3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy

Hi friends,
This morning I read an email from Buddhist nun Pema Chodron that talked about unlocking the softness inside of us and I thought, “Yes, that’s it! – That’s what creativity brings to us! Our soft spot – our kind, happy, easy place.”

Creativity connects us to the part of ourselves that is not worried about survival or stressed about our to-do list.

It’s the bridge to the part of us that knows all is well! Where we have faith in living, remember to play, and can love with abandon! Oooh yummy!

For me, loving this feeling of being connected to my creative self is why I started writing songs in the first place and it’s also why I do things like draw with crayons (which I’m not particularly good at and luckily don’t need to be ;) )

Even stuff I have no idea how to do like make curtains out of a purple puffy blanket (yes it’s true, I did this, the other day with my 4-year-old daughter)

            (Story: Cecilia said she wanted purple curtains and all we had was a purple blanket [now keep in mind I don’t know how to sew, truly, but we just kept doing the next thing]: We cut the blanket in half, and decorated it with cut-out hearts & other pictures. It was a little uncertain at first, but fun and the next thing you know, we had curtains!)

(“curtains” ;-) above)

I am continually in awe of the way creativity pours out of my friends (some who actually know how to sew curtains) and one who every time I go to her house is cooking something delicious with a rich aroma of spices or making churros con chocolate – Her kitchen is explosion of creative energy!

Each of us has an inner artist who may have come out easily when we were kids but, for some of us, may have gotten buried along the way. Others of us feel like we have something to say, but we may not feel like we have an outlet, or we may feel like it’s too late for us to start expressing our creativity.

Sometimes it’s just hard to find time in our busy lives.

Recently, I wrote a blog post called 4 Year Old Me, 4 Year Old You (You can read it here) about how one bad experience with a teacher or an unsupportive person can halt your self-expression. I received many emails back from people on this list telling me similar stories of what happened to them when they were young with something they loved like dance or playing violin.

On the other hand, a lot of us were encouraged, not discouraged, to explore our creativity, but then as life’s responsibilities piled up, we grew out of touch with this part of ourselves.

Initially, it took a while for me to find my creative voice (I didn’t start writing songs until after college because I was terrified of being vulnerable or bad at it). After I had my two daughters, it was challenging to carve out the space to keep that part of me nurtured.

And yet it was the best gift I could give myself!

Writing kept me connected to myself while learning to be a mom. By finding moments here and there, I wrote my first short story and released two albums (full disclosure: I wrote some of the songs before my daughters were born). It was exhilarating to be in touch with the deepest parts of myself while raising my daughters. All the while, I was reminded that with life’s changes, creativity is always there for me if I need her.

If you too desire to connect more with your creative self but feel like your life is too full of distraction or like you don’t, at times, remember how, I’d love to share with you..3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy (How To Reconnect with Your Inner Artist!) this Monday, March 23rd at 7:30pm EST on a Google Hangout

On it, I will share the 3 simple habits I use to keep my creativity alive (and keep myself making things) when life is overflowing with kids, jobs & other responsibilities.

There are so many things we do can be creative, a new approach to handling finances, finger painting, planning the day for the least number of times you will have to take kids in and out of car seats (parents: you know what I mean). I have a friend who writes in her journal when she’s in the basement running the dryer. These are all creative acts and ways of connecting to our soft spot.

And when we claim access to our soft spot, we live happier lives!

I’m so passionate about being in the creative space, I love finding and sharing ways to get IN to it so if you..

Want to more fully express your creativity while living a busy life…OR

Want to find ways to STAY in that zone if you already are expressing your creativity, then I’d love to connect with you!

Monday, March 23rd at 7:30pmEST join me for 3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy (a.k.a. How To Reconnect with Your Inner Artist!)

Please sign up for the email list (in the right hand column of this website) and you’ll receive the link via email right before.

Also, feel free to leave a comment with any burning questions and maybe I’ll even play a few songs :)

Love, Anne
Ps: The Creative Happy You Songwriter’s Circle is starting Monday, March 30th! We are filling up fast! http://www.anneheaton.com/online-songwriting-circle If you enroll by midnight TONIGHT (Friday), you’ll get as a bonus my 5 Ways To Write Songs You Love Songwriting eBook for FREE! (For those of you who already signed up, you’ll get it too :) )–  In it, I share what I teach at Berklee & Interlochen as well my own, more personal, creative writing exercises!

Ps2: Also, there is ONE SPOT left for The Youth Songwriter’s Circle which starts this coming Tuesday, March 24th! The deadline to sign up is this Sunday! http://www.anneheaton.com/beginners-songwriting-circle-youth-ages-11-15



4 Year Old Me, 4 Year Old You

When I was 4 years old, I made a song. I remember it was about my favorite things at the time: ballet, cotton candy, carnivals and drawing with pink and purple crayons.

Singing it made me happy. I couldn’t wait to share it with others. I imagined it would make them happy too.

Then, one day at my preschool, we were having “circle time” and our teacher asked: Does anyone have a song he or she would like to share?”

Oh my goodness, I was so excited! My hand shot up “I do!”

“Okay,” she said, “wonderful.” I started to sing the song I made. I got a little lost, but stuck to my main themes, repeating: “I went to ballet and then I ate cotton candy” and so on…

After a brief moment, the teacher cut me off and said to the group: “Can anyone please share a song we all know?”

Ouch. I knew I had done something wrong, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Then I got it, I was supposed to have sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Happy Birthday.” I felt ashamed and the moment was cemented in my brain (but also consciously forgotten).

I didn’t make any more songs for 20 years, when I finally started singing again the way I did back then, just absent mindedly, making up words to melodies when I was out walking or driving. One day when I was cross-country skiing in the woods, I started singing about a bird and a snow bank just for the fun of it and I finally found my way back.

These days, I listen to my 2 and 4 year-old daughters singing to themselves the way many kids do when they are lost in the moment and in a zone of sorts.

I hear them making up songs from their car seats, singing about lunch, the sun, flowers, and hide & go seek, and I get to say to them:

“I love that song you’re singing, will you teach it to me?”


Ps: My Spring “Creative Happy You” Online Songwriting Circle begins Monday, March 23rd! The theme is Write Songs You Love! For more information, click here

*ALSO for the very first time*, I’m offering a workshop for beginning youth songwriters aged 11-15. I’m so excited for this! To learn more, go here!

As always, feel free to leave a comment below (especially about any good or bad creative experiences YOU had as a child). I keep forgetting to invite people to leave a comment and so many folks just email me directly (which I love too) BUT it’s so nice if EVERYONE can read your comments as well! Xoxoxo!

Instincts, Winter & Bye-bye Chicago

Hey friends,

So we are moving and it’s January and every part of my being (except straight-up reason) says: “Don’t go!” The ancient parts of me say: “This is hibernating time! Wait ‘til Spring! Eat, rest and take care of your babies. Don’t take them out on the highway in the snow.”

The rational part says: “It’s time to go. Opportunities await, not guarantees, but opportunities, and they are beginning now.”

As our family of four moves from spectacular and grounded Chicago to hip, college-town Ann Arbor, from one very cold climate to another, I’m reminded of how my instincts get loud when I’m stressed and how I work with them or rather, how they work with me.

Instincts: “Fine if you must go, then sleep a little more now as it’s a big journey. You don’t know who your friends will be. You don’t know who the babysitter is. Sure, you can do your work anywhere, but who will be your community? You’ll need energy to find these people/things.”

Reason: “You’d better pack your friggin bags NOW or they won’t be ready in time for the movers who are coming tomorrow!”

The ancient part wins and I take a nap.  Later, I get up and throw out old medicines and donate some clothes to St. Vincent’s.

Today I go to King Spa with a few friends. It’s not an expensive place, but a lovely space for self-care and relaxation. I don’t think about packing.

I always appreciate when life gives me a concrete example of what often goes on behind the scenes in my mind & life. My feelings about our move remind me of how I work with fear and opportunity every day with my kids, work & creativity.

In songwriting, I trust my instincts because I have the experience of  surrendering to them and I know that they bring me great joy. Still I resist sometimes, but eventually I give in to the gift.

But how does that apply to a move in the middle of winter? In this case, if I surrendered to my instincts, we wouldn’t move. On the other hand, if I didn’t listen at all, I might not be well rested enough to move our family safely.

Fear is a funny thing. How do we know how to interact with it? How do you interact with your instincts if they tell you “no”? Is it a conversation?

What do you do when you must do something, but a large part of you doesn’t want to?

Today my answer is this: I find that the more I listen to my instincts (take a nap, go to the Spa, see friends), the more my instincts soften and return to me my energy for packing, picking the best schools and babysitters.

It seems that following my instincts returns to me my desire to move forward into the unknown.

So today I’m listening to my instincts and I’m thanking them for coming along on this journey into snowstorms and possible frostbite. With them on board, maybe it will be more like a winter wonderland.


My first personal essay “Crazy Bird” published!

Hi there friends :)
Here’s a little story for you for your coffee, tea or hot chocolate break :) It was written one very hot summer about four years ago…http://threadliterary.com/article/crazy-bird/
Ps: Looking for a holiday gift? All of my albums (below) are easily available both as CDs or downloads here: http://anneheaton.com/music


Blazing Red

I Know This

Black Notebook


Give In

Again, each of the above is available here: http://anneheaton.com/music

Special save the dates, and a song!

Hello friends,
I hope you had a nourishing and happy Thanksgiving weekend :)

Thanksgiving occasionally brings out the workaholic in me as I feel pulled to “get things done” when really it’s my opportunity to sit by the fire, drink tea and talk to friends and family. I’m happy to report that this year, I played family games, laughed a lot and let myself record a new song (below).

Please mark your calendars for two upcoming Chicago events!
On Saturday, February 7th
, I will be playing at EvanstonSPACE.  This should be a super fun show and I’ll be sharing some new songs!

Tickets are available here. http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=5450195&pl=space

On Monday, December 22nd, I’ll be opening up Michael McDermott’s Annual Holiday Show at City Winery in Chicago. This show usually sells out fast so if you’re interested, you can grab tickets here. http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/tickets/michael-mcdermott-12-22-14.html

A new song…this song is not super funny. If you are looking to laugh, I’m planning to send you something funny in about 5 days. I’m serious :-) In the meantime, here is a song-in-progress which means I’m still writing it/learning it.

It’s for all the girls around the world (and the people who love them) who live in less than ideal conditions and is dedicated to the kidnapped Nigerian Girls who, according to all reports, are still being held captive.

I think about them a lot and wonder what it’s like for them to wake up in the morning wherever they are.

I was waiting for the song to be “just right,” (to finish editing it, make it perfect) and then I realized I ought to just let it be in the world now because even though I have no political power and even though they may never hear it, why should I wait to send these girls my love?

So here’s my love for them (and for you :) )