Loading for Bear

I have a gig with a new band tonight. I’m filling in for the bass player who is out of town. All new band, all new songs, all new sound. Am I scared? Yes.

If I was in this band from the beginning I wouldn’t be so concerned, but I had to step into someone else’s shoes. The woman I’m stepping I for, is a really good bass player. I mostly think that I’m a good bass player too, but she and I, well we don’t play anything alike.

I’m focusing on being myself and playing with my strengths in front of me. There is no reason to feel like I need to play like her. And the girls in the band have stressed to me to play like myself….Luckily, it’s only one night – so whatever happens happens…I need to stay true to me. Still scared.

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Who’s in your head

I’ve been thinking a lot about opposites. You know, male/female, ying/yang, hot/cold and their position relationship with criticism.

What do you think of when says the word “criticism”? Get all warm and fuzzy? Maybe you, but not me. I start shrinking inside – I start to feel really small, as if I’m not only hiding from the person doing the dishing, but also from myself.

My inner critic has a very annoying voice. It’s the one that tells me I’ve made a mistake, that I should have known, that someone else is doing something better than I am….there’s quite a list that goes with this one. Sometimes my inner critic even tells me it’s CONSTRUCTIVE criticism…whoop de doo! That doesn’t make it any easier to listen to.

What if my inner critic had a nicer voice? What if she spoke to me like she loved me and cared about me and truly wanted to be helpful? What if she was my best friend instead of someone or something to be feared? Why does my inner critic think she’s perfect? Why does she think I have to be?

Hmmmmmm. Interesting thought, isn’t it? I’m going to TRY to hear my critic, and when she says something that’s less than helpful, I’m not going to tell her to shut up – I’m not sure she would – but I will say to her, “So?” So, I did something wrong, so what?! Someone else does something better than me, so what?! Do either of these examples benefit me in any way if I listen to them with the intent of the inner critic? The intent of scaring me into doing something different…..

What if my new and improved inner critic said, “Hey, I see you did this thing, I do it wrong all the time too, maybe we could figure out a way together to make it easier for you?” Huh. What a novel idea. Approaching yourself with love rather than fear could make a heck of a difference.

I’m trying to do this – and my inner critic doesn’t like it one bit, but you know what? So?

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Running in front of the snowball.

Ever feel like that? Your life is just a big snowball of things and ideas and demands and promises? They’re all chasing you and if you stop to take a breath then you will get run over by the person/thing directing the snowball. That thing my friend, is you. Or in my case, me.

No matter what I’m doing, I’ve noticed that I’m always trying to influence the outcome. Now in some ways this is a really useful thing. If I have a piece of clay and I’m molding it and I want it to look like a cat I see in my mind’s eye, then this version of influence can also be called creativity. But, if I accidentally mold my piece of clay into the statue of Michelangelo’s David, but I still try to make it into a cat, I could say that now I’m controlling and trying to force my outcome when an alternative outcome could have also have been appropriate.

Sometimes, if I can give into the flow of the universe (feel free to use your favorite term here) I end up getting an outcome that is totally unexpected and even BETTER than I could have imagined.

Creating the snowball is my way of trying to force my outcome – I’m trying hard to let go of that. When I do, I get really great little presents, like practicing my lap steel guitar without wanting to fling it against the wall and smash it into little pieces, being flooded with ideas for some projects that I didn’t even know we’re available to me, being the recipient of random acts of kindness, just sitting and feeling peaceful as opposed to overwhelmed.

My goal is to try and hold on to this more often. As a creative person it’s easy to want to control every situation. (Just me, right?) letting go is scary but it can come with advantages if you can trust that the good stuff will find you.

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Frustration – where would I be without you.

Yesterday I wrote about learning to play a new instrument and having ego involved. Well, she (ego) is still alive and well.

I spent some time practicing – and mostly getting mad at myself for not being able to play better. I’m not used to not being able to do something….I’m not used to having to wait and work for my prize. I don’t really enjoy being impatient, but I can’t help it. I swear I was born this way. (Thank you, Lady Gaga!)

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Why do I have to know what I don’t know

I’m in the process of learning a new instrument, electric lap steel guitar. What it looks like is a guitar neck, laying flat against a lap, and someone playing it with a metal bar and some finger picks. If you’ve ever heard a Hank Williams song, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, go look it up.

Anyway, I’m four lessons in. Every week I dutifully go to my lesson, learning from a master that happens to live nearby. This is Los Angeles for pete’s sake – there are masters everywhere. I simultaneously look forward to my lesson and try to make every excuse possible to get out of my lesson. I have all kinds of fear around learning something that I don’t know how to do.

While I’m in my lesson, and my teacher is a very nice guy – not too talkative, which for me is a good thing, not scary – just a really sweet gentleman – I’m wishing at every moment that my lesson to be done. He’s in the middle of teaching me something that I’m completely ever whelmed with.

What is so strange about this is that I’m already a musician. Yup. I play bass guitar, congas and other percussive hand drums, a little guitar, a little piano and started my music lessons at the ripe age of 6 with seven (yes, seven) years of accordion. (Trust me when I tell you that although I remember how to play, I definitely have NOT improved at it ….not my favorite…..)

But the fear of trying to learn something I so completely don’t understand, something that requires a completely fresh outlook, is exhausting to me. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to see past the lessons, to my goal – which is, actually playing the instrument in front of people and having it make sense in the context of the music I’m playing. I’m not even asking to be great at it – just good enough.

I started my lesson today with a question to my teacher: how do I, or should I practice? Crazy question, huh? I have NO IDEA how I learned to play anything…I mean, I’m a horrible practicer. Whatever I got, was because of having a small gift- I have a pretty good ear. (And I’m good at math – which will be a post for a different day….)
In any case, my teacher didn’t have any good answers as to how I should tackle practicing….should have known that this is something I need to figure out for myself. But what he did remind me is that the ego needs to not be present in a lesson. It doesn’t help you learn, it just makes it harder. Why do I think I have to know everything BEFORE I learn or know how to do it? Talk about fucked up. And today’s lesson? This was the best thing for me to have heard – now, whether I can hang on to this in my everyday life? I hope so, bit it’s gonna take some practice and I just don’t know. 🙂

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Time is often a problem

I long to be the person who does not have anything to do on weekends or evenings after work. At least that’s what I’m saying right now. Be aware though that my mind changes as often as my panties. (Sure, I have your attention now, don’t I?)

What does it feel like to have a weekend in which you can go to the mall and shop, maybe for something or nothing at all. What does it feel like to come home and sit in front of the tv and have nothing but episodes of Seinfeld reruns looming? What does it feel like to not have any deadlines pending? Someone please help me out here.

And although I’m willing to call the waaaaaahmbulance on my lack of time, I’m not sure I would give it up. Maybe I would ease up a little, which I probably could, but I like having a lot of things to do….make dinner, practice musical instruments, paint paintings, go on bike rides, play with animals and miss television shows…

Apparently, I’m in some sort of competition with myself. I keep wondering if I’m going to win at this game.

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Headspace or lack thereof

I had all sorts of things planned for today. Walk the dogs, make some fun treat food, practice my musical instruments and paint. Did it all happen? Of course not.

Today was a cool-ish day here in Los Angeles. I can hear you all laughing now…..69 degrees is cool for us! (You know we are all big babies when it comes to weather in California. ). Anyway – DAP, who is making his living as a musician these days, came home early from his morning gig. There was a street festival happening in Orange County, and I was invited to tag along.

Sometimes, I just walk around, buy myself some ice cream and enjoy myself, but today, I brought my ubass (That’s a ukulele bass for those of you not in the know.) and my amp and got ready to play guerrilla style.

The festival was packed with lots of women sporting cowboy boots with short skirts and lots of men wearing cowboy hats. (They mostly looked pretty cute!)

DAP and I walked the festival looking for the best spot to set up, hoping that no one would kick us out. We found one, in front of the beer stand – drunk people love to dance and rock out, and proceeded to set up.

Well the ubass is a funny creature. Small like a ukulele but with rubber strings that stretch and stretch. The first song sounded like crap. Luckily, the drunk people didn’t notice. I had to tune before every song. My fingers wouldn’t move fast enough over the rubber strings. Our time was faltering as we were playing….it was sucking. And on top of that, my presence – my girl musician presence, was thwarting the business of collecting tips. Women, DAP’s favorite contributors, were not participating because of me. After about an hour, there was only about $8. At that point, I took off my bass and went to check out the festival to leave my guy to make his own money.

Things didn’t look up for DAP – I guess the festival was a bust even without me.

The thing that my guy and I have spoken about over and over again is about having the right headspace for whatever you’re doing.

While we were playing, I was literally trying to mind meld with people to get them to pay attention and give money. Was it working? Not even for a second. Was that the right headspace. Nope. I caught myself in that bad headspace place and tried to change it, but once I have a little inkling of negativity, it’s hard to erase in that moment. It takes a considerable amount of shift in focus. This is the reason I put down my bass and decided to do something else. DAP didn’t need my lack of headspace “helping” him out.

Do things because you love them. Do things because they bring enjoyment to you. What you do is worthy. What you do is your and unique. Do not motivate yourself with what you think other people want….although it may work for a while, you will eventually become disenchanted. And nobody wants that!

Put yourself in the right headspace and miracles happen. It’s corny, but true. ( Sometimes they happen right away and sometimes they take a while. I’m still waiting on this one. )

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