You thought I was going to say therapist, right? Counselor? Life Coach?
I’ve had counseling and loved it. I’ve had coaching and that was great too. Yet usually the very best therapist is Mother Nature and all her charms.
One of my favorite writers, and an AWESOME life coach, Martha Beck, has been known to pour birdseed over her head while she’s sitting outside in nature meditating. https://marthabeck.com/
I am going to try that. Soon. I didn’t today, though.
Today I walked in Tryon Creek Park, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Unspoiled nature, Divine territory.
My mind became silent. I heard and saw many birds, including a Northern Flicker tapping away at the top of an ancient tree.
Tryon Creek is running with plenty of water. The trillium are blossoming. Tiny white/yellow moths that felt like fairies accompanied me throughout my hike. I couldn’t tell who was leading and who was following.
I stopped in to see the goats at Tryon Life Community Farm on my way back. Usually the goats are inside the barn or the adjoining pen. Today they were in the pasture, munching on the plentiful green grass. I sat on a small wood stump in their midst, and breathed.
I heard laughter and women’s voices from inside the residence. I don’t know if they knew I was there. I asked the goats’ permission to take their photos. I held out my hands but didn’t intentionally try to touch until one came close to me; then me and two of the goats had some ear scratching, petting and a nice little communion going on.
About three hours later, sitting at my laptop, my forward steps became clear, simple, and I was able to write them down – nothing too overwhelming – what feels exactly right.
Who knew you could get that from a goat?
I have room in my schedule for up to five more vocal students on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. I work with speakers, actors, holistic coaches, writers and burgeoning singers with a Body/Mind/Spirit approach to vocal training. Joy and laughter are essential ingredients. We tend to do some giggling! I’ve discovered it’s easier to learn and teach when I’m not afraid to make a fool out of myself.
I’ve been sharing this amazing breath technique with all of my voice students over the last two weeks and didn’t want to forget to share it with my readers as well.
While this powerful tool is relatively new to me (I was reminded of it at the Upside Summit conference I attended in Phoenix late January) it’s been around for centuries. My voice students have each commented on what a game-changer it is.
This standard pranayama technique improves lung function and lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and sympathetic stress. It’s an effective technique to employ before a meeting, an event, or sleep.
(Optional) Hand Positioning: Place the thumb of your right hand gently over your right nostril and the ring finger of that same hand on the left nostril. The forefinger and middle finger should rest between the eyebrows.
Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril very slowly.
At the top of the breath, pause briefly, holding both nostrils closed, then lift just the thumb to exhale through the right nostril.
At the natural conclusion of the exhale, hold both nostrils closed for a moment, then inhale through the right nostril.
Continue alternating breaths through the nostrils for five to ten cycles.
If you decide to read Nestor’s book, you’ll learn this is just one example of the many downright miracles which can be wrought in people’s lives, simply by us changing the way we breathe.
The last week of January I went to one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended, and came home from the conference with COVID-19.
My husband and I have been so careful about keeping that virus out of our household for two years here in Oregon, and my one trip to Arizona blew our diligence right out of the water in a week.
I was not a happy camper. Neither was my husband. I’m so grateful I was fully vaccinated and had also received my booster shot.
The recovery period wasn’t very much fun. And I’m not fully recovered yet. Fortunately, my husband did not contract the illness during my super-strict quarantine in our home.
Yet nearly just as not fun was a niggling something that arose both before the conference and after my trip.
I stayed with a friend of 30 years before the conference, and felt there were times I wasn’t being truly listened to, heard, or understood. I said something. I knew I needed to, wished I had worded it better, and in effect lost that 30-year friendship in one fell swoop. It was the first time in that 30-year friendship I remember ever speaking up for myself. And the friendship ended when I did.
Then COVID-19 followed me home and all of our regular household routines were upended and disrupted. Everyone (including the cat) was getting cranky, and more conflict ensued right under my own roof.
And then something ironic occurred to me.
I once created a video class on precisely how to compassionately communicate through conflict using guidelines from The Center for Non-Violent Communication. https://www.cnvc.org/ I happened to mention it to someone at the conference, and I obviously needed the reminder myself!
AND…the Ho’oponopono prayer was also mentioned at the conference as I did in this class!
The Portland Fertile Ground Festival (https://www.fertilegroundpdx2022.org/) runs through February 6th and has SO many wonderful shows – 38, to be precise – I don’t know if I’ll have time to watch them all!
One of our actresses, Stephanie Crowley, had this to say about being cast in the show:
One of my favorite things about Second Chances and New Beginnings is that it features women of my age (50s) as leading characters. Not only that, it lets audiences in on the big secret — that learning who you are, and what you want, isn’t limited to your teens and twenties. Many of us set out on a path during those years, or fell into a path by accident … but at some point, whether it’s after our kids are grown or our careers begin to wind down, we begin to realize there were dreams set aside, passions left wanting, pieces of ourselves that have been waiting for us to really put everything else down and focus on ourselves.
I think, especially as women, we are encouraged to put everyone else first. Consequently, we end up neglecting ourselves sometimes, sacrificing our own dreams and pleasures in order for others to find theirs — or, like party girl Larae, we indulge our pleasures as a way of avoiding the real work that we have in front of us. Sooner or later, we all come to that place of reexamining the life we’ve chosen, and having a compassionate friend to listen and share the process is invaluable. This is one of the top ten favorite shows I’ve been in.
The first review, from a playwright and actress I deeply respect, was this:
Just watched Second Chances, written by Laura Handke and Jennifer Solberg. A compelling story about the reuniting of a friendship, and the growth of two women whose lives diverge and ultimately reconnect as both reflect and dive deeper into the heart of who they really are. The dialogue, the story, the acting all hum with timely, relatable grains of truth. It was really good. I was engaged throughout. -Johanna Courtleigh.
What an honor! I so look forward to Saturday, and hopefully joining you for a post-show Happy Hour.
Until next time, wishing you all the second chances or new beginnings for which your soul may long.
I hope you can watch the shows! Here are some photos from the one live rehearsal the director and cast were able to have before COVID became a threat and they decided to record via ZOOM for everyone’s health and safety.