Musical Milliner

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

August 27, 2013

The Grace of Suffering

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In high school, I discovered hatha yoga, which led me to the writings, and eventually the lectures of Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert). I consider him my first spiritual teacher. He popularized the phrase “Be here now,” which later became the title of a fascinating book. Some recent drama has called me back to these teachings.

This excerpt is from a 1988 interview in The Vegetarian Travel Guide.

 

 

Ram Dass: “…that’s (suffering) the one that is hard for this society to recognize. That is one of the highest mystical teachings, that suffering is great. But who wants that? To hell with that…later, baby.

VTG: When one is suffering, it’s very easy for the heart to close down. In my own life when I’m hurt or feeling angry, it’s often an automatic response. What do you tell your own heart when you feel it closing down, when the stimulus is just too strong and you’re ready to run for the hills?

Ram Dass: When my heart starts to close down, first of all it’s incredibly painful because you get addicted to having your heart open and staying in that kind of liquid space of just being in love with the universe, like the divine beloved is just everywhere. When it closes down it hurts. What I do is I sit with it the way it is. I don’t try to push away my closed heart, that just closes it further. I just say, ah ha, my heart is closed, and I realize that what is closed will open and what is open will close so that I start to have a little patience about it. And then instead of trying to open my heart by thinking loving thoughts, usually what I do is go back into my breath because the thing that closed my heart was a thought that I had. It was nothing out there.

Nobody did anything. They just do what they do. It was my interpreting what they did that closed my heart. And so I can see that what I’ve done is get stuck in a thought form. And what I can do now is go directly into my mind and go back into the rising and falling of my breath until I get to the point where the thought dislodges and I’m just with the thought of the rising and falling, and then at that moment that whole constellation of thought that closed my heart isn’t around anymore.

EJR: Do you actually identify what the thought was?

Ram Dass: I used to do that. I’m an old psychotherapist so I would say, “why are you unhappy?” or “why is your heart closed and what caused it?” Now I’m not so interested. When you go into the causes then you move into the psychological reality. You’re treating it as real. That’s one strategy, but it’s only one strategy. Sometimes treating the psychological as thought and going back behind it is a much more efficacious manner to get on with it. It is a bottomless well of trying to figure out why it is you’re angry, why it is your heart closes. It just never ends.

August 6, 2013

The Singer’s Mind

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This is an informative article from a teacher’s blog. Lots to think about. The art of singing involves so many inter-connected systems. One’s psychological and spiritual state is a huge part of the equation, and technology is giving us answers as to how the musical brain functions.

Mostly, singers are bat shit crazy.

Read on.

 

http://www.singalexander.com/blog/2013/8/Training-the-Singer-s-Mind

http://www.singalexander.com/blog/2013/8/Training-the-Singer-s-Mind

December 26, 2011

Memorie

Like most children, I looked forward to the Christmas season. Deep in my memory is a tray of Kodak (pre-carousel) slides flashing vignettes on a white wall.

The first tray contains slides when my mother was still walking.

I see my dad taking pleasure and effort to make from found items, a giant arrangement of red candles in graduated sizes, each wired with a different colored light atop, and attached to a platform which was displayed in front of the house on the lawn outside my mother’s kitchen window.  Something about a neighborhood decorating competition. Something about the wires occasionally shorting out. I found the whole thing fantastic.

I see him on a ladder, held by my eldest brother and being cautioned by my mother, taking care to hang lights under the eves.  I remember the glow of the soft colors filling my bedroom as I fell asleep, and how magical that felt.

I have a flash of my mother trying to make potica, a Slovenian holiday bread my father grew up with, and her quiet mumbling as she struggled to get it right.  I’m not sure if she ever did, but I wouldn’t have eaten it, being too picky to try unfamiliar foods like most little ones.

Then there was a year when my father had erected some tacky cardboard fireplace and mantle.  I attribute this to his solution of pestering questions about how could Santa come down the chimney when we didn’t have one.  None of the ranchers where I grew up had them because it rarely got cold enough.  Some companion slides appear on the wall, and I see my parents, who seemed to entertain a lot, sitting around with a living room full of happy people on Christmas Eve after church, and I in my jammies wanting to wait up for Santa.  I remember what I thought was a sonic boom, but, given the day and time of night was probably a quick, sharp earthquake jolt, and the adults telling me that the noise was Santa parking on the roof, and I’d better get to sleep or he wasn’t going to come inside.  Snap.  I woke up later and quietly padded into the living room (the squeaky parquet floor was a challenge) to find that Santa had left many presents, including a doll for me!

My next oldest brother convinced me to get back to bed before we got caught.

The milk and cookies we had left for Santa were gone!

There are slides of our family at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  The creche scene behind the rail suddenly replaced by humans.  I was told many times that I made my stage debut as the baby Jesus when I was twelve days old, and slept peacefully per the script.  I  can’t forget the well dressed man next to us who dripped some astounding green-red glop from his nose onto a crisp white hankie. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, yet I remember this fellow. He is stuck on that slide.

The fragrant tree so beautifully decorated.  The ceramic creche underneath the spruce with which I  entertained myself, rearranging the cattle and sheep. Moving Joseph around.  Keeping the straw tidy and off the carpet for my mother.

Slides of the company- all the visitors.  The endless trays and dishes full of food.  The shock of seeing the rector in collar, sitting on a sofa with a cigarette and a glass of Scotch, and not having a clue as to how to deal with this contextual confusion.

It was a time of innocence which all children deserve.  By the time I was five, my mother was no longer able to walk.

The second tray of slides sits quietly in my mind.  The wall is blank. I don’t want to look at them.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap) 2011

November 7, 2010

Follia

Disheartened, discouraged, discomfited. Crying. Sulking. Repressed passion. More than anything she wants to crawl back into the cave, into the darkness that kept her safe. In its favor, the darkness is familiar. She  knows how to be there. Rather, when in the cave, she knows how not have to “be there.”

Once the light starts to crack its way in, she begins to take note of her surroundings. She is relieved by her solitary confines. At first this is reassuring.  At last!  All alone here, thank God. Nobody requiring her to explain or justify herself.  Relaxing from the tumult, she rests.

Eventually her thinking turns on her as her vision gains focus. Is this good, all this isolation? It is a bit… lonely. Perhaps she needs some company after all. Perhaps some distraction is in order, something to take her mind off those events which sent her running into the night alone.

She looks out. She looks around. And she waits passively for passersby. Who is that on the edge of the shadows? How can this be. Him? Truly? At first she does not understand why he is there, or how he came into her presence at this critical crossroads.

More alert now, her mind shifts into overdrive as synapses permit neurons to fire in rapid frequency as she seeks an assessment. One of the artifacts of spending so much time alone inside one’s head is that a person becomes an expert processor, engaged in an obsessive need to analyze situations from multiple angles. It’s a useful skill, but a skill which used to excess is not entirely healthy. The cost of this habit is a deficiency of  the ability  necessary to fix and embrace goals. It is the mental equivalent of a dog chasing it’s tail. Intensive thinking creates details which break down into a million bits of minutiae. Every one of those bits holds profound import. One begins to hyper-focus on each bit. A mind become lost and confused in the sheer volume of its creation.

From such thinking, surely, madness comes.

So she breaks free long enough to risk conversation. Acutely vulnerable and exposed, she experiences the tsunami of affirmations, and flattery wash over and pull her further from the dark places despite her resolve. Still over-thinking, she weighs her options.

She has an absurd conference in her mind wherein the Rational and the Empirical and the Existential and the Pragmatic all compete for dominance.

Not having sorted herself out, she risks all by taking the hand she sees reaching toward her. She finds in that immense hand kindness. She feels love. She is surprised by the intense passion, the cumulative suppression of which has been revealed in this confluence. What is this? Can it be real? She knows she cannot evade him even if she wanted to because he knows her game.

The light is blinding. It is as painful as the darkness. As much as she wants to acclimate to this new place, she finds herself battling mightily against fears and uncertainties. She remembers a time long ago when she lived in this brightness and flourished. She recalls exactly when and why she retreated into herself after the fog rolled in on her. She knows that in the dark, she cannot be seen. In the dark, she feels safe from potential harm imposed on her. In the dark she is comfortably numb.

That warm hand…It is attached to realities she has desired, and intense experiences she has sought all her life. But his hand is attached to complications seemingly impossible to resolve. The hand proffered is conditional, and in the end will likely choose to retreat to it’s familiar place in it’s own dismal darkness.

To hope against hope is yet another path to madness.

She measures her resources and finds herself  too fragile to juggle this place of suspended animation and potential. If it was contingent on waiting, on riding it out, then perhaps…yes!  She could do that. But she knows better.  Maybe it’s not that she knows better as much as it is about her inability to handle further loss. She chews over parables and metaphors and cultural wisdoms:  if a thing is too good to be true, then it likely isn’t;  nothing ventured, nothing gained;  that which is worth having is worth waiting for.

She is too old and cynical for such bullshit.

She flees back to her dark fortress. A place of familiarity with its own wisdom: pain alone is better than pain shared.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

May 24, 2009

Misfiled Lyrics

Filed under: depression,Musical Life,Songwriter — by Musical Milliner @ 8:16 pm
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I have misfiled again. I must, must learn to trust again. How do I change deeply rooted habits of thinking and behavior?

I have nothing to give, and my friends needs as much as I do. I will not increase the burden. It will  make me feel worse   But  my dear friends won’t like hearing that nonsense.

My biggest fear is being misunderstood. It’s one of those days.

I am in a self-imposed exile. Not for anything another has done or not done. Rather, despite some improvement in my adjustment to big life changes, I feel utterly lonely and increasingly depressed. I am so self-consumed that I’ve nothing much left to give; it is all I can do to get through a day and meet my children’s needs.

Maybe the meds aren’t working, or I need an increase.  Maybe it’s perceptions and not issues with chemical re-uptake inhibition.

At the same time, my old friends, careful of showing favoritism and the appearance of choosing sides politely avoid me.  After church, I approached four different people to go have coffee or lunch. Everyone running off to get on with their holiday. I am overly sensitive at present, and not fun to hang around.

So I took myself to a favorite cafe, buzzing with life and interest. There was a window seat, and I fired up the laptop and juggled food and computing, sharing space with other Singletons. I was alone in the crowd. It was both disconcerting and ironic to look around me and see that most of the tables had one empty seat.

Afterward, I walked up and back six blocks each way, window shopping. Trying to shake this feeling. Ultimately I returned home to my empty house. Bad idea.

And again, I am paralyzed. Alone and unmotivated.  Able to write here, yet unable to get my songs written or sung.

I will go to my piano now and just play. Maybe getting inside the music? Some days,  the only cure which can soothe and heal.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

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