Letting the Heart Have Its Say

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The mind delights in lofty pursuits –
Tête-a-têtes in bilingual prose
And dissections of unsatisfying denouements –
Just to prove it can.

But when words grow weary
And wits tire of the unending race,
May you learn to sing of your longing.

For the soul rejoices in hearing its song,
Strains of melody painting delicate truths,
All heart affirmed, all opposition abandoned
With no chance to be mistaken.

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Time To Fly

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Once upon a time

You scooped up your dreams that lay about and presented them to me one by one.

Each one lit your eyes as you passed it from your lips

To let it hang, for three long seconds, before it hit my ears.

Each thought a marvel of ingenuity,

Aloft with a joy untainted by anything other than anticipation.

“How beautiful,” I thought,

But must have forgotten to say,

For soon you gathered them up,

and tucked them in your chest.

Let me say now that hope is my favorite color on you,

Unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

So pull out the dreams, however dusty, and speak them once again.

And this time when I listen,

I will tell you how they make you shine.

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What Goes Around Comes Around: Here We Go ‘Round the Song Cycle

Song cycle: a group of songs designed to be performed in a sequence as a single entity. As a rule, all of the songs are by the same composer and often use words from the same poet or lyricist.

The song cycle is one of my favorite mediums for witnessing a collection of musical work. A set of story songs is as satisfying as a tapas dinner. You get a taste of everything, you leave feeling like you learned something new. Without a libretto, the song cycle depends on the music to tie the show into a cohesive evening. This unity is often underlined by musical themes that weave their way back into the work.

But perhaps what’s most impressive is how lyrics are now thrust into the spotlight to stand on their own. There is no longer a text surrounding the work, or breaks between songs to help move one from the beginning of a story to its end. Lyrics must carry new weight.

Songs For A New World: abstract musical/theatrical song cycle with the central theme: “the moment of decision.”

Taste of what’s inside:

“God knows it’s easy to hide,
Easy to hide from the things that you feel 
And harder to blindly trust 
What you can’t understand 

God knows it’s easy to run,
Easy to run from the people you love 
And harder to stand and fight 
For the things you believe”
– I’d Give it All For You

Closer Than Ever:  A meditation on urban life through the lens of real individuals’ experiences with security, aging, mid-life crisis, second marriages, working couples, and unrequited love.

Taste of what’s inside:

“If I sing you are the music.
If I love you taught me how.
Every day your heart is beating
in the man that I am now.

If my ears are tuned to wander.
If when I reach the chords are there.
When there is joy in making music,
it’s a joy that we both share.”
– If I Sing

Myths and Hymns: Song cycle by Adam Guettel, based on Greek myth and lyrics found in an antique hymnal. It concerns the relationship of humans to gods, past and present.

Taste of what’s inside:

“I don’t know what I hunger for,
I don’t know why I feel the hunger more
And more with every passing day.
I don’t know from where the hunger springs,
But that it’s there and that it sings of someplace far away.”
– Saturn Returns

Even in these moments, do you notice the repetition? The words ground themselves: “God knows…”, “If…”, “I don’t know…”. These simple phrases reinforce the idea that a song does not need to be verbose to hit home. These song cycles are memorable because they feature honest human stories told simply, an utterly effective means of storytelling.

What’s your favorite way to hear a story?

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5 Reasons to Celebrate Right Now

You will never be younger than you are at this very moment. Look at all that youth shining through! Cheer your ability to see, to understand, and to have those flashes of brilliance that you modestly try to downplay. You are so much wiser than you think.

You have access to the entire world from a single screen. If you’re reading this, you are among the few that are lucky enough to have an awesome techno-speed highway at their fingertips. Technology has pushed globalization into light speed and now we are only a click away from connecting with fresh faces from all around the world. When you stop and realize how incredible this is, it might just overwhelm you. Make a commitment to learn something about another culture and put together those pieces that spell out: “we aren’t all that different from one another.”

You’re living in some exciting times. We just found evidence of water on Mars. A high school student has developed potential cancer cures. The CERN scientists at the Large Hadron Collider found the “God particle” this year. We are on the brink on some unbelievable discoveries.

You are part of a community. Look around. Maybe it’s one other person, maybe it’s the locals around you. Maybe it’s a group you get together with once in a while, maybe it’s an online hub – no matter which way you slice it, you are a part of something bigger than yourself. If you feel alone, perhaps you’re not looking hard enough.  Remember that there are endless ways for us to connect. The first step is realizing that there are plenty of like-minded folks out there. You just have to be willing to be the first one to extend the hand.

You have so much. If you have three meals a day and a safe place to sleep at night, you are already living someone else’s dream. Add a job into the mix? A computer? A supportive family? Whatever it is you think you may be lacking, chances are you already have a mountain’s worth of abundance in another area of your life. If you are always focusing on keeping up with the Joneses, how will you be able to cherish the wealth that you already have in your life…the kind that others perhaps never knew they were missing? Everyone has different definitions of happiness. But most of them start with gratefulness. Say thanks for a handful of things you’ve forgotten about recently, and watch how it transforms the day ahead.

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How to Make Friends with Your Fear

Ready, set, uh oh. A not so friendly visitor is back again. Fear finds us all every once in a while, but there is no reason to remain frozen by it. The easiest way to face it head on is to put yourself in its shoes. By uncovering the roots, you can ensure that you nurture the kind of mental garden you covet – with weeds a thing of the past.

Put a name on that which scares you. Identify what’s getting you down – whether it’s a real challenge or a perceived slight. A target is much easier to hit when you know what it looks like.

Stop the self-chatter. For two minutes. Hopefully for ten. When the mind’s worked up it will start firing off negativity on all cylinders. Quiet everything up there. All that radio frequency is getting in the way. After a few minutes of a true mental break, you’ll realize you have a strong sense of how to handle this best.

Ask the tough questions. The ones you’ve indexed and stored away. Dig a little deeper and search for the real reason you’re unwilling to look that fear of yours in the eye. What about this situation makes it different than others? Why does this one make you grimace? What makes you feel safe?

Remind yourself of the good stuff. Think back to the last time you overcame a fear. Never stared one down before? Then remember how it feels to rock at something – whether it be dancing, drawing, speaking to others, cooking. Think of the joy you have when you approach the task that allows you to shine. Take the same mentality into the fray with you. An attitude that comes from a place of love will always win out over one of emptiness or dread.

Ask for help. Never be so proud that you stand in your own way. If you think someone may be able to offer sound advice or a helping hand, just ask. Sometimes just having just one other person believe in you is enough.

Focus on your own journey. Comparing your situation to that of others is a surefire way to start convincing yourself that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself. Life’s too short. You most likely aren’t seeing everyone else’s full picture – why compare 5% of their life to 100% of your own? Move past the moping and on to making things happen.

Baby steps. One step is better than none. Two is better than one. When you think you may be paralyzed by whatever it is you’re facing, keep going. The reward of your persistence alone may be enough to remind you that you really can tackle anything.

Befriend the enemy. Treat the thing that scares you as if it were something precious to you – because in fact, it is. It is what will be the catalyst for your own growth. Thank it for showing up in your life and treat it with the same respect you would a close friend. You will be stunned at how much this little shift will mean.

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