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.

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.

Creative Recovery Mode

My last creative project at work was an enormous one and fraught with minor annoyances and issues along the way to completion, so much so that I was left feeling shell-shocked and incredibly drained and fragile when it was finally finished last Thursday. My creative well was close to running dry, and my body still is teetering on the edge of sick/not sick from overwork and stress. But I am beginning the recovery process, and it occurs to me that my recovery steps may be helpful to many of you. So here they are:

  1. Meditation. I had gotten away from my regular practice during this project, going down to only twice per week, so I eased back into it. Taking the time to sit in silence with yourself is necessary to be able to heal.
  2. Exercise. Again, it’s been a while, and I eased into it with gentle stretches. This week, I’m hoping to be back on course.
  3. A long soak in the tub, with or without aromatherapy, candles, sea salt, etc. This is key because it loosens and warms the muscles, it lets your inner creative know that you are pampering it, and it means setting aside time for just relaxing and letting go. Water is especially important to me spiritually, so I have the added benefit of that, and I treat certain baths almost as purification rituals. This time around, I did a clay facial mask while soaking and felt the benefits deeply.
  4. Getting away for a few days. We wound up going up to my aunt-in-law’s cottage on Lake Ontario for the weekend. Work followed me a little bit, as I had some issues to deal with (the downside of being in charge of certain things is having to be on call), but I was able to forget about all the housework and paperwork that had piled up and truly take my mind off of work for a good, long while.
  5. Surrounding yourself with other creatives and/or people who are in your soul family. We had our friends out that we usually have out for our New Year’s Eve retreats, and it was wonderful. Rich, vibrant, enriching conversations, whether talking about current projects or spirituality or life or pop culture, that feeds your mind and soul like nothing else can. It is rare to find people that you can carry such conversations with and open your inner self to, so when you find them, treasure them for the gift that they are. The fact that we live several hours apart makes our moments together that much better.
  6. Take time to play. I spent a long time playing with my son, and I also took time to do stuff that was playing for me, which means I was again showing my inner creative that I am treating it right. This can be anything that is frivolous and something that you don’t customarily get to do.
  7. Spend time in nature. While at the cottage, I sat outside even though the air was chilled to do my morning pages. I watched the water. I walked barefoot on the lawn to ground myself. Today, after spending half the day organizing and cleaning at home, I went for a long hike.
  8. Be kind to yourself. This is maybe the most important one. Give yourself the comfort that you need to be well.