Internal Progress

I video recorded myself playing piano and singing two songs the other night and then watched it. And I was able to not be too overly critical of myself. Which is huge progress. My perfectionist streak which I’ve battled for years to channel into productive paths has gotten in my way a lot, as has stage fright that rose up sometime between undergrad and grad school, so the fact that I didn’t cringe or shy away from myself is a very big deal.

The songs were two I worked on with my voice teacher last year – a Joan Baez song and one from the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I knew I had certain nuances down before I even started playing. The next step will be to record myself playing my own music, and at that point, I can let the perfectionist out a little for tweaking purposes.

Music is so important for healing. I’ve said it often that it is the one area I’ve felt a lack in my life since leaving undergrad. So I’m glad I can introduce it into my life again.

A Couple Visualizations

The world has seemed especially bleak lately, hasn’t it? Disturbing videos, articles and op-ed pieces pointing fingers and hurling blame for every societal ill we face, people becoming inundated with guilt and fear and hatred, our so-called leaders and the elite growing more open in their hatred of the general population by the minute it seems. It’s a lot to process, perhaps even too much to process all at once. Which is how it’s designed to be, right? Keep us spinning until we’re dizzy and then we’re just grateful for the slight pauses to catch our breath.

To ground myself and not get sucked in by the chaos, I keep two visualizations in mind. First, each individual person is a drop in the ocean of humanity. So that image of myself as a drop of water in the sea keeps me humble and allows me to go a little easier on myself because a drop of water is sometimes swept along with the collective chaos of the sea. It’s okay to let myself go with the current at times. But a drop of water is also strong. It can continuously purify itself if it gets contaminated through the process of evaporation, always returning back to it’s original molecules. It can shape stone over time, especially when working with other drops. It is the source of life on this planet.

The other visualization is remembering that humans are made of the same stuff of stars, as Carl Sagan famously said. The star I visualize being from originally is a big blue one. This helps me keep my higher self in mind and not give into the pettiness and despair as often as I sometimes feel pulled to. Also, I’ve been working on this visualization to give myself permission to shine. We all should shine as brightly as we are able and not let fear dim our lights.

Do you have any visualizations that you have been working with lately to further your creativity/productivity and keep yourself from sinking too deep into the current muck and mire of modern life?

I’m So Very Very Tired…

Cue Madeline Kahn. If I ever decided to pursue a career in acting, my goal would be to follow in Madeline Kahn’s footsteps.

But seriously, I’m so tired. My 9 month old has been going through a sleep regression for weeks now. And the lack of sleep is taking a huge toll on me emotionally and physically. I’ve been suffering a severe lack of “me” time, either to relax and self-care or to create. We know what we signed up for as parents, especially being the second time around, but it’s still not easy. I pity those who are chronic insomniacs.

I’m also tired in the sense I blogged about last spring. You can read it here. More people seem to be growing aware of the bigger picture, that change is needed, but will it be enough?

And really, I’m so tired of being strong. Strength of will, strength of character, a pillar of strength, a warrior woman, juggling it all…  Is it strength to do what you feel you have to do? I don’t know.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t start this blog until after my son was a year and a half years old. He was a terrible sleeper and I was a “mombie” for a long time. A couple of weeks at a time with his sister doesn’t seem half bad by comparison.

I’ll be back to normal soon, I hope. I feel like I’ll be emerging from my cocoon soon.

Cristofori’s Dream by David Lanz

I don’t pay for the Premium package here yet so you’ll have to  click the link to hear the song. Play it while you read. Last week I dug the song out from my messy sheet music binder, and I’ve played it a couple of times since.

My uncle had a decent-sized New Age piano book collection that he kept at my grandparents’ house with other piano music because they had a baby grand, and I loved going through and trying to play all his sheet music growing up. This song was one that I could actually play decently, which was great because it was one I fell in love with. So I photocopied it at the library (10 cents a page!) and played it over and over again at home on our ancient upright piano that was always flat, but flat consistently so the keys were fairly in tune together just almost a 1/2 step lower than it should be. Then in college, I actually arranged it into a flute duet and performed it with a friend of mine, letting her take the first part so I could come in with the harmonies that I loved so much. I haven’t touched it much in recent years, with my piano being at my mother’s house for so long, so it was really nice getting it out. Certain songs are like old friends.

I posted a long time ago about the creative process being able to stop time, and this song, for me, is one that immediately puts me in that space. It is meditative, contemplative, and it takes on the emotional undercurrent of whatever I’m feeling at the time easily and lets me process. So that even when I’m sad or angry, it soothes.

What are the creative processes that you have that put you into a calmer, more present state of being?

My Growing Disapproval of the Label “Woke”

The label “woke” is everywhere I turn, and increasingly I cringe inwardly every time I hear it. “Are you woke?” “I’m woke.” “This person is so woke.” “#staywoke” And on and on. A dear friend of mine, whom I love, has been calling her new beau “woke AF”, and it was realizing how much I was making a face while reading this that made me question why I was reacting in this way (and if you are reading this, you know that I am THRILLED that you are so happy and have such an amazing person in your life and I will gladly bear the cringing while being witness to your bliss).

So why do I take issue? Why, I’m so glad you’ve asked.

  1. If you’ve spent any time with me before, you will know I hate labels of all kinds. And this has become yet another divisive label for people. People who think of themselves as “woke” frequently mock and deride the “unwoke” and rather than sharing the knowledge they have gained, they decide to write off those who are not at their level of advancement. And this separation is feeding the ego, not the spirit. If you are more woke than someone else in some ways, then you should have compassion for those that are not yet awake, not disdain. Frustration occasionally, but not disdain. Because at the end of the day, we are both individuals and a collective whole, as a species. So anything that raises you up above other peoples in your own head and makes you able to write off a large group is not really healthy. That’s like writing off your left foot because it’s numb from being in one position for too long, instead of helping to change the position of the left foot to get the blood flowing and be able to use it. Basically, many use it as smug elitism, and that isn’t doing anyone any good.
  2. So very many people, maybe especially those that consider themselves spiritual or are attempting to prey on others who are spiritual, are using the term as a tool to manipulate others to do what they want and to create power differentials. It’s incredibly hypocritical, and hypocrisy is something I abhor. I would rather spend time with an honest asshole than a hypocritical nice person. I have seen arguments that go “I get to do XYZ because I’m woke, and you only have a problem with it because you aren’t. If you were woke, you’d understand”, and what I understand is that you want the opportunity to gain something using really sleazy tactics.
  3. Not everyone is woke to the same things. Some may be spiritually woke and some physically, some may be socially woke while others are woke internally, some may have a slight inkling of what is going on behind the scenes while others may see the same thing from a different angle. I do believe that there are natural laws in the universe we are operating in, and certain fundamental truths exist, but as far as the details go, we all have a lot to learn. So keeping an open mind and not comparing “woke-ness” is a good step. Ben Folds sang that there’s always someone cooler than you, and one can apply that here. There is always someone more evolved and conscious than you.
  4. I think my biggest problem with the term “woke” and the way it is permeating into common culture is that it is in the past tense, implying that the work is done. And I get it. I had some huge leaps in spiritual and creative growth in 2014, when I finally lost my fear of myself and my power to change the world. And I had a brief moment after the tumultuous growing pains where I thought that I was done and could rest on my enlightened laurels and enjoy the fruits of my labor. But the truth is that awakening is something that should be consistently happening in your life. It is an active, present-tense verb because that is the way we should be living – in the present-tense. If you are woke, then you aren’t expanding yourself as much as you can be because you consider yourself done. Diving deep means uncovering more to learn, getting answers to questions means even more questions come up. If I were a bigger conspiracy theorist, I would say that the whole woke movement has been co-opted by figures in whose interest it is to keep people from that repetitive awakening. Life should be like a Fibonnaci spiral – we start small, we expand, then we go back and then expand again but in ever widening circles.

I don’t know. I am probably making much out of nothing. Language is more important than most people realize though. Do any of you have thoughts or feelings on the way this has permeated our culture?

Doctor Dragged from United Flight And the Greater Metaphor

There is the shocking footage currently circulating of the doctor that was dragged from a United Airlines flight due to overbooking. You can see the New York Times article here. And people filmed it, people verbally protested the man being dragged, but not one person moved to intervene. And following the incident, everyone, including the doctor, got back on the flight. This boggles my mind, because I would not go anywhere with that particular crew given that they clearly showed what they truly think of the passengers.

For me, I immediately imagined myself in that situation, or being at home and watching my neighbors be violently dragged away by “the authorities” for no reason whatsoever. And I honestly don’t know. One person against several are not decent odds. But an entire plane-full? Why didn’t they collectively demand a different crew, demand their money, demand for lawyers to be brought to the airport? It didn’t have to be a violent uprising, but some kind of uprising would be more respectful. We’ve been treated like livestock by the plane industry for years, but this really surprised me. Yet another sign of how complacent we’ve all become.

So here we stand, on the brink of yet another unjust war fought over oil on a foreign field that we helped set the stage for, that the powers that be have been manipulating and trying to accomplish for years. And we may loudly protest what will come, but will any of us actually try to stop them? Will we stop giving our power over? I don’t know.

A Lucid Dream

I had a really vivid lucid dream the other night that is a great metaphor for some things, so I wanted to share it.

In the dream, I’m inside this massive mansion or palace with a huge group of people, all dressed in beautiful clothes, and in one large room there is piled a huge amount of food, but it’s all rancid and bad. I vividly remember entire smoked carcasses of animals, giant piles of vegetables and fruit, and elaborate desserts, but it was all putrid. And everyone was eating it like the rotten foods were rare delicacies and the best of the best. And then they’d go into other rooms and throw up, and then eventually come back to the tables and dine again. And I can remember the smell of the throw up and being aware at that point that I was dreaming, and I was partially aware of being in bed simultaneously. So when I realize it was all a dream, I suddenly burst out of the closed-in areas and find myself outside on a large semi-circle balcony overlooking a lush forest, teeming with freshness and life and everything that everyone in the party would need to survive and thrive and be healthy. And even though I was a couple of stories up, I knew I could easily go over the balcony edge, shimmy down some vines, and be in that forest, free. But I also knew that I couldn’t leave everyone to the fate of being inside that mansion, so I went back inside and started to attempt to convince everyone, anyone that they could go outside anytime they wanted to, that the fresh air would do them good, and no one would listen. But I remember thinking that the effort was worthwhile anyway. Then I woke up.

The dream has given me a lot to think about the past couple of days. About society, about our choices, about our abilities to control what surrounds us. It also made me think about the movie Zardoz. Have any of you seen it? “Penises are bad, guns are good.” It is, without a doubt, a ridiculous 1970’s film, but I feel like you need to watch this at least 3 times. The first time, you ask yourself what the hell it was you just watched. The second time (hopefully several years later to cleanse the palate), you acknowledge that there was a lot of interesting social commentary interspersed amidst the madness, and upon the third viewing (again with a few years in between), you realize that the director was brilliant and so many things open up. At least, that’s how it worked for me. And why did I watch it multiple times? Someone bought my husband the DVD in undergrad as a joke and I like to throw movies on when I hand sew and paint sometimes, and I cycle through ones we already own because in theory they are easier to just have on as background noise. Besides, how could I resist watching Sean Connery dressed like this? ::snicker::

zardoz_zed

Anyway, moral of the dream – we don’t have to stay at a crappy party that is making us sick and pretend we love it. We can leave and have fresh abundance. But we all have to decide to stop playing the game together.

A Blog Recommendation – Think Horizontal

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but I am recommending this new blog – Think Horizontal. The author has written some very thought-provoking articles, and I feel like they have coalesced a lot of the same wisdom that I have sporadically interspersed through my meandering blog here with a much more focused intent. I wanted to respond to all of the posts so far but my brain was mush last night as I read them so I just allowed the words to circulate in my head.

True freedom. What does it really mean? And are you prepared to do the work and the thinking necessary to achieve it? And then to teach others how to do the same?

Liberty for All – A Poem

What have we done to Fellowship?
Where’s the love for our fellow man?
The insular lives we now lead
Means that we don’t do all we can
No more living the Golden Rule
Each for theirself, so weak, so small!
No help for your neighbors, nor hope!
It’s one for one, not one for all.

Can we e’er find Equality?
So elusive, it seems to hide.
It’s us verses them ev’ry day.
To walk this path, always deride.
Rather judge a person theirself
By thoughts, actions, and their deeds.
Instead of what we still look at:
Gender, race, sexuality, and creed.

Whence has flown great Intelligence?
Where have our brilliant minds all gone?
No more knowledge for its own sake,
The focus is on rich gains alone.
The latest big consumer toy
Or vanity pills down our throats
Learning reviled, hated, in vain.
Party lines are our only quotes.

How can we now achieve Justice?
That lovely and resilient song?
Impartial code for all to see.
Two rights can never make a wrong.
No more destruction or violence.
Each working to remove that stain.
Natural rights for ev’ryone.
The end of strife and futile pain.

Who knows how to speak out the Truth?
Unbiased and clear as a bell.
And could we even recognize?
We may not know and dare not tell.
It still is there for us to hear.
All it takes is for us to start.
The clarion sound can ring out loud
If we carry it in the heart.

Who now remembers Liberty?
To get it, will you make a stand?
Rights and responsibility,
Alway together, hand in hand.
Never yet in our history
Have we seen this, but let’s begin.
To grow beyond our current fate,
Search the mirror, dive deep within.

Copyright 2017, Kat Micari

Letting Go and Moving On

Last week I found out something that made me finally cry about losing my job. Outright sobbing for a solid 15 minutes, like I’ve done in the past when someone has died. I felt so wounded and betrayed, and thankfully my children were asleep and I was able to give full venting of my emotions. But I wanted to censor myself at first, because I recognized that what was wounded most was my pride, and really, of all the Seven Deadly Sins, Pride may very well be the least fun one. Also, in my efforts to evolve as a human, I try really hard to not let my ego drive the ship and to focus on deeper issues and discard the parts of my being that don’t serve me well, but I obviously have a long way to go still, and I really hated to have that reminder. That I still have attachments to certain identifiers about myself and my position in society. Objectively I know that it’s all meaningless, but subjectively I still occasionally care what other people think of me. It’s so contradictory that it is funny.

However, I am a creative soul, even as I seek to always be growing and learning, and I must admit that I will always have to give my inner artist-child expression or I will suffer serious consequences. And so I allowed myself to grieve and didn’t self-censor, and then I realized that I was indeed grieving a death – the loss of that version of myself and that path through life that I had set myself on. Those particular circumstances will never exist for me again, even if I do choose to return to the theater world someday. And that version of myself deserved a proper mourning and burial.

So if I was less wise than I am now, if I was less evolved, I could let myself linger in the betrayed role. I could play the victim and even relish the anger and bitterness for a while, fueling angsty poems and art pieces. But being where I am, I am ready to move on and figure out my new identity. Staying angry isn’t healthy for me, and my body already is showing me the benefits of letting it all go. The week I got sick leading up to losing my job, I had a fairly severe psoriasis-rash outbreak on my hands and then a patch open up on my back, and all the areas are healing now. I find myself laughing and being goofy with my family more, which is part of my self-improvement goal for the year of allowing myself to have more fun. And while I may get an occasional twinge of missing the part of me I no longer have, I can weigh it against what I do have and recognize the benefits of letting go. Life is too short to give other people the power to hold you down.

Whatever the future is, I trust that it will bring me what I need to continue growing and loving and creating. I may not agree with the Universe, I still may need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the next path I need to tread, but I do trust.