Monthly Archives: May 2013

Day 141: I am singing differently this year

I’ve been working on my singing, lately.

I love to sing and have since I was a little kid.

I remember playing records of musicals — including “West Side Story”, “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” and “Guys and Dolls” — in the basement of my house,  pretending I was in those musical numbers. I danced and sang across the basement floor. Nobody saw me doing that (except for my cat, Tuffy).  It was one of my favorite and most joyful things to do, during some difficult times as I was growing up.

I also took singing lessons, starting when I was a kid.  The main thing I remember about that teacher, Mr Payette, was that he had some strong opinions about what was good and not good about my voice. He told me that the main thing that made my voice special was that I could sing really, really high. I was a Super Soprano — I could hit B flat over high C.   I remember him laughing, with delight, when my voice would keep going — up and up  — as he played the scales.

He also characterized my voice as thin, with not a lot of power. He told me that if I wanted to pursue singing, that I should only sing songs that highlighted my strength — the high notes.

So I sang mostly sweet, pretty songs, that had a high range, with not a lot of dynamic changes.  Songs like “Those Were the Days,”  by Mary Hopkins:

I loved singing these songs, but I never stretched beyond them, into something more dangerous or bold.

I remember something else  Mr Payette said to me, during my singing lessons. He told me to make sure that I never, ever hit a note wrong, when performing. That would be disastrous, he said, because …

you could sing every other note beautifully and perfectly, but if you hit one note imperfectly, THAT’S what the audience will remember.

I can remember him saying those words, so vividly. That really stuck.

I liked working with Mr. Payette. I think he was a good guy.

But I have been working on letting go some of those lessons he taught me. Because for most of my life, I’ve been kind of a timid singer. I’ve focused more on the imperfections in my voice. I’ve thought of my voice as weak. I’ve thought that there were only certain types of songs that I could sing. I’ve thought of myself as a “stiff” singer, not able to show the full range of human emotions.

I’m realizing that those ideas about my singing were formed when I was a kid, and they may be …. rather outdated.

When I was a kid, I DID have limits as a singer, especially as an interpreter of lyrics. I mean, I couldn’t give the lyrics of songs a full-bodied interpretation back then. Geesh! I didn’t even know what some of those lyrics meant.

I didn’t have the experience to give life to all those words about love and loss.

However I’ve been realizing lately that I’m not a kid any more, when it comes to song.  Now that I’m an adult, I can sing like one.

I don’t have to be timid — holding back for fear of making that one mistake that people will remember. I don’t have to imagine the audience forgetting everything else I may have sung, no matter how beautiful it was, if I sing one note imperfectly.

Now, I DO understand lyrics. And I can channel this understanding — and  the full range of human emotions —  into songs.

Also, about two months, ago, I made a real change in how I sang.  It started when I suddenly made room– through song — for a certain powerful emotion.

Anger.

About two weeks ago, when I was angry at somebody, and was considering trying my new anger technique of Screaming As Loud As I Could In the Car,  I tried something different, instead.

I made up an anger song — which included some rather rude words — and sang THAT in my car, as loudly as I could.

Man, it was fun singing that song.  It helped me let go of the anger.  And — holy moly!  Did my voice sound different!   It sounded clear and really strong, in  all registers. No matter what notes I was hitting in The Anger Song —  high notes, low notes, in-between notes —  everything sounded good  — and different — to my ears.

Since then, I’ve been singing differently.  I’m singing with feeling. I’m not holding back. I’m not afraid of the imperfect notes.

I’m thinking I’d like to keep singing more, this year. I may take some chances — maybe go to an open mic night and sing a solo. That’s always been a dream of mine, as yet unfulfilled.

Maybe I’ll sing, in front of an audience, a full-bodied, adult song, with complicated lyrics, and trust in my ability to deliver that song.  Maybe I’ll have faith that I can translate my ability to communicate passion and conviction — while using my regular speaking voice — into the musical realm.

I’m hoping that before This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally is over, that I will overcome some fears about singing in front of other people and do something new and spectacular.

No matter what, though I’m really lovin’ the different ways I’ve been singing lately.

Thanks for hearing  My Bloggy Song here, today. And I hope you let your full voice out, too, in any ways you can.

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Day 140: We cannot control other people

Duh.  Isn’t that obvious?  We can’t control what other people do — to themselves, to us, to the rest of the world.

However, we can be clear about how their actions affect us.

We can also let them know how we feel about it. And we can control what we do , in response to their actions.

This applies on a personal level.

Let’s say that an adult, whom I love, has a toothache. This person has had toothaches before and — for lots of reasons — has not gone to the dentist.

While I think it’s a great idea for that person to go to the dentist, it’s not my tooth. It’s not my pain.

The best I can do is this:  tell the person that it bothers me to see them in pain. Let them know I’m eager to talk about what might be getting in the way of them seeing the dentist.  Find out and offer information that might be helpful.

And then step back.

As they say, you can lead a horse to the dentist, but you can’t make it sit in the chair.

(Depending upon where you live, that previous sentence might make NO sense. If that applies to you, the original saying is “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” See here for more about that English language proverb.) (I am not, at this writing, aware of any real proverbs involving dentists.)

That concludes today’s post, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you, so much, for bringing yourself here.

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Day 139: What kind of town is Provincetown?

I had a great weekend in Provincetown, Massachusetts, visiting with my sister and her spouse. The weather was beautiful.

Here are some pictures I took during My Weekend in Provincetown.

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The above is my one piece of photographic evidence that Provincetown is a dog kind of town. I didn’t take photos of dogs, but they were everywhere — big ones, small ones, old ones, young ones, and one that — from a distance — looked just like a cat.  The above photo is also proof that Provincetown is an ice cream (and gelato) kind of town.

Provincetown is also a colorful kind of town.

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Also, because Provincetown is at the very tip of Cape Cod, it is both a sunrise and a sunset kind of town.  I didn’t take any photos of sunrises, but here’s one I took at sunset last night:

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And one right after sunset:

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Provincetown is also a garden kind of town:

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And, in conclusion, here are a few more photos to illustrate why Provincetown is my kind of town:Image

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I mean, everything looked friendly and whimsical, even this kind of message:

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I’m glad you stopped by today. Thanks so much for reading.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: | 10 Comments

Day 138: I’m visiting my sister and her spouse this weekend

This post is dedicated to my old friend, Peter, who helped me let go of anxiety while packing for a trip.

I’m getting ready to go to beautiful Provincetown, MA for the weekend.

I’ve been looking forward to spending some quality time with my sister and her spouse.

I wanted to write a short blog post this morning, because I’m eager to get on the road!

So I’m going to finish getting ready, and have trust that, before I leave, I’ll know how to finish this post.

See you in  little while …….

Wait!  It would actually help me to play some music while I’m getting ready.

Let’s see what tune comes up in a game of Spotify Shuffle-Play Roulette:

Here it is!

MUSICAL INTERLUDE:

I’m baaaaaaack!!!

I’ve made several decisions about how to start out on this journey.

I’ve been gentle with myself at each decision point, and having faith in my ability to choose wisely. (Also, letting go of the idea that there is One Right Way to Decide.)

Sooooo …. while usually I feel some anxiety and second-guess myself while preparing for a trip,  (that’s probably why I procrastinate packing) …..  right now, I am at peace, in the moment, and looking forward to spending the weekend with my sister and her spouse, in a beautiful location.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

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Day 137: Ghosts and Bravery

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of ghosts.

I remember, very vividly, sitting stock-still, wide awake — when my mother, father, and sister were all asleep — listening for ghosts.

The ghosts that I was listening for —  among all the noises one hears in the middle of the night — were malevolent.  I feared they meant my family — and me — harm.

(By the way, I had no idea what I was going to write about when I woke up this morning. However, I know I’m writing about the “right thing” now.  How do I know that?  I’m crying,  and I don’t know where this post is going. )

I would sit up in my bed for — how long? It felt like hours, listening for these malevolent ghosts during the night.

Over the years, I’ve talked about these memories with a therapist or two.  I’ve been puzzled by why I was doing that, as a child.

I remember a therapist or two saying, “That sounds like you believed that you and your family were in danger, and you wanted to protect them.”

I remember thinking, in response to these therapists  (and I’m still thinking now): “That’s weird. Why did I think we were in danger?  And why did I think that I — a little girl who was sick a lot, during that time — had the power to protect us? Who did I think I was?  And who did I think was endangering us?”

Again, I’m crying, so I think I’m “on to something” right now.

And I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll do my best to get closer to something helpful, before I end this post, drive my son to school, and go on into work.

The thought, “Who do you think you are?” is one that comes into my mind whenever I think I’m too powerful.  It’s a painful thought, because it’s associated with shame.

Another thing that’s striking me, right now, is how brave and caring I apparently was, as a little kid.  I’ve never had that thought before today, as I’m writing this post for you.

Before today, whenever I’ve thought about that little girl, sitting up in bed, scared of ghosts, wanting to protect her family, these were the thoughts:

 How weird you were. That doesn’t make sense.  What were you thinking?  

But I’m seeing and telling the story, very differently, today.

Here’s something else that is helping me do that.

Yesterday, at work, I had the privilege of facilitating a group where one of the members — a beautiful, intelligent, passionate, caring, emotional woman, who had experienced painful experiences, illnesses, and set-backs in her life — talked about (1) things that made her anxious and (2) ways she “beat herself up.”  Eventually, she told us about some scary experiences she had, as a kid.  And the group, spontaneously and authentically,  told her how much they supported and admired her.

And I wrote the word “bravery” on the white board I have in my office. And I invited everybody in that group yesterday — each of them people who had dealt with crippling anxiety at some point in their lives — to think about how they could see themselves as having been brave in the midst of fear.

In the group, I said something to the beautiful, passionate, crying woman — who had taken the risk of revealing painful memories of her childhood to people she had only met a few times previously.   “I can’t imagine a more vivid picture of bravery than the one you painted for us today. A little girl standing —  scared but unmoving —  between a violent person and a beloved family member.”

And I wasn’t sure whether that was the right thing to say, because I wasn’t sure how she would hear it or take it in.  (But based on what I saw in the faces of all the group members, yesterday,  it looked like it was okay.)

I realize — as I am writing this blog post to you —  I am telling myself the same exact thing I was trying to communicate to that beautiful, passionate, feeling-filled woman yesterday.

I’m picturing my 10-year-old self, frozen with fear at night, listening for malevolent forces in my home, not sure what I might do, but fixated on protecting my family, who were unaware of danger, sleeping peacefully.

And, right now I’m letting in, for myself, what I said to that woman in group yesterday.

I couldn’t imagine a more vivid picture of bravery than that: a little girl, scared and unmoving, trying to protect family members she loved from harm.

I have some surprising new thoughts, this morning:

  • Maybe ghosts do exist in some way. And maybe, just like  “clichés” tell us, they are related to the spirits of people who have passed on from this world.
  • Maybe there are signals, to us, in this world, to help keep us on the “right” track. (And here’s some current “proof” and data for THAT. This beautiful creature, who lives with us, and likes to sit on laps, laptops, and other things,  just improved this post with an editing change:Image.)
  • Maybe, just maybe, ever since I was a little kid,  I’ve been a person who passionately wishes to do well in this world.
  • And maybe part of what I was trying to protect my family from were my own “bad feelings” that I  must have had as a kid (but don’t remember feeling).  That is, maybe I was trying to protect myself and them from the rage and fear that any young kid would have naturally felt — having to leave my family and stay in a place (the hospital) filled with pain and people who appeared not to care about me at all.

Phew!  This was a surprising post. (And I’m not sure if it all makes sense.)

But it felt so important, as I was writing it, that I ended up not driving my son to school this morning — he walked instead. (That, however, resulted in my son and I exchanging many “gifts” before he left,  including both of us — in our own ways — expressing love and trying several new things.)

But now it’s time for me to conclude, this morning.

Thanks for reading, and for taking whatever you need from this, wherever you are.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 136: Clichés (continued)

Last week, I wrote a post on clichés (see here), and how I was hearing some clichés differently.

I am learning that clichés have much to teach me. (Other things that can teach me a lot: this blog; other people’s blogs; other people in general; machines including phones, fax machines, and pacemakers; and animals including cats, zebras, black rhinos, and small rodents including this one, which — if my memory is correct — is a dwarf hamster whose official title includes one of the countries in the map I posted yesterday:

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Anyway, I would like to add another cliché to the ones in that previous post:

6.  The best things in life are free.

Yes, indeed. Including water. And love.

Thanks for reading, everybody! (And to quote Jonathan Hilton, a loyal and appreciated reader, all’s well that ends well.)

 

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Day 135: Local and global (two pictures)

I wanted to post two images today.

Here’s the first one:

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That’s a sign I have in my office (and in any room where I do group therapy). It’s to remind people that the space is a “No Judgment Zone.” The sign invites people to let go of judgment (of self and of others). People have told me they find that image helpful. Some people have told me they carry around the memory of that sign, when they are outside, in the world.

Speaking of the world, here’s the second image I wanted to post:

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That’s an image I found here, yesterday.

What does that map show? It shows where people are reading this humble blog, “The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.”

So thank you for reading, no matter where in the world you are.

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Day 134: The Next Right Thing (re-visited)

Waaaay back this year, on Day 35, I wrote about doing the next right thing.

I just re-read that post (which, apparently, was the Next Right Thing for ME to do, in THAT moment).  I was happy to see that I linked to somebody else’s blog post, at WordPress. (It was the first time I had done that, so I remember feeling nervous about doing that.)

I was surprised at how much I got out of reading what I wrote before.

I was surprised at how little I judged what I had written.

Sometimes, I don’t read things I’ve already written, out of fear — fear of judging something I’ve created,  fear of becoming depleted because of that self-judgment ( and, therefore, less capable of moving forward). 

Here’s my question for today:  What have I learned (or re-learned) about Doing The Next Right Thing (between Day 35 and today)?

  1. Fear of doing the wrong thing gets in the way of figuring out what The Next Right Thing is.
  2. There are many, many Next Right Things.
  3. It’s your choice what to do next.
  4. Your choice is affected by many different things — inside you and outside you.
  5. If you think you have done the Next Wrong Thing, learn from that.
  6. Let go of shame and regret, so you can move on (see #1 above).
  7. The more open you are to what you have learned, in each moment, the more wisely you will choose.

I just re-read that list and I feel an urge to kid myself a little bit, because I sound like a wise old owl.

So going with that urge, I just did a Google Image search on “wise old owl” and this is what I found. This:

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And this:

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Now I know.   The next right thing, in this moment, is …

… to conclude this post. Thanks for reading, everybody!

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Day 133: Maybe anxiety means that something really matters to you.

Maybe anxiety means that something really matters to you.

That is how I’m interpreting the anxiety I’m feeling this morning, as I prepare to return to work after a week’s vacation.

That is how I’m interpreting the anxiety I’ve felt at times, lately, about this beautiful city:

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Thanks for visiting here today, dear reader.

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Day 132: What I learned on my spring vacation.

This post is dedicated to my late mother and to my son.

What I learned on my spring vacation:

  1.  Take the time you need.

  2.  Trust in your natural impulses to heal, learn, and grow.

  3.  Pay attention to everything.

  4.  Choose next steps that will benefit you (and those you love).

  5.  Everybody makes mistakes, including your iPhone.

  6.  You get lots of chances to do it better the next time.

  7.  Everything is changing and growing (even if you can’t see it).

This reminds me of another Emo Philips joke:

I was walking down the street and I thought, ‘My gosh, that’s Jimmy Peterson. I haven’t seen him since 3rd grade!’

So I go up to him, slap  him on the back and say, “How are you doing, you old moron? You drunken reprobate!” And I knock him down, and he starts crying, “Mommy!  Mommy!”

And I realized:  Wait a second. If that’s Jimmy Peterson … he would have grown up too.

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  1.  You promote whatever you perceive — and acknowledge — in others.

  2.  Trust the wisdom of those who love you.

  3.  Embrace all your feelings — they will give you “juice.”

And last, but not least:

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  1.  If you’re going to assume  ….

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…  assume the best.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

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