With Open Hands, A Mantra For Living

by Guest Author
Michelle Markwart Deveaux

“There can be life and movement only when you no longer accept things as they are now, and look ahead toward that which is not yet.”
-Henry Nouwen

 

I have this habit of trying to control stuff. And of course, it’s always the stuff that I have no business controlling, like what other folks think of me.

I call this feeling the “Grasp Ghost”, for reasons that will come apparent in a bit.

This Grasp Ghost rears its ugly head most when I am trying to launch a new service or product for my voice students or voice teacher clients. It comes often when I am simultaneously working on a proposal for a workshop while telling my three year old to stop jumping on the coach.  The Grasp Ghost also likes to creep into client emails and try to make me defensive.

The good news is that I am familiar enough with this pattern that it does not shock or scare me anymore. It used to wreak havoc on my soul. It would throw me into a state of perfectionism and defensiveness. It would make me care more about my feelings than my actions, and make me forget that my primary joy is to solve the problems presented to me.

I now have a practice that I use to combat The Grasp Ghost. It’s a thought process and physical action that was deeply inspired by the late Henry Nouwen.

I shared it with Liz when we first met, and she asked that I tell you, her readers, about it too.

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How to Get S**t Done and Feel Good About It

“Done is better than great.”
~Dr. K. Sherrod

I’ve been running on this idea that “done is better than good” ever since reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  (Please reference my Big Magic posts if you haven’t already.  Her ideas liberate the creative mind.)

I’m upgrading “done is better than good” to “done is better than great”.  Because, and let me be totally vulnerable with you, I have spent most of my life shooting for GRRREAT which has stopped me from completing many, many creative projects.  If you set a goal of P.E.R.F.E.C.T. then you’re liable to 1) give up in a heap of tears and shame 2) flitter around in fits of avoidance and business (read: busy-ness) or 3) just keep working and working and working and working and working and never get jack s**t actually accomplished.  Bottom line, you never hit the “finished” line.

Again, let’s remember: done is better than great.  Dr. Sherrod might go a step further and say that “good enough” is indeed good enough.  I personally love how saying “good enough” feels!

Please be aware, I’m not advocating for crappy work.  There are few people out there who take the above concepts a bit far and produce work that deserves a few more minutes of attention.  (Just a few, dude, pleeeeease just 10 more minutes of your time.)  And let’s face it, there will be people who say the same thing about this post too. So be it.  At least it will get published or to it’s finished line.

What’s the point of all this “good enough” talk?

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Making Room for Healing

#howthelightgetsin
~Kirk Schafer

Making Room in Small Ways

One way I’ve seen people heal from voice trouble is by letting their healing creep in one little bit at a time. They make little pockets of space for better thoughts, better habits, or better intentions.  They make room for healing in small ways that eventually add up to the end goal.

We are creatures of habit, would you agree?  So, sometimes trying to make all the changes all at once fails us.  (Not just sometimes, actually.  Most of the time.)  We benefit from making small adjustments toward healing in our attitudes or perceptions coupled with small actions because [small attitude adjustments + small actions + repetition + time] wins the race.

The people who succeed at “getting better” start by seeing a few things that are already going well, in spite of their current problems.  And to me, that is also a way to make a little room for healing.  We can all start where we are, and calm down enough to see all is NOT lost.  It never, ever is!

Lifting Weights

Maybe this is a good place to mention that I’ve passed the 10 month mark on my weight lifting journey.  May 11th marked 10 months of being in the gym 4-5 times per week.  And guess what? I’ve only lost around 5 pounds, depending on the day.

My old self, the one who loved punishing me for . . . well, anything and everything . . . would be having a field day with this tiny number.  “Only 5 pounds???  Seriously???”  I can hear that voice, that tone, and I can feel the guilt and shame a comin’ on me. Laaaawwwwd.  (My heart hurts just remembering when I used to speak to myself so harshly.  Not a fun experience that was, Jedi!)

But, now that I’m better at being kind to myself, I’m making more room for my healing.  Tiny, little places where I feel good about what’s happening which then allows to keep going with the plan.  In other words, I’m choosing to admit a few things.

  • I look a little different.
  • I’m eating better because of my new routine.
  • My skin is glowier.  (not a word, I know, but hang with me.)
  • I am physically stronger.
  • After 10 months, there are some fundamental changes in my musculature.

And, did I mention – I feel better.  Sweet Jesus and Brother Buddah, I feel better in my body.

Which, if I were only looking at the scale, would not be important.  I would have stopped going to the gym months ago. Fortunately, I’m learning how to make room for healing with these tiny thoughts and simple daily actions.  Which will get me to complete(r) physical healing in the long run.  (completer is also not a word, man, but i thought it was funny so again – hang with me)

What does feeling better have to do with it?

Feeling better is kind of everything.  Especially when it comes to the voice.  We owe it to ourselves to find little places where things are working and feel good, and build from there.  Otherwise it’s easy to just give up or go away.  Rebuilding vocal function is not always easy, and the road not always smooth or straight.  From what I’ve experienced with clients it is usually pretty bumpy and curvy, which is also why I decided to start lifting weights – to see what it feels like to work on a physical goal that feels “impossible” at the outset.

Some of my most successful clients are the ones who cling to their small victories, and avoid going down the rabbit hole when (on the surface) things are not so hot.  We all have times where we feel discouraged or hopeless, but if we can find ways to make room for healing – even with little, tiny, better feeling thoughts – we are on track.  And that might make all the difference.

 

 

 

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Building Trust in the Vocal Studio

“Authentic and positive relationships are not built in a day. Put your best and most honest self forward and then trust the process. A mentor of mine said that experience is just time in disguise. Neither can be truncated or expedited. You just have to keep showing up, keep expanding your reach, keep learning and growing, and individual relationships will fall into place as they should.”
~Grace Stern,
from TomatoSass, a Blog for Women in the Music Industry

Brené Brown continues to give us gifts of magnificent proportions.  I just saw her talk on the “Anatomy of Trust” and wanted to rebroadcast it’s existence in case someone out there happens upon this blog and has space for 20 minutes or so of life-altering goodness.  (video below, btw)

I love technology and our ability to freely broadcast transformative information!  So much it makes me want to cry, but I digress.  On with the show.

Brené’s research reveals how trust functions, and in typical BB fashion she brings it home through real-life stories and her wide, open heart.  This video settles like warm hugs in your chest the same way a deep and intimate talk with your bestie does, at a time when you need it the most.

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Giving Mad Props and Just a Little Critique

I get tired, y’all.

Tired of constant negativity, finding fault, and altogether tired of our culture’s obsession with focusing on what’s wrong.

These traits exist in me as much as the next person, and I am learning to be more patient and loving with myself on this subject.

But, I also believe in giving compliments, encouraging people, and focusing on ALL the things that are going well.  I think it is a powerful and effective way to build relationships and help ourselves grow.  And from what I can tell, this is not necessarily a popular way to be.

In fact, I’m going to go as far as to say that focusing on the “what’s right” of a situation, or seeing the most positive aspects of something or someone, is often perceived as naive, weak, or just plain dumb.  I’m okay with that because I’ve discovered that being ultra positive works better than being ultra critical.  For me, and obviously not everyone.  Remember, we all get to decide how to play the game of life.

Imagine This

A beautiful woman enters the room.  She is impeccably dressed.  Tall, with flowing black hair.  Her lipstick is the perfect shade of red, and her heels match her suit as if they were designed by the same person.

And then  – she starts to sing.

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