Intuition 2: Grounding. The Woo-Woo & The Practical

on . Posted in Singing

mysterious-cardboard-box-thIn esoteric, "woo-woo" practices there are two common concepts:  grounding and shielding. The opposites are "ungrounded" and "unshielded," or "too open." Because not all of us are real woo-woo, but practical, here is a very practical definition for these concepts, we could call grounding the process of being calm and centered in your body and in your life. And shielding we could call the process of being self-protective and assertive. These are really two ways of being aware of what's going on in you (grounding) and what's going on around you (shielding). Today we're talking about grounding. (Shielding is the next installment.)

Grounding is essential to honing your instincts. If you are calm and centered, you will be able to listen to your gut instincts more clearly. So here's to getting clear and grounded.

Grounding & Being (Un-)Grounded

Ungrounded musicians, singers, and other artists, ungrounded people seem to almost float from place to place, they aren't too organized, they are chaotic. They are uncentered. And let's be honest--this happens to all of us from time to time! We forget our score before rehearsal, we forget to send in a contract, whatever. (Remember not to be hard on yourself, but to see this as a reminder that you need to create a course correction. You've got some business to attend to, so attend to it.)

And you'll also see there are a lot of grounded musicians & singers, artists. They are pretty well organized, their ducks are in a row, and their thoughts and wishes are clear. This also happens to all of us from time to time! When you notice things are flowing like this for you, take note of what you're doing and how you feel. You can correct your course to get back on track during times of ungroundedness.

Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle. Stressful times can lead to feeling scattered or ungrounded, just as having our ducks in a row fuels further proactiveness. We go back and forth.

So without any further ado, here's a run-down of feeling ungrounded/scattered is in woo-woo and in practical terms. See if you identify with any of these. Try not to judge yourself if you feel inclined, but do notice what ideas pop into your head that give you help in course-correcting towards calm and centered (below).

"Ungrounded" - The Woo-Woo "Uncentered" - The Practical

 *  feeling like you're completely up in your head

*  others tell you you're spacey

*  your qi isn't flowing well

*  when you walk, you're not sure what's under your feet

*  your energy is "stuck" or blocked

*  you think everything will just work out...

 *  you haven't noticed much of a connection with your body today

*  regular tasks aren't getting done, like the dishes, garbage, mail

*  bills? those have a due date? Well, shucks...

*  you're forgetful and miss appointments

*  you're not known for follow-through or for taking care of the details

*  you get stuck on one activity for way too long (also a form of perfectionism)


Now let's take a look at being well grounded:

"Well Grounded" - The Woo-Woo "Calm & Centered" - The Practical

 *  your qi is flowing well

*  you have no major energy blocks

*  you know you can't wait for everything to happen, you must be a co-creator

*  you feel the earth beneath your feet as you walk and feel well connected to your earth energy

*  your being grounded is having a grounding effect on other people

 *  your regular tasks are accomplished in a reasonable time frame. Dishes washed, mail sorted, etc.

*  you pay your bills on time and your email inbox has only a few emails in it.

*  you're on-time for appointments

*  you're thinking more pro-actively and because of this, your work is flowing more smoothly.

*  you feel connected to your body and notice when you need a break or to change activities

3 Steps to Grounding/Centering

Being grounded/centered is a habit. If you notice you're off-center quite a bit, try one or all of these steps to be more centered & grounded in your body and in your life:

1. Walk.

Walking is good for the soul and for the body. Walking can clear your mind and your body, so walk regularly.

Have you seen these articles making the rounds lately about literary and scientific geniuses of the past centuries who walked regularly? Yes, it's good for you. It worked for them, so let it work for you, too.

2. Give Yourself Some Structure:  Develop Adaptable Routines & Use Check Lists/Mind Maps

The stress, deadlines, and scheduling that musicians go through is like that of almost no other career I've ever seen. Strict routines don't always work for us, however adaptable routines can give us structure while allowing the flexibility we need to have for our careers. So, apart from hygiene, sleeping, and eating rituals, view your schedule as a collection of lego blocks that can be taken apart and rearranged as needed.

checklist-gray-mdUse check lists for repetitive tasks, even the most banal of tasks that must be done. (This can actually speed up the process of getting it done.!) If you're easily distracted or have a lot going on, giving yourself the structure of your routines can be very centering. Most people use a list when they go grocery shopping--because it helps keep them focused on what they want (not what the store wants them to buy).

If you don't use autopay, what about a monthly checklist of each bill you need to pay and what day it's due? Or, if you share household chores with a partner or roommate and they're not getting done, how about a simple checklist of chores that need to be done during the week (or a month) and which cleaning supplies are used for each chore? If time is an issue, include the time it should take. The next time you have a no-show lesson, grab your list and see what you could get done in that time.

See? There's a certain amount of structure, but flexibility inherent in each of them.

3. Clear the Clutter and Get Your Stuff Together

Nothing will distract you more than clutter. OK, maybe relationship stress, but clutter is just one of the worst things you can do to yourself.

Because unfortunately, catalogs and other paper clutter do not grow legs and walk away on their own.

So, one pile at a time, clear the clutter. Touch each paper or item only once. You must take care of the first item before the second, and so on. (This idea comes from Benjamin Franklin as well as the book How to Simplify Your Life .) So you have 3 choices:  1) Take care of the item, 2) make a special place for it to live (be it in a file for taxes, a binder for future reference, or in your scores, which you may have organized last month during Perspective), or 3) trash/recycle/donate it.

Create routines for dealing with mail, like open everything and get recycle the envelopes right away. Use a simple filing system (using a 3-sectioned hanger like the one on the right) for 1) Deal with This Week, 2) Deal with Next Week 3) Some other Time.

Simplicity and clarity is often the key to success. So keep it simple, keep it clear, and clear out what you don't need or truly want.

What routines help you stay centered in the midst of a creative career? Share your thoughts below!


Stay tuned for the next article in this Intuition series--Shielding & Being Assertive!


#WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft

on . Posted in News

I'm only partially departing from the September theme of Intuition today because the two hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft have gone viral. In the wake of the NFL player who punched his wife unconscious in an elevator, abused women and men have come out full-force to help others understand why it is so hard for us to leave, what keeps us there, and how public perception needs to change.

I've added a new section to my Personal page, explaining #WhyIStayed and also #WhyILeft. Click here to go there and read it.

What kept me safe for such a long time in an abusive relationship was my intuition. I knew how to deal with him, how to survive each fight, I knew exactly what kind of evening it was going to be when he walked in the door from work. Any survivor of an abusive relationship will tell you what a certain lift of an eyebrow can mean, what's about to arrive just by listening to the rhythm of steps in the hall, and how we just know.

When I left, I just knew it wasn't going to get any better. Ever.

I knew I was stuck between a rock (staying) and a hard place (leaving) and I was only leaving because I knew I couldn't stay. The dangers of leaving had been made clear to me--leaving an abusive relationship is and remains the most dangerous time. So I knew I had to do everything in my power to get out and to keep myself safe, no matter what.

It was in my weakest moment, the most terrifying time of my life that I had to make the strongest, most courageous decision I will ever make.

In the week I was packing up, I had many thoughts about the people I was leaving behind--people I'd known for up to 7 years. I thought of how he had grown into a younger version of his dad--down to the exact age he was when he decided he wanted a Porsche. (?!?!?!) I took a hard look at his mom, whom I loved dearly. She was nice. So nice. But that was all she could be--given the relationship she was in, she couldn't be anything more than that--not the intelligent, interesting & interested person she truly is. She could only be what her husband allowed her to be. And there was no way in hell I was going to let that be my life.

I looked at his friends and I remembered what my advocate had said--his friends were his friends, not mine, and their loyalties lie with him. Over the next weeks I saw them for who they truly are:  two-faced, back-stabbing opportunists. Petty and jealous of one another, always engaged in some kind of drama. As their behaviors became clear to me, the little, confusing moments of the past years became understandable.

To be very clear:  it took weeks just to get out, 2 1/2 years to get divorced, 3 1/2 before it was all over, 6 years to feel some kind of peace begin to take residence in my life. When I left I had no idea what was going to happen to me, nor did I have any clue what kind of fresh hell he would heap onto my life for years to come.

I was powerless in the relationship, powerless to leave until I told my parents and they helped me, and I was powerless after I left because I had no money to make things happen.

Going from powerless and knowing where he is to powerless and not knowing where he was didn't seem like a good deal--but it was the only decision I could make to even try to keep myself safe.

No one asked, "Why did he do that to you?" They asked how I had stuck it out for so long. As if I had had so many other, awesome choices.

We must place blame where blame is due--on the abuser. And nowhere else.

Intuition 1: Your Instincts

on . Posted in Singing

11949854421936090706farfalla contorno archit 01.svg.hiSome people claim they are not intuitive.

I disagree.

If you have ever had a gut feeling, you have intuition. And since pretty much everyone has had a gut feeling, pretty much everyone is intuitive.

Musicians are particularly intuitive. Think of how we communicate with our bodies and our facial expression in rehearsal and performing. It's not so convenient to talk while you're rehearsing, however you can move your body slightly or change the way your breath is moving to create a dramatic tone which your musical partner responds to with elan. Some of it is seen, some of it is heard, and some of it is pure sense. Think of chamber musicians sensing their group members' guidance through the slightest raise of an eyebrow. Or purely through feeling.

Hold on it's gonna get a little woo-woo up in here.

Feeling is the focus today. Musicians feel so much and we feel it so deeply. Many of us are also introverts and we are fueled by time alone--by a need to clear our minds and rejuvenate in order to be ok around other people. We are sensitive people in terms of how our feelings feel to us and we can so frequently tune in to other people in such a way that we know if something is going on with them even if they hadn't said a word.

This is called clairsentience:  clear-feeling.

It's related to the commonly known term clairvoyance or clear-seeing. There are 4 main types of claires, the other two being clairaudience or clear-hearing and claircognizance or clear-knowing. Two other types of clairs are fairly rare, clairalience orclear-smelling, and clairgustance or clear-tasting.

* There is an article about an oboist or clarinettist in Germany who tastes the notes she plays--I can't find it, but if you know where it is, please comment below or send me the link via 'contact' (above). *

Well that all sounds really woo-woo. What does this mean for every-day living?

Really this means that musicians have a special sensitivity to feeling other people's feelings. We are open to these feelings and we sometimes take them on either emotionally and we carry it around with us, or we get too involved in it when it's not necessarily our place.

If you find yourself carried away on someone else's "stuff" or that tense moment in rehearsal is still with you hours later, you might have taken it on. Or perhaps you learned growing up to ignore your instincts and later you regret having ignored them.

Our job as people is to hone our instincts and to take care of our own feelings. To put it in woo-woo terms, it's our job to take care of our own energy and to leave other people's energy to themselves. And also to protect ourselves when we need to protect our own energies.

Your best intuitive guide is you. Rule #1:  Listen to your gut. Rule #2:  If in doubt, refer to rule #1.

So Hone Your Instincts

The best way to hone your instincts is to listen to your gut--even if it doesn't make too much sense. Don't fall into the trap of feeling something in your gut and then excusing it with "Oh, no, that would never happen."

Be cautious of random energy modalities developed by someone trying to sell you something. It may be the 21st century, however snake oil is still a hot item. And for women especially--we are taught by our culture not to listen to our instincts, that we are supposed to abide by something someone else says.


So first give yourself a couple of months to hone your instincts and really challenge yourself to listen to your gut and follow it. It is really that simple and that difficult. 

I reached a point a few years ago where there was a project I just couldn't deal with any more--I tried to make changes and all the while my gut instinct was speaking louder and louder--be done with this! This is not going to get any better! You already know all you need to know! Although it was not a popular choice for me, and it didn't make any sense to anyone else, I knew the best thing for me would be to jump ship.

I did and I haven't looked back. Other fantastic projects came along and I feel good that I trusted my gut.

If after a couple of months you find you keep running into barriers, or you're already there, or you just want to learn more about deep instincts, give this book a whirl:

Women Who Run With the Wolves changed my perception of my intuition in deep, meaningful ways. I've recommended it to friends and every single person who has read it has said that it held great meaning and value for them.



September Theme: Intuition in Music

on . Posted in News


Open Intervals is now returning to its usual schedule of Thursday postings (with an extra post occasionally). We're also gong with a special theme this month, so in September you'll find new insights into intuition in musicmystery-box-hi. Musicians are frequently very sensitive people--how else can we possibly create such beautiful, human, emotional performances?! And how is it that musicians understand body language so much more than others? That's all part of our intuition--our sensitivity as musicians.

Every person, musician or not, has special qualities no one else has--and these are frequently expressed through our gut feelings, our unique creative voices.

Gut instinct = intuition.

A gut feeling is a gift meant to be unpacked.

To help you unpack that gift, you'll learn about using your intuition, your gut instinct, your unique sensitivity, to your benefit. You'll also learn about:

*  2 not-so-esoteric actions:  grounding and shielding

*  a famous pianist who has a special, sensitive connection

*  and how you can allow your intuition to fuel your art.

We live in a very logical world which frequently calculates out to a zero-sum game. Music is, however, neither completely logical, nor is it ever a zero-sum game. Sometimes we have to allow our own perceptions to change to beat this one-plus-one-equals-two mentality.

By the end of September, you'll add a few more intuitive tools to your toolbox and hopefully be a happier, more content artist as a result.

Each article in this series will have "Intuition" in the title. To find any of these articles, you can search for "Intuition" in the search bar waaaay up at the top of the page or you can click on the tag "Intuition" in the tag cloud on the right.

See you tomorrow (Thursday!) for the first installment!

SCAM WARNING: Voice Teachers Beware of "Mrs Anna Bells"

on . Posted in News

exclamation-mark-red-mdYesterday I received this email from "Mrs Anna Bells," claiming that she's searching for a voice teacher for her son. It also came through in a Facebook group for private voice instructors, AND I received another, almost identical, in response to an ad I ran for German lessons, so apparently they are targeting teachers.

Remember to exercise caution on the internet.

Here's the text of the scam email:



       I'm Mrs anna Bells from Paris,France.during my search for a   voice   lesson teacher that would always take my son ( Chris is very good speak English ) and I found you..Your advert looks great and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area i am seeking for him... My Son would be coming to US (your city) by next week for a period of time and with his friend for 2 Months.he is just a beginner and he is 16 years old, i want you to help me teach lesson during his stay. So, kindly let me know your charges cost per week's ,in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to your side. I have also made preparation for his personal equipment he will be using privately at home after the lesson during his stay.

Please Advise back on;

(1). your charges per 1 hour twice a week for 2 Months?

(2).The Day and time you will be available to teach him During the week?

(3).Tuition address?

I will be looking forward to read from you soonest.

Best Regards,

Mrs Anna Bells"


UPDATE:  I just checked my website stats and this came from Nigeria. Can't even feign surprise.