How Do You Get Back Up On The Horse?

How do you get back up on the horse? It’s a funny expression since most of us don’t ride horses as part of our daily lives, but a question I ask myself a lot as an artist and entrepreneur.

When life calls me away from my work in the world (as my 5-year old daughter’s recent hospital stay did), how do I begin again?

While my daughter was in the hospital and later when she was mending at home, everything came to a screeching halt. Of course, I was solely focused on her well-being so I didn’t really think about it.

But after she recovered 3 1/2 weeks later, I found myself feeling a little lost and historically from that place, I can get down. What will happen to the dreams I had for the year? Can I make up the time?

Part of me wanted to immediately jump back in to doing what I love, but the other part felt too depleted to be a good mentor or even a decent friend.

I considered that doing what I love might be the only path back to doing what I love well. I also considered that maybe people would understand I wasn’t at my best and that maybe, just maybe, that would be ok?

I decided to do a little of both, rest and host the weekly Soul Songs Luminaries group just a few days after we got home from the hospital. I had my reservations though and I told the group I was afraid I wouldn’t be very helpful and that I was relying on them, their intuition & wisdom to carry us.

Guess what happened? It was probably one of the best sessions yet. All the songwriters shared breakthroughs they’d had in their rewrites or recordings. It was so cool to witness.

This experience reminded me that everything is not up to us in the “carrying water from the river to the village” sense. So much is in the intentionality.

In this case, the Soul Songs Luminaries had been together for 3 months already, so a container for growth and beauty had already been established, along with a level of trust and momentum so even when things didn’t go exactly as planned, they continued to unfold.

Similarly, as I was sitting down to write this newsletter, I had the thought that I should wait until I had something more inspiring to say, until I was in a better place, but then I remembered it’s okay to be in the middle, in a spot where I don’t have it all figured out, trusting that something may be relayed in my showing up as I am right now.

What about you? Where can you show up in your life today without certainty, without knowing how it’ll go?

And if you did that more regularly, how would it change things?

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below.


image courtesy of crocodile creek’s barnyard tower puzzle :)


How Kind Are You To Yourself?

Think it’s crazy to decide on a Monday to go to Central America on Friday for the weekend? Me too. But then I did it anyway. Here’s why…

I was in that grey place. I’d been in it for a while. It didn’t matter that I did my morning meditation, or that I took a walk or brewed my favorite coffee before work, I still was not feeling good. I was functional. I could get myself in an inspired zone to connect and teach but I couldn’t sustain it. I had the winter blues and I wanted them to go away for my sake, the sake of my family, my clients and anyone who would ever listen to me play a song (if I’m bleak, what then?)

So, at the last minute, I went to one of my favorite places, Costa Rica. I walked in the mountains, listened to birds & did yoga in an outdoor pavilion. I talked with a group of retreating women. I got a massage, slept, ate home cooked meals and 60 hours later, I flew home.

One of the things I realized while there is that I have a lifelong obsession of trying to do more with less (the more out of less idea is fun when it’s a creative challenge, but oppressive when it’s an internal mandate). And, I realized that within me lives romanticized storylines around the role of the martyr. Notions such as If I succeed without a lot of help, I’ll be a heroine or a “good girl” OR If I don’t need too much (and I manage to have a full cup without really filling it), I’ll somehow have accomplished something amazing! It’s silly, really, and a construct of my ego even though I didn’t intend to create it.

Whether I was born this way or it developed out of notions of what makes a good person, a good mom, or even an early-life admiration of well-known people like Mother Theresa, I’ll never know. But I do know that trying to do less with more (or creating martyr-like circumstances) when one has other options is not the best way I can be in this world.

In admiring people like Mother Theresa, I was picking up on a truth: That nothing is more loving, energy-producing and happiness-creating than service to others (in fact, I think it’s the only thing that makes us truly happy), but this service doesn’t exclude us!

Self-care is a real buzz-word these days. I prefer to think of it as letting my true-self lead. Going where I’m called to go on the level of my soul, giving myself what I need, allowing the flow of life to go through me instead of trying to control the flow of giving and receiving based on ideas about my role or definitions of what makes a good person.

What about you?

Are you great at taking ongoing care of yourself? Or do you tend to do one nice thing for yourself and then see how long you last?

What can you gift yourself this week that, in turn will gift the world?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts :)

Please leave a comment below.
Ps: These photos make me laugh! At the time I wrote this post, my husband felt they were too personal to share, but I still laugh when I look at them a year later, so I think it’s time/ok to share them with you in case you might also laugh :) I’m pretty sure the “Before” & “After” Self-Care/Trip Photos speak for themselves!

What The Streets of Rome (& Espresso) Taught Me About Structure

(Lincoln logs courtesy of my daughter Helen, age 2)

 My first husband was an architect. We talked endlessly about public spaces that were created with people in mind – with the idea that people would enjoy themselves in them – from the curving stone paths of Rome (& piazzas where folks sip espresso while admiring a fountain) to the tiny restaurants that line San Francisco’s Mission District, Somerville’s Davis Square or Quebec’s Old City.

We talked about how good it felt to move about in these spaces and how different it felt to walk around big box retail and its adjacent parking lots.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about structure and how it affects us (both in terms of space and time). I think about it as a mom too because educators often say “children crave and benefit from structure!” so I try to understand what that really means.

I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago where it was critical to excel at academics and to do as many sports and extracurricular activities as possible in order to get into “a good college.” In junior high, I switched schools so I’d be “better prepared” for high school. In high school, I arose at 5:30am to start my day, completed my classes at 3:30, ran track, volunteered at a local organization and then stayed up long past midnight writing papers.

I believed that hard work would equal happiness (a.k.a. feeling bad now = feeling good later).

While there were many good things about about my education, there was also an accepted “norm” that forcing things to happen was necessary and that doing, learning, accomplishing more, more, more was always better.

Today, I don’t give up my happiness in this moment for a future goal, which doesn’t mean I don’t do the dishes, I just do them differently, as joyfully as I can (and not when I’m exhausted).

I also ask myself: What kind of structure would’ve served young me better?

Would I have learned more deeply if all my time wasn’t consumed with activity?

Would I have had more energy if there’d been equal focus on my internal landscape as on external outcomes?

As I ponder our big box retail stores and think about whether they were designed for us to be inspired by them or more with the idea of ensuring that we purchase a lot of things while keeping costs low, I think I know the answer. And they are successful in that.

But what happens when we apply this way of thinking to our internal life, when we are so focused on a bottom line or a specific outcome that we lose the ability to see the beauty that surrounds us in each moment?

In terms of the structure I create for myself today, I realize that I often do much better work when I get up and leave in the middle of something and watch a bit of a movie. Or if I take walks every few hours to clear my head before returning to my desk.

My structure looks more like freedom. What about you?

For me, having windows of time to work and write while my daughters are at school and eating oatmeal with them in the morning, these rhythms not only fuel my songs and my teaching, they fuel my life.

When I make feeling good a priority, I regain the beauty in my life whether I’m lying on the beach or not.

If I have no other goal than to make my day into the equivalent of a beautiful song, chances are that not only will whatever work I do be more vibrant, I’ll also be happier :)

What about you? What structures have served you best?

Which ones haven’t?

If your day were a work of art (maybe it already is :) ), what would it look like?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

A Story About Purple Hair & Pumpkins

When I was little, I’d draw pictures of people with different colored hair (purple, blue, green) and I remember the specific moment it occurred to me that it wasn’t “correct” to draw them this way because people don’t actually have purple hair (well, in those days they didn’t ;) ). I felt sad and it was a turning point for me where I wondered: could I continue to draw the way I liked?

Around the same time, my mom took me to an annual pumpkin decorating contest in our town with hundreds of children. I was young enough that I didn’t really understand what it was, but they laid out art materials in front of us (glitter, foam, felt, etc.) and I picked what materials I was attracted to, zoned out and just had fun decorating my pumpkin. Later, I found out, I won the contest.

Now this email is not about “winning” a pumpkin decorating contest (and probably pumpkin decorating shouldn’t be a competition anyway), but this email is about is trusting your instincts, accessing that zone where you do things a certain way just because you love doing them that way.

Being in a magical space is such a good feeling and also an opportunity to create things we, and others, love and enjoy.

In this case, it was a pumpkin :)

With songs, there’s definitely craft, a way to do it well. By using specific tools you can write more impactful and relatable songs.

At the same time, I always encourage people to get back to that imaginative space without rules, because that’s the space from which new ideas are born! When you aren’t telling yourself you “have to” do it a certain way, pure inspiration can come through! :)

In honor of the launch of Soul Songs School ™, I’m hosting an online celebration. If you want to be in that magical space with me, please join me this Sunday at 1pmEST and I’ll show you a fun process for writing your own theme song :)

Here are the details:
“Being in the Magic Space: Rituals for Songwriters and Other Creatives, Part 1″

Sunday, December 20th 1pmEST check your timezone here
Dial in number: (425) 440-5100*
Pin code: 775307# *long distance charges may apply
Listen via live webcast

Opening of Soul Songs School ™!

I recently announced that I have some exciting news so here it is! (I’m going to be sharing my song recipes and I have an invitation for you so read on…. :) )

Some of you are music fans, some of you enjoy songwriting for enjoyment & expression and a handful of you have devoted your lives to writing and performing your own music.

Whichever group you’re in, I made something for you or someone you love. It’s the culmination of every creative threshold I’ve crossed by trusting myself and walking that path of trust. From my heart to yours, introducing Soul Songs School ™

What is it? Soul Songs School ™ is an online songwriting course designed for soul-fueled songwriters and other creative artists who want to write from that deep place while mastering their craft. Soul Songs School ™ is…

- a nurturing space for mining your creative gold

-a structured process to help songwriters create their best work!

-made out of a lot of love

Here’s how to participate: On February 4th, The Soul Songs Luminaries 6-Month Group Program begins! In it, you’ll receive online mentoring from me in a small group format, support from like-minded songwriters as well as writing & creativity exercises to support you in birthing and completing your songs!

To learn more about the program, simply email me info AT and I’ll be in touch personally. Why did I make it? With 15+ years playing classical piano, a BFA from City College of NY in voice and having been offered a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, I had plenty of musical “knowledge” but I kept my spiritual/creative self slightly hidden. I let people see the results of my creative process – the songs – but didn’t let them see into my inner world.

Even when I talked about my songs on NPR or toured with Jewel and shared from the stage where my songs came from, I didn’t always fully reveal how they came to be. I grew up somewhat cynical so I was used to explaining things using an intellectual framework. So when it came to songwriting, which was a mystical and mysterious process for me, I didn’t want to own up to my woo woo beliefs ;) so I kept them hidden.

I now realize that the best part of the journey is the real story behind how the song came to be. There was always some magical element. Like for “Megan & Kevin,” I spent the day walking the hills of New Jersey when inspiration came. With “The Prayer of Saint Francis,” the prayer kept turning up in my belongings in the most unlikely of places. It’s like the songs came looking for me. I just had to be open and willing to use my tools to shape them in the world.

Over the past few years, I’ve shared my love for the creative process and taught a lot about songwriting craft. In Soul Songs School ™, I’m taking it to a deeper level, and as I said, I’m revealing my song recipes :) – ways I enter into the space where writing magic happens! If you want to be in that magical space with me (and write your own song recipes!), I’m looking for a few beta testers to be a part of my 6-Month Group Program for Soul Song Luminaries at an introductory rate in exchange for a testimonial and your feedback on the program.

If you’re feeling the pull to be a part of our group, simply reply to this email and we can explore if it’s a good fit. I’m feeling so much excitement and anticipation about who each of you will be!

Much love, Anne

PS: In celebration of the opening of Soul Songs School ™, I’m hosting an online celebration called “Being in the Magic Space.” You’re invited and details are coming soon!