All posts filed under: Personal Process

Random Acts of Correspondence (Part 1)

I have a new typewriter. I say “new”, but it’s really over 40 years old. I won it on eBay for 30 bucks plus shipping. It’s a Royal Mercury portable typewriter from the 1960s or 70s; not the same as the typewriter I had as a teenager, but it’s bringing back all those same feels. It’s only had one owner before me who had it since his childhood and in his listing he said it was time for him to let it go. I told him I would take very good care of it for him. I cleaned it last night, and today it took me over four attempts to install a new black ribbon. It seems like this machine had been sitting around in its case for dozens of years, so naturally the old ribbon was dried out. I wonder now if it would have been easier for me if I had chosen to install the black and red ribbon. I think the orientation on those spools would have been more obvious (deep sigh) …

Mumble Jumble (April Fluff Post)

I have been doing a bunch of random things lately and every day seems to slip away very quickly. I never feel like I have accomplished anything or completed everything I wanted to complete. So, since I was not able to decide on one activity or experience to write about, I decided to share a list of things–in no particular order–to briefly describe some of what’s going on in my life. The funny thing is, after I wrote the list, I can see I actually have gotten some things done and I am generally moving forward. This is very satisfying (insert smile emoji here, lol) CURRENTLY. . . WORKING – a full time job with a multinational company. EATING – a new omelette combo, eggs with diced red onion and chopped dill. I learned about it from Kathryn Grody, wife of Mandy Patinkin, in one of the entertaining YouTube videos her son Gideon posts about his parents. DRINKING – lots of water and Prince of Peace brand organic white tea. WEARING – my comfy pjs …

A Gradual Loss and a Gradual Recovery

The pandemic knocked me for a loop—that’s a given. Since June of 2020, I have not be able to summon up enough energy to write a single blog post. In addition to being house-bound, I was coming to grips with multiple losses—friends dying (not just from the virus), family health crises, and particularly the loss of my mentor and friend, Barry Harris. It was a gradual loss at first; I was last in his presence at his NYC class on March 10, 2020, just as Covid was about to lock us all inside. Terribly afraid of accidentally being a carrier (because at that time nobody knew if you could be asymptomatic and still spread the virus) I did not attempt to visit him at his home. Instead I sent cards and letters, and we had phone calls back and forth, but it was a very sad time as I missed hanging out with him, playing word games, making him my chicken soup and other things we enjoyed. I struggled with anticipatory grief of more losses …

circles and shadows pattern

Finding the Upside

For this month’s topic, I will highlight a form of visual poetry I have been creating during this time of self-imposed ‘social distancing’. So, this is my attempt to focus on the upside of isolation; an opportunity to explore creative projects I enjoy, but at a deeper level. However, I will begin with a personal insight from earlier this week.  You see, as I come to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic that is totally changing our daily lives right now, it occurred to me that my life has *already* been shaped by another pandemic. I grew up with a keen awareness of the sudden, devastating and traumatic power of influenza. I was aware of this because a beloved Aunt’s mother was struck down by the Spanish Flu when she was just a small child (1918-1920). Her widowed father re-married and he had two more daughters, the younger of which became my adoptive mother. My Aunt V loved her step-mother (she called her “Mamma”) but the loss of her first mother was always acknowledged as a …

My 2020 Notebooks

Preparing for 2020 (Keeping Notebooks II)

FLOW is my chosen theme word for 2020 and I have been focusing on staying in a calm, creative mindset  as life swirls all about me. I am exploring all my art supplies, organizing all my music projects, and gathering and sorting all kinds of multi-media materials–my inspirational triggers, all in an effort to keep me in a creative frame of mind for the year ahead. Today, when I decided to write about this theme here, as luck would have it, my first issue of Flow Magazine arrived in the mail from the Netherlands–a holiday gift subscription from my mother. I took it as a confirmation from the Universe that I am truly in the groove! Part of my personal process, as one year ends and another begins, is to prepare a daily journal to reflect on my theme and to note the things in my life that make one day different from the previous ones. I find that if I do not keep this practice, one day can blend into the next and into …

Becoming collage

Magnets and Distractions

My back is messed up. No use in going over why this happens to me periodically. I will accept that it is for me to deal with even though the initial cause was out of my control. Yes, I know what I am supposed to be doing to avoid a recurrence of this pain–yet it continues to plague me. I should avoid sitting for long periods of time in folding chairs. I should get up at least once an hour and walk around. I should not sit hunched over my computer for 6 hours straight. I should lose weight. I should practice yoga more consistently; the list goes on and on. I understand that other people deal with chronic pain and have much more intense experiences than the few weeks I am disabled by sciatica pain and random back spasms. Perhaps they have ways to deal with it other than the ice packs, ibuprofen, bedrest and stretching exercises I use as my main healing techniques. Mostly though, I wait and DISTRACT myself with work, sleep, …

Carousels – Not For Me

This weekend I will be avoiding the luggage carousel by traveling light. I will also attempt to avoid any feeling of traveling in circles as just the *thought* of this makes me physically tired. I long to move forward. Perhaps I am feeling an anticipatory exhaustion because it has been so cold lately, and so very dark in the little room where I work by myself. Perhaps I am mourning the loss of the extra days that are cut off at the end of February, (I feel like I have skipped something important. Is it March already?) Or, perhaps I am just tired of the same-ness of each day so far this year. They seem to circle ’round and ’round on themselves like a merry-go-round where I am the only rider, and a calliope tune droning on in the background is never-changing. This is not a complaint, just a fanciful observation of what I am experiencing. Tonight I am struggling to gather the physical energy to pack the bare essentials, to plan my journey, and …

Current, Flow, Swing, and Reflection

“Big Red Swing” 1971 Theodore Ceraldi 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 …

Signs, Guides, and Flow

I really had no clue what I wanted to write about this month, until a sudden epiphany yesterday at choral rehearsal, which occurred during a short verbal exchange, that caused me to think deeper about processes I use to navigate my life now. One of the basses was asked to conduct a piece “rubato” (“out of time“) and we began to sing, but, unfortunately, one choral section was reading the music–not watching the conductor. They were not in synch with the rest of the group. I tried to get their attention with my arms, wildly pointing at him (because, I thought, “Maybe they don’t know we are supposed to be following him.“) But they did not see me at all, so I gave up and just sang along until the song was over. I glanced at the conductor and we exchanged a mutual shoulder-shrug, because it was what it was. What can you do? Overall, it wasn’t really a big deal, just a rehearsal moment, but I really longed for us to be a cohesive …

Moments of Silence

Silence can be the loudest sound in the world, especially if you are longing to hear the next note, the next phrase, the next part of the story. And…“Silence is PART of the SONG!” (Dr. Barry Harris shouted this pearl of wisdom at his classroom full of singers a couple of weeks ago.) It is such a simple thing to remember. So true! I saw a similar thought attributed to Thelonious Monk. He is recorded as saying, “Don’t play EVERYTHING (or every time); let some things GO BY. Some music [is] just IMAGINED. What you DON’T play can be more important than what you DO play.” A few years ago I touched on this idea in an introductory verse I wrote for my song, “I Lied to Myself”. It begins, “There’s a limbo in this world where the silence is so loud….” This phrase was my attempt to capture in words the desire to hear someone speak to me again, and that feeling you get deep in your heart when you miss the sound of …