Perseverance…

What is it about perseverance that had a slight shade of suffering attached to it… Sometimes it even has the image of someone with a red face, grunting while huffing and puffing to get through something they oftentimes don’t even want to get through.. And other times, they are SO determined to not ¨fail¨, that they persevere and do it anyway, often arriving at a ¨successful¨outcome…

And then there’s the wikipedia definition :

per·se·ver·ance
ˌpərsəˈvirəns/
noun
noun: perseverance
  1. steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
    “his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”
    synonyms: persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability,steadfastness, purposefulness;

    intransigence, obstinacy;
    informalstick-to-it-iveness;
    formalpertinacity
    “in a competitive environment, perseverance is an invaluable asset”

I believe, as in so many other cases, it is how YOU define this word that counts!

I have been having regular encounters with this business of PERSEVERANCE for the past few years and thought I’d share some thoughts that I’m having about it today…

There are times that, in order to persevere, there was some huffing and puffing involved, I’ll be honest.  Complaining and groaning came along for the ride too, as I questioned some life choices, paths etc.

I would sometimes here the phrases ¨STICK TO IT¨ or ¨DON’T GIVE UP¨… These often came to mind when I was in a somewhat competitive environment and I needed to exhibit my strengths, even though I felt weaker than a bubble learning a new complicated choreography, a new genre of music, how to teach well…. all the while something inside me kept going… and although it can also at times, be labeled as stubbornness, I call it PERSEVERANCE!

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I would not have arrived at where I am today, had it not been for this!

Granted, I haven’t had the most challenging life as challenging lives go.  I haven’t had to weather famine, homelessness, extreme poverty, hunger, pain, disease etc…

But all of us have a subjective view point on life based on our own experiences as well as what we learn from the world around us.

And if we are well read, keeping ourselves up to date with what is happening, in as much as is possible while continuing to pursue our own lives and reams.. it’s safe to say that we are more than likely more worldly in our viewpoints and with a greater perspective on things in general.

I’m currently reading a book called  BIG MAGIC (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/).  A book about Creative living without fear. I believe a large helping of PER>SEVERANCE is part of this journey and that, in order to overcome fear, one must persevere and work through and beyond obstacles, disbelief, insecurity and other people trying to put you down or intimate you for example…

So, have I persevered? I believe I have.  Did I ever give up?  Yep, i can remember when I was around 12, I decided I’d knit a cardigan for a younger cousin and I just gave up half way through.. it’s still one of those unfinished projects I have pending lol!

No but seriously, there were times where I was close to throwing in the towel.. and other times, when, no matter how much I persevered, it was just proving to be fruitless and I needed to just stop and well, give up… or let go.

Perseverance isn’t a personal challenge to see how far I can push myself.. Maybe it is for some other people.. but for me, it’s something that plays a big role in moments when I intuitively know that giving up is not the right choice but that time is needed, alongside perseverance and well, patience.

I have several role models in my life that I can think of.. family, close friends, who have persevered, survived and overcome such tremendous challenges…  Some to this day, who I am humbled by and left in awe at their perseverance.

A dear friend who recently went into remission from her second bout of cancer is one of those people! She is someone I admire greatly. She is the true definition for me of a survivor. A strong woman who has had her fair share of physical challenges all her life, but who continues to soldier on and persevere. She lets nothing stop her from doing what she wants, even when the odds are against her and so many people around her don’t fully support her decisions, she continues! She travels all over the world and she speaks several languages, three fluently, as well as working a high powered job in IT. To me, she is the epitome of PERSEVERANCE and bravery.

And having someone like this in my life as well as other people I could write about (but I’m mentioning her as we were just chatting online :), I believe so much of PERSEVERANCE is also about CHOICE, about PERSPECTIVE and about listening to ones own intuitive voice and when the moments come when we fall, get back up again.

  • Lou

Here’s a TED TALK by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love about her journey in life and in writing. (if you’ve been reading my blogs do far, you’ll know I’m a big fan of TED TALKS 🙂

https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_success_failure_and_the_drive_to_keep_creating?language=en

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www.louisephelan.com

www.facebook.com/LouisePhelanJazzSinger

Twitter: @louisephelan

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INTUITION….TRUST

Intuition… something I have come to trust more and more as time goes by..

Trusting it as well has also been an important part in the process as it’s one thing your intuition tells you something, and it’s another one that we actually listen and follow through!

I think some of this work and learning began to take solid form around 2005. It was around about a time in my life where I had finished my training as an Alexander Technique teacher which brought me such joy and opened me up to so many moments of challenging this trust and listening.

I was also, at the time, in a rather dysfunctional relationship.  Towards the middle to the end of 2005 the relationship came to an end.. and part of the final nail in the coffin as it were, was my intuition screaming at me to get the hell out of that situation and run as far away from this person and their mess as I could.

I of course was not entirely mess free either, but I just knew that something wasn’t right. I had known it for a few years and I was holding on… for some reason.  Call it fear, call it whatever you want.  But in August of 2005 my intuitive self was yelling so strongly that I finally had to answer and the truth came out and therefore the relationship came to an end.

Of course when any relationship ends it’s difficult.  Not least because you get kind of used to having that person and all the people that make up that circle in your life, part of your life.. and then all of a sudden, boom, it´s all falling apart and people are choosing sides and well, choices have to be made. It also involved HUGE changes in my life, such as moving country again, giving up my home, my belongings and my life as I had know it for almost 8 years..

So I made a decision and I look back on that moment as pivotal in my life.  It was truly a moment of revelation to how important it is that I listened to my intuition and I trusted!

I have taken this with me in every decision I have made since!

Turning point moments in life and career mostly… but even down to what kind of clothes to wear, food to eat, where to go, what to do, teach in a class or perform in a concert etc..

I like to think that I have come to respect my intuition and that we have an understanding!

There are of course times when I turn the volume down a bit…  and that might be overshadowed my work load or my life load etc. I also know that this isn’t the best thing.. but it gives me a window of time and I will soon turn the volume up again as my body, mind and soul will not stop giving me messages!

But overall, I have come to understand that this voice inside me knows best.  And that the best way to move forward to is to stop, listen and trust.

I can look back on the last 10 years and see that so many of my decisions were based on this.  I would not be where I am today had I not trusted my intuition which guided me in taking some leaps of faith into unknown and unchartered territory.

I had no idea 10 years ago that my life would now be based in Mexico City!  That I would have recorded two jazz albums, be working with some amazing musicians and collaborating with some wonderful creative artists and teachers. That I would also be teaching the Alexander Technique at several prestigious educational institutions and that I would be doing it all in SPANISH!  A language I have wanted to learn since I was a teenager!!

It’s hard to know when we have our low energy days or our darker moments whether we are on the right path.. as we look ahead and sometimes even just look around and begin to compare or think WHAT IF etc…

I’ve done it, I still do it from time to time.  But then I stop, I listen and I trust.

I am where I should be right now. All the circumstances that are my reality are MY reality. I create it and I chose to live it.

Yes, sometimes I wish things could be a little easier or a little different. And yes I am human and I have a bit of a strop and a whine about why some aspects of my life are so challenging..

But then I shake it off ( maybe I have a duvet day or a me day) and then I get on with it.

Life is about now and about making the most of it. We may not always succeed, but we have to try!

One of the songs I wrote after my experiences around 2005 and has since been added to my second album MOMENTS OF LIGHT is the song ¨TRY¨.

¨ I walk the path to my salvation No crossroad doubts, no hesitation

Just listen now and hear the voice within

It’s calling me with songs so free, From chains of old, the forgotten me

Try not to test it, try not to question. Deep in the soul the voices beckon

You’ve got the answers, I’ve got the will to change

All my illusions and indecision

Hear me, see me, show me Hear me, speak to me Show me ¨

 

In the upcoming weeks I’ll share the rest of the lyrics on my facebook page:

www.facebook.com/louisephelanjazzsinger

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Vulnerability

So something that I have been reading a lot about recently and something that has come up in life, in class and in conversation as well is VULNERABILITY.

Of just how important it is to embrace this much needed emotion or state of being from time to time… In fact, even better than that, have a healthy amount present in daily life..

The word vulnerability often comes with somewhat of a  negative definition, one of weakness…  ¨Ah don’t be so vulnerable!¨ or ¨Just stop being so vulnerable!¨.

I believe, as a human being, as a woman, as an artist, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to my very existence to have vulnerability present and that without it, I have lost touch with my very essence.

Yesterday I gave a talk to a group of young adults taking part in the leadership programme through the Arts Dept. of a well renowned University here in Mexico City .

And upon being asked what I felt were some of the most important elements to consider in life, as an artist, a teacher and as a person, of course vulnerability was right at the top, alongside plenty of other important considerations (both professional and personal) such as:

Discipline

Organisation

Punctuality

Good communication / Follow up

Presence, appearance, attention to detail

Consistency

Curiosity

Joy

Investigation

Staying informed & up-to-date

Listening

Trusting

Believing

Thinking bigger picture (peripheral panorama)

Honesty

Authenticity

Motivation

So I chose VULNERABILITY for this blog (and will very likely touch of several of the aforementioned over the coming weeks/months).

In addition to being a necessity in life, as far as I’m concerned, VULNERABILITY I feel, is the epitome of COURAGE and bravery!

I’d go as far as to say that allowing oneself to be vulnerable, opens up so many doors to self discovery and growth..

And yet it has such a negative definition in society today… ¨Don’t be so vulnerable¨ or ¨don’t show so much vulnerability¨….  almost defining it as some sort of WEAKNESS?

How can it be weak when it is so courageous? It takes a lot to open oneself up and to actually FEEL!

It is something that should never be ignored and should for all intents and purposes be a part of us that we grow to love, accept, embrace and ultimately allow to be expressed in order for us to further connect with ourselves and the world around us, authentically and fearlessly.

Below are some quotes that resonate greatly with me on the subject of VULNERABILITY as well as a link to one of my all time favourite TED TALKS by Brené Brown.

To be continued…….

– Louise

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Consistency and authenticity

So I’ve come to realize over the years and through various different experiences that, where actions, words, thoughts and feelings are concerned.. the word consistency often comes to mind for me as something unequivocally important. And above all AUTHENTICITY.

I’m not saying that we don’t have the possibility to change our minds and suddenly on a whim do something out of our humdrum ordinary daily grind.. but what I AM saying is that there can be a certain authentic consistency to the way we live our lives..

Or at least that’s my belief.

So WALK YOUR TALK is something I hear said often and something I regularly say to myself. Or Practice what you preach! And well, we don´t always manage to succeed.. We will have our weak moments where we let things spiral out of control.  But all in all, an honest approach and response seems to be what I’m getting at.

We are all very good at telling others what to do and how to fix their problems, lives, relationships, stuff etc etc…. But then, what about our own STUFF!

Can we look in the mirror and honestly say I live an authentic life.  I walk my talk.  I make mistakes and I forgive myself but all in all there is authenticity, honesty and above all CONSISTENCY is what I say and what I do?

I for one (being far from perfect I’ll have you know lol!), have come to a moment in my life where I can say, that now, more than ever, I am trying to live truthfully and consistently. I may not always succeed, but it is in my consciousness more than ever and so, I remind myself several times a day to speak the truth and live as authentically as I can, for me and well ultimately for those around me.

And this spans and spreads into every single aspect of my life…

Family, work, every day interactions with fellow humans and animals, environment, planet etc.

So have you ever met someone who is truly authentic in almost every possible way?

Is it something that catches your attention?  Is it an attractive trait to their personality? Or is it scary and too much?

I have come across people who, to me, live honestly and authentically and ¨walk their talk¨ as it were. These are people that, to this day, I can think of and feel a sense of great admiration.  Even if what their authentic self is, is not inline with my own beliefs or  my ¨normal¨, I admire their consistently, following their hearts and how they chose to live their lives and follow their paths..  It truly inspires me and I respect them for following their path.

These kinds of people are normally NOT those that lecture or force their opinions down your throat either… They more often than not, share their thoughts and speak in the first person.  They speak from the heart.

I try my best (and don’t always succeed) to be patient, to be consistent and to follow through on my word. This won’t always be reciprocated and when it isn’t, it seems to me that it is a time for reflection and a moment to have a good look at those around us. Are they people who inspire us?  Are they people who support us?  Are they people who make us smile more than frown?

It’s not always easy to decipher at first.. and time and experience certainly lends a hand.

I’m just getting the hang of this life business and continue to fall once in a while, although less than before.  And when I do fall, I get up, make a new decision, dust myself off and get on with it!

And as far as family, personal relationships, friendships, teaching, music, rescuing animals in concerned.. I try to include an authentic approach and bring a healthy level of consistency and indeed vulnerability for the ride, so that I can honestly feel that I’ve participated to the best of my present ability and will not have any regrets. 🙂

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