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, look 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, no rx 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

Love & Change

There is something about the month of May, when buds open into flowers & ice turns to water flowing speedily down the mountains that reminds me how good it can feel to change.

A woman recently shared with me that for much of her life she considered herself “the uninteresting one” in her family. She said her life felt perpetually grey until she finally opened up to her desires, decided this label didn’t apply to her and started doing what she wanted.

She walked out of her “box.”

It reminded me of the little boxes we put can sometimes ourselves in when we say things like…

“I’m no chef, but…”

“I can’t sing, but…”

“I’m not good with money, but…”

“But, I like to cook, I sing in the shower, I wish I were better with money,” etc…

Anytime we make a decision about what’s not possible for us while there are still things outside these decisions that we want, we’ve put ourselves in a box.

Sometimes we make lovely boxes for ourselves that feel just right like cozy log cabins. When we do this, we can cherish the space.

On the other hand, when we haven’t yet found our sweet spot or when our ideas about ourselves no longer serve us, we can shift.

We can find a new community, allow ourselves to be ourselves right where we are or simply take a break.

Because it’s May and like the weather, we can change :)


Stumping “Muppet Guy”

These past few months have been a whirlwind: My family and I moved to Ann Arbor, our girls started new schools, we got situated in a rental, then bought a house, Frank and I performed our annual sold out show at EvanstonSpace amongst other shows, I produced an EP for an amazing 16-year-old pop songwriter and then I recreated and am now hosting two online songwriting programs, Creative Happy You & The Beginner’s Youth Songwriting Circle.

And then I took a trip to Mexico! Wow.

I mention all this because I believe it’s important to acknowledge.

I don’t know about you but until I write this all down, I forget most of the above and fall prey all too often to berating myself that I’m not doing enough.

It’s like there’s this person who lives in my head that doesn’t actually observe what goes on but is constantly commenting.

Here are some things it doesn’t seem to acknowledge: trips to Trader Joes, reading bedtime stories, finding new pediatricians, saying prayers for people who may be sick, paperwork or taking up swimming!

What it does seem to see clearly is all the emails I didn’t return, that I don’t have our summer plans figured out and that a certain 10lbs is keeping me a little better insulated :)

I’ve come to accept this voice’s presence, like one of those balcony Muppet guys, I can laugh at him, but I certainly don’t take his words seriously.

Do have a voice like this in your head?

If so, how do you engage with it?

I like to shower this voice with all sorts of activities that are more about being and less about doing.

Activities like having long leisurely conversations with some of my women friends (I had the pleasure of having several such slow conversations this week – it felt amazing!)

When I give Muppet guy less to do (he can’t count how much I’m doing when I’m just being), he does start to relax a bit. It’s much harder to berate someone enjoying a massage or engaged in great conversation with a friend than someone running around frantically.

And Muppet guy has NO IDEA what to make of activities like “making flower crowns” at my daughter’s May Day school celebration or selecting a good hammock in which to lie down :)

Eventually with no work to do, Muppet guy nods off in his dusty balcony.

The funny thing is when I’m having more fun being, more life-giving things actually do happen.

When I was on vacation, for example, not doing anything, all these beautiful ideas about an upcoming project just flowed to me effortlessly.

Then today, when I didn’t know what to write in this email, instead of forcing it, I took a nap, and when I woke up, I knew.

The answer came to me while I was sleeping. 

What about you?

How do you deal with YOUR inner Muppet?

And what do you feel about just being in your life?

Feel free to share your comment below.

I’d love to hear from you!

Ps: Tour Dates in Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Haven, New York, Old Saybrook, CT are here!