Thursday, May 26, 2016

It turns out I like the flurry - tending to stay in motion

Yesterday was a crazy day in my life. I had to complete two vastly different projects. First, I was presenting my "Let's Talk Clouds" workshop at a local middle school.

As the Earth Lady, I work with schools to help students jump-start their interest in science, specifically Earth Science.

Then, I switched gears and released my interactive Tarot reading ebook. As part of the project, I had to finish the programming, create the cover, and upload the entire thing to amazon.

I'm excited about this project because it allows the reader to choose a new card every day from a random selector set. Then, the reader sees the interpretation and a special call to action individual to each card. I've been working on the interpretations for years, but I had never figured out exactly how to create the interactive portion of the book.

And here's how the title of this blog post relates. I didn't try to focus on both projects at once. They are too disparate. As I've gotten older, I've seen the wisdom of limiting multitasking. Although it seems efficient, it isn't. It's a will-o'-the-wisp. It leads you down the primrose path of thinking you are being efficient while all the while your brain is operating at a slower speed and lower level.

Here's what I did do. I completed the workshop with the kids, and I gave it my all. I left it all on the classroom floor, as they say. We had a blast. Their transformation from before the workshop to afterward startled me. They went from post-lunch food coma to shouting about how much fun they'd had in just under 40 minutes. I can't wait to go back.

And after I got home from the workshop, I jumped into the Today's Tarot project. I created the cover. I finished the programming. I uploaded everything to amazon, and I released the entire thing.

It was exciting and energizing. I didn't feel my exhaustion until I was finished. And then I dropped like a stone.

Why did I just write up my entire day for you? Well, it's because I've had a realization. If you work hard, if you commit yourself to excellence on each project, you will succeed. And here's the most important thing. The key to that success lies in maintaining the level of focus and activity on each project while you are working on it. The Law of Inertia comes into play here. "A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion." If we take a lot of time between projects, we will fizzle out on them. If instead, we rev those engines, blast through the projects with full dedication and focus, and only take the foot off the gas for a bit between them, we will fly. And we will fly because we are already in motion. We are already doing and creating so it becomes easier to keep doing and keep creating.

To refocus my brain on a new project requires almost no time if I do it correctly. I've started taking the time to recharge by doing a quick breathing meditation. It is simple, and the best part? It's only a minute long. I've created a small video of the meditation. The next time you need to recharge between projects, go ahead and try it.

And let me know how it works.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Course Correcting: Changing Dreams Call For Changing Goals

Tonight, I will be creating a brand new vision board. For those who don't know what one is, it is a focusing tool, usually some sort of paper, that you create to clarify your goals and foci. A physical board can be a piece of paper on which you draw or glue pictures of your goals or dreams. You can also create a Pinterest page with the images that illustrate your vision of what you want to achieve and/or how you want your life to be. It can take whatever form you choose.

I prefer a physical piece of cardboard or paper onto which I glue my dreams and goals. Tonight, I will take a piece of bright, blue construction paper and glue cut-outs of the pics below onto it. The old board comes down, and the new one replaces it. That's because as my goals shift, as I develop new ideas on how I want to proceed with my life, I create new boards. Some of my images remain constant. For example, my relationship with my husband, and the health and well-being of my critters always have a presence in my board. However, other goals evolve. Some goals grow and take on a bigger importance in my life. Others recede and become either less important or are ones I have achieved and can therefore release.

Here are today's images. I will explain each, because it helps me solidify in my own mind what I will move towards in the coming visualization cycle.
At the top left is my husband, Rich, on our recent trip to Iceland. I envision even deeper love, laughter, travel and grand adventures for us.

Next is our fantastic dog, Hatha. His continued health and wellness are part of my goals and dreams.

To the right of Hatha is the super model and one of my idols, Ashley Graham. She has taken the world by storm. Someday, I'd love to buy her a cup of coffee and chat with her. #beautybeyondsize. 

To the right of Ms. Graham, is an image of a healthy thyroid. I dream of a day when my thyroid is healthy and works at peak efficiency. And I work towards that dream by eating well, releasing stress and doing yoga and/or Tai Chi.

At the end of the top row is a female martial artist (specifically Tai Chi in this image but any martial arts practice will do). I am a martial artist, and I want to keep deepening that practice either with Tai Chi, which I've been playing for over 20 years or aikido in which I am a black belt but which I have been unable to practice regularly for the last few years.

The second row shows the covers from my two most recent books, The Fiddler's Talisman and The Piano's Key. I envision these stories going out into the world and igniting the interest of millions of people who love music, magic, fairies, and exciting fantasy stories.

The next image is of the Earth. I envision continuing and growing my work as the Earth Lady. I will work with students of all ages to help them learn how to be aware of and care for the Earth.

To the right of the Earth is a not-so-secret dream of having my books be on the New York Times best seller list. The Dream Forging image that appears just below that is about the Dream Forging journal project I'm developing. It will be out in the next few months, and it will help people develop an easy way to determine and forge their dreams.

I also really want to give TED Talks. I'll do it. This, I promise.

The next row brings my kitties, Ninja, Pyro, and Kimba, or as I like to refer to them, The Neapolitan Kitties.

The next two images are of places I want to travel. I have a deep need to hang out on the Amalfi Coast. And I also have a deep need to see bioluminescent algae (this can be in Puerto Rico on the Maldives or any other place in the world I can travel). 

The next image is of something I have wanted to incorporate for a long time - a deep meditation practice. I meditate every day, but I want to get further. I want to delve deeper.

The next image is an image I took when Rich and I were on Grand Cayman a few years ago. It highlights play (which I want more of), the turquoise waters of the Caribbean (which I want to visit more often), and Grand Cayman itself to which I want to return sometime very soon.

The phrases are my mantras. "Go at your own pace but show up" is how I get things done. I might not be the fastest, but I sure will meet everyone at the finish line.

The last phrase is one I say to myself every morning at the end of my meditation. I envision my day, and yet I remain open to what else might come. So, "This or something better" allows room for something greater than what I visualized. It leaves me room to breathe and expand.

When I'm done creating the vision board, I will hang it up near my desk. Then, whenever I need inspiration or when I simply need to check in with myself and make sure I am moving towards my dreams, I will be able to look at the board and get immediate feedback on the goals I set up. I allow for the goals to change, sometimes daily, so I can course correct at any time. I can add pictures or remove them. Or, I can do like I will this evening and create an entirely new vision board. This course correction allows me the same freedom that "This or something better" allows. It gives me room to grow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Voting in Primaries: an excercise in civic responsibility

I'm not going to bore you with a long drawn out write-up. This is an informational post.

There are a number of primaries today (April 26, 2016). I encourage everyone who is registered to go vote. Please.

Here is some information on voter registration and how to find your voting locations for all the States holding primaries today.

Maryland Polling Place Look-up:

A ton of voter information for Delaware:

Connecticut Voter Registration Look-up:

Pennsylvania polling place look-up:…

Rhode Island Voter Information Center:


Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Andrew Lippa's "I Am Anne Hutchinson" and "I Am Harvey Milk."

Andrew Lippa's "I Am Anne Hutchinson" and "I Am Harvey Milk."

Whew! How to describe the show this evening.

I have all sorts of superlatives I can lavish on it. Amazing, Spectacular, Magnificent - those apply. The choruses outdid themselves. And both Chenoweth and Lippa brought their A-game vocally. Really, I am used to being blown away by Ms. Chenoweth, but I must say after hearing Andrew Lippa sing when we were kids and after singing with him in production after production in high school, I am blown away by how his voice has grown and improved over the years. 

But let me get down to the nitty gritty.

The piece is hard to pin down. It doesn't fit any one mold, and I love that!

It is not an opera though it has some of the characteristics of one. It is not an Oratorio, though it has many characteristics of one. It is not musical theatre, either. But, it takes elements of all of them and spins them into its own, new musical experience. So, it is worth it to see it just because of the innovation in composition, directing, and structure that Lippa (and the production team) brings to these two one-acts, that are also tied together thematically and in little ways lyrically.

In the two works, he explores themes of freedom, identity, courage, and perseverance. He lets us witness people who are greater than they are allowed to be, by being just that way. By virtue of their courage, we see them break barriers and surprise even themselves with what they achieve. 

There is a line in "I Am Anne Hutchinson" that has stuck with me. I keep mulling it over in my mind as likely the strongest line in that piece.

Anne Hutchinson is singing to her accuser (the man who accuses her of stepping beyond her bounds as a woman by reading from and even teaching from the bible) and she says, "Is that what you fear? A woman? An insignificant woman? Being significant." And that moment is breathtaking. In part, Ms. Chenoweth's delivery makes the line a strike at the heart of the patriarchy. But the line itself is poignant, mesmerizing, and worth more study. 

There are many moments like that in "I Am Harvey Milk." That entire piece makes you want to stand and cheer. And dance. How we were expected to sit still through "Friday Night At the Castro," is beyond me.

The delivery of "Thursday found me on my knees," that leads the song into its explosion of sound and celebration had me laughing and crying at the same time.

"You are Here" is another gem. There are many. I could extoll their virtues, but I will leave it at encouraging you to see the show if/when it comes on tour.

In the end, tonight was a joyful celebration of a friend's creation, in the best way possible, with other good friends.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

As You Like It by the National Theatre of London: What Were They Thinking?

I did something tonight I have never done before. I walked out in the middle of a Shakespeare production. The only time I've ever been tempted to walk out of a Shakespeare production was a terrible Troilus and Cressida production I saw 28 years ago at Stratford, Ontario. But even that piece of dung was superior to what I endured this evening. I went to see a Fathom events screening of the National Theatre's production of As You Like It. Shakespeare. Done in London. Should be awesome, right? No, not awesome. In fact, quite the opposite of awesome.

But let me start with something positive. They showed a little pre-show National Theatre infommercial. We got to see old productions and hear interviews with some of the people who work with the National Theatre. One of them was an old professor of mine from the University of Michigan. He left Michigan after I graduated and went back to England to work with the National Theatre. Benedict Nightingale was always a doll and a great teacher. So, it was double-plus-good to get to see him on the big screen and hear his lovely voice again.

Another of the most entertaining bits of the night was that the movie failed to start, sort of. We got some of the video, but the audio continued to be the pre-movie commercials, songs, and PSAs so it felt a little I was watching a Chinese martial arts movie that had overdosed on English steroids. Seriously, it was more entertaining than the play itself.

Let me give full disclosure. As You Like It is not one of my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies. That honor belongs to a tie between Twelfth Night and Midsummer Night's Dream, followed closely by Much Ado and the Tempest. But still, it's Shakespeare, and it has so many elements that I can and do love that I tend to enjoy every production I see.

This production? This staging? It was atrocious. I can't even begin to enumerate the ways I couldn't stand it. But, gentle reader, I will try.

First, the staging, set design, and setting.

Okay, they took a dukedom and turned into a cubicle farm (complete with a Mexican wrestler, but we'll get to that later). All the people were employees doing a choreographed set piece of shuffling paper one to the next. And they wore pink jackets or yellow jackets and tight pants (but we'll get to that later too).

I wouldn't mind the setting so much since it can be a commentary on how the new duke, Frederick, (who banished the good and wise Duke Senior) is a tyrant, except that there is nothing to indicate that the old duke was any better. We are supposed to surmise that the working conditions had been different before, I guess.

The only cool thing is when we change settings from office building to the forest, the woodlands are made up of the rising/floating desks and chairs. The office furniture floats in the air and provides the backdrop and canopy cover of the forest. Pretty cool and nicely eerie.

And now I must address the acting. Or lack thereof. I've gotten used to seeing these great actors say the lines. They know them. They live them, and yet they deliver them as if they are saying them right now for the very first time. The words sound pure and true as they tumble out of mouths. But many of the actors in this production just weren't up to the task. It was like their mouths were incapable of forming the words much less saying them or acting them in any sort of convincing manner.

Here are the standouts and not in a good way. Duke Ferdinand: the actor delivered his "You are banished" speech like a high school student taking his first Drama class. And Celia: who seemed like she was going for a typical college freshman took on the voicing of half Valley Girl, half Millennial and failed at both. And then there was, yes, the wrestler. He was big. He was mean. He couldn't act. And they put him on a mat, in the middle of the cubicles, in a Mexican Wrestler mask. Huh???

Now, I left before my favorite part because I just couldn't take it. Jaques' "All the world's a stage" speech always brings me to tears. But I knew that if I stayed, I might start heckling the screen, and I didn't want to be that rude.

In the end, I spent time noticing that several of the male cast members must also be dancers. They had great butts and wore really tight pants (and for that I give thanks to the costume designer). And the camera operator, for some reason, gave us a whole bunch of really tight shots of the tight buns. I don't mind nice butts. In fact, I tend to appreciate them quite a bit. But, honestly, if the point at which I find myself marveling at a peach-shaped behind is during Act 1 Scene 2 in a Shakespeare play, then the production must be doing something other than holding my attention.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Building my sand castles (or the devil is in the grains of sand)

I feel like I've joined the rest of you in the 21st century. I'm signing up for paperless billing (I can handle getting everything via email and still pay all my bills and do all my accounting, right? Right? I'm not so brain-fried that I can't manage that, I hope.)

It's always interesting to me setting up this sort of infrastructure. There is all this organizational and logistical effort up front with the hope that your work will be pay off in time (and tree) savings in the future.

I call this time of front-matter organizational set-up, gathering my sand. Bear with me. I look at most big projects as building a sand castle. Before I can build the sand castle, I need to gather the sand. And while I'm doing so, a lot of the sand trickles back down away from my building site. There are all these grains of sand (read details) that must be gathered and addressed and formed into some sort of usable mass before you start building. Then, once you finally have the sand gathered all in one place and moistened down so you can work with it, you can start on construction of your dream castle.

In many ways, my life is like that in this moment. I've been gathering a bunch of sand. Putting all the bits and pieces on the field. I'm almost ready to start building this next phase. 
There will be much more to come on this thought process in the next few weeks and months as I fabricate my new reality.

I'm excited!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A call to action: Let's take back our calm

So many of us all over the world are feeling squeezed in a pressure cooker.  So, I am calling for a moment of breathing all together. Are you willing?

I invite everyone who reads this to join in and share it wide. 

This afternoon at say five pm (EST)? Who will stop what they are doing and do some military breathing* with me? 

If you want take back your calm, comment here. I will post it live here and guide it. 

Share this if you want. Let's take back some of our calm all together. 

I send you peace. 

Here is the link tot he facebook post where I will be guiding the breathwork

*Military breathing is a stress-reduction technique used by first responders and people in the military to remain calm in high stress situations.