My goal for the week was to play out at least twice and start recording. I played at two Jersey venues that have a really soft, inviting energy - Espresso Joe's (In Keyport) and Dragonfly Café (In Somerville). I did fulfill the live performance goal; however, I didn't record as often as I wanted to. I barely recorded a guitar track for "Darlin', Don't Fight Me." I am feeling the perfectionist bubbling within me. It can be a good thing, in terms of doing my best on my musical compilation CD.
I know that there are two sides to being my best. The first side involves vulnerability, or play. When I "play," I am not trying to control my energy or place it in a box so much, but to release into it with sincerity. The second side of it involves "the work" aspect of this life. Playing random venues is not enough. Working my talent to the point where I can feel satisfied with a recorded performance is my goal. The work process requires discipline, but not to the point where I shut down- as I often shut down artistically when I push too hard. It just merely requires that I stick to a schedule with myself and by myself so that I can grow in my art.
by: Jaclyn Shaw Blocked energy and bouts of negativity can have crippling effects or at the very least lead to feelings of uneasiness and panic. Thanks to Source (my personal word for God), I have been successful at unblocking by dedicating myself to some activities that exhibit reverence for life.
What does that mean? Well, I came up with my own list of 20 ways to connect with Life Force (Source) and feel infinitely inspired and empowered because of it. When I do these things, I keep in mind why I am doing them. With a strong intentionality, I practice the following at my own pace. Hope you enjoy my suggestions! Here goes: 1. Eating holistic organic food. (Honoring Body) 2. Drinking 7 glasses of water a day. This intake varies according to weight. Calculate your proper intake using this water calculator (Honoring Body) 3. 45 minutes of stretching/cardiac/ lifting exercise (Honoring Body) 4. Getting proper sleep (7-8 hrs) (Honoring Mind, Body, Emotions) 5. 1 hour of meditation (Honoring Mind, Body, Emotions, and Spirit) 6. Morning Pages - Writing down 3 pages full of subconscious dreams and thoughts as soon as I awake. (Honoring Mind, Emotions) 7. Spend time with children and reconnect with your inner child (Honoring Relationships/ Emotions) 8. Write a list of 10 people, places or things you are grateful for and why (Honoring Relationships) 9. Call, or write a letter to an old friend/ new friend (Honoring Relationships) 10. Go on a mystery date with yourself... take yourself to a place you've never been that excites and stimulates your senses (Honoring your Experience) 11. Plan trip to a place you have never experienced before (Honoring your Experience) 12. Writing Music (Honoring Creativity) 13. Sketching/Drawing/ Painting (Honoring Creativity) 14. Free form prose writing (Honoring Creativity) 15. Write a list of 5 things that made you giggle today (Honoring Emotions) 16. Read a book about something you've never explored (Honoring Intelligence) 17. Creating a "Career Focused To Do" list and sticking to it (Honoring Potential to Succeed) 18. Spend time with animals (Honoring Nature) 19. Long walks in nature (Honoring Nature) 20. Pray: Thanking Source for the food, clothing, shelter, good luck, good relationships, etc. (Honoring Nature/ Connecting to Higher Intelligence)
MY dream is not YOUR dream, and YOURS will never be MINE! Our unique visions stand in isolation, and are all imprinted in our minds as dissimilar as fingerprints. I can neither completely conceive of your dream nor your past experiences, feelings, and latent desires associated with it. I can only guess at it with assumed approximation… We have more control over ourselves than we ever would over someone else, let alone their vision! So why waste time living through other people? I've done it. I have tried to make a shinning armor out of someone else's dust. I am guilty of putting people on schedules to plot out their lives, to motivate them, and inspire them... but what for? I recently asked myself this question to get to the root of my "SELFLESS" actions. After much ruminating and analysis, the answer I concluded is “empowerment.” I help others because it empowers me? This is ironic. How can I empower myself by plotting and planning the goals of someone else’s assumed potential? I have an older, wiser friend who is a “common sense” genius. She said that after spending a life-time of helping others, and putting others before herself, she is filled with resentment. Why did she finance her girlfriends through college, buy people cars, work endless hours for hand out money… to her own demise? Before she was famous, a local artist gave me a dirty look after I complimented her performance at a local hole in the wall. I remember the shiver that ran through me. Why is she performing, if she doesn’t like reaching people? Or furthermore, why is she performing is she doesn’t like people? Or even more specifically, why doesn’t she like me? At that point, I knew how important it was to be polite, because you never know how much you can let someone down with words, or in her case, looks. Like God, “What people think?” is a mystery. Unless they tell you with words, you can’t know what objects and abstract concepts have been playing in their minds. We can try to please them, like trying to please some invisible ghost. I think we should treat them with respect and invest minimal energy in trying to control them. People pleasers end up becoming doormats: an object for the needy and the lowest common denominator of service. After all, people need a place to wipe their feet when they come off the street. Doormats get dirty and crusty quick, despite their elaborate welcoming design and warm energy. Why please people at all? For a stroke of the ego? For a buck? For a minute… until some raw association comes up for them, and THEY decide I are no longer of service to them? I conclude my ramble with this… yeah, it is of good morale to be respectful to people, but never at the expense of my self-respect. Though people know not what they do, because they are inherently ignorant of their impact on others, it is not our personal responsibility to enlighten each and every one of them. That is their responsibility, according to their unique grids of potential.
Youth is the Tabula Rosa. Youth, often symbolized by smiling plump faces, bright eyes, and bouncy healthy bodies, are visuals that I often associate with new beginnings. It is youth, of course, where we begin learning our beliefs and shaping our identities. Within the fair flesh of these beings are the rudiments of exploration: hungry minds that starve for knowledge, playful fearlessness, and resiliency. Their heavy feet, expressive bodies, and shameless countenance can often remind us of our own potential. They are such beautiful “BEINGS!” Of course, new beginnings, though associated with, are not exclusively reserved for the young. This idea of the beginning, is constantly presenting itself to us, now and into our late adulthood. Changes, adjustments, and movements need to be made to balance ourselves with the rest of the world, and even more so, with our own vision of progress. Yes, a mysterious hand (beyond hormonal highs and libido) rears an energetic youth but this does not deny the power of the aged. The aged BECOME what they learn, a great metamorphic skill, if their learning is continuous. The youth is a mere emblem for the inner child we hold as we birth new moments. Age and wisdom guide us as we select what we yearn to nurture and fulfill. This being said, I often glorify the youth as they represent a readiness to embrace change BUT the aged and experienced catalyze those changes… and for this I am grateful as well….
Lately, I have been caught in a race with myself to reach higher potential. Of course, the more I learn the more potential I have in what I have learned.
Despite my degrees, my titles, my sometimes impassioned know it all tone.. I still consider myself a student. I still hear an internal clock ticking, rhythmically reminding me, that I am of the essence and things need to be done! As much as people have told me that a 9-5 job isn't in my best interest, I crave a schedule, discipline, and commitment to getting deeper into my craft... and at my own pace (which is slow but calculated). Sometimes my artistic work day lasts from 10-9... it is very demanding and at times emotionally draining.
So, after prepping for a big gig last week, I took a week off from training my own voice. Big mistake. Since I am personally developing untouched parts of my voice, I can hear the difference some lazy un-exercised/ un-vocalized self indulgent time has done to me... and it's not good.
Today, I rose early to work. And the work feels good. Committing to the work is somehow a way for me to commit to myself.
I am not doing this for stardom and approval (although it would be nice). I am doing this for my own sanity and expression. It's the music bug, and it has my heart throbbing for a clearer expression. I am married to rhythm and melody is my only child.
I didn't know what a brief break would feel like until I was playing nonstop. I can only imagine how the pros must feel! At this rate, I may rise as they did.... only if the commitment and vision is strong enough to override distraction and escapism.
When I recount the most influential songwriters of my teenage years, I think of the angelic soulful Jewel. She was beautiful, and strong willed, yet graceful. She wasn't some pervert trying to minimize my feelings... she was honest. She had a message of vulnerability for her listeners and she most unabashedly led me to the pent up emotions of my youth.
One song loops in my mind today, as I struggled to unstick my hypnotized eyes from the addictive 90210 series on the boob tube. Who will save my soul?
It's funny how songs pop up from our subconscious to remind us of what is important. When I really want to check in with my feelings about an experience, I quietly wait in stillness till I hear the incessant record player in my mind. The song that pops up usually gives me the best advice about that moment. It's magical... it really is.
As I write this, I remember the first time I discovered that people enjoyed my voice. I was at a block party with a friend, Kristen, in grammar school. She had invited my 8th grade class, with all it's personality and darkness to her neighborhood event. Amidst a population of school kids who would often leave me feeling anxious, I felt a calm as I entered a crowd of karaoke singers. Amongst that group, I recall a school bully who make a habit of making fun of female vocalists (and women in general). Before summer let out, he mocked a boy who had a Jewel CD in his backpack.
I remember the freshness and breeziness of that day. It was as if my body was on autopilot, and all my worries were being lifted and soothed by air. School had let out, and in my mind I thought, I may never see these people again. I just wanted to sing.
"Who will Save Your Soul?," was the song they handed me the microphone for. I focused on the words, and meant them. I could feel the energy of the crowd rising, just as much as the energy rose inside of me. But, I didn't want to admit it. Kristen leaned in, smiling and wide eyed, after my performance and encouraged me, saying how good my voice was.
Today, I am reminded of that glimpse of hope and enthusiasm. When people seemed to be living their lives, I would sit back and watch. I would analyze. I would judge. Lately, as analytical and pragmatic as my intelligence is, I have been craving that honesty. It seems that whatever struggle I have internalized from that grammar school experience is still present. Am I the critic or the artist? Am I the one who feels or the one who numbs?
What of the listener? Yes, it is good to be inspired. But how long must one be inspired before taking a leap into the unknown? Because what has inspired us is no use if it does not stir our souls to action... we are the keepers and dispensers of our truth.
Truth is soulless without those feelings. This day forward, I vow to get rekindle and untangle the most complex of those feelings. For the sake of my art, my soul, and my progress as a communicator.
I used to think of actors as professional liars. I even had the opportunity to date an attractive actor, but stayed clear for my distrust that at he was really great and convincing at what he does. However, as of late, after receiving a great opportunity to be casted on an Independent Film called "The Unforgotten True Love," I have been realizing the therapeutic beauty of sensory memory.
Really, why have I have I been so stubborn to play with acting before? Well, In this day and age of green rights, where people are working on being less angry and aggressive, there is a lot of new age hippy meditation going around. Yes, it is important to make peace with your mind, and find the stillness in each moment, so that new moments can be written in. But what of sensory memory? What of opening old wounds, and reliving the truth of those emotions? Is it dangerous? Or, is it therapeutic?
Well, I have come up with the conclusion that greatest performers relay truth. The truth is, we are all sentient beings. We are all emotional beings. As much as we can strive for the stillness and peace with all emotions, we are not truly at peace with them until we are comfortable enough to express them. We are these emotions... and often people have become numb to them. I will work on instilling these very emotions into my songs. To communicate my deep emotions, is to create clarity in my communication, and community with those I am connecting with (in a safe way).
As I have been having some strong dreams lately, and have invested time interpreting them, I am zoning into some strong emotional pools of subconscious messages/thoughts/feelings. A lot of this has much to do with my career and my progress as a musician/singer songwriter.
I took the day today to sort through all of the external messes and meditate on my direction. Although, I would love to start my own production company, produce my own official album, with my own artwork, and be my own engineer... it is a bit overwhelming to think about. How does one do all this in isolation, and still maintain some sanity?
I had a bunch of small recording projects going with engineers, but I haven't been able to secure someone serious enough to put in the time, heart and soul on a consistent basis. It seems that everyone who is currently an engineer is also a musician, who has their own project going on, as well as paid recording gigs. So, until the time I can afford to pay an engineer X dollars a week to assist in my process, I will have to start the process on my own. I don't fear this process as much as question if it is all necessary... Then comes the justification. Prince does it, and he has all the rights to his tunes... so why not take a stab at it?
I love working with other people, but I have been nothing but disappointed when it comes to flakiness, false promises... creepy ulterior motives. It is time to rise up within and take hold of my world. There is no time like now, to start the process of recording ALL OF THESE CREATIONS!
Every recording posted up until now is no where close to as good as it could be... and this is what is driving me to create more and more... and to ease that ache within my heart that wants to share all this that I have made. With love.
Turns out I overdid it a little today before my gig. I sang my set list three times (60 minute sets) and did my exercises. When I went up on stage, I realized that too much enthusiasm has consequences... I had lost my voice. I cracked a couple of jokes about it... but I must say, singing a 15 minute set was quite fun. I really got to explore the rasp I never had before... It was as if someone else's voice had taken over my body... and this one was somehow more reality based, cold, and real. The performance really shone through it.. and after drinking 3 cups of ginger tea, and a bottle of honey, I must say: I am glad I had the experience.
There is nothing so altering in life than the transcendental feeling that we are all one. This is what I felt at a festival not too long ago, which inspired a new list of songs. I wish I could find the funds right now to get into a professional studio. At this point, I am teaching myself how to record on Logic, so that I can record all of the material myself.
I have also been making an effort to go to more open mics and book more gigs. Playing more often is increasing my performance confidence again. Reaching out and connecting with the crowd is more important to me than anything else.