Open scars


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Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I burned myself recently on the heating element of my oven…. yes, cooking accidents are my forte.  And that burn was a doozy.  And as I’ve watched it heal recently, I began to think about it.  I thought about how I hadn’t covered it with a bandaid, and I hadn’t even really doctored it.  I just kept it clean and watched the skin began to re-construct the layers that had been melted.

And then I thought about what a perfect metaphor and reminder it was of scars in general and the struggles we endure in this life.  And I thought…. What if we didn’t hide our scars?  So what if I wasn’t able to keep my left index finger from scarring.  A blemish- the horror of horrors! What if each time I saw it, I was reminded of that painful memory?  And what if I didn’t try to cover it up, make it heal prettier or sugar coat what really happened to that piece of skin? Why not leave the scars and the stories on myself of all the things I’ve experienced or lived through in this short life on earth.

And just like letting my skin scar, I thought a little more.  What if we were more open about our blemishes, struggles, failures and imperfections.  I know we claim pretty openly to be imperfect, but do we really believe that and own it?  Or do we still feel we are trying to reach some unattainable goal the world or culture has set for us? In a world fixated on perfections, fancy creams, liposuction, tanning beds, hair dyes and spanks, it’s rather hard to want to accept and be ok with the shortcomings, blemishes and limitations we all deep down realize we have.  And to that I say- stop it right now, self and world.  I’m human, and I struggle.  I know others have had their share of struggles too.  But what if it was ok.  Ok to not uphold some image of feminine fabulousness. Ok to be not ok at times.  Ok to not always know what the future holds.  Ok to show your imperfections to others.  Ok to not try to cover up every little so-called flaw on your face.  God loves this mess.  He blessed me and many others with creativity, time, talent and heart that wants to find joy in the world around me.  So it’s time I, and you, stopped listening to the voices of negativity that try to tell us to cover up things that aren’t perfectly perfect.  Accept the imperfections, work on the things you can and be really thankful for God’s grace as he fills in the broken pieces of your vessel 🙂

~leah

 

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A word in context


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Photo Credit:  Maria Ellen Photography

Awhile ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Italian Fashion Exhibit at the Frist Center for the visual arts, and it was fabulous. So much detail, so many beads, so many layers of fabulous fabric beautifully hand-crafted as an art form. There was also a Jaume Plensa exhibit and one of his pieces, composed of letters, foreign words and all sorts of text really struck me.  In the plaque about the piece (and I’m probably not quoting verbatim), he mentioned something like this:

“One letter seems nothing but in association with others they could compose a word.  One word with another word could compose a text.  A text with another text.”  I thought about this in regards to being an artist.  As an artist, you are one.  But when you start connecting the dots from artist to artist and building community, you begin to be enriched.  Your medium of art becomes richer, more developed, more intense with emotion and relation to something outside your tiny world of self art.  The art then becomes a piece in a larger painting, and you can find your place of belonging in the realm of creativity.  The idea of individuality is great, but in relation to a larger picture, it has more context.  If you are an artist, think about yourself more as a word in context.  Here are some ways to think of art in terms of context:

1.  Don’t restrict your music to just being influenced by what you can give to it.  Let other artists influence it, help paint a stroke on the canvas and move it forward in a direction you might not have considered before.  Sometimes the growth comes from the interaction with others.

2.  Don’t try too grip tightly onto it like a helicopter parent.  Realize that music is an entity all it’s own that moves and breathes and has to become.  A song sometimes is something you can’t control.  You need to let it happen naturally.  I’ve heard people in the recording industry talk about it in terms of what is needed to “best serve the song.”  It’s like having a love for your music as if it were a child, and you would do well to let it have room to become.

3.   As an artist, consider that you are not merely an isolated creative force.  Rather, you are a force being acted on and acting on others every day as an inspiration and a muse.  And take it a step further, and don’t only let your career be focused on pushing your music into the atmosphere.  Don’t merely shout, but listen.  Connect with others, offer them help when they need it, volunteer with your other musical friends and build relationships instead of just trying to take something all the time.

When I see others who seem to be just waltzing through with roses everywhere, I tend to get discouraged.  Some days I’m not sure what to do with these gifts I’ve been given.  Perhaps other artists’ paths are not as winding as mine have been.  But those uncertain times are those that build our faith and teach us to trust.  Maybe we must first be lost to then find ourselves.

~lme

 

Poetry for your Thursday


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Photo Courtesy:  Maria Ellen Photography

Little succulents and the glow

I wrapped my fingers round it

And choked the magic out

All because of hurried pace

In the here and now

 

The light that shone

Lost some of its glow

When I spent my days

Crafting for show

 

Fragile, worn and unaware

Nothing grows right overnight

And with these feet, I try to walk

Upon the path that’s most bathed in light

 

I expected my return

to unfold without much labor

And I have given more than I should

to those who did not return the favor

 

Love is lost on those who grip

with nothing underneath

Words hold weight

Even if you use them too freely.

~lme

Liberation through Limitation


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Photo Courtesy: Maria Ellen Photography

Limitation. What an unpleasant concept to us, creatives and more. We hate being limited by time, talents, energy and finances. We want everything now and to be able to do everything we want when we want to with unlimited funds (I mean, that’s realistic right?). But what if our limitations are really something that liberates us? And what if those limitations actually help us instead of hurting us like we think. Allow me to expound.

Limitation provides:

  1. Context– Limitation gives us a field or a boundary to work within.  It’s a good thing we aren’t able to do everything with our own two hands.  By learning where our skillset lies, we are able to focus, hone our craft and really find where we can excel and best serve. Limitation actually helps us narrow that search. Surely we can learn and grow, but some people have stronger aptitudes for certain areas.  I don’t personally consider myself a super strong instrumentalist, but I have other gifts in a different facet of music.  Once you begin to see where your skillset lies, you can begin to center on where you would experience a truer fit and ideal opportunities for yourself. The ability to say no to things that aren’t well-suited for us actually leaves openness in our schedules to say yes to things that are a better fit.
  2. Creativity– Limitation actually make us stretch our creativity. If I’m not proficient on an instrument, I may try to make that same sound using an instrument I do know how to play. Throughout that process, something innovative can be born. We learn by our limitations in time, talent and finances how to be effective where we are right now. So you can’t afford to fund a massive marketing campaign, so you roll up your sleeves and get to work making your own things, building connections and going out and networking in your area. Despite seeing limitations as hindrances, you might do better to see them as actual gifts.
  3. Cultivation of acceptance and community– Early on, we believe that we can do it all. Every super mom and wonder woman leading her team at work makes you think you can do it all (or you are lacking when you can’t). But let me tell you, it’s a big fat lie we’ve been fed. I’ve been told early on that there are trade-offs for everything, and I can see it very clearly now. You may think you are doing “it all,” but you cannot do everything to an effective level by cramming as much as possible into your day. You will choke out the moments of realization, creativity and joy. Some facet of your life will not be excelling. Now almost a year into my 30s, I’m learning how valuable it is to have a grasp on reality. I cannot expect myself to be at a level where I am not. accepting that you aren’t a rockstar at everything, you begin to employ the use of other talent, fostering community and building relationships. You develop a mutual respect for people and their skillset that is stronger where yours is weak. You are humbled by the fact that you do not “rock” at everything and are stronger as a team of people striving for one goal. You also learn to appreciate the level of talent you see in others and working with them is a pleasure.

So, go create, accept your limitations, but be willing to work to press them where you can. Also work toward a better version of yourself despite those limitations. Happy weekend 🙂

~lme

Slowing your roll and minimizing your social media presence


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An important facet of slow living is learning to properly cull. Taking a breather from all that we have can be helpful.  Take some time to be calm and ponder over some tea or coffee.  Think of it like a reset button. I myself have realized oftentimes that, like a drug addict needing a fix, I begin to live on the distractions, getting hyped by liking, sharing, and commenting on all that others say and think.  Sometimes we need an intervention- put the phone or the laptop down and walk away.  And I’ve realized that the reason I do that is because it’s somehow filling a void. When we feel like we are lacking in social engagements, friendships or just feeling lonely, there’s the phone- our modern-day pacifier to calm us down. We are scrolling addicts. I’m not saying it’s wrong that we seek a connection and have this need, but the way we are filling it may be displaced. Seeking relationship with people because I like that in a digital world doesn’t necessarily give me human connection.  It’s only a partial-version of a true connection with another person, even if it’s just to talk and listen. Our time is being sucked into a vortex until two hours later, I’m past my bedtime, not able to quiet my mind and not getting restful sleep yet again. I think we need to learn to say no, realize that we are becoming addicts and where we are lacking in our lives.  Here are some thoughts behind slowing your roll on social media a little.

  1. We weren’t meant to process all of the information fed to us in our newsfeed.  I’m not sure we were meant to know that everyone who knows everyone that we know is having a baby, getting married and going to the Dominican Republic. It’s so much to process, and sometimes our brains might explode from having to consider everything that really does not have any bearing on our lives. Can it help us make informed decisions, pray for others and know a little more about the world around us? Yes. Is that always information that we actually take and act on? Not often- at least for myself.
  2. Viewing only a facet of others’ lives can lead to comparison and discontent on our part.  Negative thoughts, when fed, can in turn eat us to death- wow she looks great, and her husband is the best ever, her kids look perfect and nothing in her life has ever gone wrong I bet. This is part of the warped perception of believing everything we see online. We fail to realize that these people we argue with or judge or idolize are people just like us with daily frustrations just like us. Their lives are imperfect, they are flawed and they really don’t live a hip life 24/7.  Ask them how much prep time went into hair maintenance, clothing maintenance and making their face look as good as it does?  Possibly a decent amount of time that personally I’d prefer to spend elsewhere.
  3. We tend to waste a lot of time on things that don’t improve the quality of our lives. Distraction seems to be the norm in today’s culture, and by the end of the day we are mentally exhausted. If we spent the time we were scrolling online to actually sit and think about ways to improve our lives, taking care of our bodies or others, or minimizing unnecessary cares, we might be better off. Does it help me to be able to be “up” on the latest news of everyone’s life? Not really- when we meet in person- we don’t have much to say. And when people do talk to us- they reference all of the past posts we’ve had on facebook. We are basically all just living in the past or the future instead of the actual present.
  4. We are missing out on real living. While we’re looking down at our phones, seeing the fabulous lives others are living, we are missing tons of opportunities to be soaking up an amazing world around us. We are believing a culture that says if you aren’t on every single platform, you’ll be left behind (being a musician is a prime industry for that). You are being lied to. Put the phone down (preaching to myself here) and for one day don’t connect with a screen but with the world around you and try to be present. Try just living and being. There is so much that you are missing out on if you would only open your eyes.

Feel free to let me know what you think about all this processing of information in the Digital age.

~lme

Spoiler alert: No such thing as a “big break.”


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Just like a breaking of a tree branch, artists have come to believe in this so-called concept of the big break.  Spoiler alert:  There is no such thing as a big break.  Need a tissue?  Tis true.  We musicians have been warped into thinking this mentality about the “big break” from shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent.  We expect it to happen fast without all the uphill battles, sores upon our feet and weariness for the dream.  I think it’s time we stopped looking for our “big break,” and started looking for ways to work at our craft or spend our time more effectively as music business owners.  Why on earth have we spent so much time thinking that one door would solve our problems?  For the same reason people think that marriage will be the holy grail of perfection in their lives.  We need to start viewing things as new challenges and new opportunities to work and use our talents.

Another aspect of the “big break” is this.  It amazes me that “new bands” are seen by people and no one really knows the behind the scenes.  They think- wow this band just catapulted into stardom.  No, no, actually they didn’t.  Every huge band you know and love did not begin that way, and there is SO MUCH more that has gone into what people thought was their “big break.” Musicians sometimes are in multiple failed projects before settling into a really great one.  Years of sleeping on couches or working terrible jobs to fund their touring endeavors are never seen by the public.  Then there are the countless hours of doubt, worrying whether people like the music and even asking why they’re doing it in the first place.  The public never knows what goes behind the seemingly easy “big break” that actually isn’t big, but it is a break.

You know what the real big break is?  It’s a breaking of these things: Your pride (playing for an audience of 2), Your bad attitude (giving excuses for why you couldn’t or didn’t do something), Your unwillingness to work (willing to drive for a gig and lug your gear in the heat or rain or ice to play) and Your desire to take the easy option of giving up (and believe me, you’re gonna wanna give up).  The big break is breaking off all of those pieces of yourself as you continually reach farther and higher and push yourself to new goals and new heights.  Sure- an incredible opportunity may come your way, but without utilizing that and keeping the momentum from that, it won’t do you a bit of good.  The big break is not just a moment, a person or a venue you’ll play.  It’s a culmination of many moments, meeting many people and playing countless shows all around that begin to shape you, shave the laziness off of you and the bad attitudes that won’t help you work for your goals.  It’s being broken and vulnerable and real that is the honest “big break” for an artist.  Once you have let go of that one pill fixes all mentality in this cut throat music industry, you’ll begin to view things in a healthier way, pick up the tools in your toolset and get to work carving your own niche in the business.  Until then, you’re just a hotshot that wants others to notice how amazing you are, living for the fame and glory.  Let’s get up, get moving and get over ourselves.  There’s enough ego out there without more.  What do you guys think about the “big break” mentality?  Let me know in the comment section below 🙂

~lme

Fanswell!


uke in mountainsSo there’s this great new tool out there for musicians.  I know, I know- there are a million tools.  But Fanswell is super helpful because it takes the music straight from the artist directly to the people wanting to hear it on tour!  Graham Colton, one of my earliest musical loves, created this for artists.  He saw a need for many independent artists trying to do their own tour booking.  He realized we get stuck when there are only so many venues and a huge amount of people clamoring to play the same venues.  I love that it can help me manage my own touring and booking directly with my fans as I begin managing my own tour logistics.

So here is the page if you’re interested in me coming to your home, your porch or somewhere else near where you live.

Leah’s Fanswell Page

Feel free to share this with others through social media outlets.  This fall, I’ll set out to come play for all of you lovely listeners eager to hear some earthy music.  We are starting with surrounding states and also those surrounding my home state of Texas.  Thanks Graham for creating this and thanks to all who are supporting me on this exciting entrepreneurial and creative journey 🙂

~lme

 

 

The start of an Italian love affair


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Italy. Few places have pulled me in so tightly initially and held me in their warm embrace. Italy was different from the trips before, and I completely fell in love with the culture. I enjoyed soaking up the cultures of Peru and New Zealand, but Italy is, well, brava. The people are warm, inviting, loving and willing to hug you, shake your hand and kiss both of your cheeks. When they talk in an animated way, they’re not mad. They just use their hands and speak with passion and can be intense, because they mean what they say about the food! Oh and the food- fresh fish at the fish market, cheeses (especially the water buffalo mozzarella), vegetables, olives, olive oil, Sorrento lemons, fresh baked breads, tomatoes, meats, lightly dressed salads and the ultimate local meal with all food taken from 100 feet of where we sat to eat Christmas Dinner at Chef Luca’s house on the coast, were perfecto. I felt at home there.

Travel is part of what makes the world a  more beautiful and better place to live. I truly believe that if more people saw more of the world, there would be fewer wars, less hatred toward others and a more peaceful and kind place to live.  We think others are different because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, the way they dress and the food they eat. But really, deep down, there are countless common threads woven within our makeup as human beings.  We all want safety and peace, freedom to go where we choose, worship how we choose, pursue our dreams, raise children in a healthy and safe environment, be fed and sleep calmly with a roof over our head.  I believe our similarities far outweigh our differences if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves. I think that’s why i’ve always felt so emotional watching an Olympic Opening Ceremony. It seems that for a brief moment in time the world, full of some many different nationalities, languages and races can all come together to celebrate something we love and be at peace. That coming together has always been something I love about the Olympics (maybe I should be doing their marketing or something).

This trip was only the start. I have to return. I have to see what people, adventures, stories await me in South Italy on the coast. Positano bites deep- said John Steinbeck, and I can see why. It grabs a hold of your heart and doesn’t let go.  The village nestled on the side of the mountain is unforgettable. It’s magical and frozen in time with no shopping malls, fast food, Wal-Marts or massive American commercialism. It’s a haven for simplicity and connection with nature.

The narrow cobblestone roads in Rome to the little marketplace alleyways of Sorrento that offer hours of strolling and searching for scarves, pasta and more, and the Italian fashion, refuse to disappear from your mind. They merely linger as if to whisper- come back and please come soon. It’s hard to ignore the beckoning of the Italian coast once you’ve been.

Here’s to the future and travel adventures yet to be had!

~lme

Itcy Feet


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I can see the desert

or life there by the sea

or somewhere that’s less traveled

somewhere in between

In the bustling city

or a smaller town

or maybe overseas

where I cannot be found

Do you ever feel it

The itch under your feet

to be somewhere far away

maybe it’s just me…

As I contemplate these final 10 months living at this great house in Nashville, Tennessee, I have begun a new research project.  What new, where to live, what to do at the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 in my life?  Here’s your brown bag, breathe.  I have various ideas such as take a vacation and work on an organic farm before I move to my next locale I’ll call home.  I’ve considered by the ocean that I love, possibly out West near a desert or a small but vibrant little town where I can grow, connect and relate as an artist to a community.  I would like to be near my family, but I’m not certain currently whether I’m ready to settle back down in the Lone Star State.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of cold.  If I’m bundled properly, then ok.  I want to be in a good area, but I also want a slower pace than a bustling city life.  At moments, I’ve thought about New York City and also the DC Metro area, but I’m just not sure it’s calling me strongly enough.  I’m currently a little messy-headed and trying to pray about it and decide what my next move should be.  After our travels to Italy (which I will post about in the upcoming weeks), I feel strongly that I would like to live there within the next several years.  Should I look for some exciting, adventurous and new job or should I launch into trying my music full-time.  I’m at a precipice here people.  I welcome advice, thoughts and encouragement.

But here are some thoughts, places to visit, things that seem to draw me to themselves:

~South Carolina- Charleston and Beaufort

~The Pacific Northwest- particularly Seattle and Portland

~Wilmington, North Carolina- a place where various movies and television shows have been filmed- quite quaint and on the water

~Sedona, Arizona

~Simplistic and healthful living- a job in this realm

~the travel industry- being a travel writer is not easy, but something in that field would be of interest

~I want to possibly visit places that hold some negative meaning for me and create new and beautiful memories there to retrace those memories in goodness.

~the concept of making music my career for a year, just to try it.  Because honestly, there are always jobs to be had to fall back on in a few years.

~Family- not more than a 2-4 hour plane ride from them

~possibly overseas for a time being

~a short stint working at an organic farm and staying there

~Sheep farm work in Ireland- sounds fun

I welcome thoughts, connects, advice or anything else as I grow through this research project in the next six months.

~lme

Adoption Benefit Show this Saturday, November 15th


I have the pleasure of playing the Sacred Selections Adoption Benefit Dinner this Saturday from 4-5!  It will be a great cause supporting a particular family in adopting a little girl who is yet to be born.

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Here are the event details for anyone interested in attending:

Dinner & Auction from 4:00-7:00pm Saturday Nov. 15th

Location: Indian Hills Country Club in Bowling Green

Dinner Buffet provided by Home Cafe

Tickets: $30 for adults $17 for children

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sacred-selections-bowling-green-tickets-14028279963

Sacred Selections is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization. Tax forms are available upon request.

Contact Caleb Hastings at chastings@edmontonstatebank.com with any questions.

A little information about this adoption agency… Since 2006, Sacred Selections has assisted financially in the adoption of children into Christian homes. In just 8 years, they have helped to fund the adoptions of more than 100 children. In Bowling Green, we are inspired by the work of these individuals striving to fulfill the Lord’s plan. The local committee of Sacred Selections families and volunteers have arranged an opportunity to assist in their efforts to raise funds to help even more families in adopting children into loving homes.