And when the time comes, and you don’t feel like playing the song that we rehearsed, but want to tell a story or a joke, or a dance routine -then that’s fine too.  Anything goes!

The reward will be great today!

*Photo Source – David Vidmar via flickr