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. 🙂

http://www.louisephelan.com

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Fidelity…some thoughts..

So this question comes up more and more these days… whether it´s the constant barrage of Facebook posts about how to maintain a successful relationship, how to keep your partner happy and faithful or how many relationships are falling apart and how easily we give up or sabotage our own happiness…

I know… big questions and well a real life issue for many.

So here are my thoughts…

I for one have certain issue with infidelity, having been cheated on by a partner in the past and knowing family and friends who have been though the same and YES, i know there are circumstances that need to be taken into account, but for anyone that knows me, my stance is strong.

If you cheat you´re out. My tolerance level for ME is such. I cannot and will not devalue myself to accept a partner who cheats on me, and once I find out, then that’s it, done.

I know it’s easier said than done.

So it may come across as rigid or even unwavering, and well I suppose it is.  But here’s where I’m coming from… I’ve had a few long term relationships throughout my adult life, where, from the very beginning cards were laid on the table. I never hide this absolute in my belief of fidelity and my belief in honesty. Luckily in all cases bar one, this was met wth agreement and respected for the duration of the relationship.

But these questions comes up often, so what happens if I’m unhappy or my partner is…does this give us a free pass to step out? NO, in my opinion, it does not.

Thankfully in my current relationship of over 8 years this was something that was discussed at the very beginning and we both strongly agreed to zero tolerance on all counts, however small or seemingly insignificant ; infidelity is not negotiable or acceptable.

I am aware that there are relationships that can function as ¨open¨(to what degree of measured success and happiness is debatable)  and that people can continue to live together and have long and seemingly healthy relationships where one or both of the partners have other partners from time to time… and hey, each to his own.

However, as hard as I try to keep my mind open on this issue, I just know that this is just not for me. I value ME too much!

And the one time it did happen, I remember the pain it caused, in not knowing how to handle it for a while.. But boy do I feel grateful for that experience, as it taught me about ME and about my worthiness and that yes mistakes can be made but also there is a consequence to every action and we all need to stop and listen and trust ourselves in knowing when enough is enough or we chose to continue to be disrespected or devalued.

In the search for doing what is right for us as individuals, I respect the choices of others, but that does not mean I subscribe to them, understand them or support them.

And hey! That’s okay!  We don’t all have to agree! We just have to respect that we have to live our own truth and take responsibility and deal with the consequences of our actions.

What I have learned is that we are a complicated species. Where love is concerned, most of us live our whole lives looking for it and once we’ve found it, holding on to it.

And finding love is indeed a wonderful thing.

But what about one’s own love for oneself ? One’s own fidelity? Where do we stand there? Are we true and honest with ourselves? Are we forgiving? Are we loving unconditionally?  When mistakes are made, how do you we learn and move on from these, with love and compassion?

Those questions I have delved into over the years on a personal level, finding solace in the realization that my imperfections made me who I am, that my journey, my doubts, my moments of light and my moments of darkness all played their part.  Albeit that I have suffered pain (we all have on some level), I have arrived at a moment where I can raise my head up and look around knowing that everything that is in my present moment has come to me at the right time and space.. and all the good and wonderful that is happening came out of the myriad of other experiences (difficult and growing).. and I feel grateful.

 

I am grateful for this faith, this loyalty and this fidelity that I have come to adopt as part of my everyday living. I look for it, I think I attract it in many ways through work, personal relationships and friendships..

And I value myself to the point that I won´t accept less, for me.

I chose.jpg

http://www.louisephelan.com

 

 

 

Rescuing little creatures and finding them new forever homes..

I´ve always been an animal lover!  Ever since I was small we had a family pet… my earliest memories are of when Toby, our first cat, came to live with us in Ashbrook Gardens  – what a lovely cat he was! Then there was Benny, who arrived sick and wasn’t with us for too long, but he was a gorgeous dog too. Soon after then followed the gorgeous but half wild Sandy the kitten and a couple of short years later Muffy the puppy joined the family and both lived long lives and were very much loved..

My grandmother, Mildred was an animal lover, she always had cats and dogs at home and was a member of the LSPCA and the ISPCA (Limerick and Irish Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).. She was also, in latter years, a huge supporter of the Donkey Sanctuary in Co. Cork.  We would do sponsored walks, fundraising events and raise money for the Donkey Sanctuary selling christmas cards and other paraphernalia in aid of the Donkey Sanctuary, a place where rescued, abused, abandoned or retired donkeys came to live out their days and delight visitors with their antics and unique personalities!

In fact the very last card she wrote to me was on Donkey Sanctuary note paper. I received the card when I returned back to the US after her funeral and as hard as it was, it gave me such joy to read her words and I still have this card 🙂

Together with my grandmother Mildred, or as we called her Moma, we used to walk down to feed the swans regularly at the wild life sanctuary which was a short walk away from where she lived…  These memories will remain forever in my heart and have contributed to me and many other members of my family choosing to love and care for rescue animals.

When I moved to Mexico City on a permanent basis in 2010, I quickly realized that there were ALOT of animals that were in distress, abandoned, mistreated and being used for cruel sports and sacrificed for religious rituals.

I was truly horrified to see very very sick dogs and cats roaming some of the streets and often times being ignored or even kicked away by people who gave them little or no value in life.  I would return to the apartment where I lived and cry and struggle with the amount of lives that were being lost, trying to think of a way that we (my partner and I) could do something. We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination at that time and we didn’t have a plethora of wealthy friends or a network of societies and people to turn to, so we began at ground zero.. One at a time..

Before I continue, I have to also mention that there are LOTS and LOTS of animals in Mexico that are well taken care of and loved as member of the family.  Unfortunately there is an opposite end of the spectrum where the contrary occurs and kittens, puppies, cats and dogs as well as other animals, get thrown out of homes, put into plastic bags, left in card board boxes on the side of the high way or main avenues (and that´s just telling you where we found some of our rescues).

Living in a small space proved challenging at the best of times as rescues came and went regularly and there were moments when every day had its challenges  but also its rewards..

Since 2010 we have rescued and re-homed over 60 animals, cats, kittens, dogs, puppies and also a baby chicken (his name was Nicholas 🙂  We gave them all names and we are in touch from time to time with their new families..

It is something that has come into my life and now plays a huge part in it. I can’t imagine not being able to do this.  That said, there are times that choices have to be made and I won’t get to all of the needy animals out there… But we try and remembering the cuddles and the unconditional love that is given to us from those gorgeous creatures that cross our paths is worth it all.

I give 10% of my CD sales income to animal rescue causes and hope to be able to someday, dedicate more time to this work as well as more ways to support animal rescue.

I am compiling a photo collection of all the animals we have rescued and will share them on here soon.  For now, we have six with us!  They have brought nothing but joy into our lives.

Popis: female dog found wandering the street

Baxter: male dog found abandoned shaking and barking outside a supermarket

Sneaky: male dog born to Popis and Baxter

Dorothy: female cat, found in a plastic bag thrown on the side of the street

Mildred: female cat, found in a plastic bag with her sister Dorothy & her brother Tim

Grace: female kitten, found in a cardboard box on the side of a major avenue

So, here are some of the animal rescue and animal rights organization websites at home in Ireland, here in Mexico and internationally that I support:

http://www.ispca.ie/

http://www.peta.org/

http://www.somosrescateanimal.org/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/albergue-san-cristobal/telefonos-de-rescate-animal-en-el-df-ciudad-de-mexico/414495855232727/

http://www.clubperruno.com/directorio/d-f/proteccion-y-rescate-de-perros/

 

Animal should be treated humanely and not suffer pain at the hands of humans.

This TED TALK was also 15 well spent minutes…

And this is my gorgeous and wonderful grandmother Mildred O’Connor with her dog Sam.

Mom a and sam

Please don’t buy your pets, adopt a RESCUE!!!

www.louisephelan.com

I believe in miracles…and alternative healthcare options…

The other day I received some wonderful and actually somewhat miraculous news!! A dear friend who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour and who was given a horribly doom-filled prognosis by the doctors, had an MRI scan and the cancer is GONE! GONE!!!!

It´s truly wonderful and I have to say that this news has restored my faith even more than ever in MIND over BODY work and in natural and alternative health therapies, cures and practices! Hurrah indeed!

As for my encounters with the alternative…..  well as I work with Alexander Technique, I suppose that kind of falls under that umbrella for the main stream, although I look at it as something more of an education and an overall heightened conscious awareness.

However, that said, it doesn’t mean I steer clear of other forms of alternative health and healing. In fact I support looking at other options when one feels that is the right thing to do.

So, last week, I went and had a spiritual cleanse with a Cuban shaman who is someone I have come to admire greatly as he seems to me, every time I see him, to have a positive light around him and he exudes empathy and healthy resolve in situations that would seem otherwise overwhelming, out of control or just plain awful to most.

What I have come to understand is that there are ancient ceremonious, tried and tested ways to rid ourselves of negative energies and things that might be stuck inside of us without even knowing.

I’ve known that these ceremonies and practices exist and have come across and lightly experimented with one or two over the years with much success but never until now, quite so effective!

I´ve always been a believer that we are our own best healers, and this is essentially the premise to this work as well, but with some guidance along the way which is always appreciated. Of course trusting our intuition is a must in these cases and not just jumping into whatever with out getting a sense that it feels right for you.

If you’d have told me I’d be off having regular spiritual cleanses every month, I may not have believed you a few years ago. Maybe it was the sceptic in me and the fact that I was hell bent on figuring my own ¨shit¨ out and fixing it myself!

But suffice to say, here I am, three cleanses later and I feel good! Even lighter, emotionally and mentally, I feel like energies have been and are moving and much needed forgiveness and resolve is taking place as well as decisions are being made and doors of opportunity and learning are opening more and more!

Meditation is also something that has come back into my life more recently…  A quietening of the mind as I like to think of it. It doesn’t take a huge effort to just set aside 10-15 mins a day to just lie down or sit down somewhere relatively quiet and be mindfully breathing and quieting the mind.. maybe listening to some relaxing music or mantras.

For me meditation is worth a whole other blog space as when I get back into regular meditation I find things flow even easier and I often don’t understand why I’ve let so much time pass.

So having these options available to me and listening to my mind and my body when it tells me it needs to stop, rest, take a step back etc… All of the above has be instrumental in me staying well, living well and above all continuing to improve my body, mind and spirit connection

So whether I’m in a moment of teaching or singing, chatting with my partner, family or friends, potting a plant, watching my cats play or listening to my nieces laughter, there’s always some presence of peace, wellbeing and JOY!

www.louisephelan.com

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Time and space…

So there never seems to be enough time in the day and since moving and living in one of the biggest cities in the world (Mexico City) I find that time seems to just run away with itself!

Time OFF is virtually non existent now, as there´s always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to see etc etc..

SO how does one manage this time management issue and still hope for a few breaths of air once or twice a day.

I have to say honestly, I have struggled with it.  I mean, I have my days or weeks when I seem to feel like I´m on top of everything… but then the dreaded OVERLOAD ensues and I find myself, for want of a better expression, literally chasing my tail. From dawn to dusk it´s a never ending TO DO.

Thankfully, the TO DO’s that fill my days are all things that I love.  SO I don’t find them unwanted or undesired chores. THIS helps enormously! Even if my body is tired and just want to roll over and have a ¨duvet day¨ hahaha!

Actually there are times I need to just check out… and have a day to catch up on sleep, maybe watch some Ted Talks videos online or just read a book and enjoy my cup of lemon and ginger tea with the phone switched off.

Mobile phones smart phones, ipads, youtube, twitter, facebook, instagram, periscope, myspace your space… hmmm… it can all get a little too much sometimes, so I prefer to just press the pause button, knowing that I´ll eventually press the play button again, but need a little ME time and a little ME space.

So why did life suddenly get really busy and why oh why does it feel like time is moving more quickly.. I was so perplexed by this that I in fact went and started to investigate is there was some other explanation other than just getting older lol!  And apparently there is!  TIME DILATION!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

So, suffice to say, I am somewhat comforted to know that there may very well be a scientific explanation for why time is running away with itself, or at the very least running faster and…. it has to  do with gravity!

Oh gravity, my dear and trusted friend!  You bring me back to earth, support me, activate my anti-gravity reflex muscles and teach me so much every day… And now, you are partly to blame for time flying!

Ah sure could be worse!

Needless to mention, all scientific explanations aside, TIME IS MOVING FASTER! And in Mexico City it moves at an even faster speed because there simply are not enough hours in the day!  Things to do, people to see, family and close friends across the globe to FaceTime with, friends here to catch up with, exercise to be done, rescue animal homes to be found, kittens to play with, dogs to walk, mother-in-law to spend time with, work to be done, ted-talk videos to be seen, Downton Abbey to caught up on, social media to be updated, blogs to be written, classes to be scheduled and planned, rehearsals to be scheduled and planned for, concerts to perform, projects and plans to be in place, hummus and dark chocolate to be eaten, tea to be drunk, red wine to be sipped, hugs and kisses to be exchanged, inhaling and exhaling etc etc… You see where I´m going here!

And you see, every single one of these To Do´s are things I want to do! Things I WILL do, but all in their own TIME and SPACE.  Which means…… patience, organization, acceptance, sleep and rest, also exercise and trying to remain calm and not giving in to the inevitable temptation to be over-overwhelmed!

So whenever I feel that the dreaded OVERWHELMING feeling coming over me, I stop. I don´t always succeed. Sometimes I might just have a bit of a cry if I´m exhausted physically, but then I stop again and I take stock. I see the viable solutions to problems and I solve them or I delegate and most of all I take an overall look at the NOW and I see what is within my healthy possibilities and I move from there.

I also say NO, when I know that it is just one too many projects or balls to juggle in the air.  It’s hard to say NO to something that you really want to be a part in actually, but it has to be done. My rule of thumb is, if I can’t dedicate the time the project deserves then I won’t feel good more will I enjoy the experience. SO I have had to say NO to a few things that I hope will maybe come back around at another time.

My body lets me know and I listen when it tells me to stop.

Between teaching Alexander Technique at the Opera Studio, the youth orchestra, teaching privately from my studio, being involved in several different musical projects, rescuing and/or taking care of kittens and puppies as well as our three dogs and three cats, spending time with my mother-in-law and my partner, travelling for work and staying in touch with family… It´s FULL ON! So rest is a priority and eating healthy as well as exercise helps me tremendously too!

So as I sit here typing, with the gorgeous rescue kitten who has been staying with us for a while, Nick, curled up on my lap, I do feel like I´m headed in the right direction, or at least so far so good….

Time for a FaceTime with my best bud who´s in Denver now!

I shall post this blog now and await any thoughts or musings you may have on TIME DILATION and how you yourself manage your time and your space 🙂

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Travelling and the lessons learned

One of the things that comes to my mind when I think of all the travelling I’ve done over the years, is that you can plan and prepare as much as you like, but you just never know what’s in store! And the most important thing for me is FLEXIBILITY!

I´ve lived and worked in a few different countries … In reality, I’ve lived half of my life out of Ireland.

Ireland will always be home but home is also where I live and currently I call Mexico City home.

Before Mexico City there was Stockholm, London, Ireland, Cyprus for a season, New York for a summer and L.A. intermittently for longer stints of work.

Through those periods of life and career, the moving to another country was always part of a life decision or a career / educational one.  So I would move because of a partner, an education or a curiosity to know somewhere different.

Living in other countries other than my birth country has and probably always will be something I will never fully get used to 100%, but have grown accustomed to in many ways.  That´s not to say that I don’t enjoy it 🙂

Calling somewhere home but still being considered the ¨foreigner¨ or as it´s called in spanish ¨extranjera¨ or ¨stranger¨ by the locals, well it is what it is.

When one lives in a different country, you are certainly no longer a tourist!  But you will never quite be a native no matter how long you stay. And I had to come to accept that early on, as struggling with it, meant that I would somehow have to relinquish my own culture and part of my forever identity.

Even when I return to Ireland, albeit familiar and comfortable in so many ways, I am still not 100% at home anymore.  I AM at home in the sense that my family is there and I have some friends that still remain, however, at the same time, I am also only visiting when I am there and so that too brings with it a sense of non-belonging.

It’s a strange inexplicable sensation to be honest.  Those who have lived in many places and speak different languages will relate.

Would I have done things differently? NO! But all the same, it does make me wonder who I would be had I not made these choices..

From an early age I always knew I was going to travel, speak languages other than English (much to my french teacher’s disbelief!) and most of all experience the world while traveling and working!  With a continued curiosity to understand and to know more I ventured off on a one year tour at the tender age of 18 for the first time.

And what about now, here in Mexico City. Well, after over five years I can finally call it home.  I speak enough Spanish to manage my life and work. My career has decided to take new flight and lots of interesting opportunities have come my way since arriving here in the middle of 2010. So here is my PRESENT, my HOME and my NOW.

Albeit one of the biggest cities of the world, there is still the possibility of finding local, sensing familiar and not become overwhelmed all the time by the traffic, pollution, over population and everything else that’s challenging with living in a huge metropolis.

So lessons learned… stay open, without feeling like you´ve lost a sense of identity.  Stay flexible in a way that you are not limited by a tunnel vision of how things ¨should¨ be according to how you grew up.  And all of this in a health and moderate way so that there’s still a love for the new and unpredictable and a love for the old and predictable.

Whether it´s trying a new local food dish or trying an exotic fruit in the caribbean… or settling in with a nice cup of tea in front of the fire watching the Late Late Show at home … They are all pleasures and ones to treasure 🙂

I continue on this quest for more and this curiosity for learning about new experiences and I hope to see a few more places in the next few years…

Travel Bucket List : AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, MACHU PICHU PERU, INDIA, THAILAND, TAHITI, HAWAII & more parts of Ireland and Mexico!

 

 

 

 

To eat meat or to not eat meat, that is the question!

So anything that is referred to as an ¨ism¨, often has strong ties to extreme dedication and great sacrifice.

Let me share some thoughts about VegetarianISM.

For me I decided to explore this possibility at first at the young age of 16/17, when I began to question why I was eating meat. Essentially why we eat animals.

So I voiced this opinion and was met with understandable concern and confusion as to why I would stop eating meat and if I did, what in the name of all that´s holy, would I eat instead? We are talking about the 90´s here, at which time Ireland was not famed for it´s vegan/veggie friendly cuisine..

So meat, chicken or fish were staples and always served at dinner time in my house growing up. For a while I came up with a solution.. I would chew a little and the spit it out into my hand or a serviette and give it to our dog Muffy, who was only delighted of course! Keeping in mind, that if plates weren’t cleared, there was no leaving the table and no dessert (and I have always been a dessert fan, except for rice pudding but that´s an entirely different story! 🙂

I remember a conversation with my Mom around that time and she told me, if this is what I want, then I must find out what replaces meat in my diet. Basically I can´t just take something out without replacing it.  Wise words from Mom!

And so my quest began and I made the delightful discovery of soya protein! The only healthfood shop at the time in Limerick ¨Eats of Eden¨ was where I would go regularly to stock up on my soya protein or as it was then called TVP (textured vegetable protein). Upon returning back home I would rehydrate it and then experiment with cooking with it as a meat substitute.

All the while my dad would wave fried sausages in front of me and say ¨You know you want it¨ – lol!!!

So the strategy was in place and as the months and years past and I began to leave Ireland and travel to foreign parts I realized I wasn’t alone.  That in fact, vegetarians existed all over and so upon returning to Ireland from the first of many subsequent years of travelling and living abroad, i declared myself a full vegetarian, never to eat meat, fish or chicken again.

And to this day, I never have.

At the beginning I used to play it down.. it seemed easier. Then I went through my rebellious, tell everyone about it and lecture meat eaters phase.. And then I found my groove and it all fell into a comfortable truthful place.

That is that I chose and still choose to not eat meat because I do not want to ingest other animals flesh into my body. The end.

It was never about being different. It was more that, once my eyes were opened and I truly understood the action and the consequences, I simply couldn’t eat animals again. I saw no difference between my dog Muffy and the piece of roast lamb on the plate.

As I mentioned, this was back in the 90´s and in those days, Ireland certainly wasn’t know for being a Vegetarian´s paradise. It still  isn’t but it’s waaaaaaaaaay better!

Being a vegetarian back in those days was definitely more of an inconvenience.. Not just for me, but for everyone I went to eat with! The sighs and groans at times of… ¨God what are we going to feed you.. There´s some salad in the fridge and I suppose we could do some stir-fry vegetables and rice or some pasta and tomato sauce¨…

And well, I understood.  It wasn’t common place back then, but amidst all the lack of understanding and seeming inconvenience, I stayed strong and loyal to my belief and conviction.

Even travelling to some of the biggest meat eating countries of the world, I would sit and eat my chargrilled veggies and salad as my friends and co-workers delightedly tucked into their freshly bbq´d slabs of flesh! lol!

I now live in Mexico, a country where meat is consumed by the majority of the population. However, thanks to its rich variety in vegetables, fruits and pulses, there is a plentiful supply of food sources here to live and eat well.

And one thing I truly believe is that being a vegetarian allows me to be more in contact with what my body needs.  I try to eat a balanced diet.  I certainly don’t just eat salads and carrot sticks! There are so many variations and meat substitutes available that if anything, I have ALOT of fun exploring new combinations.

Do I have a disdain for meat eaters, no.  Will I ever eat it again, absolutely not.

I don’t need meat in my life or in my diet. And I delight in the fact that I can drive past a field of cows or sheep and know that none of them will ever end up in my plate or ingested into my body.

All living beings have value and worth and deserve to live out their days without sudden death, abuse or cruelty.

Our six pets prove this to me every day. They fill our lives with joy and unconditional love.  They teach us about the simplicity that is life. And to me, there is no difference between my dog Sneaky and the cow who was killed to produce a hamburger or a steak.

And I know that many people feel differently where VegetarianISM is concerned.  And thank goodness for that! Because we ARE different.  I listen with open ears and an open heart to the choices and truths of others.  However it doesn’t mean mine need to change. I believe we must listen to our own truth and follow our instincts where lifestyle, diet and chosen career paths are concerned.

Life is short. Be yourself, be no one else.

http://www.louisephelan.com

Well that´s my story. 🙂

 

 

The performer and the performance

This ideal of the performance and the performer being one… What is that exactly?  Well my thoughts are these… I believe, like so many, that they are very much one in the same.  There must be a true and honest connection from the person who interprets a character, a piece of music, song, choreography is it is to be truly credible and believable.

When I share my thoughts and speak on this subject in my Alexander Technique classes, especially those with stage performers, I am reminded that this is often not the case.  It certainly isn´t commonly offered as a model for study during training and in many cases, this work is left to the individual. Which is often something that gets overlooked, forgotten or merely just not focussed on, until the day arrives and the individual comes to the realization that in fact true connection is really the only way to interpret from the heart and that ones own truth is happiness may well be at stake if we become aware of this essential element and we chose to ignore it.

I, like many others, took class after class in voice, performance, theatre, acting, musical theatre, movement, dance, improvisation, methods and techniques from around the world, all in search of honing in on a need to express myself through the arts. A desire to communicate something, anything! Which after 20 years I think I finally feel like I´m getting close to achieving!

And one major turning point in the journey for me was my discovery and ultimate work and study of the Alexander Technique.  This technique has opened up so many aspects of myself, bringing me to a much greater understanding of truth, honesty, clarity of intention, emotion and expression through my voice, either spoken or sung..  My ¨true voice¨… my ¨real voice¨ comes from no other place than from my very essence, my centre.

I often become disillusioned when I see so many superficial expressions of ¨ART¨…where we seem to have lost the very definition of what artistic integrity is. Music and forms of artistic performance that leave with an empty feeling inside. An uninspired, unoriginal, carbon copy of something done before in exactly the same way… Nothing new, pleasing to a crowd in which hands we give all the power to approve or disapprove and not, what I feel might be our real job, to educate, to challenge, to expand perspectives and to release closed off minds and narrowed perceptions of life and art.

And then I meet the people who are connected.  Visual artists, musicians, singers, actors, directors, dancers, choreographers, painters. Those people who, upon our first meeting, they just get it (whatever ¨it¨ is of course).. Maybe not simply or straight away, as for many it was a long road of self explorations, delving into experiences in order to discover more layers and deeper meaning.  But they understand what ART is in my opinion, and how huge a role TRUTH plays in its expression.  Truth  to not just to provoke, to scare, to incite anger or to cause confusion, but TRUTH in order to basically not tell lies, not fabricate stories of untruths and essentially fooling people (and themselves) into thinking that kind of art is true ART. I´m not speaking about imagination or fantasy as these too have much truth to them when explored and developed.

I know my words may be strong, and this is my opinion only. However,  I compare it sometimes to tastes that are all relative given our experiences thus far in life.

To give a silly example..

I grew up in a house where the coffee on offer was Nescafe or Maxwell House or some other brand of  instant freeze dried coffee granules.  (my dasd loves the stuff!) This was what I thought coffee tasted like… and then I went to Italy and had my first espresso.  F<rom that moment, something big changed in my whole perception of coffee and it´s beans natural (once roasted and toasted) flavour. My mind was literally blown away. Upon first tasting it, of course I was a little shocked as it tasted nothing like the coffee I had known for so many years…but then when i investigated further, I learned more about its history, the coffee plantations, the tasting and roasting processes and the varying levels of intensity and flavour, ultimately the coffee comes from the bean itself and not something that is extracted and then chemically manipulated to give us a quick, just add water, stir and drink version. ( and I use this as an example of plenty of ART that is out there, popular or not)

So, from where I stand, once you are exposed to the real thing, or even made aware of its very existence, why settle for something less or an imitation copy? Convenience? Comfort?  Maybe so.  And that again is a choice that one makes.

But personally, my choice, like so many other things, is once I know what the real taste and experience can be, why would I stay with something artificial.  Like musical expression, art, movement etc..

I know the arguments are there… needs must, i prefer it, it´s what i am used to, ground coffee beans are too strong etc etc… And each to his own.

But what it boils down to, is that I chose, for me, to not settle for less. I want to live my life to the fullest for me. And that definition of full will be determined by me and no one else.

So the ARTIST for me has a duty to explore their very essence and experience as much as possible in order to truly and honestly express themselves.

Listen to their TRUE VOICE.

Singing a song with lyrics and just repeating the notes and the melody with the words attached with no real connection to what it is we are singing about is something I can no longer accept, for me. Nor is it something I wish to subscribe to or listen to anymore. It is something that I implore my students to explore as I truly, vehemently and passionately believe there must be truth and sincerity to artistic expression. Whether you are dancing a piece of choreography, singing a jazz standard, presenting a shakespearean monologue, playing the oboe or violin in a orchestra – connect, connect, connect!

Relate, communicate, find an intention, find your TRUE VOICE and share it through your ART!

More on this for future blogs…

www.louisephelan.com

www.facebook.com/LouisePhelanJazzSinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life…

So I originally thought maybe daily entries might be what I’d be able to do here, but then I quickly realized maybe once a week was more realistic.. However this week (week 1) something happened that changed this. s

Someone I admire so much passed away.  Her name; Adriana. She was someone I only knew for a few years, since moving to Mexico City, but from the first moment we chatted, our friendship was instant. From her love and affinity for Ireland to the fact that she DJ’s at the national jazz radio station with her own programme.

She had that affect on many people, the evidence of which was clear at her service earlier today.  Not just family present but an enormous circle of friends, from all walks of her life (and there were many from what I know), from the cleaning staff, people she collaborated with in charities, international friends (she spoke many languages fluently), work colleagues from the multinational IT company, to colleagues and friends from the jazz radio station and of course musicians and singers.

Adriana was loved by so many and she was one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve known to date… generous with her time and openly sharing her passion for life and of course music!

So with this passing of someone I considered dear, and many many tears cried since finding out yesterday morning… it has opened up in me a different relationship with LIFE.

I have often spoken of living in the present moment and its importance.  I truly believe it, however I don’t practice it as faithfully as someone like Adriana did.  I still have moments of over-thinking about tomorrow, worrying about things that I have no control over or dwelling on stuff that may have felt unresolved on some level from the past.. who knows.  But I felt a switch going off in my head today.. and now tonight, as I write this, I am reminded once more, that that ¨click¨ is thanks to Adriana.

It’s to live even more consciously and chose to live NOW.

Interestingly the lyrics to one of the songs I wrote for my last album are ¨Be limitless, be who you are, feel the joy, wherever you are, be yourself, be no one else, and you’ll see the truth will set you free¨. Whenever I sing these words I really do believe it and feel so full of joy in that very moment… I suppose it’s kind of like a decree or an affirmation of sorts. And above all else, it’s me staying or re-connecting to present moment.

I believe we all struggle with these words from time to time and some of us maybe even a life time…  The big ¨what’s it all about ¨questions or the ¨who am I¨ or ¨what’s my purpose in life¨ etc…  Honestly I spent many years with no idea of what my purpose was…  I’m still not 100% sure, but I have a much better idea now.  Age, maturity, bit of hard work thrown in maybe.. And definitely a trusting my intuition based decision plan, which has proven to be invaluable in the past 10 years.

But when someone, who’s only 50 years old comes to the end in this life time.. I did stop and ask ¨why?¨.  Why did someone so good, so loved and so respected have to go so early?  Had she really done all she came to do?  Why was her 20 year old son left motherless?  What’s fair or right about that?  My heart cried and my tears flowed freely watching her son kneel down before her coffin this afternoon.. those sobs will forever remain etched in my memory as pure sorrow and loss. And yet, there were still small bursts and moments of joy present in knowing that she has left this wonderful young man behind as well as her words and music with so many of us… Is she is in fact living on through us all? Who knows.  I think she think she is…I believe her spirit remains in us all, the people she has touched throughout her life, and there were thousands more that were not physically present today..

So, as it’s late and I need to get some sleep.. I shall sign off.

Thank you Adriana.  You maybe never know how much of an affect you had on people (which is often the case), but I for one can honestly say that I am a better person for knowing you.

Your life and your death have taught me invaluable lessons and I thank you for that.

I hope to see you on the other side, for now, it’s till we meet again.

RIP Adriana Arellano Caldeira (1965 – 2016)