Friday, August 4, 2017

Lean In

"...a heart told tale of fishbone delicacy and cobblestone complexity,
in the midst of being written."

Not in a waxing poetic esoteric sense, but in a very real and physical way I feel the shifting of energy. I feel the recalibration not only for myself, but I am seeing it and experiencing it for those around me.  Maybe because it is eclipse season (just in case you've been living under a rock -> 8/21/2017), maybe because it is the first month of being 37, maybe because I have re-committed myself to relationship, maybe it's a myriad of reasons that I feel especially sensitive to what is bubbling under the surface. Instead of mind-fucking what might be coming (and/or leaving) and trying to prepare for that, the only preparation I make is to bear the tension of this mysterious energy long enough to let it open my mind and heart further. Think of it like emotional PNF stretching. Also, instead of focusing (too much) on myself I send light and love to others on the path of recalibration.

To the one who finds themselves in the valley of uncertainty, you won't be here for long. You will soon know which sideline option is your ladder up and out. Use the time to quiet your mind, the fear and pragmatism, and listen to your heart.

To the one who thinks they can do it all. You can't. No one can. And that's okay! Find the priority for this point in time and put your energy there, not spread all around. Things will flow easier when you remove the extraneous obstacles.

To the one who has found themselves taking themselves out of a life they thought they wanted, a picture they had in their mind, I've been there. So many, I've lost count. Follow the picture in your heart and paint your hands in henna; flowering into a new pattern and trust.

To the one who feels like you've failed or that something failed you. It didn't. You didn't. It just didn't work is all, but no time was truly lost. It was teaching you something or many somethings all the way along. Embrace the blank page that lies before you. And trust.

To the one who feels stuck, backed into a corner. Most likely, you have told yourself that so many times you're convinced. It may not feel like it, but you can ALWAYS make a different choice. Beware of losing sight of what's truly important and actually losing that because you saw no way out. There is always a way out. You might not like it, but it exists.

To the one feeling the void of love, they are on their way. Keep talking to their heart through the ethers, they hear you. They are on their way. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on how far you've come and all you've learned.

To the one feeling frustrated, soften. Soften and lean in to the 'problem'. Aggressive energy will only beget more pushback. Offer the support you would want to receive if the situation were reversed.

Actually, that's probably the best advice for any and all of these situations -->
soften, lean in, and TRUST.
You're not alone because I feel each of you.

See ya'll on the other side of the solar eclipse!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Make Good Choices

       On  June 18th 1999, I watched my nephew enter this world... and he was slow to take his first breath.  Through my tears of astonishment and let's be honest, confirmation that I wanted to remain childless ...but mostly tears of admiration for my sister, I remember her saying, "Breathe baby, breathe."
Maybe he was questioning his latest incarnation. Maybe he is a soul that's slow, or rather hesitant, to come around to things. Either way, I believe he made a choice to take that breath. And with that breath began what I also believe to be a very specific and rather challenging spiritual journey for this sweet boy... at least in his young years to date. My nephew has a really gooooood heart. A good heart who also seems a bit lost in the woods. I would be remiss in my Auntly duties if I did not gift him with the same sort of advice that I did with my niece for her Sweet Sixteen. However, he would not appreciate a novella like the one I wrote for her so my advice for him is short and sweet:
M A K E  G O O D  C H O I C E S.

     Everything single thing we do comes down to a choice.... e v e r y t h i n g  is a choice. If things aren't going our way, it's probably because of a choice that was made... by us. We are not victims to our lives or to life in general. Yeah, sometimes shit just happens and life throws curveballs, but it is a choice as to how we react and respond to those things.
      There is a whole slew of things one is able to do once they are a legal adult; things like vote, work full time, buy cigarettes, buy fireworks, open a checking/savings account, get a credit card, sign a lease, get married, sue someone, jury duty, get a tattoo/piercing, enlist in the army, so skydiving, drink alcohol in Europe and Canada, be held legally responsible for contracts signed, and go to jail. Welcome to 'Adulting'! I've no doubt you're pretty excited to get to do some of these things. I myself have done almost all of them - not the second I turned 18 of course, but over the course of the last 18 years. However, with choice comes its bff - consequence. No one is immortal. No one is immune. We are all accountable. Choices you make and the consequences that follow now are on you, not on anyone else. That being said, you are not alone. People cannot do the work for us, nor should we want them to. There is great power in self-sufficiency and accomplishment. But never forget you have an incredible network of family / family friends who are always rooting for your success and would happily be a sounding board for you whenever you need us.

     These lyrics came to mind as I was thinking what I wanted to write in your birthday card. It is from the musical 'Into the Woods' which is remarkably appropriate because eighteen is all about starting on the path into the dark and uncharted woods of this next phase of life;  

Mother cannot guide you
Now you're on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you're not alone
No one is alone
No one is alone

I wish...
I know
Mother isn't here now
Wrong things, right things
Who knows what she'd say?
Who can say what's true?
Nothing's quite so clear now
Do things, fight things
Feel you've lost your way?
You decide, but
You are not alone
Believe me
No one is alone (No one is alone)
Believe me

People make mistakes
People make mistakes
Holding to their own
Thinking they're alone
Honor their mistakes
Fight for their mistakes
Everybody makes
One another's terrible mistakes
Witches can be right, giants can be good
You decide what's right, you decide what's good

Just remember
Just remember
Someone is on your side (Our side)
Our side
Someone else is not
While we're seeing our side (Our side)
Our side
Maybe we forgot, they are not alone
No one is alone
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.

      I'm very anxious to see how you choose to write this next chapter for yourself. You are so so so loved.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

There Are Mirrors Everywhere

    I follow the moon cycles for several reasons. I am a hippie. I am a Cancer. I am a woman. But also because she is a cheap therapist! Whether you buy into astrology or not, you can make a choice to read about the powerful themes that accompany each New and Full Moon. Maybe they will resonate with you, maybe they won't, but it's pretty cool when they do! That moment when you're reading what this moon in that sign supposedly signifies and it exactly explains everything you've been feeling or experiencing, is like "Yeeeaaaahhhh. Thank you. Someone gets it!"
It's a cool opportunity to look at yourself, your life and see what needs to shift --> how YOU need to wax or wane.

     This New Moon is going to be a Super Moon in the sign of Gemini. I find this fun(ny) because mere minutes before I read about it on my favorite site (MysticMamma) I was having a conversation about how the relationships in our lives are the best mirrors and our greatest teachers. Gemini is the sign of the twins, so self-reflection is hugely at play here. I made the observation that often times when we are so deeply affected, borderline consumed by what those closest to us are going through, it is because we are going through it too (whether we realize it or not). Think about that for a second. Think about times when you may have felt desperate in trying to help someone through some stretch of hell. Think about if maybe at that time you weren't actually trying to help yourself through that same struggle. Is your mind blown?
Mine was the first time I pieced it together. Even more mind-blowing was realizing the best way to help that person was to resolve and heal that wonky bit within myself.... because again, each of us is a reflection of one another in some way.
      I was also recently having a conversation with a friend who kept seeing people who looked identical to a friend that had been consciously cut from their life. My first thoughts were that there was either something unresolved in their friendship that was nagging at my friend or some thing - some characteristic (be it positive or negative) that needed to be examined within himself. I do not believe in coincidences. I believe his former friend's face kept reappearing for a reason. And what an fascinating realization that could be!
     I look at my reactions to people, to their circumstances, especially when I'm negatively triggered or consumed, and immediately look to myself. It's not always pretty or fun, but I believe it's important. "Physician, heal thyself." I have noticed over the last few years in particular that I have helped the people in my life the most not by my advice, but by my example. Looking within after 'reacting out' also keeps me accountable to my life's practice of the 4 Agreements: being impeccable with my word, not taking things personally, not making assumptions, and always doing my best.

Happy New Moon reflections my fellow unicorns. XO


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Old School & Heartfelt

*I'm reposting this interview that I did for my new collaborative project Artists United Radio international (AURi) that we still need funding for - wink, wink / nudge, nudge...

Kickin’ it Old School

One of the things we here at AURi are most excited to get to do is to provide a bridge for disconnected and unexposed artists. I recently sat down with one such artist in Savannah, Georgia; singer/songwriter Taylor Martin. While it may be hard to imagine, Taylor is nowhere to be found on social media or the ‘inner-tube’ as he says laughing. If you’re lucky though, you might be able to catch him in a bar/restaurant downtown from time to time or playing someone’s backyard party around a fire. I’m grateful to have stumbled upon the latter. 

AR: “So what came first, the singing or the songwriting?”

TM: “Honestly, I can’t remember. I sang when I was a little kid, but it was at church and things like that. But I remember, I was 10 or 12 years old the first time I wrote a song and it was terrible…. but I did it. And I enjoyed it!”

AR: “And you also play the guitar and the banjo… are you self-taught?”

TM: “Yes. But it was just something that I did as a hobby off and on, and it really wasn’t until I went to college. I stopped watching TV for a year and I would turn it on just to have something in my room that was moving other than myself. But I would mute it and I would practice for an hour or two at night and I picked, I can’t remember even what song it was off the top of my head, but I picked a song and basically learned to play it pretty well … it had five or six chords in it, and then from there I slowly added more chords, more picking styles of my own and things like that. 

AR: “The first time I heard you play and sing, I was really struck by the quality and tone of your voice. It has a very old school, soul bare, sultry quality. And I remember immediately thinking first of Johnny Cash, but not because you sounded exactly like him, but more as a ‘flavor’ reference. Do you feel that there one particular singer that influenced above all others… someone you wanted to emulate?”

TM: “Well, it’s funny because I didn’t grow up too far from where Johnny Cash grew up. And we listened to him, you know I grew up on a dairy (in Ashflat, Arkansas), and we had a little tiny radio in what we called ‘The Pit’ in the milk barn. And there was a radio station out of Thayer, Missouri that played country music. It was big enough we could get it on that tiny radio, and there weren’t very many other radio stations around there. It was Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash … that kind of outlaw country group of people …and those were the people and those were the styles of songs that were the first ones I was old enough to listen to and understand what they were saying, what the story was and how the song went, but it was also really the first people I heard sing aside from my parents."

AR: “And did they influence your songwriting?”

TM: “They influenced the songwriting quite a bit, but Guy Clarke influenced it a lot. Emmylou Harris … John Hartford …and honestly, just reading a lot of poetry.”

AR: “The poetry is an interesting point, and I think of that line from High Fidelity; “What came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to the music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music?” Do you find when you write songs that tend to come from a darker place, sadder place … is it a cathartic exercise or do you write just as the Muses strike you? 

TM: “It’s a funny mix for me. My mom worked in an outdoor musical theatre. I worked there as a little kid; took care of animals and would be up on stage as one of the extra kids in the show and stuff like that. But the vast majority of the songs they played or the songs that she played were old Scottish ballads and most of those would end up with someone being stabbed or murdered or cheated upon.  I also have kind of a dark sense of humor. I tend to write things that people would consider sad or downer country songs if they don’t really listen to them, because I do put little jokes in there that I think are funny.
I have had some very hard times in my life and it was nights I was by myself and having a pity party for a minute and I’m like ‘this would make a good song’, and I would kinda chuckle to myself… and yeah, maybe write a song about something that was sad… but it brought me happiness at the time. 
AR: “How would you describe yourself as an artist?”

TM: “I guess I don’t really consider myself one.”

AR: “How come?”

TM: “I guess I am. I think as far the songs that I write and the things that I play – it’s way more straightforward and clear cut, tells a story, may not necessarily have an ending to the story, leaves you with some kind of question versus …well look at some of the great rock bands from the 70’s or even some of the great bands now and you have some unbelievable musicians. I’m thinking of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers off the top of my head, and songs that are incredible that are sometimes about off the wall stuff but also very intimate and they are so incredibly well done and I kinda compare myself to those people and I don’t think that what I do is anywhere near that good. Mine is a lot simpler and straightforward. I mean, I guess it’s still an art form. I guess if you chopped a cube out of a piece of marble or something, somebody would call that art… and someone else would just say ‘yeah, that’s a cube of marble.’ 

AR: “So is there a ideal? Rock star career? Local celebrity? Respected, but behind the scenes songwriter?"

TM: “Yeah, I guess at the end of the day everybody thinks it would be cool if some big band picked up on one of your songs and recorded it. That would be pretty neat. I don’t know, I’ve always known there is a 1 in 18 trillion thousand hundred chance that any of my songs would ever be on the radio…. like on the stupid Top 40 radio.
But there are more and more platforms as it goes now, on the internet, on social media, on whatever it is for people like me to play songs like I write that other people might like to listen to. And I’m totally happy with that. I don’t ever expect to retire at 39, and just live off the royalties that I have rollin’ around in a pile of hundred dollar bills in my living room. But I do think it would be pretty neat, to be able to put em out, and see what people think. That actually would be my goal.”
AR: “Since you’re not on social media currently (which I find unfortunate and almost impressive)….is that then what you would hope to get out of being part of the AURi radio platform? The chance at exposure?"

TM: “Oh yeah, absolutely! I think this is pretty fantastic idea… and I’m excited to be doing it.”

AR: “Can we at least expect an album or a YouTube channel from you soon?”

TM: “An album is definitely in the works.” 

AR: “Last question – can you describe yourself in one word?”

TM: “Pragmatic.”   
Listening to this humbled, unassuming, yet visibly thoughtful and intense musician over beers as old school as he is, Miller Lites, I realize again the importance of Artists United Radio international. The world NEEDS what each of us is creating. Period. Please donate today to help other artists like Taylor reach his audience! 
*viscerality : Yes, I made up this word but it works.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Welcome to AURi ......

      Drop ten and punt --> I love this expression, used often by own of my best girlfriends. It is also superbly fitting for what I'm about to share... after a somewhat long-winded introduction I can already see coming. Deal with it.

     Whether you like it or not, whether you participate or not, we live in a world of social media. It seems to have a become a necessary evil in many ways; for businesses, for charities and especially for arty farty types like myself who are trying to extend beyond the critics' rejection letters and reach a like minded audience of other art farters. Also for someone, a Class A introvert, who has moved, traveled, made and left friends scattered all over the world it makes it waaaaayyy easier to stay connected. So I am more of a fan of the 'soc-med' than not.

      I have also joined and at least tried most of the platforms out there (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, WhatsApp, StumbleUpon...), all apart from Snapchat. I just can't go there. I feel a little long in the tooth, as my mother would say, to get on that bandwagon. Also, it's like one. more. thing that I just do not have the energy for at 36. I use and enjoy Facebook and Instagram the most. I actively engage with people in both places. But Twitter. Oh Twitter. In years past, I never really understood it. I found it much more difficult to connect with people. Partially because the newsfeed turnover is so fast. It wasn't until I was living in the UK (they LOVE themselves some Twitter over there) and I was working as the Social Media Coordinator for a charity that I discovered the saving grace of tweeting..... or twittering..... or twatting.  (I'm not so enmeshed in this world that I can't also recognize its somewhat pretentious and masturbatory quality.) This saving grace is called Social Jukebox, and it is exactly what it sounds like. You upload tweets that you want it to pump out on a regular basis and you set that schedule, by the day and even by the hour. Voila! Done and dusted. AND it's free up to a certain number of jukeboxes. Double score.
      In the last year or so, I was noticing that I was gaining more followers and getting more likes and retweets for my blogs and poems. I recently connected with a fellow writer out of Phoenix (TreSixSix) who somehow came across my stuff and was moved by it. We did the dance of good social media sportsmanship; Follow, Like, Retweet, Repeat. For his two novels, he used the same self-publishing site that I was looking at and we got to messaging about the struggles of being self-published, about being an artist in general, etc etc. 

      He then approached me with an idea for an internet radio station for artists by artists. A place where we can support and promote each other, give exposure to and a bridge for those people desperately trying to get their work seen, heard, read, whatever as well as a way for people of different genres to connect and collaborate. He would be the west coast host/personality and I would rock the east coast. Suddenly, we were throwing around names and logos and it was actually taking shape on its own. Tre sent me a budget for equipment for our two locations including licensing, advertising and perks for the IndieGoGo campaign that is now already up and running. He also created spreadsheets for time slots of peak show times and ad placements. We have a Twitter page, an Instagram page, and a blog with artist interviews we are started to compile. I'm on there, as is the author Julia Blake out of the UK, and local Savannah singer/songwriter Taylor Martin that I will be posting later today. I have several other artisans from all genres in mind that I am going to reach out to, so be expecting my call for an interview! 

We agreed on AURi: Artists United Radio international - where U and I come together.
       This whole thing has been both weird AND cool, for lots of reasons.  First, I am collaborating and coordinating with a complete stranger.... and one that I met through 'Twatter' of all places! I'm still trying to wrap my head around that fact. Second, I'm still shocked, confused, and curious how and why this opportunity fell into my lap out of East Jesus Nowhere. Lastly, like I said, this project is really taking shape quickly and my little brain is trying to play catch up to all the details and possibilities. I feel the expression on my face every time I take the time to think all this through must look something akin to bewilderment, a bad smell, and a half smile. I don't have all the answers yet, but this opportunity did fall into my lap for a reason so I'm droppin' ten and punting baby.

      So here it is .... the official ask. Our budget is $18,072. Instead of buying your usual cup of coffee one day this week, maybe give us the $5 instead! 
Even if you can't donate, if this idea and platform sounds cool to you then PLEASE help us get the word out and/or share on your social media pages. Also, follow both Tre and I as well as AURi on Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe to the blog to watch how this all unfolds. 

  1. @AURi_radio
  2. @Room918book
  3. @ccbella_says

  1. @auri_radio 


Lean In

"...a heart told tale of fishbone delicacy and cobblestone complexity, in the midst of being written."   Not in a waxing ...