What’s Your Intention?

As I recently wrote in an earlier blogpost, I’ve set up a fall practice challenge. Beginning this Sunday through December 15, my students (hopefully) will submit an online practice record regarding their practice habits for the week. (Please note that I’ve amended the form to correspond to the practice challenge.) The person who submits the most amount of practice time will receive a lovely binder that can be used for lessons or as an audition book. I will set it up and present it to the lucky recipient at the studio recital at Springwell Retirement Community on December 18 (6:30pm).

But what is the point of doing this, other than a valuable prize? Why should you practice regularly? And what do you want to accomplish this semester, in your lessons and in your practicing?

In yoga, in mindfulness, and even in entrepreneurship, it is very trendy to speak of setting an intention rather than a goal. Goals tend to be in the future, general or specific, short-term or long-term. Your goals might be:

  1. A role in the musical
  2. A solo in choir
  3. To be a star!
  4. To connect to my breath more consistently
  5. To open up my upper register at F5, where I tend to pinch
  6. To be more expressive, no matter what language in which I sing
  7. To win that binder at the December recital

But your intention has to do with today. What is your intention? What is it that you’re going to accomplish today, in your practice session?

  • Perhaps your intention for this particular practice session will be openness. Perhaps you’ll choose to manifest this by singing all your exercises and repertoire with a released and quiet inhalation.
  • Perhaps your intention will be freedom. And perhaps you’ll choose to manifest that intention by drawing awareness to your jaw and tongue.
  • Perhaps your intention will be communication. Maybe your manifestation of that will be to analyze the words and poetry, to create an inner monologue, and to take some risks with interpretation.

Intention can help you set goals. Maybe you’re going to set a goal for that day, but first you might want to try an intention.

On or about November 7, I will write another blog to address what to do if you’re practicing regularly and you don’t feel like anything is changing.

This Small Room

 

When I was growing up, I lived in a small 3 bedroom ranch house. We had one bathroom, two good sized bedrooms (although neither was particularly large) and a third bedroom which we called the small room.

Until I went to college, I had one of the bigger bedrooms and my sister (who was 8 years younger) had the small room. I commuted to college the first year and then moved to the dorms for my second and third year, coming home most weekends to work, since school was only five miles down the road.

One day during summer break, I came home from going to the Wisconsin State Fair with my friends to find that my sister had moved into my room and that all my things had been put into the small room. I wasn’t informed this would be happening, even though I still had three more weeks before school started, and as much as I protested, I was relegated to the small room for the remainder of the time I would be a resident of that house. Even when I moved back home for my senior year of college. With my stuff crammed into a small dresser that wasn’t mine, my clothes crammed into a too-small closet, and my body up against a wall in a too-small bed.

And for much of my life, I felt contained by my surroundings. I felt that I was too much for my space, for those I grew up with, and even for my family.

Once, long after I’d moved out, I had learned a new aria and was eager to sing it for my mother. After I finished it, she said, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s too loud for this small room.

She didn’t like opera. But I don’t think any room would have been big enough for her to enjoy my singing.

So many of us feel or have felt constrained by rooms that have been too small, whether it’s the actual physical space or the room in our heads, whether it’s through our own perception or that of another person. I haven’t felt that way for a long time now, thank goodness. And if you feel that way ….

Blow off the doors. Knock down the walls.

The Year I Ran – an explanation of this blog and how it came to be

In the last year or so, I’ve referred to my training for the Irish Fest 5K as part of “The year I ran.” I’ve never been someone to run willingly. I’ve run for the bus, I’ve run for a plane, I’ve run for a gym class when assigned to, and every time I’ve hated doing it. And in the latter case, got a C for doing it.

But on Memorial Day, 2010, while Bill and the dogs were out for a walk, I thought to myself, “I’m going to go for a run.” Those words had never entered my head before. I had thought about running and had downloaded a “Couch to 5K” app onto my phone a few weeks earlier. But actually running? I didn’t think I’d ever do it.

It was awful. I walked for five minutes and then broke into the world’s slowest jog. I might call it a “galumph.” It only lasted 60 seconds, and was followed by 90 seconds of walking. And then the pattern was repeated for another 17-1/2 minutes. Of sheer hell.

When I got home, Bill was already back and asked where I had been. I told him I’d gone running and was aiming to do a 5K in August. He laughed. I don’t think he thought I’d do another day, let alone 9 weeks. I wasn’t sure I would, for that matter.

But I did. I never ran particularly fast, I never really enjoyed it all that much while doing it, but I did it. 

I haven’t done it since. Partly due to a bad bout of plantar fasciitis that made running painful, and partly to a lack of motivation that I’d had just a year before. But I liked who I was when I prepared for that race, and I’d like to be that person again.

But first I need to figure out just who I was in the Year I Ran. And how can I be that person again? Do I need to be that person? Or did she serve the purpose she was intended to serve for that year?

This is why I’m “here,” writing this blog. I have an idea of why it happened and I’m wondering if it will happen again. Or if it can be translated to something else that I need to do.