How A Starbucks Gig Led to Marriage (& Doorway Dreams)

When I was around 24, I met a young man who played blues guitar. I really liked the way he played and my dream was to ask him if he’d play songs with me. Soon after, I found out he liked Tori Amos so I grew emboldened to ask him. Would he say yes?

One day, we met up in a practice room and I played him one of my very first songs (I’m embarrassed to tell you the name of it for fear that you might look it up ;-) ) Luckily, he said yes. I had no idea that this little dream of mine was leading to a MUCH BIGGER DREAM of us cultivating a loving and joyful romantic relationship, marrying and having two beautiful daughters.

My journey with this man has been musical, mystical, ridiculously fun and full of adventure, but I never could’ve dreamed this big for myself. I just couldn’t have conceived of it.

Similarly, I also know a young woman who answered a calling she felt via an email. We first met in a songwriting workshop and she told me later that she felt I noticed and appreciated something in her work. She had an unusual song about a tree and it really struck me.

A year later, I sent out an invitation to my email list for one person to work with me one-on-one for six months (& to open for me at City Winery in Chicago). She was one of the songwriters who responded to that email.

Looking back, what unfolded next still amazes me. This woman wanted to write songs more regularly (she was relatively new to it) and increase her confidence in writing and performing.  In the end, she not only wrote a beautiful batch of songs, but she liked them so much she decided to record an EP with me producing, and then she auditioned and submitted her EP to Berklee College of Music where she was accepted and now is a full-time student!

I’m a big dreamer, but looking back, I had no idea how big the journey she was on! This particular experience really hit home because it was her step toward her smaller dream of an opening set at a club that led this woman into a whole new life that she vigorously loves.

What about you?

Have you ever had a doorway dream that led somewhere wildly amazing? If so, please feel free to share it below (We all love a good story!)

Or, likewise, is there a doorway open now that is calling to you (& you could walk through) even though you don’t know exactly where it leads?

Tell us that too if you’re willing!

Sometimes we’re badasses and we take our brave steps (and we need that now in our world possibly more than ever). Other times, we think small and don’t follow the impulses of our hearts to move toward what we want (for ourselves, for others, for the world).

Sometimes we want to know the outcome in advance.

I can be like that (insisting that I know something will work in advance). These days, however, my wild gypsy soul wants more than anything to be surprised, to NOT always know, to just BE, follow her instincts and have unstructured play time like a kid. Can you relate? BESIDES, often the truth of what’s possible for us is WAY BIGGER than we can imagine or possibly know :)

How could I have conceived of my empathic daughter Cecilia all those years ago? How could I possibly have predicted bold baby Helen?

I simply wanted this blues guitar boy to play a gig with me at Starbucks ;-)

I was thinking small, but that’s okay, because that gig at Starbucks was the doorway to everything…

What is/was your doorway dream? Feel free to share if you’re willing.

Love,
Anne
Ps: The deadline to sign up for Soul Songs School is next Monday, March 5th! If you want to join us, simply enroll HERE (If you desiring enough structure to support your unstructured creative soul and songwriting, I’ve got your back!)

Ps2: March 21st, Frank (aforementioned blues guitar boy ;-) ) and I play at The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI! Tickets are available HERE.

My Grandpa Moose

My grandpa “Moose” as we called him had many careers. He was a state policeman, he laid pipe line, he worked for a dairy farm and he also played Triple-A baseball and coached little league. But he loved nothing like he loved music.

I learned my affinity for melody from him. He used to play me old Irish ballads and songs from The Music Man and The Sound of Music. He also played me songs on the clarinet and flute. He told me at the very beginning of my foray into songwriting that out of my first batch of songs, only one had a melody that could catch a listener. I was slightly annoyed, but looking back, I know he was right.

Moose always wanted to write songs of his own and he did (a little) although not for long. Once he went to NYC to meet with a producer to show him his songs. I think he thought he needed permission to continue or he sensed he needed help. I don’t think that meeting went well and afterwards, he may have given up.

Could my grandfather have written his songs? Yes.

Did he feel disappointed because he had the desire and capability but lacked the know-how to make his dream fully come to be? Probably.

Did my grandpa have a lot to share due to his rich life experience? I’m sure.

Do I wish the songs he could’ve written existed today? You bet I do!

I did find a poem my grandfather wrote as well as the singular song above. Both mean so much to me. It’s like he’s alive through the page for a moment. I can join him in his experience. He’s right here with me.

So often, I wish I had “more of” the people who’ve left. More of my grandmother, more of my grandfather. For my grandmother, I have a crocheted blanket, a photo of us smiling together when I was 4 and many good memories. I loved her.

With my grandfather, even though I wish he had been able to write the songs he longed to and that I could now play them for my own children, I appreciate the legacy he did leave. He shared hundreds of pieces of music with me before I was even 9 years old and he took me on outings to town halls where big bands played.

His love of music is alive in me.

But my grandfather was drafted into a war, he threw out his pitching arm right before he had a big baseball opportunity and in his small town, even though he learned some through imitation (which is a great way to learn) he had no one to help him fully develop his songwriting craft so that he could appreciate his own songs the way he appreciated the classic ones he loved and played for me.

Sometimes I think it’s not fair. Who am I to get to write songs if my grandfather didn’t have the same chance? Back then, writing songs wasn’t something you could just do (or at least he didn’t have that experience). Someone needed to give you permission, tell you you were special (“had talent”). But the truth is no one is special AND each of us is special in our own way, which is precisely why it’s important for our unique voices to be heard in whatever form that takes.

I used to think I should honor the lives of my grandparents by struggling with them in solidarity, but the truth is I’m not helping him by not writing my songs and I can’t go back in time and help my grandpa write his.I can honor my ancestors by creating and doing now what their circumstances didn’t allow for.

What about you? What are the things your ancestors lives didn’t allow for that you long to do? Do you let yourself do them? Do you believe you honor your ancestors by doing the things you love?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

What will you leave? What will you make? What is your legacy?

Feel free to share below.

It’s possible your ancestors are rooting for you :)

Xo,

Anne
PS: Soul Songs School and Our Luminaries Group starts March 5th! If you’d like to join us, simply enroll HERE

PS2: The amazing singer-songwriter Susan Werner joins me for Magic Music Monday this February 26th at 11amEST :) Booyah! Feel free to join us on my Facebook page.


Me & Moose :)

Songs that destroy us (+ Magic Music Monday tomorrow at 11amEST)

You know the feeling when something breaks you open and a song suddenly comes out, right from the center of your soft, loving, bold, gentle heart?

Then maybe you listen back to it and it breaks your own heart to hear it and at the same time, it sets you free.

Or, have you had the experience of hearing a song of someone else’s that’s so beautiful that you begin to cry and everything you’ve been holding just releases, all you felt that was tight and like you had to control it, you just let it go. You let it go on the waves of vibration of that melody and you whisper a thank you in your heart.

This has happened to me so many times I can’t count. I love experiencing this and always wanted to give it back to people. So I did. So I do.

The experience of release, of catharsis, of joy amidst loss, of unabashed love and knowing. The way you feel about a song that just destroys you in the best possible way.

When I hear a song that “destroys me,” what is destroyed about me is the part that’s not real anyway, my ego, my fear, my hanging on for dear life, and what is left of me after is love, my heart shining a light out, glints of light on my tears and JOY. I’ve let it all go.

Can you relate? To me, it’s similar to what Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah expresses. And it reminds me of something my songwriting friend Rick once said to me: That you know you’ve arrived as a songwriter if you’ve written a song that makes people cry.

I think that’s partially true, but it’s also true if you make people laugh, feel gratitude, excitement. All of it.

Music is the thing that gets into the cracks. And we all whisper a thank you.

If you want to join us in crafting songs that change you and change others, our Soul Songs group begins March 5th!

You can join us by enrolling HERE

Xo,
Anne

Ps1: Join Natalia Zukerman & I tomorrow morning Monday, February 12th at 11amEST for Magic Music Monday! We’ll play a couple of songs, drink our morning coffee with you and see what unfolds. Feel free to mark your calendar and join us with your coffee or tea on my Facebook page HERE (you may have to “friend me” for it to work)

Think It’s Not Meant To Be?

Lately, there have been moments when I question my own value. I’m not doing it on purpose but it just kind of arises on its own from who knows where and it’s a very painful feeling to wrangle with.

It may be triggered by a fear of being seen, really seen. If I’m about to share something new or take a risk, these loud voices come up and tell me terrible things about myself. It’s as if every time I have a new project, someone calls these unwanted voices and says “Hey, Anne really needs you to come mess with her.”

One good thing about these voices is that they put me back into a familiar seat (the one from which I learned everything I know now :) ), of facing all the fears that arise when I’m making things to share with others. Is it of value for me to be reacquainted with them because I teach about working with creative resistance? Maybe, but it’s not fun.

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that “a lotus grows in the mud” and I know that the things that stop me can be the very things that give me the tools to move forward. So in that spirit, I’m sharing my 3 most common creative fears/resistances (a.k.a. excuses) and their respective antidotes. See if you can relate to any of them.

Excuse #1: I Don’t Want To “Go There”
Recently, one of my children was really sick to the point of being in the hospital for the second time in 2 years and after it was all over (she’s fine now), I had the thought that I’d really like to write a song for her, so she’ll know one day how much I loved her in this moment, what she was like, what I noticed about her. But then BAM, No, I didn’t want to! I’d do anything to avoid writing it including washing dishes, visiting Facebook. Why? Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to feel my feelings. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t think I could ever do her justice. Maybe I was afraid I’d end up minimizing my love for her and that’s the LAST thing I wanted to do.

So what did I do? I talked to these objections to find out what they had to say. Then, I came up with a plan that I’d just speak the things I’d noticed about her into my phone recorder (to be revisited another day). No pressure. No forced “lyric-writing.” I honored my impulse to write her a song by finding a way to work with my resistance instead of trying to dominate it.

Antidote: Find compassionate work-arounds. Don’t write or make something if you don’t feel like it. Ask yourself: What would I like better? What am I afraid to experience? Whatever would make you feel better. Do THAT.

Excuse #2: I Don’t Know How combined with It Has To Be Perfect
I wanted to make a beautiful tree mosaic on my office wall. I imagined this gorgeous multi-colored tree majestically decorating the corner for over a year. I would put a heart on the trunk! I would put pillows at the foot of it to create a reading corner!

The only problem was that I didn’t know how. Should I do it myself? Should I hire a mosaic artist to make it? Should I make it with my daughter (who said she wanted to help)? These thoughts cycled and in the meantime, I didn’t do anything.

Until the other day when I looked at the corner of my office and wondered why aren’t I giving myself the thing that I really want? Am I waiting for the tree to magically appear?

Suddenly, I was in motion. I didn’t have mosaic tiles in the house, but I did have paint so I got it out of the basement, put down some garbage bags and 20 minutes later, my glorious, imperfect, childlike tree was made manifest!

Of course it’s not perfect but I love it. Maybe in the future I’ll add mosaics, but in the meantime, I have a tree :)

Antidote: Try Something, Anything. Let It Be Imperfect. You Can Always Redo It.

Excuse #3: Things Didn’t Go As Planned so I Give Up or the much more sinister Things Didn’t Go As Planned so it’s Not “Meant To Be”
This is the nuclear bomb of excuses. This one gets me every time. It’s wired into me like some religious dogma. This summer I worked a bunch on a new record and I’m really happy with it so far. I did something exciting I’ve NEVER done and worked with one producer totally outside of my genre of music, but not everything went as planned. For example, I wanted the record to be out by now. I wanted to have done a Kickstarter campaign, but the timing didn’t work and then some of the friends I wanted to work with weren’t available when I’d hoped and then I was working on The How The Song Came To Be interview series and so, as of today I have 5 songs in various stages of done but no finished record. So what does that mean? Absolutely nothing. It means the record is unfolding, that I’m having fun on the path and that I’m not always in charge of the timing. Also, it’s a good thing I didn’t finish it already, because I just wrote a new song that I love more than any I’ve written previously. Oh!

Antidote: Don’t take setbacks personally. They may not actually even BE setbacks but just the appearance of them. Think of how many times something not working out according to your initial plan led to something better. Take steps forward and be kind to yourself along the way :)

What about you? What are your biggest fears/resistances and the ways you navigate them? What are your antidotes? Please share below!

Love,
Anne
PS: If you’re a songwriter who longs to have support in navigating your creative resistance and in writing the songs only you can write, the 2018 Soul Songs Luminaries Program is now open for Early Bird Application. To explore if it’s a good fit for you and your songs, apply here. (For further info, read on below!)

What is Soul Songs Luminaries?

Soul Songs Luminaries is a 9-month journey designed to help you (along with a small group of like-minded songwriters) develop your songwriting mastery, uncover your unique artistic genius & bring your soul songs into being.

It’s my favorite journey to take with songwriters because it’s fun, soul-searching, humorous, craft-enhancing, excellence-seeking, trust-inducing, heart-centering and at times, transcendent. And, a lot of songs get written :)

During the program, your songwriting will be woven into your weekly routine so when life gets busy, you’ll be able to flow with it, come back, replug into your creative desires and pick up where you left off. Plus, you’ll have the support of the Soul Songs School curriculum (including everything I teach at Berklee College of Music) and a group of songwriters who want you to succeed! :)

If you apply before Friday, Dec 22nd at midnight, and are accepted, you’ll receive a complimentary one-on-one 60-minute Soul Songs Songwriting session with me plus 10% off your tuition for the entire program which includes a 4-day songwriting retreat in Breckenridge, Colorado!

So much love to you!
Xo,
Anne