…I’ve run away with the circus! I really did. I completed life goal #47 without even knowing it. Wow.
Happy Valentines Day from Rabbit Hill!!
You might want to mute the sound if you don’t want to hear my sniffly nose and silly cooing, but take a look at these adorable love bunnies here!
Zen proverbs reference the concept all the time: “do one thing and do it well”.
The notion repeats itself across spiritual, philosophical and even religious doctrines in so many words. When I was getting my yoga teacher training certification at Laughing Lotus Yoga School I dove into understanding the eight fold path of yoga. It’s right there again as the sixth step, Dharana: “unbending concentration of the mind”. I even have it emblomized on my left forearm, along with the other seven steps described by Patanjali to living peacefully, should I ever need the reminder (um, every day).
I have always felt that music is the language of my life, the mother tongue of all spiritual essence that I relate to, and the way I myself speak my most true. You could say that music is my yoga; yoga is my music; the teacher through which I learn my lessons; the life long practices exemplified. When I was a young violinist I would perform at my 7 or 8 year old recital and my mom would ask me how I felt it went. Time and time again I would not being able to recall the details of my performance. I would remember standing on stage and playing, but beyond that, it was just music. It occurred to me somewhat later in life that I didn’t remember any “thing” because “things” were thoughts, and I had none when I was performing. And then quite a bit later in life, I realized that little Shaina was completely present, devoid of thoughts of past, future, critical. Without trying, or even knowing what it was, I was with a completely one pointed mind.
And that happened. Wasn’t that nice? I was a little sage for like, a minute, before I became a normal city dwelling twenty something year old musician with approximately one million three hundred thousand sixty four things on my plate and directions to run – or sprint, depending on the day – at any given moment. To tell you the truth, I really thrive on that life style and generally balance the plate at least decently well (my secret involves the art of catching fallen items mid air before they hit jagged ground). I enjoy wearing the different hats and the patchwork quilt which became my life. There is always excitement, something new, and several doors swinging on their hinges waiting to fly open. While I am not exactly the personification of Dharana, I always try to remember the birds on my arm and why I decided to make them part of me for ever.
So… all this background to get to now. Haha. Ironic. But basically, with this new job, I was thrust into the present moment and I was so in it I didn’t even have thoughts enough to realize it, until the other day. For all of December, learning my massive amount of Barrage music was my mantra: over and over again all day and night I was living it, and it’s all I did. One pointed mind. Then I was suddenly on stage in China, thinking constantly about every limb of my body in each second, practicing and rehearsing during the days. Again, one pointed mind. Of course it was out of necessity. There wasn’t enough time to think about anything else, and the task at hand was such that I would literally fall off if I let my mind wonder for even a moment. But still, it brought me to a really special state of mind.
Now the music is under my fingers, our set feels awesome and I have a blast on stage nightly. Finally! Ive been dreaming about this day for months! And you see too that I have enough mental space that my mind is woooonnndering… at least enough to think about all of this. I have become comfortable with this routine and am just sort of in the swing of tour. I think about when I will get to go home, sleep in my own bed, and see my loved ones. Unfortunately there is no answer to that question yet, which partially drives my crazy, but I also see as a great opportunity to engage my tools and stay present. It’s an extraordinary gift I’ve been given – this time, almost outside of time, doing what I love, yet having time to go for runs in the fairy tale woods (totally saw Hanzel and Gretel’s crumbs, Rapunzel’s tower, and seven funny lookin little bearded dudes this morning), watch birds and bunnies, practice, read, and write. Time out of time. One pointed mind. Dharana.
Guess what? It’s not all just fun and games. Maybe you already knew that. The last couple days have been really tough. I’m on day 3 of a migraine, jet leg maybe too (hard to tell what’s what), have a head cold/sinus thing going on, it’s in the mere teens Fahrenheit, and we’ve been under a lot of pressure from our promoter and managers to rock the shows here. Which, of course, includes a ton of new material and is a very demanding, both physically, technically, and musically set. Yesterday we got up at 6am to go play a live national TV broadcast. Migraine. Had a couple hours back at our cabins, then got in the van and drove to the venue. Migraine. Sound check. Food. Warm up. Show. Migraine. We have a new board out here, and even though our sound guy is amazing, everything sounds totally different and we didn’t have time to totally fix our mixes. Know what loud sounds are like with a migraine? How about bright stage lights? Ha ha I wanted to wear my giant Victoria Beckham-esque sunglasses on stage. During the show too, my in-ears totally skitzed and were cutting in and out multiple times a second, left was really quiet, right was really loud. We ordered me new ones weeks ago but they didnt arrive before we left the states. I ended up just ripping them out during the show.
I’m not trying to complain. On the contrary I guess I’m just trying to paint a picture of that notion “the show must go on”. There are starving children in the world, and crazy people running for president of the United States! Geez, I’m doing just fine! It makes me feel grateful for how good my body usually feels, and how easy I have it in life; that this, not feeling well and being under a lot of perceived “pressure” is a challenging low.
Our Dutch promoter was thrilled with the show and had no even constructive criticism. My artistic director & band mates gave me amazing compliments and super props. We were all given extraordinary bouquets with my favorite flower in them. And this morning, I awoke to flitting birds eating the birdseed we put out beneath fresh falling snow. Show must go on. Life will go on. C’est la vie. It’s jus’ da kine life bra… Go Excedrine Migraine, go!
Happy February, leap month, black history month (hahaha! I beat you to February! Kidding…)…
I just slept 12 super amazing hours, after basically no sleep for 2 days and 2 nights getting from Brooklyn to here. The trick to avoiding jet lag I’ve learned, is to force myself to not sleep until the appropriate time, from day one. We landed in Amsterdam at 7:30am yesterday, and let’s just say it was a very very long, rough, coffee-filled day, trying to stay awake until night time. But I did it and feel so much better today. Tomorrow mornings 8am TV appearance will be a lot easier now! For the next three weeks we are staying at an amazing place called Rabbit Hill. It’s kind of like an outdoorsy resort with 350 free standing little cabins and a little hill with a bunch of giant rabbits (really!), and a main lodge with an indoor pool, cafe, bowling, sauna, grocery store… Basically, it’s awesome and I’m so excited to unpack and be in one place, in my own room, be able to cook, and run in the woods for three whole weeks! It’s like a working vacation!
Here’s a pic I snapped from the bus yesterday… It might be 15 degrees Fahrenheit but it sure is gorgeous. Last time i was here I didnt get to see much of the country side because i was mainly in Amsterdam. Its so stunning and there are sweet little chirping birdies! Reminds me a little of Oregon!
OK so watch this. This is what I tried (but failed) to describe to you. You’ll see why…
These are the actual vids that BTV aired last week – apparently viewed by 500 million people or something like that. It is the biggest and most watched television special in the world. Crazy!