Intention: Rest

There are some truths in life that are worth knowing deeply.

One of these truths is the value of rest.

Yup.  Rest.

I am sharing my thoughts about this because weariness and burnout are mightily formidable. They wreak havoc upon your body and your spirit steadily, and over a long time (or even a lifetime), they can erode all of the parts of your life that were intended to give you  joy and fulfillment.

First, let’s clarify what I mean by “rest”.

I am not talking only about sleeping at night.  I am referring to an intention to shut out all of the pressure, noise, expectations, and anxieties you face every day.

I am talking about the kind of rest that is restorative and relaxing.  A state of being in which your mind, heart, and body are quietly at ease.

I will be the first to say that entering into this state is not easy, particularly if your are not used to doing it.

We can say we are taking the day off, but are we really?

In my experience, I can be sitting on a chair and look like I am doing nothing.  What is actually happening is that my mind is moving at the speed of light thinking about all of my responsibilities and disappointments.

For others, taking a day off might mean spending hours on a cell phone pouring over Instagram or Facebook.

Both of these instances certainly address some aspects of rest, but they also fall too short of what it means to rest deeply.

Deep rest means actively decluttering your mind and body of the pressures of life.  There’s a reason why vacations are so fun and restorative.  They physically take you away from what you have to face head on every day.  They take you away from your burdens, at least temporarily.  As such, they feel liberating.

If I could take a vacation every week, I totally would, but since I am not independently wealthy and care about my personal responsibilities,  it is not possible.

Or is it?

To me, true deep rest has to feel like a vacation.  There has to be some level of joy, and you have to create a sense of separateness from your every day life. It also has to be ridiculously easy so that it does not become its own chore or burden.

This is what deep rest looks like for me .  .  .

Sleeping in and staying in bed at least one day a week.  I can read a book and fall back to sleep any time.  I’ll have snacks by my bedside. Cuddle with my cat Steinway.  I might watch a movie on my laptop or just stare out of my window.  In my head during these moments,  I am just enjoying myself and intentionally not thinking about anything stressful.

A quiet, warm bath also works well.

A massage from someone you trust works wonders.

Rest means physically allowing your body and mind to quietly settle into itself.  For this to actually work, you have to give yourself permission to let go of life’s physical and emotional demands just for a little while.

Think of it as your own mini and super easy vacation.  Find what works for you.

Do it every week.

Do it often.

Know that you deserve it.

As for all of those exponential gifts that this lesson will give.  I’ll leave those for you to discover.   Just trust that the rest of your hours and the busy-ness of your life will be better for it.

-Roqué

 

Intention: The Value of a Slow Lifestyle

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I grew up on a remote island in the South Pacific.  I vividly remember what life was like over there.  The speed limit was no more than 25 miles per hour on the roads.  Everything.  EVERYTHING moved at its own seemingly glacial pace.

Nonetheless, things still got done.  People worked, cooked food, had gatherings with friends and family, built homes, and lived full and rich lives.

On a clear summer night, I left that island with my tear-stained face on a plane headed for America.  Now, I live in a land in which someone else is always driving faster than you on the freeway, regardless of your own breakneck speed.  People hurry along in droves trying to get so much accomplished in so little time.  They are pulled in multiple directions raising kids, posting on instagram/facebook/twitter/etc, taking selfies, building a career, staying healthy, partying, traveling, creating, doing, doing, and more doing.

They all move SO FAST.

But why?

Seriously, why?

At what point did we learn that faster is always better?

What if we took on the intention to slow down in life?  Instead of taking on so many things so quickly, what if we did the opposite?

Could we do one thing at a time?  Do it at a slower and more comfortable pace?

Why not?

What if we regularly stepped back to press on the brakes and proceeded slowly?

For myself, what I gain from doing this is more space to breath and gather perspective.  So what could this look like for you?

Instead of a tackling a to-do list of 20 items, take on one important item with the trust that either everything else will get done in their own time or that some things just actually do not need doing.

When you eat food, chew slowly and savor every morsel of flavor.

Walk a little more slowly along your way.

Have multiple moments for yourself to take a long, deep breadth.

Take a drive through the countryside and do it slowly.  Feel the wind in your hair.  Drive slow enough that you can take in the view.

Pause before the next time you pick up your cell phone and acknowledge what is going on around you.  Is there someone you can talk to instead?  Maybe you can just do nothing for a few minutes.  Why rush?

Ultimately, living a life that is paced at a rhythm that is comfortable and sustainable means living a life of deeper contemplation.  You can trust that everything will get done and will happen as they need to.  You can still live a rich and full life.

Slowness allows us to actively live in our own richness.

-Roqué

 

Intention: Incremental Learning for Life

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One of the primary ideas I want to explore here at BLOOM is the concept of intention.  This is the first of an ongoing series of posts that expound upon the notion of living a life of intention.

First of all, what is intention?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, intention is defined as ” a determination to act in a certain way.”

It is synonymous with the words .  .  .

purpose
resolve
aim
conviction
hope

It’s a big word with a lot of depth.  So, the next question is “How does one live a life of intention?”

I suppose it means living with an active awareness of and acting on one’s preferences, desires, goals, and dreams?

I suppose?

All of that sounds hunky-dory, but is it really that simple?  I will not pretend that I know the fullest and best answer, but I want to take the time to find out.

One way that I have explored intentional living is through what I like to call incremental learning.  It is the kind of learning that is diametrically opposed to crash courses or any kind of fast learning.  Basically, you take a skill that  you want to learning and pick it apart to its most simple and fundamental components.  Then, you SLOWLY explore each of these components one at a time in a gradual, organic, and consistent way that has no deadline.

Back in 2012, I bought a cello.  I started taking lessons and have loved it ever since.  The challenge was that I am not a cellist by trade.  I am a piano player.  The way I learned to play and understand music is almost completely different than the way a cellist does.

I must have been crazy to take it on.

But I have always loved the instrument.  (Also when I grow up, I want to be like Yo-Yo Ma.)  At first, I dove in.  I found a wonderful teacher who taught me a lot that first year.  I was ambitious and focused.  I tackled as much as I could as fast as I could.

Then, I started to feel pain.  I felt pain in my thumbs and in my hands. I never felt pain when I played the piano, which feels as smooth as water cascading down a mountainside.

I had to stop and reassess.  I stopped taking lessons and took a long break.  I mulled over the viable option of quitting the instrument altogether.

What I eventually decided to do was to stick with it and do it more methodically and slowly.  This is where I have come to practice incremental learning.  I play no more than 15 minutes a day to reduce strain.  In those minutes I focus on just one element at a time.  For the longest time now, I have been working on strengthening my bow hold in a way that does not create pain or strain.  I have made good progress, but there is more work to do.  Other times, I might focus on creating a good tone that is pleasing to the ear.  Another time, I may just work on memorizing a piece.

Incremental learning means slowing down and taking the time to understand something one small element at a time.  There is no pressure.  No deadline.

This has been my intention, and I have reduced the pain while managing to learn something I love.  Even though this particular learning process takes forever, I am still getting out of it what I  wanted.

If there is something new that you want to learn that feels impossible or overwhelming, consider learning it incrementally.  Go with that intention and see where it leads you.  It will not be long until you find your own way.

-Roqué

What I Have to Give

I wanted to take some time to go a little more in depth about the intentions behind my new website.  It is, in fact, more than just a forum for me to promote my music and performances.  I am not in this for constant self-promotion or to make any money.

At this point, the truth is twofold:

    1.  I want to practice my skills.  In addition to being a musician, I am, for better or worse, a multi-hyphenate.  I am a singer-pianist-cellist-ukulele player-visual artist-photographer-storyteller-web designer-graphic designer-poet-writer-budding filmmaker-catlady-etc.  I wanted to create a virtual space in which I can explore all of my interests from any and all vantage points.  This website is my artist’s studio.  It is my personal garden in which I cultivate my ideas, imagination, and creativity.  It just so happens that all of you get to watch in real time as everything unfolds.
    2. I want to share what I know and have learned.  There is a layer underneath all of my multi-hyphenate skills/interests that informs all of these things.  This layer is a personal dedication towards self-reflection and learning.  I have taken a lot of time to think, ask questions, explore, define, and understand why events happen, how I behave, and how I can be a strong and good human being.  In some way, I hope that my writing and my work on this site will give my visitors insights into their own lives or some kind of inspiration to cultivate something that they love.  If all this sounds a little vague, you will see (or read) what I mean soon enough.

With all of this said, I would be remiss by saying there will not be some kind of promotion for my music, art, and performances because there certainly will be.

A friend of mine recently told me not to be afraid to toot my own horn.  I am growing into the idea that part of being an artist is being unapologetic and audacious.  I will inhabit these characteristics in my own dorky, brazen, and fantastically Asian ways as well.

Hopefully, with all of my most sincere  and heartfelt intentions, you will all somehow enjoy what I grow in this carefully loved, sacred space.

-Roqué

 

Welcome To My Brand New Website!

Today is August 1st! It is the official launch date of my brand new website roqueinbloom(dot)com.  This overhaul has been one of my big projects over the summer.  I decided that along with my name change to Roqué, I wanted to cultivate and present a broader view of my creative output. As such, this new website will not only be a place to access my music and information about upcoming shows, but it will also be an online forum for my visual art and writing.

As of this launch, you can now view galleries of my drawings, digital art, and photography as well as listen to my music.  There will be a dedicated poetry space in which I will showcase one new poem every month, links on how to find me all over social media, and “Bloom”, my new blog.

The blog will have a weekly posting exploring one of the following topics:

Piano and Music Performance
New Music and Videos
Visual Art
Intention
Personal Growth

All that I have mentioned is just the first tier of features this website will have.  I am adding an archive of my Where Pianos Roam photography project in the coming months. There will be an online store through which you will be able to purchase music and limited-edition prints of my art. Lastly, I will have a page dedicated to larger works-in-progress so that I can share my creative process with anyone who would be interested.

This site is intended to convey my artistic and creative journey through my life.  I am more than just my music, my writing, or my visual art individually.  I have many facets to my creativity that all coalesce and flow together.

This is where you can watch me grow and where you will see me bloom.

Thank you for visiting and please come back as often as you like.  I hope that in some way, I can inspire you to bloom too.

-Roqué