:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What a tool. v-log #2 (Patresa)

I haven't done much the past 10 days (anything I did, I basically pulled out here at the end); but I don't feel too bad about it. I'm not going to shoot any middle fingers. I haven't even been swearing too much. I just decided I needed to "rest."

Here is V-log #2. You may need to turn the sound up or put in headphones, because I was practically whispering. Chris was in the next room, and I feared his ridicule. Really, talking to your laptop is not normal behavior.

Guitar practice time = 4 hours or so. A guesstimation (I've been very unstructured.).

Narrative evidence of progress: I didn't swear very much, and I made helpful observations (see below).

New Song Development: Yes! Today, as a matter of fact. I scratched out the beginnings of The Messenger, and you can see it in the v-log.

Cover Song Development: No. 

Helpful Observations: My frustrations are less about a skill deficit and more about feeling like I have no flow. I rely on this flow for nearly every area of my life. It kind of feels like channeling spirits, and it helps me feel peaceful about tasks. 

When I try too hard, things don't happen. Or they do, but they're clumsy and untrue. Sometimes I sit down to write, and I realize I'm trying too hard to compose. It's not coming easily; it's not enjoyable; and I misrepresent the things in my head. When I feel this happening, I stop and follow these steps:

1. open a new, fresh, blank document
2. inhale, exhale
3. then, depending on my mood I say one of 2 things:
            a. What do you want to say, dear? (Question directed to self.)
            b. What would you like me to say? (Question directed to God, Guides, and The Universe.)
4. write simply and directly.

I can't think of a single time this didn't work. I even do it at work when I'm writing things like quarterly summaries and Quality Assurance plans. "What do you want to say, dear?" Maybe I got that from The Artist's Way; I don't remember. But I do believe that there is universal "material," and that when we are  clear and open, we become vessels for whatever material/product/message needs to be shared. (Which is also why I think that there is really no excuse for arrogance when it comes to art and expression--or ever, actually. You like my words? You like my painting? You like my song? You like what I'm doing here? Cool. It's not really me, though. Kind of like when people compliment me on my name. Awesome. I love it, too. I'll tell my parents.) In this respect, we're all tools.

So, this happens when I write. I can channel.

I can do it with how I interact with people, too. When my mind isn't quiet, and I know that I'm being called on for something important--handling conflict, being supportive, offering solutions--I will stop and take a moment (in my head) and say, "Who do you need me to be right now?" And then, my brain clears. (The problem is that I don't always think to do this. I need to remember more.)

I hope this doesn't make me sound crazy.

Anyway, the point is that I rely a lot on this natural, channeling flow, and with the guitar... it ain't happenin'. When I started this last round, I realized I was trying too hard, so I stopped. Put the guitar away. And focused on something else to reconnect with my flow. I pulled out a canvas and some oil paints and played.

What's nice about painting (for me), is that I genuinely don't care what I produce. It is one of very few things in my life where I truly have not a single expectation for myself. Seriously! (Sometimes I say things like that, and in the back of my head, I am thinking something totally contradictory. But in this case…nope. All of my parts are in agreement.) I am not a painter. I do not aspire to excellence. No piece of my identity is wrapped into what comes out on the canvas. So I play. I like color. I like the smell of paint. I like experimenting with brushes. When I fudge a line, I just shrug and say, "Huh. I guess I'll go that way, then." It's like a road trip with no map, no destination, no annoying passengers, and no schedule. I don't swear when I paint, because I don't get frustrated. For someone like me, who spends 95% of her day spring-loaded and hiding from her imperfections… this is a powerful reprieve. (Writing this has just clarified that I need to paint more often.)

So… Goals...

COFFEE is taking a break and then altering the posting schedule a bit. We'll be breaking Dec. 25-Jan 2. Starting January 3, we'll each post every 2 weeks (with a few little breaks in the middle and at the end of a round). So… 

Goals for the next 19 days:

1. Create a more complete version of The Messenger (see v-log).

2. Figure out at least the verse for No One is to Blame. (Will this to-do item ever go away?)

3. Make a list of all the positive things to be gained from this experience. (I forgot to do this.)

4. 10 hours of practice.

5. Attend an open mic. Note: I did not say PLAY at an open mic. I said "attend." I should start scouting these things to see how they work. Like a shark circling a wounded pelican. I'm the shark. The nameless audience is the wounded pelican. Watch out.


Steph said...

Oh, P... I love this. I love everything about this - your song, your painting, your goals, your insight into why we produce CRAP, your ability to channel and listen to that inner voice. Yes. Y-E-S, YES!
I think painting is your outlet. I tried it once but got too caught up in applying my critical eye to what I was trying to do, hurt my own feelings, and swore it off... The fact that you can paint w/o expectation is what makes this painting so powerful. I love the colors and the composition, and I smiled when I saw it, deep down in my heart smiled.
We are ALL tools, aren't we? You call it like you see it, and I respect that. And you're absolutely right. I'm going to remember this, apply this, share this, and embrace this... Arrogance blows, and, for me at least, I'm sure that my efforts to cover and/or work past self-doubt and insecurities come across as arrogance. I hate that. So thanks for naming it and sharing your thoughts. Much needed!
I CANNOT wait to hear the rest of The Messenger... Can't wait! And so you know, you're that messenger to a lot of us and our God's eye view, too! Thanks, P... You're something else!

Will miss COFFEE over our break, btw...

amy said...

Here is why I like reading what you write, P: every time, I think (occasionally out loud), "I really just LIKE Patresa." Probably because I always identify with what you say. And you always say what you say in a really hip and accessible way.

Also, I find that too: when I try too hard, it just doesn't go with the flow like it does when stuff just somehow comes together. It's like this for me at work when dealing with children and when planning lesson plans. It's like this when I butt heads with anonymous fools online who are self-righteous a-holes with poor worldviews (I've been on the news sites at lunch again). It's like this at home with Melissa & Charles.

But I usually just throw in the towel and I hate that I do that. I want to stop being a towel thrower. I'm so glad I read your self-questioning technique! I'm going to try it, ASAP. Patresa = rock star!

I couldn't watch the video yet (it's blocked), but I will tonight. I did love your "I don't know what I'm doing and don't care one bit" painting. I have a groupon sitting in my groupon.com account for a painting class (which I think is kind of like paint-by-numbers, but I'm still so excited)...it may awaken my inner painter. (I don't think my inner painter will care very much what she produces either...I'm much more sensitive about the reaction to meals I concoct) (more on that in an update post).

AND! Last (but not least), Melissa loves your name. Every time I get on youtube, she wants to know if it's Treesa. "Treesa sing? Treesa play teekee guitar?" You already have a fan, open mic shark. If we lived closer, M would SO do her hoppy dance at your open mic debut.

blj said...

P- this is an awesome post. I love everything about it. I love that you think you didn't accomplish much when you actually accomplished a whole bunch, but I also love that even though you think you didn't, you're OK with that and taking the opportunity to rest. I love words and phrases like "flow" and "channeling" and "helpful observations" and "misrepresent what's in my head" and "universal material" and "clear and open." I love the song. I love the painting. I even love the hair :) There are many things in this post that I will think about when I'm frustrated or stuck. This is awesome advice on how to be in the world as well as how to be inside one's head. Thanks!! Thanks!! Thanks!!

But I hope it'll work for me as well as it does for you. I think it takes a pretty open and amazing and creative and well-adjusted person to be able to listen to their inner self and the universe as well as you've been able to. How do you do that? I think I've got a lot of static. You should teach a workshop...

Really, you ROCK!!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Nice work P-Superstar!
I love your questions to yourself and God.... "What do you want to say, dear?" and "What would you like me to say?" May I have permission to steal this?

Your "imperfect" song is really great. I truly just love your raspy voice. I also really quite dig the way you lead into it explaining the writing, the verses, your quietness with Chris in the next room! Ha, awesome! I picture him with his ear pressed against the door humming along. :)

I am also loving your super groovy attitude this week. Nice going. Easy breezy beautiful cover girl, WITH great hair in both clips!

Rock on little p, rock on with your tranquil and evolved self.

patresa said...

woah! well, you all just said a lot of nice, flattering things to me! thank you! and also: now i feel nervous. i may have overstated my ability to channel and be peaceful. let me clarify: i can tap into the flow, but i only do it when i feel like it and remember to. i spend huge amounts of time being very unzenlike, saying and doing and writing and being the exactly wrong thing. and arrogant. i am prone to arrogance. the nice thing is that whenever i am being arrogant, the universe takes pains to let me know i am not steering the ship and i'm just a big tool.

Holly said...

Patrese-I'm pretending we're ordering coffee:)
Anyway...I echo so much of what's already been said. I echo what Becky said....even when you think you didn't accomplish much these 10 days, YOU DID!! And, even though you think you're not a good or great painting, I LOVE THAT PAINTING! I could not do that!
I love the song the Messenger and have a huge warm fuzzy that I helped inspire it. I so envy your ability to write a song, go home, and pluck it out. As you know, I just wrote "Ain't gonna Beg" and now I have no friggen clue what to do with it.
I appreciated your thoughts on flow. I don't know that I would have understood what you meant as clearly a few months ago. I feel like I'm have good flow right now, but can imagine when I'm not doing Artist's Way, it will be hard to maintain. I love the questions that you ask to bring you back. I think a lot of it goes back to what you brought up a few posts ago about quiet, solitude, uni-tasking, etc...I have felt so much more at peace and creative since I've had some time to myself and have been remembering to BREATHE!! DEEPLY!!
Thanks for this post....I heart this post!

amy said...

I just wanted to let you know that after her bath and pj's were done and on, we watched your v-log together. Melissa was very impatient with your talking part ("Treesa sing? Treesa sing now?" she kept asking), but once you started playing/singing, she did conductor fingers.

So little Miss M approves, and that's all an arrogant, unzen-like most of the time shark really needs, I think. :-)

Wendy said...

P-Diddly. First of all, I think that everytime anyone sings a song, they should always finish it off with a "Ta da!" Haha, you crack me up.
You have such a distinctive voice and meaningful lyrics and your songs are always very introspective and personal. That's really cool.

I LOVE this part: "a. What do you want to say, dear? (Question directed to self.) b. What would you like me to say? (Question directed to God, Guides, and The Universe.)" That is so great! And I love even more that it works for you. Because that's how you get an earnest song. I'm going to try that.

It reminds me of a famous, very humble and amazing Nashville hit songwriter, who I heard speak and he said that on the top of his paper, when he writes a song, he always writes his name and then God as his cowriter. That always stuck with me. I know that I have trouble taking too much credit when things are good, or when things are bad. And I think you're really on to something, because I think you get that...

And lastly, I LIKE your painting. I don't want to rain on your unselfconscious parade because that, in itself is a zen-like gift, but I really do think you're a talented artist.

T-Free said...

You are so earnest and charming. I adore your videos. I smile along with you the whole time. The new song sounds like it's going to be really cool, too. Pretty melody line on the chorus (or pre-chorus, depending on what it evolves into). And the ta-daaaaaa! at the end made me laugh out loud. :)

I absolutely loved your Helpful Observations section, and will be borrowing that tactic. I also love the idea that God, Guides, and/or The Universe are working through us to create, that we are just vessels for messages (like your song subject). I'm going to write "What do you want me to say, dear?" on a piece of paper and tape it near my computer for when I write. If only to remember to call myself dear and be nice to me for a change. :)

Your painting is striking and vivid and colorful and it makes me happy. Really great blog, P.