Posted by: Marie | October 20, 2012

(731) Navigating the twists and turns

Post #731
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, December 1, 2011]

Yesterday, I led an activity at my new conscious business group. I separated the group of 16 attendees into four smaller groups. Then, I gave each small group a “ideal chord progression” chart and a few guidelines. The, I challenged them to create several measures worth of a chord progression and then a corresponding melody line.

Towards the end of the activity, we stitched together the four pieces of music into one piece of music and I played it with the synthesizer on my computer’s composition software. It was a pretty cool piece, considering the randomness of its creation.

The “lesson to be learned” from the activity was to observe how we interact with others in a group. One lady is well-known for being controlling (not obnoxiously so, just more than most people) and I was interested in seeing how she handled the activity – especially since she is a musician.

She didn’t disappoint . . . she thought she knew what I was going to do with their piece of the music and how it would fit together with the other pieces, so she tried to steer her group’s effort in a way that would affect the other groups’ efforts in the way she felt was best. But, it ended up that I did something different from what she anticipated and things didn’t go as she had anticipated. So, she lost control because she anticipated inaccurately.

The cool thing is that she became of aware of that fact . . . I don’t know if the awareness is enough to cause her to consider a different way, but maybe . . .


My housemate, Susan, had a conversation with me today . . .

Erik has decided to quit his corporate job. He is going to work with Susan in her pet grooming business so she can handle more clients per day. And, he is going to start his own poop-scooping business. I’m all for this decision . . . I think he can better care for his health (which he needs to do) if he is self-employed.

They have been working on creating a budget that will allow them to survive the lean times they will likely experience in this next 12 months. Susan said they will likely increase my rent by $50. I felt a flash of anger . . . why should I have to suffer the consequences of their choices?

The Mountain View by Martin Chen

I already pay the market value for what I have . . . I have a large bedroom and bathroom, and a wet bar as a kitchen. I don’t have a private entrance . . . I have to walk through their part of the house to get to my part of the house.

I have to park on the street.

I can’t entertain because the common space that was supposed to be available to me to use as a dining/entertainment area (when Erik isn’t using it for his work) has been turned it into a general storage space and a workspace for Erik’s restoration of his VW bug. There are car parts, boxes, miscellaneous junk, dust, dog pee stains, etc. all over the space and it is no longer usable for social purposes. It’s not a dealbreaker for me because I can entertain at my piano studio. But, nevertheless, I am paying for use of that space and it’s not available to me.

Plus, I take care of their animals and water their flowers and garden on a regular basis when they go out of town on weekends. And, I have to push through their laundry every Saturday when it is my turn to use the laundry facilities. That was never the deal . . . but I’m okay with it . . . I just don’t think it is fair for them to raise my rent when I’m not getting what I’m already paying for.

Between what I’m paying for studio rent (it increased $100 a few months ago) and what I might be paying for house rent, I could rent a studio apartment in which I could live and teach. I made that point with Susan . . . I wanted her to think about how good she really has it with me as a tenant. I don’t want to move, but I don’t want to pay more, either.

And, more than anything . . . my budget is already stretched as far as it can be. I still cannot afford health insurance, my car needs some major repairs so that it doesn’t leave me stranded someday . . . I don’t have extra money to be throwing at a rent increase. The reason I put up with a less-than-ideal living situation is so I can save money. I’m not going to live in a less-than-ideal situation AND pay more!

Grrrrrr . . .


I had an initial evaluation and a first lesson with a new adult student today . . .

His name is Jeff and he is about the same age as me. We talked about the usual “getting to know you” stuff . . . what learning to play the piano might look like . . . what he wants to accomplish . . . his learning style . . .

Quite a ways into the conversation, he mentioned that he is a psychiatrist – meaning that he is a medical doctor as well as a mental health clinician. I was a bit surprised with this disclosure as he is very laid back . . . down to earth . . . unassuming . . . not at all stuffy like I would expect a psychiatrist to be.

Of course, his mentioning his profession caused the conversation to head in the direction of trauma therapy . . .

I shared with him that I had been molested by the choir/music director of our church when I was four, that the director used the piano and music as a means of connection with me, and that I pulled away from music later in life because it stirred up painful emotions for me. I also told him that the molestation – and then the healing process – allows me to be a better teacher now. I told him how much the teaching and the composing has brought healing to my soul.

Jeff shared with me that he had experienced some trauma as a child, as well, and that he has been on his own healing journey in recent years. He additionally shared that one of his elementary school teachers told him he didn’t have an ear for music and that he never would. (Ouch!!) And, other adults in his childhood discouraged his exploration of music.

Because of that, Jeff has never felt the freedom to learn to express the music in his soul. So, this challenge of learning to play the piano was a pretty scary idea for him. I assured him that he is capable of learning to play, and that I would be kind in my teaching.

I’m really looking forward to teaching him . . . I think he will be a really awesome student. And, I’m thinking that he could be another “safe” (he is married) man with whom I might develop a healthy, healing relationship.

I hope so . . .


  1. That rent increase sounds awful. Hope you got on well with the new student.

    • Thank you for the well-wishes, Evan!

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