Thursday, September 21, 2017

I am thrilled to report that on my Facebook Business Page which offers news of my upcoming Dramatic Musilogues, the “People Reached” rose 208%. The “Post Engagements” rose 400%, and my video watches rose 100%. Now that would really be brag worthy if you didn’t do the math. If you do the math, you will see that I’m not all that popular:( The good news, however, is that the numbers have increased, and maybe one or two new people have discovered that my hidden talents are available for viewing once or twice a year.) This year, the big month is April, although I’m tentatively planning a preview or two after the first of the year and maybe a performance at the end of February here in Sarasota. My total earnings for both gigs so far should earn me enough to buy that cute skirt I posted on my personal fb page. 

When I asked my piano coach, a marvelous concert pianist who performs regularly, if he would accept an out-of-state gig for a very minuscule fee, he said, “I don’t play for money; I play because I like the people who invite me who appreciate my music, and I like the beautiful instrument waiting for me.” Thus, I continue to accept invitations for less than I should. At my age, I’m happy to get invitations, and I’m thrilled when people enjoy my music and my show. The only thing I am comfortable bragging about in this arena is that no one else is doing this, and no one can do this, because they are not me. This is my baby, and I own her. I will take her where I want, and share her only with those who applaud her unique value. 

Have you ever seen a Dramatic Musilogue? Well, have you signed up on my mailing list? Have you watched my video? I invite you to attend my final one-woman show, “Rach’in “IT” with Re,” the story of Sergei Rachmaninov and Marietta Shaginyan, in 2018. Stay tuned for dates and states.

Confirmed so far: (9/21/17)
4/12/18:  Thursday Morning Music Club, Wilmington, North Carolina (Limited guests allowed)
4/26/18   Private performance for Independent Living Facility, Sarasota, Florida

Private by-invitation only performance TBD February, 2018
Soirées TBD

facebook page:  the-write-note

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

     Other than the fact that people are dying in Mexico from another earthquake, others are rioting in the streets of St. Louis and Hurricane Maria is wiping out our beautiful Caribbean Islands, what else is new today? 

     Assuming we have no problems of our own, it takes a great deal of emotional energy to block  out all the horrific events over which we have no control. So does this make us hang on more to the little control we have? I don’t know, but I feel like “control” is a joke these days.

     The “control freaks” of yesteryear are probably limping around trying to figure out what hit them? Or maybe they are in high gear to make up for the chaotic and unpredictable world we all live in. 

      I don’t know about you, but I’m hanging onto every tiny aspect of my life that I can manage. So far, I’m still able to control the following:

1.  bed-making
  2.  grocery shopping
3.  tooth-brushing
4.  dressing myself
6.  writing my feckless blogs
7.  answering my emails
8.  resisting Girl Scout cookie binges

     How much control do you feel you’re losing or gaining in your life? There’s a delicate balance of what you control and of what you must let go. Sometimes we tend to want to control people instead of things because we can’t control the things. This is not a good practice. Gentlemen,I can tell you from first hand experience that you Mr. Wonderfuls are taking a big chance trying this as a coping mechanism. 

     Self-control is where it’s at. If you can master that, everything else is secondary. Let me know how that’s working for you:)

Monday, September 18, 2017

“This is the first time I've articulated these feelings.  Your comments have helped me to put my anxiety into writing.  I'm sure you and I are not alone.  I hope you feel better.  I think I do.  I miss you so much . At the same time, I feel blessed to live in a world where we have email and can quickly express our support to loved ones.”

     This was part of a message I received from a very dear friend the other day. Last night, on the phone with a friend who is suffering from leukemia and is dealing with issues I cannot even fathom, my friend said, “You are so emotional. When you tell us things, it makes it easier for us to express ourselves too.”  I don’t express my emotions for any purpose other than to express them. It is heartwarming, however, to learn that perhaps unlocking an emotional dam for someone can give them comfort, or at the very least, clarity. My friends call me “wise,” but it’s really not wisdom; it’s experience and understanding myself. 

     Another friend, who is a life coach and an extremely smart and savvy woman said to me, “You are very self-aware.” I said, “Isn’t everyone?” She said, “No, not at all.” I responded that being self-aware isn’t necessarily a brag-worthy attribute. She said that it is definitely a gift we give ourselves so that we can cope in a world that makes no sense. 

     Thank you, my dear dear friends, for assuring me that my words can offer comfort, clarity, a new perspective. Communication has to be more than words; it has to come from the gut and the heart. I cannot communicate on a superficial level for any length of time. If I can’t connect at some emotional level, I must retreat. But that’s just me. Others don’t want to reveal themselves past a certain point, and, of course, that’s everyone’s prerogative. 

     I am especially drawn to successful or creative people who are humble. When someone making seven figures says, “Thank you, but I didn’t get here alone,” I know they are my kind of person. They are committed to their craft, focused, willing to work as hard and as long as it takes, but they aren’t going to flaunt their success. That’s admirable in my book, and I’m fascinated by their journey. 

     Have you ever had to have surgery or a procedure that terrified you, and you didn’t want to share your fears with anyone? Perhaps you didn’t want to appear afraid or weak, or you were embarrassed by the mere fact of having to have the operation or test? It’s amazing that once you share your fears with others, they will tell you about a similar experience they’ve had, and often, they will tell you they had the identical fears. This is very comforting and reassuring, as they are still here to tell you about it. 

     In 1995, I had a liver biopsy that went wrong. An artery was cut, and I bled internally. I had to have a blood transfusion, and I laid in a hospital bed for 5 days waiting to find out if they were going to have to cut me open to stop the bleeding. I was perfectly healthy going into this procedure, and that “slip-up” almost cost me my life. It changed my life. One can certainly understand why the word “procedure” sends me into instant inner hysteria. Well, soon, I may have to endure something similar, and I am trying to quell the panic that rises in my chest every time I think of it. But when two different friends shared their similar experiences with me last week, my anxiety plummeted. We all have to endure things at some point that terrify us (most recently, Irma), but our connections are what get us through them. The more empathy we give, the more we will get back. It may not be the people we expect it from, and often it isn’t, but there is always someone to help us cope and heal. We don’t have to look for them; they just seem to show up. Sometimes it’s a stranger in the grocery check out line. Sometimes, it’s a random comment at Book Club. Sometimes, it’s a throwaway comment made by our child. The healing is there; we just have to listen.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

     What a day I had yesterday. I spent eight hours in Tampa, Florida with about 80 incredibly talented public speakers. At my first National Speakers Academy, a group of aspiring speakers listened to the real professionals showcasing their talent and offering us the tools needed to make it big in the world of public speaking. By noon, I was overwhelmed by the expertise, the humility and the warmth of these people who clearly respect and admire each other and are working to make a difference.

     A former stand-up comedian had us in stitches. A former actress exuded joy as she told us how she got the gig when 1500 others didnt. A former nurse and president of the Central Florida chapter welcomed us and shared parts of her journey to success. Consultants to Fortune 500 companies sat at round tables with members answering our questions and giving us tips.

     My take away from my first of 11 meetings was this:  Be authentic. Speak from your heart, and identify your purpose. I was so impressed with the humility of these very successful individuals who clearly gave much credit to the National Speakers Association for the friendships, connections and networking that got them to where they are today.

     Copious notes sit on my desk waiting for me to organize them and come up with my 90-day, 6-month and 3-year plan. Believe it or not, I have a vague idea of the first two already. There is no doubt, however, that I am 10-20 years older than most of these people who are working tirelessly in the mainstream every day to hone their craft. I’m still trying to identify my craft, so honing may have to wait.

     Why should you care about any of this? No need, but my point in joining this organization is to surround myself with people who are making things happen—people whose positive energy, focus, creativity and determination will rub off on me so I can share the joy. There is so much negative, hate, divisiveness and sadness in our world, it is refreshing to be in an environment of laughter, warmth and friendship. Although the price was hefty, I have already enjoyed the experience more than I could imagine. These people don’t wait for things to happen; they make things happen. They are my tribe. Watch out world—-I am going to make some things happen very soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

     I am on my way to the National Speakers Academy. I am so excited. This is a positive energy organization of people who want to be or already are professional speakers. The National Speakers Association is made up of those who earn at least $25,000 a year speaking, and who have spoken at least 20 times a year. The Academy are those who are aiming for this goal. I would be thrilled to give a speech for which I was paid, although I have delivered paid workshops and concert performances. My interest in this group is, in part, to be surrounded by people who are working to improve in an area where most people would pass out at the thought of standing before hundreds. 

     I had to fill out a form, mainly for myself, stating my goals. I had to chuckle at some of the questions, and here are a few:

  1.  What is your 3-year goal? 
       At my age, if I’m still able to stand tall in my stilettos with all my teeth intact, all my hair still growing on my head and a face that doesn’t look like a Charpai, I will be thrilled. But just think, if I have succeeded in all this, and I book a few paid gigs, I will be one of very few 77-year-olds on the circuit:)

2.  What are your expectations from this Academy?

      I expect that people will wonder what on earth I’m doing there at my age, but I know they are all positive and compassionate people who want everyone to succeed. So I expect that I will discover a new thread among my interests and talents, and I will be supported by people I don’t know today, one or two of whom will become my mentors and friends.

3.  How will you achieve your goals?

     First, I will target one that will be the first step toward my ultimate goal:  to deliver at least one or two keynote speeches. Secondly, I will find people of like mind with similar talents, and I will watch them, listen to them and learn from them. Finally, I will work my ———off to accomplish the task. I know I can do this because I believe in myself. (It’s taken me 50 years to get there!)

     Twelve years after retirement, I set an alarm to get up this morning. It went off at 5:15 a.m. That was a shock. I remember how this feels. This is not a feeling I choose to remember. I was in a deep coma, and all of a sudden, the world was in my face. There are some major advantages to being retired. Although I am usually up by 5:30, it was a shock to have to be up and function. Hats off to all of you still in the mainstream!

      What are you goals? Where will you be three years from now? What would you do Monday morning if you didn’t have to get up? If you retired tomorrow, what would you do with your time?

Just thought I’d challenge you to some mindless questions on this lovely Saturday morning:)

Friday, September 15, 2017

     One would think that after surviving a life-threatening hurricane, coming out unharmed and undamaged, one would be ecstatic. Grateful, yes, ecstatic, not so much. The good thing about a hurricane is that you have plenty of warning—sometimes up to a week or even more. The bad news is that you have plenty of warning—sometimes up to a week or even more to worry, fret, obsess. The latter was true for many of us who just endured the most horrific hurricane in our area for years. We watched the eye go from a dot the size of a fire ant to a monster that threatened to hurl us into space never to be seen again.

    How can we not be ecstatic and want to celebrate? Because we are emotionally drained and traumatized. Part of our fears were fueled by the media who did an excellent job, this time not over-dramatizing the threat, but giving us the facts and telling us what to expect and how to prepare. Part of the tension we felt was from our own imaginations, but remember this was on the heels of Harvey. We had all just read and watched the unbelievable damage and lives lost in Texas. Our daughter lives there, so we were up on the disaster on a daily basis. She survived unhurt without damage as well, but she had the flu the whole time while housing friends, their kids and their dog through the entire nightmare.

     Many people suffer a certain level of PTSD from such experiences. I don’t know that I did, but it sure felt like it. Now only five days later, I am just starting to feel human again. I can now go back to worrying about other things.

     I had written an email to a friend on Wednesday, and I hadn’t heard from her last night. It dawned on me that maybe she was hurt or had no power (still 100,000 people in our county have no power). I texted her, and sure enough, she has had no power all this time. Having no power sounds like a small price to pay for remaining safe and unharmed until you are the one with no light, no warm food, no hot coffee to start your day, possibly no showers, no curling irons, no TV, etc. One or two days might be tolerable but almost a week, the nerves have to begin to fray. 

     I have been feeling so guilty that not only am I not ecstatic like I should be, but I don’t know who to help or how. So I asked my friend if I could take her to lunch and bring her some things. Her answer was “Sure.” What do I bring her? bananas? cookies? pizza that you can eat cold? I have no idea, but I will meet her and try to cheer her up. What would I want someone to do for me? Bananas and pizza would be a good start, but nothing short of light would do the trick, I’m sure. Fortunately, she has no kids or dogs to deal with, and I’m sure she has plenty of other friends who are helping her. She has a house, and she’s not flooded. She is one of many who are forgotten because they are only dealing with inconvenience, not tragedy. Well, I will not forget her, and when I get home, I will send my small check to an organization I can trust to get help to those who most desperately need it. 

     In the meantime, Harvey is old news, as are those in Montana dealing with horrific conditions, the poor people on the islands who have no water or no homes. The devastation is staggering. It’s so overwhelming to digest that many of us feel powerless to help. Even prayer pails in times like these. I am on my knees, though, and my checkbook is on my desk. How about you?

P.S.  Molasses cookies are essential to surviving any crisis.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

     Lately, I have been reading a lot about shame. If your parents ever said, “Shame on you!” or “You should be ashamed of yourself!” (usually using your entire given name), then you have felt shame. For those in my generation, shame was the number one discipline tool to get kids to behave. It certainly was in my house, and I am here to tell you that shame leaves scars that are impossible to erase. Shame always has triggers.  I have learned to identify and manage my triggers most of the time, but in situations of crisis (like the recent hurricane), all bandages come off, and shame is almost as big as the storm, ready to attack at any second. 

     My daughter, Katey, is touring the country talking to parents about why kids commit suicide at such a young age. Shame is part of it. It’s not necessarily parents who shame kids; it’s the kids shaming each other in various ways. That’s a whole other topic, but the point is that shame rears its ugly head at times when we are most defenseless such as in moments of crisis (not making the cheer team, a boyfriend breaking up with you on social media, a hurricane threatening to wipe out everything you’ve ever worked for).

     One of the reasons shame is so powerful and so destructive is that people are afraid (ashamed) to talk about it. BrenĂ© Brown, a Research Social Worker, Author and renowned Lecturer, says that shame needs three things to survive:  Secrecy, Judgment and Silence. Shame cannot exist if these three things are avoided. The embarrassment (shame) that people feel talking about failure, not belonging, isolation, sadness is the very reason shame grows and destroys. 

     Brown says we must know our triggers. This is true, but the triggers are often set off when we least expect them, and the physical and emotional response to a trigger happens in a nano-second for some, too quickly to stop the “spiral” that occurs and sends us into the abyss. 

     Why am I writing about shame today? Because I have recently been through a shame spiral. I can relate to anyone who has experienced one. It is devastating. It is a dark place where no one can help you expect you, and the people who might unintentionally pull that trigger are totally confused as to why we might react as we do.

     Talking about this so openly in my blog is taking courage, as I am ashamed of my shame. I see it as my hubris—my tragic flaw. As a recovering perfectionist, I still have trouble accepting my human-ness, my failures, my inability to fix it before it breaks. But, guess what? I am talking about it in hopes that anyone reading this who has experienced crippling shame in any situation will know he/ she is not alone. We all need a “safe” friend with whom we can talk about a recent trigger and who we know will love us because we are sensitive and vulnerable, not judge us because we are imperfect. I am blessed, as I have a couple of friends like this. You know who you are. Thank you. You have saved me more than once.