It's cold outside. I love it. Snow reminds me to nurture myself. I stand at the piano in blue jeans and a sweater, hair messily piled on my head. I am seeking warmth, kindness, and compassion. I am seeking this within. Without expectation, I give into my desire to pause, reflect, breath and slow down a bit. Slowing down is hard for me. In my tall skinny body, I sometimes feel I am too airborne… wandering from task to task my head a bit too far above my feet. The ground, the present moment slips away easily. The snow helps me remember it’s okay to be “no fuss.” I don’t have to show up everyday as the fashionista I love to be. It’s okay to curl into sweaters or stay in my pajamas all day.
"No fuss" means simple. In music, it can mean starting small. I play a single chord and let my voice gently unravel into a descending melody. Nothing has to be big. It is not the time to be overly bold. This is my time. No one is watching or listening. This music is for me.
Why I love winter is it gives me a very clear message to go within. Music is like love. Love requires both a soft, quiet space for reflection and understanding as well as the space to be loud, full out and open. I notice that, when it is very cold outside, our outward conversations become a bit gentler as we all feel this need to draw in. I’m writing this at my favorite boulder café. Normally The Laughing Goat buzzes with a high-energy caffeinated, artistic vibe: People working at their laptops, writing in journals and painting on large pads of paper. But tonight feels different. Conversations are held in lower tones. People sit back, heads tilted away from work. We avoid the extra buzz of coffee with red wine, hot chocolate and tea. For a few hours, we stop working so hard and use the café to help us rest, yield and reflect.
The moment you notice things feeling hard, it's time to go back to YOUR quiet space. Whether we are listening or playing, music can help us go within. Just as love allows us to see our true beauty through the eyes of another, music helps us connect with our deepest truth. In the practice of music, it is important to honor this loving space and not push for a desired result. This is something I struggle with. I am often anticipating the performance and it is sometimes difficult to allow my practice to be just for ME, not to prove or even show anything to others. Ironically, the days when I most long for QUIET, are the days I am more likely to PUSH in my music practice and my daily life. I have to constantly remind myself it’s okay to just play and let go of my need to accomplish anything. I am good at being out the world. I am good at doing a lot. However, when we are only outward, we will find we lose touch with ourselves. It is nearly impossible to be "out" all the time without burning out. If you are forcing yourself to be OUT when you need IN time, you can't actually offer your gifts. The holidays often demand that we be very OUT – with family, in our jobs, in community gatherings. So how can we learn to be OUT without forcing, pushing or burning OUT?
We can master the art of receiving.
Being in a receptive state allows us to go within even when we are OUT in the world with others. We pull energy towards us instead of putting energy out. This allows us to be very present with people, even when we want to just curl up in bed and be alone. Out at an event on Thursday, I found I could stand in one place, be really open with people and allow them to come over and talk to me, versus having to go around and engage. I listened, and when I spoke I allowed myself to be resourced by their listening. I let myself receive their witnessing. This takes a lot less energy than speaking out or trying to speak over others when in a loud environment. When we are receptive, we stay connected to ourselves, our truth and our inward state even as we engage outwardly with others.
I invite you to honor your internal space - whether you are alone, or you are with people. Are you feeling tired? Are you feeling emotional? Do you crave some peace and quiet? By working with the energy of receiving, and honoring some alone time you can find the balance between being out and being in. You can be out, and stay connected to yourself, your truth rather than the pushing you may be used to. Allow the cold and the approaching holidays to support your quiet space. Take some time to be creative and alone. Winter is our time to hibernate. Music is an amazing resource to help you go within. The creative process is internal. We have to go in before we can share. We have to receive before we can offer. (click here to view video on receiving and offering) So allow yourself to be resourced by making art. Listen to your music as you play. Listen to the music of others. Practice receiving in your daily life. Be supported by your inner truth as you go about these busy times. If you want something to listen to, check out my tune “refuge,” which I wrote during a very inward time and always reminds me to be more gentle with myself. I wish you a soft blanket of snow in your creative process and everyday life.
I love you,