Some months speed by, like a rushing river flowing through a narrow gorge. But others crawl along, moment by moment, hour by hour, week by week, with the water of life pooling in unexpected crevices, becoming still reflection ponds. The past few weeks have been like that for me, slow and full of reflection. I have not been able to find a personal FLOW, the term I learned from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for an ideal creative state. Flow always seemed to come naturally to me as a child, yet now it seems to be something I have to schedule for myself.
“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity… The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described… as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
One of my goals is to post something on Moments, Memories, & Jazz each month, and over the past 4 weeks I thought about many topics, but nothing really resonated with me. And, so the month clicked by with nothing drafted of any merit. Each day I made a note on my “To Do List” reminding me to write something. I fully intended to write on a topic that had meaning for me, or at least some entertainment value, but then each day I was thwarted–an external obligation, or illness, or unexpected crisis became the priority and I would resolve to write something tomorrow. Tomorrow is now today, the last day of the month.
I was resigned to search for and post something I had already written, but then a fantastic thing happened—an inspiring friend, April M. Lee, of essence7wellness, posted an article called “currently i am” on her blog yesterday. It woke me up! She was writing about how difficult it was to decide what to write about. The same challenge I was facing this month. She wrote, “finally, i gave up on all three ideas and decided to just zero in on the present. on what’s happening right now, during this moment in time.” She included a cool activity–a list of writing prompts. I wanted to take her up on her invitation to mark where I am in this current moment (and I wanted to steal her blog post idea!) I immediately wrote and told her I would be copying her. And, now I am! So, I am currently . . .
- wearing: warm things – items I have now pulled out of plastic storage containers – gloves, hats, sweaters and scarves, sprinkled with bay leaves to keep the insects away during the warm months.
- eating: oatmeal for breakfast, in a large ceramic bowl that looks like an oversized teacup. It warms my hands and my heart as I hold it close to me in the morning.
- listening to: YouTube videos of songs I am learning, Lester Young solos, Charlie Parker’s version of Donna Lee, and a couple of original tunes written by friends that I am writing lyrics for.
- reading: Believe Me an Autobiography by Eddie Izzard. I say I am reading it, but I had to pause because it has a very emotional beginning. Even though he is mainly known as a comedian, he brought me to tears. The rest of his life story (thus far) waits for me at my bedside and I will continue reading it soon.
- loving: how my 2 (adult) daughters are finding their voices and working towards their goals.
- watching: as little TV as possible – the news is especially maddening and disheartening right now; I will admit I resort to watching videos of cute little animals when it all gets to be too negative and I need to smile.
- feeling: empowered to follow my dreams – I had what I now call a “red swing” moment last week. I sat on the swing and reflected that I could do anything I wanted that day. I sat in that feeling of freedom for quite a while before running some errands and heading back home. (I then found out that a chorus rehearsal had been scheduled so I jumped in a cab and the rest of my day was no longer my own,) But, it was a deep thought for me and I know this feeling of freedom was true at that moment and for the rest of my life as well.
- studying: Italian every day (piano piano / slowly advancing) – I learn via DuoLingo, and the instructional books that are always strewn about my livingroom and stacked in my bookcase.
- anticipating: my next jazz workshop trip, in Rome, only three months away now; I look forward to being with my friends as we learn, create music, and celebrate each other.
- planning: on achieving a daily view like the one in the window image above. It is an excerpt from a photo April took on an abandoned property near where she lives. It gives me hope.
So, to close, I want to send a big thank you to April! She inspires me in many ways, not the least of which has been following the process of her move from the USA to Italy, and the construction project she and her husband Eric have shared online as they renovated and personalized “Villa Magnolia” their beautiful Italian home. It has been a joy to watch the transformation of their villa and the surrounding gardens. In addition to being an international risk-taker, she is a certified holistic life and wellness coach with a background in cognitive-behavioral counseling. She hosts focused retreats in her home (for a maximum of four women at a time). The next one is in May of 2019 so, that’s the place to be if you fancy a deep dive into yourself while you sojourn in Tuscany.