Saturday, December 29, 2012

Anger. If I'm really honest with myself, there is anger stirring underneath the surface all the time. To truly connect with reality, I need to connect with my anger. It's the wall that keeps me from connecting to the world with abandon and warmth. It's what keeps burning me from inside, making me sick, destroying me bit by bit, any time I don't allow myself to feel it and to express it... 

I am anger. Anger is me at this very moment. And yet I can feel many other emotions too at any given time. It's not that I stop loving or living, it's just that my anger is always present also. I need to get this poison out of me as much as I can, and as soon as I can. I'm working on it every day.

I turned 34 yesterday, and though much of the world tells us that there's nothing good about getting older, I have to say that I disagree. Despite all of this anger I've discovered within me, I am already more balanced and functional and also more content than I've ever been. Getting older doesn't necessarily mean getting wiser, but in my case I'm determined to make it so. And I wouldn't be able to call myself very wise if I continued to be filled with built-up unexpressed anger for years to come, could I?

My resolution for 2013 is to keep feeling my true emotions, to keep purging myself of anger, so as to keep becoming healthier, happier, warmer and kinder to myself and those around me. I still have a mountain to climb when it comes to my anger, but I am making progress, steady strides all the time.

The following quote is meant on a grander scale, but I connect to it on a personal level. This road I'm on ain't easy street, but I'm inspired to follow in the footsteps of others who have done this work and flourished. Inspired and honored.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

For these last 2 1/2 years, my blog has been a place for me to vent my feelings, to chart my journey towards a healthier way of looking at life and living it... I've expressed many complicated emotions and thoughts during this time and I've talked about sensitive issues such as struggling with Post-traumatic stress disorder. Now I find myself increasingly moving onto more tangible things, solving day-to-day issues, getting my foundations in order... Life is becoming more concrete for me: it's not a dense fog anymore, where I'm cautiously trying to feel my way out, trying not to trip on the broken branches. I'm in a more solid place now--not so much in my head as before, and I'm able to see everything around me more clearly. (Not just because of the glasses....)

2012 has been a good year for me. Not easy by any means... I've faced many unforeseen challenges, the likes of which I haven't dared to face before. But I'm very proud of the work I have done. When you're trying to catch up with the rest of the world and attempting to grow up to be an adult at 33, there is not a lot of time for rest and idling. When I started on this journey a couple of years ago, my emotional age was 14. And I ain't kidding. I've come a long way.

2013 will see me releasing a new album, getting comfortable in my rediscovered artist self and introducing you to what has musically been bubbling under all of these blog posts. I think you will be presented with a whole other side of the story... I feel like this is a new beginning for me as an artist--finally on my own terms. And as I continue to learn more skills in the coming years and trust my craft more and more, I am convinced that my best work is yet to come. For the first time in my life, I look forward to the rest of my time on this Earth, as I know that I can grow and expand throughout all of it. There are challenging years ahead for all of us, in terms of what's going on with the climate, etc., but even in the face of darkness, we shall dance. 

“We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. but there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it.”
― Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It is hard for me this morning to think about anything other than what happened yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. I've lived in the U.S. for 17 years now, and as proud as I am of the many beautiful ideas that this country is built on, e.g. "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness", it seems to me that yesterday is a good example of where we the people are being stripped of exactly those unalienable rights. In this case, due to lack of gun control.

My friend Blake Morgan just posted this statistic on his Facebook-wall:
"Last year Handguns Killed: 48 People in Japan, 8 Great Britain, 34 Switzerland, 52 Canada, 58 Israel, 21 Sweden, 10,728 in The United States"
Immediately, he got the classic reply from someone mindlessly regurgitating this over-simplification she must have heard somewhere, a slogan admittedly rampant in the American media: "Guns don't kill people, people do." And in not having bothered to think it through for herself, actually believes it.  I got as aggressive as I ever have been, and it took some serious self-restraint not to attack her in a very personal way, despite the fact that I don't even know who this person is. My friend did a great job in replying to her via fact instead of personal attack and I wish to share it here:

"People don't kill people with spoons, which is why we don't need Spoon Control. They kill people with guns, which is why we need some fucking gun control. This lunatic yesterday wouldn't be able to kill 20 children in a classroom with a spoon. Your argument is like saying, 'bats don't hit home-runs, players do.' Well, how many home runs do you think Babe Ruth would have hit without the bat?"

Today, I think about my little niece and nephew, who I was just buying Christmas-presents to yesterday... I think about a family of my own, that I might want to have one day. How would I feel sending my children to school in this country, at any age, if the laws regarding guns are as lax as they are today? I need not remind anyone, that this is far from the first attack of this kind in schools in the US.

Like it or not, mental illness is very common in this world. A lot of the time it is impossible to tell who of us may be afflicted with it. Truth be told, driven to dire circumstances, all of us are capable of heinous deeds. Whatever laws they are enforcing in Japan, Great Britain, Switzerland, Canada and Sweden, seem to be working better than the laws we aren't enforcing here in the States.  As in the case of global warming, when oh when is the evidence enough, that we can't continue on
in the same trajectory??

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was studying for my GED (General Education Diploma=high school diploma), as I never finished high school in my youth. This was due to my moving to New York to pursue a career as an artist in the middle of my schooling. In any case, as I gradually study for the test now, I'm discovering surprising new things about myself. I used to hate math in school, and couldn't find any patience for it, but now as I study for it on this genius (free!) website called Khan Academy (, I'm actually getting quite addicted to it..! I can spend hours on this site: counting, counting, counting... Who knew?! What I like about it is that it's built almost like a video-game, and it satisfies my craving for that sort of environment and challenge. It's easy to see your advancement from one level to another, and you get badges of honor and all kinds of rewards and shit like that. Fun! Check it out..!

To go with my increasingly more intelligent and intellectual sense of self, I got my first reading glasses yesterday. No, this is not meant to be a fashion statement--it is unfortunately a necessity, but I feel good about it. I got myself a cool pair of vintage frames and I look kinda saucy in them, if I say so myself. Among many other things, this is a reminder that "time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...into the future..." Time will do its tricks on all of us, and no thing is to be taken for granted. But changes can be enjoyed and I relish, once again, at seeing every word on a page crisply and clearly. While seemingly a small, ordinary thing, it is a huge privilege and warrants some serious enjoyment. On that note, I say to thee: carpe diem!

"In reality, killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which Time kills us."   - Osbert Sitwell

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I was surfing the internet last night for a couple of hours, a bit aimless I guess, but with an intent to find new music that touches me. I did find lots and lots of music: bands that I've never heard of (which means nothing; I live in a bubble), their photos and songs displayed prominently on the front pages of ultra-chic and hip online-magazines. I listen to these artists, and wow, they're all so fucking cool! So many artists with the latest production, everyone pushing boundaries and sounding and looking more artsy and individual and weird and unique than the other...
It all makes me feel insecure, until I realize this: hardly any of this music touches me. I admire their fashionable stylings, I can listen to this sort of music and enjoy the trendy vibe it creates, but in all honesty, I find it relatively rare to find artists that really speak to me on a deep level, in any genre.

It's like that feeling that one sometimes gets when reading a spectacular book: when you find yourself inhabiting the world the author created; swimming in the surroundings, feeling like you know every character personally; feeling like you never want to leave this alternate reality and yet you're compelled to devour every word, and thus the end inevitably and mercilessly approaches...  This is how I feel with artists when they really touch me, regardless of their genre. With music it's ceaseless listening: hearing the same song over and over and over and over.......... It's like falling in love...but with a song. When that happens, a relationship is created with the artist too--I forever feel a warmth and intimacy toward them, regardless of whether they end up producing more art that I like. 

I think that the reason why deep connection with art is rare is this: even though an artist has skill, it does not mean that they have the uncommon combination of authenticity and intimacy. To really touch someone, you have to be willing to be vulnerable, and that can be scary to most people. Most artists never allow that intimacy, and I can understand why. It allows people to get to know you in a way, to really see you--flaws and all, and most of us would rather wear a mask.

It requires a specific kind of bravery to write lines like Bjork's "I suck my tongue in remembrance of you." The bravery to be who you are and express it freely. I admire that immensely. Trendiness has its place of course, but I am compelled to strive for something else: authenticity and intimacy. Who I am will never please everybody, but it is enough. To end, I'd like to quote Tom Waits, as he makes my point so clearly:

"I would rather be a failure on my own terms than a success on someone else's. That's a difficult statement to live up to, but then I've always believed that the way you affect your audience is more important than how many of them there are."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” 
--Lewis B. Smedes

This has been a challenging thing for me to come to terms with: the fact that my memories of my life are now so vastly different from what they were before, even just five short years ago. It seems like some sort of a trick, a lie even, as it was only in sobriety that I began to understand what had happened to me in my life. . . .  For a long time I questioned what was true, as the reality being presented to me by my sober mind looked so remote from the life I had thought I'd been living. I had not realized the full extent of, or the reasons for my pain.. But they are dawning on me, gradually clearer in my mind. The trick and the lie is what came before. What is now is truth. No more fog, no more deceit.

I am still re-framing many of my memories, as this sort of task is not completed overnight. It takes a long time to make sense of a past wrapped up in dishonesty and fear. What I love about the quote above, is the notion of a healed memory. I'm not in the act of forgiving anyone just now, instead I am in the process of draining out a bitter ocean of anger within me. But there are other ways to heal a memory, and that is what I am doing: being brave enough to listen to that little voice inside of me--the one who knew what was going on all along. Going against the past perceptions of everyone else and remembering that little voice, that always told me what was true. I didn't honor or listen to her then, but I honor and listen to her now. She was right all along. I will see it her way from now on. My memories, thus transformed.  

In writing this I discover that perhaps I am forgiving someone after all. . . myself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I had a wonderful opportunity this week to attend the Women's Media Awards-event organized by the Women's Media Center (WMC) founded by my close friend and mentor Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. This is what their website has to say about the event: "The Women’s Media Awards recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to advancing women’s and girls’ visibility and power in media."

It wouldn't have occurred to me how important organizations like this are for women, until I saw the statistics, which are staggering. And there is a enormous array of statistics to choose from, that make the same point. Here is one: "We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, but the news media itself remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news were female.  Only 13% of stories focused specifically on women and 6% on issues of gender equality or inequality."

I didn't expect to be moved the way I was by the event. What affected me most was being in a room full of powerful women. When does that ever happen? Women are bred to be submissive, to please men, to be more concerned with the latest trends than, for example, who's going to lead this country for the next four years. Women are 51% of the electorate, which means we have some serious power in this world. But...we are bred not to seize it.

Like I said, it was inspiring to see a room full of strong women, most of whom had indeed harnessed their power. From Anne Hathaway, who hosted the event, to Barbara Walters, who gave out the lifetime-award to Pat Mitchell, to Laura and Lisa Ling, two hosts and journalists who've been through hell and back doing what they love...I was just drinking it all in, feeling a real sense of belonging among these people. I still have a ways to go to unlearn my programming, but being a part of events like this makes me as motivated as ever to go after my dreams and become who I want to be.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

These last two weeks have been challenging, I have to admit it now. When hurricane Sandy hit New York, I thought I dealt with the whole thing really well--I felt like a trooper. I kept living my life as normally as possible, and fulfilling my duties as much as I could. Yet now as the dust settles, I find that the ordeal affected me much more deeply than I realized at first.

I think that for a lot of New Yorkers, Sandy was reminiscent of 9/11/2001. Even if we aren't aware of it on the surface, there is an unconscious film-roll that started running with the shocking nature of what the city went through last week. It's an entirely different circumstance of course, but the halting, traumatized feeling of the past is renewed. I would have disagreed with this assessment last week in the midst of my "brush-it-aside-and-keep-going"-attitude, but now as I relax a bit and let my body work through and finally heal itself from what is possibly my third cold in two weeks (!), I have to say, it's true.

I'm sure I've said this before, and I know I've even said it in a lyric of mine, but often the body knows better than the mind what is really going on within us. Right now, I'm telling myself that it's ok to be unsettled, that it's ok to feel the plethora of emotions that a huge event like this brings about. The rest of the world is already moving on, but this destruction has left a mark on all of us in this city, whether we realize it or not. Just like 9/11 did.

Yes, we can choose to brush these things aside and pretend like they don't touch us, but what's the point in that? They manifest themselves in other ways if we refuse to feel them. Either way, we can't run away from ourselves. Whatever you leave behind now, you will have to face in the future. I have learned that through my own experience many times. I am learning that I can't skip over feelings that seem inconvenient, I must feel them. Only in doing so can I heal myself and be whole.

"Stop masking your pain for it will bleed through somewhere else in your life.”
― Sherna Benjamin

Friday, November 2, 2012

What a week here in New York. What a fucking week.
I'm overwhelmed with emotions, some of which I don't even recognize. It's quite a tangle... One thing is for sure: it's hard to be thrown off most if not all of one's routines. In the midst of making my record in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, it is inconvenient to not be able to get there via subway as usual. Secondly, even if I was to get all the way there from my home in Brooklyn, I would be met with the fact that there is no power in the studio. Yup, that's life in New York right now. Thus, I wait.

Don't get me wrong, I know how good I have it. I know that hurricane Sandy destroyed the lives and properties of so many people in the city. To not have lost anything of value or anyone close to me, I am extremely lucky. I just have a feeling that this is not the last we've seen of storms of Sandy's ilk. I have a feeling that this is merely the beginning, and this alternately saddens and angers me. We the people are not innocent in all of this. Sandy is a symptom of climate change. 
This, unfortunately, is fact.

I went for a walk in Prospect Park on Thursday (illegal right now, in storm's aftermath....) and what was supposed to be a refreshing outing turned into a saddening, maddening, horrifying one. I saw hundreds of trees uprooted or sliced in half; beautiful, magnificent trees lying helplessly on the ground, dying. For me, nature has always provided solace--especially when it seemed like I wasn't able to get love and consolation from people around me. To then see these broken trees in what seemed like a skeletal Prospect Park...well, it was heart-breaking.

I know that I am anthropomorphizing trees somewhat, in that I see them as fallen friends. But I doubt that I'm truly out of line in thinking this way. We are dependent on trees and plants for our oxygen and they also soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We need them desperately, and yet everywhere in the world trees are being destroyed by deforestation, fires and storms, among other calamities. 

Storm coverage is currently concentrating on more pressing issues like flooding and power outages. I hope these will finally create an urgency to do what we can do to preserve our atmosphere and our environment. It will take a while before fallen trees will create such a reaction in the powers that be, but in the meantime I leave you with a couple of photographs of my beautiful, leafy friends. Rest in peace. 


Saturday, October 27, 2012

I've been thinking a lot about publicity this week. With the release of my album next year, publicizing it is naturally a key component in the process. Plus, I've done a couple of interviews recently, and thus the issue is relevant to me right now.

In the last couple of years I have come to express myself quite freely in the context of my blog, and I've come to trust that saying how I feel publicly is safe. I'm doing it on my own terms and can stand by every line. I have also been very open on stage about who I am and what I think, and that has felt empowering. Yet I am noticing that the situation is quite different in an interview, which is always written through the point of view of the journalist (unless it's via email). Many more things come into play, not the least of which being my personal shit and the journalist's personal shit when it comes to people and social situations. There's something quite unnatural about it, come to think of it: speaking about personal stuff with a complete stranger, who then writes about it into a magazine. In hindsight, it makes one want to take the word "personal" out of the earlier sentence. 

My point is this: doing an interview is not the same thing as me writing a blog or speaking to an audience. I enjoy interviews, I enjoy speaking to people in that capacity, but it's also daunting as hell, because you give up all control after the fact. It leaves you very vulnerable. I also find it challenging to draw the line about what is healthy to share and what is not--what feels good to talk about and what is excessive. But I trust that it is a matter of getting back in the groove of things and learning in the process, through trial and error. Despite having done a lot of publicity in my life, I am still trying to find a healthy balance with it.

What I really want is for my work to speak for itself. Being that publicity is part of my work too, I have to have a vision for it as well. That, among other things, is what I've learned this week.

“Just a reminder, what other people think of you is none of your business.” 
- Ze Frank

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This is the eighth and last week of me studying a university course on Sustainability, that I found online on an ingenious website called Coursera. It's been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about an issue that interests me a great deal, and what's best of all--it's for free! I've also been taking a course in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, which has also expanded my horizons quite a bit.

These courses are a first step for me as I'm planning on going back to school to finally get my GED. Back when I was 16 going on 17, I moved to New York, dropping out of high school to do so. At the time I didn't fully comprehend what was happening to my life, and it seemed like the right choice to pursue an international career in music then. At least I was made to believe so. In hindsight, my opinion is that I was too young and too insecure, and that the choice of discontinuing my education was not a wise choice. I don't know that it was even My choice to begin with. A lot of the things in my life at that time seemed to be happening to me, with me not being a conscious participant.

It was only a few years back when a friend of mine acknowledged my intelligence for what to me seemed like the first time. Up until then, I suppose it was in the best interest of people around me to encourage me to think I wasn't all that bright. Since then though, I have used up much of my time learning about a plethora of different subjects and I find myself already to be a different woman because of it. But this is not the end, this is merely the beginning of it. See what a little bit of encouragement can do to a human being..?!

Education and knowledge is empowering, and I've been delighted to see that a lot of information is available for free for anyone who wants it. As is the case of my GED. It is not an investment of money for me, instead it is an investment of time. I am now ready to claim what in some ways was taken from me a long time ago: my sense of being educated, adult! And for those of you who would also like to learn more and expand your minds, no hassle and for free, here is a link to the aforementioned ingenious website:

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I've always thought of myself as a warm person... Especially because for most of my life I was feeling insecure and inferior to most everyone else. I was eager to please and submissive, and I suppose I mistook that as warmth. Turns out that warmth is something utterly different. In my opinion true warmth can only come from being comfortable in one's own skin and being open, not scared of others.

Even though in the last few years I've learned to trust on a level that I never did before, I've discovered recently that I'm still very suspicious of others. Especially if they say something nice to me... It's connected to a feeling that I've always had, that if anything good happens to me, a bus is soon a-coming to run me over. A mechanism that is in place in one area of one's life, often extends to other areas as well...

I've been working on being more trusting, more warm and more open in the last couple of weeks, and I'm already reaping the benefits: people are being way nicer to me in return! I never realized that I (mostly) hadn't looked people in the eye before, that I often neglected to thank people when they complimented me, that I drifted away in conversations... I have not been welcoming, for fear that I let others get too close and they try to hurt me.

I'm not so scared anymore. I think it comes from the knowledge that I can be assertive when I need to be, that I know how to say no. Without that, people do sometimes take advantage. But I am a warm person, and I'm not scared to let people see that now. No one can take from me what I don't give.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

There are no shortcuts--not really. At least every short cut I've taken, I've had to pay for dearly later on. In some ways I feel like the way my career began was one such "short cut." At 13 when I started, I had not had a chance to really consider what kind of music I would like to sing, in what language, how I would want to look, what I would like to say... All these things were imposed on me by other people, and I was ok with it, as I was too young to know any better. Yes, I had huge success immediately, but it wasn't on my own terms. And for that, indeed, I have paid a price.

The reason why I think about this right now is that two nights ago, my current record company ECR Music Group had a very successful event celebrating its relaunch, rebranding and expansion. Just as for me personally, there have been no shortcuts for this company. It has been hard work and dedication over 10 years that has brought the label and us artists here, where we have the foundation to reach for ever bigger and better things and more success.

I just had a candid moment with Blake Morgan (the CEO of the company) last week about our collective experiences in the music business. He told me that at every point in his life and career as he's advanced, time after time he has found himself to be in the "before"-picture rather than the"after"-picture. This can be a frustrating realization and I've felt this way many times in my life as well. But the truth is, in a healthy way we might always feel that way. Certainly I have mistakenly thought at certain times in my career, that I've been in the "after"-picture, but life does throw us quite a few curve-balls... What I told him in response was this: "I have never felt this good about being in the 'before'-picture." I find myself to be in a wonderful place with my label, on the verge of some sort of greatness.. I'm ready to put the work in, ready to take every step needed to get there, wherever I and we are going. I don't need any short cuts and I'm quite peaceful right here where I am.

"A shortcut is the longest distance between two points. "  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Whoa! Life feels exciting and fun today! I was just recording a demo of a new song for my band (we have a gig on the 11th of October) and I had this moment of: "Wow! I have my own sound! I'm making something beautiful, I'm making something cool!" I still have a Lot to learn when it comes to recording, but every now and then I stop and marvel about how far I've come in a couple of short years. So many new skills, so much new knowledge... Yes, I wish I'd learned much of this 10 or more years ago, but truly--given where I was, it was impossible at the time.

A friend just told me this week cheekily but seriously, that when he met me 3 years ago, I was in the "intensive care unit." Some time after that I was in critical condition, then gradually stable, then in recovery... Long story short, he now tells me that I'm in "physical therapy," which is a long way from where I started. Hehe...he didn't even know me when I was in a coma. It was pretty bad I have to say.

I feel very grateful that I am here today and that I've made it this far. I understand now how hard I have worked to achieve this sanity and stability, and I feel very proud. I know that the healing journey is still far from over, but I feel like I'm taking a long deep breath right now. The best is yet to come..!

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” 
- Rumi

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm in a good place right now: I'm being productive, my life is moving forward in all areas, I'm acquiring knowledge through studying issues and skills that interest me, I'm making my album (!!!) and I'm finding ways to balance all the different areas of my life. People who thought they knew me well even a few years ago would hardly recognize this new woman I'm becoming.

Yet there are still many important patterns I'm discovering about myself: patterns that require undoing. I learned from an early age to bury my anger and to keep going no matter what--as a means of survival, I suppose. People around me were making me angry on a constant basis and in an effort to be able to coexist with them, I learned to hide the feeling deep inside myself. The problem with that is that it doesn't work. Like I've mentioned before, anger turned inwards turns into depression, and anger unexpressed turns into anxiety. No wonder I could hardly function by the time I was in my twenties: I was bursting with unexpressed anger!

Even now, when I get hurt by others, I often turn to my old habit of suppressing my anger. But anger is a healthy response and once the feeling is aired out, life can continue in a normal, productive way. Whatever the feeling is, it needs to be felt and acknowledged. This is what is sinking in for me right now, and it's bringing me peace and warmth, quite literally. Turns out there's a difference in knowing something and really Knowing it.

I just love that I am where I am right now. Honestly, I've never felt this good in my life and I probably still have some ways to go to reach "normalcy". Yet when you're emerging from a dark pit, even a little light can be blinding... And I know it is bound to get brighter yet. My eyes are just getting used to this new light, little by little. So --this-- is what the world really looks like.

"What is to give light must endure burning."
- Viktor Frankl

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased… There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

I saw this quote in the bathroom of a New York restaurant. In addition to being relevant for art, I think Martha Graham's words resonate for life in general. I was at an event last night, where within an hour I came face to face with quite a slice of the human condition. I felt on many occasions that I was talking to people blocked by a protective armor of sorts. So many of us think that the person we are is somehow not cool enough, charismatic enough, entertaining enough, smart enough... People find so many different ways to mask their insecurities, and often it comes across as arrogance of various forms, dishonesty and untrustworthiness.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather meet a person, not their armor. And I'd much rather not lug the heavy armor around myself either. It requires quite a bit of upkeep--all those mannerisms. Instead, I'd like to face the world being and expressing who I am, proudly and honestly. Flaws, quirks and all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

"I want death to find me planting my cabbages."
- Michel Eyquem De Montaigne 1533-1592

I am discovering that I love working hard. I'm finding a peace in keeping my mind and body occupied, after a long period of ruminating and trying to fathom all that has happened within me and around me in my life so far. I feel like I've reached a spot where I want to start putting all of my tortured history behind me and moving on to fulfill my dreams and my potential. Through all the work that I've done on myself, I find that my fears have dissipated sufficiently, that I'm finally a truly functional human being. Perhaps it will take a moment before I'm a thriving human being, but I'm sure that time will come too. I am well on my way.

It is a bit sad to think that after all this work I've done, I'm still at a square one of sorts. Yes, I have a lot of knowledge and understanding, layers and depth that most people at a square one don't have, but I am still learning some of the basics of life and living. But what I can really be proud of is that I'm here and I've done all this work. Motherfucker.

This moment is a rebirth for me, and yes, there was a kind of death that preceded it... Like Literature Professor Charles Feidelson, Jr. said: "Life is a series of little deaths out of which life always returns." This rebirth is a different sort for me though, as I feel like I'm emerging stronger than ever before. I truly feel ready to conquer my demons and move past them to do what it is I'm here to do. Action is key.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'."

That phrase has at least been uttered by Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption in addition, I'm sure, to many others since and before. Perhaps a bit of a cliche already..? Perhaps indeed. But the thing about cliches is that they become that for a reason. Wikipedia has this to say about the matter:

"A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel."

Well, cliche or not, the phrase is meaningful and touches me very deeply right now. In the past few weeks I have allowed my fears to be running my life, to the point where I've diluted truly wonderful experiences by not being fully present for them. Fear has a tendency to block reality and in my experience also to accumulate, unless kept in check. Fear is what kills you a little bit every day, until you can no longer see the dazzling beauty of an ordinary day.

I can't afford to lose one more moment; I never want to regret experiences squandered by holding onto fear as if a friend, when in all honesty it is my enemy, distorting my every interaction. Life requires surrender, jumping into the river and letting the flow take you where it may. The destination and views along the way are bound to be a lot more exciting than trying to paddle in one place, resisting.
So, to cap it all off I say 'fuck the paddling, bring on the flow.' And that, by the way, is not a cliche.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Perhaps this is Too Much Information for some, but here I am on my sofa, recovering from food poisoning. What a traumatic experience it is, when everything you've come to trust about your body all of a sudden goes out the window. The memory stays with you for a long time... Ugh.....

But let me just express a grateful thought about life not being boring or monotonous. Even on a day like this, I can look back at a week splattered with utterly memorable moments, both exciting and challenging. The highlight of this week easily being that I took huge steps forward with my album. The low moment? Well, you might guess what that was.... But then again, you might be how much is actually going on in my life at any given moment; how much can actually be going on in anyone's life at any given moment. It is hard to see from the outside. Anyway, I am thankful to have this rich and full life. I can truly appreciate it, as it hasn't always been this way...

"If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."
- Jim Valvano

Saturday, August 18, 2012

#$^**@%##!!!!! Why the fuck do certain lessons have to be learned so many fucking times until they are permanently absorbed??!! When, in fact, will they be permanently absorbed? How many times do I have to fucking fall and get back up? Why is it I always have to learn how to get back up--why can't I ever remember it from last time? Man. Life is like this, eh? You never know what fucking chocolate you're gonna get.

Had I written this on any other day this week, I would have been expressing entirely different emotions. But in all that I do these days, I strive for honesty. Even if it's ugly, and not what people would like to hear. I'm not saying I always succeed in being truthful and real, but it would not occur to me to write about bunnies today. I am confused, pissed off, anxious and depressed. And so be it. Nothing in this universe is permanent and neither is this feeling. Looking forward to permanently absorbing that statement.

“Let's tell the truth to people. When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don't want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.”
― Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A couple of years ago I was in a horse accident in which I broke my nose, dislocated my hip and got a pretty deep wound on my shin.. Watching the scar on my leg heal bit by bit helps me understand the healing process in general a little more clearly. In my experience the physical healing process is very closely related to the psychological and emotional one.

I notice that there are times when the physical injuries that I sustained in the accident suddenly act up and come to the surface... The new skin on my scar is still fragile and even a small scrape on it will take weeks to heal fully. The same is true for emotional wounds: sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere an emotional wound will get agitated, discharge some old dirt or pus, and take its time getting back to normal.

And...well...that's what's up right now. I'm feeling unsettled and angry because some old shit has been kicked up. By now, it's obvious that this will happen from time to time and that there's no use fighting it. The dirt is there, the pus is there so I now see it as my duty to let it out. If this was going on with a physical wound, I would clean it, right? I wouldn't shove the dirt back in, as the wound would get infected, right? I wish someone would have told me this when I was a kid. It would have saved me a lot of festering.

"How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"
- William Shakespeare

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'm noticing something really thrilling about myself this week... It seems I am no longer swayed by other people's realities. In the past, when I got bullied or somebody tried to push me against the wall, I would promptly lose my center and even agree with the aggressor. Now, I'm beginning to be rooted in what's actually real and accurate. Yes, I still have moments when I let bullies get their foot in the door, but my experience is that now I'm quickly able to smash that foot with the frickin' door. Perhaps one day soon, I will learn to not even answer the knock.

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.”
― Philip K. Dick

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Holy shit.
I've just been having one of the best days in my life. If not the best.
I have a feeling of peace inside of me as I write this...

I was just talking to a friend of mine about the fact that I find it hard to enjoy good moments sometimes, because of a fear that it may be taken away at any moment. And the truth is it can. This is not just anxiety, it is what's accurate. One of the most important things then is to know that I'm good with everyone I want to be good with, come what may. That the people I love know that I love them. And at this point in my life, I feel that is the case. I have no regrets. From that place, it's easier to enjoy what's going on. I'm not holding onto anything or anyone for dear life... I can't. Life just kinda makes that impossible...

The other most important thing is this: acknowledging those moments that are worth noting and remembering, like today. My life is not perfect by any means--there is plenty that I could be fretting about at any given moment... In fact, part of my life is a shit-storm at the moment..! But today I chose not to concentrate on that. I was present, I was here, I was happy. And I would like to add to that: I Am here. And I am happy. Despite everything.

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What can I say.. I'm slow today. There's only so much a heart and a head can handle at any given time, and my brain is a little blurry right now...

I find emotional work as tiring as any physical work. It's just that sometimes one doesn't realize and appreciate how hard one is working, when it's "merely" happening within one's head. Well, I'm suffering from mental indigestion right now and thus will keep this short. But before I go, I'd like to share this profound quote from an unreasonably brilliant and versatile man:

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein

I think Mr. Einstein has it right: you shovel out the shit and zone in on the stuff that matters. But honestly, tonight I'm done. I'll pick up the shovel again tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Some coping mechanisms are so idiotic. Insane even. They shouldn't even be called coping mechanisms, as they really hinder our ability to do just that: cope. For some people it's substance abuse, for some it's food, sex, avoidance, self-blame, religion, you name it--I've used many of these. I still have a bunch of ill-conceived ones, and up until recently I've been quite oblivious to them. Every time a challenging event or fearful situation appears on the radar, I tend to distract myself with the scariest thoughts that I can think of...and voila! Mission accomplished! I'm not concentrating on the challenging event anymore: I'm so paralyzed by the scary thoughts that I've created, that I hardly have room in my head to think about what was bothering me originally.

It often happens that as I write my blog, I end up learning something important in the process. Today it was by reading some info on Wikipedia about the subject of coping mechanisms. Turns out that the coping mechanisms I spoke of in my earlier paragraph are actually called 'maladaptive coping' or 'non-coping skills'. How fitting! That's truly what they are. Apparently there are actual coping skills out there, that would actually help! I have even been learning many of these in the last couple of years, but they still often go out the window in times of adversity.

But in this, as in so many other things in life, knowledge is power. Now that I know I have healthier options to deal with problems, why the fuck would I opt for the negative? My challenging event is fast approaching and I have two choices: wallow in fear about unrelated topics or check out how Wikipedia's suggestions would work out. Here they are, for your reading pleasure:

"While dealing with stress it is important to deal with your physical, mental, and social well being. One should maintain their health and learn to relax if they find themselves under stress. Mentally it is important to think positive thoughts, value oneself, demonstrate good time management, plan and think ahead, and express emotions. Socially one should communicate with people and seek new activities. By following these simple strategies, one will have an easier time responding to stresses in their lives."

Sounds pretty frickin' healthy to me..!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I am very excited to report that I have now started production work on my next album! On this record I will be playing guitar myself for the very first time in my life, and most likely I will also be playing piano. In addition to this, I have written every song myself (with the exception of a possible cover-tune).

Two years ago I would never have thought any of this possible, as I was still very much climbing out of the wreckage of what my life had been. I had been made to believe that I was dependent on other people's skills and intelligence to survive, to accomplish anything in this world. Now I'm discovering day by day that I can and will be able to navigate this life on my own. Collaboration and partnership is a whole other deal--a matter of choice rather than necessity. And thus, it becomes a prospect of joy and adventure; equality instead of dependency.

Artists often put pressure on themselves in trying to create "The Masterpiece" every time they work on a new project. I admit to having a bit of that in the back of my mind as well... But right at this moment, I will make a pact with myself that I'll try to think of this album more as an accurate depiction of where I'm at in my life as an artist. Nothing less, nothing more. If I'm able to express my current depth and character in these songs, it is already a huge accomplishment, much beyond my earlier works.

I will never be the artists that I idolize, as much as I wish that I would be. It is time to embrace who I am in all my strengths and weaknesses, as they all make me who I am. My life and my experiences are why I have my unique story to tell, and it's time to tell it, in my music. Not a Masterpiece, just my current truth.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw (Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1856-1950)

I saw this quote yesterday on an information board in front of a church, and it really stayed with me. It's very powerful in that it puts even more responsibility on us to realize our own potential, actively and energetically. I've found that seeking answers within myself can often be an almost impossible task, as the truth is covered by so many layers of habit, pattern, miseducation and bad examples, observed with wide eyes and swallowed whole. I have found that in order for me to discover the truth about myself, I have had to consult quite an array of books and enlist the help of therapy.

Being that we are constantly changing, finding yourself probably means finding some earlier version of yourself. For me it has been extremely important to understand all of what came before, in order to shed some light on why things are the way they are, now. But in the process, I am always creating myself: through deeper understanding I allow my present self to expand and grow. All or most of what happens now and tomorrow, I am consciously creating; whatever came before, was mostly not in my control. I have endless options (luckily!) to be anything that I choose to be, I could reinvent my life whenever I decide to. But what I've discovered in the last few years is that I do like where I'm at, and I love who I am becoming. This is what/who I've created so far and I stand by it. Tomorrow, who knows what I'll want to create then?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

FYI, I have decided to change into a Saturday-schedule with my blog due to shifts in my weekly plans. And seemingly related, but actually not very related at all--this week I am seriously getting into better time management. I bought this instructional book about the subject and it is interesting what time management really boils down to: knowing what the fuck you want to do with your life. That's really the key issue, isn't it? Otherwise you're just wasting time, aren't you?

I find that it is helpful for me at regular intervals to remind myself and thoroughly assess what my goals are and what I want to accomplish in life. It immediately reminds me that certain things that I get into a habit of considering luxuries (like reading books, magazines and exploring new music) are actually important stepping stones towards the goals that I'm aiming for. Thus they are not luxuries, instead they are necessities and I need to make time for them. (YES!!!) It helps to realign my thinking, to look at the bigger picture. Surprising fun stuff emerges..!

Looking at the bigger picture is also important in realizing that life consists not only of career goals, but also goals of living a healthy, happy, fulfilling existence, which ideally is full of love. Not rushing out the door to achieve and to conquer when one has an opportunity to receive kisses or caresses instead. First things first..!

My friend put it well: "It's good to stay open to the possibility that any day could be the best day of your life." Yup. Time management is good and important and all, but seems to me that there is something even more important to be used in conjunction with it: staying in the moment. It guarantees that I won't miss those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of just having a spectacular day. Perhaps it takes some wisdom to recognize when to stick to the curriculum and when to veer from it. I guess the idea is to have as much fun in the long term as possible. Let us choose wisely.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Week after week, I talk very intimately about my life in my blog: my experiences, emotions, setbacks, frustrations and triumphs. It is interesting then to realize, that what I feel most private about are some of the more public aspects about who I am. I feel private about myself as an artist. Perhaps this is because even though being an artist is one of the things that I cherish most in life, it is also an area that I've felt most attacked in. And I'm sure I wouldn't be the only artist to say this. You have to grow a very thick skin doing what I do. Better yet, you have to have great self-esteem and a great grasp of reality. Neither of which I have had until now; both of which I am developing.

Last night felt like a start of something new for me. It was my first public performance since October, and I was thrilled to be on stage, performing a couple of brand new songs within the set. Despite having taken a break from performance, I am surprised to feel strongly that this concert was my best one ever. I found myself to have evolved greatly as an artist during my break. How is this possible?
Apparently artistry and performance greatly benefit from actions seemingly unrelated to the craft itself. Again, I return to an Anton Chekhov-quote that I've posted on my blog before:

"If you want to work on your art, work on your life."

It is exactly what I have been doing, in many forms. Greater self-knowledge and higher self-esteem will give access to powers and abilities that one may have been holding back out of fear.

We are much more; we have much more to give than we often realize. It is a gift that I'm giving myself now--allowing myself to step through fear, to claim who I am. It is happening now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Well, it's a first time for everything: I'm writing my blog in a car, driving back home to NY from Connecticut. Right now I'm sitting at a gas station somewhere on I-95... Probably by the next line I write I'll be somewhere on the road again. You guessed it--I'm not the one driving...

Here's what I'm thinking as I continue to write, (and now begin to get car-sick): smooth sailing is a very short-lived moment in one's life. It seems that life always finds a way to hand us a serious challenge any time we start to get comfortable. What I'm finding different about me this time, is that I have a trunk full of tools that I haven't had before. I am way more prepared to deal with adversity than I ever have been before. There is a deep-seated belief in me this time that everything is going to be alright. I've never had that before. It's what allows me to not go spiraling headfirst into the abyss at this point in time; it is what helps me keep my head up and continue enjoying my life even whilst dealing with a difficult situation, the likes of which I haven't quite experienced before.

So much of life truly is how we react to the things that happen to us. I see people close to me struggling with the same mangled tools they've always used to deal with the problems they face, never stopping to consider that there might be other more powerful and helpful tools out there, if they'd only give themselves the time to investigate.

If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always gotten. I know this, and personally I'm ready for something new. I'm still making peace with the fact that it's all I can do: I can only make choices for myself, not for anyone else. Extremely frustrating at times, but it's just one of those things: "Dude, just let it go..." So I'll try.. And I will.
But. There is one thing I Can do. There's a couple of tools in my trunk that I have spares of, and they are these: love and acceptance. Even if I am powerless to affect others' choices, I have found that love and acceptance have some real sway.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How does one know when one has cut off all of the strings to a person or a past experience? I have been cutting off strings left and right for the past few years; I didn't even know I had so many tied to me... I am tempted to declare today, as I turn a significant page in my life, that this concludes a phase that I am now relieved and happy to leave behind. I'm tempted to declare that I have now cut off the last string. And yet, I still carry these memories that color much of what I see and cause me to react to certain situations in unwarranted ways... Don't these memories count as strings too..?

I do not wish to part with memories. I do not even wish to part with old photographs, as many people tend to do. I do not wish to deny anything that happened, but I do wish to see reality accurately. And seeing reality accurately means that a lot of memories start looking very different from what they used to look like... It's a matter of going through all of them, like old photographs, looking at all past experiences through a new, healthy perspective. I believe that it is through this exercise that at last all strings will be cut. Us human beings--we are meant to be free. Connected yes, but by choice, not through strings.

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

- Abraham Lincoln, letter to H.L. Pierce, Apr. 6, 1859

Friday, May 25, 2012

It is a strange phenomenon, a peculiar mechanism in my head... I notice that one of the harder things for me to deal with is good news. When great opportunities arise, I immediately start expecting the bus that will run me over, which kinda destroys the good news doesn't it?

In the past, many of the triumphs in my life have been followed by minor or major disasters.. This is where I learned to expect the worst whenever great opportunities arose, to the point where now great news has come to equal bad news in my subconscious, and even my conscious mind. But the fact of the matter is, good news and great opportunity really are just that: good news and great opportunity!

Here's what Thomas A. Edison says about opportunity:

"The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work."

In my case, the hard work will entail rewiring my brain to expect a positive outcome instead of a negative one. It will entail reclaiming a sense of enjoyment and wonder that I have lost along the way in feelings of uncertainty, inferiority... Breaking old unhelpful associations and creating fresh new ones. In this case, one opportunity comes laced with many opportunities for growth. Well, that sounds like adventure to me..! And I wouldn't want my life to be any other way. Bring it on, motherfuckers!

"The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."
- Ayn Rand

Friday, May 18, 2012

For the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of commitment... When I was younger, many things happened to me before I really had a chance to make a conscious choice about them. My career started at such an early age (13), that at the time I did not fully understand all that I was getting into. A pattern was formed then and possibly even earlier, that made me a bit of a drifter in my life. Things happened to me, and I felt like I didn't have to take responsibility for anything, as I hadn't ever fully committed to any of it.

I became aware in the last few days that this pattern of noncommittal is still a part of my life. I've been hiding behind the perception that I'm never totally control of my life or my choices. The reality that I'm waking up to now is that I am. Where I am in my life is due to the choices that I'm making continuously on a day to day basis, whether they are half-assed or thought out ones. At this point, (no longer 13) I can't blame anyone else or put the responsibility on anyone else's shoulders. Though initially an unnerving thought, it does feel strangely liberating to me...

I'm working on being brave enough to fully plunge into the things that I love and are meaningful to me; to not be haphazard about any of it. Things don't always work out and nothing is perfect, but I can't imagine bigger regret than not having given it my 100%. With commitment I claim ownership of my choices, and that to me is powerful. Downright ballsy.

“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it's not without doubt but in spite of doubt."
- Rollo May, (existential psychologist, 1909 – 1994)

Friday, May 11, 2012

A balanced life seems to consist of many different areas: work, play, friends, relationship, family, personal growth, physical health, relaxation, home, etc. All of these areas are important to work on and expand, but any time I tilt too strongly into one direction I end up getting some sort of hangover from it. The days when I'm able to address most of these areas in some ways feel like the most enjoyable ones for me.

I find that living a fulfilling life requires A Lot of discipline. Things don't just happen automatically, at least not in my life--I truly have to put in serious effort to feel happy and content on a day-to-day-basis. What makes me happy is forward movement in all of the areas I mentioned earlier. If any of the areas feel stuck, a positive flow is interrupted and a sort of 'Blech...!' takes over the whole picture.

I always love the relaxation, Savasana (corpse pose), at the end of a yoga class. It often feels like the Best Relaxation Ever! It is because I've just seriously exerted myself and feel entitled to it. So it is in life too. Play isn't so much fun, unless you've worked hard to earn it; friendships, family and relationship would all be pretty stagnant without personal growth... Physical health would hardly improve without relaxation, and home...well, if the home is a mess, I feel pretty crappy in all of the other areas. Thus it seems like all of these areas are needed to complement each other.

One of the hardest working friends of mine often says that by nature he would be the "lie-in-bed-naked-and-eat-potato-chips-all-day"-dude. I can certainly relate to that. There's always some part of me that doesn't want to be bothered to do anything. But, knowing the hangovers of an unbalanced life on the one hand, and the fulfilling feeling of accomplishment on the other, choice is clear. It's just a matter of remembering this and making the effort consistently, every day.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
- Albert Einstein (theoretical physicist, 1879–1955)

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm writing my music alone for the very first time with this new material that I'm creating. Yes, there have been some tunes on my earlier albums that I've written fully on my own, but never a full project. And I have to say, while this is very exciting, it is also extremely daunting. I almost feel like it's been a truth that I've been running away from, even as it's been in front of my eyes. I've come up with a billion different ways of distracting myself from it--all kinds of unproductive thinking...but I think it's time to face up to it. Sink or swim, this is My Project. This is My Responsibility. Scary yes, but also very fucking cool..!

Creativity is an interesting animal. Mine doesn't like the daily stimulus of the computer, emails, phone calls, New York hustle and bustle. At all. It requires space and time and quietude, an opportune moment to be captured and played with. It flees very quickly when it hears a suggestion of chores, the word 'should' or self-criticism. All of this ought to be banished from the mind when one gets lucky enough to be stricken by inspiration. (Easier said than done, sometimes...)

In this world we live in, being creative can be challenging. I personally think it's a whole different ball-game than what it must have been in decades past, when there was no internet for example... And even further back, when there was no TV. These days even just the city and the computer will create enough noise to fill out any space for creativity, if one lets them. Though I've once viewed quiet time a luxury,
I now view it as a prerequisite to be able to create anything; I actually now see it as part of my work. And with that, I settle into an evening of guilt-free steeping, letting the reality sink in... It's My frickin' project.... Wow.

"Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it."
- Dee Hock

Friday, April 27, 2012

I just went to see the Punch Brothers last night at New York's Town Hall.
Originally I only went there to see my favorite new artist Jesca Hoop, who was opening up for them and didn't really care about the Punch Brothers, as I hadn't really heard much of their stuff before this... But wow. I am fucking floored. This was one of, if not the best concert I've ever seen. I couldn't think of a more powerful bill: joyous, fierce, emotional... The combination of the two acts was impeccable!

Sometimes you see concerts like this where you end up feeling like you've wasted your whole fucking life. You see someone doing something so well that it hardly seems humanly possible.... I mean, the cover of Kid A that the Punch Brothers performed? What the hell?? Unfuckingbelievable. The musicianship, the abandon, the obvious love for their craft and the originality of the music... Ah! It makes me emotional right now.

I have been carrying a lot of sadness and anger around this week, for the many injustices of my life. It's a grieving process that's ongoing and utterly healthy actually. It pisses me off that I've had to waste so much time on this crap instead of being able to work on what I love in this world. But getting the anger and sadness out will enable me to sink my teeth into all those things that inspire me. Suppressing these feelings is the block that's created between me and the world: anxiety. A performance like the one I witnessed last night reminds me of why I do what I do; why I constantly want to evolve, why I love music, why it's so important in this world....
I thank the universe for experiences like this.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I was just lying on the floor for a long time, listening to music, (Piers Faccini and Kings of Convenience..) experimenting on relaxation and inner peace... Ah, what a revelation! Do people really live like this? At peace with themselves? I want it. Badly. Old habits die hard, and it has required substantial amounts of rewiring of my brain to even allow myself to relax. Though people tend to see me as quite zen on the outside (..?), I have always been full of turmoil.

Figuring out some important piece about life one day doesn't mean that one remembers it on the next. So far, the pendulum is always swinging... This has become very obvious to me throughout my process of healing. My life has for a while felt like a series of triumphs and relapses, back to back at varying intervals. The hardest habit for me to kick is negative thinking. That shit was pumped into my veins and into my consciousness ever since I was a child... But it is probably hard to find a human being in this world who is as determined to be free from negative thoughts. For me it is a matter of life and death... But in all honesty, I think it is that for everyone. One cannot truly Live, if one is inundated with negativity.

The good thing about pendulums is that they eventually stop swinging. Apparently due to friction and gravity... My pendulum is certainly slowing down. I'm creating both the friction and the gravity by becoming more and more focused on Truth and Reality, goddammit. Those two very rarely correspond to the negative depictions of the mind. This is merely accurate. Where the pendulum stops must lie some sort of peace. I see glimpses of it already.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”

- Marcus Aurelius (my hero!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I walk a fine line with my blog sometimes, in wanting to express my emotions, in wanting to connect, and yet not expose myself and my life entirely. I find that line especially challenging to tread today, as most of what I'm experiencing right now I feel fragile and protective about. Indeed, I feel quite vulnerable now, despite being stronger than ever. Perhaps it's a function of being more present....

In the recent and coming weeks, I am opening myself up to many things that I've been protecting myself from... In short, I am deciding to trust--myself, my surroundings, people. It's a choice, interestingly enough. I didn't even realize that I had surrounded myself with all these walls, pretty much all of my life; walls of distracting fears that shielded me from true interactions and true connections. It used to be a form of self-protection and it had its place. But now these walls that used to be my best friend are my biggest obstacle.

I understand now that connection with others is what makes life worth fighting for; to allow myself to be seen, and to see and experience others as they truly are. It may take some time for my walls to come down, but I have a good view of what's on the other side now. Brick by brick, I am undoing this distance and isolation.

In case you haven't seen this yet, it's definitely worth a gander:

Friday, April 6, 2012

One of my favorite stories as a child was The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen... Here's the opening of it, as stolen from Wikipedia:

"An evil troll, actually the devil himself, makes a magic mirror that has the power to distort the appearance of things reflected in it. It fails to reflect all the good and beautiful aspects of people and things while it magnifies all the bad and ugly aspects making them look even worse than they actually are.

The devil teaches a "devil school," and he and his pupils delight in taking the mirror throughout the world to distort everyone and everything. They enjoy how the mirror makes the loveliest landscapes look like "boiled spinach." They then want to carry the mirror into heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, but the higher they lift it, the more the mirror grins and shakes with delight. It shakes so much that it slips from their grasp and falls back to earth where it shatters into billions of pieces — some no larger than a grain of sand. These splinters are blown around and get into people's hearts and eyes, making their hearts frozen like blocks of ice and their eyes like the troll-mirror itself, only seeing the bad and ugly in people and things."

Long story short: main character Kai gets these splinters in his heart and in his eye and turns into a cold and loveless boy. He then joins the Snow Queen in her frozen, cruel kingdom, leaving behind his happy childhood and his loving friend Gerda. Spoiler alert!!!!!! Love melts his heart in the end.

After all these years that story came to my mind today, as I actually had a feeling that my own heart is melting...! Hans Christian Andersen must have known something about losing and reclaiming innocence himself, having written such a story.

Love is the one thing that I find even the smartest people fail to describe in a way that doesn't sound trite. I was able to find one quote that truly touched me though and here it is:

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.
-Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, March 30, 2012

Right now I'm reading a book called Tom Waits on Tom Waits, Interviews and Encounters. Sheer brilliance! Much like his music, his interviews allow readers to immerse themselves into his world... And what a world it is! Tom Waits seems to inhabit his own reality: a gritty, raw, dark, but warm place simultaneously existing today and some time in the 1940's. As I swim through these articles of him with his anecdotes, witty one-liners and his ruggedly captivating persona as described by his many interviewers, I find myself walking differently, noticing details and places I haven't noticed before... Oddly enough, I find myself connecting to myself more--a truer, more honest part of myself.

Great art and true artists have the capacity to inspire us to experience the world in a new way. Certain artists actually motivate me to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, reminding me through their work that I can choose to live each day in a way that counts; that every moment is an opportunity to be singularly, fabulously myself. For that reason alone, art is a driving force in my world.

I heard a story that during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. According to rumor, Churchill’s response was this: “Then what are we fighting for?”

Indeed. Our birthright and a basic need for all of us is creativity. The world we live in these days does not encourage this. Instead it often feels as if the powers that be try to make us all fit into the same neat box, labeled "Consumer." It requires daily bravery to live our lives in a creative and individual way. I thank the universe for people like Tom Waits, who show the rest of us that there are many different paths to choose from. Out of 7 billion paths, (hopefully) we choose the one meant for us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

I saw the above quote this morning and it spoke to me deeply... These days it seems that I'm very rarely in my comfort zone; constantly having to push beyond my former experience in all areas of my life. It can feel unpeaceful much of the time, as surges of adrenaline pass through me, repeatedly... Yet I know that I have no choice, as I can't go back now. Yes, I could choose some version of the unfulfilling existence of my past, and remain "safe", in place. Instead, I want the infinite possibilities of the future. Clearly it requires a lot of courage and effort, but what point is there in living a stagnant life?

So, a balance is needed. Time and space to work on that which is important, and full-on immersion and contact with the world and people around me. The latter still regularly fills me with fear... I often go in and out of flashback memories that unfairly paint friends and strangers with a brush of doom, my reality distorted. This, I've been dealing with a lot in the past week--a function of my PTSD. But it's more and more conscious--it's coming to the forefront. And that, is progress, people.

I cannot hope to heal from my wounds sitting in a corner all by myself, immersed in my music. Like Goethe says, character develops in the full current. So I dive in, time and again, bravely.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Never before has it been so clear to me how much power I have over my own thoughts...that the way I see the world and myself is ultimately in my own control. Famous thinkers and writers have always said this and on some level I've always thought that it's bullshit. Wouldn't I be a more positive, relaxed person if I had the choice?

I've always felt very much the victim of whatever has been going on in my life, and whatever thought sequence has come about. What I hadn't fully understood before is that I can't hope to change my thoughts around just like that in one given moment. The way we think is a matter of consistency--it's a long-term process. If I've been cultivating a foundation of negativity in my mind for days and weeks, months and years, I can be sure that one positive (i.e. accurate) thought that I try to force on myself will not take root. It will be a useless struggle, as my mind will only be fertile ground for negativity. If instead I consistently cultivate a foundation of positive thinking, productive and nourishing thoughts ensue naturally.

Initially though, changing one's negative habit of thinking is hard work. Really hard work. I know this first-hand. Changing our thoughts seems to go against everything we are. The way we think is a product of everything that we've experienced in our lives: the influence of the people who brought us up, our peers, culture, media... In some ways, it can seem like the only constant in our lives; as if it's our identity. But, I think that we can't become who we truly are meant to be until we free our minds of negative programming.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

--The Matrix

Reality truly is what we make it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Within the last few years I have come to realize that I am a very driven, even passionate and intense person. This ends up working against me sometimes, because in my excitement to accomplish great things and to push myself further, I forget to tune into how I am feeling. I forget to take time to just be and to relax, and end up finding myself high-strung, with a cluttered mind.

As I checked in with myself tonight, I was surprised to find the answer to my troubles so simple: I'm tired. I need time to process all these things that are happening in my life... What a lesson! The answers are often so takes real effort to see what is in front of our eyes.

There are many beautiful quotes that I would like to share with you on this subject, but I resolve to leave you with two. With them I wish you a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." -Chinese Proverb

"When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere." -Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680)

Friday, March 2, 2012

These days, I notice that as I get more rooted in facts and reality and more together within myself, it tends to affect my surroundings in a big way. Not only in the neat versus messy sense--it carries on into everything: relationships, family, my address book, (!)... Everything becomes cleaner and clearer... a slow process though it is. It feels like it's impossible to have health in one area and not in the other, as everything is connected and carries on into the other. I've noticed that if I really want to feel whole and content, all areas of my life have to be addressed and healed, little by little, one at a time. Once the process starts, it tends to progress naturally....

As I look back on my life from where I'm at right now, and see it all through my new operating system, I can't help but cringe at so much of what came to pass. Painful memories that seemed like normal life at the time, and I didn't think twice of it. It is only later, through health, that we come to understand the truth about our lives. And I still have so much to discover...

Judging by my surroundings and my relationships, I'm definitely moving in the right direction. Much is still to be addressed, but I'm beginning to enjoy the process, more and more all the time. Sometimes the pain flows in like a wave, but if I don't hold on to it, it flows back out to where it came from. A feeling will pass, but facts remain. And feelings are not facts. Thank God. The fact is I'm in a better place than I've ever been.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I am supremely motivated right now by this new book that I'm reading: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. There is excitement coursing through my veins as I write this, and I can't wait to do my creative work today..!

The book itself is a swift kick in the butt for artists and creatives (although I do believe that all of us are born creative beings in one field or another...). It encourages us procrastinators to put ourselves on the line, to do the work and to finish the work, so as not to "cheat the world of our contribution." Procrastination is certainly a challenge of mine... Granted, I'm working very hard every day on a number of fields in my life. It is just that sometimes, in the midst of all this technological distraction (=the internet) we as human beings are surrounded by at all times today, it is a great challenge to get oneself to actually commit to doing one's creative work consistently. The internet being one of the many excuses here....

The War of Art helps me understand the many ways that we become obstacles to ourselves--the many forms that resistance takes in order to thwart us from doing our work... It is a relief to know that I am not the only one battling these specific demons, and that there are even books created on the subject of wrestling them down.

Mr. Pressfield says that the more you care about something, the more resistance you will have towards it. I actually find this soothing, because it rings so true in many areas of my life. The hard part is that this is a war that has to be fought on a daily basis within oneself.. Don't I know it.

But today, I got my gear on. Today I'm ready to be the warrior that I wish to be. Tomorrow is surely another battle, but luckily we only have to win these fights one at a time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

I'm feeling very expansive right now. My comfort zone is widening at a fast rate, as a result of putting myself in novel situations on a day-to-day basis through my work. I'm meeting new people, speaking publicly and reaching out to business contacts I didn't know from before... In the process I've learned to be more forgiving of myself when I don't master everything straight away--if I get flustered and it shows. Now that I'm not contemplating my own navel all the time, I'm freer to observe others more accurately... And through observation I have come to notice, that most other people get quite nervous too in these situations..! I must say, that feels quite calming to me: I am not alone in my awkwardness!

A person that I respect very much talked to me this week about the concept of 'progress, not perfection.' When it comes to pretty much anything in life, like developing a new skill or a friendship, building a career, healing from trauma or illness--it all takes immense amounts of effort and an extended amount of time. I often get very impatient after having made a significant change in my life, thinking that this one change is supposed to impact every area of my existence Immediately... But I have come to realize that that's not how it goes. It looks to me like there are no overnight fixes to anything; no shortcuts.

But progress sounds to me like a way funner way to go through life anyway, than striving for perfection. No one is superhuman, and truthfully, no one expects us to be. Mistakes, setbacks and embarrassments happen to everyone and it's totally cool. There's always a next time, and a next time and a next time.....Doing something consistently is key. Progress then, is inevitable.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A strong theme in my life right now is finding a sense of security. I want to trust that I am safe within myself and that I am no longer my own worst enemy, come what may. I no longer wish to be my own worst critic either. What's the point of it, I ask you..? To make oneself feel shitty and unworthy? ...Why? Certainly there are gentler ways to improve oneself...

I used to be (and still at times am) a tortured soul, but it is only because I torture(d) myself. The way I see it now is that life is too short to be stuck in such negative thought-patterns. That sort of heaviness is too much to carry alone, and typically gets dumped on other people...

A friend of mine raised a good point this week by stating the general wish to be needed less and enjoyed more. I think that is probably what most of us want from our lives: to come together for enjoyment, instead of unloading. Or worse--for being the one unloaded on. Sharing is a different thing all together.

So, I'm making an effort to be my own best friend. To find the reasons behind any bad vibes throughout the day, noticing their patterns and in the process unraveling them, on my own. Look ma, no hands!
I wish to need people less and to enjoy them more; to stand unsupported on my own two feet, if not at all times, then at least 90% of the time. That would be sweet.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Every now and then in my life these days I hit a wall of fear, that seems impossible to get through. An old painful memory from the past tries to convince me that I'm not strong enough to tackle a new obstacle, saying that "because I wasn't strong enough then, I won't be strong enough now."

But what choice do we have in this world, except to go through that wall? Stay stuck? Hell no. In my experience, the pain of that is way worse than the pain of facing the fear. I certainly have spent enough of my life staring at the wall, wishing that I had the drive and the courage that I perceived other people had...

Right now I'm facing one of my thickest walls of fear, as this one's been accumulating girth for many years. A place of repeated injury... And yet I know, having passed through similar walls before, that this is not an impossible task. You take one step, then another--fearfully yet bravely until you get to the other side. It's ok to feel long as you do it anyway. I'm gonna frickin' do it anyway.

I love Mark Twain.

"Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain."
- Mark Twain

Friday, January 27, 2012

I like routines! I'm building more and more of them into my life right now, all of them conscious steps towards the direction of my choosing...

I'm understanding more and more about myself too, through two children that I love dearly and interact with weekly. Realizing how important it is for them to receive a call from me on a specific day makes me reflect on how significant routines and consistency are for us people in general. We are not so different as adults than we were as children. (And truly, children are not so different from us adults....)

I'm embracing my inner child now. I'm enjoying creating a feeling of safety within my currently rapidly expanding life. After years of living an irregular existence: partying, staying up late, etc., I love the thought of waking up at the same early hour every morning. How very un-rock and roll of me! Well, I don't care a shit about what's rock and roll anymore... I just want to live a good life and make something out of it. And I like having more hours in the day to do things that I feel passionate about.

“A child reminds us that playtime is an essential part of our daily routine.” -Anonymous

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm learning to listen.
Man, that shit is hard!
Even if I concentrate with all my might, it's hard for me to shut up with my advice and coaxing. I guess the rule is that if people don't ask for advice, none is to be given... But goddammit, it slips in there anyway, more often than I'd care to admit.

It's not that I feel like I have all the answers, but it's hard to watch from the sidelines sometimes when people close to me struggle with their problems.... A situation that could so easily be turned around by just a few changes.... But alas, there are things in this life I have no power over... I truly cannot change anyone else's life but my own.

So, I'll listen. I know from my own experience that given a chance to talk, sometimes I end up figuring out the answers to my problems myself. And truly, people fix their problems once they're ready to fix them. If, in some cases they never are ready, fuck it, I'll accept that too. It's about time I concentrate on my own shit and stop carrying everyone else's. It's not my job. Never was. Freedom.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit." — Aristotle

This week went by faster than any week that I can remember within my adult life.
I can hardly believe it's Friday already! My life has started filling up with all kinds of interesting activities, thoughts and projects, and above all--new connections. My isolation-period is definitely over.

For me, getting to know myself within the last couple of years has meant spending a lot of time on my own. I kept only a handful of chosen people close to me and distanced myself from everyone else. This is because I needed to at long last figure out what it is that I really think and feel, what my interests are, what kind of person I want to be in the future. I let others make those decisions for me for the longest time...

Now, I am finally secure enough in myself to go out there and meet new people and network, to make new friends and connections. I'm not scared that I'll somehow morph into thinking how they think or acquiesce to their vision of what I should be doing. (Trust me, random people often tell me what it is I should be doing as an artist. I think that this kind of thing is probably the bane of every artist's existence.)

So, I feel really good. A little scared of the unknown but good. I'm out there in the world interacting for the first time as the person that I've made myself into in the last few years, and I'm pretty frickin' proud of her. She's come a long way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

As I write this I am high on some toxic, recently-applied-floor-wax fumes I've been inhaling at the gym over the last couple of days. Man, that shit takes a toll! I am dizzy and nauseous and tired beyond belief... This is definitely not a good high. I have lots on my mind besides this, but am feeling so utterly run down by toxic pollutants that I had to share some of my thoughts and a couple of links on the subject.

I personally became aware of the poisons that we are surrounded by and ingest on a day-to-day basis in the end of 2010.. Before then it had never even occurred to me that I should be suspicious of my shampoo, moisturizer or the cube of vegetable stock that I used regularly. The truth is that toxic chemicals are lurking in the majority of products that are being sold today. We artfully apply them into our hair, on our faces, on and into our bodies... Bottles and bottles filled with unpronounceable ingredients are lined up on the shelves of pharmacies and grocery stores...We're all so used to it we don't even question it.

It is horrible to realize that most people are as oblivious to the hazards of these products as I was so very recently. Once I became aware of these poisons, I actually went through the labels of all my household products and found that pretty much all of my cleaning stuff, cosmetics and even food was loaded with really nasty ingredients. I've been trying to steer clear of these chemicals ever since and buy things that are as non-toxic as possible.

But clearly, even with diligent research it's impossible to avoid poisons all together as they are everywhere, my floor-wax stupor a case in point. Even so, below are a couple of links to check in case you are interested and haven't seen or heard this information yet. Every little bit that we do helps the bigger picture, I'm sure.
Here's to hoping that one day the norm will be to opt for non-toxic floor-wax instead of this brain-irritating bullshit.