Saturday, January 24, 2015

A love letter, nature versus phone, and an ode to just walking

There's been a lot of talk lately about why no smart phones- no constant distraction/ connection - even on Science Friday on NPR - why boredom is good for human connectivity and creativity- yes yes yes- but maybe even moreso-

6:30 am, Saturday, a Los Angeles suburb ... A wild wind that shakes the trees and knocks over the plants and yet, caresses my face. It Is almost warm. The trees singing as they dance, calling to me. No persons but for me, me and Henry.

The way the sky lights grey before the sun appears. The way Henry bounds through a yard of two foot clover taller than him. The way that last star- or is it a planet?- clings to the western sky.

And at home, all
Of this,
I remember.

And sad things, too. The litter, the uncared for empty pill bottles where once there was weed. The half empty bag of Cheetos. The notes from someone's 5th grade class, scrawled in careful lettering, a little girl with a crush. Thank god she didn't text.

A forlorn Christmas tree wrapped in plastic. One of the last of its kind at the end of January.

Yeah. I remember.

And childhood walks through the wood, and a deep winter peace and the quiet sleep of snow, and the way your ears catch a phrase and you chase from whence it came because you don't know if it's a song or a poem or a love letter.

This is a love letter.

I think.

But now the time runs scantily thin and we are each the slave of our moment in time- dreaming of boredom, drinking in clouds.

I promise I'll-



Saturday, January 17, 2015

This PMA is giving me whiplash.

Well, day whatever of not putting myself down as part of my promise to a random yoga teacher has been disrupted by a fantastic movie that reminded me of who I really am: Whiplash.

But first, my progress. If you read my blog on the 13th, you will have read the lovey dovey Pisces Erin who was full of transformation toward rose colored glasses and peace. She's our favorite Erin because she is the nicest and happiest... or is she? Anyway, here is my progress.

I have not mentally nor verbally put myself down once.

I have looked in the mirror at my stomach and judged myself three times.

I have looked at my thighs and judged them five times.

And by judge, I mean, I was really negatively appraising them, but not with specific words. More like a general, all around grimace.

Then I got to wondering. If I eat cookies late at night when I'm not hungry but merely full of anxiety and frustration, is that putting myself down?

I decided that it was, because it was an act of self sabotage and not in my best interests. So I count that as twice.

Then again, anything to tame the inner beast which COULD get worse if not periodically fed cookies, right?

Hmmm....

But overall, guys, really, I have not been putting myself down at all.

The minute I go into a crisis in my heart (and it starts like this: "My talent is going to waste." "I am this age and in debt and haven't made it and still part time massaging for a living. What a waste of my intellect! and voice!" etc.) or mind, I simply stop thinking and stewing, and instead get to writing, or practicing, or composing. I'm almost one with draft one of my second novel, and I composed two songs and edited my one woman show, and I am about to begin arranging the song I am recording for the Italian film this spring, and I applied for two fringe theater festivals this summer. THAT is the power of not listening to the inner DEMON of "not good enough" or "my ego is so very huge and I am so very misunderstood." HA!

Then, tonight, after work, I went to see "Whiplash" with my good friend Tom.

Now, those who really know me really well (a client of mine, really, only Allen) have been telling me, "ERIN! You of ALL PEOPLE have to see this movie!"

I knew I had to and I don't know what took me so long except that I am so glad I saw it.

I won't give spoilers, but let's just say it's about a talented kid at a music conservatory and his incredibly difficult teacher. Some might say abusive or oppressive. I say loving in the way only musicians and artists at a high level understand.

The movie is fantastic. Really. The music, the acting, the editing, the cuts. Just like great jazz.

After the movie I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Filmspotting, talking about how the movie could be a sort of personality test. It would separate people into a few groups: those who would never justify the teacher behavior EVER (or student's! He was as crazy as the teacher) under any circumstance; those would maybe think maybe just maybe but not really; and those who are like, justify what? That's how it goes.

Ha!

I didn't realize the first two were even options.

But then I brought it back to my NOT PUTTING MYSELF DOWN challenge.

See, the teacher isn't putting the student down. He is growing the student.

And this whole not putting myself down thing. Where does it fit in with my artistic dissatisfaction?

I feel like artistic dissatisfaction is REALLY important. I am not talking about perfectionism. That's for people taking Psych 101 in community college. (Crap. My ego is back.) No. I am talking about that aspect of art or music or acting or science or math when you go beyond facts and figures and slides and schedule, and into the realm of the mystical. It's like there is this divine thing and it is infinite in its refinement and we just get to touch that... there is no end point, just the constant leaning in toward that refinement. And that- that is everything.

It is like as Blake wrote:

One who kisses the joy as it flies
lives in eternity's sunrise....


So I feel really good about barely putting myself down hardly at all about things that are not real... i.e. fat thighs. Bunch of distracting bull$hit really, designed to keep me from passion and life.

And I feel really dissatisfied as an artist and only wish it wasn't 1 am and that I wasn't dead tired because I want to work on my projects...

Until tomorrow morning then, sweet obsession.

Blake's poem:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise. 



*my interpretation:
to be attached to the outcome via an external force (awards, money, etc) holds you BACK from the freedom and deepening of the art. In no way am I turning down awards or money But those things are SECONDARY to the breathing in and out of life force via one's gifts.

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Working on those PMAs...

 
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January 13th, 2015

            This morning, while walking Henry, I was listening to Mark’s Radio show (Mark Husson, the founder of 12Radio.com, where I host my show, Wide Open) and it was all about MARS in PISCES. I am the epitome of Pisces. Hello, this blog is called ErinThePisces! Ha! I know a lot of my non-believer blog readers roll their eyes at my Piscean Astro References, but I think they secretly enjoy it anyway. After all, spirituality and cultural belief systems that have been passed down throughout the ages share pathways weaving in and out and around one another, as if the earth were a basket woven from mobius strips…

            Anyhow, Mark was talking about how, when a Pisces loves (and therefore loses self because Pisces becomes one with the object of love… which is why so many people often ask, “will the real Pisces (me, Liz Taylor, Albert Einstein) stand up?”) the only way the Pisces can dissociate from that object of love when it is ready to stop being ONE with it is by getting angry.

            Whoa. That explains, um, my whole life.

            Anyway, as the morning waxed, I grew ever snarkier, mostly targeting myself and my poor choices in the past regarding my various artistic endeavors, although secret daggers of frustration may have been thrown toward my beloved as well.

            I spent 15 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym on the highest setting. I was determined to huff and sweat and puff and melt my way toward some kind of satisfaction until I noticed a yoga class beginning. ‘Probably not hard enough for me,’ I thought darkly, ‘and there is nothing I hate more than wasting time.’ Then I caught myself. I remembered that I had promised myself in my journal pages earlier that morning that I would find more ways to have fun and joy in life instead of pressuring myself all the time.

            So I walked into this yoga class at the ghetto gym I go to and sat down on a mat. The first thing the teacher did was tell us all about her 40 days of no whining detox. ‘Oh lord,’ I thought to myself, ‘self righteous new age merghhhh…’ Mind you all, I am as new age as they come. Allow me to refer once again to the title of this blog. This is where we laugh.

            Then she said, “Today we are going to work on our PMA.”

‘PMA?’ I thought, ‘What’s a PMA? I have a tight IT band and my hammies are messed, but what’s a PMA?’ Let me tell you, as a woman with a license as a Massage Therapist with about a billion hours of training, I have taken MANY anatomy and physiology courses and I could not for the life of me think of what the heck a PMA was…

            “Positive Mental Attitude,” she continued.

            Well $***.

            “We live in Los Angeles,” she said, “where we are constantly having to accommodate for all these people! 16 million people in this area! It is SO easy to get angry, to justify our BAD ATTITUDES. And mostly we hold it against ourselves! So let’s start by bringing up all our secret anger we hold toward ourselves, all our aggravation. Don’t hide it now. Bring it up. We are going to embrace it and release it. Close your eyes, and let’s begin to breathe…”

            I began to breathe. I began to pose. I began to sweat. And I began to weep.

            By weep, I mean, okay, tears streamed down my face but I made no sound. I just wiped them away.

            I had been so grumpy and why? Because I am not as successful as I think I’m supposed to be? Because I’m attaching to an outcome based on outside validation rather than living in the joy of the moment and really living up to my potential because it is the only thing I can do? Because why?

            As the class continued, the teacher asked us to bring up more sadness, more disappointment, more aggravation, more anger at self, more ways that we don’t think very highly of ourselves, and guess what? By the time we were 35 minutes in, I just didn’t have any more anger. Trust me. I tried. I really did. But I just felt… free.

            “Depression is not the cause,” she reminded us, “it is the symptom of blocked energy.”

            I remember years ago when I was REALLY depressed for many years. I would have argued that the depression I suffered was some awful secret disease that I would have to live with forever, that it was as far from a choice or a habit as you could get, and that it was part and parcel to being an artist.

            Then I began seeking- well, um- God, as in, for real, MY life, and-

            Then I began practicing gratitude and different habits and movement that can lay down new nervous pathways and meditation and doing what’s in front of me and being of service and letting go of attachment and- well- um-

(This little kid is from India. He doesn't have a car or a credit card or a mortgage, and, in fact, I don't think he actually had a house. We met him at the school for the poorest children in the city of Rishikesh where the kids got to learn not only to read and write, but a trade to help them earn money if they were not able to go on to high school. That school had just started a scholarship program to help the kids go on to high school and then college if the kids were able to stick with it. A lot of the kids at the school at only once a day. If this kid can be this happy, surely I can do better with my attitude! I think the photo credit belongs to Rick Canter. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me!)

            In yoga, this morning, I was humbled and moved when I allowed the spirit of not only the teacher but also all these beautiful class participants to move with me and for me. The room transformed. These folks alongside me were not in my way; they were on my team. The traffic of Los Angeles was not in my way, it was an interweaving of hearts and souls yearning for love and happiness and I could tap into THAT energy as much as I could tap into righteousness and indignation.

            No matter how enlightened I become, I still get to practice these humble pillars of a love filled life: gratitude, willingness, love, compassion, awareness... laughter… smiles… reaching out a helping hand…

            The teacher asked us all to make the following commitment: for the next seven days, do not put yourself down at all, not once.

            I accepted the challenge and decided to blog about it. I want to blog about it to keep myself honest and on it! That will be a very tall order for me I imagine, because even though I REALLY have come a long way, I still have a certain amount of artistic dissatisfaction that can translate into self-deprecation. Look, I think dissatisfaction in art is very important. It helps us refine ourselves as artists… but not at the expense of our spirit. It is a high wire act, therefore, to be willing to be dissatisfied righteously but merely observe the self toward greater mastery. That is my aim.

            I will report back about how it is going. So far, 6 hours in, I’m doing pretty well! Now, only 162 hours to go. Wish me luck!