Archive for the 'Intentions' Category

16
May
12

I Want To Fly.

I don’t trust easily.

Whether I’ve learned that or whether it’s innate, I couldn’t tell you. But the result is the same. It’s very hard for me to trust people.

I open myself up easily. Yes, I know that seems counter-intuitive. But I am a pretty open person. That’s because I conduct my life in such a way that I am willing to stand up and speak for what I’ve done, my choices, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It in no way is reflective of my trust level of other people. It’s simply a willingness to take responsibility for my actions.

So, it would seem that openness does not equate to trust.

I am, however, also tired. I am tired of not trusting. I am tired of the isolation that creates. I am tired of the life that creates.

Because you know what? The further into this wacky life I get, the clearer one thing becomes: you get exactly what you expect. Do you expect people to treat you like shit? Oh, look at that, they treat you like shit. Do you expect people to be confrontational and in your face all the time? Oh, step off, and get outta my face.

But here’s the sparkly thing that I’m learning. And I mean unicorns and fairies and tea with the Queen of Magicland kind of sparkly. So huge I want to find some rooftops to climb and do a little Dick Van Dyke tap number up there, singing it from the chimneys. Ready?

What you expect, you get.

What, I already said that? Right, but we were talking about all the negative things in life. Now think about all the positive things in life for just a moment.

Do you expect people do be decent and treat you kindly? Guess what? People are really quite lovely. Do you expect that people will help you when you need a hand? Look at that hand being held your way. Do you expect your dreams to come true? Do your part, and watch them thrive.

(Wait, what was that last part? Do your part? What do you mean…we can’t just sit back and wait for shit to land in our entitled laps? Fuck no. Ever heard that phrase, “God helps those who helps themselves?” Well, regardless of your feelings about God, the Universe responds to action, not inaction. So waiting to receive will get you nowhere. Starting your own train in motion will start your own train in motion. But that is a whole blog post unto its own…)

Yeah, I know we’ve all heard this shit before. You create your own reality. But all of a sudden I’m seeing it spring to life in a way I can’t even define. I see people around me complain about “always” coming up against this brick wall or that impasse. And I’ve started to look at things a little more closely. And I realize that those challenges they speak of are not even in my sphere of consciousness, nowhere in my realm of being.

Yes, I know we all have our own individual challenges. I am taking nothing away from that concept. However, sometimes I think that maybe some of those individual challenges are such because we are creating them.

Stop for one second. Imagine…just imagine if we were each creating our own challenges. Unconsciously.

Do you realize what that would mean? That would mean that if we got conscious about it, we could choose NOT to create those challenges. We could choose to create pathways and solutions and love in those places instead.

Soak that in for a second.

Does that one hit you like a fucking freight train the same way it hits me?

For instance…on more than one occasion, I have heard a woman complain that she cannot get close to other women, and she doesn’t have any close female friends. Women are just so catty and two-faced, bitchy and nasty.

I know this is some people’s experience. I know this is a lot of people’s experience. And every single time I hear this I stop and have a moment of gratitude. I am so grateful that this has never been my experience. And I mean never. Maybe there was the odd toying with it in my group of friends in high-school, but ultimately, even my privileged, kilted and knee-socked highschool girls didn’t go there. My college friends most certainly didn’t go there. And not once in my adult life have I chosen to hang around with women who fit that bill.

Maybe that says something about the choices I’ve made in friends. Maybe that says something about the expectations I have of friendship. But any way you slice it, I have always been blessed with outstanding female friends, all of whom I adore and would trust with my life. I guess I choose not to put my time and energy into (female) relationships that don’t live up to those standards. Period.

So it seems entirely foreign to me when people start talking about the cattiness and untrustworthiness of their women “friends.” Until it hits me. This is their expectation. So this is their experience.

On the other hand, I complain about not having enough money. It has been a constant and pervasive challenge in my life, from the time I became responsible for myself. I know other people who seem to have a horseshoe up their ass, for all that I can tell. They live the life of their dreams, and make the money they need to do so. With no struggle whatsoever. What. So. Ever. This is really just the shoe on the other foot. This is their bone-deep belief and expectation of how life functions, without even a flicker of doubt. Without so much as a whisper of a question. That’s just how life works for them. And yet it is such an ongoing struggle for me (and lots of other people out there too.) But what if that’s just because that’s what I believe? What if that’s because, although it’s not what I want, it is what I expect?

And that’s what really got me to thinking. Because I get that. I get it in my bones, I get it in my cells and on a gut intuitive level. I’ve heard people talk about it before but it hasn’t really resounded…now it makes sense. Therefore…

What experiences am I EXPECTING that I am therefore MANIFESTING that simply don’t need to be there? What are my challenges? Where are the hills and humps I struggle to make it over?

  • TRUST (lack)
  • MONEY (lack)
  • LOVE (just not easy and joyful yet)
  • JOY (lack)
  • CAPABILITY (lack)

So that’s my homework. Expect the best. Truly. At a bone-deep, soul-dancing, accepting without a flicker of doubt level. Because I’ve watched unconscious expectation become reality over and over. This time I’m going to work on CONSCIOUS expectation becoming reality.

There is a bit of a chicken and an egg syndrome…because I have to have trust in the process. Ultimate, unflagging, unwavering, absolute faith in the process. The process of creating trust. I have to trust to create trust. Ha. Yeah. Take that to the bank and cash it!

The light at the end of the tunnel is there, however. For the first time in years, maybe ever, I can feel myself cracking open. I can feel myself understanding how to get from here to there. I can see a pathway, I can feel my body engage, and I can hear my heart dedicate itself to beating with passion.

God, it’s so welcome. Living an excited, passionate life is so very welcome in this heretofore stone, lifeless body. Cracking open that mantle of discontent, that shell of faux protection, the creation of which has left me exhausted and disillusioned, that is true birth. That is the beginning.

Enter the delivery room with me. Let’s take this journey together. On the other side is flight into unrestricted, wide open sky.

And I want to fly.

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14
May
12

Major Renovations. And Gin.

We are doing major renovations here at Break the Surface.

Renovations which include the name.

WHAT THE FUCK?

You heard me. We’re moving to our very own dot com. Which means we won’t be Break the Surface much longer…

Can you wait? (I can hardly wait!) Renovations always go over budget and over schedule and the kitchen never looks quite the way you drew it up with the architect. BUT, lucky for you, I’m the architect, the builder, and the client. And this renovation isn’t finished until the fat lady sings.

And I ain’t singing quite yet.

So everybody is going to get out their big girl panties and get ready for something very, very sassy. Because that’s how I roll. And y’all are gonna roll on into the new digs with me! We can have a housewarming party and everything.

I’ll serve gin and tonic and there will be karaoke.

Except for the karaoke.

Because I fucking hate karaoke.

So just the gin then.

Excellent. We can all get our drunken woo-woo on. Crystals and harps and enlightenment and everything. Including gin. Did I mention the gin? It is a party after all…

And who doesn’t like a party?

Fantasmagorical!

08
May
12

Fat is a Four Letter Word.

Ok, so I shared in a recent post that I got to a place of being about 100lbs overweight. Saying that number aloud, I’m front of God and everyone…well, that was a little scary. I had to go hide under the covers and be an alien for a while before I could talk about it any further.

But talk about it we’re going to.

Because I know damn well that I’m not alone. Some of you have left comments or emailed me telling me your stories. And the parallels between us all are really quite overwhelming.

Does anyone want to be overweight? I suppose it’s possible, but it’s nothing I’ve come across in my sphere of experience. To really desire to be overweight? Desire and acceptance are two different things. But to start with, we need to get very, very clear on one thing.

Wanting to maintain a healthy weight – whatever that is for you – and being judgmental about body size are two polar opposites. Let me say it again: there is no place for judgement on this journey.

Zoinks! Bam! Pow! (Think Batman & Robin sound effects and cartoon speech bubbles here.) That’s a hard one, isn’t it? I have, at times, been my own harshest critic. Anyone who has ever dealt with weight issues can probably relate to that. I judge myself more harshly than anyone else ever could. And in turn, I’ve probably done my share of judging others.

I have, eventually, realized that all those awful things I’ve said, and sometimes still catch myself saying, in my head about other overweight people…those are really just criticisms of myself I’m making in my own head before anyone else can say them out loud.

“Fatass.”

“Just back away from the table, asshole.”

“Are you sure that bike can actually support you, lardass?”

“Whoah, wideload.”

These, and worse (far worse), are all things that I’ve said in my head to myself. These, and worse (far worse), are all things I’ve said in my head, and maybe to a friend, about people I’ve seen out and about.

Sometimes I’ve said these things (and worse) to be “funny.” None of these things are funny. Not in any way, shape, form, or context.

Thank goodness the older I get, and the more conscious I get, the more I catch myself earlier in the process. It’s not that those thoughts don’t come (about myself, and about others – which is really another way of criticizing myself), but my immediate response now is to interrupt them, to cut them off, and replace them with compassion.

“Good for them. They’re out getting some exercise. That’s more than I’m doing.”

“You just never know somebody’s situation unless you’re in their shoes. Stop being so judgy, asshole.”

“Send them some love vibes. Just love them. That’s all.”

Notice anything about all those sentiments? Yup, they’re all focused on someone else. I’ve managed to interrupt the negative assault on others and replace it with positive and supportive thoughts. Which are, by the way, entirely genuine. Now that I recognize my own process, when I interrupt it, I genuinely feel love and support for others. But I still have a little more trouble showing myself compassion. I can break into the cycle of judgement and shut it down (sometimes), but the compassion doesn’t always flow so easily, not towards myself. But I’m working on it. One step at a time, right?

One of the most terrifying experiences of my life was being at an amusement park while overweight. Now, at this time I was probably about 70 lbs overweight. I adore roller coasters. Rides that flip you upside down. Adrenaline shit. Love it, love it, love it. But going on rides when I have been quite overweight has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Not because the ride itself was scary, but because I was terrified that I would be that story in the newspaper the next morning:

“Obese Woman Falls To Her Death.

Fat, Not Roller Coaster To Blame.”

And instead of enjoying any part of any ride, that’s all I could think about. And it took all the joy out of an experience that should be nothing but joy and laughter.

Did I fall out? Am I here telling you this story? So…obviously no. But was there any joy in the experience? Also no. You know what there was a great deal of?

Shame.

That one’s a powerful word. Shame. Total gut hit. A little bit pukey. Teary. Constricting. Terrifying in every way. Doing something like getting on a ride with a bunch of other people, and having to deal with seatbelts that don’t fit properly, or chest bars that won’t cinch down all the way until the attendant comes and leans on it? That’s shame. And I can never decide which is worse: doing it in front of a bunch of strangers you don’t know but being alone, or doing it in front of people you know but having someone you love there to support you. Both are godawful. And ultimately, I just stopped doing either.

I have talked to more health professionals than most about the issue of my weight, given that it comes up as we talk about all my other trillions of ailments (and the bajillions of doctors, etc. I’ve seen for them.) And they always say the same thing: reduced calories in = weight loss. Throw exercise in there and you’re golden.

Guess what?

After almost 30 years of struggling with my weight and body image issues, and dealing with my body on such an intense, intimate level, I have learned one thing about myself. Yes, there’s something to the above equation. But for me, for this body I live in, my weight is determined by something far, far more deep-rooted than that.

Self-acceptance and gratitude.

Seems like a weird thing to control weight, right? Well, for anything long term or significant to shift in my weight, that’s where it’s at.

At various times in my life I have participated in a lot of eating-related regimes aimed at controlling one’s weight. But I call bullshit. Diets don’t work and the control games played out in dieting wreak havok with my self-acceptance, my self-confidence, and my trust issues. Yeah, you heard me.

I have read a lot of Geneen Roth, who espouses trust as being the number one issue in getting your body to it’s ideal, natural weight, and staying there. Trust in your body’s innate wisdom and trust in yourself and your ability to nourish yourself. Not through a set meal plan. Not by following someone else’s instructions. By listening, really learning to listen and trust your body, and give your body what it’s asking for, and learning to trust that what you want will be there when you want it, so you don’t need to eat it when you don’t actually want it. I’m paraphrasing, and I’m simplifying quite a bit. But ultimately, these are the core beliefs that changed my life. Reading Geneen Roth’s books (pretty sure I’ve read all of them), and working for a stretch with a therapist who specialized in eating disorders (I’m a compulsive eater and an emotional eater) and worked on the same premises that Ms. Roth speaks of, these things made a huge impact on my life. Still, for years my weight went up and down.

And then I had an epiphany moment. (I must say, they’re weird when they strike, but I got over it. I epiphanized.)

I was sitting on my bed one evening, and I felt this overwhelming surge of gratitude for my body. This body that I have fought and hated and judged. And I sat there on the edge of my bed, naked (I was getting ready for bed), and rubbed my thighs. I was enveloped ingratitude for these strong thighs that had carried me through so much in my life. So many struggles, so many trials and tribulations. But there they were, strong and large, keeping me safe. And I just sat there with tears streaming down my face. Instead of wishing them away, I was drowning in thankfulness for a body that had protected me when I had been unable to protect myself. Taken care of me when no one else had been there to take care of me. And I felt love and gratitude for this body as I would a friend who had stood by me through thick and thin.

Now, it’s difficult to write, to explain without sounding cheesy. But as I sat there, running my hands up and down these amazing legs that had brought me from there to here, I really was overcome with emotions beyond explanation.

And that turned the tide.

Once I felt gratitude for my body, love and appreciation, totally devoid of hate or fight or shame, I could release whatever bound that body to me. And the weight started to fall away. At the time I swore I wasn’t eating any differently than I usually did, but the pounds were falling away. 45 pounds, actually. I got to a weight I could have been comfortable being for the rest of my life. At most, 20 pounds away from the lowest I’d really want to go and feel healthy.

Life throws you curve balls, though. After about a year at that weight, I injured my back, became quite immobile, and due to a particular medication, I gained 40 pounds in 6 weeks, and over the ensuing 3-4 years, and various medications, it crept up another 35-40 from there. And that, right there, put me smack at 100 pounds over what I would consider a healthy weight for me. It was within 5 pounds of the weight I saw on the scale just before I gave birth to twins, my full twin pregnancy weight, the highest I’ve ever been in my life. Due to another medication, I am now down 30 over the last 4 months, which puts me right back about where I started when I was having a love-fest with my legs. But I am finally, finally, in a place where I can see straight to appreciate my body for what it has given me. How it has protected me. How it has taken care of me as best it could.

And now, my job is to love my body. Every imperfect roll. Every wrinkle, every line. Every muffin top and chafe-worthy thigh. Every gobble-arm and double chin. Because it’s not about judgement. In fact, if my experience has taught me anything, judgement does the polar opposite of what we are striving for. Acceptance, yes. Love and gratitude? Now we’re talking holy trinity.

This is how I started to send love to people I saw, who I guessed were probably hurting and struggling inside, the same as I have/was/do. And the people who were acting brave and not showing it to the world. And the people who were super-duper badass and had already figured out how to love themselves for what they were, knowing that the package doesn’t matter. Because, as far as appearance goes, I don’t care if you’re 88 pounds or 388 pounds or 688 pounds. We’re all fighting the same demons. And for the precious few who’ve won that battle, who’ve learned to put their demons in their place and love their body, I commend your bravery, your honesty, and your heart. I hope you can help gently guide the rest of us home too.

There does come a time when our health becomes a bigger priority than proving our non-judgementalness about body size. Sometimes losing some weight would make a striking difference in our ability to function. I know that since 30 pounds, my blood sugars have come out of the pre-diabetic range, back into the regular-old-joe range, for instance. I haven’t had my cholesterol numbers checked yet, but I am expecting to see some of the same there too. Most people have an easier time with their joints once they lose some weight.

And that all comes down to a choice, I guess. What’s the priority for you? Staying in a nonjudgemental place about your weight and keeping the status quo? Or staying nonjudgemental about your weight and trying to improve your health? Getting a little more active? A doctor will tell you there is only one right answer. I don’t agree with that. I think that you have a choice, as long as you are clear about the consequences and you make a conscious choice, knowing that there will be a price tag to pay, and you’re willing to pay it. But that requires some very intense self-examination and brutal honesty, because it’s easy to bamboozle yourself into thinking that you’ll pay the price tag because the change is too scary to contemplate. I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

Either way, we can all strive towards a more accepting, loving, nonjudgemental place when it comes to bodies.

We can probably love each other better. We can probably love ourselves more. It’s so worth doing it. And once again, it starts with gratitude.

{The following is a song I wrote the night of the naked, crying, thigh-rubbing, love-fest with my body. It’s a thank-you letter from me to my body. Maybe you can relate, or use it in your own process. If it helps you in any way, then I’m happy to share it with you. xoxo}

{One caveat: please know that this is a very rough writing demo only. Less than optimally recorded. But seeing as I’m still having MBox / ProTools issues, I couldn’t record a better version of it in time for this post. So you reeeeeally get to hear the nitty gritty! And, for your listening pleasure, you also get to hear many guest appearances by the fan on my laptop. Because that’s cool shit, yo. Click the song title and it’ll take you to the track…fancy, right?)

Fragile Emotions

Thank you for proteecting me when the world fell apart
Thank you for connecting me to the fear in my heart
For sheltering a lonely soul, who had nowhere safe to go

Thank you for keeping promises better left unsaid
Thank you for for the trust I felt, twisted but nonetheless
You kept me safe and when I hated you, took care of me the best way you knew how

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
And so I free you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

Thank you for the walls you built that kept it all at bay
Thank you for the padded cell that kept them all away
Fueling the fire, yearning and burning within

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
Yes I adore you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

The harder I tried, the further we’d collide
A slow angry burn at their failure to provide

Thank you for speaking up for me when I couldn’t find the words
Thank you for your loving curves and the beauty I have learned
The journey has been much bigger than ever I imagined

Now I release you
Now I embrace you
Oh, I love you
And I forgive you
Your guardianship of my fragile emotions is through

04
May
12

Gratitude. Can you feel the love tonight?

Gratitude. Get into it. Feel the love. Make it your jam. Every day. Every moment. Because that’s where shit happens. That’s where things start to move and rearrange and fall into place.

Even if nothing changes, your outlook on it does. That’s what gratitude can do. That’s what gratitude does do. So the same old shit can go from feeling murky and bitter to feeling manageable and yes, maybe even sparkly. That’s right, you heard me. Sparkly.

Remember how I wrote in my last post about processing anger? Well I spent the rest of that day, and the next, still stuck in my angry place. Which, no matter how enlightened and conscious one is trying to be, still feels like ass on a stick. Maybe Pluto is in the 6th house or Venus is in retrograde, or some other shit. But I was hanging out in my angry place.

After 3 days of that, which included calling one of my kids’ teachers “bugfuck crazy” while speaking to another parent (which the teacher – who absolutely is bugfuck crazy btw, whether I’m in my angry place or in Mexico – may or may not have heard as she walked by), it occurred to me that for my own sanity, and my children’s educational experience, perhaps I should try to find a proactive way to help my anger start to move.

Observing your anger is great. And I honestly do think it’s an important part of the equation to be able to observe it without trying to alter anything. But you also have to make sure you don’t get stuck there…and I was starting to feel pretty damn stuck there. (As an aside: yes, ideally you can spend more than three days in observation mode and let shit runs its course. However, the reality is that we all have lives that need to be lived, and so there is a balance to be struck between not doing and doing. It was time to do.)

Gratitude.

It’s simple. I’ve done it before. But like so many other things, sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle.

One of the reasons I like doing My Favourite Thing Today is because there’s an element of gratitude inherent within it.

But I now want to make gratitude MORE of a compass point in my life, the one that determines my own true north. The one from which everything else flows. And those things will happen without any increased effort on my part. My job is simply gratitude.

Here’s the plan. You can do it with me. A l’il extra gratitude in our lives would behoove all of us.

1:: So, first and foremost, take a little extra time, a little extra consciousness, when doing My Favourite Things. That’s really just another form of a Gratitude Journal. Now, just simply a little more mental space and concentration on feeling grateful for whatever is your favourite thing that day. And that one’s key:

FEEL THE GRATITUDE IN YOUR BODY

Sounds a little woo-woo. But try it. You’ll know what I mean. Not just lip service. Actually feel grateful with your body. It’s almost a tingly feeling.

2:: Next, do this more than one time a day. Meaning, stop to really feel the gratitude another two or three times throughout my day. I’m talking maybe a minute at a time. Not a huge undertaking. You don’t have to write anything down, necessarily. Just feel it in your body. The only catch is remembering to do it. Set an alarm on your watch or phone if necessary. Because we can all, even the busiest of us, find 60 seconds, two or three times a day, to stop and feel grateful for what we already have. Whatever pops up for us. It might be the people around us. It might be the animals we love. It might be food and shelter, or decent weather. Take stock of what you have around you and feel the gratitude.

3:: Here’s the advanced level, when you figure you’ve got steps one and two under your belt comfortably and regularly. This one requires a little imagination and a leap of faith. Remember when I was talking about attracting vs. allowing? Well, here we go! Imagine what you’d like to attract into your life. Instead of focusing on the absence of it in your life, imagine the abundance of it, all around you, offering itself to you. And your job? The way you both attract it and allow it? Simply feel the feelings of gratitude in your body. Down to your core. Sparkly, shimmering, tear-jerking gratitude. Even if you just sense a glimmer of that, work with it…it will grow.

So what was that last one again? Imagine what you want and feel grateful for it, just as though it is already yours.

And that’s it, that’s all. Reasonably simple, right?

We can all get on that gratitude train. I would love to hear what your experiences are with this exercise, or any other types of gratitude exercises you’ve tried in the past. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t resonated for you? Do you feel any different doing the exercises I outlined above? I’ll be doing them too, and we can all share our thoughts…

Love and Gratitude. I’m already feeling sparkly.

29
Apr
12

It’s about fucking time for this labour of love

I’ve wanted to record an album for as long as I can remember. Literally, not figuratively.

The time has come.

Ash Ambirge and her Intoxicate 2012 project lit a fire under my ass. If not now, when? So, now then.

Whittling down a lifetime of songwriting into 12, maybe 15, songs is heartbreaking. Being brutally honest with yourself and assessing whether, after all that writing, you have 12-15 songs that are strong enough to compose an album is…humbling. And that’s only the beginning.

Then there’s recording. Or what I like to refer to, so far, as “The ProTools Debacle.” It’s a long, long story (about 3 years long) that started with me lending my MBox, new out of the box, to my brother, and ends with me getting it back from him (it’s been sitting in a corner at his house, unused, for quite some time now), only for us to find out that it isn’t really working all that well. It works OK for about an hour, and then starts to make the most hideous noise I’ve ever heard. Which is delightful. And in the interim, I lost my ProTools install disk. Maybe it was because I moved. Maybe it wasn’t. Who’s to say. But I am now at a point where my recording vehicle only sort of works and I’m fucked for the software, even though I paid for it. So I will be turning my house upside down…again…looking for it, so that hopefully I can get rid of this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Next.

My homework now is listening. Listening, listening, listening. Because I have to figure out how I want these tracks to sound. What instruments, what effects. What drum beats for god sakes, because the reality is that I have to program drums, and I am soooo not a drummer. I have to know everything that I want, because I’ll be producing myself. So I have to listen like mad. And I have to listen to an enormous width of music too, not just the same few albums I tend to rotate, and at a closer level. I have to listen to a vast variety of music from both a production standpoint AND a writing standpoint, because there exists every possibility that I will be writing more tunes as part of this process.

So I asked y’all for listening suggestions, and you sure did come through! Here are some of the suggestions you guys have given me for listening. Haven’t heard most of these yet, but I know what I’ll be looking into. And please add more suggestions in the comments!

  • Rupert Blackman
  • City And Colour
  • Ally Rhodes
  • Ron Pope
  • Passenger
  • new Train album
  • Cady Groves
  • Lights
  • The Icarus Account
  • The Pretty Reckless
  • He Is We
  • M.T.L Band
  • Brighter Brightest
  • Young the Giant
  • Meg & Dia
  • The Cab
  • Safetysuit
  • OneRepublic
  • We The Kings
  • Parachute
  • Stay – by Mayday Parade
  • All Time low
  • Therapy
  • Courage My Love – Anchors Make Good Shoes (If You Have Issues) (@couragemylove)
  • The Beatles
  • Lydia
  • Lost in Paradise – Evanescence
  • Good Enough- Evanescence
  • @hollywoodkills
  • @Halestorm
  • Nicki Minaj
  • The Pretty Reckless
  • Hot Chelle Rae
  • @kerlimusic
  • Marianas trench (OK, a LOT of you suggested this. Who are these assholes anyway?)
  • a few of you suggested me. While I totally appreciate it, I think for this exercise, me listening to me is rather circular…YOU listening to me, on the other hand, is purely delightful!
  • Artist vs Poet
  • Nightwish
  • A Day to Remember
  • Chiodos
  • The Color Morale
  • Paramore
  • This Wild Life
  • Acres of Lions
  • Emarosa
  • Silverstein
  • The Deadhands
  • Escape the Fate
  • There for Tomorrow
  • A Change of Pace
  • Amanda Clemens
  • Of Monsters and Men
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Fun.
  • Stabilo
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Bedouin Soundclash

I’m not content to shoot for the middle. I recognize that I will be making this record under circumstances that are less than my ideal. What would I like? A full band, a producer, and a studio full of wicked gear, and an engineer. What do I have at my disposal? My MBox, ProTools (hopefully), my Mac, a Shure 57, an old Roland synth, a couple of guitars, and me, myself, and I. I have a bass player friend who will probably play bass tracks for me. My brother will give me some technical help where he can. But really, it’s mostly down to me.

This project is about removing my own obstacles so I can do it anyway instead of seeing only roadblocks. So it’s not an ideal set of circumstances. It’s still better than not doing it. Which is exactly what I’ve done for the last 20 years. And that’s been lame. There’s really no other word for it.

So, given my parameters, I have to shoot for the moon. My own personal moon. This has to be the absolute best I can make it. It won’t be finished tomorrow. I have an extra hiccup in that my health challenges make my work love schedule on this project entirely unpredictable. I’ve had a lot I questions about release dates, and to be fair, I have no freaking idea at this point. Not one clue. I don’t have a team working for me, a machine turning the cogs behind the scenes.

You guys are my team, my machine.

Which is to say that your patience, and your support through each step of the process is unimaginably valuable to me. My promise to you is this: I will stay in conversation with you, keeping you updated on the whole process as I navigate it. And we’ll enjoy the finished product together. You’ll hear about the challenges (there have been some, as I told you, but the process is also bringing up some emotional ick that I have to wade through, and I’ll let you in on that too) as well as the successes. It’ll be a journey, a process. But I think that’s kinda cool that you’ll all be with me along the way.

Deal?

So here we go, jumping in with both feet. Break Until I Bend will get made if it kills me. Which it just might.

Apt album title for me, wouldn’t you say?

27
Apr
12

Allowing vs. Attracting.

So I’ve been doing a whole lotta introspectin’ lately. Gettin’ clear and saddling up for the ride that’s gonna take me on.

Over the last few, I’ve heard mentioned by some pretty ballin’ chicks, the concept of Allowing.

  • Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth mentioned the concept of allowing and it’s unfortunate glossing over in the whole Law of Attraction business, in her interview with Satya Colombo for his Freedom Business Summit. I have listened to this interview over and over again, because it’s just so durn inspirin’! (You may have come to realize this, or you may be taking a ride on the slow bus, but yes, Danielle LaPorte is one of my business / spiritual / crystal-totin’ / word-slingin’ crushes. There you have it. I heart you, Danielle. *sigh* But seriously? Super-duper inspirational lady to whom I feel very drawn. An added bonus that she’s got some mad skills and likes to share her knowledge.)
  • Lissa Rankin of Owning Pink tweeted on January 5 of last year,#MojoTip Allow yourself to receive abundance & financial freedom this year. You deserve it.” (And by the way, this lady rocks. She’s all about talking about the vag. Seriously. Who doesn’t like a lady like that? Plus, she’s got balls. Vag and balls. An OB/GYN who spends an hour with each patient at each appointment? Hello, revamping healthcare (finally!) And then goes on to shut down her medical practice because she feels called to coach other folks to find their own sump’n sump’n. A brave, inspirational lady.)

I know there have been more stirrings of this. At least, I sincerely hope there have. Because it’s something that has been grossly under-discussed, I believe. So for those interested, I’m gonna throw my two cents in the ring…

Here’s the thing. You can attract all you want, but unless you accompany that with allowing, you won’t be any further ahead than you started. In fact, when you don’t allow what you attract, you run the serious risk of sliding backwards, because the attraction will be accompanied by the plaguing question, “why can’t I make it work in my life when it is all around me?”

Let me say it once more, as it bears repeating. Attracting and allowing must flow together, like two streams that converge, resulting in the great vastness of a river.

Both of these things take work. The Law of Attraction has been pretty well fleshed out in The Secret, among other programs and texts. Seeing as I have not yet mastered this one, I’m going to let that speak for itself and move along.

And if you thought I had trouble in that arena, let’s look at the concept of allowing. For some, it comes naturally and easily. I am not one of those people. Any progress I have made in this area has come at great personal expense…primarily payed to my amazing therapist for all the time spent in her office taking a good, hard look at where my blockages are. And blockages there are a-plenty.

Because allowing is not simply an intellectual concept. True, I can examine my life and any traumas that may have contributed to my blockages. I can see them clearly for what they are, and even understand in my head what I need to do to move through them to get to this illusive place of allowing. But knowing it in my head and feeling it in my body are two different things.

How do you go from the therapist’s chair to walking the walk and talking the talk? Please, tell me if you know. Because I’m still working on a trial by fire basis. So far, lots of fires, and they’ve been very trying. Ba dum bum.

I have gleaned a few nuggets which look promising from this vantage point, however.

  1. Consciousness is the key. (Staying aware and staying present are pretty much the precursors to any personal growth, as far as I can tell, btw. Dammit. There goes my pralines ‘n cream date later.) You have to notice your body’s reactions to the blockages as they arise, which actually requires an enormous amount of consciousness and willingness on your part. Only if you are aware can you make choices – yes, choices – about how to proceed.
  2. Respond, don’t react. If you are truly aware, and take some time to sit with it and stay present, you have the ability to make decisions about what comes next. Choices. Decisions. Not knee-jerk reactions that just replay the old scripts over and over again.
  3. Take some time, regularly, to be open on purpose, with purpose. In other words, hold the issue in your mind, and create a feeling of space around it. For me, it’s a very physical feeling. It’s like softly holding a sealed box while standing in the middle of a vast field, grasses swaying in the wind. Inside that box is Possibility…and Possibility holds inherent in it two (or often many more) outcomes. This is where conscious choice and allowing comes in. But first you have to give yourself, heart, mind, and soul, some space around it in order to get there. (Of note: many people talk about taking regular meditation time. I think this is admirable. I don’t manage it very well – perhaps I’d take less Ativan if I did, but there we are now. If you have the time, freedom, and ability to stay awake while cross-legged on a pile of pillows with oils burning and Gregorian Chant in the background, kudos to you I say. And I do mean that. Let’s meet for a beer when you’re done. I am a big proponent of taking nuggets of learning and applying them in my real life. For instance: as you walk down the street to the Post Office, take that 2 minute opportunity to visualize and resonate with that feeling of space while holding the issue in your mind. Do it again on the way home. When you stand under a hot shower after the gym (something else I don’t do, the gym that is. I do shower. Most days. OK, some days.)…or even better, sex (this one on the other hand…) or whatever, again with the space and the visualizing. I would love to have the time and focus to devote to mediating an hour a day, but right now I don’t. So I make it work in my life, for me…because that’s the only person I have to make it work for. And same goes for you, sailor. Find a way to make it work for you, and you only.)
  4. Breathe. Yes, breathe. Why? Because breathing helps you make space, gets O2 to your brain so it has a fighting chance, and it helps slow you down and relax you. Plus, every self-help, good-for-you, find-your-centre practice there is out there talks about breathing. “Yes Sara, but if they all talked about jumping off a bridge to achieve enlightenment, would you do it too?” Hee-ell no. So really, that’s not the motivating factor for me. But you know what? My mamma, Corlynn Hanney, is an extraordinary voice teacher, and she taught me that the concept of space, support and breath are all wrapped up in one when it comes to singing. And so I figure if I’m looking for space, trying to support conscious allowing, then breathing (the hat-trick) can’t hurt, right? Yeah, I’m going with it.

To be clear, all of these things are fantastic theories. Some days, in my life, they even make good practices. But nowhere, ever, will you hear me say, “Yup, got that one nailed.” Because I so don’t. I do step 3 for a while. And then I forget. Sometimes for months at a time. 1 & 2 come and go, somewhat of their own volition, apparently. 4 is reasonably constant, but that’s only because I now have a super sexy sleep apnea machine (Darth Vadar mask) that keeps me breathing at night. When my body forgets to do it by itself. No, I’m really not kidding. Super duper sexy.

Because even those processes that should intrinsically automatic sometimes…aren’t. We unlearn them. We fuck them up. We throw our own weird -isms and -obias into the pot and then we stop breathing in the middle of the night when shit is just supposed to work by itself. So it’s back to basics. Learn to breathe. Again. Consciously. Feel it in your body. Direct the breath where you want it to be – your toes, your elbow…hell, your lady bits. But all of a sudden you’re back at step 1. Funny how that happens, huh?

Without all of these bits and bobs – and I’m sure other people have loads more to throw into this mix – we are not present enough to allow. We are distracted and focused on other things. We have blockages we don’t even realize are there. We go so unconscious that we might as well be housed inside a mountain for all the cell reception we get from the Universe. Attracting is only half the equation, building the building. Allowing is phase two, moving in. If attracting is buying more stuff, allowing is clearing out your closets and donating to the Salvation Army to make room for all the new lovliness coming your way.

I don’t do so well with the allowing. That’s my mountain to climb. Until I start allowing, no amount of attracting will do me any good. I don’t know if it’s not feeling worthy enough? Why else would we not allow ourselves to open up to the things we want most, the things we feel most passionate about? I’m pretty sure that’s where my roadblock crops up. Not feeling good enough to deserve the things we hunger for, the things we strive after, the things we want nothing more than to attract. If we don’t feel deserving of them, the road stops there. There is no going any further. There’s no attracting, because there is no allowing. We aren’t good enough, we don’t matter enough, we don’t deserve that much bounty and abundance in our lives.

Fuck that shit.

I have lived with that underlying belief for thirty-cough-something-cough years now. But the more years I add to that thirty, the more I realize that I deserve everything I want. Wanting is not a bad thing. My wanting does not cause somebody else lack. Andrea Beaudoin at Align Your Energy tweeted, “By the way,the world doesn’t need fixing. Neither do you. And dreaming for more doesn’t mean you can’t be happy today~Notes from The Universe” And I have done enough work on my core beliefs – another blog post unto itself – that I feel like I’m finally starting to get somewhere with the whole issue of self-worth. Lord knows I’m not the only person to struggle with this albatross, and if it’s taken me this long, this much therapy, this many bad decisions lessons, and this many self-help books, it’s unlikely to be an overnight fix for anyone else either. (But isn’t it better to start working on it now than never?)

So once I untangle the whole bloody equation, I think it looks roughly like this:

Self-worth => Allowing => Attracting => Johnny Depp BLISS (aka anything’s doable)

Got it?

25
Apr
12

Soooo Plugged In

What’s new in cyberspace?

Well, since I’ve crawled out of my social media hole – the hole I created for myself this winter while everything was so dark, both inside and out – I have developed what I can only say is an incredibly rewarding relationship with my Twitter followers. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, truly, genuinely.

But let’s look at an overall history of social media with Sara Ramsay…

To start with, I had MySpace. I’m not sure I even remember my password for that site anymore. It became so slow and cumbersome to navigate that I lost patience with it. And that was right about the time that Facebook came along. That being said, MySpace was always a “professional” site for me. In other words, it was about making connections with people I didn’t know, about my music. Thus, I did lose something replacing that with Facebook. Plus, somewhere on MySpace is a Ramsay Family Singers site that I haven’t updated or checked in years. Huh. One more password I don’t remember…

Facebook came along and it became the social media du jour. I made the choice to keep my profile private – just people I actually knew in real life. I still do, to this day. I did have a “Band Page” for my music. But that has change format so many times within Facebook that I haven’t kept up. First it was a group, then it was a page, then it was an event, then it was a page again, then…what is it now? Consequently, the musician side of me doesn’t have much of a presence of FB. I know this is something I should remedy. And I have great plans. Such great plans to do so. One day…

Twitter arrived. I wasn’t sure about it at first. Really? 140 characters was the sum total of the communication you’d have with other people? As time went on, I started using Twitter more and more, and FB less and less. That’s evened back out now, because I use them so differently, but I love me my Twitter. At first I didn’t have a lot in the way of followers. Then some people started figuring out I‘m my brother’s sister. I think he mentioned me in a tweet one time. And my followers jumped exponentially. And I still get daily questions about his middle name or his age or his…you name it. But I do my best to give the guy his privacy. We’re family, I’m not his PR person. So I try to keep my references to him to a minimum. Which hopefully translates into my followers being my followers, not Josh-followers-by-proxy. Those kind can unfollow with all my love, because you won’t get what you’re looking for from me. My Twitter feed contains a lot of inspirational RT’s, chatting with my followers, and funny/inane things from my day. Works for some. For others, there are lots of other people out there to follow. xo

Google+. Yeah, not sure what to say about that. I have it. I haven’t really figured it out yet. (I can’t even figure out how to link to my Google+ profile – which I actually do have.) Clearly I am not a Social Media Mogul.

SoundCloud is my new favourite, although it works quite differently. It’s not really so interactive on an ongoing basis. But it does give me a place where I can post music, now that MySpace is not my jam, and people can hear it and comment on it. I haven’t really fully explored the ins and outs of this one, but it’s definitely got potential. Plus, I have a bunch of musician friends with stuff up on SoundCloud, and I’ve been able to hear their tracks. Awesome.

YouTube. See Google+. Almost as foreign as Google+ is setting up a YouTube channel. When I posted stuff on SoundCloud, I had people asking me if Ii had any YouTube videos. This was an entirely foreign concept to me. I should say here that there are certain areas of technology I am quite adept with. This clearly was not one of them. But, I figured there’s an upside to having a good relationship with your Twitter family. So I threw it out there and just asked, “Anyone want to make a YouTube video or two for me?” I got a response and the work is in progress. We’ll keep you posted. I always say, when in doubt, ask for help!

And then along came Pinterest. Oh my fucknut. I can spend hours pinning things that I like. Planning my dream home. Amassing recipes I will never make. That being said, I have actually tried some projects I have found on there too, so it has not been a total waste of time. It’s good for inspiring creativity. And for getting my hoarding on (digital hoarding) so that I don’t do it physically. I still throw shit out around the house…I just hoard pins on all of my pinboards.

And then there are the blogs…

As you may have noticed, I love to write. I love to write songs. But I also love to write. I love playing with the language. When blogging first came out, I went nowhere near it. It took me a long time to get on that train. But eventually I took a test run. I tried both the Blogger and the WordPress platforms. But all the businessy and webby folks I read kept mentioning WordPress plugins for websites, so off I went to Worpress land.

You’re reading the product of that journey. Break The Surface became my blog. And although I did take a long break from it, my love for writing never changed. My ability to climb out of a hole was the thing that changed.

Recently my Twitter family (we’re working on a name for said family – all suggestions considered) and I were talking about reading and books, and I threw out the suggestion of a book club. And voila, Sara’s Book Club was born. We’re just reading the first book right now, A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Discussion day is May 13 and will take place via Twitter and the blog. I’m working out the logistics as we speak. Why? Because #ReadingIsSexy.

This took me to a non-blogging site, which I kind of love. GoodReads is awesome. Catalogue all your books. Review them. Recommend them. Keep track of shit. (I am slightly OCD.) And this feeds right into the book club premise, so I have started to go to town over yonder…

And then there is the ritual our family adopted from dear family friends. The full story is here. But I started sharing the ritual nightly with my Twitter family with the hashtag #MyFavouriteThingToday. Soon after, I turned it into a blog at Your Favourite Thing Today, and invite readers to share their favourite thing that happened that day too. Simple but amazing ritual. Join us – it’s pretty darn cool. I post on Twitter with #FavouriteThings each evening.

And I think that about sums it up. Do I have enough of a presence? Am I real now?




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