Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2012

2011.

The course of this year saw the repetition of many ideas and words. They seemed to come out into two major categories;

Trust in my choices; Stability, Focus, Belief.
Trust in who I am; Value, Fullness, Contentment. Therein...

Trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Keepin' it simple, smarty. We will see how this works :)
Erinn

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Personality Traits of People with Creative Flow

Hm...doesn't everyone and their mom think that they are creative?

Ok, well let me re-phrase; doesn't anyone with any spec of self-esteem think they are creative? I think the answer must be yes, and I am not sure if I think that is good or bad thing.

I read an interesting blog this morning from Entrepreneur the Arts (http://blog.entrepreneurthearts.com/2011/11/07/creative-productivity-the-creative-theorists-part-3-csikszentmihalyi/). It addressed Csikzentmihalyi's theory of 'flow' as the creative channel between boredom and anxiety, skill and challenge; his way of describing the onset of the creative process. Very interesting stuff. Along with defining this 'flow,' he describes the characteristics of people that tend to possess the ability to flow. Said traits;

Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.
Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.
Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted.
Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.
Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

I first read these, I thought 'WOAH! I just read a portion of my horoscope!' And yes, I do believe in astrology. Then I heard Kris' voice of reason come into my head, saying something to the affect of 'You can make anything you read fit to yourself if you want to.' It is an interesting thing to consider. Did I apply all these characteristics to myself because I want to BELIEVE I possess them, i.e. that I am creative, or do I actually exhibit these qualities?

Basically, what I am getting at is a larger psychological question, one that seems to come up in a number of ways every day for me. And I do not think I am alone. In the midst of all these thought-processes about ideals and tendencies according to generation, I think this must be shared by my generation of peers that were raised to think we could do whatever we want, be whatever we want, accomplish anything. Yes, there are great things about thinking this way. There are also absolutely debilitating things about thinking this way too. I am coming to feel I had better unveil the source of this injection of thought; http://nymag.com/news/features/my-generation-2011-10/.

Pretty freaking interesting to consider. How right are we about ourselves? At any given point, are we on to something, or just falling into the trap of being able to cast ourselves in whatever light we wish?

Something to consider.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Grandpa

Homework for 'Blue Heaven,' with Lisa Conlin.

My grandpa was a big, burly kind of guy. I picture him best with his scratchy red and black flannel hat, the kind of hat that looks best when riding a tractor. He had rough, work-worn hands that scared me a little when I was really small. I was just not used to seeing and feeling the kind of hands that took charge of the tough kind of labor he accomplished each day.

As I grew, I not only got used to those rough hands, but I grew to love them. He had a special chair in the living room that was just for him. But that certainly didn't mean he was the only one who got to sit in it. In fact, I suspect that he sat in it after a days work just so I could hop up and sit with him. When I was sad or frustrated about something, he'd always say 'Why, I'm sorry, Erinn.' I would always tell him, 'Grandpa, it's not your fault,' because it wasn't. It never was. He'd always come back with a big grin full of love and a response of 'Well, I'm still sorry.'

It always made me smile because I knew he really meant it, and he had a way of telling me so with a smile on his face. I can still hear him say it, and it still makes me feel better. Especially if I picture him in his flannel hat.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Over-committed, but not Un-inspired . . .

Here I am sitting on my make-shift porch, having a flash-back to another point in my life. At this point it my life, I was also planning to apply to school, I was learning a new situation, and surrounded by new people. Hmm. It was also right around this time of year. It blows my mind that the time I am referring to was truly three full years ago. I can look back into it like it was yesterday. The same weather, the same kind of feelings . . .

Then here is something to ponder; the role of flux. I have been spending a lot of work and thought time, in the last couple of years, pondering how to keep my life from fluxing so much, thinking that ‘stability is best.’ Yes, this idea about stability might be true. An amount of predictable-ness I am sure provides for even footing and ability to look beyond. That calls into question what is meant by ‘predictable-ness.’ I could present a new word here, and likely just reach the playing-ground that I need to determine the meaning for that word too.

What I think it comes down to is the fact that different concepts play well for different people. Doing the ‘StrengthsFinder’ for work really helped me clue in on the fact that all too many people, including myself, tend to focus on our weaknesses instead of strengths. In my case, in relation to stability, this often men that I have been giving myself shit for not being able to find one full-time job that I want to be in. I think I need to stop giving myself shit and embrace the fact that I thrive when put into many situations in a given time period. I LIKE to work a lot of places, and can organize the ability to do that. That said, I also always need to be cognizant of when I may be pushing that ability too far. On the opposite side, people who use their strengths best when focusing in on just one thing likely need to watch themselves to be sure that they are not stagnating in the face of having no new influences in their lives.

It seems that this process of embracing self is going to be happening for quite some time. In fact, harking back to my story about the co-op lady; it probably never will happen, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. It seems that this will be a life-long process. If you pay any attention to the things you like about others (and you probably should J), you will likely spend your whole life warding off the tendency to try and figure out how to be more like them. It’s certainly a great idea to try and emulate within yourself the things you like about others, it just seems really crucial you are in fact trying to emulate rather than be.

Here is a personal example; I find a lot of strength in always looking forward and planning toward the future. It keeps me, and often the people around me, motivated and excited for the next step. I can capitalize on this strength when put in brainstorming and creative direction roles, which is something I am trying to do more of. I can supplement this strength by asking myself to more often enjoy what is happening to me in the moment. Like right now, there is a small, breeze, the gental hum of a plane overhead, the wiz of an air-conditioning unit, chirping, and a nice grass smell. Noticing all this together is almost overwhelming me, both with the use of so many senses at once, as well as the thought that this kind of observation is available to me at any time, in any place.

So, over-committed but not un-inspired. Seems to be the way that I like my life. Chill with it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Road There

August has come to mean a flutter of artistic activity with a big pause button on the end; Fringe, Rhythmically Speaking, go go go . . . STOP. State Fair. This year will be a little different still. Starting a new job in the midst of this chaos, what was I thinking?

Well, it seems, the more I travel, that the road to clarity is paved with many stopping points that have a purpose of some kind. I know that State Fair is a mental reset, a comfortable stop in which I know the surroundings, and that makes me ready to keep traveling, whether the travels bring me somewhere familiar or somewhere completely new. I can feel that this coming set of travel after State Fair reset is going to be an interesting combination of both familiar and new. Just new enough to make the path lead to clarity.

Now I just have to travel. Sometimes I think my compass is broken, but most well-traveled path-seekers know that a compass is just a guideline and that you are likely to shift slightly from where you first imagined going. But in the end, they often come back out at the trailhead. My trailhead? Dance.
So yes, I am coming to learn, more and more, that the road to clarity is road that we continue to travel, kind of like the road that brings you home after a days work. Now, it is the continued quest to help myself feel comfortable with the idea that I will always have my backpack on, walking stick in hand, looking for the right direction.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Progression

On my way to it. All the time. I am becoming convinced that this isn't something that stops at any time, it just keeps going. Kind of like non-profit funding; the asking for money never does stop, dad. Unfortunate but true.

In this case, I know it's true, but I'm thinking that it isn't unfortunate. Each experience you take in leads you to another, some times what you expect, and other times what you do not. My mental process surrounding taking this job brought me to the fear of being pressed into one kind of lifestyle. I find it curious what I elect to worry about, as my mother's reminder of 'nothing's permanent' flashes through my head. Yes indeed, nothing is permanent, and each thing helps bring you closer to fuller understanding of the best way you can function.

My progression crossroads seem to have brought me to a for-now conclusion regarding schooling; my masters will either be non-profit admin or dance. After thinking about and researching many other options, I have come to realize that it really is ok to be surface-interested in many, many things. You do not have to have formal training in something to know about it. These realizations were comfortable ones that calmed my brain. I can be interested in public health and neuroscience and nutrition, and not have take on any of them in a formal work scenario. I keep finding, the more I traverse through life, that the things I don't think too much about, but just do because I am drawn to them (because I HAVE to), turn out to be the things I truly want to be doing. Making shows, performing, administrating; these are the things that I continue to find myself doing. No matter how crazy they drive me sometimes, they are what I keep finding myself rotate around. That said, what passion and being driven crazy kind of come together; your passion drives you crazy and your crazy drives you passion.

Back at it; it's nice to accept that maybe I should just keep doing what I am doing, knowing that 'what I am doing' or 'what I want to be doing' is certain subject to change. I may find, in being in this job, one of three things; 1.) I want to make my future in admin - non-profit admin masters, 2.) I want to let my future be embellished, but not driven by admin, choosing dance instead or 3.) That there is a different interest lurking in the background. Obviously, there are a number of other things that could happen, but I selected the most obvious ones. Part of me already has this gut feeling that I will be going back for a dance masters, or sociology or history with an emphasis in dance, but who knows? I guess that is the moral of life story; who knows?

Future 'planning' like this certainly puts into perspective the need to 'plan' more than just my career for where I am headed. I am committed to someone, and that has it's needs in interaction with my career and other choices. I may be a person who loves to work and is career oriented, but I am also a person who loves her friends and family. It's crazy how, like joints and bones, decisions/ choices and people are connected.

So on I traverse. I do hope and plan to put attention into a couple things; I need to think carefully about how my choices will impact me/us financially, as well as in terms of general living, and I certainly hope that the people who are connected to my life think the same way. Man alive, life is complicated. My sense of this grows with each day.

In the midst of these figurings, there are a couple important things to remember;

'It will always look better in the morning,' and 'Give the benefit of the doubt.'

Thank you, mom and grandma!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Orleans 3: Danced Differences

I have written from new Orleans about my experiences with difference in people and in city-structure. Now, on to the culture of African and other ethnic dance. I have noticed many interesting things, from pedagogical to personal differences.

I have certainly had a fair amount of exposure to African and other 'ethnic' dance forms in my past, but most of it (outside of DJD) has been scattered, and here and there in terms of frequency. Having a whole lot of this kind of class in a row, the first pedagogical detail I have noticed is how the almost exclusive teaching method is mimicry. This has it's strong-suits, in terms of transferring nuance. It also has it's drawbacks, most of which have to do with picking up detail, or correct execution. Steps are almost never broken down, you just have to pick up what you can from watching. Part of me things this makes me less inhibited because I am less concerned with getting it 'perfect,' but another part of me thinks that if I am going to take this much class, I want to be sure to be learning the steps as they are meant to be executed. A particularly interesting example of this was Roseangela's class (www.silvestretraining.com). I came upon a chance to ask a question about the actual step, which I phrased in terms of what kind of shape we are looking for. She of course came back with the suggestion that we are not looking for shape, but rather what comes out as shape from what has been initiated by a movement pattern, which started in the first place from expressive impulse. I had to coax this out a bit, but that was probably just because she is from Brazil, and speaks pretty excellent English, but needed a little help getting the thought into terms I'd and other students would catch on to.

This was an example of a perfect response to the kind of question I offered. I feel like most African and ethnic styles teachers, in pretty much refusing to give exact shape details, mean to provide the idea that Roseangela did, it just often does not come across due to language or sound barriers (ie really loud drums!). I love the idea that detail can be excess and limiting, it just needs to be communicated in a way that relates to this suggestion to come across. Maybe that is true just for dancers who have had a lot of exposure to the opposite learning method; learn the shapes, then put the expression in. So, access the expression and the shape will come (African and other ethnic forms), or access the shape and the expression will come (Western forms of modern and ballet). Either way, we are dancing and thinking, thinking and dancing, and what a wonderful thing.

Along these same lines, I realize that by breaking less of the movement down, we are actually moving a whole lot more! Most classes have us following along for a warm-up in the center for about 15 minutes, and then the remaining hour and 15 of the class is spent going across the floor, learning by doing rather than talking. While I love talking and symantics, I also love moving, and it has been such a true pleasure to be locomoting pretty much the whole of each class. Maybe it is just a personal preference, but boy do I love not getting stuck in the center!

Another thing I have noticed is that the teachers whose 'training' has been completely situational (ie from being born and raised in the country of origin of the dance) seem to not mirror students when teaching. I say 'training' simply because many of them come from cultures that their experience with dance is not looked at that way. Instead, dance and music are things that everyone does together on a regular basis. That's a pretty awesome way to get to know dance. Anyway; We have been working in a classroom with no mirrors (which is probably best in terms of inhibitions). The teachers often face us, but when they do so, they end up starting on the right and meaning for us to start on the right when it looks to us like they are on the left. This is not a huge deal, and easy to adjust and figure out, but simply something I have noticed. My 'teaching training' has always emphasized the importance of both trying to face the students and also to mirror them (making me do the side opposite of what they are doing, but having it look like the proper side when I am facing them). However, when I think back to my experiences teaching over this last year, I can think of several younger students that would get more confused if I faced them and did the opposite side to look like their side. They more successfully understood when they could mirror me exactly (ie my back to them on the same side). Part of me now wonders that if, when I chose to face them, they'd be more successful if I stayed on the same side as them a looked opposite. I guess we humans have a fair amount of intuition surrounding directional capacity! Long story short, it seems like neither method is better than the other; just different strokes for different folks! A good mantra to remember at all times.

Here is another example of this 'different strokes' idea; start and end time for class. Almost ALL of my classes here (and pretty much any other African class I have taken) start late and end late. While this is frustrating to me as someone who is used to and prefers timeliness, but natural and best for people who are more used to a laid back approach as a part of their culture. And I'd say, in choosing to come to an African and vernacular dance camp, I have chosen to experience things the way these forms usually come; late!

Here is another interesting difference I have noticed; ALL of the teachers are VERY charismatic. Part of this is likely because they are living a life in dance, a life of their passion. Then again, I know many many people who are doing basically that, but very few of them communicate the kind of passion these individuals do through their teaching. Their characters are each so inviting and engaging that it is almost hard to even get tired in the middle of a VERY high energy class! As a teacher, I'd like to aspire to communicate that kind of passion to my students. Not just once awhile, but every class, like these teachers. In this, I have found dissolving my need to take each class the way I am used to (to a mirror, with details broken down, shape-based).

Now, on to the factor that I have not mused upon so lightheartedly; race relations. This is something that has crossed my mind in the past in taking African and other ethnic forms, but not as specifically until now. My first experience with African class was at the U of M. My class had all sorts of people in it, black, white, asian, American indian, etc, though primarily white (as Minnesota is generally). My next big experience was in Calgary. The major cultural factor I noticed there was that I was waltzing into a class that had been together for 15 years. Indeed there were many different races in that class as well, but many white people (again, the grat majority of Calgary is white). ***As a side-note, in talking about these things, I really do hate using color words to describe people. What does white mean anyway? I have a lineage, and it isn't 'white,' or 'caucasian,' its Irish, French and German. What does 'black' mean? Shouldn't it be Libyan, Congolese or maybe Cuban? Anyway.***

Here, I am very often of the minority in class, something I did not really notice until trying to introduce myself, unsuccessfully at that, to several people in my classes. That being said, I have had many people be very friendly, the way I am used to when offering an introduction. I thought at first that this might be a North/ South thing, but in talking to folks around the workshop, have gathered that it may be a white/ black thing. Chris, one of my apartment mates, who happens to be a 60-year-old white woman from Minnesota, has been taking African and related dance forms frequently for many years. She has been to many camps, and knows the scene in Minneapolis/ St. Paul. We got to talking, and she really does feel that there is often this harbored (or sometimes not) sense of racial tension in many of these classes. More frankly, this feeling that a white person taking African class is just, again, trying to take something that is not theirs. I have had the sense here and there that there are folks that are wondering what I am doing here. On the flip side, I have talked to many people who think its awesome that I am expanding my dance horizons and care so much to learn about their fascinating culture.

This topic could be a thesis in itself. However, the more I think about it and experience it, the more I come to a pretty simple conclusion; in any situation, in any place, there are both good people and bad people. All we can do is focus our energy on falling into the first category, and aligning ourselves with folks who do the same. I clued in on that idea shortly after having a negative introduction experience with one particular individual on the first day. After having that experience, thinking about this topic, and choosing to fall into category one, I have had almost nothing but fun, enjoyment, and genuine connection with those who do the same.

What a great, dancing microcosm of the world. Boy, am I glad I am here!!!

New Orleans 2: Cultural Differences

Back to the keys after a little more time. Yesterdays post was a little disjointed, due to being interrupted with grant news. An interruption I'll always be happy to take! Hopefully now I come back with a bit more of a gathered focus.

In this post, I'll muse about some more about cultural differences, particularly where the city itself is concerned. As far as the city, the first big thing I can say is that when I look around, I find it difficult to believe that most of the buildings down here, like anywhere else in the metropolitan U.S., are equipped with internet, and that we are in fact in 2011. The presence of history here is quite literal, and I wonder if that is part of what makes race relations so fragile. You look around and there is constant reminder of history. Then again, I think this is relatively true most places, but maybe not to the extent so clear that it is here. Gaggling at the old buildings makes you look at them closely, and while you do that, you realize that some are kept in excellent shape and therefore still majestic, and some are left to fall into ruins. This at first seems like a matter of carelessness, until you realize that the level of upkeep often corresponds to the economy of the neighborhood. Again, things are fragile here, and in talking to people, it seems that it is even more so after the hurricane; that any progress that might have been made in certain parts of the city was just whipped away. The feeling is that it will take another how many years to build back up that progress.

The living history of the city does seriously intrigue me, to the level of wondering what it would be like to be a resident and actually have time to be a part of the culture. I'll note that this feeling is gathered from my short amount of time out, because as I'll remind you, I am here to dance; I have been using my day time for 6-7.5 hours of class and breaks for meals and recuperating to go back to class! But I am indeed intrigued. Maybe it is because I have an amount of natural wanderlust. Maybe it is because I am noticing something that I think I can have a hand in changing, and I am a glutton for social punishment. Who knows exactly what it is. It could also simply be that when I am somewhere new, I want to get a pretty good idea of how the city lays, where things are, where to do what, so that I feel like I have an understanding of where I have spent my time. Then in comes a reminder that I will provide to myself; you cannot do everything all of the time. I came here to dance, and I should probably do myself a favor and focus on doing that and building relationships around that. It seems that sometimes, my tendency to want to do everything gets in the way of doing anything to my best. Am I seeing a pattern? 'I am stick of doing 9 or 10 things at 65% when I could do 4 or 5 things at 100%.' Have I not been repeating that over and over lately?

Getting off topic. Back on; It seems that I'll just have to keep getting out to explore as much as I can, however it might happen. In the course of my explorations, I have also come across some cultural differences that are not intriguing. As a Twin Citian, I am fortunate to be used to very cleanly public surroundings. Not the case here. I am also used to pretty easy access to well-organized information. I have been very surprised here at the lack of public information, and what I can find is not well organized, incomplete, or not very well presented (many of the websites down here look like they have not gone through an update since 2000!). This suggestion will probably come as no shock to anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in the South (maybe I am generalizing, who knows); Sometimes it feels laid back here, to a fault. I will be the first to admit that I think Midwesterners, including myself, can often be too uptight. However, that tendency certainly serves it's purpose. This laid back feeling here has manifested itself primarily through timeliness. We in the Midwest are pretty well on time. Here, everything starts late and goes late.

That's enough about the city as a whole. I guess I can sum it up by saying that I'd need more time here (like most places in the world). Damn that curiousity!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Orleans

This hour I had has quickly disappeared into a half hour. Amazing what good news can do! My call to MRAC this morning left me hyperventilting, on the verge of tears, screaming, and just plain excited. $10,000 for next year's Rhythmically Speaking production. Woah! Now, on to the bulk of my thoughts.

I have been surrounded by a big pile of cultural differences upon my arrival to New Orleans. The plane flights were pretty standard, but I realize that it likely due to the fact that I was sitting next to Midwesterners the whole time. I think we get fooled sometimes into thinking that the whole of our country is pretty similar. I am finding that to be less and less true the more I get around as an adult. Sure, I have been to most of the states in our union, but many of those visits (most, I'd say) happened when I was much younger and not responsible for as many things. I did not notice interactions with transportation staff, waiters and passersby nearly as much as I notice them now. I wonder what I would have thought had I noticed . . .

My experience in the deep south (New Orleans, Louisiana in specific), so far has been an incredibly mixed bag. I have had some kind, friendly and helpful people who have held doors, given directions and provided smiles. I have also had an angry streetcar driver, a testy class participant and a sometimes general feeling of displacement, both out and about and in class. In my mind, a number of factors contribute to my perceiving this place the way I have and me being perceived the way I have. I am not suggesting that I am a sociologist of historian or any other ian/igist that could diagnose why this land lays the way it does, but I am certainly entitled to gathering my own thoughts.

Cultural differences. Both in situational and dance interactions. I'll start with situational. The biggest thing that sticks out to me in bad situational interactions is the idea of tourism. I feel like about half of the time, I am received negatively if I give any inkling that I am not from here. I do not find myself in the wrong for asking people sitting at a bus stop where the bus they are waiting for will go. I also do not find it in the wrong to inquire with the streetcar driver about how to get where I am going, particularly after I had already tried on my own, several times before coming and several times after, to figure out online the transit system, only to fail. That falls under the other cultural differences I have noticed (to come later in the post). I was appalled at how our streetcar driver treated us. He stopped the streetcar in the middle of the tracks to come back and scold us for not asking for transfers right away when we boarded. Had he made himself seem more receptive to questions when we boarded, I may have thought to ask about that. I know that the job can probably be pretty grueling, but that does not provide free license to mistreat people as an outlet. Part of me really wanted to exit the front as we were leaving and get his badge number to complain, but it probably was best to follow my fellow Minnesotan Chris and Titos, the Congolese teacher, out the back of the train.

This and a couple of other interactions I have had have been frustrating in the fact that tourism is a big part of New Orleans economy. Service providers mistreating people who are visiting will not help them do well for this sector. The bad interactions have highly soured (but not duped) the good ones. I (and most people) have an experience or two working in a job that they do not like, but particularly in customer service, it does everyone including yourself better to be friendly while you are at it. It is sometimes easier said than done, but you always come out better for it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Artist-Acquired Skills and Abilities

Yes. Not 'Hidden Skills,' not 'Invisible Skills,' as I have been describing to my loved-ones around me. Time to start getting game on talking about this stuff. The not only legitimate, but unique and needed skill sets that artists seem to cultivate.

Let me get specific; what I have cultivated;

- Contract Negotiation
- Management: Front of House, Stage, Event
- Programming: Imagining, developing and seeing into successful fruition original programs
- Internal and External Communication Flow Management
- Project Management: Creation and management of objectives, timelines, staff and evaluation
- Scheduling: Managing multiple lines of schedule effectively for both individuals and groups
- Booking: Managing initial contact, booking, gathering of detail and follow-up of multiple groups in multiple spaces
- Spokesmanship
- Public Relations Strategy
- Financial Management: Developing and managing project and operational budgets

These are just 'things I do.' Many more already accomplished, and many more soon to come. Just working to get it all into terms that translate!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Good Reminder

The following is a good reminder that we are always fortunate;

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts you have received, and pass on the love that has been given you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

So that's all, folks. Sing, praise and love, but most of all, DANCE!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Difficult Things

Obviously, they strike harder when coming in by surprise. I had been so desperate to get out of my current support job that I didn't realize how much it would affect me to actually leave. The people of St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, MN are truly amazing. The job itself I will not miss; being a barista is not my life's work. But I WILL miss the people. Dearly.

Again in needing to find the best balance. Need to call Deb. Part of the downtrodden energy is the feeling that I am headed into something that is even less of a good fit. I need a good fit for the support job to last. If I could make the same amount there that I would serving, I'd stay in a heartbeat.

Flux flux flux. Nothing is perfect. It's like a puzzle missing a piece; I think it got sucked up by the vacuum.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Someone Talked About Writing

A shopping bag of mixed feelings. If I were putting together a recipe of some kind, I'd be an Italian-style pad-Thai with Belgian chocolate infusions. Yep. I am really excited to get to 'be an artist' this weekend and next week, but another part of me has been eaten up by job 'troubles,' ie feeling like the perfect scenario just won't come, and in being disappointed with what I am doing. Now that I have physically expressed that, I am ashamed to even have been thinking it. I KNOW that what I am doing is awesome and amazing, yet somehow it does not stop me from comparing myself. I don't think this is a 'just me' sort of thing, I think it is a human thing, but that does not put a wrench in how inevitably un-helpful and and pointless it is. Yet, we do it. Why? Shouldn't your best standard of comparison be your own dreams?

I think I am realizing that a part of this is that I may be letting the dreams of others stand in where I would put my own. I have a lot of things that interest me and I am ultimately very excited about the world, but I am not sure I have a good definition of some precise or even ballpark dreams. My wide array of interests and desires always keeps me from focusing in. Now, I know I am capable of going the exact opposite way and charting an exact, by-the-year pathway of what I am going to do and how I am going to do it (yes been there, done that), but I know now that doesn't work either. It is the extreme opposite end.

I think there must be a great deal of skill in knowing your achievable (yet still shooting-high) dreams and encouraging their development while letting the rest take care of itself. That is where the grey area is; up to what point can you encourage development before you are an obsessed meddler who cannot enjoy their own life? I think this also begs questions of 'what is enjoy?' I think a lot of people see enjoyment as 'free time,' or time away from what they are doing on a regular basis. I do not want my enjoyment to be 'time away.' What I enjoy most is usually related to my overall goals. But here; because these goals are 'serious,' is it then harder to release into plain enjoyment? Who knows.

I know a perfect balance won't just show up when you snap your fingers. In fact, it will never show up. That's the thing. This idea of perfection. This thought certainly isn't new (which ones are?), but just a reminder to myself and anyone else who may find it valuable that perfection is non-existent, and that it not sad, it's awesome. It keeps us striving for more. Yet, in order for that awesomeness to accepted, I think it needs to come along with a certain amount of ability to be content.

What I really cannot figure out is why what people around me are doing seems ok or even awesome to me when I am doing similar or even more, yet for me it's not enough? Maybe I see what they are doing as enough because they are content with where they are, and that really does come across. I want that contentment. What brings this contentment to the lives of my friends? Do they KNOW that they are doing everything that can to get to where they want, and are comfortable with letting progress happen as it does, are they hiding that they are not completely content? I cannot figure this out.

It seems that I am afraid that if I allow in contentment, I also allow in room for slowing down or stagnating. Maybe so. But how worth it is it really to barrel forward if you cannot enjoy what you accomplish along the way?

I feel like a write an iteration of this same post every three or four months. I just keep coming back to this. A good reminder that some stances do not figure themselves out over the course of a couple months?

I think a good place to leave this is that my awareness of the tendencies discussed above is a good place to start. General concept of psychology? Maybe. True and probably helpful? Yes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"You Can't get caught in the 'web of words.'"

Harvard Center for Brain Research

http://thebeautifulbrain.com/2011/04/gallery-elizabeth-jameson-spring-2011/

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Goed March?

Wow, it has been quite some time since this blog has past a whole month with no post. Well, I could probably check my logic on that, as it IS public record. Maybe it just feels that way, as I do hate to go too long without pouring some word out onto page.

I have been pretty dippy trippy lately. Things that I 'should not take personal' are affecting me so. But what exactly is it about job rejection and misunderstood ambition that ISN'T personal? I have always thought that the phrase is somewhat of a misnomer. If something negative comes down to you as a result of a way you have acted or your qualifications or really anything else driven directly by a quality you possess, of course it is personal.

While this may sound negative, I certainly do not mean it so. After the initial shock of something negative, resilient people like myself (or at least I think I am or am trying to convince myself so) use this personal feeling as extra motivation to bounce back. A jumping off pad for improvement. For me, I think the most difficult thing about an idea like that is the need to accept that improvement does not happen overnight. I have never been among the most patient of people, and that is most difficult when it comes to trying to improv life trajectory. I have a tendency to identify what I think I need to improve and how I think I can do it, but that process is often lengthier than I'd wish it. Here is simply another chapter in my seemingly never-ending ode to developing patience.

I am often envious of my friends who enjoy going with the flow. I do have to say that I sometimes hope they are envious of my organizational abilities. I suppose this is why people build relationships - to learn from one another's best qualities.

I'm not sure exactly where this is headed, but by does it feel good to be getting some words ie brain-reel out. I had a lovely birthday, one that passed by too quickly due to my own obligations and those of the others with whom I was celebrating. Another one passed by with a lot of pomp, but still the feeling that there was not enough time. There never is. I am not sure if this is sad or a profound reason to be as aware and involved as possible in moments as they take place. I'll go with number two. Because I have that choice.

This has always been hard for me to embrace, mostly out of the worry that I'll stop trying to better myself. I realize this is ridiculous; I am not capable of that, and that's even more clear when I write it down. So why worry? The answer is because I am good at it, and practiced :)

So my birthday horoscope told me; This year grows a new and more confident you. A financial boost will improve many parts of your life. Professional goals will lead you far from your comfort zone. You'll become masterful at a very difficult task because you keep practicing. A special relationship brings blissful times. Cancer and Leo people are your enthusiastic supporters. Your lucky numbers are: 5, 19, 33, 28 and 1.

"New and more confident" - minimize the worrying? "Financial boost" - long-time coming. But this is where the worry comes in; I don't like resting on my laurels because my horoscope said my financial situation would better itself. Those kind of things never better themselves on their own. They require action by you. The trick now is to minimize any time spent on worry and focus it in on doing everything within my reach and time to better the situation, while enjoying my current goings-on. "Professional goals far from comfort zone" - I'd say this must speak to my desire to bone up on my business skills that are lacking, particularly in the financial area. AHH! NUMBERS!!! Out of the comfort zone for sure. "Masterful at a difficult task" - again, business financial skills? Or who knows? I'd love to pick up a new skill or get better at an old one. I have been dying to be in technically challenging dance classes on a more regular basis, and that includes ballet. "Blissful times" - excellent. This area of the world is awesome already, so bring on the bliss!

So, where goed March? Where goed my birthday? Things pass when you are busy worrying about what's next. Keep looping that reminder, Erinn.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Seeking Alignment; It's a Constant Process

Patterns of figuring take so much time, especially when you feel like you are in them all the time. To a certain extent, you usually are, whether it be in friendship, romance, work, hobbies, finances or fitness. When you think about it, it seems rare that all of these things (or any other major players in time and presence use) line up the ideal way for any given person. Kind of like the analogy of how the stars align; for those glorious moments, everything is in synch, only for those starts to continue rotating. This seems like a good way to come to terms with how life operates (astrology anyone? :)

That being said, it seems key to realize that perfect alignment of all components is in fact rare. While that does not mean that we shouldn't strive for perfect alignment (what, am I teaching a dance class now?), it does mean that it is normal for some amount of shifting to be nearly constant, and not a cause for alarm. I often see it this way; shouldn't I be alarmed if not every single piece of my life is aligned the best way possible? It's seeming more and more like the answer is no. I think I have known deep down that aligning everything in life is a constant process. However, need for a modicum of stability coupled with high expectations has left me trying so hard to force this perfect alignment constantly that it has become difficult for me to enjoy experiences while they are happening. With dancing as a singular exception to this state, I seem to always be looking out for the next thing to better myself.

When I say it this way, it seems perfectly reasonable. Maybe what I need to do is let learning how to enjoy the moment or the task at hand BE at way to better myself.

Proper alignment, here I come . . .

Just don't be surprised if I remain off-kilter here and there. That's what plies are for; to set you up to keep dancin'!

Monday, February 21, 2011

It Costs More Than You Think

Wow, two posts in a row about financial woes.

This text isn't meant to come out as complaint, as I have made a series of conscious choices to be where I am, but simply observations.

Life costs a lot more than one realizes from the offset. I know this isn't news to anyone other than me, rather, it is probably a milestone of adult thought process that all people experience at some point, but it is just hitting me now. Thus, I talk on it.

Snow tires, car repairs, technology replacements, taxes, etc. All the hidden expenses that do not glare out at you when making what you think is a workable budget. Now, I have always been a good saver when the option is there. But when it is not, boy do those hidden costs seem worse. In addition, it always feels like savings are not for those emergency sort of expenses, they are for far loftier things, such as the purchase of a house, travel, or contributing to a retirement account.

This sounds like all the stuffy shit I looked upon as ball and chain for so long, now only to realize that they are truisms that are so because of general common sense. Of course you are going to want a more spacious, permanent living space at some point. This is not a sign of giving up adventure, but more a sign of thanking yourself for putting down roots and cultivating the place where you happen to be. If the choice is to embark to create a different kind of good, that is excellent too, but is probably less often accompanied with a feeling of wanting physical permanence. But I digress.

Of the above- listed things the most important/scary (and therefore formerly most stuffy) is the retirement plan. Why on earth would I want to spend any time thinking about being done with my lifes work when I feel like I have barely begun? I was going to say that I cannot even imagine, yet I can (it's relatively easy) what it would be like to have had a steady, single job for the whole time I have been graduated from college. If that were the case, I am sure that these thought may have crossed my mind more often. Or maybe not. Maybe having those sorts of thoughts would be worth exchanging flexibility and variety in favor of stability. I may even be able to cut out the 'variety' idea, as no job I would imagine myself in would be monotonous. I would not allow it to be so. That is likely why my 'income accessorization' job is driving me nuts. Monotony.

Is it possible for me to have thoughts with out having to write them down? I digress. AGAIN. Back to retirement plans. I read a story in the Saturday Wall Street Journal about how a lot of boomer's retirement plans are coming up less than they expected. Now, I know this is much more complicated than I (or probably most people, which is part of the problem) can understand, but it doesn't stop me from being FREAKING WORRIED about how the hell me and people my age are going to manage when we don't get social security. What the hell!!? It angers me so much to be paying into a system that will not end up benefitting me. I'd be happy to be completely responsible for handling retirement savings myself if I could use the money I am now paying into social security in any way I wish. Then, I'd actually have a sum to put away in my Roth IRA that I responsibly created for myself. But instead, I am putting it all into broken system that won't do SHIT for me. And what can I do about it?

I suppose I could write a letter to my congressmen. I am a true believer in being an engaged citizen, but when lobbying groups that rely on corporate donations have so much standing, what does my little letter do? I'd be happy to support any lobbying group that would work on this cause, but without money or time to donate, just an opinion, what good can I do them?

This is the kind of issue that one can spiral around for many, many hours. I feel like I had better put an end to it because I am not sure it can go anywhere immediately productive. The end for now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Version of Indulgence

To be able to afford speciality foods, music, dance and yoga classes,

Training trips, a new phone should I see it fit,

General travel, to buy a bottle of wine or two a week, to be able to go out to dinner,

to be able to contribute to organizations I admire, to maybe even have the time to volunteer,


to be able to fix my car when it needs fixing and to buy a new one if it breaks

Community of Individuals?

Twisty brain.

Is it good to encourage a community of individuals? I suppose that sounds silly to say without a little context. Yes, of course it is a good thing . . . right?

The doubt comes in when considering big picture. In a community of individuals with no common goal, where do we go?

This is the topic that has been rolling around in my brain, looking for a means to an end, when it comes to my thoughts about how I would like to act as a community organizer for those interested in rhythm and jazz dancing in the Twin Cities. Right now, all the opportunities I can think of will encourage a community of individuals. Let me re-phrase, community of individuals may not be the best way to describe this. What I mean is that it will encourage the development of piece by piece, project by project lifestyle for artists in this medium, and that is exactly what is frustrating me personally these days. I guess if one is not in search of some stability like me, than it wouldn't be as frustrating a lifestyle to live.

But there is imbalance in that statement, too. I say I seek stability, but I do not want to give over the flexibility I currently hold. I can pretty much arrange things to have any day I want free. But what good is that if I cannot finance the kind of activities I want to partake in with that time? It is a balance, much like anything else, it seems.

STability v. FLEXability (sp indeed). What is more valuable? The answer to that question is personal, and different for every person. So what is my answer? How come I cannot just sit down, think about it for a half hour, and solve it like Blues Clues?

Probably because my life is not scripted, like that of Blue the Dog. Disappointing? Awesome? Not entirely sure.

I clearly do not mind working 40 hours a week. I'd just like it to be intelligently flexible. Like me. So I am working toward creating that But I digress.

Maybe I need to find out how people dig their lifestyle as an artist. I want to know if they LIKE being a person who wears five hats, or if not, which hats they would trade in in favor of wearing one that is a little bit bigger than the rest. Or even, gasp, JUST ONE HAT! I cannot even imagine what that kind of mental clarity feels like. It would be really amazing to be able to serve just one purpose. But let's face it; working in non-profit, even in established non-profit, everyone has multiple hats to wear.

So the question; Is it ok to continue encouraging artists to take project by project opportunity, or should our (Rhythmically Speaking's) mission be to work toward supporting artists in a way that allows them to focus on one thing? The more I think about it, the more this seems like I want to be a granting panel or something. I suppose that there are opportunities out there for funding individual artists, they are just so few and far between . . .

Man oh man, there just seems to be no perfect answer to this query. I guess all I can do is ask the people where they see themselves going in the community, and then try to cater to it.

So, where am I going, Dave Matthews? If only I could write a dance about it and get hired to play a bunch of festivals all summer . . .

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Keep It Simple

Indeed, simple I'd like to keep it. It's the motto in my mug. It should be the motto ON my mug too. Another one; 'Focus on the task at hand.' These wiseties are thrown up by people around me who I respect and admire, so taking to these suggestions really does seem like a good idea. So why then, is it so hard?

God-damnit, I am interested in a lot of things. Too many things. Many people say this is good – healthy curiousity, many options. I think this is BAD because I am not interested in any of them enough. Not ANY of them but dance. Jazz and rhythm, and trying to get better at everything that falls into that. And helping everyone else interested in everything that falls into that get better too. Both locating and creating opportunities, taking advantage of them while passing them on. Not being hampered by finance so much that I cannot pursue the kind of training I want to pursue. Wishing that someone would pay for it (ie find me valuable enough to put on a company that will allow me to experience these things). DAMNIT. DJD is the dancing place for me. It could have been the lif-ing place for me. But could haves in the face of reality barriers are pointless. This idea also falls into the ever-larger growing category of 'easier said than done.'

So what can I do with where I am at, what I am good at, what I have access to (apparently I can end sentences in prepositions, so there is a start)? I have realized that I first have to kick back to what I WANT to do, no matter how crazy it might be. So I started a list. A kind different from the usual ones; one that has honesty. I think a lot of the time, my lists are more about what I SHOULD think than what I really do, out of an effort to organize things and keep them simple. The great reality of this is that I'd keep it much more simple if I were just honest with myself about what I want, AFTER that infusing proper amounts of realism to help see myself to some success.

I want to create connections between people who are doing things. I want to do things, but not at the scale on a specific thing that many people want to - 'I want to be a choreographer,' 'I want to run a school,' etc. I want to do all of these things. Just none of them ONLY. How can I help people be where they need to be to get what the want and at the same time get a little piece of it for myself? How does it work to want to do a little bit of a lot of things? I do suppose some 'things' have come to the forefront of my mind as things I want to do more often; serve people, plan and execute events. The two ways to do these things that have had the come to the front of my mind are Rhythmically Speaking and a production company.

The production company would serve the needs of dance performers and choreographers to use their craft as often as possible for acceptable pay while bringing artistic entertainment to audiences that as for it. It would serve audiences that ask for it by providing them artistic entertainment that would elevate their events to new levels of excitement and completeness. I think I could really make something happen here, because I am not trying to serve an audience that is hard to identify. This audience is easily identifiable; corporate events, restaurants. The hard part is getting in touch with them and proving that we are what they are looking for. Additionally, I could make something happen because the first part is ALL to easy; getting together dancers and choreographers looking to share their talents for money. No sweat, no problem. Hell, I could even get groups on this list, groups like Collective (Hip-hop), Duniya and Voice of Culture (African), etc. They are all pursuing and finding corporate gigs, though I guess I am not sure how much they'd want to give a cut to someone when they can find them themselves. But the convenience of someone else doing it sure would be nice! There are people doing this; Universal Dance Destiny does this, but it seems like a lock-down that would not be smart to approach with a 'can I informational interview you (so I can copy what you do)?' I'll straighten that up. I plan to copy no one, but I guess I will be entering into a market that others will not want to share. How would I do it successfully?

Wow, that paragraph above makes it pretty clear that a production company might be a viable way to streamline my interests. I did mention that there are two ways; the other way is Rhythmically Speaking. I KNOW we are on to something here too, but I have a whole chunk of worries that come along with this, the first being; by providing opportunities for a hand-full of choreographers at a time, are we perpetuating the culture of a city that for so many is project by project, with no stability? I have been thinking a whole lot lately about the structure of the dance community in the Twin Cities, and how I'd best fit into it. I have thought for awhile now that it is pretty awesome that you have to be many things to get by; a teacher, a performer, a choreographer, an administrator, etc. For many people who have just one of those things as a focus (other than teacher, of course), this has been a frustration. It has excited me because I love to wear many different hats. While this is great for me, it also provides a problem. Relating back to an earlier statement; 'God-damnit, I am interested in too many things.' The problem that lies here is the fact that the many interests really seem to be keeping me from defined goals. While it is great to do a lot of things, if these lot of things do not add up to some larger impact, what is the point?

I am incredible at juggling a lot of things at once. I am terrible at seeing how they all fit into the bigger picture. Being able to see both small and large perspectives must be what is necessary to be a really effective person. And I want to be that. So I am faced with the need to make all the little chunks fit together into a nice picture.

Back to Rhythmically Speaking; I am concerned because our mission feels too large to be effective. Maybe I just need to spend some time brainstorming. I really want our efforts to be focused in a way that impacts a lot of people in a good way. I am worried that right now, we are doing what WE want to do and not focusing in on offering what OTHERS need. I do not think this is out of selfishness, it really is out of genuine desire. The problem develops when you assume that what you want is what others want to. Maybe this is a larger issue with art in general. Art is a wonderful way for self-therapy, but then why try to get it funded? If it is created really as a way to serve yourself, you have served the mission of that project and it should be done. It seems like the brick wall that the marching band keeps trying to walk through forms itself when a visionary continually insists on trying to fund and execute programming that people do not need or want. But how do you find out what they want? Really? How?

I want to find out what people want and use that to plan programs, because I have no doubt that others and myself have a lot of things in common. But how do I find out what they want? I should probably talk to Zoe, a move that I have already initiated. She probably has some great ideas on finding out what people want. There is always the 'audience survey,' but that is just show specific, and those people are already in the seats. I think what I am trying to say is that we need market research on 'people interested in jazz and rhythm-based dance.' How would we do this? How would we afford this? AHH! Maybe one way is to create survey that go out to our 'stakeholders;' one for participants (choreographers, dancers and educators) and another for audiences (viewers and students?). We can ask them what sort of opportunities they are looking for in order to help bolster their careers/ see and support the kind of dance they enjoy. This survey could go out through our newsletter. Do we need an incentive? I sure do not want to offer a reduced ticket price!

In short, I want to find out what people want, see if it matches with what we want to do, then offer it. This could be any number of things; the yearly showcase, quarterly showcases, touring program (allows these people's work to be seen by more people, they can then pick up on having that artist out for their own show), residency programs (to spread this kind of training to people who would not have had it otherwise), community forums. A larger purpose beyond where the mission is now; fostering an appreciation of jazz and rhythm-based dance forms. If we can do that, people will demand support for and opportunities for seeing this kind of work, and it becomes a perpetuating cycle. Here is another thing; partnering with Jazz88 to offer jazz dance residencies at North that go with their radio programming. Maybe I can even pitch a weekly or bi-weekly half-hour radio program that focuses on the intersection of this kind of music and dance? History, happenings, theory, etc. What a way this would be to continue growing shared interest among musicians and dancers. Programs that collaborate with folk-dance centers? Tapestry classes or at least announcements?

The juices is flowing. Another thought that occurred to me; I cannot make into full-time choreographers people who do not want to be full-time choreographers. I probably wouldn't want that myself (ok, if faced with an opportunity to choreograph full time in the proper setting for more money than I take in now, there is no way I'd say no, but that certainly would not happen without a lot of work, and that is not the direction in which I want to put my work). All we can do is try to figure out what people want, and then support that. Maybe helping people who want to choreograph in the form here and there IS what is needed; to keep a consistent flow of these kind of performance and viewing opportunities, a consistent presence. That certainly would help dispell the 'jazz is dead' bullshit. Alive and kickin, every season! Making the creation of choreography easier for people who are also passionate about educating (or whatever else it is they do? Hell, it could be accounting during the day, with a firey need to also create here and there. That is their perogitive). I just really want to be sure that we are doing what people want.

Another thought; I don't know that our time is best spent looking up information in one place and typing it into another place, like monkeys (ie keeping the events and show section on the site up to date). Our time in that arena would be best spent keeping an updated 'resource' links section, and instructing people to check out the sites of those that look interesting to find out more about what they are offering. All of these people are constantly updating their sites. If we are a support organization, why not send traffic to their sites and save ourselves some precious time to do other things? Keeping 'Resources' and 'Classes' up to date would be great, then using the newsletter as a way to highlight a couple of community happenings, referencing the 'Resources' tab as a way to find out more. Yes. Done.

Feeling the need to go forth and make things happen, and accepting it out of realization that these things cannot be sorted out completely in one bout of typing; it will take many bouts of typing. Good thing I like to write.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Listening to Part 3

The following is an email I recently sent to the composer I am working with on a new music and dance project, the first section (out of five) of which is being performed at the Kinetic Kitchen at Patrick's Cabaret Feb 11 and 12, as well as at Renovate: A Choreographer's Evening, at the Ritz March 4-6. The piece is coined Railing Forward, and is a work-in-progress collaboration exploring how developments in locomotion and communication technologies have affected people’s interactions with one another, particularly where ideas of emotion, efficiency and dependence are concerned.


"In listening, I got really excited because I feel like what we are considering is really drawing a parallel to my personal life and hitting me close to home. This Fall and Winter have been an experiment in me trying to obtain the best understanding possible of how I should delegate importance to time and money (ie resource), and how it therein affects my relationships (communication). This was all initiated by one of the most important people in my life, Kris, who observed that my break-neck pace in life often tends to affect how I communicate and interact with people. It turned out that, unintentionally and unbeknownst to me, I more often than not have favored being abrupt in the interest of saving time, rather than letting situations and communications unfold, in the time they need, in to what they should be. This has become a constant thought in my mind and driver of my goals - to let everything take the timing it needs to be what it should. I even ended up writing one of my New Years Resolutions to feature this idea that I hold so dear. These are my 2011 resolutions;

Strive/ ENJOY/ Reflect
Flexibility/ Planning
Groundedness/ Change
Live the way you desire

'Flexibility/ Planning' and 'Live the way you desire' really speak to what we are addressing, which seems to be boiling down for me, in light of my personal explorations, as the always-being-perfected balances between living how you want to and how you should, between planning and flexibility, between quality and speed. In other words (and I think I run the risk of sounding like a self-help book here, but aw well, its true), figuring out the most efficient way to run your own life. When it comes down to it, efficiency is an important concept within anything; personal life, running a factory, transport, communication, etc. Efficient as defined bydictionary.com is; "performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort; having and using requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent;capable: a reliable, efficient secretary." When looked at bare-bones, efficiency really is what people are striving for.
Issues begin forming when that quest for efficiency starts affecting the quality presented, in any scenario. Note that the definition included 'in the best possible manner.' It seems that issues arise when people overlook 'best possible manner' in favor of more 'the least waste of time and effort.' This is where the unending quest for balance begins, and why we ended up coming down on wanting to present +'s and -'s of each idea.

Wow. That was a serious tangent. I just wanted to share with you how deeply this project is affecting me as I work toward a conscious balance between 'best possible manner' and 'least waste of time and effort.' :) Feel free to weigh in!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Denver Evokes Things

Today is my last day in Denver. This is not monumental, seeing as though we have only been here since Monday. It is important, however, as this trip has marked a thought one in number, yet relatively major in importance; I feel like I have been here for several weeks, and I really think this is owed to the fact that time has been approached as coming and going as it will, or needs to. It is so rare for me to offer a situation the amount of time it really needs, usually being approached with the idea of efficiency rather than fullness. With so many things on my plate at once, I assume I will be more successful when fitting as much into a time period as possible, and as I gain more life experience, this seems to be proving less and less true.

I'll zero in on our trip to the original Chipotle (which was indeed a 'needs-its-time' adventure in itself) with Colin. Colin is just on the tail-end of a bad break-up, and has been coping in part by reading motivational books. Now, labeling them this way might make them sound corny, but that seems to be a conclusion of immediacy that people who are uncomfortable delving into their own psyche's might say - let it in! He is reading a book called 'The Art of Power,' in which the main principle is basically that if you are present in the moment, fear, anger, poorness and a myriad of other difficulties cannot get in the way of your power to own yourself and your actions. I am really excited to read this book, and almost feel like I am offering up a book review of something I haven't even read yet. Point being, that conversation with Colin was one of the highlights of my trip, because it put into quick focus what this trip has helped me on the way to realizing.

From the get-go, our approach to this trip has been to plan the minimal details; plane tickets, where we are staying what night, and that was frankly, about it. We tossed some ideas around about what we might like to do, but kept it at that. Honestly, I think a lot of this was due to the fact that Kris and I both were really busy up until the point of leaving :) but I really do think that a lot of it was conscious. I am realizing with every new 'skip outta town' that I am one who encapsulates. It is easier for me to 'live in the moment' when I create a packaged amount of time in which to do so. Festivals, road trips, vacations, etc. These are the times that I let myself be blown around by the wind.

That being said, I do think I am making progress on letting that kind of whimsy, sense of time and desire to let moments unfold at the pace they will enter into my 'normal' life, too. It of course takes realization of something in order to formulate thoughts regarding anything, and it has taken me realizing that this is an issue worth exploring in order to do something about it. I will refer to one of my New Year's resolutions; 'Live the Way You Desire.' This resolution was inspired by Kim McAndrews, a close friend who can often seem flaky, but is actually quite wise. She never does anything that she does not want to do. Well, within reason - I should not place the caveat 'never,' because this is within reason. There may be little tasks at a job she does not want to do, but because she wants to do the job overall, she will suck it up and complete the tasks. Again, this is within reason. In general, she is a great example of someone who let's time take it's course as she enjoys the things she choses to do. She does not hang out with people she does not want to hang out with, she does not return calls she does not want to return, and I think, in general, that she is much better for it! Now, I am not sure I will go to that kind of extreme (I will likely always return ALL telephone calls and emails), but I can certainly take a leaf out of her book.

I think I did so on this trip. We had ideas but not plans, made decisions as they needed to be made (and therein were likely more accurate), and enjoyed our actions as they were warranted to happen. We didn't make it skiing, but because I had not made an edict that we would, I am honestly not disappointed. There were a couple of other things that I wish we would have had MORE time for (hot springs, hiking at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park), but the amount of time they had was a result of listening to our choices, and not trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. We experienced within the resources of time and money that we had (energy did not seem to be a problem!) and everything we did really seemed fuller as a result.

While hiking did get less time that I may have initially wished, you know what we did do? We got to play with Larry and Lynette's kids a whole lot, and ended up getting to see Colin a couple times, which is something I didn't even realize might have happened. Before actually arriving, I did not realize how much I really would want to have low-key time to enjoy with the kids. I of course knew that this trip was largely a result of wanting to visit friends and family (it also came about because it was good timing, affordable, and Kris and I had never had a long, flight-necessary trip together and thought it was about time after three years!), but it took me actually being here to know how important it would be to spend quality time with our people, and I have absolutely no regrets regarding how we decided to spend our time.

I started to think that the next thing to reference would be the ability to be flexible, but I really do not think that is how this trip was approached. I think that our time was approached as 'make decisions as we go,' and it felt more adventuresome and full for that reason. Kris was really pretty instrumental in helping me enjoy this trip in this way. He is a master of letting the moment fill itself, and I am happy to have someone as important as him able to make steering suggestions in this arena of how to approach life. Again, I feel like I have been adventuring for a couple weeks rather than just 5-6 days, which is satisfying, because it means that I am ready to return to regular routine, practiced pattern, life as I know it. I desire to let time and space, met by my usual serving of unbounded energy, arrange themselves this way regularly; not only when I am fulfilling my gypsy complex, but also when I am existing in regular time and space.

The best thing I can do now is to allow these realizations to flow into that 'life as I know it.'

Content.