Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stick around for joy.

This weekend, I had an awesome rehearsal, slept 20 hours, ran five miles, made a lasagna, and failed to find anything to wear for the recital I'm doing next week.

I also memorized a bunch of Norwegian. I do a lot of mental practicing, which is something I cannot advocate enough for musicians and anyone else who's preparing for something. There's an article about this very thing over here--about measurable physiological and psychological responses that happen when athletes or musicians imagine a task, and the different ways in which imagery and mental practice can help performance. This is particularly important for singers, who cannot physically practice for several hours a day--we can still put in plenty of time doing other things, and mentally putting ourselves through the paces of a performance goes a long way toward ensuring that we'll be able to perform the way we want to in high-stress situations.

I love this kind of stuff because it goes right along with my prevailing interest in creating and sustaining a good mindset, of framing reality the way I want to. I would like it even if it were just froufy new age bullshit, but I like it even more because it's based on actual science--on the brain's proven ability to pattern moods and processes.

Today's Unitarian special idea was Intentional Joy. You see how this all fits together?

Welcome Morning
There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry 'hello there, Anne'

each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean, though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
to a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So, while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter in the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.
--Anne Sexton

PS: Hillary Clinton's voice is so thrashed, I just want to sit her down and give her some voice therapy.


  1. I wonder if the mental practicing can help my voice not quiver when I speak in public. I've been trying to figure out a way to prepare for my next screening since. I'll check the article and take any other advice you may have.

    Also, I love the A.S. poem. I'm unusually anxious this week and having trouble with perspective, so this was helpful to rein myself in. Again, I'm enjoying riding the coattails of your personal friggin' growth.

  2. Oh shoot! I forgot that tag. But then it could go on every single one of my posts, probably.

    Do you physically practice your public speaking, or just go over notes in your head? I've found that even when I want to seem casual and off-the-cuff while speaking in public, practicing that--aloud, not necessarily for anyone else, but aloud--is a good idea. Plus the deep breathing and focusing recommendations in the article would probably help.

    My brother in law, who is a poet, doesn't seem nervous when he reads, but he's always out of breath, like he just ran a mile up to the podium. The body plays tricks. The good news is that the brain can be trained.

  3. I also want to give Hillary Clinton voice therapy. Geez!

  4. "Chapel of eggs". I love it.