My Grandpa Moose & Who Do You Think You Are?

Last Monday, on All Souls Day, I was thinking about my grandpa (“Moose” we called him) and how he always wanted to write songs. He had no extensive musical training though he loved a great melody and played a decent clarinet in the Army during WWII.

He once told me that he went to New York City to meet with a producer and show him “his songs.” I don’t think that meeting went well. It may have been a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of experience. He may have even felt embarrassed.

As I reflected on this, it brought a familiar ache to my chest.

I experienced a similar pain years earlier when I visited the New York Times building to do an interview to feature my newest album. I was excited, but at the same time, I thought: “Who am I to get to do this?” “Why should I get to?”

Could my grandfather have written great songs? I have no doubt.

Did he have any guidance or training? No.

Did this stop him from trying? No.

Did it lead to disappointment because had the desire and capability but lacked the know-how to make his dream come true? Probably.

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

Do I wish the songs he could’ve written (if he’d had the support) existed today? You bet I do!

In light of my recent work helping soul-inspired songwriters bring their best and most magical work into being, I often feel elated but, at other times, I feel sadness for those who didn’t get the opportunity.

On some level, I want to honor the lives of my ancestors by struggling with them in solidarity, but the truth is I can’t go back in time and help my grandpa write his songs. However, I can work with songwriters who are alive today.

I can honor my ancestors by creating and doing now what their circumstances didn’t allow for.

I know my grandfather wouldn’t want me to be imprisoned by the “Who Do I Think I Am?” way of thinking! He would be happy that he’d passed along his love for a beautiful, timeless melody.

What about you? Do you experience the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset in any part of your life?

Ancestors aside, I have to say that as a people-pleaser, it pops up a lot for me.

I’m a grown woman, yet I crumble when faced with it. I sort of contort my body so I’m shorter. I drop my head and I often stumble over my words.

Like when I hear the age-old joke about being an alum of the University of Notre Dame (over and over): “How can you tell if someone went to Notre Dame?” Punchline: “They’ll tell you.”

Yep, that built-in Someone Is Annoyed At You Because You (in this case I), Must Think You’re Better Than Everyone Else.

Silly, F-in, Bullshit.

Or, a recent person’s comment after one of my performances: “How’s it feel now that you’re not so important up on that stage?”

Um, fine?

Or, my dear father, a very kind man, who, years ago, innocently enough, when I was in high school (and wanting to feel self-sufficient) tried to sell my old text books so I could buy some new clothes, said: “We don’t sell our books in this family, we give them away! Who do you think you are?” (a fledgling entrepreneur who will go into hibernation for a while now? ;-) )

So…who do I think I am?

Well I’m a woman, I’m a human, I’m a soul, I’m a space from which many things arise (like talking, walking, singing, laughing, creating, hunger :) )

How about you? Who do you think you are? Or a better question might be: Who are you when you’re free of this question(?) which really isn’t a question but rather an implication: Don’t you dare be who you are.

The next time you feel the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset coming from either inside of you or outside of you, go ahead and ask yourself who you are and then ask yourself who you’d be if this way of thinking had no affect on you.

You’ll know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re willing, please leave a comment below.


When I Say Yes To Myself :)

Last June, I took a big financial leap and hired a coach to help me with a project. I didn’t tell anyone except my husband because I thought people would think I was crazy to spend so much.

It was a huge investment (2-3x the cost of a really nice family vacation -wow!) but I just knew I didn’t want to shortchange myself or what I’m here to be/do. I wanted a coach as a mirror & advisor and to make sure I wouldn’t hold anything back out of fear.

I’m here for such a short time on the planet-  I figured why not give it my best?

Despite being terrified, I signed up.

The next evening, my neighbor brought over an envelope and said: “I think the post person accidentally delivered this to our house because it has your name and address on it.” In the envelope, there was a check for a large sum of money (more than twice of what I paid for coaching) along with a note explaining that the money was to go toward the making of my next record.

I cried. This random gift (from a fan-turned-friend) was completely out of the blue and yet perfectly timed.

I’m not a “sit-on-your-couch-and-visualize-palm-trees-and-you’ll-win-a vacation” type of person but I do believe that when we take actions towards our dreams, the universe often responds with a high five :)

Similarly, last year I went on a retreat with a small group of women. We walked in the mountains, did yoga together, ate yummy dinners, and shared about our life’s work around a fire place.

But, I almost didn’t go.

A month earlier, I had told myself I couldn’t afford it until my osteopath friend Dr. Jan said she’d split the hotel room with me and give me a complimentary back treatment.  So I said, “Okay.”

Upon returning home, I wrote one of the most honest emails I’ve ever written to my list. In it (you can read it here), I shared about how I’d struggled with being completely open about my spirituality (because I wanted to people-please and always make a connection).

Within minutes, my email inbox was flooded. Email after email rolled in from people who related and shared their own similar stories. It was a reminder to me that when I take time to connect with myself, I’m much more able to communicate with others in a meaningful way.

I mostly write this to remind myself … to say yes to those little nudges, the big nudges and to what’s next.

As Pema Chodron says, “the days of the lone wolf are over.” How true that feels. We are here to help each other. Yet, oftentimes we must start with ourselves.

How can you say yes to yourself today, right here, right now?

I’d love to hear :)

Please leave a comment below if you’re willing to share.
Ps: I have two upcoming shows in Chicago in November. There are a few seats left for the one in Barrington. Tickets are available here

AND Winterbloom is having a holiday reunion and playing 4 shows on the East Coast! We’ll be at The Rubin Museum in NYC Friday, Dec 4th, Circle of Friends Saturday, Dec 5th and 2 shows at Club Passim on Sunday, Dec 6th.

When we don’t have our “go-to” tools, what do we awaken?

The other day, I left my house to drive to my first eye exam in many years. I typed the ophthalmologist’s office address into my phone GPS and 20 minute later, Google Maps informed me I’d “reached my destination,” although, in fact, I had not because I was facing an empty grass field :) I called the office and tried to explain where I was.

“Do you think I am close?” I asked. “No” she said.

The woman on the phone gave me another address to try, I entered it, then my GPS konked out altogether. Suddenly I remembered something Toshi Silver said in one of her books, that her friend “felt her way around Paris” without using a map. I was reminded that a tool is just a tool and sometimes tools break. Could I find the doctor’s office without my GPS?

I wasn’t sure but it seemed a strange coincidence that on my way to obtaining a tool (eyeglasses) to “see more clearly,” I would get lost.

I decided to look at the street signs and start reading the address numbers until my GPS starting working again.

It reminded me of a creative project I’m working on now and how sometimes I have to feel my way around in the creative dark because my mind always wants to organize and see the big picture. It wants to know everything IMMEDIATELY.

My mind constantly needs to be reminded that it’s only in the service of my spirit, my soul, the greater creative impulse. My mind is not in charge, it’s there to serve the thing that wants to be born and what wants to be born is usually (read: always) BIGGER than what my mind can initially grasp.

But, time and time again, I look to my “tool” (my mind, my reason) for answers. Only when it doesn’t have them, do I remember to surrender, to tune in, to feel my way and let my reason be in service.

I’ve also often wondered what would happen if I stopped wearing my glasses or contact lenses. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to safely drive a car(!) and I wouldn’t be able to recognize friends’ faces further than 20 feet away. Not good, right?

However, one thing I have enjoyed when I don’t have my glasses on first thing in the morning is the sound of my children’s voices. I hear them differently: They seem higher, sweeter, kinder, full of purity. Maybe it’s just that I’m really hearing them. I also see colors differently – they are vibrant and beautifully blurred  –everything in my world is like a Monet painting.

In addition, because I can’t see very far, I’m not constantly assessing what needs to be done, evaluating my surroundings (a dirty dish, crumbs to sweep up). And because I’m feeling slightly vulnerable about walking around, I proceed slowly, humbly, more fully in my body. I feel my heart beat. I feel good.

So in losing my tool to see clearly, I, in fact, see more clearly in other ways.

Can you relate? If so, what are some ways that losing your go-to tools (even just temporarily) help you see what you didn’t before?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Love, Anne

a few of my tools…. :)   


Unconditional Love & Your Inner Kid

Last week, I was teaching songwriting to high school age songwriters at Interlochen Camp for the Arts and I was elated to watch them writing each day, sometimes working on up to three songs in a day.

I promised myself that in this inspired environment, I would not only teach, but also set aside some writing time for myself.

So, on my day off, after morning coffee and yoga on the dock, I sat down to write.

What happened? It was tough. I tried rearranging a story I’d written months ago and did some free writing but I didn’t feel like I was in the “zone.”

Part of me just wanted to play, ride my bike, take a boat ride. Another part wanted me to “produce” something first, have something to show for my time.

I ended up doing a little of both, biking and writing, but it was interesting to listen to my inner dialogue.

The frustrated part of me wondered: “Why isn’t the writing coming, why isn’t this working? I took a bike ride, why is it still not coming?”

Another part of me, a little kid version, I could almost see giving me “a look” that said: “I want to know you’ll love me no matter if I make something or not. You can try to manipulate me but I want to play. Besides, I’m worthy of love no matter what I do.”


I’m well aware that the creative process is capricious and its gifts are just that, gifts.  But on this particular day it revealed something new.

It showed me that there’s a part of me who wants to be loved apart from what she achieves, produces, and finishes.

A part who’s asking for unconditional love.

She’s simply drawing my attention to the fact that sometimes I suspend feeling good about myself until I’ve accomplished something. Ouch.

So maybe when’s she’s holding the writing hostage, it’s just a sign that it’s time to be nicer to myself :)

Well, okay, I can do that.

I do it with my kids too: “If you clean your room, you get ice cream,” or “We can go to the beach after we pick up the toys.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with cleaning your room first or giving yourself a reward after hard work, but sometimes don’t you just want to go to the beach before you do your chores? ;-)

It also gets old in our adult relationships if we withhold affection until we get what we want or only ever offer our love conditionally.

So today I’m celebrating my writers’ block as an opportunity to give myself more love whether I have something to show for my time or not.

And to all you doers, creators and “make it happen” kind of people out there, I have no doubt that what you make/do in the world IS wonderful, but you are not wonderful because of what you do, you just ARE wonderful.

It’s true.

Taking My (Your) Own Advice

Today I was having a little trouble writing something and I started to feel frustrated.

I had done some yoga when I woke up, but bypassed my morning walk even though I craved one because I told myself there wasn’t enough time.

That’s where I first got off my path.

In my heart of hearts, I know that time stretches and collapses according to our attitude. And that when we are in flow, we have clarity, and writing or making something new can take hardly any time at all.

I also know that in writing songs, creating any project and even in friendship, you can’t force things. Your best work or relationships come when you treat yourself well. When you feel at home in your body and simply allow.

Creating things that haven’t existed before (whether it’s a poem, a melody, a group project, or a way to heal) is much easier when we are gentle with ourselves, not mean.

So I decided to take the advice that I often give others: Go walk in a cemetery. A cemetery? Yes.

There’s a beautiful one near my house called St. Thomas sitting on a hill draped with majestic green trees and sloping down into a forest.

Being there I’m reminded we’re all just passing through this place.

And I’m more keenly aware of what parts of my life (or attitude or words) I’m willing to let go. And what parts I fiercely want to live.

I feel the peace that comes from being amongst the animals and vibrant greenery. The knowing that all we artists are ever trying to do is make something that will feel as good and be as beautiful as all those trees surrounding me.

I’m reminded that I already have access to what I’m wanting to bring forth.

Lastly, I feel the exhilaration that God, the Universe, or Mother Earth (see my post here on this word choice) is the great Artist and that we can participate in this unlimited beauty when we allow this creative force to work through us. When we walk, when we listen, when we notice, when we love.

So, I took my own advice today and walked in a cemetery. Despite my belief that I needed to hurry up, I let go instead.

Not only did I then finish what I was writing, I got the nudge to write you this little note as well :)

What advice do you like to give others? How can you take your own to have a better day today?


Ps: If you’d like to take a break and do something nice for yourself, come to our City Winery co-bill August 16th. It will be a joyful night of song, delicious foods and wine if you so choose! Tickets are available here

Ps2: For you East Coasters, I’ll also be performing July 31st at The Sinclair in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA with Melissa Ferrick. Tickets are available here