Do it scared, Do it imperfect, Do it brave 

For some people the thing that terrifies them most is traveling to some far away country or losing their earthly possessions. For others it is public speaking or simply asking someone out on a date. For me it was inviting people into my story of making music. It was extending an invitation to financially support my art, as well as put myself out there. I knew that this journey was going to, quite literally, re-arrange my insides as I set out to do it. It was as if I was walking toward a cliff with my eyes closed so I wouldn’t have to look at the drop ahead.

And I jumped. 

Here is the thing - I could have (and maybe I did for several years prior) made many excuses for why it wasn’t the right time, or why I wasn’t ready, but I knew deep down that it was now or never. I knew that I would be one of those people who always talked about it to everyone, waiting for the right advice or for someone to magically do it for me. I have noticed that great things in life generally do not get done this way. The people that we want to hear from, that actually have something to offer our hearts, usually have a choice that they must decide upon themselves - alone with God and no one else. 

Making a decision to step out into a heart calling is not achieved through people pleasing or perfection. It is done right where you are, ready or not. It is an instantaneous choice you stick to again and again. You go out and stay the course, without the promise of a perfect outcome. Faith is this very thing - the hope of something you have not yet seen, but choose to believe with all your heart. It is a beautiful and risky thing, and pretty uncomfortable when stepped into 100%. 

I am sure someone told me long before that these kinds of journeys are full of mountains and valleys. I am sure I heard them with my head and only part of my heart. No one can prepare you for the leap of faith. Only then do you truly gain understanding that makes its way into wisdom. 

So, I did all sorts of things. I got in front of my audience (that I wasn’t even sure was still there) and I sang songs. I talked about the stuff on my mind (even when I wasn’t sure I was making any sense). I tried to take creative pictures and post them (even when my “saboteur” told me people would think me vain and self absorbed). I made the weird leap into marketing oneself even though I am a musician for heavens sake! I asked people directly for their financial support (BARF!), I texted everyone I knew (sure that they would disown me and equate me to an MLM scheme). 

I am not a photographer, I don’t have a marketing degree, I am not a public speaker or even a public figure, and I don’t have a huge audience that would guarantee I raise even half my funds.

What I did do was jump regardless. 

I made a deal with God that I would keep my end of the deal. I would not (to the best of my human ability) worry about the outcome, I would just show up. I wouldn’t let imperfection or the opinion of others stop me. I would make time to get quiet, pray and meditate. I would stay positive about my craft and believe that this is what I was meant to do - NO MATTER WHAT.  I grappled with the waves of emotion with as much honesty as I could. I just went for it. 

That is the thing. Whether we get what we set out to get or not, how we approach it is everything. Just doing it, I discovered, is a complete win. What have we got to lose? 

I can’t count all the discoveries along the way. I found so many things I loved in the process, and many of the giants that seemed so scary, when faced, were really not that bad. I even found that I liked doing things I was previously terrified of. The critical voices were faced and some were silenced. I came to believe that no matter what, it was going to be okay. I believed that this was worth it. 

In the end, I made my goal. It is the kind of ending to a story that you want to hear. But I can say, wholeheartedly, even if I had not made my financial goal, I still would have gained so much. It did work out in the end. I chose to believe somehow it would, even if I didn’t have all the answers or preparation in place. And this has been a huge discovery for me. You just have to go for it.  Do it scared. Do it imperfect

Do it brave.

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Creative pursuit

 

   So this particular post, I am planning to write and see what comes out. I have a general idea of the things I want to say, but overall this is my heart essay, messy and unperfected. I have been reading and chewing on a lot of information related to what it means to be a creative that successfully markets oneself. One particular interview was especially inspiring on the Tim Ferris show podcast where he interviews designer Debbie Millman, and so much resonated. I think for many creatives, putting art out is terrifying on a lot of levels. You are putting your rawest version of your self out there, and then having to actually market oneself… forget it. Game over. And that has been the story for me for a long time. I have just sat back in my life size chair and watched the years meander by.

    Well, maybe not meander…

     I did get married, travelled, gave birth to two sons and set up a business where I teach the very things I love. I conquered my fear of being a bad runner and successfully ran 2 half marathons, I climbed the hills of foreign landscapes, I wrote like, so so many songs, I started blogging this year (with no real expectations except to start doing something I was passionate about), and now I find myself face to face with myself. I always circle back here - to the deep. To the place I am sure I was formed out of the earth from, where all things that are good and memorable and intrinsic to purpose and destiny find themselves. Its is a sort of siren song that pulls me in, and at times has been daunting. Daunting because it never silences, the low tones always casting a shadow over all my activity (or lack thereof). And so, I have set out to define this thing. To really pursue instead of being pursued.

   On the way home from a brief road trip with some friends, i recorded our conversation as we mulled through thoughts and ideas. It could have been a podcast because there were so many gems. And what I came out with were some very basic questions and concepts.

   What shuts me down as a creative? What do I really want (and in detail)? What is the very worst that could happen? Where have I felt there were boundaries for me as an artist? What self talk have I allowed to keep me from moving forward?

   Sit down and journal that for a hot minute and you will be surprised what comes out. 

   Just giving shape to those thoughts in statment made me realize what the paper tigers were, even how silly some were - laughing out loud as I wrote them out. And the thing is that, for most of these things, even if the worst happened, I would actually walk away with some sort of gain. 

   For instance, total transparency, I get this thing I have coined a phrase for,  “creative paranoia”. Defined as ‘somehow I am not as good with my art as I would hope or believe myself to be andsecretly everyone knows it. Okay this is just paranoia. But honestly, this thought alone has kept me from putting out content. I read a great quote that, summed up, said “even someone at the top of their game who has seemingly beaten all the odds still has the daily struggle”. And another, “ I have only met 2 people in all my years who did not question their creativity at some level, and they were both in their 80’s”. These are paraphrased, but you get the idea. I just took deep breaths of relief that not everyone views themselves in perfect form all the time. That we can somehow be confident in our art and gifting and still feel these things.

    Another one: I always believed I had to achieve some accolade in order for my music or writing to be noticeable. Yes, partly that could be true years down the line, but not at the outset of a business.  Its a bit of a catch 22 if you ask me, and ensures total paralysis. 

       The list goes on. One after the other stripped of power, and I am feeling movement under my feet. I am believing that every step counts, and momentum is only created in the act of succesion (no matter how small). I am amazed at what can be achieved by those who are relentless in their pusuit. Those who are reasonable but who count their dreams as bigger realities than the alternative. And truly, those who know what that dream is. What does it look like? The more detail, the better. 

    Relentless pursuit. Hang up detailed outlines, look at it everyday. Make weekly, monthly, yearly, even decade long plans. Plans surely change, and those successful can mold to the process, but we must start somewhere. Its all process anyway. 

   This has been wildly encouraging and I am sure as I continue I might have more to offer on these things, but for now may this be an encouragement to you. If you are like me at all, you have found yourself in doubt at times, questioning and even not completely understanding the outline. You’ve probably felt all kinds of crazy and just wanted to be done with it all. But if it is a thing that returns in the quiet moments, compelling you into the unknown, then surely you are not alone, and surely it must be pursued. We may see a different picture at the end, and perhaps not all we set out to do will come to pass, but surely we will be surprised by what we do achieve. And then, when we are 80 and have earned the right, perhaps we can sit unhindered by the pullings of our youth. We would impart to our younger, more vulnerable selves that though the path be marked with many unknowns, the journey is sure to be worthy. 

Perfectly Planted

  So often I hear this terminology: Stuck. It is used as an expression for a feeling or a place we literally feel we are at in life. I have been warned lately to be careful around this word. Mainly because being planted can feel a lot like “stuck” when a soul grows impatient. And impatience is born of discontent, and discontent is the result of a wrong lens…

    I once was offered a “free” spot at a self help conference aimed at musicians who wanted to grow their careers. It promised to give its recipients the tools to grow their careers exponentially with ‘secrets’ of the industry (whatever that means). It felt a lot like an MLM that tells you that you can use your money to do all those things you’ve been dreaming of, but first you have to be fully devoted to that thing you’re selling, you have to give money to make money. It felt emotionally manipulative with all the music and interactive exercises; all the preying on a persons desires and their worth. Truly, what I felt this man saying was that the reason things haven’t worked out for ‘you’ is because, first - he apparently had all the answers that I needed to succeed, and second - somehow I hadn’t worked hard enough. I hadn’t put in the time and effort. And this reminds me a lot of legalism. 

    There was no discussion about timing - apparently I was in charge of my own destiny, and if it wasn’t working out the way I wanted, it was my fault. (whew! So much pressure!) There was no room for process or discovery, or even, it seemed, for making mistakes. My Gosh, what in the world would we EVER have to offer if we did not fail, or have a story to tell? If we were all just magically successful by our own efforts. And, of course, by the end of the emotionally manipulative conference that took up my valuable time (and also, btw, insisted that the music industry was filled with low vibration energy and fear, so I should just be a keynote speaker for corporate conferences because that was the only way I would ever make any money…) he locked the doors and did his high price package speech. Apparently, I had to pay more to really get the answers. I only know they locked the doors because I desperately had to pee… and had to talk my way out. 

    This probably sounds outrageous, and hopefully you never have to experience something like this. But, all this to say - he preyed on us with the word - stuck. 

  And who doesn’t identify?  

   Who hasn’t felt stuck at times?

    We are creatures of process. Being planted is vital. And it does feel a lot like being stuck. There is a pull to move forward at the speed with which you can pull up information on the internet. But we are not designed for this. We will only be deep wells if we can walk the path we are on with intention and perseverance. Nelson Mandela surely grew in wisdom in the confinement of a prison. And Corey Tin Boom in the concentration camp, Helen Keller in the confinement of senses… to be planted where they were. Planted in hardship, boredom, in sunshine, in slow molasses-like days running one into the next. Planted raising children. Planted slowly working toward dreams. Planted where God has us. 

    It’s not that I don’t believe that there is a time for change; for great shifts and all that. But the majority of life is not that. The majority of life is our every day. And when we are busy, a great percentage is spent in vehicles, or running errands, or smaller, insignificant-seeming tasks. 

All these are holy

    So, all of this to say - I am working toward contentment being where I am. I am not stuck - stuck is a lie. We are never stuck, not with God. Sometimes the doors don’t fly wide open, and we wonder why. But I know to God, timing is everything… and it’s a good thing for us. His timing is Perfect. So just for this day, I am declaring myself ‘unstuck’ and ‘perfectly planted’.

  

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A Right to Process

 

This post is about sadness. Honestly. 

  These days I would consider myself a joyful person, stable even, full of adventure and life. However, this last week I found myself in a space that I felt ashamed of. Probably because there isn’t a whole lot of space to be sad in this society, people don’t show their grief. And so we silently bear loads that were not meant to be carried alone. 

This sadness, or even depression, was like a hole that I could not crawl out of. A fog or a bad dream.  The haze has cleared and I can see again, but everything in me writhed to be out of the place I was occupying inside my heart. It was a darkened lens. Nothing was good enough, and encouraging words felt either like frustrating impossibilities or condescending suggestions.

I think, upon reflection, the kindness to myself was in how very hard I tried to encourage my own heart. How I tried to find the hope I know to be true in God. How I was still mother and wife (all be it, not my most shining version). How I fought my hardest to escape the place my mind was stuck in, like a swamp of muddy quicksand.

And this is how some people live all the time. There is no compassion that exists apart from empathy. To know darkness and grief is truly meant to lift others out of their own. I know when I was younger I struggled often with feelings of hopelessness, but have since found my way out into great hope and healing. However, this revisiting was a stark contrast and a reminder that many live with a veil about their hearts, and they can not see out. I have loved friends who simply could not cope with such darkness. 

I am grateful for a clear view after some sleep, some prayer and some friends to process with (lets not forget the acupuncture appointment, body work really does help). My own conclusion is that process is just that… process. 

The heart knows what it must expel. It knows when it has been crossed or grieved or misled. And it knows that if it does not purge, then we are in danger of storing that pain. A process cut short or cut off is like a clogged artery. Something will give eventually. 

There is no quick way around it, and often the quick feeling remedies only prolong it (sugar, alcohol, any distraction really). Who knows why the pit felt so deep, why such small circumstances felt so big. Bigger than life. Why I often return to the same points of contention when I am sad or feel hopeless. But there is always a wider view available,and it is sure to come if I just have faith and wait. 

 I awoke with a sliver of hope that I had forgotten. Reminded that every step does matter and does, in fact, take me somewhere. That my efforts make some ripple in the waters we all swim in, it is all too easy to feel that they don’t. I am reminded that there are good things in front and on either side. I am, again, excited to work toward something, not overwhelmed by impossibilities or burdened tasks. Just a childlike excitement of creativity. Something I know I must hold tight to.

The phrase, “fight for joy”, was kindly suggested. At the time, in my heart of hearts, I truly felt I had fought all the fight I had in me, and was still drowning. So the suggestion was beautifully intended, but just felt overwhelming to me. Probably because in my heart the question was:

What does that even mean?

Is there an equation to joy?

It almost felt as if I was not permissed to give myself the space for sadness or grief. Certainly there is a place to stand up in the face of it all and be thankful, to remind my heart who God is, to carry on. But one must have the right to process. 

Maybe ‘fight’ is a misleading word. Does joy not have more to do with childlike receptivity, a deep knowing that God is good? The kind that is in my heart and not just my head? This can only be known and discovered inside of process, In being okay with the barrage of emotions, sadness and frustration. In not judging why I feel this way or scratching around for a reason. God is always sure to give us what we must know about it. 

It is a walking through to the other side, or maybe just waiting it out sometimes. Not trying to fill it. Just crying out, being completely naked and honest before God. Waiting on Him. I think everything else might just be a bit shallow. A bit less rooted. I have sat through many discomforts thus far and still live to say that He is good. 

 

 

A Year In Review

 

10:04pm, exactly at this moment. not too far away it is 1:04am, and across the sea it is tomorrow. I sit in anticipation of the year to come, in my version of now. Its a new year already to most of the world. Crazy. 

What has this last year offered me, and what have I offered. At first glance only the majors came to mind. A new baby, some new songs,what else... hasn't everything moved at a snail pace? Everything blends together in the constant mothering, in the major shifts of family and work. Where has the time gone, what have the days offered up but a blur... have I really anything to reflect of worth? 

But then there were those quiet moments. The meditative ones, the profound ones where I actually heard something. Looking back over the last year in my journal, quiet with God, asking for highlights, I started to see the deep rooted soil I can say I stand upon. It may not be obvious or loud, but this is where all change begins. It is like a seed, small and unnoticed from which great things grow. Surely I have been invested into in the quiet, we all are investments - worthy treasure troves. My list began:

Closed open wounds of a homeland and reconnected to a birthplace

A rewired heart, ashes for beauty: Jealousy, envy, grief and strife for Expectancy, Hope, Truth and joy

Brought forth new life in the deep waters of womb, divinely knit.

Experienced deep reliance

 A year of listening

A year of dreaming

A year of defined identity

So many things have changed, and in the flurry it can seem missed and small, almost invisible and hard to point to... and yet is so major. For me, it has been life changing. All paradigm shifts are. I know I have been in the growth stages for a while and that something worth while will be birthed out of it.

I look to the lists of beauty I have made. So many things that would normally be missed...

-That place my lips land when my baby snuggles up to me, right behind his ear, on the peach fuzz of his head. Yum

-That moment when I nestle under the covers, soft and cool, and I get to fall asleep unhindered

-The fish hanging from my sons 'go fish' pole, how he wants to show me what he caught (may he always want to show me)

-Old friends who know pieces of me, sacred pieces. The kind of knowing that feels like yesterday and always has been, always will be.

-The reminder that 'hurry' is not part of Gods vocabulary, a reminder to be restful in every moment

-The ease with which my fingers move upon a fretboard

-The old man who 'shimmied' on the dance floor, throwing hands high, while i played old standards

-That, sometimes, church bells ring out- and I can hear them from home...

And the list goes on, every day. Morning coffee, encouragement from friends, kindness of strangers, all things working together for good. 

This year has taught me many things. But mostly, I think I have learned to see with intention. To confidently hear. To powerfully be. 

 

 

The Deep Listening

'The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible. Isn't joy the art of God?' -Ann Voskamp

A friend suggested a documentary to watch the other day, and to be honest, I rather like to watch movies that just take me away from reality (maybe it's the creative in me that wants other worlds realized). However, I chose to watch it. The title spoke something to me. "Minimalism"... which seems to be my every pin on pintrest these days. The tiny house movement and challenges to rotate out fashion as if I was living out of a suitcase. I found it all very romantic.

Pretty much, it had me enraptured the entire time, leaning in to glean everything I could. In fact, I think I realized a starving piece of my soul. There was something very life-giving about it. And maybe this is because, in particular, we are in one of the most sacred seasons, as well as ugly. I have, no joke, watched at least 5 confrontations in parking lots as they rush to try to get whatever it is they feel they need to consume to make the seasonal quota. Drivers are nuts, kids are cracked out on candy, and there is this overwhelm of STUFF. Stuff to buy, stuff to eat, stuff to do, stuff to wrap.

Don't get me wrong, I actually really love the festivities of christmas and all the caroling and hot chocolate and decorating trees. I love the traditions we are making with our boys, and the one of maybe 2 times our family all gets together during the year. I just don't love everything else. I don't love the pressure. I don't love all the 'things' given without meaning from people who have to ask because, lets face it, they don't know me enough to know what is valuable to me.

All this to say, it has brought me to a place where I am looking around my house. I want to let so much of it go. I want to sell it and pour that money into a day trip somewhere, or into canvasing a photo that means something to me. I want to own responsibly, I don't need 3 of the same thing. And even more, I think that I desire to see what matters. To spend my time being defined by what God says, rather than what consumerism tells me. Do I have to be rich, or well known in music to be considered worthy of my talents? How ridiculous is this notion, and yet deep down we secretly respect the one who is more noticed than the next guy, like it means something. 

I think for me, the deep seeing is the deep listening. I choose to believe my worth apart from others perception because I have heard that I am worthy from the source within. And because I know I am worthy, I don't have to join the very mislead consumer craze. I know stuff never fills for very long. Its like empty calories for the soul. I have taken up really listening, it has opened my eyes to beauties all around me. I have made lists upon lists of beauty in the almost unnoticeable. 

I think that clearing out the stuff is going to do a bit of clearing the mind. I look forward to the challenge. We are not ready to move into a tiny house yet, but we are making our way toward joy in God, just listening. 

Heres to your listening, may it serve you well. 

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The "non blog" blog

"It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world" - Aristotole

  So much of my apprehension at starting any kind of "blog" has been that I know I have very little to add to the sea of thought already placed out there. I already know its been said 100 different ways, and who needs more saturation? However, there is something about the fact that we each, having our own lens, can illuminate something old in a new fashion. That is the beauty of humanity, every fingerprint calling us to our unique nature - handcrafted creations of God. 

 Then there is that... the unveiling of ones beliefs, a sort of nakedness; vulnerability. And the scathing return of lame comments some people feel the need to make. I really did not want any part of that, I think I have cared too much what others think. I have come to a place here, though, where I want to connect to those who care to hear. I mean, if I was listening to someone else's music, I would probably want to know their thoughts. 

This, then, is to be a bit of a journal, from me to you. I plan to keep it up as much as I can. Be warned: I will write about God, my children and motherhood, my thoughts on the universe I occupy, art, music, my heart and definitely NEVER politics. I might post on current songs I am writing, because, did you know I write a crap load of songs? And I would love to tell you all about it, among other things. 

I don't know if this makes me an official blog, being so all over the map; I'd like to think of myself as the "non-blog" blog. 

More to come.