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Such an interesting experience last night at the HAAAA mixer. I made a bit of a “melodrama” big deal out of preparing myself – bracing myself, really – for the event, since I had a chockload of memories from previous times in my life when I had allowed these events to “trigger” my hot buttons. I used to have complaint festivals afterwards for days and days with anyone who would listen!

So how did it go last night?

Not a big deal. Really neutral for me, neither terribly interesting nor terribly annoying. It was just fine. Some might say, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” This was definitely not a “hell yes” kind of event. I did meet the real-life Jeff Yang, founding editor of A Magazine, one of the first glossy magazines designed for hip young Asian Americans back in the 1990s. It was like bringing back ancient history for him, since he’s now moved on to more mainstream things, working for a consumer trend market research firm and writing a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. I tried to convey to him a bit of the hero status he has in my mind, but it was obviously way beyond him.

Anyway, perhaps the greater value came from learning how much I truly longed to play my violin at the open mic I was missing in order to attend the event. I happily sped home on the 101, noting that I could make it home in time to get my violin, get to Angelica’s Bistro, and still have about an hour of the show to go. I was totally filled with excitement when I made this video just outside the entrance to Angelica’s.

Turns out the list was so full of sign-ups we didn’t finish until about 11pm, with no room to fit me in! I enjoyed the familiar faces, the ambience, and the feeling of belonging that I get from just being at our open mic. Chalk it up as another one of life’s pleasant surprises!

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I’ve written here before about “The Empty Elevator“. It’s what Martha Beck calls that period of time during your change cycle when you know you’ve really started to change. All of a sudden, the people who used to surround you and support your in your old ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to life begin to disappear. Some of them decide they don’t approve of you anymore (which really means they’re not ready to look at the part of themselves you’ve left behind in your decision to change). Some of them you find you just don’t want to interact with anymore. They no longer bring you the energy you desire to live from.

It’s a tough place to be in. You need real strength and courage to feel totally OK with yourself as you make changes from within, and then, almost like an observer, you watch the external elements of your life begin to dissolve and change as well. Starting in January, I’ve watched almost every existing relationship in my life begin to transform. Some of these people went away without any comment. Others fought kicking and screaming. Still others – the ones who truly love me – have been alternately approaching and avoiding me in an attempt to understand me. It’s been interesting to watch how the people who are closest to me have tended to want to rescue me from myself. I’ve interpreted this to mean that they don’t believe in my own ability to form desires and go after them. In reality I have no idea what their intention is, other than to make things OK in their definition of the word “OK”.

I bought two Jennifer Dahl charms this weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday night I continued my practice of saying “Yes” to life. I showed up at a Jazz Jam that someone invited me to after hearing me play at my gig last Friday with Randy Bales’ Chinese Melodrama.


I’ll always remember something said by the keyboardist who was in the group before I went on. Someone asked if he was disappointed in his performance. He answered immediately, “I’m never disappointed with a performance. I know it can always be improved, but I’m never disappointed. Especially when I get to play on a Steinway! How could that be disappointing?”

What an example of gratitude and acknowledgment of himself!

I was a little nervous showing up at something called  “Jazz Jam”, since I was carrying around the belief that “I don’t know how to play jazz”. It seemed to me to be a separate language, an insular club open only to members, and a totally separate skill set that I don’t have.

Funny how our beliefs are reflected back to us…

I sat down to watch the first group play, and Carl, the bass player who was to be in my group later in the evening sat down next to me. “So, do you play in the symphonies locally?” (He had heard that I was “classically trained”.)

“No,” I replied.

“And you’ve never played jazz before?”

“No,” I said.

“Well, I know how terrified most classical musicians are of improvising.” Read the rest of this entry »

“The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of your attention.”

My teacher, Silvia Nakkach, said this to us on several occasions throughout the past year at CIIS, during our journey of spiritual transformation through sound voice and music. It wasn’t until very recently that I started to appreciate the meaning behind these words, and how they applied not only to my life, but to every human being.

Have your ever stopped to consider, “What are you listening to?”

Today, two different coaching practice partners (yes, on the same day!) described to me their experience with noticing what they were listening to. I had sent a new tool several weeks ago to the first buddy – my Daily Sound Journal. The exercise was to choose a day in which you would decide to notice the sounds you hear, and to note your bodily reactions as well as thoughts that arise in response to the sounds.

I hadn’t gotten feedback from her until today, when she told me that as she consciously listened to the sounds she was hearing throughout a given day, she began to notice that there was very little silence in her days, and that she had very little choice over the sounds that she was listening to. This prompted her to make some immediate changes in her life that involved creating specific times of silence in each day, and being more proactive about choosing music to download for herself rather than accepting whatever was playing on the radio, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

With the wonders of technology, you can listen and watch live streaming video from my performance tonight, Friday, June 25, at 7PM Pacific (10PM Eastern), without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Visit the following link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sf-bay-area-sounds

I will be playing improvised violin music with Randy Bales (vocal, guitar), and Cathy Luo (bass, percussion) starting at 7PM. Later, the amazing Shawn Evans Band will take the stage. These are an amazing group of Bay Area musicians that have become part of my circle as I journey into uncharted territory with my music.

Here’s a clip of Randy and me, for a taste of the kind of music we’re playing:

This blog got its start after the first day of my program in Sound Voice & Music Healing at California Institute of Integral Studies. Here I am now, having finished that program, but with this blog (and my main website/business, The Music Within Us) going stronger than ever and flowing with creative ideas.

It seems only fitting that I include video of my final presentation at CIIS, which I mostly improvised, having flown into SFO at 2AM that morning. Both my Martha Beck Life Coach Training and my Sound Voice & Music Healing program came to their conclusion the same weekend! Like so many things this year, I was pulled in two different directions, and I somehow managed to make both things work.

Here are two videos of my 15 minute presentation, and some photos of the weekend! One chapter ends, and the journey continues…

Part Two (with audio of my improvised violin recording): Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to really see what’s going on in our lives. This has been the value of life coaching for me – having a check-in partner who will not let me get away with breaking commitments I’ve made to myself; having an opportunity to hear myself speak and deciding whether I’ve been open with the truth in my heart; tracking my growth and progress over time, in ways that might not be measurable to most observers of purely material layers.

The metaphor tool is a favorite in the Martha Beck Life Coaching armamentarium. It asks the client to compare an object or an animal to a particular dilemma or feeling in their lives, to describe it and relate to it.

This morning, a friend commented on my keychain, seeing it for the first time. I looked at the massive ball of keychains and keys, and said, “Yeah, I’m carrying around a lot, aren’t I?” Suddenly I noticed that I had the key to a non-existent mailbox, another key to something I didn’t even know I owned, and a membership card to a gym where I no longer was a member. Each day, I carried these around in my hand, in my purse, hanging from the ignition in my car. Extra weight I didn’t need! I came home and took off the mailbox key and the membership card. Instantly I felt a zing of liberation. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing my mind and body for my first live acoustic rock performance experience tonight as part of a trio. Beautiful warm weather here in northern California, and this morning I read these words from Iyanla Vanzant:

I have learned to look at my life as an observer. I stand back, look at what happened, and focus my attention on the place where the wound was inflicted. I do not look at who inflicted the wound or how it was inflicted. That it was inflicted is the essence of healing. Find what your wound is, where the wound is being played out in your life, and heal it. Only by doing the work on ourselves that is required to heal mental, emotional, and psychological wounds can we ever hope to be whole in our spirits. I chose to do the healing work because I didn’t want to be mad anymore. I didn’t want to cry anymore. I wanted to heal so that I would have something to celebrate – myself.

from Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant

I felt deep in my soul a renewed calling that I must tell my story. Not just for myself, but for others. Not just this part of the story, but my whole story. It’s all I’ve been trying to do, and now I know it needs to be done. Read the rest of this entry »

Last night was the final Tuesday evening class for our cohort at CIIS. Next week will be the final Monday morning call for our Martha Beck Life Coach Training. The end of the training period is nearing. And I’m left feeling, “Just as I’m starting to get the hang of this and it’s all sinking in, it’s over!”

Of course, this is just the beginning. That’s what feels so delicious about it. At the same time, I want more. I want the community to continue, the relationships to deepen, the sharing to become even richer.

At other times when I’ve approached a graduation from school, I thought, “Yay! I’m done!”. This is the first time in my life where I’ve actually wanted the learning to continue. It’s not that I long for a student’s life. I actually am looking forward to putting this knowledge into practice in the real world. I’m eager to find ways to share what I’ve experienced and to be an example of transformation for others to witness. Read the rest of this entry »

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