Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wisdom From Yoga Class

Sometimes I go to my yoga class and I think, "Why do I put myself through this torture?" Other times I go to my yoga class, and I'm in such a state of bliss, I hesitate to say the closing "namaste". 

My instructor walks around class, adjusting our poses slightly as he verbally guides us through different poses. He'll say things like, "pull your belly in" or "turn the bottom of your tailbone out". Sometimes his suggestions make sense. Other times I feel like he's speaking in alien tongues. 

During my class yesterday, in the middle of a particularly difficult pose, I spread my eagle arms even wider and strained to keep my legs straight as I watched my teacher approach. 

He walked right past me though, I suppose my tailbone must have been angled just right. Yeah! Go me! 

He leaned over and spoke to the guy next to me. Since I was facing the other way, I couldn't see the guy, but I was close enough to hear what sage advice my teacher had to offer.

"Make a nicer face." 

"What?!" I thought to myself. What kind of practical instruction is that? If the pose is challenging and painful, why does it matter what our faces look like? After all, we are still getting the physical benefits of suffering through the pose. I twisted my body around as much as possible to sneak a glance at the offending "face" of my fellow student. 

True, his features were pinched together like an over-ripe prune.  His eyes tucked so deep into his sockets they all but disappeared.

I watched the muscles in his face relax as he tried his best to "make a nicer face". He smiled a goofy grin. I watched the muscles in the rest of his body follow suit as he relaxed deeper into the pose. Watching the whole scene take place made my pose softer as well. The difficult pose changed into something bearable… almost enjoyable. 

Laughter. Humor. Smiles. 

There's hardly an obstacle that these things can't overcome in any part of our lives. 

I know, I know. There are parts of your journey that aren't going to be pleasant. For example, I've been playing the same 5 seconds of the Bohemian Rhapsody solo for the past week, 5% below the actual speed. It drives me crazy. Come on fingers, let's go! Let's go! I've been so ecstatic about jewelry designs ideas only to have them disappoint once I've made them. I'm sure there have been maybe one or two times (two at the most because I'm mostly a perfect human specimen.) where I've been kind of a jerk at a band meetings.

Difficult times in life.

Difficult yoga poses. 

It won't kill you to make a nicer face during them.

Honestly, Meg

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Is Your "Why"?

My guitar teacher gave me a blues lick that I have been practicing at half speed for two weeks. It is repetitive, difficult work, the opposite of a good time.

I seriously have to set my timer for 15 minute intervals and drive through the boredom. Finally, I got to the point where I just couldn't find the will power to pick my guitar back again and play that stupid lick. So, instead of gnashing my teeth through another 15 minute session, I took a drive to a taco joint in Echo Park and did some thinking while I sipped on an almond milk horchata in the sunshine. Mmmmm. Much better.

I thought to myself "I could simply stop playing. I don't have to keep going through the motions. Nobody is making me. (Well, I guess my guitar teacher is, but I can always quit.)" Then I thought a little deeper about it. "Why am I practicing this boring material? Why is it important for me to keep doing this?" And that thought made me cast my net even wider, and I asked "Why do I play music in general? Why is it so important?" 

Since I wasn't making any headway with these questions, I decided to think back on my life even further. Maybe that would help clear things up for me. Why did I start playing music? I started playing music because I wanted to be signed by a label. Any label. That was the holy grail of my music career as far as I was concerned. Then we were signed by a label, and then another label, and my reason for playing music quickly changed. 

I slurped up the last of my drink through melting ice cubes. While I concentrated on using my straw as a single chopstick to reach all those delicious, crunchy ice cubes, my why hit me on the top of the head just like that apple must have hit Newton.  

O.k. so the moment wasn't as important as discovering gravity, but it was still a huge deal to me. I remembered the reason why I practice every day, why I force my fingers against their will into such awkward positions, why I sit through scales and and exercises. I remembered the whole point of it all.

Now, that I was armed with my "why" I was prepared to get back to that scale. I was even excited to get back to that scale. Heck, I'll practice it in 30 minute intervals! What now!

Do you want to know what my why is? I discovered I don't have just one why. I've got millions and millions of whys. I've circled 8 of them in the photo below for you to see. 

Remember you "why", because your path isn't always going to be easy, in fact, most of it will probably be a struggle if you are challenging yourself enough.

Honestly, Meg

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rise Again

I never spent very much time outside. I became a "city girl", preferring to wander through book stores or tuck myself away in coffee shops. Nick used to protest, dragging me outside every summer to camp. Yes, with the worms and no restrooms in sight. Ugh. 

My last camping experience in the summer heat of Austin was miserable. Let's just say it involved lots of giant bugs, persistent, hungry raccoons who weren't afraid of humans in the least, and punctured, blow-up air mattresses. (But that's a story for another blog post.)

Lately, I've had some personal struggles, some problems I couldn't seem to wrap my head around. I was feeling a bit blue as we humans tend to do every once in awhile. Vanilla cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles just weren't cutting it anymore. My mother suggested hiking. She says that "nature cures all".  I decided I would humor her and give it a try. 

The first time up the mountain was o.k. It was a bit toasty. I was out of shape, and I forgot to bring water, but aside from the dehydration and the beads of sweat dripping into my eyes every now and then, I actually didn't have a terrible time. 

Since that first day, I've hiked almost every morning. I even started meditating once I made it to my special spot at the top of the mountain. I settle my backpack on the ground and sit up with my hands pressed into my knees. I don't close my eyes like one is supposed to, because the trees, and the flowers, and the mountains, and the clouds are too pretty not to look at. I focus on my breathe. My mind wanders. I bring it back.

Meditation that got me out of my funk. My saving grace didn't have anything to do with the floating clouds or the pretty flowers or even the friendly hikers and their dogs who I've grown rather fond of.

My big epiphany came from an ant. 

A few days ago, I reached the top of the mountain and sat in my usual position. I began to focus on my breath, but before my battle with my thoughts, I happened to look down and see an army of ants busy building their home in the dirt by my feet.

I noticed one ant in particular carrying a single blade of dry grass across the dirt to the ant hill. This blade of grass must have been at least nine times the length of the ant. As I watched it struggle, I tried to imagine myself carrying an object nine times the height of my body. 

Tommy carried the blade of grass a good twelve inches or so before it encountered an obstacle, a low hanging stick in the ground. (Oh, right. I named the ant Tommy at this point of my observation, because that's what I do.)

 If I were a nicer person, I would have simply moved the stick for Tommy and made his life a whole lot easier, but out of curiosity, I didn't want to touch it. I watched Tommy hem and haw and struggle this way and that way. Tommy walked in one direction and the stick blocked it, so he walked another way, and again he just couldn't make any progress. He turned and sped up and slowed down. He wasn't getting even the slightest bit closer to that ant hill, but never once did he stop trying. 

I can't know for sure, but I'm quite certain the thoughts in Tommy's head weren't anything like:

  • " I'm just not any good."
  • " What if the other ants are noticing how stupid I look right now?"
  • " I'm going to be late! I'll never make it in time."
  • " This is impossible. Why even bother!"
  • " I should just quit. This will never work."

I'm pretty sure the only thought going through Tommy's head was: grass. ant hill. grass. ant hill. 

In that instant, I realized that my negative thoughts weren't productive. They weren't helping me in anyway, so I might as well just get on with it without all the fuss. And yes, I know that we all know this truth, but it took an ant at the top of a mountain to remind me and bring clarity back.

I made this "Rise Again" necklace to remind us to "try again", "rise again", to never stop trying, to stop worrying how close we are to our goal, because it really doesn't matter just as long as we don't stop.

Visit my CTR SHOP to order.

So the moral to this is: if you you ever find yourself in doubt or in troubled waters, don't meditate, simply find yourself an ant hill to observe quietly for a few minutes.

Honestly, Meg

P.S. I made mountains instead of an aunt as a necklace, because it just seemed like a better idea, ya know?

P.P.S. This is a Limited Edition item. I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep it on my site, but not for long...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thinking and Feeling

Now that the Curious Collection is available on my site, I just sit around and catch up on t.v. shows, eating Trader Joe's Cookie Butter on graham crackers all day. Not! (O.k., I do that sometimes.) 

The truth? I started designing my next collection the very next day I released the last one. Being a jewelry designer or a musician is not about having jewelry and music for sale, it's about always creating, always designing, always imagining a nothing into a something. 

Pip received the most love from you all, so I asked Vil to design some more jewelry like Pip for my next collection I plan to release in October. I'm thinking about calling my next collection "Never Grow Up", but it's still a working title. I loved J.M. Barrie's book, Peter Pan, as a child, so that name is sort of a tribute to Mr. Barrie. 

I love receiving emails from Vil. He always starts his emails out with "Ahoy Meg!" It makes me feel like we are both on an adventure, shouting to each other over dangerous waters from our ships, him peering through a telescope, and me waving my arms back and forth, a tiny, manic dot on the horizon. The ship sways violently. I stumble and try to steady myself on the damp wooden planks, "Hey Vil," I shout, "could you make sure that the new fox design comes in both copper and silver, and also the chain length needs to be at least 27 inches long. I don't want it to be too short." He orders some skallywags messing around with their rusty swords to shut up as he shouts back "What's that? The crock design?" I can barely hear him over the crashing waves. 

Yup, I think about this every time we exchange emails. Every. Time. 

The other day Nick and I drove to the farmer's market. I thought we were biking there so I wore a black baseball cap that has "Hawaii" embroidered in the center, globs sunscreen smeared on the freckles on cheeks, bright purple biking shorts, and some green nike sneakers with mis-matched socks. (Who has got the time these days?)

Needless to say, I was being a sullen baby in the car because I was stuck in a lifeless, soul-crushing box of metal instead flying through the streets with the sun on my skin and the breeze through my pony tail.

I looked like a frazzled, color-blind soccer mom for nothing.

To console the sour puss, Nick tried to engage me in a musical conversation. He played me a couple new bands he has been listening to back-to-back on the car stereo. 

"Which one do you like better?"

"Well, I don't really like either, but if I had to choose, I'd choose the second one." 

"Why? What are you basing your choice off of?"

I settled back into the cushiony chair, tapping my fingers on the side panel. We pulled into the Well's Fargo parking lot across the street from the market.

It wasn't the tempo of the songs, the singers' voices, the complexity of the music, or the skills of the musicians. It wasn't the choice of percussion or synths or strings, the flashy solos, or the tension in the bridge. 

"The feeling it gives me." 

"Hmm," he said, "I like that answer."

John Mayer said something along the lines of, "Don't write what you think, write what you feel. Those are two completely different things." 

When I'm busy designing a new necklace or writing a new song, I make sure not to choose a certain color of clay because I think it will look good or choose a melody because I think it will sound good, I make artistic decisions based on how I feel or how I hope you'll feel when you see, feel, or hear what I dreamed up. 

And I think this is a good way to make art. 

Honestly, Meg