Taking Things Apart: Videos of Leaving the Cradle

It's been just over a year now since I stepped with clarity into the next phase of my life by leaving a business I came to California to create, back in 2004. I've told the story so many times that it may seem like "old news" to some of you, but for me, that one decision was a *huge* step. It cleared the way for so much magic that has emerged - through effort and spontaneous creativity, guided by intention and enabled by practice - over the past year. Last week I went through the embodied steps of letting go - moving all the physical items out of the Cradle of Manifestation after acknowledging that a 1,800-square-foot facility no longer matched the life I am creating. In the process, I've come face-to-face with so many of my deeply held beliefs and default patterns.

I believed that being a "responsible" person - a piece of my identity I held tightly as a symbol of my worthiness to occupy space on this planet - meant putting other people's needs ahead of my own, no matter what the cost.

In my work, this was expressed as taking full responsibility for all outcomes associated with the people I was involved with - which translated into poor delegation, inability to trust other people's skills and ways of doing things, and the result of preferring to do everything on my own, so it would be perfect. Ultimately, I experienced exhaustion and burnout as the destination on this path.

After I crossed the hurdle of actually setting a boundary, saying "no more" to my own business (which, at the time, was the only path I felt drawn to), and risking the disappointment of other people (which, at the time, was my greatest and most paralyzing fear), the same belief expressed itself as a firm resolve in my mind to continue paying rent on my office space simply because I had signed a lease, and that was that. An agreement was an agreement, with no room for discussion. I was a person who kept my word. But living by those old rules under the new circumstance of starting a business from scratch in a new industry translated to prioritizing my landlords' needs over my own, which I did for an entire year. I dutifully and silently wrote each check and made sure it arrived before the first of every month. For an entire year.

I was silently proving to myself my own worth as a "responsible" person (daughter, girl), but in fact I was not honoring myself or my fledgling business fully.

It took me all those months to finally realize it. In the meantime, I learned and practiced other valuable skills - like making up a new offering each month, playing and experimenting without needing to be perfect, and learning to teach from a place of total peace. My default pattern gave me the gift of valuable practice in honing my craft, and discovering more of what I have to offer.

And now I realize that I do not need those particular four walls in order to be who I am or share what I have to give. In fact, I'm excited about the possibilities of teaching in retreat settings and other community spaces.

I'm writing this as I am going through one of those very courageous times - a time when I am sometimes confused, sometimes at peace, sometimes wanting to jump out of my skin, and sometimes wanting to just walk away from it all. And by being in it, staying with it more deeply than perhaps ever before in my life, I see that I never learned how to take things apart. I learned a lot and focused a lot of my attention on how to build things. How to start things. How to keep them going consistently and steadily.

But I never saw a graceful possibility for finishing things. It was always with regret or disappointment or reluctance that I saw the adults in my life let go, move on, or stop doing things. In my mind, I made it mean that these things - letting go, moving on, or stopping - were bad, or at least to be avoided at all costs.

What I'm choosing to teach myself through this experience is that loss doesn't have to be tragic. Loss can be embraced and walked through with the same energy of acceptance and welcoming as that with which we greet our gains. I'm asking and living the question, "What would it be like to walk through loss with the same welcoming smile, to approach it with the same intention of gaining familiarity, to extend it the hospitality we offer so willingly to what we consider the "good" things?" And by "good", I usually mean the things I wanted or believed were supposed to happen, of course.

I am walking through that loss right now, opening up space and freeing myself to serve and share more. But I notice that the opening only happens by being willing to learn. In other words, to do that whole "celebrate your failures", "be prepared to be surprised", "be curious about everything", improvisation thing. And you thought I had already learned this stuff so it should be easy now? Ha! My rational mind would like to avoid discomfort just as much as it always has. Parts of my brain will always be wired to avoid the unknown. The difference now is that I have a deeper awareness to guide me toward those things I once avoided, in spite of what my mind has to say. And I recognize the tiny moments where I get to practice letting go, taking things apart, moving on. I embrace them as gifts to get better at the things I never knew how to do before, and to grow into more of the person I can become.

These videos capture snapshots of the journey I took during the physical part of the process. I could think of these as the final gestures in a year of events I could not have planned, predicted, or even known to ask for. I simply held a vision of what my inner life would feel like, and practiced emptying space in my mind to allow that life to enter, moment by moment.

Or I could think of these as the first tiny expressions of a whole new way of relating to my stuff - the furniture, the obligations, the way my business needs to operate. After a year of practice, I am developing a whole new way of using my precious attention.

And so what once seemed unimaginable, or impossibly hard, I finally completed last week. I did the thing I thought I could not do.

And now I am resting. I am allowing myself to just sit with myself. To remember to breathe for myself and be thankful for every single sweet drink of fresh air I inhale.


Part 1 was shot just after the furniture consignment center came to pick up my piano, desk, credenza, chairs, and file cabinets - the pieces I once picked out by hand and then dreaded having to figure out how to move.

Part 2 was shot after clearing out my two-drawer lateral file cabinet, filled with all the pieces of paper I created during the five and half years of my school. After more than a year of not looking at these, it was amazing (and shocking) to see how much mental energy went into my planning and controlling and accounting for every single detail of every concert my students presented. What looked like a "tightly run ship" or "extremely organized" or "perfection" on the outside, I now recognize as the anatomy of a burnout for me.

Part 3 shows my progress of sorting things into "piles" on the end of day 1:

Part 4 was shot on the morning of day 2:

Part 5 shows the final empty space I left behind:

And finally, a shot of the pile I brought into my home...and am tackling a little bit each day:

Creating Your Vision for 2011

What's your theme for the new year?

I've never been a New Year's Resolution person, but every year on December 31, I take time to reflect on the previous year and write down what I remember. I focus on things like what I learned, how I grew, and the events that were most meaningful for me.

This past year was a particularly abundant year of growth and change for me. Last December 31, I finally felt clear and took the step of writing a letter to the thirty families in my violin school, announcing to them that within two weeks, the school would come to an end. While I had no idea what would unfold as a result of that action, I was absolutely clear about my intention of letting go in order to move into the next phase of my life and accept whatever it would bring me.

It was an act of trust. My self-proclaimed commitment, or theme, for 2010, was to live from my Core of Peace. To experience life, perhaps for the first time, from a new, unfamiliar place called Peace.

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This year, as the end of 2010 approaches, I face another opportunity to grow in my trust. I realized, slowly over the past several months, that it was time to face letting go again. This time it was letting go of a lease that no longer makes sense for the business and life I am creating. It took me an entire year of holding on, experimenting and playing, believing that I would "make it work", and avoiding the dread of everything I was making it mean to let go.

And now I am in a place of clarity again. The feeling in my body is freedom, expansiveness, lightness. The energy in my body is purposeful and focused. And from this place, I am taking the actions - those mundane steps that my mind had made to be so unpleasant through its thoughts  - that are necessary to create the physical space that is reflected in my mind and body.

After months of dragging, feeling heavy, dreading what I had to do, I have spent the past two days steadily working my way through those previously dreaded actions.

And you know what? They are not so dreadful after all!

In fact, when approached with clear energy and a feeling of purpose, they have no negative or positive charge whatsoever. They are just items that get done. And what remains is the pure joy of SPACE.

Letting go of material items has always been a challenge for me. It's beyond my current comfort zone. It doesn't energize me to clean or organize or think about the arrangement of physical items. But in the past year, life has handed me these opportunities to exercise that muscle, little by little. And to experience the reward of the empty space left behind...a reward I had never truly experienced before, because I was simply too afraid to allow it.

So as the current year comes to a close, and I watch items move out of my life and into the hands of those who joyfully accept them and need them in theirs, I am able to create a vision for my new year.

In 2011, my theme is Creativity and Expression. I took some time to create the following vision board for Who I Am and How I Feel While I Express My Creativity in 2011.

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While I was previously skeptical of the vision board process, I now cherish the opportunity to take in these images and read the affirmations each time I turn on my computer. I recognize the value of small, frequent doses of inspiration as I create my life one step at a time.

So, do you have a theme for 2011? Are you curious what would happen if you created one?

Here are some great resources for creating your own vision board, not just for the new year, but any time you're in the mood for taking a look at a new horizon.

Christine Kane's blog post on How To Make A Vision Board>>

Oprah.com's Dream Board tool (you must create an Oprah.com account to access the tool)>>

And here's my video blog from my office on the day my clarity came through>>

Watch my interview on KMVT-15 King's Connections - Remarkable Young Women Series with Rusty King

I had the pleasure and honor of being Rusty King's guest #3 on the Remarkable Young Women Series of King's Connections, on channel KMVT-15 in Mountain View. I met Rusty at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce event, and we immediately connected on the subject of being musicians. Rusty is an award-winning songwriter and drummer, in addition to hosting his own show on KMVT-15.

Thanks to Rusty's thorough research, in this half-hour interview we talk about my entire life, from my childhood in Libertyville, Illinois, through the launch of Chinese Melodrama just a few months ago. Watching it is like taking the "heroine's journey" all over again. It reminds me how this past year of my life, 2010, has been such a rapid whirlwind in some respects, while at the same time being some of the most spacious time I've ever experienced.

Rusty and I discuss education, success, parental expectations, music, creativity, failure, and the necessity of following your own heart. Enjoy!


Finally...on the wall!

A follow-up to my post on finally taking the action of framing the photo by my friend, Eugene Chan, for the Cradle of Manifestation. It's on the wall! And a lovely addition to my inspirational 1-on-1 coaching room. Check it out in the video below!

A new offering in August! IMPROVisE YOUR LIFE with Music Improvisation

Join me at the Cradle of Manifestation this August for a brand new offering, integrating the best practices of mind AND body so you can enter each week with clarity of intention AND action. Check out my introductory video blog about the offering below. And if you're ready to enroll, visit the registration page here.

IMPROVisE YOUR LIFE with Music Improvisation

[nggallery id=31] Download class flyer pdf

5-class series

Begins Monday, August 2, 2010, 3:00pm - 4:30pm, at The Cradle of Manifestation, 2483 Old Middlefield Way, Suite 150, Mountain View, CA

Start your week with an intention AND practice of living creatively.

If you are ready to take action in your life in a new direction, if you are facing a transition and need to gain a vision of greater possibilities, if you are simply wanting to feel more at peace with the changes happening in your world...this class is for you!

I have found that simply talking about and thinking about change is not enough to bring us the results we desire in our lives. We need to combine intentional thinking with mindful actions. How do we begin to do that?

This 5-class series will deliberately combine MIND and BODY work in the practice of music improvisation, with the intention to improve your experience of daily life.

You will...

  • Invigorate your body, calm your mind, and experience greater clarity as you begin to take action throughout the week.
  • Achieve greater awareness of your own thoughts and awaken to new possibilities through deep listening and meditative sound-making.
  • Learn and practice small daily rituals that will help you begin to live and act more creatively.

I will facilitate as we REFLECT on our intentions for the week and PRACTICE the core elements of free music improvisation:

  • listening
  • play
  • repetition
  • emptying the mind
  • letting go of attachment to outcomes
  • offering quality sounds
  • allowing silence

**Please bring a notebook or journal and a pen.

**Musical instruments are welcome but NOT REQUIRED. Some simple instruments will be provided for your use.

Enter into this practice and watch your life IMPROVE with IMPROV.

Mondays, 3:00pm - 4:30pm, August 2 - August 30, 2010, at The Cradle of Manifestation

Class Fees:

$30/single class paid in advance

$35/single class paid at the door (cash or check only)

$140/5-class series pre-paid at or before first session

Single Class or Series?