Important, Not Important

“The paradox that you need to comfortably inhabit, if you wish to live a contented creative life, goes something like this: ‘My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).’”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

I have to laugh at life’s irony.  Like, everyday.

What we do (or choose to create) is so important.  And, at the

same time its not important.

Bummer??  Maybe, maybe not.

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Where Does Greatness Come From?

“The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.  Everybody’s life really consists of small things.  Greatness is a mental abstraction and a favorite fantasy of the ego.  The paradox is that the foundation for greatness is honoring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, p. 266

Anyone who has suffered deeply and come out on the other side knows where their power lies – in the right here, right now.  Greatness isn’t something to achieve, it is lived in small moments stacked one on top of the other.

I like to think of this in terms of practicing or learning new skills – or even healing.

We can’t bypass the process of growth, so why not take delight in each moment of the journey?

What would happen if we walked into the practice room with a sense that this moment was just as great as being on the stage?  Different, but just as great.

These are questions that keep me up at night.


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Why “I Don’t Know” is Legit

I’ve learned many lessons from author Eckhart Tolle over the years.  Last night, during my Intro to Jazz Singing class, one of the students reminded me of such a lesson.

“I don’t know” is a legit answer.

Many people think “I don’t know” is state of confusion. Let’s get this cleared up – confusion is when you think you should know and you don’t.

“I don’t know” is honest and simple.  The very toxic “I don’t know, but I should know” thought adds extra layers of stress to an otherwise neutral fact.  Why muck up such a simple thing as “I don’t know” with heaps of misery?

As a teacher, being able to say “I don’t know,” when you truly don’t know, is powerful.  It can feel scary in the moment, but students appreciate it more than being lied to.

The honesty route forges stronger relationships, and promotes curiosity.

Yes, more of that, please.

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Hope Without Attachments

“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -“

-Emily Dickinson

Hope.  It has substance.  It has life and weight and it dances with faith.  It calls us to action, and is the farthest thing from plain-ole-wishful-thinking you can imagine.  It reminds us to dream, and lifts us out of boredom, lethargy, and depression.  It has life, and it has a song.  (There is a reason Emily D. is still quoted at dinner tables.)

But, what if hope sings from the perch of your beautiful soul and nothing happens?  What if hope is all you have for what seems like an eternity, and nothing seems to be changing or growing?  What if, despite the song of hope bursting from your chest, you still don’t see the thing you hope for materializing?

I’ve had to learn about this aspect of hope the hard way.  Trust me, it was not easy, but I learned that hoping for the sake of hoping is like balm for the soul.  And the best way to enjoy the process of hope and hoping is to let go of the attachment to the outcome.

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Processing Negatives

Don’t think of a pink elephant.

What just happened?  You did, didn’t you.  You produced a pink elephant in your mind.  Right?

This is the power of what NLP (neuro linguistic programming) calls the unconscious mind.

In NLP, the unconscious mind is the part of your brain running programs in the background.  It’s the part of your brain that drives your car while you’re day dreaming, and takes instruction literally.  And, according to NLP, it hears everything.  Absolutely everything.

One of the tenants of NLP is that the unconscious mind cannot process a negative.  In other words, if you say not to do something, your mind actually hears “do that thing.”  It can only focus on the thing, not the absence of the the thing.  (Pink elephant.)

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