4 Year Old Me, 4 Year Old You

When I was 4 years old, I made a song. I remember it was about my favorite things at the time: ballet, cotton candy, carnivals and drawing with pink and purple crayons.

Singing it made me happy. I couldn’t wait to share it with others. I imagined it would make them happy too.

Then, one day at my preschool, we were having “circle time” and our teacher asked: Does anyone have a song he or she would like to share?”

Oh my goodness, I was so excited! My hand shot up “I do!”

“Okay,” she said, “wonderful.” I started to sing the song I made. I got a little lost, but stuck to my main themes, repeating: “I went to ballet and then I ate cotton candy” and so on…

After a brief moment, the teacher cut me off and said to the group: “Can anyone please share a song we all know?”

Ouch. I knew I had done something wrong, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Then I got it, I was supposed to have sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Happy Birthday.” I felt ashamed and the moment was cemented in my brain (but also consciously forgotten).

I didn’t make any more songs for 20 years, when I finally started singing again the way I did back then, just absent mindedly, making up words to melodies when I was out walking or driving. One day when I was cross-country skiing in the woods, I started singing about a bird and a snow bank just for the fun of it and I finally found my way back.

These days, I listen to my 2 and 4 year-old daughters singing to themselves the way many kids do when they are lost in the moment and in a zone of sorts.

I hear them making up songs from their car seats, singing about lunch, the sun, flowers, and hide & go seek, and I get to say to them:

“I love that song you’re singing, will you teach it to me?”

Love,
Anne

Ps: My Spring “Creative Happy You” Online Songwriting Circle begins Monday, March 23rd! The theme is Write Songs You Love! For more information, click here

*ALSO for the very first time*, I’m offering a workshop for beginning youth songwriters aged 11-15. I’m so excited for this! To learn more, go here!

As always, feel free to leave a comment below (especially about any good or bad creative experiences YOU had as a child). I keep forgetting to invite people to leave a comment and so many folks just email me directly (which I love too) BUT it’s so nice if EVERYONE can read your comments as well! Xoxoxo!

Instincts, Winter & Bye-bye Chicago

Hey friends,

So we are moving and it’s January and every part of my being (except straight-up reason) says: “Don’t go!” The ancient parts of me say: “This is hibernating time! Wait ‘til Spring! Eat, rest and take care of your babies. Don’t take them out on the highway in the snow.”

The rational part says: “It’s time to go. Opportunities await, not guarantees, but opportunities, and they are beginning now.”

As our family of four moves from spectacular and grounded Chicago to hip, college-town Ann Arbor, from one very cold climate to another, I’m reminded of how my instincts get loud when I’m stressed and how I work with them or rather, how they work with me.

Instincts: “Fine if you must go, then sleep a little more now as it’s a big journey. You don’t know who your friends will be. You don’t know who the babysitter is. Sure, you can do your work anywhere, but who will be your community? You’ll need energy to find these people/things.”

Reason: “You’d better pack your friggin bags NOW or they won’t be ready in time for the movers who are coming tomorrow!”

The ancient part wins and I take a nap.  Later, I get up and throw out old medicines and donate some clothes to St. Vincent’s.

Today I go to King Spa with a few friends. It’s not an expensive place, but a lovely space for self-care and relaxation. I don’t think about packing.

I always appreciate when life gives me a concrete example of what often goes on behind the scenes in my mind & life. My feelings about our move remind me of how I work with fear and opportunity every day with my kids, work & creativity.

In songwriting, I trust my instincts because I have the experience of  surrendering to them and I know that they bring me great joy. Still I resist sometimes, but eventually I give in to the gift.

But how does that apply to a move in the middle of winter? In this case, if I surrendered to my instincts, we wouldn’t move. On the other hand, if I didn’t listen at all, I might not be well rested enough to move our family safely.

Fear is a funny thing. How do we know how to interact with it? How do you interact with your instincts if they tell you “no”? Is it a conversation?

What do you do when you must do something, but a large part of you doesn’t want to?

Today my answer is this: I find that the more I listen to my instincts (take a nap, go to the Spa, see friends), the more my instincts soften and return to me my energy for packing, picking the best schools and babysitters.

It seems that following my instincts returns to me my desire to move forward into the unknown.

So today I’m listening to my instincts and I’m thanking them for coming along on this journey into snowstorms and possible frostbite. With them on board, maybe it will be more like a winter wonderland.

XO,
Anne

My first personal essay “Crazy Bird” published!

Hi there friends :)
Here’s a little story for you for your coffee, tea or hot chocolate break :) It was written one very hot summer about four years ago…http://threadliterary.com/article/crazy-bird/
Love,
Anne
Ps: Looking for a holiday gift? All of my albums (below) are easily available both as CDs or downloads here: http://anneheaton.com/music

Honeycomb

Blazing Red

I Know This

Black Notebook

Dora

Give In

Again, each of the above is available here: http://anneheaton.com/music

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,
Anne

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