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“The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”        

-Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Technically, I am not “supposed to” enjoy the spotlight. I am an introvert.

I used to  berate myself for not being a more glittery and gregarious performer…

…but all attempts to emulate such a creature were disastrous.  I eventually learned (and am still learning) to be a performer on my own terms, and to love the process of sharing music — which I have always felt driven to do.

I recently compiled a list of performance tips for a harp student of mine who was going to play publicly for the first time.  It started as a very practical list, which you will see below. But even after the lesson was long over, the list of advice kept growing in my mind and becoming increasingly philosophical (as you will also see below).

These tips, advice, and musings that I have collected might be helpful to other students and new performers.  Especially those who have similar temperaments to mine. In other words. Introverts.

It’s not that extroverts are unwelcome here! But I have doubts as to how much value they will find. Extroverts are naturally focused outward, on the world around them, and are likely to feel like their interaction with an audience is natural, easy, and even vital. They might not have much use for advice about connecting the inner life of a quiet mind to performing music publicly.

Still, even extroverts can have issues with public performance. As Susan Cain points out in the aforementioned book Quiet, social anxiety can certainly strike extroverts (e.g.- Barbara Streisand, paralyzed by stage fright). And conversely introverts can be very comfortable in social situations, as I am.

If you are a musician who feels brilliant while playing in your own kitchen, but inept and stiff when confronted by an audience, I hope you will benefit from some of my thoughts.  If you have ever sat down to play your harp for others and felt so disoriented by your audience that you looked at your own instrument and thought, “what the hell is this?” — perhaps my point of view will give you a few insights.

love to play my harp for people. But I do not love to “perform” in the classic sense of “ta da!  here I am! Me me me…” I spent a long time earlier in my life wishing that was me.  I know I am not alone in this. But let’s stop asking Santa for a unicorn and see what else he might have in his bag…

First, some practical advice for harp students and new performers:

1. Detach Experience from Place.

The physical area in which you practice is linked psychologically with the music you have learned in that spot. So a week or a few days before your performance, start moving the harp around to other rooms, other lighting, etc.  Move repeatedly and practice in those different spots. For the sake of self-confidence, move the harp back to your normal spot during your last practice before the performance.

2. Dress rehearsal.

Play for other people before playing for the “target audience.”  Enlist neighbors, close friends, the UPS driver — anyone you can get — to listen to you play a little. If you can do a “test performance” at a nursing home or for a group of friends, do it!   If you really cannot manage that, record yourself.  Hearing yourself on tape or on video will teach you all kinds of things about your weak spots.  And the act of recording will provide a kind of performance pressure that you can use to desensitize yourself.

3. Over prepare.

As a new performer, whatever you intend to present publicly has to be beyond ready.  Introverts especially must over-prepare their music, because we are not wired for external distraction during performance.  Our brains are actually, physically different from those of extroverts. (Read Introvert Advantage for more on this.) Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones, and can “wing it” with pieces that are not rock solid.  But most new performers should not depend on adrenaline or luck to pull them through a weak section.   Do not be like the Dilbert cartoon that shows his Project Timeline with a big sign in the middle reading “Insert miracle here.”

4. “Play like you practice, practice like you play.” – Sports maxim.

If it is an outdoor performance, practice a bit outdoors. A nighttime event, practice at night. Candlelit Christmas Eve service, turn off the lights, get a good stand light, and light some candles. A background music event, turn on the TV and the radio to simulate distraction.  Ask a friend to distract you with an ill-timed question, by pretending to talk about you within earshot, or by singing along.  Practice blocking it all out.

5. Performance day - practical tips.

  • No miniskirts. “Miniskirt” for a harpist is defined as anything above the middle of your shin. Seriously. Either go long or go with pants. You do not want to provide entertainment unrelated to the music, and this is no time to ride side-saddle.
  • Nails short (unless you play wire-strung) and clean.  No nail polish unless you are used to seeing it there when you practice. No jewelry unless you’ve practiced successfully in it.
  • Know the floor you’ll be seeing behind your strings. If it will be white, beige, or color-patterned, or if you are not sure, bring a black cloth to lay down so you can see your strings.
  • Bring a zip lock baggie with a damp (not soaking!) wash cloth to clean your hands between pieces. You may need a dry one too, but something about hand sweat is very sticky when plucking strings, even after drying. It’s nice to have a way to clean your hands during longer sets.
  • Before playing, wash and/or soak your hands in very warm (not hot) water if you can. Many public bathrooms do not provide warm water, so consider bringing some in a thermos. Hands immersed in warm water will respond much like they do to a physical warm up on the harp: capillaries open up, finger feel nimble, skin is softer – producing better tone.
  • If you have to wait on or near a stage (in other words, out where people can see you), use the waiting time to open and close the fingers flat to the palm, slowly and deliberately, to keep them limber.
  • Micropore paper tape: use a small piece to hold rings in place if you have floppy rings. It can also be used to cover small cuts or hang nails if they are not on the string contact spot.

The Mind on Stage

We are artists, but we cannot go look at our paintings on the eve of the gallery opening to reassure ourselves that, indeed, we really do have a lovely body of work.  We see only our own hands, and they are empty. We know our brain is full of music, but the doubts and fears can block our view.  Let us look at some ways to cope with the mental aspects of performing.

In some situations (such as background music performance), you can begin with some improvisation in the key of your first piece as an introduction to the piece. Improvisation helps the mind feel control and a sense of ownership. As a new performer, improvisation can help you avoid feeling like you are walking on stage to take a test, or face an enemy, or fall into deep water. But always practice improvising at home. It sounds like a contradiction: do something completely new, but practice it first. The point is to feel comfortable just “doodling around” on your harp so you can do it in performance.

It is crucial that you practice covering “mistakes” during your regular practice!  If you play a wrong note, or forget to move a pedal or lever, or you just realize you went to the “B” part too soon — it is a normal part of playing live music. We are so accustomed to the perfection of recorded music. But many “takes” and much patching takes place in the studio to clean up every track. The late Lynne Palmer, an extraordinary musician with a career spanning many decades, told me she could count the number of truly perfect performances in her life on one hand. That means she played hundred of times with flaws. And you will too.

How do we live with flaws? By dedicating a certain amount of practice to “covering.” If you always stop and fix mistakes in practice, you will never learn to cover. Use some of your practice every day to consciously, deliberately, continue playing past mistakes, and see what your amazing brain can come up with to get you back on track. 

When you make a mistake, preserve the ongoing rhythm of the piece – do not pause.  Keep playing something! Practice this. It really does come more naturally on stage if you have been doing it at home. Be very aware of your key signature and preserve that tonality.  Identify “repair points” in the music, where you can go if there is a total “train wreck” and you need to just time-warp to another spot.

When I was in a high school play, I had to stand on a ladder back stage and open a window in an artificial wall, facing the audience, and deliver a single line. In true introvert fashion, I opened my window, saw the audience, and went completely blank. Someone taped the play, in which I saw my head flop forward – chin to chest (was I fainting?), then jerk up as I delivered a different line from later in the script. My eyes at that moment looked insane. I have no memory of how I got out of that. I have no memory of thinking or problem solving. That is not how the brain works when it is rescuing you! The answer comes from a place that speaks no words and has no logic. No one wants an experience like this – for years I cringed at the recollection – but if you have one, believe in your brain and trust that it will bail you out somehow.

Let us leave thoughts of train wrecks and fainting and now discuss what will happen, and that which we go forth to do…

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  -Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems.

Your music is art-in-the-moment. Why are you there, if not to spend a part of your wild and precious life sharing music? “Well, it seemed like a good idea back in March to play at my sister’s wedding, but now…”  Perhaps you need to reach back and recreate that mindset, that the wedding is in four months, not four minutes.  If you can, this bit of mental gymnastics might calm you considerably.

But as an introvert, I believe the wild and precious moment is also an intimate one. As much as I need my audience to give life to my playing, pulling that harp back onto my shoulder is like putting a call on hold.  They no longer matter, temporarily.

I realize this is not standard protocol, and certainly not how an extrovert would handle an audience.  Advice from that quarter might ask you to view your audience as friends, or as naked — or any number of mental tricks to minimize their distraction. For me, I know after years of experimenting that I must view them not at all. Not once I begin playing.

The second I start thinking about my audience, or how I look to them (“smile!”) — the second my attention strays from the music, I will fall. Skip a beat, miss a note, do something that requires me to dig out my “covering” skills.  So why not just get inside your music and stay there?

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” -Sir Winston Churchill

Resist the urge to think of the next section, or the next song, or even what notes are coming up in a few seconds (unless and only unless that’s how you always practiced it, with the mental experience of looking ahead). Your brain is going to experience the music sequentially, and all your fabulous muscle memory goes straight out the window if you engage in frontal lobe debates over whether the next measure begins on D or D#. Don’t do it! If you have doubts about an upcoming note, follow the music in your head and let your fingers take you there. Think about bowls of fruit or horses in a meadow if you must, but do not question “while the ball is in play.”

Never say “sorry” if you make a mistake. That takes your head out of the music and into the eyes of your audience. I guess if you feel sorry you can apologize mentally to the music itself – anything to stay focused on the music.  For all you know, people may not have even heard the flaw, and if they did it was not the Gong of Judgement that you experienced in your own ears.

To get inside your music, let your imagination conjure up places, images, and feelings as you play. Reach for, express, and be conscious of every color in the music, its dynamics, rhythms, imagery and tones. Do this in practice every day so that performance is not different, only richer.

This has been quite a difficult post to write. I feel a responsibility to convey all that I’ve learned about performing, which is impossible.  If you have further insights, please leave a comment.  And if you want to read my ongoing analysis of how an introvert performs music, I will be creating a new category for blogging about this in the future: “Performance experiences.”

Follow up

Did you know that it kinda hurts if you walk around grinning for too long?  Oh well. I can take it.

Things move fast in L.A.  Last week I blogged about Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast, and today I am on the show!  http://vinnietortorich.com/2013/10/angriest-trainer-191-cynthia-kuni-bs-fitness-devices/

That’s two separate topics, by the way: 1) cynthia-kuni and 2) bs-fitness-devices. I am the last person you’d want to interview about bs fitness devices, unless you just want to listen to growling.

It was a great experience — so much fun!  Vinnie and Anna are hilarious and they were both so nice.  I am really better at writing than speaking, so I am thrilled that I did not (I think) say anything stupid.  I enjoyed their questions, their banter, Anna’s Bart Simpson Squirrel imitation, and their sincere interest in my little life.  I had a blast!

As promised, part of my follow-up is to recommend Vinnie Tortorich’s book, Fitness Confidential.  A combination of fitness wisdom and autobiography, it is a fun and informative read. Also, I pretty much love any book that makes me laugh out loud.  Fitness Confidential is very different from other fitness books because Vinnie Tortorich is so different. The life he has led and his experiences are unlike anyone else.  Get the book!  :)

 

For anyone who noticed I was preparing for a marathon all summer, I have a follow-up on that too: “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  I reported in September that my long runs were not going very well, and that I thought it might be the unusual heat we’ve had this summer.   A week later a had a pretty horrible long run in fairly cool conditions.  I am insanely optimistic sometimes, but I am not insane.

Facing reality, I switched to the Half Marathon.  That was the slowest half I have ever run, which made me think, “good call.”  On the other hand, I ran hard, and did very well from an Effort point of view. I passed runners continuously after mile 5 and pushed myself hard enough to still be sore today, three days later.  My two main requirements for an event are 1) have fun and 2) finish strong (on the same day I started).  Check, check.

I now have a special message from the part of my brain that is dedicated to full-time worrying.  Someone is going to read about my running “problem,” or hear me discuss it on Vinnie’s podcast, and they are going to say, “Oh, see? You lose the carbs and your endurance falls apart.”  That is what we call a Belief Based Solely On Wishing.  I have been low-carb for much longer than I have been experiencing a problem.  There is too much personal information for me to try to express what I think is happening, so let me just share my last six marathon finish times with you.   Eating gels and sugar:   4:38,  4:48,   4:21.  Eating nothing:  4:21,   4:25,   4:21.  I believe this is the part where Vinnie would say, “So go f—  ”  I mean, “Have a nice day.”

Next up, Seattle Marathon?  I might be ready, I might not.  But my half-m gave me a lot of motivation and Vinnie & Anna inspire me and keep me smiling.

We interrupt our regular Harpist’s Output of Sweetness & Light to bring you:

  • explicit language
  • unpleasant truths about what you probably ate for breakfast
  • an unpopular point of view on exercise
  • stuff I like about one guy who is saying what I already knew but with more blushing (me, not him)
  • lots of bullet point lists, exclamation points and italics! Sound fun? Let’s go!

The Background:  I’m not sure I have ever mentioned this, but I have strong opinions about what I eat.  I switched to the Paleo Diet in 2006 and added low-carb to it a couple of years after that.  The benefits I have experienced from this switch could take up an entire post. “Eat this way!” is at the top of the list of things I would tell my 18 year old self if I could go back in time.

I will admit that I have not been completely faithful, because you do not walk away from decades of consuming something more addictive than cocaine overnight.  I struggle. I fall and get up again. But I have no doubts.  Like Gary Taubes says, “Just because it took me 19 years to give up smoking doesn’t mean the body ‘needs’ cigarettes.”

The Discovery: So there I was, Low-Carb Paleo True Believer, running down the street while listening to podcasts, and I hear this guy, Vinnie Tortorich being interviewed.  To be honest, my first reaction was not positive. His macho-Italian voice made me think unkind thoughts.  But everything he said was brilliant and I soon shed the prejudice.

Another day, another run, another interview on a different podcast I like – there he is again!  This time I’m listening well right from the start… more good advice and sound reasoning.  Now, I spend a lot of hours running (yes, without sugar), and I am always interested in new books or podcasts to occupy my mind.  That afternoon I subscribed to Vinnie’s podcast and downloaded a number of the older episodes as well.

Before I continue, if you are sensitive to bad language, crude and vulgar jokes or you’re just easily offended in general, this is not a show you will enjoy. Or a blog post for that matter.  Don’t apologize; I respect your sensibilities and often feel that way myself.  Stick with Jimmy Moore or Robb Wolf  and you will get a lot of the same information without the hot sauce.

I often want to swear and tell people off myself.  But I was raised to be a lady.  By the way, it is said that one of the foulest mouths belonged to one of the world’s finest harpists ever, Alice Chalifoux.  I sat across from her during lunch at a conference once and heard her refer to a group of people as “those bastards.” Mild, for her I’m told. She was in her 80s at the time.

Getting mad: Vinnie (may I call you Vinnie, Mr. Tortorich?) is  “American’s Angriest Trainer.”  He calls himself that because “your good intentions have been stolen from you.” So true.  Ask me about an entire year spent being hungry every day on Weight Watchers, long ago.  Or the fat I gained trying to eat like Ornish.  Or the “cheat foods” I tried to work off by running.  I had good intentions too.

Vinnie rants a lot.  Honestly, I love the rants…  Biggest Loser starvation nonsense, clueless “trainers” at gyms, the tip jars at Starbucks, and whatever pisses him off — I love it.  The INTJ in me craves truth and justice, and I sometimes wish I could say “go fuck yourself!” like Vinnie does, but for the aforementioned lady-like upbringing.   Vicarious venting, that’s what it is.

Anna: Anna Vocino, Vinnie’s cohost,  gets me laughing so hard with her vocal impressions (she does a great Paula Deen).  She contributes in so many ways, keeps Vinnie on track (or tries to), and looks up information on the fly during their discussions.  And how cool is it that her name is “Vocino?” Doesn’t that mean “shout” in Italian? Go, Anna!

Content: Vinnie knows his stuff — except for the moments when Anna has to look it up.  Just kidding – he is a well-educated man and has decades of experience coaching people.  But unlike 99.9% of the coaches you meet, he questioned the low-fat, low-calorie paradigm, that monster born of the McGovern commission’s decision to put wheat profits above human health in the early 70s.  Vinnie was taught that dogma, but he eventually questioned it, and he embraced an unpopular truth – with bared teeth.  There is a great value in the polite, scientific voices you will see in my bibliography, but Vinnie is the first bulldog, in-your-face, you-wanna-piece-of-me? warrior for the cause.  Bravo.

By the way, if you are scratching your head over that reference to McGovern, take a moment to watch this:

Here are some of the things you will learn about on Vinnie’s show.  If you just want read about these things without the vitriol, see the bibliography at the end of this post.

  • Successful weight loss will come from 95% diet, 5% exercise.
  • Avoid sugar and avoid grains. (Personally I also avoid potatoes, legumes and other high-carb foods, but most people will experience a dramatic change in their health if they only do these 2 things.)
  • “Put life into living.”  Occasion treats will not harm you if they are really occasional.  Total deprivation doesn’t work well for most people.
  • You cannot undo the damage of whack-load of sugar with an hour or two at the gym. Hormones (insulin, leptin, ghrelin) rule.
  • Cutting carbs is important, but what people really have a hard time accepting is increasing the fat in their diets.  Not seed oils.  Olive oil and saturated fat (especially from pastured animals) are good for you.  The cholesterol theory of heart disease is founded on politics and economics, not science.
  • There are no fitness shortcuts.  No gadgets, no 20-min-a-week programs, no pills that will make a lasting difference to your fitness.
  • Sometimes people aren’t right about fitness. They just seem right because they are young, or “naturally thin.” Ask yourself whom they have helped and how long the help lasted.
  • There are right and wrong reasons to exercise.  Which reason you choose is going to determine your success.
  • Juice is worse than soda. Don’t make it, don’t buy it, don’t drink it.
  • Skinny does not equal healthy.
  • Getting older is no excuse for poor fitness.
  • A “cheat day” is a bad idea, if you haven’t already figured that out.
  • Olive oil, yes. Energy gels, no.
  • A very small percentage of the population can sustain an extremely-low-calorie diet for life. Very small.

Connections:  Vinnie, on the off chance you ever read this, I want to explain the real reason I love your show (besides the ranting) and eventually came to feel like you were a close personal friend: connections.  (Yes, more bullet points!)

  • Los Angeles – I love hearing you mention places in LA, around where I grew up. Not that I ever want to live there again!
  • You are an endurance athlete. I’m not sure if you know this, but among the Paleo-diet crowd there is sometimes a bit of an anti-cardio attitude.  They call it “chronic cardio” and blame various health issues on running, while completely ignoring the fact that the running culture is a sugar culture.  Although you are not advocating the Paleo diet, what you say is pretty close, and I am always so happy to see those two worlds “collide.”
  • You are over 50! I am over 50!  [Insert secret handshake here.]   How many role models can I look to for inspiration, when it comes to staying fit and feeling younger than my years? Damn few.
  • Ok, this one is just jaw dropping to me.  You talked about Dr. Sarno’s book on your show.  Nobody talks about Dr. Sarno!  I even stopped mentioning him to people because I got tired of being unjustly pitied as some kind of quack-follower.  Someday I’m going to write a blog post about my experience with TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), but for now let me just say that this information saved my running and changed my life.  It is real and true.  I am living proof.
  • You are friends with Genie Francis!   No, I am not also friends with Genie Francis.  But long ago, for a short time in my life, I was her double.  I lived in West Hollywood, and I could not go anywhere without someone asking me for an autograph.  In spite of repeated correction, the two elderly Russian women next door ambushed me almost every time I came out of my apartment. They would take my hands and pat them and gaze at me, smiling, muttering to each other in Russian.  “I’m not Genie Francis.”  “Yah, yah…”

Here are some pictures. You be the judge. And tell Genie “Hi” from me.

A younger me, looking like Genie Francis

A younger me, looking like Genie Francis

Young Genie Francis, looking like me

Young Genie Francis, looking like me

You can find Vinnie’s podcast on iTunes under “Vinnie Tortorich”, or at his website: www.vinnietortorich.com

Almost forgot the promised bibliography!  I have decided to borrow one, which you will find here, because 1) it has a lot of the books I would have listed, and 2) he has a really cool site you ought to see.   The one book missing from his list that I would add is Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.

Five beautiful things

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Alice in Wonderland.

I have little use for the impossible, being a very practical sort of person. And six is a difficult number when what you are counting might flutter by only every 15 minutes or so, over the course of hours.

So I count Five Beautiful Things sometimes. Mostly, I count them when I am running.  It is a marvelous distraction from ugly things (trash), annoying things (bad drivers, off-leash dogs), and discouraging things (“When will this summer heat ever end?”).

Wow. This really makes me sound like a new-age, lavender scented, dance-in-the-meadows kind of dreamer. Which I am not.  I like to rant and I hold grudges. I get very cranky about all kinds of things. Sometimes I laugh out loud at perverse or dark humor.  (To wit, have you listened to Welcome To Nightvale? It’s Twilight Zone meets Monty Python. So funny. )

But I have a very restless mind, and sometimes it likes the challenge of a counting game.  Moreover, there is a sort possessive urge in me to put things on lists.  For instance, if I list:  mist in a forest, orange tabby cat sitting on a white fence, Mt. Si with new snow, trellis with vines, pink cloud… I feel like I own them in a way.   And dammit, it feels nice. Who couldn’t use a little more Nice in their lives?

Pink Cloud

Number 5, a pink cloud.

UPDATES

Harp at the Black Dog went really well.  Knowing I was playing for a cause energized me and changed the way I was playing.  If you live in the area, I’ll be there every 2nd Sunday, 10:30-noon to raise money for animal rescue and shelter.

Fundraiser at The Black Dog

 

Knitting – Feels like I’m stuck in the mud.  I make progress, but there are too many projects on the needles! (Three cardigans, two pair socks, and a lace shawl.)  Unable (or unwilling) to set some aside and just finish a project, I rotate through them, changing every week.  Never again, Cynthia!  Bad, bad, bad!  Limits and boundaries are your friend! Here it is in writing in case I need to refer back: ONE stockinette project, ONE lace, texture or color-work project, and ONE pair of socks. That’s what I can handle.  Sheesh, what was I thinking?

Running – In spite of the hottest, most humid summer I can remember as a runner, I have stuck to my marathon plan fairly closely. I am not 100% sure that has been a healthy thing to do.  There have been long runs when I really felt ill from the heat but forced myself to finish. I hate that, because I cannot get a good idea of my real fitness when I feel that bad.  My last really long run before Marathon Day is this weekend, then we’ll see in two weeks. I might really be in miserable shape, or I might find it was all an illusion if the weather cools off on race day.

 

 

Donkey tears

As some of you will recall, I have been playing for brunch at The Black Dog cafe in Snoqualmie on second Sundays this summer.  (The last one scheduled is Sept. 8, but I hope to continue on after that. Please Like me on Facebook with the widget on the right to get updates.)   It is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which to play, and I enjoy it very much.

The Black Dog is more than a cafe, and more than a music/theater venue.  There is always a variety of art, antiques and crafts to peruse and to buy, and always a friendly, talk-to-the-folks-at-the-next-table kind of atmosphere.

IMG_2849

Occasionally it gets quiet and slow…

Slow moment

At other times, I wonder if I can be heard above the happy sounds of food and friends.

It is so relaxed and laid back at The Black Dog that I have to force myself to get into proper clothing (not pj’s and tshirts, Cynthia!), and maybe even do my hair.  Which, it turns out, is hopeless. The Black Dog is a hip, hap’nin kind of place, but I seem incapable of looking even remotely hip and always seem to end up looking more like Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

Mary Ann

Despite groovy earrings and leopard skin dress, just not hip.

Chronically unhip

Despite cool earrings, I arrive at the Black Dog looking typically un-hip.

But I don’t play the Black Dog to feel like I could look good in leather. Nor do I play the Black Dog for the money, which is minimal. I play there because I love the musical freedom and the warm reception.  (And the coffee.)  Last week as I looked over at the little tip jar between tunes,  I thought, “I don’t need that.” And then I thought about my true reasons for playing there and decided to add one more.

Once upon a time there was an innocent creature, a donkey named Pasado, who was hurt, and hurt, and hurt some more until he died.  Do you remember?   I cried when it happened and have cried over it many times since.  Just writing about it, I am crying now.  That unfathomable event summed up the worst of humanity.  The sanctuary that was created in response to it sums up the best of humanity.

Pasado's Safe Haven Sanctuary

When I was a little girl, our father died and our mother went to work while we were in school. Working moms were not as common back then.  During the day, whenever I was not at school, I remember feeling like there was not a soul on earth who would protect me if I needed it.  I remember every danger, every close call, and a few incidents where I did not escape harm. A psychologist might stroke her chin and theorize that my tears for Pasado are tears for my own vulnerable young self.  Surely there is some truth to that.  But I survived and grew strong whereas Pasado did not.

Starting with my next visit on September 8, 100% of the proceeds from my music at The Black Dog will be sent to Pasado’s Safe Haven animal sanctuary.  I really hope you will come to The Black Dog on a second Sunday morning, enjoy the food and some harp music, and leave a few bucks in the jar for animal rescue.   Thank you!

harp at The Black Dog

Are we done yet?

I cannot believe it is only the beginning of August.  I think I might wonder at this every year, but it might be like childbirth — you just forget.

With all the lovely grey (no sarcasm – I really like it) that is our Normal Weather, it just seems impossible that a whole month of sunshine was just the beginning of summer, and that we have more to come.  Such weather was also a metaphor for busy times in July…  we have a lot more summer to go!

Here are some photo highlights from the past month….

 

Mt. Rainier from Snoqualmie neighborhood. One clear day after another…. is this my world?

One of many abandoned train tunnels on the Iron Goat Trail. By going both directions on the trail and doubling back, we got 14 miles out of it.

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Mr. K was awesome – though not a runner these days, he jogged-with-walk-breaks the whole 14 miles with me, even after falling and scraping up his elbow and leg. You can see the abrasion in this picture.

 

I enjoyed participating in the “Harper’s Circle” at the Enumclaw Highland Games, the one time/place all month where I actually got cold. (You can see me shivering on the far left in the picture.) It was so much fun that I think I will do more of these next summer (we have several Scottish Highland Games in this area), but I will bring along some good Scottish wool! I had such a cute outfit on too – and had to cover it all with one of my husband’s “emergency sweatshirts” from the back of his car. Sigh.

 

 

In the midst of having family visitors from out of town, we scrambled to get a couple of beds ready for our close friends who live a stone’s throw from the Mt. Si fire that broke out in late July. It was a close call, but they were able to stay in their home after all.

 

 

I brought my smaller harp on a 2 day getaway to The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth WA. One of the most peaceful spots on earth.

 

There are two videos up this week on YouTube, and I hope to post more in the next couple of weeks.  Please subscribe to my channel, HarpMyDay, if you would like to see updates.

You have probably heard it before… Which weighs more, a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?  This trick question (a ton is a ton, so they weigh equally) takes on a grim angle when it is a metaphor for life.  All those light, fluffy, snow-white obligations can pile up fast, and before you know it you are wishing you had just picked one plain old brick to carry on your shoulders.

It is wedding season, and we are feeling it!  Brides, I know some of you are contemplating elopement (and possibly subsequent life as a hermit) about now, but hang in there!  Take some time to relax every day and try to laugh as much as possible.  Maybe this will help:

 

My ton of feathers this month includes 1) a completely new set of strings (new brand, for me) on my Celtic harp that are not working out as expected – and of course my contact at the company who is helping me figure it out has gone to Scotland for a two weeks. And  2) we are replacing the carpet in my harp studio with a wood-laminate floor. All the furniture and harps have to be moved out and physical chaos reigns. Thank goodness it’s temporary.

 

In running news

I continue to build mileage for my fall marathon.  Most programs take a runner up to 20 miles, but I learned long ago that I need more than that.  In fact, I prefer to keep my 20 milers going year-round, and increase to 22, 23, and 24 in the last 6 weeks of training.  Last week, as the weather was heating up I headed out for my 20 miler.  I knew it would be tough; I don’t “do heat.”  I’m lucky if I can avoid getting nauseous while running when the mercury goes over 70F.

So I was darn proud to be chugging along just fine — albeit slowly — in 75F and bright sunshine, 10 miles from home.  Only it wasn’t 10 miles.  Thank you, Hot Weather, for turning the part of my brain that does math into mush.  I mis-calculated my route and ended up with 21.3 miles total, and an excuse to spend the rest of the day on my…

www.someecards.com

 

 

Good luck with all your summer plans, bridal or other, and watch out for those feathers!

White peacock

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