Passion and creation….

So..many….reality. …tv….shows. I think we are living in some kind of weird existence where life stops and an imitation of life begins. Reality tv versus the reality of life itself…..

Of course, by now we are all familiar with shows like ‘The X factor’ and ‘The Voice’. I am all for people going for their dreams. I cannot help but feel the people auditioning for these shows are missing something vitally important.

The auditions I’ve noticed are always very emotional, tense and fraught with what comes across as impassioned desperation. The goal-to be noticed, to be free from a hum-dum existence, from being a 9-5 drone. The promise of a glittering future in lights, glamour and celebrity. Wonderful stuff obviously if that’s your goal.

Most of the candidates interviewd seem really unhappy and disatisfied with their situation and themselves. ‘I want a better life.’ Fine…but what’s wrong with the life you have at the moment? It all seems to be about the fame. We can fulfil our potential in other ways that don’t require us be on a reality tv show. It isn’t the ‘be all and end all’. And if it is – you are on the road to misery if you ‘fail’.

The artistry and music seems to be of little importance. Having a strong voice and a personality that can be moulded and shaped to the music industry requirements is of the utmost importance. Great talent seems to amount to having a strong vocal, important of course but certainly not the be all and end all when it comes to being a musician.

Those who audition sing passionately and they go for it, that’s clear. What is missing for me is that pop musicians today do not seem to create music with an equal degree of passion.

As far as I’m concerned, real artistry doesn’t get a look in really. It’s all about who follows you, who supports you, are you popular, likable, charismatic, cute, funny, etc. Since when has that become a substitute for being an actual artist? Being a musician myself, I know that it is important to be appreciated (but for the music only).

I remember being taught years ago by musicicans who could only be described as absolute tyrants. They were amazing artists though. Likability wasn’t an issue – the music was always the priority. They didn’t care if they were liked at all really! People still listened to their music.

Most of the songs that are top of the charts today – I can’t remember them 6 months to a year later. And that’s not for want of trying for the musicians of today. There is a certain essence missing. An aspect of a creative spirit that simply isn’t there to me. Bring back Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix…please….

Music today has little originality unlesss you are actually pouring yourself into it. Your feeling, your experiences, your life. It should be all about you (but in a way that brings out the artist in you, not the celebrity in you). Songs that stand the test of time are those that have real feeling and depth. They come from a place in you that needs expression.

Music is a soulful experience. You ain’t a musician until you’re living it fully!

© Christina McDonald 2014

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Love, intuition and (the sometimes painful acquiring) of wisdom….

They say never give up on people. That sounds like an ideal situation to me. Almost some kind of uptopia. It also feels incredibly draining. If we all gave up on each other, what kind of world would it be? It wouldn’t be a good place to live that’s for sure. When do you know when to walk away from an emotionally unhealthy situation?

If you love someone and they continue to hurt and lie to you, where and when do you finally draw the line? In persevering with someone in the hope that things will eventually change, are we unwittingly opening ourselves up to abuse? When do we reach our limit and when is enough enough?

I have been through experiences with people in my life who have ended up hurting me constantly because I gave them too many chances. Then I start thinking to myself, ‘If I don’t persevere with them, then who will?’ Perhaps I care too much in the wrong ways or something.` How do you know when to walk away from people who are just using you?

I suppose you just know after a while intuitively. When you have been hurt so much, you simply cannot take it anymore. Walking away is something you end up having to do rather than wanting to do. Sometimes, you can only learn the hard way or not at all.

I often think about the the gurus and sages of our time. Jesus, Ghandi, the Buddha. Did they ever feel, I wonder completely and utterly tired and fed-up of watching people destroy themselves through addictions and negative behaviour? Of watching people speaking ill of and hurting others? Where did they acquire their great compasssion and strength and did they ever feel angry? Perhaps they did not deliberately try to change people. They must have simply lead by example and hoped for the best.

All we can do is our very best to make the world a better place and not trust to hoping anything will ever change. If it changes, fantastic. If not, then so be it. People who are receptive to healing and change will certainly walk through the door when the time is right. Ourselves included.

Love without conditions. Perhaps I want something selfishly for myself. Maybe that’s why I get hurt. I want something I simply cannot have. In that case, my love on certain occasions is conditional. No pain, no gain I suppose.

We may have to give up on others for whatever reason in life by walking away. Some things don’t or cannot change for many reasons. We do not have the right to be judge and jury either. Life is complex and we may often pass judgement on others which is completely wrong and unfair. It is only our opinion. Preserving one’s personal strength and emotional health comes first. I would say…don’t deliberately try to change things. If you can change somehow and you have the capacity to do so, then do it. As long as we don’t give up on ourselves, we’ll do the world proud in our own unique way.

That’s all any of us can ever do.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Thoughts on love and compassion…

Love. We all talk about it. It is the subject of many novels. Songs are sung about it, great symphonic masterpieces are written to its call. I would say it is one of (if not the most) beautiful and mystical force of our existence. To quote a famous star wars film, ‘it binds the galaxies together.’

Love is.

We are forever seeking love. Perhaps it is the great quest of our age. Finding that one person who completes us. A soulmate destined to be with us. Yeah – heard all that before.That all sounds a bit same old, same old to me.

We are seeking and seeking love and forgetting to act with love. There is nothing more important than opening ourselves up to not just the possibility of loving others, but loving ourselves. In fact, we cannot love others truly until we love ourselves.

Why?

If we haven’t understood what it means to love ourselves, we cannot know ourselves on the deepest levels of being. If we don’t know who we really are, how can we love ourselves and other people for who they really are?

That sounds all very straightforward and logical but the application is not as easy as it sounds. To really love yourself means searching and understanding every aspect of who you are. Understanding who you are means you can accept the good and the bad within you. You know yourself. Your strengths, your fragilities and vulnerabilities. To love with an open heart is to be completely vulnerable. Naked. Nothing to hide and everything to give without fear. With no conditions. That is why it is so hard to love.

True love is love without any conditions whatsoever. Something so all consuming and powerful requires us to be so vulerable and open. There is no such thing as freedom with limitations. You are either love completely or not at all. The ego is the only limitation and barrier to truly loving someone we have and it keeps our personal fears about it alive and legitimate. ‘What if they leave me? What if I’m not good enough? I know, I’ll cheat on her before she has a chance to leave and hurt me, then, I’ll feel better….’

That’s the small voice of the ego talking.

We dance the dance of love safely hiding behind the mask of our ego. Thinking, hoping and praying for love but never taking the step to be courageous enough to love in the first place. It’s like standing at one end of a very high rope bridge and talking about crossing over and over again, how well we could cross it and in what ways we might try to cross…and in fact never doing so. That is not the same as actually crossing the bridge…to cross it requires courage.

And love is the same.

“The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you,
Not in a mansion of wood and stone.
Spilt a piece of wood and God is there,
Lift a stone and you will find me”

(Nag Hamadi Scroll – Gospel of St.Thomas)

© Christina McDonald 2014

Good health is as good as good manners….

Time for a good old fashioned telling off and a bit of a moan….

Coughing and sneezing – everybody does it but not everyone puts their hand over their mouths. Is anyone else annoyed about this? I’m sorry to say it but it really winds me up. I find it inconsiderate and so disrespectful not to do this especially if you are ill. It seems wherever I go at the moment, nobody thinks to put their hand over their mouth when they cough or when they sneeze. A sneeze especially flies everywhere. Apparently it can travel up to speeds of 90mph. If you have a cold or flu and you neglect to sneeze into your hands or a tissue, you risk infecting the people in your immediate vicinity with whatever lurgy you have. Keep tissues with you and keep a hand sanitizer as well so if you have to sneeze into your hands without a tissue, you can get rid of the virus and/or bacteria.

Simple as that.

In a city, it is even more important to be careful about sneezing and coughing as there are so many people in such a concentrated space. If a serious viral epidemic ever hit a major city, we would be in big trouble if you ask me. It would spread so quickly in such a short period of time if we thoughtlessly sneezed and coughed over everyone. It is no wonder we are ill if we have so little consideration for our own health and that of other people. There is already a TB alert in London and it is apparently very difficult to recongnise and diagnose due to a limited number of lung specialists able to deal with the condition.

Not good news. So – please everyone – hand over the nose and mouth….then we may have a fighting chance before we actually get sick, have to take time off work and give it to others as well.

© Christina McDonald 2014

What do you want?

Life is short. What do you want more than anything else? When you find out what that is, go and get it.

Don’t wait for life to bring it to you. You go and get it!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”.

Howard Thurman.

This quote says it all. Too many of us waste time in jobs that don’t suit us. Relationships that don’t work. Worrying about nothing. We deny our potential and limit the true worth of our existence.

Take a leap of faith and follow your heart. You deserve nothing less.

Aliveness is a feeling that connects you to an intuitive purpose. You know it is right because it feels right. Don’t question it.

Do what you love, even if it is unpaid and voluntary. Find a way to do it and if it makes you happy, there is a good chance it will make other people happy too.

Carpe Diem.

You just know…

Be you!

© Christina McDonald 2014

Secrets

I have a close friend who recently told me she had an affair. Nothing really surprises me when I hear things like this. Perhaps I have become too cynical. She seemed tired, drained and lost as to what she should do to make things better.

Sitting in a tiny coffee shop in Soho, Central London, I tried to comfort her but my words seemed to resound off some kind of emotional air-bag. Nothing I could say could change anything. I don’t think she could make sense of anything anymore.

Happily married (or at least what seemed to be) with a wonderful husband and two gorgeous children, I asked her why she did it. She didn’t know. All she kept saying to me was that ‘she needed to escape from things. Steven and I have being having problems,’ Lord knows I understand that feeling. Welcome to marriage!

I could see that she wasn’t happy at all. That was clear. Extra-marital affairs happen so frequently and I believe they are a symptom of living a life that has lost meaning somehow. We start searching for a spark, some kind of exciting realisation that reminds us we are alive and still able to feel.

The problem with having an affair is that we end up feeling more than just passion. What can often follow in the destructive aftermath is pain, fear, confusion, abandonment, emptiness and loss. Is it really worth it? I asked my friend if she had any feelings at all for the man she had being seeing and she said ‘not really. I’m just unhappy in myself.’

When the passion has burned out, what is left? Sex is sex. It’s great at the time. It can certainly masquerade itself as love with all the trimmings. That is the illusion. Love and passion are related but like siblings, they have similarities but are very different to one another.

How to tell the difference?

Passion is all consuming, It makes you feel exhilarated, alive, vibrant and on top of the world. Love is actually quite a calm feeling, It makes you feel happy, peaceful and content. It has a sense of completeness like nothing else. It is easy to forget the true bliss of being happily in love, Washing dishes, ironing clothes and running errands to the supermarket is not something that reminds us how lucky and happy we are.

Passion is like a wave crashing against the shore. Powerful, intense, full of energy – aliveness. The waves don’t last all the time though. There is ebb and flow, change and continual movement. There is no stability and no prediction. Everything is uncertain at sea.

My friend was certainly lost at sea and looking for a lifeboat. All I could do was offer reassurance with the classic line ‘things will get better.’ I hate saying that. How do I know things will get better for her? I don’t, but I can only offer her some comfort.

At this risk of sounding totally cliche, I have to admit that things usually do get better in the end. “Time heals all wounds” and all that stuff. Somehow, things eventually end up making sense when the time is right.

© Christina McDonald 2014

The right time…..

“Excuse me, do you have the right time?” That’s one of my favourite questions. Someone is always sure to ask me on my way to work. That, and directions to the nearest tube station. I don’t know. I haven’t got a watch. I just look at my mobile phone. 4.45pm, 2.15pm. 10.00am? There’s lots of time to choose from. Keeping time is cruical. We don’t want to be late. Late for work, a dental appointment, our kid’s school play…you could quite easily say that time means everything. There is not an unlimited amount of time in the world that is given to us.

Time is life itself I suppose and it is incredibly precious. I am always very conscious of time and it isn’t just because I’m getting older. My training as a flautist at university years ago brought the concept of keeping time into great importance…and I never wanted to keep the beat. I always wanted to wander and improvise! Not much has changed for me really. I still love wandering along my own way. Clocks dominate our lives. Every second, every moment, every hour, every day. Late, early, on time. When is the right time?

Life seldom goes to plan. We plan so much in the hope that things actually do go to plan! With schedules, intense oganisation and five year plans, ‘when I’m 30, I need to be in this position, I need to have my first child, I need to be placing a deposit on a property’. I used to get so worked up about having a plan until I realised that very little ever goes to plan.

In fact, if I was too rigid about being organised, I would miss some of the wonderful opportunities that ended up changing my life. Serendipity can’t work its magic otherwise. Of course, planning is a good thing. We’ve got to make a path through life somehow that makes some kind of sense to us. It’s always good to keep a map in the rucksack….

It is a bit scary I admit to go through life and not feel as though you know what you’re doing. My mid twenties were some of the most confusing and lonely times in my life. I didn’t have a clue where I was going or what I really wanted. What made these feelings worse was thinking that everyone else knew who they were and what they were doing.

I was lost in comparison with others. The truth is, nobody can ever really know exactly what is come. It was very unsettling at the time I remember. I felt like some kind of crazy woman who pretended her life as a freeelance musician and teacher was well planned.

I couldn’t even plan if I was going to be able to pay rent next month and eat. Time back then, seemed like it was being wasted! There is something very reassuring about having time structured to the marching beat of intense organisation and planning.

Looking back, I feel that all my experiences were worthwhile because it enriched my life somehow. I met great people I would not have met otherwise and I had experiences I would not have imagined possible. Even though there were times I felt my life was a chaotic mess, there was still something important to be gained from that time spent ‘lost’ if you will.

If we do not allow ourselves to be lost for a while, we can’t ever find the way. Some of the most glorious moments on life’s journey is discovering a path you would not have travelled if you had not allowed yourself to drift for a while.

Quite simply, the right time is right now. Just make the most of every moment that is given to and don’t stress about finding the path. I don’t think the path can be be found really. The path will take you when you start walking…

© Christina McDonald 2014