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Successes, Struggles and Coaching! 🌟

Meredith's Newsletter from March 31, 2022

Hello Friends Near and Far,

Happy almost April! Here we are, more than two years after the world paused, still dealing with Covid, facing new war and destruction in Ukraine, famine and starvation in Afghanistan, not to mention the devastating effects of climate change worldwide, and plenty of problems across the United States. It’s hard to look at the news every day - in fact, I don’t. In order to function and protect my mental health, I will only tolerate small doses of the negative things going on in the world. I know this about myself. Something I’ve just realized though is that my (recovering) perfectionist brain has an obsessive tendency to focus on things I could have done better, things I should have done, things that didn’t happen perfectly, or things that I really really want desperately to happen *just so.* Fixating on all these things is like keeping my brain tuned into the news. I know that doesn’t work in real life, but I have actually grown accustomed to my brain staying in that negative loop when it’s about me. It’s exhausting. And it’s unkind. I know it’s my inner critic trying to do its job to protect me. But that’s not serving me anymore. SO! I’ve started something new where I celebrate my successes AND struggles. Newsflash - sometimes things are both. I’ve posted about it on Instagram, but I wanted to go in deeper, and share some other things with you here. I hope it resonates with you, and I’d love to hear about your successes and struggles too!

Something that’s helped me along this journey is working with a coach. I started working with my coach almost two years ago, and it’s been transformative. I’m sure you’ve all heard of life coaching and career coaching, and as musicians, we have coachings on repertoire, and work with teachers and mentors. This isn’t any of those things. This kind of coaching is deep, and includes all of me in every conversation. It’s not about being told what to do, or how to be better, it’s about digging into the core of my desires and values, and getting curious. It’s a mix of being and doing. We’ve dismantled things I thought of as “truths” and it’s helped give me more courage and perspective. I set goals, and give myself homework, but a lot of that has been around how I can slow down, and be more present (one of my values). I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’ve also wanted to savor life more, have more fun, be more like my niece and relish being delighted in whatever life presents. I’ve learned about how my inner critic likes to keep me small to protect me and keep me safe, and that’s not the life I want. By working with a coach, I feel acknowledged and witnessed, and have developed habits and tools that help me be braver and kinder - to myself and those around me. It’s a remarkable shift to think about how lost and devastated I felt at the beginning of the pandemic to now look back and see the amazing things I’ve accomplished, and how many changes have come from the magic of this one addition to my life.

Coaching has been such a powerful tool for me that a year ago I decided to dip my toe into training and see what it’s all about. I LOVE IT. I’ve completed the core curriculum through the Co-Active Training Institute (the most rigorous professional coach training and certification program in the industry) and am starting Certification in April. Certification is a 6-month program where you deepen your understanding and get more fluent with the skills that you learn in the courses, while working in a pod with a leader who helps facilitate your growth. It’s basically like grad school and your pod is your studio. At the end of Certification, I’ll take a final exam and get some more letters to put after my name (CPCC - Certified Professional Co-Active Coach). I’ll need more continuing clients as I go through Certification, so if you’re interested (or know someone who might be), I’d love the chance to work with you.

A list of successes and struggles in no particular order (but mostly things that have happened recently/during pandemic times)

  • I began working with a coach

  • I realized that I want to change the world. I want to change the world on a big scale by reaching millions of people, and helping them in a positive way. How? I’m still not sure, but the ripple effect is real, and my love and care for others is deep, so I’m rolling with it. (Cue Adele)

  • I started Boundless Musician with my dear friend and colleague Jacque Marshall. I want other musicians to feel like they have a safe space to experiment and grow that has NOTHING to do with logging hours at the instrument, or nitpicking recordings to achieve perfection. I want other musicians to know that we can all be better artists by remembering that we’re humans and deserve nurturing, healing, stimulation and downtime.

  • I took an online course ALL about the inner critic called the Mindset Studio

    • I struggled. Because we really got in there with our inner critics. I also was crying for most of the entire last class. This is also a success.

  • I taught the first round of UnBounded (part of Boundless Musician) with Jacque and began coaching people and helping musicians!! THIS FELT AWESOME and I can’t wait to do more!

  • I got into more spiritual stuff, integrating different practices into my wellbeing. Stuff like:

    • I took a class where I learned about the Chakra system, and how balances/imbalances affect everything from our relationships to our digestive systems

    • I regularly saw an acupuncturist

    • I have had energy healing sessions

    • Attended Zoom sound baths (still want to go to one in person)

    • Made and posted my own meditations and wellness videos to IG, YouTube and Insight Timer

      • These both connect with my desire to help people and share music

  • I gave recitals in person, on social media and for different organizations while we couldn’t perform in concert halls

  • I’ve started coaching clients!

  • I took an audition in Stockholm for the Royal Swedish Opera… and was given a trial!

    • Struggle - I felt unprepared, and a part of me didn’t even want to do it. My main goal was to take the audition, and see what would happen if I let go as much as possible. I had no control over the outcome, and wanted to experience it from the perspective of what happens if I actually allow myself to be free, and not worry about ANYTHING other than staying in the moment and playing the music.

      • Success - Even though I didn’t feel awesome about how I played, I DID stay in the moment and let go of trying so hard to control and to play perfectly. (Struggle - it was still hard)

    • More struggles - I agonized over the dates I was offered for my trial - whether I should go in the spring and get out of work and a concerto for it. I asked the RSO for other possibilities, and was given other dates. I then worried those dates would conflict with potential auditions for orchestras here in the states (that haven’t even been announced yet - c’mon brain, don’t stress so much!). I’m still hoping the dates I’m there won’t conflict with auditions. Now that orchestras are announcing next year’s repertoire, I’m sad about the things I will miss hearing and being a part of here in the Bay Area. FOMO aside, I’m choosing to take a leap and go on this adventure. Who knows what will happen! Clearly this whole thing is both a success and struggle.

  • I’m playing as guest principal harpist for the San Francisco Symphony for most of this spring!! I feel appreciated and like part of the team, it’s pretty amazing both in building confidence AND for feeling proud of work that I’m doing on a regular basis.

    • Struggle - some programs have been super challenging and my inner critic likes to have conversations with me in long tacets before I play. Success - even when this happens, according to the SF Chronicle, I *sparkle*

  • I performed with New Century Chamber Orchestra and am featured in some videos that I AM REALLY PROUD OF (holy shit, I am proud of the final product of things. This is big, y’all.)

  • I was recommended to join the Recording Academy (I’ve applied, don’t know if I’ll be invited to join yet, but still)

  • I got a tattoo - it’s a bouquet of colorful flowers and a gift and reminder to myself that I am worth celebrating. Every day. No matter what I do or don’t do.

  • I played concerts with friends for the joy of making and sharing music

  • I started saying no to work that I didn’t want to do but could!

  • I’ve advocated for my needs professionally and personally

  • I have spent time with loved ones, but not as much as I would like. This balance is a struggle, but I love my family and friends, so it’s also a success.

  • I’m working on taking more time for me and allowing myself to slow down

  • I fell in love with coaching and helping people unlock their own creativity, worth and power

    • I’m now a Co-Active coach and will begin Certification in April!!

  • I took Suzuki Harp Book 1 Teacher Training

  • I have celebrated and invested in myself!

I look at this list, and am honestly a bit overwhelmed by all of the things that I’ve done. I’m proud of myself, and working with my coach has helped me with that. She’s incredible at calling me out, and helping me take stock of how amazing I am, and how I have done all of this. She’s awesome, and I love working with her. Coaching itself is a huge freaking game changer for me, which is why I’m doing it! Helping people celebrate and unlock their unique greatness is something I have always been passionate about, but I didn’t realize that it was something that was so value-driven and important for me. Values. That's another big thing. I am working on living more from my values, and have identified more of them through coaching and in the training that I’ve been doing. Honesty, hard work, freedom, joy, connection, and an unwavering belief that EVERY single one of us is amazing. These are some of my values, and having someone hear me, believe in my wholeness and creativity, and help me piece together things I want with the accountability to go out there and make it real is amazing. To be clear - I design the accountability, they’re my intentions and therefore my job to figure out how (and to whom) I will hold myself accountable. Curiosity is the guide, and the agenda is whatever the client has designed. It’s pretty much magic. It’s for musicians, parents, engineers, CEOs, and everyone between and outside of those categories. Probably also for dogs, but likely cats have the opinion that they have it all figured out anyway. They might be right.

Co-Active Coaching holds the client (and all people) as naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Just as they are, in any and every moment, every day. I love this, and am so grateful to be incorporating it into my own life as a human and performer, and really excited to bring it to other musicians and humans in general. For certification, I need to have ongoing paying clients to support my learning and log a certain number of hours. I’m offering coaching at a reduced rate during this time, so if this sounds even remotely interesting to you, I’d love to chat about it! Coaching is helping me think outside the box and go after what’s important to me. I want to share that with you!

Feel free to get in touch, or even share this with anyone you think could benefit!

Sending you all love, and I’m inviting you to visualize whatever gives you the best, most joyous feeling (a dance party, thunderous applause after a concert, a warm hug from your favorite person, jumping into a cold pool on a hot day - whatever gives you a little giddy feeling and brings a smile to your face). I hope you can live in that space for just a little bit right now



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