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


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!

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!



Winterbloom Tour Canceled

Regretfully Winterbloom Shows Cancelled:
Every year at this time, I head to Boston, one of my happy places, for the coffee, for the bustling squares and for the love of music & song that I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. Also, I head to see my “Blooms” (Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson and Natalia Zukerman). Winterbloom started out as a project put together by a friend of ours, a good idea for cross pollination. But all of us are rebels in our own ways and we don’t like doing anything for any reason other than we WANT to and out of love :) And now, we find ourselves in THAT spot each year. We’ve grown deep roots of friendship so even though we’ve branched out into so many areas including mural-making, painting, teaching, music-directing, motherhood, divinity school and much more, we now get together as Winterbloom only because we LOVE playing music together and we love celebrating the holidays in all of its forms and feelings. In short, because we LOVE each other :)
I’m so grateful to have our Winterbloom tradition to come home to each year and we are so appreciative that you continue to join us in this annual ritual.
So, I’m saddened to say (more than I can really express) that our Winterbloom Tour this weekend is cancelled (to be rescheduled). We hoped Antje would be able to sing after her throat surgery (but she can’t yet and we really want her to heal!!) and Meg has had a sudden knee injury requiring surgery this Thursday, so we are two blooms down and have chosen to reschedule instead for this March. Stay tuned for new dates (I think you’ll be able to just swap your tickets for the Club Passim shows and for the Hillary Denton Kohler house concert. Not sure about a rescheduled Winterbloom at Circle of Friends yet, but we’ll let you know either way :)
We look forward to playing songs for you & blooming again this Spring! (tee hee)
Anne Heaton (& Winterbloom)

Picking Your Creative Company

My mom LOVES art museums, kayaking, and reading really good books, but she doesn’t particularly love sunbathing so I don’t ask her to go with me to the beach. I could ask her and then feel bummed out when she doesn’t want to. Or, I could not go at all. Or, I could go alone or with someone who does like the beach. Pretty friggin simple, right?

Yes and no, as I haven’t always been so savvy when comes to other, less tangible, things.

When I was in 5th grade, I wrote a short story. It was fiction. It may have been about alligators – I can’t remember, but I was VERY excited about it. At the same time, I had the sense it wasn’t quite finished. I wanted someone to read it. I chose to share it with my friend Penelope (this is not her real name) who laughed at me and said “You wrote a story? Oh. My. God. Why? That is so weird.” She only said this after I had actually handed it to her so she wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to read some of it so she could make more specific fun of me. For whatever reason, she was kind of like that.

So why did I give it to her? On some level, I knew she was a bad choice but I was hungry for creative feedback. I could’ve chosen one of my nice friends, but I had the feeling that my nice friends would just say it was great no matter what and that wasn’t what I wanted either.

Since Penelope was smart and opinionated I thought she could shed some light. But I forgot that she liked to sit in the balcony seats of the Muppet guys commenting on what everyone else was doing. (For more on the Muppet guys, go here).

Lesson learned. Looking back, I realize I benefited greatly from this experience because it helped me pick my creative company more wisely.

As a adult, I call friends who also like to make things or, I go on writing retreats where we sit in a circle and listen to each other. I’ve also created and fostered this kind of nurturing environment in the Soul Songs Luminaries Artist Mentoring Group. It’s a beautiful thing to witness someone in the process of making something or birthing a song. It’s amazing, but the company is really key :)

What about you? Are you good at choosing your creative company? Did you ever sabotage yourself by asking the wrong person to look at your creative work or hear your idea? What’s the best creative experience you’ve ever had with another person or group?

Please, feel free to leave a comment below :)

PS: I can’t wait to share with you the new upcoming interview series “How The Song Came To Be!” It’s going to be amazing!! Stay tuned for more details in the next few weeks!