Why I’ve Been Hiding In Plain View (Coming Out of The Spiritual Closet Part 2 :))

Over the years, I’ve noticed myself occasionally engaging in behavior that seemed like self-sabotage.

So I decided to ask myself: “Self, what’s up with this?”

A few ideas came to mind (which I’ll share in the next post), but one emerged as the leader and root cause.

I remembered my third grade Catholic school teacher, Mrs. McGinley, telling us stories about Jesus. How he manifested extra bread and fish for hungry people. How he helped sick people feel better and how he made extra wine at a party. At 8 years old, I thought: “This guy is cool.”

I liked hearing about his willingness to speak his mind/heart too. Supposedly, he often got in trouble with the Pharisees (“the religious rules guys”) precisely because he followed his heart, not their rules. I could relate.

(Note: This is not a “religious” story, please bear with me while I get to the point).

What I realized is that Jesus was the very first person I heard about who followed his calling (Later I learned of many others like Buddha (left the palace to witness human suffering), Socrates (exposed ignorance and drank the hemlock), Harriet Tubman (antislavery rescuer), and the list goes on :) ), but those initial stories really impacted me, both because I was so young, and because, as you know, things didn’t turn out all that great for Jesus (at least not in a worldly sense).

So, what’s my point?

Well, it’s this: After learning about his public-speaking (basically encouraging people to be kind to each other), his run-ins with the “rules guys,” eventual small-celebrity-status, then most of his friends abandoning him, and him being murdered on a cross, my little girl self wondered if there always had to be such a terrifying outcome for doing one’s work in the world.

(3rd grade me)
As an adult, music and writing are my spiritual practice(s) and I do my work in the world. Even so, I have to admit there have been times, I’ve unconsciously shied away from stepping up. As strange as it sounds, this old memory is what I found buried underneath the fear and hesitation.

My cells have been screaming:

“When you follow your calling, your bliss, your creativity, your dreams, you are entering a danger zone, so, if you must do it, try to keep it to a minimum, bring it down a notch or do it in someone else’s shadow” (I have, at times, loved being an opening act for this reason, not that it’s not awesome (because it surely can be), but it also feels “safer.”)

Are there any places in your life where you stay in the metaphorical role of the opening act, hiding just a little?

If not, what are the main things that make it possible for you to be who you are in all your glory?

I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re willing, please leave a comment below :)

So much love,

Ps 2: If you’ve been in the closet about your songwriting, come join our Online Songwriting Circle! Registration ends November 14th, 2014. To join, send me an email with a song.

((If you’re afraid you can’t afford it, apply for our one scholarship spot by emailing me a song and telling me why I should pick you))

Winter Recording Week (& We Made A Movie!)

Hello friends, family and music-lovers!

I recently hosted a professional recording week in Boston, MA for a select group of songwriters from all over the United States. The songs and recordings these young writers created FAR exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I was convinced to host another recording week in Chicago, IL.

Here is a movie of what we did together in August!!

I was so inspired by these young artists and I am excited for them to share their music with the world! It was a creative privilege to work with them to create and record their music!

Our next recording week will take place over winter break and it is for songwriters who want to take their music to the next level. Whether you are an aspiring artist or anyone with any dream, I hope the recording week video will be a gift of inspiration to you.

To apply for Winter Recording Week (Dec 28-Jan 3), please visit: http://anneheaton.com/apply and fill out the application
AND, please email one original song to winterrecordingweek@anneheaton.com
I’m looking forward to hearing your music!!
Enrollment is open through November 1st.
For more information, visit  http://anneheaton.com/apply

What If I Stopped Translating? (“Coming Out of the Spiritual Closet” Part 1)

I’ve always kind of known that I do this, recipe but I starting thinking recently, what if I stopped translating all the time? Quit emphasizing different points of the story to different people, depending on what I think they’d “get,” using different words with different people: I use “God” with my parents, “The Universe” with my more spiritual/hippy friends, and of course I mean the same thing. What I if I stopped using different entry points on certain topics too? (If I say I’m doing this because it will “pay the bills” it will make more sense to this person. If I say I’m doing it because “it really resonates with me” it will be more easily understood by this other person). Recently, all this translating has started to feel like jail, like a lot of pre-filtering. I wondered what words I would use if I were just talking to me. What are my words?

I get that I’ve done this because I so want to connect with others and because I believe people often use different words for the same thing and then get hung up on the linguistics and think they mean different things (or think they disagree) when really, they don’t.

With music, it’s easy, I feel like a channel. The songs feel true and I know people will “get” them. I don’t know where the songs come from exactly, but I let them come. Each song is a gift and I know I’m not wholly responsible for creating it. Why is it not the same with conversations?

I don’t know. In many ways, I know that truth lies beyond the reach of language and that music is able to express things words can’t. But what I don’t know is when exactly the automatic translating started – if it started when I was in Catholic school (and I got in the habit of telling two different stories about my life: one to parents/teachers and another to friends) or if it started when I was a philosophy major and was always looking for common ground among the philosophers. Maybe it started more recently when certain religious institutions were fucking up all over the place and I felt too embarrassed to say to my East Coast atheist friends: “Yes but I still love those Buddha and Jesus stories – I think they are love stories.” Instead I’d say something watered down like “I think that things, in the end, work out for the best.” What am I, Hallmark? It’s not that I don’t think that things work out for the best in the end (I mean technically, the end could be 10,000 or 40 million years from now or never) it’s just that in saying that (or something like that), I was translating.

What would happen if I stopped?

What could I do with the extra energy?

More importantly, what would happen if I spoke my truest language all the time?

As soon as I asked the question, I knew the answer. I was afraid I’d lose people. What if people didn’t understand me? What if they were people I loved? What if they were family members?

I have always had such a deep longing to connect and I couldn’t bear the thought of being misunderstood or not connecting and yet, by protecting myself in this way, I wasn’t connecting ANYWAY.

Have you ever found yourself talking around the heart-of-the-matter or not telling the truest version of your story?

Have you ever tried to tell a story using words you know your listener will understand even though they aren’t the ones you would choose? Or do you always speak the same way?

I love to know your thoughts on this!

Feel free to leave a comment below!


PS: On Monday, I’ll be sending out an email about something special! Stay tuned for new songs (I will share them soon over video) and I’m PLAYING this month Oct 24th (Spring Lake, MI) Oct 26th (City Winery Chicago with Paul Cole) and Oct 28th (Private Show).

I would LOVE to see you…(and those are the words I REALLY mean :) )

Overcoming Resistance

If you’re like me, you may encounter resistance every once in a while. Well, actually I encounter it all the time…in going to the gym, waking up in the morning, even sometimes in surrendering to sleep at night. Sometimes I really do feel like sitting down to write songs but other times I feel a strong resistance to it. Even though I know writing and making things in general makes me happy and even though I’ve put out six full-length albums to date and read “The War of Art” (if you haven’t read this, it’s awesome!) resistance still rears her head in my life!

The following video includes a couple of tips I use to work with my friend resistance :)

Just yesterday I had set aside an hour and a half to work on some new songs for my next album. I was excited about it and then the time came. I had done all of my administrative-type work in the morning and my older daughter was now at school. It was my time to finally sit down at the piano! And then, something happened. My brain was like: “Well I should probably get a cup of coffee, I think I want to eat something, I should probably take a nap because I’m really tired, my brain was thinking of ANY excuse not to sit down at the piano. Why? I don’t know! My theory is that it’s my ego. My ego doesn’t want to sit down to write unless it is guaranteed an outcome and of course in the creative process you are never guaranteed a specific outcome :)

So what did I do to overcome this resistance? Well I tried two little tricks. One I coaxed myself by saying: “Anne if you sit down at the piano and find that after 10 minutes you aren’t having fun, you can forget it and go get that delicious cup of coffee. There’s no pressure to keep writing if it’s not fun.”

The other thing I did was I offered myself a specific reward. You could offer yourself anything you love. You could tell yourself you’ll get to go to the beach later, or read a chapter of your favorite book, or watch a silly movie later that night. I think I offered myself a glass of wine later that evening (even though I’m not much of a drinker) but for the younger writers, I’m sure you can think of something fun and appropriate!

Really adults (or at least this adult, a.k.a me) are like children. We need coaxing and help with transitions. In this case, transitioning INTO doing creative work.

Of course some part of me knew that once I sat down at the piano I’d get lost in the magic of music-making and the hour and a half would fly by. And that’s exactly what happened! I didn’t need to get up after 10 minutes, I forgot about the coffee (until later anyway ;-) ) and  I had a joyous time working with my muse and almost finishing two songs. Later I still rewarded myself :)

Do you encounter resistance when writing or making things? If so, what do you do to overcome it? Please leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear your secret ninja moves!

Love, Anne

Unique Opportunity for Songwriters, A Recording Week!

Hi there friends,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know about a unique opportunity for young songwriters.

I’m hosting a professional recording week with a small, select group of songwriters in August and one spot has opened up!

Our recording week is taking place over the course of 5 days where each participant will make 2 high-quality recordings of his or her songs in a beautiful studio with incredible musicians. For more information on how to apply for the available spot, please message me! (info AT anneheaton.com)

A little more about the program….

This program is for young singer-songwriters who have been writing songs for some time and play an instrument. Participation is by invite only. If you (or someone you know):

*Want to record your songs professionally with a full-band but you don’t necessarily know how to find the best musicians or studios

*Would like to have your songs produced at a level you could ideally sell on iTunes or make a full CD from but feel it may be too cost prohibitive to make a high-quality album on your own


*Are searching for your “signature sound” as an artist but don’t know exactly how to create it, then this could be awesome for you!

If this sounds like you, email me and I’ll let you know how to apply. I look forward to hearing from you :)

Peace & Love,