Good morning! This is my morning look – isn’t it hilarious!? Hair that goes everywhere, face still somewhat crumpled up. Since cutting my hair in the fall, it has really taken a life of it’s own, and has brought a lot of morning laughter to my daughter and me. (It has brought some frustration as well, like when I have somewhere to go first thing in the morning, and no amount of combing helps, and no hat fits! Ha ha!!) Well, I wanted to start this off on a happy free-spirited note, because it may not stay there, or it may… I don’t know. I’ve had some ups and downs moving through the last few months, facing challenges and set-backs, and have been wondering how to march on. And that’s okay. Lately I’ve been allowing myself to be on “both sides”, and to feel both the frustrations and the joys of being an artist.
The fall was tough on me for reasons that seemed real at the time, though I can’t quite put my finger on any one of them at this time. (Isn’t time a funny thing? It softens and blurs simply by passing by.) But I do recall that things were in such a state that I knew that I needed to do something to change up my daily life. I was in a rut. Not knowing what exactly I should do to create the change I felt I needed, I decided to be still and listen to my gut with the fierceness that comes when one doesn’t know what else to do, though feels they must do something. And this is what my gut told me to do: get a puppy! And that is what I did! Isn’t she sweet!? This is a recent photo of her at 7 months old. We got her when she was just a little pup at a mere 8 weeks. We named her Kira, and she is a beautiful little critter with a wonderful personality. She makes me laugh and smile every single day, and she gets me out moving. Not only that, I’ve had to structure my days around her care (especially when she was small), which means that my days are generally more productive. I’ve walked many a mile with Kira. We’ve walked walks that have been so long that my muscles ached and my thoughts slowed down. (What a glorious feeling that is.) We’ve met lots of dogs and their owners, and sometimes lack of. Once we were chased by a stray dog that was seeming to want to protect its territory – that gave us both quite the adrenaline rush! We’ve walked until I’ve thought I wouldn’t and couldn’t walk any more, over icy paths in early spring when careful footing is required, up and down the river bank for the simple pleasure of exhilaration, and we’ve walked until we’ve both wanted to lie down and rest. Then that second wind kicks in and we make our way home. I’m so grateful that I listened to my gut; Kira came to us just when she was supposed to. And I know this is cliche to say, but I’ll say it anyway: she’s the best thing to have happened to me; she’s my best friend.
Moving through winter (along with my puppy!), I decided to implement a few things into daily life to help me through the times when I was feeling uninspired and discouraged. The biggest thing I did (and firstly I should say that I didn’t think that I would ever in my life do this, nor that it would be something that I would have thought would counter feeling uninspired and discouraged. Never, ever have I previously had that thought). Okay, so here it is: the biggest thing I did was I gave up wine. I GAVE UP MY HAPPY JUICE! I completely GAVE UP DRINKING WINE! Wine was how I spent my evenings! Wine was my unwinding! Wine was my joy! (So I believed.) Wine started to feel like a necessity. I started to sulk if there was no wine! And because of that, I gave it up. I haven’t said that I quit wine, because that is a hard, ugly word: quit. Blech. No, I haven’t quit, but I’ve taken a break, and to be honest, I haven’t missed it. Wine hasn’t been in the house since some time in mid-December, and the last partial bottle of it was poured down the sink. I haven’t ordered a glass of wine when out of the house. I have had a few small sips since, at social gatherings when I didn’t feel like going into detail about taking a break from it, or when it felt rude to not accept it. Oh, and once then there was the time when I was very curious about a certain wine that I’d heard rave reviews about so I had a small taste. But, I’ve not had no where near the ol’ 9 oz glass, nor felt the desire to have one. That is a change that I feel good about. I sleep better and my mind is far less foggy. Am I happier? I don’t know. I nicknamed wine “happy juice” because it was good at creating the illusion. Am I going to go back to consuming wine? I don’t know… Not yet is the only thing I know for sure.
Now for the other things that I started to do early this year… Let’s see… Maybe I’ll list them. Before I do that, I’ll say that in doing these exercises I’ve had notable results with regard to lower levels of stress, better sleep, better productivity, less negative emotions, and an overall better feeling of wellness. I encourage you to implement them into your life too! (You may sub out the activities for whatever it is that you like to do – I think that should work, as long as the activity is healthy and creative.) Okay, so here are:
1) I’ve been writing everyday (or almost everyday!), and a lot of what I’m writing isn’t any good, but once in awhile there will be a line or two that makes my heart leap! As well as bits of lyrics and song ideas, I’ve come up with interesting concepts for books, short stories, blogs and blog posts. As well as that sort of writing, at the end of the day (or the morning of the next day), I write about all of the things I’m grateful for.
2) Each day, I play my instruments. Sometimes I practice them: technique and reading. Sometimes I just play. This time feels sacred to me. The sessions don’t have to be long, just regular. Sometimes I write while I practice, and sometimes I just close my eyes and get lost in sound, and revel in that rare and fleeting space where thoughts seem to cease.
3) Each day I give (or throw) something away. Stuff piles up quick. Clutter makes me feel uneasy. Messy rooms make me not want to go in them. I have a bag called “The Goodwill Bag” and every other day something goes into this bag until it is full. Then I take it to Goodwill and start over with a new bag. I also have a “Recycle Bag” and a “Shredding Box.” Papers and junk make their way into their respective places regularly. When clutter stays under control, it seems like I’m able to feel more able to get work done as a result. The space feels freer. The air seems lighter. I feel better able to work and create.
So that’s it! Those are the three things I do each day (or mostly each day), as well as a good long walk with Kira, and usually a bit of yoga or stretching. I feel pretty good most days, and I feel that this past winter is the first winter in a long time (maybe ever) that the blues were kept somewhat at bay. And being able to work from home has made a big difference in my ability to manage my time. (I’m very grateful for my day job!)
I should also mention that I had two extremely fun and exciting performances in March! One was with The Hinton Performing Arts Society with the trio of Thom Golub on bass and Thom Bennett on drums. (The photo is from that night.) What a great show that was! I met such lovely folks, and we were treated with such warmth and kindness. It was a great time, and I feel inspired to perform more shows with the trio! The second March show was for the lovely people of Forestburg for The Forestburg Concert Series. This was a solo show and I always feel a little excited-nervous when playing solo. The audience was so warm and receptive that I forgot about my nerves and just enjoyed myself. They took great care of me too, and that made the experience heart-warming and inspiring for me. I met people that I hope to see again. I was told some stories that I’ll never forget. Some that made me weep later. And we laughed together at things that will always make me chuckle upon remembering. March was a great month. I feel so lucky at times. I took the photo on the right, in the hotel room after the Forestburg show, after jumping up and down squealing in happiness. (Sometimes there is so much joy that that is all one can do.)
In April I had one show in Edmonton at Cafe Blackbird. It was a great fun, and I’ll be doing it again at the end of July! (Stay tuned for show details that absolutely will get added to the calendar on this site, because that part of the site is high-functioning again, which makes me extremely happy! Woohoo!) Also in April I attended the CD release concert of my mentor/idol/co-writer Rob Heath. He did a fantastic job on his new album, The Key. He has recently shared the news that some of the songs he co-wrote with many Edmonton-based songwriters are getting regular airplay on Americana stations in the USA! I’m so grateful that one of those songs is our song “Drive.” His version is pretty darn stellar! The album is full of great songs such high quality; I dream to write such songs one day!
Well, now it is May. The yard work has been started. I’ve been planning what tasks I hope to accomplish with the yard this year. I’ve gotten a few things done, and am trying not to feel discouraged with the huge jobs left. I will feel much better when the gardens are planted and some flowers are potted. The recent rainfalls have set me back a bit, as has Kira making a mess of some of my perennials and trees and rock beds. But that’s okay. We need the rain, and Kira’s so darn cute, it’s hard to be upset with her.
Oh! I almost forgot! I bought a new guitar and amp from my friends at Sound Extractor. It has been so much fun playing around with new sounds! Isn’t it a beauty of a set up?
I’ve been thinking about how to move forward in music. What will my next projects be? What do I want to say in my next songs? What do I want to accomplish? Where do I see myself in the coming months? In the next year, or two years? What sorts of performances do I want to give and for what sorts of audiences? It is often murky, tricky water that we artists have to swim in, and that makes navigating a challenge. Most times I’m up for the challenges, though lately I’ve been feeling a little lost and alone. I’m still hoping for collaborations. A “school” to be lost together with, or to be finding our way with. I love people! Sometimes I forget how much I love people because I spend so much darn time by myself. (Okay, I’m starting to use the word “darn” too often and in close succession. Time to stop writing and go do something else.)
One last thing: I’m so grateful for my friend Jamie Price of Must Be Tuesday who has fixed some funny things that were happening with the “shows” plugin on my website, and for doing some other website upkeep for me. I can’t wait to spend more time on my site, now that is functioning properly again! We have decided to keep each other accountable, and to meet up every other week to get some music biz tasks done. Most of this blog post was written yesterday in Jamie’s company. That was pretty sweet! Jamie makes for good company. Maybe we are the start of the “school.”
Okay, that’s it for now – it’s time to go play an instrument. Be well, and remember to take the time to do what you love. Thanks so much for stopping by!