Starting a Band: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Launching Chinese Melodrama – Act One

The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity for me surrounding my new band, Randy Bales' Chinese Melodrama. In case you haven't seen it, we have a new blog and a Twitter account, where you can keep up with our latest activities. We've played in the Bay Area at least two nights every week for the past two months, and spreading our joyful energy has yielded plenty of early interest in our fledgling local band. I've been so amazed with what I've experienced that I put together 10 brief lessons from launching my first ever band. Let me say right away that it's been a total team effort with my friends and fellow musicians, Randy Bales (guitar/vocals) and Cathy Luo (percussion/bass/vocals). 1. Practice in public
  • In other words, be sure to play outside your comfort zone in public every once in awhile. Most of us can learn something from this statement: "Don't be so humble. You're not that good!" I can't tell you how many times Randy has encouraged us to play songs that I didn't feel were "ready". I can also tell you that at our first gig, I was deliriously frightened of what might happen! I had so many ideas about what a "performance" needed to be. Yet if I had waited until I thought we were ready, we might still have never performed in public to this day! My point? Be willing to start small. Just be sure to start!
  • Even if you consider it "practice", show up at your own personal best every time. This doesn’t mean you play perfectly. It means you set an intention for HOW you are showing up each time, and you let go of the results. And you do this every single time.
  • Notice that there will always be ways to improve upon your performance, but never be disappointed in yourself. If you’re tempted to “get down” on yourself or be harsh with your criticism, notice it and ask, “How will this help me show up at my best next time?”
  • Keep playing and be kind to yourself no matter what. Always know that you will have another opportunity to grow. It helps if you…
  • Create a regular consistent schedule of opportunities to play in a supportive environment. You will always get more comfortable by doing what seems uncomfortable at first.
  • All that said, also develop some “comfort food” – material that can always make you feel good, for those moments when you need to boost your own confidence.
2. Do the thing you think you cannot do.
  • This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is framed on the wall of my office. Practicing in public (item #1) was exactly the thing I thought or believed I could not do, until about a year ago. My peak discomfort point was reached – in a public, but safe, setting – and it forever changed what I believed was possible for me musically.
  • Give yourself the gift of being open to this kind of transformative experience. Instead of avoiding the thing you fear, embrace it as the very chance you’ve been wanting to break through to your next level in life.
3. Strike while the iron is hot.
  • If you have an intention or an idea, start NOW while your energy is behind the project, and take defined steps right away to make your idea feel real to you.
  • Learn to trust yourself. Go with your first instincts.
  • Take small, defined, and consistent actions over a period of time rather than waiting for everything to be “perfect” before you begin. Hint: There is no perfection, so get over yourself and act now.
4. Support other people’s efforts with generous encouragement and humility.
  • Judgment comes more quickly than understanding. Seek to understand first.
  • Capture and share not only your own work but others’ as well. Facebook is a great example of how this works. Don't you love being tagged in photos or videos? And reading others' comments or "Like"s? There is a real-world analog to this, and it's called being present, supportive and expressive. Try it!
  • Collaborate openly. Playing with other artists helps build bridges of trust and understanding, and helps you understand yourself better too. Continue reading "Starting a Band: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Launching Chinese Melodrama – Act One"

Get Inspired!

"When I talk about “the music within us,” I’m talking about when we connect with that place inside us where our vibration, our energy is aligned with our passion. It’s like music to our ears.  There’s a different sound to how we present ourselves in our lives when we are connected with the music within us, and that’s my metaphor for the essence in our nature coming out.  I’m just inspired whenever I see that, and it speaks to me." - excerpt from my interview for the Get Inspired Project
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Toni Reece, creator of the Get Inspired Project. Toni is conducting 365 days of interviews with people who are inspired and inspire others. The transcript and recording of our 15-minute interview are now live on Toni's site: This excerpt I found especially inspiring even for me to read again now: Toni: How did you come to realize that this essence, this music inside of you, the creativity, the spark, would play a part in your own courage to move you forward?  How did that realization happen for you? Lisa: Well, I guess the story that I would tell is that I went to medical school, frankly, because I was expected to.  In my family, education was a really high value, it was a priority, and the assumption was after college you go to some sort of graduate school; it doesn’t just end in college.  Just so people know … that’s the base assumption that I was operating on.  I went to medical school.  My brother is a doctor, I’d seen it done, it seemed very doable, but it was not my passion.  It was definitely a path to secure a career route that would do good for society, and these are all good things, but it wasn’t something that I loved. Continue reading "Get Inspired!"

What music will you bring into the world?

A few thoughts from my balcony this morning (including all the "and"s and "um"s of an unrehearsed, unedited vlog!): And here's the clip from a group improvisation, created about 35 minutes into the workshop session. We had prepared ourselves through a series of listening meditations, breath improvisations, body work, and open sounding exercises. The sacred space created from these collective activities is what enabled the pure freedom of sound you witness here. I post this with so much gratitude to the seven beautiful women who participated, and to my volunteer videographer!

Learning to play again

How the mind gets in the way

Two different days. Same scenario. I am rehearsing for an upcoming gig I've been graciously invited to play with a singer/songwriter/guitarist and a bass player/percussionist/backup vocalist. None of us has ever played together before. We met at a jam session and our lead guy summoned us together to join him for his gig. The difference between the two days? How wild my mind was the second time around. And how it prevented me from going “full out” with my expression. Interesting to notice. I’ve talked before about the freedom of the first take, and how I’ve found that when I’m totally open, not trying to “get it right” or worried about “playing the wrong notes,” I usually create something very interesting and often artistic. The minute I start redoing, rehearsing, recreating, researching – in the sense of trying to “live up” to the quality of the previous takes or the original version of the song done by the “people who knew what they were doing” – I lose it. I start trying way too hard. I start thinking, second-guessing, and measuring. The sound becomes stiff and artificial. I've played at six different jams in the past two weeks. I'm beginning to see that there is such a difference between playing from a place of pure listening and ownership of everything coming out in the moment, versus needing to know what you're doing. I used to play mainly from this latter place. I either "knew" a piece or didn't. I had the confidence that I could learn anything if I just practiced it enough. But this confidence didn't make "on the fly" or improvisational sessions possible for me. These weren't fun because I was attached to the idea that if I just had more time to practice, I would know enough to be able to join in. In fact, I always felt slightly underpracticed. Not quite as good as I could be. My so-called confidence was something I held in private, something that was conditional upon my having more time to prepare. Aside from instilling an obsessive work ethic that served me well at things like getting into Harvard, getting through medical school, and impressing people who think that the more degrees you have the better person you are, I haven't found this constant feeling of slight inadequacy to be that useful. Continue reading "Learning to play again"

What is the sound of YOUR music?

We all walk with music within you know the sound of your own music? I'm sharing a few brief audio podcasts on my musings today about the metaphor of "The Music Within Us" as the unique vibration we hold within our hearts and our individual power to create a lasting effect in the world. Sit back, enjoy, and allow the sound and rhythm of these words sink in awhile. [display_podcast]


DSC05775Welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

*What is The Music Within Us?

The Music Within Us is my metaphor for the energy within us, the life force, the power source behind all our creative potential. We each carry a unique vibration within us, a song that is like no other sound in the world. We each have the power to create lasting resonance in every life we touch, starting with our own. When we finally get quiet enough to feel our own peace, we begin to hear what sings in our own hearts. When we build the strength to begin sharing that song in service to the world, we take on the power of music to heal and transform. Our creativity needs to be nurtured, coaxed, and allowed into being. This takes practice, resilience, and the willingness to listen to our own lives. It also requires an environment that supports the uniqueness of our own process. The Music Within Us encompasses the space we must each learn to honor within ourselves, the tenderness we must learn to express clearly and unapologetically, the practice of stepping into new territory with an attitude of curiosity, and the result of feeling greater peace, joy, freedom, and compassion in our lives.  


Soul+ Body + Mind Coaching

Is it time to see yourself and your life in a whole new way?

My coaching is an integral approach to the internal ecosystem of Soul+Body+Mind. Through any of these portals you can access the greater whole of the self, and the interconnectedness of all layers of existence. The coaching process is all about finding the seed of your experience and applying the transformative power of Love and Presence as you remember who you are. My coaching is influenced by the following modalities woven into a seamless framework during each session:
  • Creative process and practice - sound, voice and music improvisation, writing, visual art
  • Bodywork - lovingkindness and presence through breath, awareness, and movement
  • Imagination and visualization
  • Conscious language - the power of words we choose and speak
  • Sacred body language translations - decoding the unspoken messages of the body
Life moments when coaching may be of benefit:
  • experiencing "burnout" as a caregiver, teacher, or health care professional
  • starting a new chapter in your career, your health, or your relationships
  • creating your own definition of success
  • committing to pursue your greater mission in life
  • recognizing there is more to life than the script you have been following
  • desiring more aliveness and creative energy in your life
  • distinguishing your own voice from the internalized voices of others
Do you feel called to explore a coaching relationship with me? I offer one-on-one sessions via Skype (worldwide) or in-person sessions in Half Moon Bay, California. Contact me to set up a *free* 20-minute phone or Skype consultation.

Here's what I do for you:

I create an environment of peace, safety, and playfulness that allows you to listen to your own truth and find clarity;
I share what I've learned in my own journey, and challenge you to discern what's true for you;
I witness you as you reach into your heart, see what's real for you, and build the strength to express it in the world;
I guide and support your process as you develop new habits and practice new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting;
I celebrate with you in that moment of discovery when your soul opens up to claim your own brilliance;
I joyfully support you as you find the music within you, and share it in the world as only you can.
I am not a "business" or "career" coach. If your goals are primarily financial ones at this time, there are many talented coaches who specialize in helping their clients achieve growth in their businesses and goals of wealth creation.
I believe that your life is your greatest teacher. I will help you get in touch with your creative potential as a human being, starting with the practical situations you find in your life right now. I will help you uncover and release the obstacles that stand between you and your highest potential to live a life of joy, peace, and freedom. I will also teach you the principles and habits of self-care that will serve you well beyond our coaching relationship as you continue to learn to listen to your life.


"Lisa has helped me transform from feeling like a lost and aimless empty nester to a joy filled woman with a full and exciting life. She helped me uncover and change the beliefs behind some thought patterns and behaviors I had that were no longer working for me. As a result, I now have my dream job as a financial coach at a local non-profit, I am drawing and painting again (something I loved in my youth and never gave my self permission to do as an adult), and I have a wonderful and loving relationship with my husband and daughter. Even more importantly, I am at peace within myself and am embracing life again. I am so thankful for Lisa’s gifts of listening, coaching and sharing her wisdom with compassion and understanding. Working with her has truly been life changing!" - Jill M., financial coach and mom
"I want to take this moment to REALLY THANK YOU Lisa. My outlook on life has been changing gradually over the last 3 months and I want to genuinely Thank you for being a great Life Coach. Your honesty and willingness to make a difference in my life is tremendously appreciated (more than words can express). You have become a role model for me. I am really inspired by what you have done (and continue to do) for yourself and others because I know how much courage and persistence it takes." - Neha K., physician
"Almost everybody who has heard my story cannot believe it. More than one person have come up to Jaime and said, "So George basically dropped everything, decided he wanted to do something different, but had no experience in it, and now he's doing it?" People have come up to me and told me that I've inspired them because they didn't think that it was possible to make that kind of dramatic change in one's life....I'm only just scratching the surface of everything that I'd like to share with you, but more than anything, I just wanted to say Thank You for being a force of positive change in my life when I really needed it." - George M., from business owner to dream job as theme park interactive ride producer/creator
"This wasn't just some New Age internal bliss while the world moves on.  I gradually changed my behavior, attitude, job, hobbies, classes, living circumstances, relationships, family ties, etc.  More importantly, I shifted the way I lived and experienced this world, which was the real answer to "fixing my career."...After one year with Lisa, my life is different both internally and externally.  Internally, I experience more stillness and excitement.  I am much less reactive.  I feel more wonder for the things that intrigue me....First and foremost, it is her genuine understanding and interest in applying what she has learned to help me.  It is, in fact, what prompted me to continued working with Lisa at the beginning despite frustration with other coaches and therapists.  Another quality I'd like to highlight is her "warm wisdom".  She has or is walking the path she teaches.  She coaches me like a wise companion." - Travis C., from tech executive to world traveler
"I became a client of Lisa's and have had coaching sessions both by phone and in person, in the peaceful ocean setting of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and in a "healing hike" in the hills of Silicon Valley.  These have been magnificent experiences.  The outdoor atmosphere, in particular, helped me to gain a fresh perspective, extract my mind from workaday concerns, and assess my life's path from an "aerial view" in nature's patient, serene surroundings.
"She urged me, through the adoption of specific practices, to make space -- both temporal and physical -- in my life and to be creative, rather than reactive, in difficult situations.  With her guidance, I have begun examining the thoughts that underlie feelings I previously thought were spontaneous and automatic, and to question the truth of those thoughts.
"At once brilliant, patient, and understanding, Lisa excels as a life coach, brimming with creative ideas.  If you want a reality-based approach to taking your life to the next level, beyond where others would have you settle, contact Lisa to begin your quest." - James Hill, MD


Join my email newsletter list to receive FREE in-depth articles and information on upcoming programs, delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe any time. Read these free "Life Coaching Basics" articles on my blog:

Part 1 - What is Life Coaching, anyway?

Part 2 - The Change Cycle

Part 3 - The Language Of Your Essential Self

Part 4 - Mastering Your Mind...And Not Letting It Master You

Visit my Physician Burnout and Wellness Resources page, if you are a physician or physician-in-training interested in new strategies to cope with stressful feelings at work. You'll find free downloadable audios and links to helpful articles.

Ready to take action?

Contact me to schedule a free 20-minute phone or Skype consultation.
Note: Sometimes web forms act unpredictably! If you do not receive a response within 48 hours, please send a direct email to drlisachu (at) gmail (dot) com.