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 story. 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 themselves 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 toward 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 cutthroat 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

Something every musician must have


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Every serious musician, in some form or fashion, dreams of success, whether it’s being paid for their craft or fame that is far reaching and iconic.  Success is defined in various ways across a large spectrum, and they tell you to define that early in your career what that looks like for you. That’s not my point here, but that is just where we begin.

Let’s talk about success in terms of non-monetary terms for a moment.  Let’s view success in terms of setting goals and achieving them one at a time.  Interestingly, success is not one moment or one mountaintop goal achieved.  Take it a step further and I say success is not an isolated event.  Rather, it is a culmination of many years of hard work peppered with moments of trying, doubting, finding a way and refusing to give up.  And even more momentous is that success is not isolated to an individual, despite the emphasis we place on one person.  If success was dependent on and resulting from one person, I think achievements could be made much faster without other factors involved.  I am nothing without the countless people who paid for my music lessons, friends and family who encouraged me along the way, people who told me not to quit, and those who held my hands when I felt lost and let me cry on their shoulders.

When you reach career milestone goals like playing at some amazing venue, selling out a show, or gaining traction in some way, don’t forget to remind yourself of one thing.  Repeat after me-“This moment is not just for myself.”  This moment is for all of them out there- all of you who were cheerleading, encouraging, hugging, praying, telling us not to quit and to stay the course.  We musicians are merely the vessels, the channels through which the gift comes.  It is not without the shoulders of giants that we are carried throughout all of our creative phases.

Dear artists and musicians of the world, please consider a new vision.  May we, especially musicians, learn to leave ego at the door.  If used properly, success can humble us instead of puffing up our vanity about how great we are to the world around us.  We should view it as giving back the gift to the world around us.  Something every musician should carry in their gear case….  Thankfulness for the gift and the ability to use it.

~lme

The value of waiting, slowing down and finding simplicity


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Sit right here and wait. What? No thank you. Remember when used to actually wait for our parents outside school? We couldn’t text them. We just hoped that eventually they would show up to claim us and take us home.

We just hate waiting. You know it’s true. From drivers who nearly run you down just to get to the same stoplight to the bosses who needed it done yesterday or I want my coffee NOW. We despise waiting. Maybe it somehow reminds us of our humanity and the honest truth that we don’t get everything we want when we want it. Sob sob. I realize how easy it has been to fall into the trap of not wanting to wait. Why is my career not further NOW? Why do I not have the man of my dreams sitting by my side NOW? Where is my lunch NOW? The ironic part of all of this is that we have actually traded our anxious ways and don’t really know what it’s like to live NOW. Being present is something we all struggle with. We love to go and do and live life. But it’s time we all slowed down just a little bit (or rather a lot) to be able to process our lives. Processing what is happening and the actual process behind everything is something we’d rather pass over, forget and live without. When we’ve gone an entire week without assessing what we did well, what we could have done better and perhaps some mistakes we made along the way, we have become to busy. When we are too busy to stop for a conversation that needs to occur with someone or to express thankfulness to someone, we’ve become too busy. Our “busy-ness” will eventually be the death of us all, since running ourselves into the ground will exhaust us both physically and emotionally.

I’ve become very interested in the Slow Movement which believes in more of a mindful way of living- a connection to food, a connection to place, a connection to people and a connection to life. It involves slowing down and really being present in the moment. I prefer to start living more slowly and mindfully as opposed to being forced like a current through the gates of a dam. In the Entrepreneur Issue of Kinfolk, there is an interview with Carl Honore´, one of the world’s most respected advocates of the Slow Movement.  You can watch his Ted Talk here.

I decided to include some blogs regarding the concepts of simple living and a slow living mindset, so check them out:

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/

Home:

http://www.slowyourhome.com/

Family:

http://lifeshouldbethecatsmeow.blogspot.com/

Other thoughts:

http://prettygoodstories.com/

http://valueofsimple.com/start-here/

Let’s take time to be mindful, be present and not be afraid to live a little slower paced as we journey along our path in life.

~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

 

 

A letter to the women of the world (and music industry)


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Dear Women of the world,

You are more than your body.  Showing off your body doesn’t garner respect like you want to believe it does.  You want respect and to be treated as beautiful and smart?  Don’t sell your body through images and videos.  Share your art, share your music, and share your talents, but don’t share every inch of your skin with the entire world.  Considering the image you present is important- more than you will ever know.  Whether you want it or not, you brand yourself every single day by the clothes you wear, the way you talk and how you carry yourself.  Don’t want to be judged?  Harsh reality- in a world saturated with images and everyone on social media, there are a million eyes looking at you and you will be judged.  Don’t take that responsibility lightly.  I won’t name drop as badly as I want to, but you musicians, artists and actresses know who you are- stop it.  Stop making us think that it’s ok to throw our bodies in people’s faces whether they like it or not.  Stop making us think we have to be a specific size.  We don’t.  Beauty is found in all shapes and sizes.  Stop telling us that you’re a feminist and then propagate a less than respectful image to the public.  Don’t kid yourself because you aren’t kidding us.

May we women stop talking so negatively to ourselves and about ourselves, learn to smile more often, spend time on inner beauty, and worry less about what people think of us and more about what God thinks about us.

~lme

Tupperware Kids


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Tupperware kids

The city dump

Is one big place

But to me

I see the face

And the bodies

Of us all

Kept tucked behind an iron wall

~~~

To the left are shells of cars

Like the structures that we are

Hollow inside without meat

Dripping with our own selfies

We grew up nice

We grew uptight

We packed in tupperware

At night

And now I know that it’s not right

Yet I can’t stop myself

~~~

Our parents never seemed to mind

And now we teach our kids it’s fine

If you don’t like it

Just unwind

And cast it to the side

Landfills full of junk we used

Thrift stores are for cool kids too

Hear, hear the Tupperware kids

Our cry

Don’t you tell us what to do!

~~~

Look at all my stuff I scream

I’m rich and pretty,

See my newsfeed?

The more likes

That I can procure

will heal my troubles

I am pretty- pretty sure

Broken marriages

Disheveled people

Worshiping under

broken steeples

Building bigger barns

Although

The book says don’t

Do that?

~~~

Walking shadows

Bathe in despair

We are too advanced

To care

Tell me how to live?

Who dares

Cause I’m a Tupperware kid

I’m so smart now

So we say

The trash is piling up today

Let’s bury it so no one knows

The skeletons of our no no’s

~~~

I feel sick inside a lot

I imagine there’s a reason

It’s all rolling down the hill

Into a colder season

Tiny snowballs gainin speed

How they slowly grew

We’ve learned to throw it all away

For something shiny and new

~~~

Here I stand in the city dump

With other rejected casings

And to my left foot

I kick

A piece of Tupperware from some

Manufacturing station

Cause I’m as dirty as this trash

an entitled Tupperware kid

Of the toss it generation

~lme

Sugar in the Shoreline


“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are getting back from whence we came.” ~John F. Kennedy

The open road is a reset button for the mind. A simple road trip can clear the senses, help one take in the scenery from a new vantage point and gain fresh perspective. You merely watch the frustrations, irritations and pain of life disappear in the rear view mirror with each passing mile. As we drove through the mountains of Asheville, I was able to be in the moment if only for a moment. Winter was melting away as the water rushed down the hills and shot off the rocks in tiny waterfall fashion as if dancing for me and shouting- Spring is here! For us wandering spirits, the open road holds promise, possibility and the pursuit of something new. Charleston was our home for a long Easter weekend, and we soaked it in like a bowl of creamy, delicious grits. We met new characters, allowed our taste buds to revel in both savory and sweet, ambled amidst the sea-colored cottages and smiled as we heard the swelling song of the ocean in all her glory. Charleston can boast of a slower pace, a calmer smile and a wealth of historical connections. From the marshy and peaceful beauty of Cypress Gardens to the painted perfection of Rainbow Row, Charlie-town (as my friend Brianne named it), did not disappoint us in the least.

Travel, like music, is a process of changing with a movement of ourselves from one place to another. Perhaps musicians are at times signified as vagabonds, because music and travel clasp hands like the ocean and the shoreline. A longing for freedom and a sense of cutting the strings tied to our wrists by the infringing world of doubters, naysayers and realists. To seek a wealth of experience as opposed to a wealth of money is a noble aim. Charleston, the ocean and the moments of respite from our frantic lives were a welcoming haven for us.

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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It’s No. 41 day!!


IMG_1216I have had the pleasure of meeting up with Tara Clapper recently, founder of No 41, an organization out of Rwanda by way of Nashville. Tara’s story is amazing. After traveling to Rwanda for mission work at a young age, she began to see a need and found a way to help.  Here is the Story of No 41, and I hope you will find it as encouraging and full of hope as I have found…

When No.41 started, there were, roughly, 100 young adults over the age of 18 living in the Noel Orphanage. With no family and limited resources, the prospect of university or becoming gainfully employed was low. Along with that, confidence was low, dreams were small and hope was almost non-existent. It was important, not only to provide a means of sustainable employment doing a culturally relevant trade for these girls, but also to remind them that they were created for a great purpose, by an even greater God. We all have been given gifts and talents and, once realized, we should spend those helping others and that is where the feeding program came in.  In our village there are three secondary schools, grades 7-12, and these students go to school all day, most without eating. The schools, generally, offer a 20-minute break for lunch where children who live close enough or have money, may go home to go to the market to eat. Most do not.

All that has transpired at No.41 is beyond our wildest dreams. We have had ten girls move themselves out of the orphanage and we now have 19 enrolled in university. We have career fairs and business trainings, bible study and English class. I never believed this couldn’t happen, but I never imagined it would happen like this. No.41 is a testament to all that God wants to do in you and through you, if you’ll just say, yes. -Tara

Tara and I have discussed some joint ventures in the future involving music and her non-profit, so stay tuned for some future announcements!  So here’s my call to action- today is No 41 day. She is asking everyone to take what they would have spent (I know, I’m late with my blog post) on lunch (or dinner!) and give to this organization.  I invite you to read more about her and all the great work she is doing.  We have been discussing some exciting future events for No 41 and myself, so stay tuned!

Instead of April Fool’s Day- let’s consider today No. 41 day- a day where we can create change, do good and help others!  To donate or purchase other items for this cause, click here!

~lme