From MA to MA
This month’s blog post was originally going to explore the connections between my research on Maria Antonia, Electress of Saxony and my research on Marian Anderson, hence the title But then something else wanted to be written instead, something about the role of books and research in my life. So let’s see where this takes us, shall we?
I’ve loved to read since I learned to read. My interests have been varied, with literature, science (especially astronomy), history and fiction present in ever-shifting proportions. Of course, much of my reading was tied to school subjects, so there were always Shakespeare plays in there, and in college, Arthurian legends. Science fiction was there in my teens, with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy being a particular favorite. I was a Beatles fan, so a significant portion of my library was devoted to them. I have also had a strong interest in metaphysics since childhood, and books on astrology, divination, angels, and feminist spirituality joined my collection over the years.
In the early 90s, I became interested in play, humor and their connection to health. This was in the wake of seeing Cirque du Soleil for the first time. The show had an uplifting and exhilarating effect upon me, and I wanted to understand why. I began to read about playfulness, and to explore mime and clowning. I taught myself to juggle during this period using Juggling for the Complete Klutz. Career-wise at the time, I was working in television and hating it. I wanted more out of life than answering phones and pushing paper. What Color is Your Parachute?, that well-known job-changer’s manual came into my life, as did Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.
Soon, I returned to college to study music full-time, and my bookshelves reflected this as my collection of music scores grew. My doctoral research on baroque music and women composers is still visible on my bookshelves and includes my dissertation Her Highness’ Voice: Maria Antonia, Music and Culture at the Dresden Court. Most recently, works by, about and related to Lewis Carroll and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have taken up an increasing part of my bookshelf space.
All of my research, I’ve come to realize, grows out of a desire to understand myself and my place in the world. My research from Maria Antonia to operas composed by women to women composing for Marian Anderson has helped me build my courage muscles and understand my creative impulses by bringing me into contact with women across space and time who fearlessly pursued their dreams, often against the odds. Now while this is all very well and good, I am getting towards the end of my interest in researching others. Reading about others’ creativity is not nearly as much fun as creating, and I increasingly prefer creating works that draw from my own experiences.
Meanwhile, my interest in metaphysics has moved away from oracles and divination and deepened into a desire to understand and connect to Spirit. I’ve come to realize that this connection is essential to the health and well-being of individuals and the planet. We connect with the positive, joyful, loving Source of Creation when we are positive, joyful and loving, and having a playful mindset helps us revive this innate ability that we often lose on our journey through life. Music, Lewis Carroll, yoga, crafting & collage and baroque dance are all part of my playbook. And I’m very interested in sharing my journey with others, in creating opportunities for us to play together, in discovering ways to make every day a frabjous day. Callooh! Callay!
Leave a comment below and tell me: What’s in your playbook? What activities or books help you maintain a positive a-Tea-tude?
[By the way, the Madisonnet Time! 2021 Calendar—a perfect Unbirthday gift—is still available through April plus Madison’s Whimsicali-Tea Shop]