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!


vulnerability hangover

On Monday, I hosted my very first Google Hangout on the 3 Keys to Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy (replay here) No biggie right? I mean I know this topic extremely well. It’s close to my heart. It’s like the marrow of who I am.

But no. Tuesday morning, I awoke with a massive vulnerability hangover.

During the Hangout, I felt fine, even good, inspired, but afterwards, OH MY GOODNESS, I was woozy. I had no idea how sharing some of the deepest parts of my creative life was going to make me feel so exposed. My ego wanted me to cut it out! Here are some of the scolding things it said to me:

You shouldn’t have let people in like that!

You should just write songs and play them, no need to bring people behind the scenes.

Don’t give so much of yourself away, it’s dangerous!

Then later that evening, somehow miraculously I found Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. This is where I learned the phrase “vulnerability hangover” and could see that I definitely had one.

The truth is, there’s a part of me that’s been nudging me toward sharing and showing more of who I am in the creative process.

It’s also true to say that while this is exhilarating and feels authentic and happy to me, it’s also new and requires me to open up more.

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover? If so, what was it like? What did you do?

Did you continue taking risks to increase your comfort level or take to your bed? ;)

For me, I got over it in about 24 hours :) , but I was fascinated by the human mind and what it will do to try and protect us (which was a lot of what my talk was about: the ego trying to talk us out of being creative and taking risks).

I’m thinking my vulnerability muscles can be exercised like my body so the burn won’t be so pronounced next time. In fact, I’m looking forward to it :)

What about you?

Love, Anne
Ps: Again, here is the replay for the 3 Keys to Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy ((note: fast forward to 5:40 because that’s where the talk starts) and let me know what you think. What are your ways of staying connected to your creativity?

3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy

Hi friends,
This morning I read an email from Buddhist nun Pema Chodron that talked about unlocking the softness inside of us and I thought, “Yes, that’s it! – That’s what creativity brings to us! Our soft spot – our kind, happy, easy place.”

Creativity connects us to the part of ourselves that is not worried about survival or stressed about our to-do list.

It’s the bridge to the part of us that knows all is well! Where we have faith in living, remember to play, and can love with abandon! Oooh yummy!

For me, loving this feeling of being connected to my creative self is why I started writing songs in the first place and it’s also why I do things like draw with crayons (which I’m not particularly good at and luckily don’t need to be ;) )

Even stuff I have no idea how to do like make curtains out of a purple puffy blanket (yes it’s true, I did this, the other day with my 4-year-old daughter)

            (Story: Cecilia said she wanted purple curtains and all we had was a purple blanket [now keep in mind I don’t know how to sew, truly, but we just kept doing the next thing]: We cut the blanket in half, and decorated it with cut-out hearts & other pictures. It was a little uncertain at first, but fun and the next thing you know, we had curtains!)

(“curtains” ;-) above)

I am continually in awe of the way creativity pours out of my friends (some who actually know how to sew curtains) and one who every time I go to her house is cooking something delicious with a rich aroma of spices or making churros con chocolate – Her kitchen is explosion of creative energy!

Each of us has an inner artist who may have come out easily when we were kids but, for some of us, may have gotten buried along the way. Others of us feel like we have something to say, but we may not feel like we have an outlet, or we may feel like it’s too late for us to start expressing our creativity.

Sometimes it’s just hard to find time in our busy lives.

Recently, I wrote a blog post called 4 Year Old Me, 4 Year Old You (You can read it here) about how one bad experience with a teacher or an unsupportive person can halt your self-expression. I received many emails back from people on this list telling me similar stories of what happened to them when they were young with something they loved like dance or playing violin.

On the other hand, a lot of us were encouraged, not discouraged, to explore our creativity, but then as life’s responsibilities piled up, we grew out of touch with this part of ourselves.

Initially, it took a while for me to find my creative voice (I didn’t start writing songs until after college because I was terrified of being vulnerable or bad at it). After I had my two daughters, it was challenging to carve out the space to keep that part of me nurtured.

And yet it was the best gift I could give myself!

Writing kept me connected to myself while learning to be a mom. By finding moments here and there, I wrote my first short story and released two albums (full disclosure: I wrote some of the songs before my daughters were born). It was exhilarating to be in touch with the deepest parts of myself while raising my daughters. All the while, I was reminded that with life’s changes, creativity is always there for me if I need her.

If you too desire to connect more with your creative self but feel like your life is too full of distraction or like you don’t, at times, remember how, I’d love to share with you..3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy (How To Reconnect with Your Inner Artist!) this Monday, March 23rd at 7:30pm EST on a Google Hangout

On it, I will share the 3 simple habits I use to keep my creativity alive (and keep myself making things) when life is overflowing with kids, jobs & other responsibilities.

There are so many things we do can be creative, a new approach to handling finances, finger painting, planning the day for the least number of times you will have to take kids in and out of car seats (parents: you know what I mean). I have a friend who writes in her journal when she’s in the basement running the dryer. These are all creative acts and ways of connecting to our soft spot.

And when we claim access to our soft spot, we live happier lives!

I’m so passionate about being in the creative space, I love finding and sharing ways to get IN to it so if you..

Want to more fully express your creativity while living a busy life…OR

Want to find ways to STAY in that zone if you already are expressing your creativity, then I’d love to connect with you!

Monday, March 23rd at 7:30pmEST join me for 3 Keys To Unlocking Your Creativity & Expression When Life Is Busy (a.k.a. How To Reconnect with Your Inner Artist!)

Please sign up for the email list (in the right hand column of this website) and you’ll receive the link via email right before.

Also, feel free to leave a comment with any burning questions and maybe I’ll even play a few songs :)

Love, Anne
Ps: The Creative Happy You Songwriter’s Circle is starting Monday, March 30th! We are filling up fast! If you enroll by midnight TONIGHT (Friday), you’ll get as a bonus my 5 Ways To Write Songs You Love Songwriting eBook for FREE! (For those of you who already signed up, you’ll get it too :) )–  In it, I share what I teach at Berklee & Interlochen as well my own, more personal, creative writing exercises!

Ps2: Also, there is ONE SPOT left for The Youth Songwriter’s Circle which starts this coming Tuesday, March 24th! The deadline to sign up is this Sunday!