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Friday, May 25, 2018

Pomp and Circum-Fluff

    I recently attended my nephew's high school graduation. It occurred to me during the ceremony that I haven't been to a high school graduation since my own *gulp* 20 years ago.  While of course we all felt relief and happiness that he'd finally made it to the end, what struck me more than anything else was the complete superfluity of a commencement speech from a middle aged or senior adult to a gaggle of teenage-adults who despite even the highest levels of maturity aren't truly able to HEAR or heed the wisdom of what is being said.

    You know the kind of speech I'm talking about: laborious, nostalgic, barely disguised self-righteousness, awkward jokes that are only possibly funny to the other adults, topped off with the little engine who could kind of pep talk. I will give this guy enough credit to say that it started strong - he led us all to believe it was going to be short, sweet and candid. But then, oh but then, his self-editing app quickly disabled and he went completely off the rails taking us along without our consent. Who is this speech for, really? The parents and families? Is it all just part of the pomp and circum-fluff? Because it was definitely not for those kids.They are stick-a-fork-in-them done with lectures from adults. They are tired. They are young. They have not lived life outside of that K-12 bubble...outside the bubble of themselves. They c a n n o t  hear you, dude. They cannot relate to what you are advising. 

    What was different about my nephew's graduation from mine was that the valedictorian did not speak... in fact, no student did. In all honesty though, not only can I not remember what the faculty may have said I can't even remember what my fellow students said. I was done. I was tired. I was young. I also graduated with a class of 600+, and with a last name starting with 'T' I was ready to wrap that shit up asap. My boyfriend spoke at his graduation and even he doesn't know what his speech was about. Maybe I'm in the minority here, and maybe some of you received some game changing rhetoric at your HS graduation that changed the course of your life from then on. Cool. Good for you! Buuuuut, I actually think you are in the minority. I think those grand life lesson speeches are best saved for college graduations; undergrad, grad students, PhDs. 

     I do believe in student to student speeches for high school graduations, because they're all in a sea of the unknown together. Some of them might know exactly what they want to do, what career path has been burning in their heart and they're on course for college henceforth. Most others though might not have a goddamn clue. We live in a society where on the one hand it's understood you need a college degree to get a good job, while on the other many college graduates can't get a job in their chosen field to save their life. Wtf? So what can you really say then to these kids that is authentic? Good night and good luck? We're human. We all have to learn our own lessons regardless of what we've been told. Again, we're human - that's the jam.

     Contrary to societal belief, I think it's okay to be unsure at the (still covered in yoke) age of 17-18. Isn't it better that these kids take some time to immerse themselves outside of that participation trophy bubble in which much of the current generation has been steeped? 
I would say this .... Get a job - feel the satisfaction of earning your own money. Travel - meet people completely different from you culturally, spiritually, politically and understand at the core we're actually not that different. Volunteer - to gain some true perspective and empathy. Educate yourself - dissect the ideas/ideals you've grown up with to see if you actually agree or you have just been parroting your parents' sentiments. Explore options - not sure about college? How about apprenticing in a trade that appeals to you? 
I actually would advise all those same things to the ones who know exactly what they want and where they're headed. Take a year to do the above. There really is no rush. A year goes by verrrry fast. A fact that only seems to become true once you're on the other side of 'childhood'. 
I would also say to the parents - Let them!

     Think about your own life. What was your trajectory post high school? Did you take a "gap year"? If so, how did it change you? If not, imagine what might have been different? 
Taking the time to better understand who you are and what you want, how to support yourself, how to interact with the world at large (not just your little familiar corner), and to even see beyond all of that and understand the bigger picture is a priceless kind of education. And a priceless piece of advice. Come to think of it, I'm available for speaking engagements such as these. I'll tell it like it is and get you out in jiff. Ha!

Happy Graduation to all the seniors ... 
Good Night & Good Luck! ;-)




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I Put A Heart On It!

     It was the weirdest of times, it was the worst of times, "it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Never has a quote felt more apropos. I do believe though it can also be the best of times because even in the midst of all this fucked-upness, I see people banding together, reaching out, and speaking up with a determined voice of peace and love. Our light is rising up to meet the challenge of the darkness to duke it out. My Pollyanna propensity has me holding tight to this light, though I still shake my head and fists in sadness and incredulity, like Chuck says. Holding tight and shining bright, I still wonder if this is an age of apocalypse or ascension? Methinks mayhaps a bit of both.

      And if the human players in this age of foolishness wasn't enough, then the devastating weather resulting from global warning/climate change isn't helping morale either. Our 4th largest city is underwater. Our 2nd largest city is on fire. I believe California has 19 wildfires total. Even Montana is under siege of flames. While monsoons are not uncommon in Mumbai, they just experienced 15% of the city's annual rainfall in one day last Tuesday. Here in the Southeast we are watching Hurricane Irma's every move since the National Hurricane Center in Miami has said Irma was “a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane”, already the strongest in its records outside the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico." 

      With all these things combined, the politics, the hate and violence, and the natural devastation, it can feel defeating and hopeless. A general and all encompassing what the fuck is going on?!  Maybe you ask yourself too, how can I better roll with all these punches that seem to keep on coming? Or better yet, how can I be like one of those inflatable punching bags and bounce back quicker? What can I do? ... how can I affect others, to affect change? What am I contributing?  I hope you're asking yourself these questions anyway because the one IS the many.    
      Denial is not the answer. Neither is meeting anger with more anger. Anger and fear are synonymous and beget more of the same. "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience." - Mark Twain  Activism is awesome. Speak up, write letters to elected officials, reduce, reuse and recycle, but we probably can't physically attend every single protest, rally or march. Donating time, supplies, and money is incredible too but we may not always be in a position to do that. It's love, kids. I know I sound like a simplistic na├»ve moron. I'm cool with that because I'm not saying we aren't entitled to our emotions or shouldn't have our visceral reactions. I'm a very sensitive and emotional being so I wouldn't be walking my own walk if I said that. Feel the heartbreak, the anger of injustice, the headache from the insanity surrounding us, but don't LIVE there. Feel it, honor it, and then make a different choice. Peace, gratitude, acceptance, courage, charity .... different facets of the same gem... love. It's in those reactive moments that there is real gold. We heal the wounds of the world by healing our wounds first...or at the same time. The wounds of one are the wounds of the many. The one is the many. I feel like I can't say this enough.

           I said it in my last blog, internal evolution equals external revolution so evolve through love.

Which brings me to my passion project, the kind of Band-Aid I choose to offer to the world...
I put a heart on it.

      I created this evolve design four or five years ago in a mini-painting/Christmas present for one of my best friends. I lived with the idea for awhile, tagging all the places I lived and would travel to with LOVE. And all these years later I'm finally doing it. I placed my first order of 30 stickers and already sent them straight back out the door to friends all across the country wanting to participate and play with me, with this movement. Welcome love warriors... tag, you're it!
       It's a small thing, yes. It's possibly quite silly, but seeing something as simple as a graffiti heart on the side of a breaker box on the streets of Amsterdam in 2012 changed my life in innumerable ways. It woke me up. I starting seeing them everywhere and at first it was more like a game. Began as a game then became a practice as they continually trained both my heart and my eyes to be open. Open to receive, open to chance, open to resilience, open to shine bright, open to give freely, open to forgive. They reminded me to trust myself. I started taking pictures of the hearts in all their various incarnations and sharing them on social media. In doing so, I think I've inspired a few others to see them too. People I haven't spoken to since high school or have never actually met post heart pictures to my Facebook wall saying, 'Saw this and it made me think of you.'  I always get all verklempt not because they thought of me, but because there was enough of a shift in consciousness that their eyes and heart were open enough to see it! That shift ripples out. Affecting change. My dream is that even just one person will see one of these stickers exactly when they need it most. If you're interested in helping me distribute, email me. I've got more stickers coming. OR if you happen to see one someday, take a picture and tag @evolvethrulove on Instagram with the same hashtag. Either way, you should totally follow the account.
     I do not say any of these things from a starry-eyed place.  I worry constantly for my karass in California when it's burning like it is. And as I finish writing this I look deep into Irma's eye pondering her potential force and effect on the coastal empire here. Each day she creeps closer our direction, I wonder and worry for my life here... my family, their home, our home, our fur-babies. Will we be staying or going? If we go, what will we be coming home to? (Of course, I also don't want her pummeling Texas again!) I pocket that fear though and turn towards love. I focus on gratitude. Gratitude that my family has hotel reservations for themselves and will be all together this year. (Immense) gratitude that I have the love of my life by my side to navigate this.

... when in doubt, put a heart on it.




Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stay Local to Your Creativity

Photo credit: | @swapconsignment

      I saw this yesterday on my Instagram feed, but I first read it as 'Stay local...' but that seemed equally applicable and important. It feels more encompassing. First of all, creativity is in all of us. I hate when people say "I don't have a creative bone in my body." You do! You just haven't identified it yet, and it may surprise you with what it turns out to be. It does not matter in the slightest if you think you have no rhythm, can't sing, can't act, can't draw or paint, can't sew (or saw), are not a wordsmith, can't play an instrument, etc etc. Creativity goes so far above and beyond the stereotypical ideas of being a dancer, singer, artist, designer, writer, or musician. 

     By definition, it is the use of the imagination or original ideas. That can apply to something as fundamental and familiar as your job. Are there ways you could approach things differently? Could you suggest a change in methodology or protocol? For those people feeling jipped on the creative gene... A) You're wrong and 2) Start small, or rather start locally and try looking at everything in your life from a completely foreign perspective and see what comes up. Maybe you revolutionize your workplace. Maybe you discover a passion for cooking and invent new recipes. Maybe you do a spring clean and rearrange your furniture realizing you have an eye for design/placement. Maybe you are an organizational nerd and find new uses for old things infusing a bit more fun in keeping track of your stuff.

      Now, for those of us who have a fairly steady el fuego de creativo burning we must consistently feed to avoid the cold dead feeling when it's neglected and goes out. Or is that just my over dramatization? ... my love of fire? Either way, for us arty farty types I believe it plays a critical role with how (well) we engage with the world and our general joie de vivre. But again, mayhaps that's just me. I've noticed a collective unconscious trend among my friends of staying loyal to their creativity in more local ways. For example, an exceptional professional photographer I know in L.A, Rachel Lee Stroud, has the sweetest and earnest passion for plants and has started sharing that and teaching others how to plant-parent. My magical friend and Rolf practitioner here in Savannah, Dawn Tanis, attends somatic movement dance classes to have a deeper understanding of her body and her work. She has even started channeling the coolest 3D anatomical collages.  And one of my closest friends in California, who owns her own insurance business, unveils the most astounding wings, breathing life into entities within (Bryana Tepper Art) the melaleuca bark she finds in her area. 

      One a personal note, most of you know me as having been a dancer, a poet, or maker of weirdo collage art. All of those things still exist on some level, some more than others.  In the last couple months though, I've been inspired in other directions, more local to my life here in Savannah and to this time in my life. I'm enjoying a time of peace, joy, partnership, love, gratitude, and simplicity.  
So for example, I love trees. Like a lot. Like I have no problem walking straight up to one and hugging the shit out of it... with its permission of course. And I cherish meditation using mantras. Thus I've begun making mala beads out of acorns.  

I've also recently dug out of my art box some shells I found eight years ago and have been toting around with me in and out of the country ever since. These shells and the way the ocean has worn/shaped them mirrors the strength and divine femininity I've discovered in my late 30's. (Funny how it's taken me till now, till this place in my life before I was "ready" to work with them.) Out came my Dremel tool as well, and I'm in the process of converting them into pendants and rings. While these endeavors are both close to my heart and home space, I'm also expanding my creativity. I've never made jewelry or any sort of intricate crafts. But what the hell right?

       I don't see staying local as staying small or only sticking to what you know.... not. at. all. I see it as staying true to yourself.... to the things that make you YOU.... to the things that make you smile.... to the stages in your life. It's with that intention that your creativity will grow with you and stretch you creating both internal evolution and external revolution....because it is a gift. The world needs exactly what only you create (with love of course.) Let me say that again so you don't miss it: Internal evolution = external revolution so evolve through love.

Soooooo actually, I prefer my version.....
"Stay loyal and local to your creativity because it's a gift." 

{Sorry-Not sorry Pharell, she says while doin' a lil Come Get it Bae shimmy}

"Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn
then always be a unicorn!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

We Are Layer Cakes (RIP Louise Hay)

     Of the many beliefs and opinions I hold, one of them is that physical ailments have a powerful correlation to an emotional/mental root. Mayhaps that's because I seek out some sort of bigger meaning in just about everything. Even so I think there is a very strong case for the psychological impacting the physical. I mean come on, they're all layers of the same cake. (*Sidebar: I totally want to be a chocolate confetti rainbow unicorn cake! Is that even a thing?)
Think of times you may have been able to intellectually understand something, but it didn't stop your heart from hurting. When you don't feel well, it affects your outlook and disposition. Remember, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
     It is with a heavy heart then that I recently learned of the passing of Louise Hay, author of 'You Can Heal Your Life', my personal go-to 'Heal Your Body: A-Z' and many others. This mind-body-sprit concept was her life's work and she helped countless spiritual beings through their human experiences, myself included - countless times. She helped us see the intricate connections of our respective layer cakes. She gave us affirmations and mantras to help us re-direct our focus and attitude. It never failed to amaze me. When I was battling strep throat or laryngitis, at the same time I was also not speaking my truth or speaking up at all. If my back went into paralyzing spasm it just so happened that I was not feeling supported in my life or by my life. The times I've had UTI's, I can absolutely say that I was pissed off at my lover.
      Look, I can hear your eye rolls from here. Stop, because I am in no way saying that I do not believe that germs, bacteria, viruses, reckless behavior, not enough yoga, injury, etc don't cause illness and dis-ease. I'm also not saying don't wash your hands, go to the doctor or take medicine when you are really sick. No, I don't think that chanting in a sweat lodge will cure all ills. (Although, yes, I am a fan of both sweat lodges AND chanting. Both of which can be very healing, but that's neither here nor there.) What I AM saying is that while in state of dis-ease, if you really look at what else is going on in your life, your mind and your heart, you will probably be able to connect a few dots. And who doesn't want to feel better and heal faster?! What do you really have to lose by looking at yourself and your life holistically? Is it really gonna hurt to strike a power pose and say something positive? Or if you're not power pose ready... repeat it to yourself silently as you fall asleep. As humans, we love us some control. Actually, I should clarify that, because there are plenty of people who love themselves a victim card. So for those that want to engage more deeply with themselves and the life that they are creating, then I recommend a gander at the insight that is the incomparable Louise Hay.

Rest in peace fellow warrior goddess in arms.
And T H A N K   Y O U!

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 


Pomp and Circum-Fluff

    I recently attended my nephew's high school graduation. It occurred to me during the ceremony that I haven't been to a high scho...